EXERCISE – GO FOR IT!
Exercise has always helped me with the stresses and strains of life. I find it a good way of processing the negative things that have been happening in my life.
If you’re exercising with someone else or in a group, you can encourage one another – and also talk about your emotional state too.
Humour is also involved as you gently enter into competitive spirit, but don’t overdo it!
Even if it’s just a walk to the end of the road and back, it’s better than staying static. From here, all you have to do is build on it, until eventually you are getting your heart rate up and running.
It’s all about overcoming your fear and anxiety and turning it into bravery and confidence.
I must admit that in the first year after my diagnosis of psychosis, I found the drive to exercise extremely difficult.
I was deep in the throes of depression, and the thought of leaving the sofa, even to go for a ten minute jog, was extremely daunting.
As my mood lifted, I joined the local council gym and began training, alongside my middle brother.
I returned to academic life after a year, switching course and university – a significant change.
In the first year of my new university, Leeds, I went to the university gym a few times with a friend who was a good source of motivation.
The next year of university, I joined a new gym on the outskirts of the city, although I must confess, I spent as much time in the sauna, solarium and hydrotherapy seeing off bad hangovers than I did in the gym!
Third year was spent in Valencia, Spain (I read Spanish). This year was the ERASMUS year spent studying at The University of Valencia. I was part of a big circle of students and workers and some of the young men would play football every Friday night before the partying, undoing all the good efforts on the pitch haha! I also swam with a friend who was a magnificent swimmer who represented Northern Ireland at the sport.
In final year I continued swimming and got the bus to the pool, or if feeling sprightly I’d walk there.
Since graduation, I have particularly focused on triathlon training. It is indubitable that it has been absolutely essential for my mental good health.
Having been given a noticeable steer by my mother to take it up as a discipline, I have made good progress. I really enjoy the running with coach Jon, and swimming with coach Jane, both of whom have been incredibly patient, instructive, positive and thorough. I get significant enjoyment from getting out on my bike with family too.
Coronavirus has scuppered race events but I will start hopefully with a 5k Parkrun with my middle brother later in the year.
I have found the Strava app a brilliant motivational tool for my endeavours. My triathlon and running friends log in and record our exercise data and spur each other on. You can post photos and it’s a superb way of networking in a sporting context when on your smartphone or online.
I’d like to end by thanking everyone who has offered words of support in my journey of recovery. It’s a wonderful feeling to look at the race numbers and photos from my sporting endeavours at my flat and I gladly treasure my medals I have earned along the way.
Exercise has had a monumental impact on my life and I would encourage anyone thinking of taking it up to summon the courage – you won’t regret it!
There are plenty of groups to join if you are feeling like you may struggle to get out alone and they are pitched for all abilities.
I do not hesitate that exercise should be prescribed on the NHS – for everyone 🙂