It’s no secret that there is a massive correlation between our physical health and our emotional and mental health. Each affects the other. There is even a term for it: the mind-body connection.
The more I focus on improving my physical health, through daily exercise, the more I am aware of how much happier I am with all aspects of my life, and most importantly, with myself.
Was I depressed before? No, not by the clinical definition. And I most certainly had lots [like oodles] of happy moments in my life. But happiness wasn’t my constant [or even default] state. And I wondered why.
I had a great family, a highly successful career, made more money than I ever dreamed possible, travelled to great places. Yet…there was always an underlying feeling of something missing. Of wanting more. Of dissatisfaction.
And it drove me crazy! Why wasn’t I happier with the awesomeness of my life?
There was also constant feeling of being on-edge, of waiting for something bad to happen. I had a knack for finding stress, even if it meant I had to go hunting for it. I was a glutton for punishment. Most of it self-inflicted.
And then there was the constant [internal] comparison to others:
- I love my house. Oh, but look at Sally’s house. It’s really nice.
- I’m killing it in my job. Oh, but Joe just got a big promotion.
- My vacation was wonderful. Oh, but Fred’s vacation was out of this world.
- I just crushed it at Outdoor Bootcamp today. Oh, but Molly just did an IronMan.
It was maddening that I not only managed to belittle my own accomplishments, experiences and possessions, but that I wound up jealous (not envious, but jealous, in the ugliest sense of the word) with the achievements and experiences of my friends.
And then I’d beat myself up for being so petty and ugly.
I am so happy to say I’m no longer that person.
So what’s changed?
My Year of Sweat, that’s what.
If someone had told me that the simple act of focusing on improving my physical health would have had such a profound affect on my general outlook and mindset, I would never have believed them. But it has.
I don’t know if exercise has the power to truly melt stress away. [Again, I’m not a doctor, I just play one on TV ;-)] But perhaps the question I should be pondering is, do I feel better after a workout because the exercise truly lifted my mood, or rather, am I just too tired afterwards to even care about my [silly, little] problems?
Either way, it is, in fact, widely accepted that exercise is effective at easing feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. Nature’s antidepressant, if you will.
To borrow from the conditional statements of computer programing: If I work out, then I will feel better. Ahh the magic of a good If-Then statement. And 100% applicable to me and this journey.
As I wrote about here and here, for me, becoming physically active on a daily basis has served to improve my self-perception, increased my self-confidence and made me a happier person in general; the kind of person I like to be around. Not to sound like too much a braggart, but hey, I’d want to be my friend now. I’m a pretty cool chick. 🙂
My previous dissatisfaction with my own body affected not only my self-esteem, but all my relationships and interactions. It coloured everything. Absolutely everything. It was like wearing a heavy black veil, one that cast a negative pallor on everything around me.
With that veil now lifted, I can see things more clearly. I can revel in my successes (and reward myself accordingly!) and at the same time I can rejoice in the successes of others.
One of my biggest joys since starting this blog and sharing the trials and tribulations of my journey has been in hearing from so many of you. Whether it’s via blog comments, tweets, Facebook messages or private email, my spirit soars every time I hear that something I’ve shared has resonated with you, or inspired you to take on a big challenge.
Being happy with myself means that I can finally be truly happy for others. And that is an amazing gift. One I am grateful for each day. Thank you for sharing in my journey.