When you are depressed, the last thing you may want to do is exercise.
Most people are aware that research has identified exercise as a key factor in reducing depression. Given the despair, lethargy, self-doubt, exhaustion, and shame experienced with depression, however, the suggestion to exercise can add insult to injury. “I’m not exercising because I’m depressed.”
Given the recent discussion of the pros and cons of medications and treatments for depression, it seems clear that people not only need information; they need help making treatment options possible.
If you want to try exercise–but it feels impossible – here are some suggestions.
- Forget comparing yourself with the neighbor who jogs – start with a simple plan of moving, do it on your time and tie it to something you love.
- Park and Walk: If there is a store where you like to shop, start your movement slowly by parking a little farther from the door each day. Plan this small but very big step, keep a tally – you’ll be surprised.
- Talking with A Friend: Call for someone or have someone call for you and plan to walk even for only one block. Before you start give yourself permission to stop and turn back. You are in charge.
- Choosing Support: There is power and motivation in the company of others, especially people who have an agenda similar to yours.
- Two women who could not find a neighbor to walk with came up with a plan to drive to each other’s neighborhood twice a week. The motivation – they really wanted to talk to each other – the bonus – they did it while slowly walking.
- Book Worm: Walk around your yard, your block or in a safe place listening to an audio book for 10 minutes. Only listen to the audio book while walking, standing, cleaning etc. Never read the book sitting down.
- Re-runs Instead of Running: One man started walking on the old treadmill in the basement to watch re-runs of shows he loved- he wasn’t thinking of walking.
- The Brain on Music: Research tells us that music has a powerful impact on brain stimulation. If you love certain music let it be your road out. Put on your earphones and turn the music on and it will help you put on your sneakers, open the door and start moving. Dance, vacuum, walk, ride a stationary bike to music. Choose a music track or album that you only allow yourself to listen to when moving.
- Visualize the Reward: I have an uncle who started walking to a bakery each morning. The whole way he visualized the muffin and coffee he planned to buy. He is still walking.