The Best Self-Help that I have found

I think I have prattled on about how much psych issues suck enough. They do, but some things can be done to not let it get out of control.

Whether it is fighting to not lose a grip on reality and self-awareness or keep the symptoms that make it hard to do anything from becoming overbearing. I believe a large piece of the puzzle is exercise.

It has a strong effect on me, more than any med or therapy, and few bad side effects, all of which have to do with my broken body. Another plus is that there is no rebound, and exercise won’t stop working over time as meds can do. Getting into shape also has far more positives than just helping with MH issues.

Of course, this is a difficult thing to do when doing the simplest tasks takes massive effort. It is not easy to force yourself, but I can say that I have never regretted doing it. Not once. I just ignore my brain screaming and fighting about it, and it quiets down soon enough, and the session ends with happiness. Yes, that is possible!

Growing up, I was a pretty decent long-distance runner. 20 miles in less than 2 hours wasn’t a big deal. That is my thing, long cardio-based exercise, but you might like something else. I detest lifting weights and get no mental benefit from it, but I do it. Not as much as I need to, but it is all about doing what will motivate you the most.

This is where my physical issues get in the way, but I do what I can to minimize them. You might have issues that can get in the way, but don’t let it stop you. Pretty much anything can be worked around, so you can get all the benefits from exercise. A long time ago, I was diagnosed with patella chondromalacia, which causes pain in my knees with every stride and swelling if I run too much. I also have swollen nerves in my feet - the podiatrist called it a neuroma - that makes it feel like I have lumps in my feet. I wear orthotics that keep the pain down, but it is annoying and distracting. So what I do is walk/run. I bought a runner’s watch to keep track of the distance, and alternate between walking and running every half mile. I only go out for about 2-3 miles just to keep the pain the pain down. I really want to go longer and run the entire time.

I can’t do that every day, so I try to get out every 2-3 days. I also try to hike when I can as a break from the pounding on my knees. My knees don’t hurt nearly as bad when running as they used to many years ago when I tried biking. It is not as enjoyable to me, and it used to make my knees feel like a dagger was coming up from my lower leg. But since my knees are a little better, I might try that again to help add variety. I also love to swim, so I do that occasionally, but it often hurts my shoulder.

I have a Hill-Sachs lesion. The repaired rotor cuff and tendons in one shoulder are calcified, and I have small bone flakes floating in my shoulder along with a developing spur digging in. It is a party in my shoulder.

Lifting weights or doing pushups can be extremely painful. I haven’t found a good enough workaround yet since what doesn’t hurt in one rep or session, might hurt the next time. I really need to see a physical therapist and get ideas.

Sadly, we have fires in all directions causing hazardous pollution levels right now, so I can’t do much outdoors. I do have an elliptical I was gifted, but it is so boring that I don’t use it as much as I should. I really should since it lets me get exercise without hurting my knees and feet. I seem to need a change of scenery to keep motivated. It was always like that. I could run 3 miles on a hilly cross-country or road course much faster than I could on a paved track.

Whatever activity you decide to do, get the best equipment that you can afford. Especially shoes if you are doing exercises that will impact your feet, knees, and legs. Safety and support equipment is important, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. If you riding a bike, you can get quality helmets for $40-$50. Compression gear, if you need it, doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

You can get good shoes for under $60. I got a nice pair of New Balance 481 all-terrain shoes for around $55 on sale, and it is great for running and hiking on a good trail. They are especially great for me since my ankles easily twist. I severely twisted them in cross-country during high school. Since then, I can twist them just walking in a store, but I never have in these shoes. The sole on the heel is extra-wide.

The benefits to my little walk/runs are immediate. I get what is referred to as a runner’s high. I feel full of energy, and my mind feels clear and fast. My body might be tired, but it also feels much stronger. Right after a run is the closest to feeling normal than I have ever gotten in decades.

Anxiety is gone.

Depression is gone.

I have never had a psychotic episode in that state.

It does fade somewhat quickly, but the fade is gradual. It takes a few hours to start really feeling the depression and anxiety. Ideally, running twice a day might keep everything away for a good part of the day, but my knees couldn’t handle it.

Getting out the door is the hardest part. Try to make it a habit, so even when your MH issues win that day, you will know you are missing something, which will motivate you to get out tomorrow. Don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t do it every time you try, that will only cause a downward spiral.

If you have physical issues go see a doctor and make sure what you want to do is advised, especially with heart and balance issues. Physical therapy can also help improve any issues that might make it too painful.

Regardless of any medical conditions, I am sure there are exercises that you can do to help your mind and body.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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