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Is Exercise Making You Feel Worse?
I'm sure you've heard the following statement over and overagain: exercise can help you to beat stress, or alleviateanxiety or boost a depressed mind. This is only true inpart. Because many exercises can actually worsen theseillnesses. And even if you perform exercises that can help,these exercises will only help temporarily.
The reason many people believe exercise to be helpful incombating stressful and depressive illnesses is because whenyou exercise vigorously for longer than 20 minutes, yourbody floods with endorphins. These chemicals give us a buzz,and this is why it is widely believed that exercise can curestress, depression or anxiety.
If you're suffering a stressful or depressive episode,you'll know that no matter how regularly you exercise, thebad feelings return. The only way to beat these illnesses isto treat the root cause: flawed modes of thinking.Exercise, though great for our bodies, simply doesn't doanything to address modes of thinking.
When my anxiety was at it's worst back in 2000, I exercised4 times a week. For 2 days, I'd perform weight-trainingexercises. These exercises are the type of exercise that canactually make you feel worse because you have time to thinkabout all of the issues and problems you have in your lifeat the time. I'd also warm up and warm down on bike machinesor cross-trainers. Again, you can perform these exerciseseasily so you can think about your problems.
For my other workouts, I'd perform instructor-led circuittraining sessions. As you're listening out for instructionsand performing sequences of exercises at a high tempo, youdon't have time to dwell on your troubles and worries. Theproblem is that once you stop exercising, you return to themodes of thinking which lead to stress, depression oranxiety.
As soon as my workout had finished, I'd perform the flawedmodes of thinking, modes that made me anxious and depressed.Exercising did very little û if anything û to stop meperforming these flawed thought processes.
Do be aware of what's happening when you exercise. Exercisesthat don't require much concentration may have you broodingover your troubles as you perform them. Jogging, walking,exercise machines, weight-training are all examples of suchexercises. Instead, try ones that are more intensive orcompetitive so your whole concentration is required.Circuit-training worked for me, so did sports like soccerand badminton.
The idea is to give yourself a period of time where you'renot thinking about your problems and worries. And of course,you'll do your body a whole heap of good too!
The point here is to understand that exercise can onlyprovide temporary relief. The only way to find permanentrelief from your suffering is to understand and addressflawed modes of thinking. And, just as physical exercisebenefits our bodies, mental skills leading to better modesof thinking will bring enormous benefits to our minds.
The following quote sums it up in a nutshell:
"Thought can make you, thought can break you."- Swami Sukhabodhanada
Until next time.
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