We read it in magazines all the time about how exercise can make us feel better. Frankly, there are times when I’m not feeling well and it’s the last thing I want to do. Sometimes our bodies need to focus energy on getting well and not on the stresses that come with exercise. I do recognise that it is not a remedy for everything.
That said, I’ve noticed recently how much exercise is helping me deal with stress and hormonal changes that I am going through right now.
For the last 2 years or so I’ve been experiencing increasing symptoms associated with perimenopause. Many people’s first reaction when I say this is “you’re a bit young for that aren’t you?” I guess it depends on how you look at things. I started my cycle relatively early, I’ll be 40 at my next birthday and in general the perimenopause can last for up to 12 years. With all that considered, I’m probably not that extraordinary.
I’ll not list my symptoms but want to focus on the ones that disrupt me the most, namely periods of anxiety, regular headaches, insomnia, hot flushes and low mood.
These aren’t constant and are clearly connected to my cycle. At their worst I don’t feel at all like myself but when the worst point subsides I recognise that that’s my chance to try to improve where I’m at.
Yesterday was one of those moments and once I was dressed for the gym I already felt a good bit better. By the time I was through the door talking to people I felt better again. I wondered how I’d get on in the workout but putting less pressure on myself freed me up to go with the flow and just do my best. I really enjoyed it and ended up having a great session.
The activity allowed me to be mindful - to forget what was bothering me; the social interaction buoyed me up, made me laugh and feel the community around me, and the sense of achievement I got afterwards helped boost my mood. It was a great decision and I am grateful for the wonderful support I have around me.
My choice of exercise won’t necessarily be the same as yours. We all have different preferences and limitations which make it a personal choice but there is always something you can do. Work out what your capabilities are and start there. It might be doing some seated upper body work at home with two cans of beans but it’ll be better than doing nothing, especially when you feel the sense of accomplishment at the end.