Saturday 22 October 2016

The Weekly Read: How exercising helped this college student deal with anxiety

Michaela Deane explains how exercise has greatly helped her deal with her anxiety.

Michaela Deane

Published 11/11/2015 | 12:47

Regular exercise helped Michaela Deane deal with her anxiety
Regular exercise helped Michaela Deane deal with her anxiety

It’s true what they say, another year older, another year wiser.

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Over the past year, I’ve experienced some of my worst bouts of anxiety; times where I wouldn’t leave my house for days because I was afraid of all the things that could go wrong.

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d ever improve. There were a countless number of nights where I’d just cry and cry, I was so afraid I’d be stuck that way forever.

However the last four months have been a turning point for me. Since my mental health is something that I’m so open and honest about, I thought I’d share with you how I’ve made these improvements.

The main thing that’s helped improve my anxiety is exercise. If you have anxiety you’re probably rolling your eyes and sighing right now, and I don’t blame you.

Every time I went to see my doctor about my anxiety I was advised to do more exercise, and every time I heard that I wanted to scream at him that I didn’t have time and it wouldn’t work.

Low and behold, every time I was told this I’d head off on a walk, and after no immediate anxiety relief, I’d give up. That was that, exercise didn’t help and it was back to the drawing board.

And I was right, exercise doesn’t really work as a once off cure, but if you’re willing to stick to it you’ll definitely see results. I’ve gone from doing no exercise at all, to going to the gym three times a week, and by doing that I’ve gone from having three panic attacks a week to having three panic attacks a month, if even.

For me, exercise is a preventative measure for my anxiety. If I go more than three days without going to the gym, I’ll start to feel my anxiety creeping up on me again.

With me, when I have nothing to do, I get anxious. I get anxious that I should be doing something, and in the space of about ten minutes I’m panicking about all the things I have to do.

Exercising helps to fill these gaps in the evenings, or mornings, or even between classes when I have some spare time. I’m one of those people who just has to be kept busy, and exercise fits in perfectly for this.

One of the biggest excuses I had before when it came to exercising was that I had no time to do it. And now, I still have no time to do it. I have college, assignments, studying, blogging, maintaining the social life of a college student, and everything else going on in my life at the moment. But I make time, because I have to.

Every Tuesday I start college at 12 o’clock, but I’m always up at 8am to go to the gym. You have the same amount of hours in the day as everyone else, you just have to make good use of them.

Prioritise, try to go to sleep an hour earlier and get up an hour before you usually would. So if you’re at your wits end with anxiety like I was, go back to the basics.

I know that exercising won’t help everyone, but after experiencing the huge improvement in my mental health, I’d be wrong not to promote it. Go to a Pilates class twice a week, start running, dancing, whatever it is that you think you’ll enjoy the most.

When a doctor tells you to exercise it can be difficult to listen when you’re thinking, “You have no idea what this is like”.

But this is something that really, really helped me and I’ll never go back to not exercising again.

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