I have something to confess. I’ve stopped running.
I know running is good for me. Running taught me to cheer for myself, to talk back to negative thoughts. Exercise of all kinds makes me feel strong, and it boosts my mood, helping me keep the depression associated with my bipolar disorder in check.
So why am I not running?
Maybe I’m not running because, as a woman just beginning to navigate the grief of unchosen childlessness, I’m feeling all the feels, which include depression. Caring for my physical health is hard to prioritize right now.
I feel a lot of shame surrounding my body and mind. I feel like there’s something wrong with me.
Maybe you are having feelings of shame and failure, too, which can lead to depression. So can hopelessness and bitterness.
And depression due to childlessness is not only a women’s issue.
In a study at the UK’s Keele University it was found that 38% of men in a study group had experienced depression due to not having children, compared to 27% of the women.
How can we get back on track with exercise?
I can’t quite summon up the motivation to go for a run. But a brisk walk can do wonders, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Soon enough, after walking regularly and slowly building up, I will be back to running, back to this:
So how can we take care of our minds and bodies? Now might be the time to focus on stress-reduction and even a meditation practice.
Group meditation is a good way to get started, especially online through apps like WhatsApp. Don’t get overly ambitious–try 5 minutes every day to start.
Look for ways to meditate that don’t involve sitting still.
You can meditate even while kickboxing–whatever gets you in the zone.
Reducing stress through yoga
Yoga also is a great way to care for your body, especially if you are dealing with a mental health issue.
Studies suggest that a yoga practices reduce the impact of stress responses and may be helpful for both anxiety and depression.
Like meditation, relaxation, other forms of exercise, or even socializing with friends, yoga self-soothes.
You can even practice yoga for grief.
When we can’t get back on track on our own
If you’re having a hard time taking care of your body, you might be depressed.
At first you might want to try exploring your feelings about childlessness or infertility through journaling, research, or talking on online forums.
But there’s a time when grief crosses the line into clinical depression, and we may need professional help. If your feelings of depression have gone on for six weeks or more, seek the help of a therapist or counselor.
If you already see a therapist or counselor, be open and honest about what you’re going through. Don’t hide symptoms–your counselor is there to help.
As for me? I’m determined to be upfront about my depression with my therapist the next time I see him.
And today, I think I’m going to shoot for going for a walk.