I realise not everyone enjoys exercise. I really do humbly and respectfully understand not all of you are excited to lace up your Nikes and get moving.
I also know that when I am feeling defeated, exhausted, overcommitted, and just plain grumpy, exercise makes a world of difference in my outlook, even when I don’t want to get started.
As a mum, most of my stress comes from feeling overworked and short on time. My house is never clean enough, the kids have too many activities to navigate, and I can never seem to scrounge up the necessary time I need to recharge my batteries. Many times have I said to my husband, “I wish I could sleep for days…” I know life has gotten out of control when I am dreaming of going to bed for the night just as I am climbing out of it in the morning. The days are long and the week is an eternity when I consider all that needs to be accomplished.
The only way I know how to find calm in the storm is to continue to carve out a little time for fitness, even if that means a scant twenty minutes. Last Sunday morning brought a call from a friend who wanted to get together for breakfast without the kids. Faced with mounting marital challenges, my friend was in need of support, but I was reluctant to take what initially felt like idle time sitting for a meal. I knew we would both feel better with a workout shared between us instead of an egg soufflé, so I suggested we run bridge repeats and skip Panera Bread Company. She happily agreed.
Even though my To Do List was a mile long that day, I felt surprisingly content and calm running those overpasses, back and forth. Listening to my girlfriend share her angst and catching fleeting glimpses of elusive dolphins in the river below, I honestly felt more in control of my life than I had in days. Was it the picturesque weather? Was it that my problems seemed minor in comparison to what she shared with me? Was it the endorphins? I can’t be sure, but I attribute most of my lighter mood and positive outlook to fact that we used our precious hour productively to sweat together. We got in a workout and covered all the drama in sixty minutes. When we had finished, my friend looked at me with gratitude and sincerity and said, “That was really great,” as if we had solved the issue of world hunger. She hardly noticed that her new shoes had grated the back of her heels, reducing them to stinging raspberry blisters.
I really was not in the mood to go for that run. I had wanted to stay home and get a handle on the housework before heading into another hectic week of endless responsibilities. I didn’t even feel equipped to counsel a friend in need because my head was so confounded with my own crippling burdens. As it turns out, that run was a welcome distraction from the chaos that rules my world. What had felt like one more commitment going in, felt like therapy once on the other side of it.
This week, challenge yourself to take one of your commitments and couple it with fitness. Maybe a business meeting can be conducted on the treadmill, or lunch with an old friend can be a yoga date instead. Chase your kids at the park instead of planting yourself on the nearest bench to watch them play. Evaluate your calendar and try to squeeze in one opportunity for exercise where you didn’t think possible. Combining a workout with another commitment may help calm some of the chaos in your life, both by multitasking (i.e.: saving time) and by improving your state of mind.