If 2015 me could see the present me, he would be surprised. I am quite different from who I was back then. I am no longer that depressed, lost, over-anxious and confused soul who used to sit and overthink past mistakes. It is bizarre how my life has turned out to be.
I made a promise to myself that I would do whatever it took to make things go back on track, and that’s when I decided to join a yoga class. Over the past one-and-a-half year, I have discovered that the ultimate flick-switcher is exercise. In fact, I felt that going too hard more often than not, leads to a person feeling defeated, aimless, hurt and always blaming oneself. And that’s of absolutely no use to anyone.
I feel that mental well-being and physical health do have an impact on each other. Indeed, science tells us that our bodies produce endorphins when we exercise and this hormone triggers positive vibes in your mind. I would suggest that those who struggle with depression or other mental illness try taking up fitness seriously, it might help.
Much like depression and anxiety controlled my emotions and well being, getting my heart pumping helped me calm my mind, and sent me back to a time when I used to be happy.
Yoga, Zumba, Pilates or running, whichever you choose, it’s a way to contain yourself, to connect with breath and air. When you struggle with depression or anxiety, fitness becomes more than something you should do. It can quickly turn into something you need.
“Physical activity is an antidepressant, it’s an anti-anxiety. It serves to reduce anxiety, it increases self-esteem and is a major component of weight loss or weight loss management,” says Dr Kate Hays, a Canadian-based psychologist who specializes in sports psychology.
I had to struggle for two years to clear my degree and then another three years after post graduation to find a stable job. All these years when things went wrong, I felt like almost killing myself. I never actually wanted to die, I just wanted the suffering to end because I couldn’t see a way out. During college, going to the gym helped me feel better for some time but I never could get myself to stick to a routine. Inevitably, bad feelings surfaced, and I ended up spending a lot of time indulging in self-pity and sabotaging myself.
I used to drown myself in alcohol and weed to cope with these feelings. I would wallow for days in self-pity, indulging in self-destructive behaviour. Hurting myself took away the pain and frustration for some time, I felt I couldn’t do anything about my circumstances in life and just had to watch helplessly.
Later when I joined a yoga class, I believe it was the best thing I did for myself. I have now become obsessed with it, but in all the right ways and for all the right reasons. I stopped drinking because I had to get up at 5 am, this eventually created a sense of self-discipline in my life. Yes, I am obsessed with the fact that I know how to make myself feel better because I found the exercise that suits me — that’s the most important aspect.
With exercise, came a whole lot of gratitude for the smaller things in life. Like waking up with the energy and mindset to make the most of every day. Finding a break from your thoughts is tough when you’re going through depression. Of course, there is no easy way to do it, but personally, I have found my happiest place on a yoga mat.