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Guest Post - Exercise and the fight against depression by Liz

Saturday, 11 February 2012

This weeks guest post was written by the lovely Liz from distract me now please.

2011 was pretty much the year from hell. I had a massive bout of anxiety and depression; I had to spend time in hospital, I felt completely unable to function, and I went from being a workaholic to being someone who couldn’t go to work for five months.

By November I decided I felt able enough to start doing some exercise. I always knew that exercising would help, but it took me a long time (and several changes in medication) to find the motivation. I went for a trial at my local gym and honestly haven’t looked back since. I manage to go three/four times a week (unheard of for me, even pre-depression). I’ve found it amazing for beating stress, getting out my extra (anxiety-causing) adrenalin, distracting me, and helping me get to sleep better at night. It’s also given me extra energy; a few months ago I was unable to do anything apart from work and sleep, and now I can normally get to the gym and sometimes go out to meet friends afterwards. That might not sound like much but it’s helping me start to feel like ‘me’ again.

My tips for using exercise to help depression:

* Do it when you’re ready. It’s easy for people who haven’t been depressed to think that the solution is easy, and that sufferers are able to cure themselves if they ‘put their mind to it’. This is simply not true. It takes some people a long time to be able to start helping themselves (it took me about 10 months).

* Be realistic about what you are going to do, and about your levels of motivation. For example, I love swimming but hate walking home with wet hair, so I gave up on pledging to swim three times a week. Popping to a gym that’s just down the road is far easier!

* Remember that it won’t always be easy. Bad days will still come (and go) and when they hit you need to be easy on yourself: just because you miss a couple of sessions doesn’t mean you’ve gone back to square one.

* Reward yourself. Sad fact: I give myself a star on the calendar if I go to the gym (and a tick for going to work). I can’t explain why this works, but it just does. Find a reward that suits you.
Good luck and (I know everyone says it) things will get better. Honestly.


  1. I like the star or tick idea - this appeals to me too.

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  3. This is so refreshing to read, i'm an Occupational Therapist and basically everything you say is the kinds of things we say to the people we help! The amount of things that exercise is good for is just outstanding and although the initial prospect of it is really quite difficult, slowly setting youself small goals makes it more achievable! I too suffer from anxiety and depression and exercise does me SUCH wonders! Thank you for sharing xxxx

  4. Exercise definitely staves off my depression. (I was going to say 'down days', but I guess naming it something else implies that I'm ashamed of it, so I decided to against it) It helps me sleep better and gives me more energy :) The problem I have though is becoming demotivated if I don't see my effort being reflected on the scales. Need to shift my focus onto non-scale victories!

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