A busy day – is it a happy day?

fitness, Mental Health

This post has been brewing for a while now, so I finally decided to A) finish it and B) publish it. You might not agree with me, or understand where I’m coming from with this one, so bear with me!

If anyone has ever read any of the Just William books by Richmal Crompton, you might recall one chapter when William receives a birthday card with the immortal inscription: “a busy day, is a happy day.” Of course, the young boy thinks it’s rubbish, but it popped into my head as I was writing this and I thought maybe it has a ring of truth after all.

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In the weeks before I left university, I felt the first twinges of panic begin to curdle in my stomach. Leaving Durham. Going home. Having no structure, no waves of routine to tide me along. See, I am a creature of habit. I cling to what I know like a barnacle to a rock. As I mentioned in my last post, even when it comes to food I tend to follow the same general pattern.

(I’m aware that this makes me sound super boring and I swear I am not allergic to spontaneity or fun or anything BUT -)

The problem is, when I have nothing to do, I tend to slump into depression, or into a high state of anxiety. Looking at the empty days stretched out endlessly ahead is like staring directly into the abyss – how on earth am I meant to get through all those days, stuck inside my own head with nothing but my own dark thoughts for company? And with my impending move to Croatia on the horizon, looming threateningly in the distance, I have become almost frantic. I! Must! Distract! Myself!

Stillness and stability seem like the worst thing that could possibly happen to me right now. I try not to even have a moment alone with my thoughts, to the point where I’ll listen to an audiobook to fall asleep to, or always having the radio on in the car.

My anxiety is, like, through the roof right now. But I know that all I’m doing, by giving myself so many tasks, is fuelling it! 😨

I don’t know if wanting to avoid your thoughts, and the fear of the feelings that you know are waiting for a chance to creep in, is normal? 

I feel like a piece of thread, ducking and diving through life trying to avoid the inevitable tangle that I know full well is waiting at the end.

Please, don’t think I’m not trying to change this. I know that by, essentially avoiding the problem, it’s going to bite me in the ass eventually. But, and imagine me saying this like a petulant child, I just don’t WANT to. Who wants to actually sit and think about how depressed they are and then try to combat every single thought, like a game of mental whack-a-mole? NOT ME. It’s exhausting!

Maybe you think I’m crackers, at this point. What kind of weirdo is afraid of relaxing?

Yup, it’s me.

Stasis = negative thoughts. So in my lil brain, clearly somewhere along the line I have gone yup, well, the most logical answer to that is to NEVER RELAX.

Things I do to try and help myself 

  • Exercise – not only is it just good for you in general, but the endorphins released are a natural antidepressant, which boosts mood, and the physical strain forces you to relax afterwards.
  • Eating well – I’ve been trying to FUEL MY DAY with like, fruit and shit. Healthy body = healthy mind
  • Yoga – I don’t think meditation is a good idea for me just yet, as I think I need to calm myself down more generally before tackling something I know, right now, I’ll just give up on. So I’m approaching the whole thing slowly, by doing yoga videos (I like Yoga With Adrienne on YouTube!), where I can re-introduce the idea of mindfulness and peace, whilst doing something active.

Alternatively, this Could Just Be Me. I personally hate sitting on my ass all day anyway. But I think because I am so freaked out by the potential for a depression slump in the wake of this “free time”, I have gone into WARP SPEED over the whole issue.

If anyone reading this has any tips or advice, or similar experiences you might have had, please let me know your thoughts!

Love,

Cam

My “fitness” regime: body gals or nah?

fitness

Anyone reading this who knows me may feel an immediate sense of amusement. Cam, fitness…really? Yeah, I know. I have NO IDEA what I’m talking about. The few times I’ve set foot in a gym, I’ve been too overcome by the A). crippling embarrassment of exercising in front of other people and B). the crippling embarrassment of having to watch myself suffer in those massive mirrors they put everywhere, to actually do much exercise. (NB: WHY? Why would anyone in their right mind want to view themselves in ill-fitting lycra, failing miserably to keep up with the treadmill, as an old man in similarly ill-fitting lycra sprints sprit-lily away next to you?)

So as a NORMAL PERSON, who eats CHIPS and CAKE and looks terrible in spandex, I thought I’d share some of my worldly opinions. You didn’t ask for it, nobody asked for it, yet I still deliver. Enjoy.

Pls remember I am highly unqualified and eat a lot of chocolate and have no idea what I’m doing.

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1. What is fitness? 

When I Googled the definition, I was presented with the thrilling statement of fitness being “someone who is physically fit and healthy.”

WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? Being psychically fit and healthy?? How do I know when I reach this point? Is there a ceremony? Do you sprout wings or something? Man, being human is hard. By being physically fit, I presume Google means that you, like, have muscles which have the potential to be used. Surely that means everyone is…fit? Gah.

Today I only want to talk about the whole moving-your-body-and-reap-the-rewards thing. EXERCISE. 😨

In short, I think fitness essentially means having a body which is, well, generally FIT to perform daily tasks.

2. Why should I become “fitness”?

There are soooo many bloggers and insta-stars that are super fit and super healthy and they’re so inspirational and motivational but to be honest I have never felt able to keep up with them and it’s all just a bit stressful How does one even make overnight oats? And where do I buy the necessary mason jars?

I am not tanned, beautiful, motivated to CHANGE MY LIFE, and I don’t live in Melbourne or L.A.

I live in the grotty North of England, have shit hair, and buy most of my food from Tesco’s reduced section.

Maybe you #cantrelate, and are like oh my God Cam, you PEASANT, but seriously this is what I feel like! I had to unfollow Deliciously Ella on Instagram because her beautiful food, husband, dog, and 6am yoga classes were just depressing me on a daily basis, as I frantically slap foundation under my eyes in an attempt to conceal the fact I’d been up until 3am, binge watching shitty teen series on Netflix.

Apparently though, there are benefits to yeeting  yourself out and about occasionally.

MY NUMBER ONE REASON TO EXERCISE? 

Exercise produces serotonin, i.e. the HAPPY HORMONE!

EXERCISE IS BASICALLY A FREE, NATURAL ANTIDEPRESSANT. 

For a tragic piece of trash like myself, this is GREAT!

 

I’m sure there are other benefits, like living longer, reducing your probability of contracting all kinds of horrible diseases, and just generally not having a body which retains the shape of the sofa you’ve sat on all day, but this is sometimes the only reason I can force myself out in the cold winter air, or when I’m crying and hungover.

3. Staying “fitness” 

Thus far we have established that getting “fit” means having a body which has some stamina for exercise, and that that’s probably a good thing for your mental health.

If it’s so good for you then Cam, then how do you stay fit? In-between eating family bags of Malteasers, of course.

Basically I like to run and to swim, and I dabble in yoga (again with the broken heart thing – currently I’m into massive cardio as a way of pounding out my SAD THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS). I don’t do it all the time, I don’t have a routine, I just go when I feel like it. I usually exercise two or three times a week, mood-depending. You might fancy more or less, depending on circumstances. When I’m on my period, for example, I barely move from the beanbag in front of the telly.

NB: I am someone who is massively prone to illness, usually in the form of chest infections, and that usually knocks me back for about two weeks at a time. Then I start again, having lost whatever stamina I had previously built up. Meh.

The only thing we can do, I think, is to try.

I’m rubbish, I can barely stagger my way round a ParkRun, and can only breaststroke in a pool. But the point is, I go and I DO IT, which is the ONLY thing that matters! As young children and old people go sailing past me at significantly higher speeds, do I descend to a walk and give it up as a bad job? (Sometimes, yes) – No, I do not! I TRY AGAIN.

I’m really, really, not that interested in having the perfect body. Yes, I’m insecure but damn, I don’t have the goddamn TIME to spend preening myself to that extent. There’s animals to save and people to meet and things to do. And burpees? Who wants to VOLUNTARILY torture themselves that way when there’s CAKE in the world??

I actually enjoy running and swimming, and that’s why I do them, instead of say, spin class or weight lifting.

There is SO MUCH PRESSURE to conform to what the celebrities are doing, to what we see on Instagram, to what our friends our doing. I hate bike riding with a passion, and can’t think of anything worse than a dance class.

Maybe you do though! Please please please, for the love of God, if you decide to make yourself exercise, DO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY.

It can be anything. I only tried swimming recently: I didn’t learn to swim until I was 14 and for that reason, am less than amateur. I just decided to have a go one day and I really had a great time. Maybe you could do the same with rock climbing or something, I don’t know.

Just don’t start strapping weights to your ankles and subjecting yourself to crunches and squats, unless that’s what brings out your endorphin-smile. 

If you want to get fit, for whatever reason, it doesn’t have to be the be-all-and-end-all. It can be WHAT YOU WANT IT TO BE. Hence my angry runs as a way of coping with emotional stress.

4. Okay Bye 

Sorry for the very strident post. Maybe you like BBG, or it changed your life or whatever. That’s totally cool, I’m well on board with that!! I might even try it myself, if I find myself wanting to.

What I’m NOT on board with is this manic desire to push your poor, potato-chip eating body to some kind of limit that the insta-celebs have made “accessible.

If it involves exercise before breakfast, I’m not interested.

YOU DO YOU, PLEASE. And do it with no pressure.

Love,

Cam.

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Showcasing my post-run “glow”