Exercise for depression

Everything in Moderation

I drink a lemon water every day, by squeezing a whole lemon (large) into a pint of cold water and knocking the whole thing back in 20 minutes.

I’ve been starting to get headaches every single morning for 3 weeks – I tried mixing up everything in my routine to change this. Sleeping in different ways, eating differently, working from different places, having lights on/off, limiting the time I look at a screen…nothing helped.

I was starting to get a little worried, but I didn’t even think to change how I drank the lemon water, as this is healthy…right? Turns out drinking too much lemon water too quickly can cause headaches. The healthiest part of my morning routine was causing me the pain!

Applying moderation to your mental health recovery

If you’re feeling depressed or anxious, you may feel the urge to go completely the other way to get better – rather than staying in bed, you might feel you need to do LOADS of exercise, eat a TONNE of healthy foods and practice HOURS of meditation.

The truth is, it’s all about things in moderation. I’m not saying everything in moderation as a rule for allowing yourself an extra chocolate bar, but I’m focusing more on the health side of things here.

Some people think that the more healthy stuff they do, the better. This is especially true when you’re depressed. You think by doing plenty of exercise, you’re somehow reversing the effects of your mental health issues. But it isn’t completely like this. For example, too much exercise can be a bad thing! And meditation gurus Headspace are clear that 10 minutes of meditation a day is enough.

Remember – recovery is about small steps, patience and having a good daily routine in place. Doing 6 hours of exercise in one day is not the equivalent of doing 1 hour of exercise a day for 6 days. The latter is the better option.

Everything in moderation

What do you do for your routine?

The days I wasn’t working, I had a good mix of:

  • Getting out of bed within 5 minutes of waking up (doesn’t give you time to ruminate or feel depressed)
  • Walking to the gym with music playing (great thinking time)
  • An hour in the gym
  • Eating 5 small meals per day with snacks in between (it’s better to eat less more often than the other way round to keep up blood sugar levels)
  • Doing all my activities in the house somewhere else other than my bedroom (makes it easier to sleep at night if you only associate your bedroom as a place of rest)
  • Avoiding all caffeine
  • Avoiding too much social media (people always dress up their lives, and social media is linked to depression)
  • Practicing my CBT whenever I felt depressed or anxious thoughts come on
  • 10 minutes of meditation before I went to bed, using the Headspace app
  • Speaking to someone either in person or via text (friend or family – connection helps)
  • Having a purpose other than work (for me, it was keeping a daily diary of my mental health and writing for this blog)

I had to quit my job in London and was only working 3 days per week in a shop nearby while I recovered, so I had more time for this routine each week. Maybe you have less time off – but incorporate some of the above into your daily routine before or after work. Notice many of these things apply for a daily routine regardless of how your mental health is.

If you’re determined to get better, that’s great. But don’t overdo it – you could end up giving yourself other health issues. For proper health advice, please make sure that you see a qualified doctor.

Take your time, take small steps, and you’ll be better in no time. Any questions, just give me a shout.

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