Power Down Therapy Ltd.

HEALING THERAPIES IN Westmanstown, Dublin 15

Training with Depression: how to keep motivated

We all have our down days, when nothing seems to be going our way and it feels like the world is conspiring to irritate the life out of us. We either hunker down and get on with it, or we take a duvet day ‘for our mental health’.

Depression – real, clinical depression, is nothing like that. It can present as mild mood disorder right through moderate to severe depression, and whatever your symptoms it’s vital to seek trained medical help and a clear diagnosis. Whatever the outcome it is clear that exercise can play a vital role as part of a multi-layered therapeutic response.

Exercise is not a panacea. It’s not a temporary fix to whatever ails you. It genuinely is the miracle cure we've always had, but for too long we've neglected to take our recommended dose. Our health is now suffering as a consequence.

Whatever your age, whatever your diagnosis, whatever your current state of fitness, there’s strong, scientific, irrefutable evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life, boosting self-esteem, reducing stress, improving stress responses, enhancing sleep quality, and lowering the risk of developing dementia including Alzheimer’s disease.

At West Wood we encounter a host of reasons why people are drawn to exercise. But with any stigma long associated with poor mental health now firmly banished, with light finally shining on the issue, more and more people are owning that one of the main gains is improved mood and greater positivity. Yes, it will also reduce body fat, improve heart health, possibly add years to your lifespan, but the incontrovertible truth is that it makes you feel great.

We train many clients working for the HSE in all sorts of capacities. We train them, and they train their patients to live a healthier lifestyle. The message on their website is clear:

‘Keeping active helps protect both your physical and mental health. Regular exercise will help you sleep, relax and feel better. Exercise helps reduce stress and boosts your energy levels. It can also be a good way to meet people and get more involved in your community.

Physical activity can cause chemical changes in the brain. These changes help to improve your mood. Exercise is especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression. Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, and ADHD. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood.’

So that’s the science bit. But what happens when we feel the motivation draining from us? When results are slow, and maybe we can’t find it in us to put together a plan? What then?

  • Speak to someone, be blunt and share your feelings. Keeping motivated is not a linear process, it ebbs and flows. The trick is to recognise this and realise that you’re not alone in the process. Speak to a trainer, train with a friend, unburden yourself and gain a new perspective. Build a support network.
  • Try something different – maybe a class, so someone else is doing the thinking for you today. Being part of something bigger than yourself can have a very positive effect.
  • Keep an exercise diary and record how you feel, so you can look back and see any mood patterns, triggers, etc. You can share this valuable information with your PT if you choose, or simply as an aide memoire to your progress when things seem to have reached the stop sign.
  • Be kind to yourself. It takes time to get healthy again from a physical or a mental setback. Don’t beat yourself up when things aren’t going to plan. You wouldn’t criticise others, you’d listen and gently encourage. Do the same for you.

Kathy O’Meara is a personal trainer specialising in cancer and cardiac exercise rehabilitation, and a trained Mental Health First Responder. She holds the National Qualification in Pre and Post Natal Exercise. She is a sports therapist, movement specialist, reflexologist and teaches a range of Les Mills classes at West Wood Club, Westmanstown www.powerdown.ie

Follow her on Instagram: @kathyomearapt or Facebook: Power Down


©2022 Kathy O'Meara

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