Sunday, January 26, 2014

Exercise, Motherhood and Depression

I just came back from the gym. I feel good.

There are the obvious reasons for feeling good. I've crossed something off my to-do list. I have an overall sense of accomplishment. I've worked off the chocolates that my lovely husband got for me the other day.

But when I say, "I feel good", I mean so much more. My head feels good. I feel lighter, more optimistic and relaxed. Love abounds in my heart for family,  neighbors and mankind. Picture me with a skip in my step, humming the song, I Can See Clearly Now, as the serotonin balances in my brain.

I need to workout. When I don't exercise, the stress in my life turns into dark thoughts, irritability, and a struggle to accomplish daily tasks.

It's workout, go on Prozac or be depressed. I've done all three. I prefer the first option, and have
Woman running on the beachchosen exercise for many years. I haven't always wanted to get to the gym. There have been times that it was hard to fit it into my schedule.

But working out is a commitment that I have made to myself and my mental health. I'm grateful that exercise has worked for me as well as any pill.

Now, I have Claire. I'm finding it harder to honor that commitment. Frankly, it's easier to find time to blog. I can sit at home while she's sleeping and write. I've never been an exercise tape kind of girl. I'm tired. I don't have a ton of free time. The list goes on.

I don't easily recognize the slow slide into depression either. Remember the frog sitting in a pot of water on the stove? She's slowly boiled, because she doesn't feel the rising temperature. I'm like her. I notice the dark side of myself only in contrast, when I feel differently than dark. 

In general, we moms have a hard time taking care of ourselves. It's ironic, though, that at a time when we need to be our best selves for our children, we find it challenging to attend to our needs. So many other priorities seem to trump us and our pesky needs.

I do notice I'm not taking care of myself, though. I notice when I return from a workout and feel differently than dark.

Like today. That's when I remember that my daughter deserves a mom who feels this good. I am a better mom when I feel this good. I deserve to say, "I feel good" and really mean it.

We all do.

Connect with: Bloglovin'FBTwitterG+Pinterest

Photo Source: Mike Baird, Flickr, this photo has been altered and does not suggest that the licensor endorses me or its use

Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and BoogersPlay ActivitiesCrayon FrecklesTaming the GoblinThe Golden GleamPrickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)

The Tao of Poop 

Check out this week's fab features:

Finding Ninee, Dear Special Needs Mama
MamaSchmama, Theater of the Absurd


  1. Having just come off of Prozac myself, I do agree that exercise is a great help with depression, but is so hard to find time to do. Like today, our gym opened at 1 but we are under a blizzard warning, so once again I find myself skipping it! I do find more excuses than I should to not do it. Darn it.

    I always realize how depressed I was after the worst is over. I wish I could be more cognizant of it when it's happening-it would make things so much easier!

    I relate very well to this post Rachel, nicely done!

  2. I agree, exercise is more than for your physical health, it does do wonders for your mental state as well!!! I love the way I feel after a workout.

  3. Oh you are so right. After an injury and related surgery 4 years ago I could no longer exercise as I used to. And I went to a dark place. A place we had to fill with pills. To me I have to learn that just because one type of exercise suits me, it doesn't mean I can't do another. Because even if I stay on the pills I am a MUCH better happier me with exercise.

  4. Not only does your daughter deserve a mom who feels good, YOU deserve to feel good. for you! Most studies show exercise is just as effective as SSRI's for moderate depression. I too need to workout more... (and also, the frog thing isn't true... it would jump out of the boiling water. As you would, too) :) Great post!

  5. This has been on my mind a lot this January. By the time my husband gets home from work, I'm too tired to head out to a gym and I can't take my kids to a gym. Between you and me, I've been plotting to buy a treadmill for weeks now. I'm going to stuff it into my bedroom.

  6. Holy shit. I don't remember hearing about the frog thing before, but wonder where I am now. I know that I am not in a good place. My son's school's programing is changing and I am not going to the gym. I'm not doing it. But. But I want to. I wake in the morning now, and want to go to the gym, which is bigger than I'v wanted in months and months.

    Thank you for writing this, and for being you. Seriously, this makes me want to go to the gym in the morning. More htan anything else has recently.

  7. Rachel this is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I haven't exercised in two weeks (nasty winter cough & cold virus) and my stress levels are peaking. I will make time for a walk with my toddler today, I know we'll both enjoy the benefits :) x

  8. The harshness of the winter has had a huge effect on my exercise habits. I'm an outdoor walker or runner. I hate going to the gym. But the past couple months in Buffalo have been snowy nearly every day and so, so cold. I do see runners (ones much less wimpy than I am) on the street and envy me. I do feel such a difference in my mood when I've exercised!

  9. I can't even begin to explain how much I am on this page. If I don't work out for four days, I become I gigantic monster. And ask me how often that happens these days... hmmmm.

  10. Rachel your post could not have been more timely. Just this morning I started looking at treadmills (used ones) because I haven't run in over a month due to the weather and I noticed over the weekend that my patience was not well...patient! Good for you for making the time to make yourself a priority!

  11. Good. I know I can't relate on the parent level, but certainly since taking up exercise and losing weight and getting fitter and more capable, I feel a LOT better, mentally.

  12. I just started going back to my workouts after 4 years...ack! But in that four years, I have had 2 kids, and moved 3 times! Busy, can't even begin to describe it.

    This winter has made me a monster, being cooped up inside with my boys and having absolutely no physical activity in my life. I knew I needed to start working out again. It's only been a couple of weeks, but I can already tell a change in my mood and my parenting!

  13. i can't remember the last time i worked out. especially now that i'm pregnant, i can barely walk up a hill without feeling rundown. but after baby comes out, i hope to bounce back!

  14. I've been thinking a lot lately about exercise and how important it is in fighting my depression. Someone once told me that exercise should be as automatic as taking my meds every day. On a day when I've worked out, I feel lighter, just as you describe. And those endorphins are doing their thing to battle the depression, too.

  15. Thank you for writing this. It came at a good time for me, like some of the other lovely ladies. Depression is hard enough. I'm on Cymbalta (well, the generic version) and feel like I need more-of something. Exercise would be just the ticket, I think. Of course, then there's overcoming the depression thing to get my butt to the gym.

    Have you written more about your depression? I'd be interested in reading more!

  16. I am so with you on this - I wrote a post called The Accidental Marathoner, that basically said the same thing you did - my choice was to work out (in my case, run, run, run) or be depressed, and in my mind, a bad mother. Good for you for taking care of you.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...