A few weeks ago I was riding the bus on my way into work doing my daily routine: I was bundled up, sweating my butt off, and had my nose buried in twitter on my phone. As I scrolled through, I noticed my good friend Hannah from college had tweeted about a New York Times article called “Go Easy on Yourself“. Since I am always my own toughest critic, I decided to click the link and then wait the painfully long loading period for the article to pull up on my blackberry.
The article did a great job of speaking to how people, women in particular, put themselves through mental anguish, which doesn’t decrease a certain behavior, but rather increases. For instance, bad eating habits, those people that maybe eat a donut, enjoy it and move on are in a better place than people who eat a donut, beat themselves up over it, and then the stress of the mental battle leaves them reaching for another donut. Ahh the destructive cycle…
While I definitely do have a hard time resisting the urge to reach for another baked good, my issues don’t lie in food per se, but more beating myself up over mistakes at work, a misunderstanding with a friend, a snide remark someone could have meant in jest, you name it, I am usually over thinking it and making myself pay for it.
The office has never been a good place for my tendency for self loathing, but exercise has always been my chance to achieve equilibrium. It’s my time to feel free, work out my stress and feel satisfied and proud of myself for what I have accomplished. Certainly that is the complete opposite from mentally abusing oneself.
My journey back to an even keel really began when I started seriously swimming in 5th grade and in many ways it saved me from the stress of school, cliques in middle and high school, family issues, boy issues, you name it, the water was always my therapy. I find it so funny that in reality when I was the hardest on myself in the physical sense, it was always the most satisfying for me, mentally. Due to work schedules and lack of pools, I turned to running in 2006 to fill the swimming void and wasted no time signing up for a half marathon. I feel lucky that I have been able to find the same therapeutic, self help qualities in running as I did in swimming.