My sister suggested I read this book (Spark) and I finished it within two weeks (Fast for me). I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone to read!
In a world that insists that anything can be fixed with a pill, this gave me a completely fresh perspective on living my life to the fullest in the healthiest way possible.
Though my posts to social media may make me look like a strong, confident, focused, and insanely happy person… I still struggle much more than I let on. In fact, the majority of my posts are to also inspire myself!
I will admit that I’ve battled with ongoing negative thoughts, frustrations with not being able to get anything done (focus), having the ability to make any situation an awful situation, and finding everything possible wrong with myself. This has affected my social life, the people I care most about, and of course myself. I’ve tried about every class of anxiety medicine out there, I’ve been on medication for ADHD, I’ve been through counseling/therapy/psychiatry/etc. It is still a battle.
Every day I wake up and have to remind myself that I am in charge of how I feel and make a conscious effort to choose happiness. The concept that happiness is a choice (heck, that LIFE is a choice) is still fairly new to me, though that is a topic for a completely different blog post. My point is this: WE ALL STRUGGLE. My struggle may be different than yours, but it still affects the way I choose to live my life on an everyday basis. I have to choose positive thoughts, choose to keep working at it, and choose the happiness that I know exists despite the negativity. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but I still keep trying.
Getting back on topic… The book reveals how exercise affects the brain. Despite the different therapies/drugs I have tried in the past, my most healthy mind was when I was exercising every single day (aerobic) and eating a moderately healthy diet. Unfortunately, when reality hits it’s easy to get so busy that exercise gets pushed to the side. I know this first hand, because it has happened to me. My job alone was taking up a lot of time (like everyone else, I’m sure); Combine that with 2+ hours in the car commuting each day, factoring in adequate time for sleep, preparing/eating meals, and being social (including a new relationship)…It was just easiest to give up exercise. Don’t get me wrong! I still managed to fit one or two days in each week, but that just wasn’t enough and now I have a deeper understanding of why. The book uses a very scientific vocabulary, but the message is clear: exercise is MUCH more than just a way to have a beautiful body.
Things I’ve noticed since adding aerobic exercise into my daily routine:
* Increased energy *
* Less sulking and more doing *
* More of a drive to get things done *
* I can stay slightly more focused (I still struggle… a. lot.)*
* I’m not as inclined to eat EVERYTHING in the kitchen *
These are just a few ways I’ve seen exercise help my daily struggles. One more issue I want to address is how obnoxious adding exercise to your schedule is. I,
personally, get frustrated because not only does it take up time to do the exercise, but then I’m all sweaty and have to shower, which takes even more time. The hardest part about exercise is actually getting motivated to DO the exercise. Once I am there (wherever there may be), it’s easier. Setting an earlier alarm, getting dressed and doing it…those things are my biggest challenge. After reading all of the benefits daily exercise and experiencing it first hand, I at least have more of a reason to push myself.
Though the mind-body connection is strengthened by aerobic exercise, the yoga practice is also good for calming the mind and strengthening the body. (I was very happy to learn about how beneficial the combination two are together!)
SOooooooo…to sum up a long post…Go read Spark by John T. Ratey and start adding at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 4 days a week to your schedule. I promise that you will see a difference!