Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolution: Moving My Muscles

At this time of year, many (most?) Americans resolve to have a more active lifestyle. We usually focus on the physical aspects of exercise, such as weight loss, reduced blood pressure, presumed better looks, and so on. But Dr. Low teaches that moving our muscles has another important benefit: reducing our angry and fearful temper.

In this case I'm not talking about moving one's muscles to overcome a fear, such as having the will to board an airplane if you fear flying. I'm talking about the useful benefits of exercise in improving our mental health.

I don't enjoy exercising, though. I had a gym membership once, but I felt very uncomfortable there, intimidated by all of the fit and trim people. Now that I'm in Recovery, I would have taken a different attitude toward that experience, but in general I don't enjoy peddling on a bike for 30 minutes or lifting weights repetitiously. I do enjoy being active, though, whether that is working in the yard or strolling through a park. When I move my muscles I can feel tension, anger, and fear drain away, and I need to practice being more active to improve my mental health.

So my New Year's resolution is to be more active in 2011. To achieve this goal, I hope to take more walks--daily if possible. I'm not going to scold myself if I don't feel I'm doing "enough," as it's average to be enthuisastic about New Year's resolutions but then have that attitude fade over time. But if I lower my standards, my performance will rise, as Dr. Low suggests.

And as I'm walking in the bitter winter cold I can endorse myself all the way for making my mental health a business.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Practicing Recovery

This past Saturday I attended a leaders meeting for my local Recovery chapter. I struggled with some fearful temper before deciding to attend. After all, I would be around people I never met before, and that stirred butterflies in my stomach and led to some blurry vision. However, I chose obligation over inclination and decided to attend. I knew I could bear any discomfort.

Of course, anticipation is usually worse than realization, and I found everyone to be pleasant and welcoming. However, I was startled when the chapter president called on me to handle comments for another leader’s example.

Instantly I felt blood rush to my face and my heart pound. My mind began to race with thoughts such as, “What if I make a fool of myself?” and “What if I make a mistake?” I was very self-conscious.

Yet I quickly spotted that I was startled, and that it is average to feel uncomfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I wore the mask and “muddled” my way through it. I endorsed not only for having the courage to make a mistake, but also for deciding to attend the meeting in the first place. Even when attending Recovery meetings themselves we can find ways to practice!

On a separate note, I found one of Katy Perry’s latest music videos to have an especially encouraging message for those struggling with anxiety.