Endurance meets mental health

Disclaimer:  If I had read what I’m about to write at this time last year, I would have slapped myself. I’m at a point in my recovery where this makes sense and works for me, but just keep plugging along if this isn’t your style.

Last weekend, I took the longest hike I’ve taken in at least four years. My mental and physical health have presented challenges, to say the least. Even a mile was tough. But I’ve been wanting to get out there and get out of the gym while the weather is so perfect. The seven-mile round trip would have been impossible just a few months ago, but I decided it was time to at least try.

All in all, it was tough. Tough because I haven’t really worked out the muscles needed for trail hiking and tough because I forgot to eat breakfast before heading out the door.

But this was a blessing.

For the first time in years, it was not tough because of my depression and anxiety. My brain wasn’t yelling at me that I was pathetic or that I should have stayed home because I was slowing everyone down.

I asked my dad if he too noticed a difference, and he replied, “You are doing better this time for a few reasons, the most important of which is that you’ve built up endurance by swimming all those miles.”

This got me thinking. The endurance I have built up through swimming and hiking has sort of helped to rewire my brain. I now have the endurance to see through anxiety attacks and depressive episodes because I am used to working through discomfort.

I honestly never thought there would be a correlation, but I am so excited to see how this facet of my recovery continues to grow.

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