Hardly a day goes by

By Christopher Cudworth

What feels like a pleasurable choice to some people feels like a worrisome decision. That's anxiety.

What feels like a pleasurable choice to some people feels like a worrisome decision. That’s anxiety.

May is Mental Health Month and this week is Mental Health Awareness Week.

Like all workaday weeks, it begins on a Monday of course. So here’s a thought. For those with anxiety, every day feels like a Monday. It’s a constant dread and wonder over what bad thing could possibly happen next. That’s the best way to describe anxiety.

For people with anxiety, hardly a day goes by where a mild feeling of dread or concern does not occupy the thoughts. It’s not just the imagination at work, or practiced fears. In many cases those patterns do enter the picture of course. Ruminative thought patterns vex the anxious and can contribute to depression. They are like two sides of the same coin.  So what do we do about it?

Anxiety is a real physiological condition that can be diagnosed and treated with a combination of methods. Those of us who run and ride have discovered one of the very effective ways people with anxiety and depression can control the “fight or flight” feeling and even moderate genuine feelings of depression. Physical activity produces a very real sense of control and results in a valuable release of tension. Those two simple responses can be vital to mental health.

Building health self esteem and emotional balance can require moving through and past earlier events in life.

Building health self esteem and emotional balance can require moving through and past earlier events in life.

Self esteem also enters the picture. When we look ourselves only through anxious eyes, we see only a person who is worried about where the next bad thing will come from. Yet when we literally step outside to explore the world on foot or by bike, new thoughts are able to enter our minds. Bad thoughts can be perished or enough perspective is gained to produce the motivation to overcome both short term and chronic anxiety.

Combined with talk therapy, anti-anxiety drugs and other medically supervised approaches to controlling anxiety, physical exercise like running and riding are tremendous tools to help those with anxiety and depression gain control of emotions and reduce the difficult byproducts of poor mental health. These include poor work performance, strained relationship, inability to enjoy life and even reduced resistance to sickness or illness.

Those are all hard phrases to digest, and all too familiar to millions of people around the world. The Independent.com published a revealing article on the number of women who experience anxiety on a daily basis. As mentioned, some forms of anxiety are situational. Yet is 25% of the world’s women experience anxiety every day, that’s nearly a billion people living with an anchor on their hearts and minds.

Seeing past present problems and even future challenges is part of overcoming anxiety and depression. Running and riding can help us gain perspective on our options.

Seeing past present problems and even future challenges is part of overcoming anxiety and depression. Running and riding can help us gain perspective on our options.

It is important for everyone to understand that anxiety is real. It affects people deeply. Yet anxious and especially even those with depression are some of the most profoundly influential peoplel  in history. Winston Churchill had major depressive episodes. Yet it was his courage and stalwart resistance to Hitler and the Third Reich that saved the world. Abraham Lincoln also struggled with depression. His wife had a form of mental illness as well.

John Lennon famously wrote about his deep emotional struggles with anxiety and depression. These were compounded by his propensity, from an early age, to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. He also suffered great personal loss with the death of his mother. It is highly important to realize that events in our lives can in some ways affect the very chemistry of our brains.

John Lennon’s insight and ability to see through so much of society’s self-absorption and pain made him a great musical artist. His vision was so profound in its breadth and simplicity he challenged the world to think differently on everything from major wars to women’s rights. That’s no small degree of benefit from the mind of one human being.

Mental illness should not be the end-all of anyone’s story. There are people with mental illness so severe it eclipses their ability to function in the world. We now realize these people are not possessed by demons as it was once thought. They are simply part of a broad spectrum in human evolution, defined by a brain chemistry that might only respond so far to the drugs and treatments the human race has developed.

Billions of people in the world wrestle with degrees of mental illness and rather than stigmatize the entire enterprise of alternate brain function, we should be looking to positive results and more tolerance for the minds of those with predispositions to anxiety and depression.

See, none of us is perfect. That’s true in both a biological and spiritual sense. You can either say “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” indicting the whole world in effect, or we can quote John Lennon and say “All You Need is Love,” and release care and concern into the world. It’s amazing how many facets there are to a worldwide story like this.

As for you and me, people who run and ride, we do our personal best to keep ourselves mentally healthy and find the positives. Hardly a day goes by in which that isn’t a good idea. See you on the road. Or the trail. Or in the pool. It’s good for the body and the head.

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About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @gofast and blogs at werunandride.com, therightkindofpride.com and at 3CCreativemarketing.com. Online portfolio: http://www.behance.net/christophercudworth
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2 Responses to Hardly a day goes by

  1. First off I would like to say awesome blog!
    I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t
    mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself
    and clear your thoughts prior to writing. I’ve had a hard time
    clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there.
    I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend
    to be lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips?
    Thank you!

    • First, much thanks for reading my work. Second, this is a question I have not considered. So thank you for that too. To write I often tend to “play” at writing first. Because I enjoy writing the blog so much (and I have a couple places to write) I either warm up posting on Facebook or putting a picture on Instagram. Sometimes I even do that while walking the dog. I also do not resist the first idea that comes into my head when I wake up in the morning. That’s often when I’ll get good ideas. So I either write down the title and a couple notes or else I dive right in. I’m not even afraid to draw a little to help my mind get working. It’s about freeing up your creative instincts. So Don’t beat yourself up too much. Play and The writing process is different for everyone. Some of this comes with age or time. I’m 56 so I’ve had a lot of practice and demand “getting to it” but I’ve always sort of been lucky that way. Just be excited about what you’re doing and the idea will drive it.

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