Today, I had to go a little easier with my right paw. On Sunday, it had landed less than squarely on the bag, leaving me with a partial weekend of aching and shaking out the stiffness. A little softer on the punches this evening meant a little faster on the movement. There is no taking it easy on the workouts.
I am not entirely surprised at the improvements I have earned in both my physical and mental health due to the increased attention I’ve placed on both those items. My physique is not marble worthy, but I am certainly strong. I’ve noticed a new heft to my calves, chest, arms, as well as an increased endurance in the more cerebral and emotional parts of my daily fight.
Those who have read this blog now and again will have seen references to my bouts with depression. With work, family, and relationships all building into an ever-changing weather system, the one constant I have found is that the depression continues to creep in and out of my life as it always had. But there is a difference in my own self, central and essential: I believe in this body and this mind, the core value of me as me.
Sure, I know the physical changes are key to feeling well, holistically, but there have been factors other than exercise playing strong roles as well:
- Daily meditation. At its simplest, it relaxes my otherwise manic brain. It sets me up for the battles that come each and every day.
- Eating right. Again, physical health breeds mental health.
- Following my financial plan, career plan, and thinking ahead to a future. Fiscal health and stability in these areas, as well as networking and setting goals that I will not compromise is my resolve and promise to myself, my family, and future partner.
- Maintaining and building social connections. Depression usually attacks this first, making me reclusive and stagnant. Keeping hiking group meetups, attending cultural events, going to holiday parties, and just visiting friends on the phone, are valuable and simple.
- Reading and writing more, publishing less. Oddly, expanding my thoughts and exploring the richness around me, but not seeing these as a means to a specific end (likes on this page, for example), has enhanced these thoroughly enjoyable activities.
- Caring better by caring less. Similar to the above, augmentation by reduction. Loving simply, accepting and giving time where I can, and discarding trying to effect results in the things I cannot change (or that simply resist my attempts to mold, after awhile), has been a miracle of a mind shift for me. Accepting the limits of the world and the people around me to address desires that are wholly mine has made me more generous to myself and others.
- Pursuing the things that matter in lieu of the things that are easy or pleasant distractions.
- Doing things on my own. Enjoying me.
It isn’t perfect. Here I am, up late, working through tomorrow’s assignment that will turn into a mental beating. I haven’t shed what’s hard, though I’d like to think that I’m shedding what’s holding me down. I still lose as many battles as I win, and this past month has been extraordinarily difficult. Depression is clawing my brain at all hours, and I often catch myself wishing the old wishes, playing the old songs. But the next round is about to start, and I’m not planning on getting knocked out of it.
Update 12-21. A near total lack of sleep last night meant that my morning ritual of meditation was a bit unfocused.
Nonetheless, a calmness I chose to embrace today has guided the morning in positive ways. Composure was maintained in my high-stakes confrontational meeting, as well as other direct and simple negotiations with my coworkers, clients, and even my ex-spouse. Energy levels are, at best, moderate, but sustainable, due in large part to the vigorous exercise from last evening. I am cheerful, yet unequivocal in what I want and need from today.
This way is working, even when some results are mixed.