In the midst of all the lights, carols, and magnificent holiday cheer are scattered heavy hearts and lost souls. Life is emotionally paradoxical - the most joyous times and sadness are quite often bedfellows. It would be reckless to suggest that exercise is a panacea to everything that ails us emotionally, but its emotionally stabilizing and restorative properties cannot be underestimated. You likely knew this fact. The real challenge lies in oceans of blue mood that make acting on this knowledge a difficult task.
When emotionally down and struggling it is easy to avoid getting to the gym, on with the run, or into the exercise class. When emotionally down and struggling, getting to the gym, on with the run, or into the exercise class will provide emotional relief in the short term (and in the long term if the habit can be sustained). Feeling “good” can seem like such a distant prospect when mired in the sludge of the human experience. Finding the energy to be active seems like an even more daunting task. Yet finding the motivational resources, even for a small period of time, to get moving will reap positive benefits.
There is no magic pill or specific motivational speech that assures exercise will be achieved. The awareness of and reminder to “avoid avoiding” is perhaps the initial message necessary to put one foot in front of the other to experience exercise. The reward of a bout of exercise can range from temporary relief to a positive habit for the path forward.
Through all of the emotions of the holiday season – be well.
Dr. Adam Naylor leads Telos Sport Psychology Consulting and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Boston University’s School of Education. He has a decade and a half of experiences working with professional through amateur athletes – of note: US Open competitors, NCAA champions, Olympians, Stanley Cup winners, and UFC martial artists. Beyond sports, over the past five years he has served as a corporate performance and wellness consultant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ahnaylor.