Guest blogger: Cynthia Milledge
Feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, or stressed to the point that you think you about to lose your mind? You tried praying but did not feel God was listening. You poured your heart out to friends and family, and they did not seem to understand or could not relate to your feelings. When all else has failed, you cry for days or even months at a time. Yes, I have been there, and one day I will share my testimony. Yes, I did seek counseling to get out of this slump, but my combat against emotional distress proved to be exercise. Trust me, during your weakest moment, if you stop and work out for at least 30 minutes, it will change your perspective. Let me explain further.
I have incredible faith and live an active lifestyle, but somehow, life's challenges seemed to combat me mentally. I first sensed signs of depression and excessive worrying in my 20's and decided to join a local gym as an outlet to wind down after a stressful workday. Not only did it help improve my mindset, but it also became my prayer time. Along with creating an unwavering bond with the Heavenly Father, I found myself more athletic and in tune with myself. Let's not forget that my abs, thighs, and arms always told me if I didn't stay consistent(lol). Truthfully, my mental, physical, and spiritual well-being remain in sync if I dedicate time to being physically fit. This outlet helps create social interaction with people, also something I found myself needing often.
Health experts agree that this form of extra-curricular activity could become a strategic way to decrease stress. The benefits include:
Increased neurotransmitter activity
It serves as a distraction or a method of coping.
People often look at me and say, "you're obsessed with exercise." It's not that at all. I tell them when I run, I run for Jesus. When I lift weights, do a spin class, or boot camp, I consider it my way of being fit for Christ. For me, it is all about being on one accord with God, keeping a positive mindset, and appreciating my body for the gift of being mobile and flexible. Is it easy? Absolutely not! I try to get a workout in at 4:45 a.m. five days a week. Getting the heart pumping helps me focus. The first sense that it will be a stressful day, I try to get in additional training at lunch or after work. It is not always in the gym. Sometimes it is walking and lunging the stairs at work, walking in the community, or using equipment in my home. The ultimate mission is to stay sane, crush goals, and live life to the fullest!