How the gym helped towards bettering my anxiety.
This is a much more honest blog post for me, and I have been urm-ing and ah-ing whether or not to post it. But I decided too, as there might be others that are suffering or have suffered with a similar situation or issues.
From quite young I have always struggled with ‘social anxiety’ and it worsens when I was suffering with my undiagnosed IBS and gluten intolerance. I didn’t know what was troubling my stomach, when it would randomly strike and why it was making me feel so rubbish all the time. I found it hard (and still sometimes do) going to certain places, events, away on trips and holidays due to being worried about ‘being ill’ or having an IBS flare up that at times it just became too much and I ended up not going or leaving earlier than everyone else.
I think to most people I might come across as a somewhat confident person on the exterior, but really I am an a bit of an obsessive over thinker, making me have little anxiety attacks now and then.
Something that really helped me and I am incredibly surprised that it did, was joining a gym. It is scary for anyone walking into the gym for the first time, you just have to read my post from a while ago talking about ‘the gym fear. ’ New place, new machines, having no idea how to use anything or what to do, the fear of looking stupid, but we all have to start from somewhere. When I first started the gym, I left after 10 minutes, running out of the gym as I went into panic mode. Thankfully having a very understanding boyfriend and someone who knows what they are doing in the gym, managed to give me guidance and a helping hand.
My gym has always been very much male dominated, and that scared me at first too. But it was later on that I found my inner confidence, where I found an empowerment walking into a section that is full of men. Now I am not sure whether it’s the excessive grunting, low strung ‘my-protein vests’ or beading eyes at you that causes us to feel self-conscious. But I am pretty sure it’s more likely the stigma that we shouldn’t be there and most of us having a low self-esteem. I take my hat off too the small handful of women that is ever growing in the weight section at my gym now. And I also take my hat off to the men who don’t give you funny looks, appreciate that we too can lift weights, and aren’t afraid to talk to you about weight lifting either. (I like to be talked to at the gym by the way, so please do!)
Lifting weights not only made me realise how physically strong I could be, but also mentally. Weight training is both incredibly stimulating on both the mind and muscles. This hobby has become a real passion to me, something that I didn’t expect to love as much as I do, weird I know.. and I know to most people, I look like any other girl who blogs, who is on Instagram talking about ‘fitness and food’ –taking lots of videos, gym selfies and pretty pictures of my breakfast – but there is more too it than just that.
The gym is a place where I can escape from my anxiety and stress for a little while, turn my phone off, plug my music in and focus on something different for a moment – that is why I enjoy it so much. With weight training you get to push yourself much more than just running on a treadmill, you get to sculpt your body the way you want it and you become stronger each time, in many ways. As well as cooking and developing recipes, its the only time I get to feel present, shut off from the outside world for a bit and just enjoy what I am doing.
The gym is not just a place for exercising, training or loosing weight. Each one of us is struggling with problems, reaching our goals, having a crap day or even week, so don’t be quick to judge, this could be someone’s hour of escapism for the day. I am not just the resting 'bitch face' girl in the gym - there is normally something going on behind that face of mine.