I'm sat here in my pyjamas, looking out at the slightly cold and grey environment waiting for me. New Zealand in general, and the land I live on in particular is very beautiful, but at this time of year the weather's becoming colder. Little rivers of light are starting to come through the clouds and it'll be a lovely sunrise (I've been on morning shifts so now I am not capable of sleeping in) - but - I really don't want to go for a run. I'm busy, my site's expanding fast, I'm working nearly full time as a midwife and I'm doing a ton of other life stuff right now. I feel like exercise is almost a waste of time. I bet you've felt the same.
I tell you what would make me refuse to get out onto the pavement: if I was running just because I thought I should. I have to enjoy my exercise or I won't do it. I think this is where a lot of us go wrong.
Luckily, my run this morning is non-negotiable. Brushing my teeth every morning and night is non-negotiable, exercise every other day is non-negotiable in same way. This is the only way I have coped fitting exercise around shift work, especially night shifts. I know myself well enough to understand I need exercise to be a good midwife. Even an easy 20 minute run makes me patient, lowers my appetite for
delicious unhealthy things like sticky toffee pudding, increases my energy levels for a few days, and generally leaves me feeling confident and like everything will work out.
The serotonin and anandamide I get from physical exercise are enough to make me cheerful for the next few days. It works every time. Anandamide actually comes from the Sanskrit word ananda which means bliss or delight.
I have in the past run more seriously, and I will again in the future, but for now when I slip on my running shoes, clip on my ipod and head out of the door, I don't care how fast I am. It's my mental health routine and my way of caring for my body.
I also cycle commute everywhere which means even at the end of a really long shift, or after a nightshift, I have to complete a 15 minute ride to get home. I know a lot of people find it hard to fit exercise in; cycle commuting again makes it non-negotiable.
The final point I want to make before I head out into the slighty wet morning, is that not everyone is lucky enough to be able to exercise. I have a close, young family member who has a problem meaning she can't exercise for more than a few minutes at a time, and she used to adore it. It's keeping this in mind that makes me appreciate exercise even more - even if you can't run or cycle, dance, swim, do sit ups, do something even for 20 minutes for yourself and for your body. You won't regret it!