As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, I’m not one to exercise regularly. Getting out of the house to jog, run or walk causes me stress I view as unnecessary, so I usually rule out exercise. However, when I don’t go out and move in some way, shape, or form, my anxiety seems to increase as I internally bully myself for being lazy. Once in a while there are days where I feel positive and optimistic enough to step outside and exercise, and today was one of those days.
I hadn’t woken up with the plan of going out for a long cycle; it was just a spur of the moment kinda thing. After breakfast I decided to cycle down to a nearby park for some fresh air. Once I reached the park, however, I wanted to keep on cycling, it was a dry and sunny morning and I had the full day ahead of me. Being in recovery from an eating disorder, usually these urges to ‘keep on going’ while exercising are unhealthy; driven by anorexia and not Megan, a way of losing weight, and ‘winning’ at my eating disorder. But not today. Today I experienced exercise in a way that is usually non-existent for me. Cycling downhill, I was able to appreciate the feel of the wind blowing onto my flushed cheeks. I noticed the small details around me; birds chirping, flies landing on my hands which gripped the handlebars, beautiful flowers blooming in not-so-beautiful places.
For the first time in a while, I felt alive. Living and existing are two completely different things. Cycling with the only motivation of losing weight is to exist, cycling while being fully aware of my surroundings and contempt with life, in my opinion, is living. It is acknowledging your presence on earth and spending your time doing things that make you feel you are here for a reason. Whether that is being a fire-fighter and saving thousands of lives or, as it was for me this morning, being able to truly appreciate the wonderfulness of nature.
Most people have heard of all this ‘mindfulness’, and if you’re anything like me, who is sick of listening to ‘experts’ saying what’s good for your mental health and what’s not, you probably just ignored this trend. But today, I really felt what it was like to actually be mindful. It was a strange experience, almost feeling like I was the only one on the planet, but also the furthest thing from lonely. Simple things that I would generally take for granted were suddenly little gifts in front of my eyes. I took it all in while cycling a route I had cycled many times before, but this time it seemed almost unfamiliar to me, I had fallen down a hole and was now in Wonderland.
When I reached a public park a few kilometres later, I rested my bike in the grass and sat beside it. The sun was beaming down and warmed my body in a way that made me want to lay back and sleep (which I didn’t do cuz that would have been weird!). Instead, I looked out at the lake in front me and thought to myself how lucky I was to live on such a beautiful planet. It’s hard to be positive these days with all the astonishingly sad events happening throughout the world, but this shouldn’t make us forget the good. Moments of pure joy may not come regularly to most people, but when they do, we should all be mindful of what’s happening so our happiness can surpass limits.