Whatever gets you down, movement can help you find a way up. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I firmly believe in a number of different methods of medicine and therapy for treating what might be ailing us. I wrote about this in two of my early posts, Choices in Healthcare and The Best of Both Worlds.
I have had first hand success with homeopathic, naturopathic, movement therapy, and other forms of complementary and alternative medicine. So I do not believe they are “just a placebo”—something that works because we want it to, or believe that it will. Of course I also believe that a positive mindset is a necessary component of living a healthier life.
Someone who embodies the positive spirit for me is Clara Hughes. Talk about a positive attitude and smile that can light up any room she happens to be in. She will be in a lot of rooms in the next few months as she is embarking on her Big Ride. The six-time Olympic medal winner will be riding her bike through 95 communities across Canada, including Kingston on March 24, to continue the “Let’s Talk About It” campaign that raises awareness about mental illness and raises funds to support mental health programs. Clara Hughes knows that movement—in this case bike riding—is good medicine for her depression. She’s written about this in a journal entry from November 2012 posted on her website. She’s also talked very publicly about her struggles with depression. The University Hospitals Kingston Foundation is sponsoring the local event. I’ll definitely be attending, and am hoping to get the chance to speak to Clara about her journey, and how she’s inspired so many, including me. Her upcoming visit inspired this post.
The clinical depression I was diagnosed with in 2000 continues to rear its ugly head once in a while, and although I’ve found taking medication helpful in the past, I prefer alternative treatments, including movement. I really got moving in 2005 with long-distance walking. I started with five kilometre walks, and within a few months I was training for, and completed a half-marathon—21 kilometres. The next year I did two more half-marathons, and a full marathon. I couldn’t, and sometimes still don’t, believe I could do that. The hardest steps are the first two out the door some days. Although I don’t enter those longer events, I still get out to walk on a regular basis. Icy and snow-packed roads and sidewalks have made it a challenge lately, but contrary to popular belief, winter won’t last forever.
My longest walks are now only about five kilometres, and they are usually only a way of getting from Point A to Point B and back again. I do keep moving though and I firmly believe that my other exercises—strength training, working out on a stability ball, and tone and stretch exercises, are the movement I need for my medicine. That is the best antidote to whatever might be bringing me down.
Writing is another positive therapy for me and I know that for many people art and music are good antidotes for their illnesses. There have been some marvellous studies, art shows, and music concerts that exemplify how people react positively to these creative outlets. They can really brighten up what otherwise might be a dull day.
That’s what I am expecting when I see and hear Clara Hughes. Her positive spirit and that wonderful smile will light up the Ambassador Hotel room where she is speaking, and I know everyone will leave that night feeling her spirit and passion for her work, and for her life. We’ll be following her Big Ride and cheering her on way.
Has there been someone who has inspired you? What do you do to bring yourself out of a “down” day? I’ll be writing more about positive therapies using art and music in future posts so I hope you’ll keep checking in.
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