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Jun 24

Hate Exercise? The Key Is Making It Purposeful

By Vickie | Get Moving

I hate exercise, I really do. Always have, always will.

The idea of going to the gym, pounding away on the treadmill or stationary bike, doing exercises at home and getting all puffed out, I really hate it. It’s uncomfortable, boring and just unpleasant.


Living free of depressive symptoms means doing some kind of regular exercise, or as I like to think of it, regular physical movement. Moving your body often sounds much more doable to me.

Apart from all the wonderful things regular movement will do for your depression, it simply cannot be denied that regular movement has abundant benefits for your physical health generally.

We all really should be moving more, whether we’re experiencing low mood or feeling pretty good. get moving

Running away from large beasts probably gave our ancestors quite enough exercise!

So, how to incorporate more physical movement into your day without driving yourself mad?

Thousands of years ago we lived as hunter-gatherers. No hunter-gatherer would ever workout or choose to do exercise.

No, because their lifestyle is very active. It would be foolish to throw in an hour at the gym after you’ve already walked 11 kilometres tracking a large animal for dinner, butchering it and dragging the pieces back to camp for the others.

Dr Steven Ilardi (The Depression Cure) suggests that one reason why we sometimes find going to the gym so boring and so hard to get motivated is because there is no obvious purpose to it. No purpose other than keeping fit, that is.

We look at the exercise bike and something inside us says, ‘What a waste of time…I mean, you’re not going anywhere!’ (Ilardi, S, TedTalk).

If you can motivate yourself to go to the gym, go for a swim, go for a jog, great! But so many of us find that motivation hard because it seems like an hour or more out of our day without a direct or immediate result (unlike the effort expended in bringing home dinner).

The trick is to get more purposeful activity into your regular daily routine.

6 Strategies For Getting More Purposeful Movement Into Your Day:

  1. Leave the car at home as often as you can. Walk to the train station or bus stop instead of driving. Shop locally. Walk the kids to school. Get to know your local facilities instead of driving further afield; use the local doctor, dentist, hairdresser, library, fruit shop. Carry your shopping home.
  2. If you must drive, park further from your destination.
  3. An oldie but a goodie, take stairs instead of the elevator wherever possible.
  4. Get up and move about regularly throughout your day. Don’t sit for longer than 20 minutes if possible.
  5. Offer to take your elderly neighbour’s dog for a walk now and then.
  6. Get off the bus or train a station earlier and walk the rest of the way.

There’s plenty of physical activity you can do without leaving your house as well. your body

Put the music on and get moving!

  1. Be vigorous with the vacuum cleaner!
  2. Dance with the duster!
  3. Waltz with the mop or boogie with the broom!
  4. Do calf rises while you’re washing up (up and down on your tippy toes).
  5. Do squats while you’re brushing your teeth.
  6. Raking up leaves and other yard work is fabulous exercise. Offer to mow your neighbour’s nature strip or grass, especially if they are frail or elderly.
  7. Take 5 or 10 minutes through your day to go through a series of stretches.
  8. Use canned foods to do arm curls to build your arm muscles.
  9. Do something with your garden. Plan a delightful outdoor space and select appropriate plants, perhaps a water feature and a place to sit. Build it!
  10. Learn how to plant veggies or fruits; fun and very rewarding.
  11. Wash the car and vacuum the inside.
  12. Clear out your garage.

Getting out into the world, out of your head and back into your body, experiencing new things, learning new skills…this will give you physical activity, a sense of pleasure and purpose, a chance to meet new people and expand your social network. These new experiences are what life without chronic low mood is all about!

  1. Join an active group or class. Dance classes are fun, social and you can learn about a new culture if you choose something like Greek circle dancing, Spanish flamenco or Indian dan
  2. Join a walking group which heads into beautiful natural environments once or twice a month
  3. Join an environmental group taking care of your local park, river or reserve.
  4. Go camping or hiking, canoeing or horse-riding.
  5. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time or chance; horse riding, rock climbing, tennis, golf or archery, ballet or gymnastics! It’s never too late!
  6. Go on a farm holiday with the kids…lots of great new activities like feeding the chickens, moving the animals, milking cows and other fun tasks to get you moving.
  7. Some animal shelters will take volunteers to walk the dogs, clean their kennels and feed. Get Moving get enough sleep
May 12

Stop Rumination and Get Enough Sleep

By Vickie | Get Moving , Mediterranean Diet , Sleep Better

Is depression something you feel you can take control of?

Did you know that what you eat, how much you move and whether you get enough sleep can all affect your mood? In these three posts I’ll show you how making simple changes in these three areas can really help you feel better.

If you’ve been taking medication and believe that depression is a physical illness with an external cause, then you may find it hard to believe that your well-being is actually in your hands.

Thinking about moods, feelings and emotions as natural, rather than abnormal, may help you get treatment and feel better. That treatment may be self-sought and self-applied. That treatment might be to do more exercise and enjoy a better diet, include more social occasions and increase connectedness, get enough sleep and pursue more meaningful life. Get out of your head and into your body.

But you won’t do those things if you believe your moods are caused by something you can’t control.

What would be the point? You can’t make yourself produce more insulin if you’re diabetic no matter how hard you try. Same with an underactive thyroid. You can’t force your body produce more thyroxine. You have to take this in artificially.

The fact that some activities make you feel less down shows that you can produce, by setting your mind to it, the kinds of neurotransmitters which are involved in good feelings. This you cannot do with diabetes or thyroid malfunction. But you can with low mood.

This should be empowering. This means your health is in your hands. And in your body.

It does not mean, however, that your chronic low mood is your fault.

No, because we all do the best we can with the resources, knowledge and information we have at the time.

So what if your decision wasn’t the best one you could have made? You did your best at the time. You can change and choose to do better next time. Be kind to yourself.

Isn’t that empowering? Does that make you feel different about depression? That you could grow and learn to react differently and improve your knowledge and information and responses?

I guess if there is a ‘gift’ in depression it’s the opportunity for self-growth.

This post covers the first of the most important things you need to lift your mood and think more positively about the future: Sleep.

Sunshine and Sleep

Nobody operates well on less than the optimal amount of sleep. It’s the worst feeling, being sleep deprived. Many people experience poor sleep, insufficient sleep and move through their days in less than ideal form. The longer we go without adequate sleep, the worse we feel and it quickly becomes a downward cycle of misery.

Not getting good sleep is a characteristic of depression.

One of the things which interferes most with a good night’s sleep is rumination. your body

Are you sleeping like a baby? Waking up every for hours crying?

Rumination is thinking things over and over and over, without reaching any conclusions or solutions. When we are depressed we often ruminate over our lives, our depressive symptoms, our hopeless future. We also go over conversations or incidents that occurred that day.

It’s very hard to go to sleep and stay asleep when our mind is churning over like a never ending factory machine.



How to turning off the rumination machine:

  1. In another room (not your bedroom), take a notebook or piece of paper and a pen and make notes about the things that are worrying you. Do not use whole sentences. Use bullet points and make brief notes about the people, situations, health or financial issues that you are facing. It might look like this:
  • Ask Dave (my manager) for a day off next week so I can visit my aunt who is very ill
  • Stop eating so much chocolate and cake: I must lose weight before Jenny’s wedding!
  • Start saving more money
  • See the doctor about that pain in my leg
  • Try not to be so nervous in meetings

2. Now that you have your list, note down one or two things you can do to solve each problem. For example:

  • Ask Dave (my manager) for a day off next week so I can visit my aunt who is very ill – I’ll ask him directly after our team meeting tomorrow morning
  • Stop eating so much chocolate and cake: I must lose weight before Jenny’s wedding! – After work tomorrow, go to the supermarket and buy some salad vegetables.
  • Start saving more money – Ring the cable company and cancel that TV subscription. I never use it anyway.
  • See the doctor about that pain in my leg – Ring Dr Roberts tomorrow in my lunch break

Try not to be so nervous in meetings – just take a few breaths before the meeting starts and go into the room with a smile on my face.

3. Now you have listed your main worries and provided a simple course of action. Close the notebook and put it away.

4. When you are lying in the dark, if your mind starts up with all your worries, say to yourself,

“I’ve thought about that problem and I’ve already come up with a solution. I’ve written down everything I need to do. I won’t forget. I don’t need to think about that problem any more. If I need to, I can think about it more tomorrow. Giving myself permission to switch off and go to sleep now”.

Like any new habit, this will take some practice. Don’t be hard on yourself if you find your mind going around and around. It probably will!

Just return to the thoughts above, “I don’t need to think about this now. I’ve already come up with the solution. Giving myself permission to switch off and go to sleep now”.

5. If you continue to worry and think about a particular problem, sit up in bed, or better yet, leave your bedroom and do a couple of EFT tapping rounds on that problem. Tapping on your body distracts your mind from thoughts. Don’t turn the main, bright light on! Use a torch or dim light. Then take a deep breath, go back to bed, relax and let yourself drift off to sleep. your body

Enjoy your early morning coffee in the sun and reset your body clock.

When you wake in the morning, reset your body clock by getting early morning sunshine. Within an hour of waking, step outside and stand in the sunlight for 15 minutes. Don’t wear sunglasses and don’t look at the sun. The corners of your eyes have very sensitive light conductors that connect with your brain. These tell your body it’s time to wake up and will assist with the production of melatonin when the sun goes down and it’s time to rest. It’s important to reset your body clock to ensure regular circadian rhythms.



The next post discusses how getting enough exercise will help you get enough sleep and eliminate depression from your life.








May 11

Lifestyle Change For Depression Recovery

By Vickie | Get Moving , Mediterranean Diet , Sleep Better

Lifestyle change is the key to living free from

chronic low mood.

When I understood that the crushing sense of sadness, frustration and disappointment I had experienced for so long was a result of stress caused by an unbalanced lifestyle, I set about putting the imbalance to rights.

I looked at each area of my life and made a decision about how I could make things better. After I had my moment of anger about the depression returning I set about finding solutions that were based in lifestyle change.

This is what I came up with:

How I got more active

It was clear from my reading that doing regular exercise is a wonderful anti-depressant and this put me in a quandary because I loathe exercise. This was one lifestyle change I was going to find difficult.

It’s not that I don’t like moving; I don’t mind walking and I used to ride a bike regularly in China, but I hate the idea of just walking on a treadmill, or a stationary bike, or lifting weights or even playing sport (I’m so unco-ordinated). Dr Ilardi suggests that we find it difficult going to the gym because we take a look at the stationary bikes, for example, and our brain says ‘Nooo, don’t get on…you’re not going anywhere!’¹

It seems that for the unmotivated, like me, exercise is done better with a sense of purpose and not just the purpose of fitness, even mental health. For me, exercise has to be linked to something useful or productive. So I had to incorporate my exercise into my everyday life.

However, while I was living in northern China, so much of the year is bitterly cold that it’s difficult to do outdoor exercise. So I joined a gym. I used the weight machines and treadmills but after that I did something fun; I took a dance class, salsa or Mongolian dancing. I made the ‘boring’ workout more interesting by taking upbeat music or an interesting podcast, but what I was looking forward to was the dancing. lifestyle change

Walking in the park…get some sunshine, some fresh air and a much brighter mood!

Home in Melbourne, it was interesting how I began to slip back into my old ways, taking the car most places and being busy at work, not taking time to exercise after work. As the effect of not doing regular exercise became noticeable again in my mood, I was determined not to be so sedentary. I had to make this lifestyle change to resist the increasingly low mood.

I couldn’t think of anything worse than being stuck inside a gym, so I bought some tiny second-hand weights and walked in the park a few times each week.

The more I walked the better I felt and I began to incorporate more walking into my everyday life, leaving the car at home and using local facilities.

How I ate better:

When I was low in mood, I ate a lot of stodge; bread, pasta and rice.

I mostly did this because I didn’t have much money and meals were often pasta with tomatoes or commercially made paste, macaroni and cheese, rice with chicken in curry sauce out of a jar, or sausages and onion gravy.

I grew up understanding that a balanced diet is important and tried to eat fruit each week, but somehow the depression left me craving carbohydrate laden foods, and the sugar! Oh, I ate chocolate, cake and doughnuts often. I also ate a lot of fast food when I just couldn’t be bothered cooking.

Back then I really didn’t understand the connection between mood and food and that the foods I was choosing and the meals I was creating may have been keeping my mood depressed.

When I went to China, I knew I had to start eating better. I had to make a dietary lifestyle change. I was in a new country with a new start in life. I was determined to do things differently and set about finding sources of food that would sustain my health.

Next to the campus where I was teaching was a small collection of shops and I discovered a tiny fruit and vegetable shop owned by a smiley lady. Her shop was dark and the fruit and vegetables were stacked untidily around the walls. I choose carrots and beans, tomatoes and eggplants, onions and garlic, apples and watermelon. Other fruits and vegetables were obtained from the huge supermarkets in town.

My only concern was getting enough protein. Chinese butchers tend to sell the whole animal (it seems) and I’m no good at home-butchering. With no language skills I found myself having to make do with canteen meals containing meat and cooking vegetarian. In time I found a meat counter at one of the bigger supermarkets where I could use hand gestures to show I wanted a small portion of beef, for example (and some fatty minced pork for the various dogs I was forever adopting).

I also found tinned tuna, eggs and yoghurt, so that covered some of my protein and calcium requirements.

By the time I got back to Australia, I was eating a low-meat, high vegetable diet, though I still chose pasta and rice with most meals. Yes, changing my diet was an easy lifestyle change to make.

One thing I really missed in China was fresh herbs and spices to add flavour to my cooking. I had Chinese flavourings, sure, but I really missed fresh basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley and chives as well as spices.

When I moved from northern China to a city more centrally located, Xian, I had access to a wider variety of foods and I even found fresh basil. It was a bit wilted but I snapped it up with glee. It was the only time I found it; that supermarket had always run out whenever I returned. I adore the smell of basil; it transports me to exotic countries where the days are mellow and the sun is hot. China was fascinating, but my heart lies further west, around the Mediterranean. lifestyle change

I love the fresh, delicious tastes of Mediterranean cooking.

When I returned to Melbourne from China I started my new teaching job at the university. It was busy and there was much to think about. I was trying to get my head around the curriculum, plan lessons, attend meeting and do assessments; things that were never needed in China because as a foreign English teacher, all these requirements were left up to me.

I began to feel the stress of the job mounting up and my mood dipping again.

I started to buy comfort foods on the way to or from work. Stopping in a fast food restaurant for a sausage and egg breakfast burger seemed a treat which sweetened the start of the work day. Going home, tired out and unhappy, I’d stop for a Chinese take away so I didn’t have to cook.

I heard my mother’s voice in my ear, ‘Carrots make you see well in the dark’ and ‘Fish is good for the brain’ and I knew my health would suffer if I continued down this path to my old, depressed ways of eating.

Somewhere I heard about the Mediterranean Diet and set about reading more.

The more I discovered, the more excited I became. Not only does the Mediterranean Diet have significant health advantages, it’s emphasis on fish and plant based foods is also very important for brain health. Not only that, the recipes just looked delicious.

I read further and knew that the Mediterranean Diet would be a perfect fit and an easy lifestyle change to make with its simple combinations of foods and flavours. Some meals could be frozen for convenience, but the added bonus from doing more cooking was that I was feeling like I was really taking care of myself and preparing meals was very satisfying, an accomplishment whereas before cooking and eating was more of a chore and definitely didn’t make me feel very good.

In the past I was focussed on just not being hungry and buying cheap, filling foods that were not enjoyable to prepare and even less enjoyable to eat.

Now, I was loving the preparation of the food, absolutely delighted by the look of the dishes with their bright colours and textures and loving eating the new, fresh flavours. My mood was definitely improving as a result of this important, dietary lifestyle change.

How I started sleeping better

My major stressors have always been work and where I’ve noticed the effect the most is in my sleep patterns.

Trying to build a business with seriously low mood is a recipe for disaster and I spent every evening dreading the long night time hours when I’d like awake, staring at the walls, tears often coursing down my face.

When I closed the business and retrained as an English teacher, that source of stress evaporated. I felt confident teaching in China, but when I returned to Australia, I found the teaching much more difficult and I slowly felt the stress creeping back.

As my stress around work increased, I got less and less sleep. My thoughts whirled around in my head. I had a particularly difficult class, with younger students who were disruptive in class, low motivation and poor participation.

Despite loving teaching in China, I began to wonder why on earth I had chosen to teach English as a second language. I had envisaged a class of adults, who were all keen to learn, who were courteous and determined. Instead, I had older teens (an age group I know nothing about) who were learning English under duress, were surly, bored and aggressive.

I went to bed each night dreading the next day. I found myself more and more weepy and unable to turn off the thoughts that invaded my mind each night when I laid my head on the pillow. I woke groggy and grumpy. Things were not going well for my mood.

My level of exercise had dropped and I was probably not physically tired enough to fall asleep easily. Not only that, but my internal body clock was out of whack. I was sleeping too late and finding it very difficult to wake up in the morning. I wasn’t spending enough outdoors to reset my body clock. lifestyle change

Your brain does important cleaning work while you’re sleeping; make sure you’re getting enough!

It was imperative that I learned to relax more and switch off those thoughts. It was imperative that I made sleeping better a lifestyle change urgently.

I went back to Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a strategy for dealing with troubling thoughts and feelings I had learned many years before. This involves stimulating the traditional Chinese acupuncture points using the fingers instead of needles. Tapping on various parts of the face and upper body while stating emotions out loud clears the negativity held in the body by these emotions. I’m not entirely sure how it works, perhaps it just distracts us from our thoughts.

Each night I wrote out the problems or challenges I had experienced during the day and used this calming practice to soften my feelings about them. Writing out the problems I had had and also planning for the next day, not in detail, just in note form, helped to get those thoughts out of my head.

Then I took a warm shower and used lavender scented soap. I had a hot milk drink and read for about 30 minutes before turning of the light.

Lying in the dark, it did take some effort to shut off the thinking and I used mindfulness (especially of the breath) and relaxation techniques. With practice, these techniques were effective and I found myself dropping off into sleep more easily and remaining asleep during the night.

Getting out in the sunshine while having breakfast or early morning tea or coffee helped reset my body clock and dimming the lights around the house, switching off the computer and television and ensuring my room was cool and dark enough also improved the quality of my sleep. This is a simple lifestyle change that can make all the difference to your mood and daytime functioning.

How I started socialising more

I am a private, introverted person. With the exception of my 20s when I lived in shared houses, I have always lived alone. I enjoy and need time alone.

At university I went to parties or the pub and mostly enjoyed those occasions, but I usually had a sense of discomfort, of not being able to fully participate, of feeling a bit ‘on the outside’. I think this was a lack of confidence. I didn’t feel as witty or attractive as my friends (though they never intentionally made me feel like this; I have lovely friends!); instead I felt rather dull, uninteresting and serious.

I longed for more intimate gatherings in quiet venues with just a few close friends who shared similar interests as I did, without all the stress of going to parties.

As my mood dropped, the idea of meeting up with friends was something I began to dread. I felt terrible about myself and was convinced I’d make terrible company. At work I was around people constantly and I found it draining. When I got home I was greeted warmly by my dog and felt I needed no other companionship than my faithful, non-judgemental furry bear.

Nonetheless, there was something that made me long to share some part of my life with others and I think it was for that reason that I enjoyed the appointments with the psychologist. We had a cup of tea together and chatted about life. I also felt oddly comforted by the occasional visits of the local Seventh Day Adventist lady, Lorraine. Her gentle outreach lifted my mood.

So it was clear that to live without depression, some kind of social interaction was necessary and important.

But how?

This was another lifestyle change I was going to find difficult.

After I lost my job twice in three years I set up my own paralegal consultancy offering immigration advice. I had few clients but had read about the power of networking. In a moment of rare energy I found a local small business networking group in a neighbouring suburb and joined up.

We met weekly in a café for breakfast and to discuss business matters. I usually felt a tremendous sense of trepidation and anxious nervousness before the meetings. After all, I wasn’t a successful businesswoman by any means. Rather, at the beginning I felt a bit of an imposter, a fraud.

Nonetheless, I got myself up and dressed nicely and headed off in the early morning light to our café. The people were very friendly and welcoming and overall I enjoyed these gatherings very much, even if they didn’t contribute greatly to the growth of my business! It helped develop my identity as a business person and was a great lifestyle change, giving me interaction with like-minded small business people.

I also began to think about how much I had enjoyed dance in my life. From daggy jazz ballet classes at school and flamenco lessons in my 20s, I had always enjoyed moving to music. There was always a sense of not being very good at it, of self-consciousness and fear of what others may think, but I enjoyed it enough to go to classes regularly. lifestyle change

There’s something incredibly joyful about dance!

I found a small local salsa class and started to go to the casual classes they offered. It was tiny, only about six of us were there at any given class. This suited me perfectly. I got to know the core group and become comfortable with them, even venturing out to clubs with them sometimes.

Looking back, this gave me many of the things you need for a anti-depressant lifestyle; friends and human contact, exercise and for me it was much more ‘cultural’ and meaningful than bopping about on a nightclub dancefloor where people are mostly showing off. This was a really important lifestyle change as it reconnected me with something I loved.

When invitations to coffee or meals out came from friends I still found myself dreading the approaching date. It took quite a long time for me to feel comfortable with more than a small handful of my very closest friends. I’m not sure why this should be. I know I did compare my life with theirs, my constant career changes with their steady rises up the professional ladder, my material possessions with theirs.

Before I headed off to China I had a small party to say goodbye to my loved ones and that was fun. When in China, it’s impossible to be alone for long (it’s a collectivist society where the group is paramount and your employer treats you like parents, regularly calling you to be involved in various activities including dinners). I made friends with my teaching colleagues, both foreign and Chinese and also with the students. I also got to know people who worked at the gym I attended and who had good English as well as through a book group I joined. My years in China were very social.

Back in Australia, my work kept me interacting with people, but it was my job that started to stress me out and I began to notice my life outside work began to be affected. I longed for the weekend when I could be alone. I started house-sitting for people who were away on their holidays, looking after their dogs and once again canine company was enough for me.

This was the time when I noticed my mood dropping and my thoughts turning more negative and before they could take a hold of me, I realised what was happening and that’s when I began my hunt for a solution, particularly in lifestyle change.

How I started living a more meaningful life

What do I mean by a ‘more meaningful life’? I’m not a philosopher, but what I mean by a ‘more meaningful life’ is one that is satisfying, that is rewarding, that makes you feel good.

My career path has been one of twists and turns. Every eight years or so I come to a cross-roads in my working life and find I need a change for some reason. At times I envy those people who have one set course in life and know what it is from early on. They know from childhood that all they ever wanted to do was be a nurse or a teacher or run their own business. I never had that. All I knew was that I was fascinated by the world, its history, cultures and peoples. lifestyle change

Take time to reflect on your values and what gives meaning to your life.

So I went to university and studied archaeology. I wasn’t particularly bothered by the fact that there are few jobs in archaeology world-wide, let alone in Australia. I was happy in the world of 3000BC. To keep myself alive I temped. In the year I took off in between my third and fourth years I did a reception training course, learned how to type and answer phones, and started temping which stood me in good stead on and off for decades after that. I didn’t enjoy the work, but it wasn’t dreadful either.

By the time I finished my doctorate in archaeology I was so demoralised that I turned away from the field I had so enjoyed and retrained in immigration law.

Wow! Archaeology to immigration law. That’s a bit of a leap, isn’t it? Yes, but in my mind the link is an interest in people and culture.

I got a job where I could hear different languages spoken all around me and engage in cultural traditions and customs from around the world. This was one of the things that had attracted me to archaeology; the fact that I could travel and excavate in fascinating parts of the world. So while it wasn’t life BC, it was still an area that I loved.

But the community sector is poorly funded and for this reason I found myself without work twice in fairly rapid succession and for this reason thought that working for myself might be the solution. Of course I had no business experience and found it extremely difficult and this is when I might have experienced an episode of more severe depression.

When I finally got professional help with my ‘low mood’,  I decided that perhaps I should wind up the business and when my dog died, I knew it was time for a lifestyle change. There I was at another crossroads.

By this stage I thought I was just strange, a person who felt disconnected from the rest of my friends and family who had been in their work for some years, were starting to buy apartments, marry and start families. In contrast, my life looked totally different. In fact I felt I hadn’t really grown up and was still living like a university student.

Heading to China to teach English as a Second Language I felt like this was my last career, the thing I was meant to be doing with my life. I had a wonderful three years in China, developing my skills as a teacher, making friends, visiting fascinating places and recovering my sense of equilibrium. It was as though I had had a clean slate from which to start the rest of my life. I returned to Australia refreshed and ready to start teaching in Melbourne.

I got a job at a university in Melbourne in their English language centre. I felt like a fish out of water. I was still teaching, but the curriculum was set, the exams were prepared for me and the marking rubric used to grade them, I had to work with another teacher and attend meetings, CPD training sessions and basically found myself in way over my head.

I put a smile on my face and got on with the job, but it became clearer as the years went by that I was unhappy and feeling increasing stressed at work for a number of reasons.

I made a decision. I stopped caring about what other people thought of my working life and slowly slid out of the job. I was slowly coming to peace with my lifestyle, the life that society does not usually accept as normal. I began to think of myself as interesting, resilient and adventurous.

Now it’s your turn…

What can you do, today, this moment or this week to start putting your life back in order? What kinds of lifestyle change can you make to live a more fulfilling, enjoyable life?

I’ll let you know right here… lifestyle change


If you have found this post helpful, please share it with Your friends! Thanks for spreading the word!


(1) Ilardi, S, 2010 The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs, Da Capo Lifelong Books.

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Jun 04

I Hate Exercise

By Vickie | Get Moving , Uncategorised


I do. I hate exercise. I always have and suspect I always will.

That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the health benefits of exercise. I understand that sitting around all day is really not good for one’s physical, or, as it turns out, one’s mental health.

I was a skinny, weak little kid. My congenital heart defect meant that my lungs did not send enough oxygenated blood around my limbs, leaving me lethargic and lacking in energy.

Finally I had open-heart surgery at age 7, which enabled me to live beyond the age of about 20, for which I am very grateful. I remember after being bed-ridden and molly-coddled by my mother after my heart operation, finally racing outside and up the big oak tree near our house.

At 14 my mother told me to stand up straight. I stared at her and said I was.

“No”, she replied, “Your right shoulder is higher’.

I pulled up my shoulder and raised my right hip. Everything seemed a bit out of whack. It seemed I had Vickie Clayton Life Story

When I see how crooked I am, I really can’t believe the scoliosis wasn’t picked up earlier.

developed a severe scoliosis so familiar to many tall skinny people.

Yay! Back to hospital with me from which I emerged with a leather covered metal back brace (complete with plastic covered arm straps) which I wore for 6 months.

School sport was characterized by a mutual dislike and distrust of physical education teachers.

They disliked me and I loathed them.

One teacher told me to remove the t-shirt I wore under my sleeveless gym dress.

“It’s just with this brace, the straps are plastic and they rub on my underarms”, I tried to explain.
The teacher scowled. “Well, you’re going to get very hot”.

Thanks for pointing that out, oh-so-caring sports teacher who should have picked up my postural problems long before.

So my relationship with physical activity has been strained to say the least.

I was clumsy, unco-ordinated and couldn’t catch a ball to save my life. Netball and tennis made me feel inadequate (I was always put in the goal because of my height, but I couldn’t save a ball to save my life), hockey freaked me out (those wooden sticks and hard, hard ball), I nearly drowned in the swimming pool and point-blank refused to haul myself over the high jump bar.

The only physical activity I quite enjoyed was riding my bike and climbing trees. Something about the sense of freedom?

Whatever your physical condition, some sort of movement is essential for mental health.

Why is exercise so important for raising one’s mood?

As well as increasing blood flow to the brain, exercise also releases the body’s own antidepressant, endorphins.

People with depression are also lacking in another chemical, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which promotes memory and general brain health. Exercise has been shown to increase levels of this vital neurotransmitter.

How to get started with exercise when you’re feeling low and lacking in energy?

The trick is…well there are three tricks:

1/ Start small

You’re not running in the marathon next week, so you don’t need to start training like an Olympic athlete. A brisk walk of 15 minutes three times per week is an excellent start. Try to build up to 30 minutes over the following few weeks. exercise

Walking with a human or canine companion (or both!) is a great form of exercise.

2/ Make it enjoyable

While you’re walking, listen to your favourite music or comedy podcast, walk with a friend, or treat yourself to coffee and even a cake (after all, this is not about weight loss; it’s about creating serotonin) at the end.

3/ Schedule the time

Use your diary or phone to factor in three sessions of walking this week and at least one on the weekend. Once you have committed the time you are more likely to stick with your plan.

One brisk walk will make you feel good for some time after, but for ongoing mental health, you need to make exercise part of your weekly schedule.

Get moving and lift your mood!

Go on. Start. Start today. Start now.

Your brain will thank you! exercise

Your Brain Is A Muscle; Use It Or Lose It!