My friend Michele says time and again that movement is the key to getting fit. Instead of formal exercise, she suggests trying to move throughout the day as much as you can. This could include twenty minutes of intense housecleaning, parking far away from a store’s entrance so you have to walk farther, or dancing in the kitchen. Merriam Webster online defines movement as “the act or process of moving; especially; change of place or position or posture.” Movement is also key in combating depression.
About seven weeks after my recovery memoir launched, I found myself in a funk. I was burnt out on promoting the book and couldn’t write. I briefly went on a cooking strike. When I declared this to my husband, he looked like he had seen a ghost. But when I realized that the funk could morph into depression, I had to act.
I started reading Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing – The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life. Shapiro discussed the fallow period following the completion of a book. I learned it is common with writers, and needed to recharge.
In addition to moving my mind with reading, I emptied it by coloring and practicing meditation. I took my dog to the park as walking in the neighborhood seemed boring. I de-cluttered our bedroom, going though every pair of socks, folding each t-shirt, and weeding through baskets of jewelry. While I did this physical activity, I watched documentaries on FDR and WWII. I started reading about Josephine Baker, an African-American dancer and singer who worked as a spy. Her bravery shook me up.
One night Rick and I watched the movie Cake, about a woman’s decent into prescription drug abuse in the wake of a tragedy. A car accident left her with a huge loss, and she also had pins in her legs. Physical therapy in a pool was excruciating, but her therapist pushed her, because she knew the exercises would help her get better.
I won’t tell you what happens at the end of the film, but I will tell you that engaging in movement, both mental and physical, likely saved me from spending my summer depressed.
Instead I get to explore new hobbies and interests, and my husband doesn’t have to cook, which is good because he doesn’t like to cook, and frozen entrees get old.
If you find yourself stuck, get moving. What have you got to lose?