I'm sharing my journey and story to invite others to talk about theirs. Plus running an 80km Race in August to raise funds.
A burning part of me questions almost everything. Like a curious child pushing me to learn and I can’t stop.
So here is bit about me, my own mental health, and why I plan to run an 80 kilometre race and help “Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust”.
For a long time keeping fit always felt like an easy thing to do and it motivated me to keep doing other things. Strangely I feel this is a strategy I used as a sort of “pick me up” to deal with levels of anxiety and stress that I just always had. I never really acknowledged this and it was never an issue until out of the blue in my 30’s winters started to become a huge challenge for me. They just creeped in, unnoticed, until I just didn’t want to do much at all. Although I do feel it’s perfectly normal to feel sad sometimes, months at a time tells us there is something wrong internally.
Very recently a situation made me have to make a sudden change and really think about my habits, about my anxiety, and also about dealing with stress much more appropriately. I was pretty down, really angry, and worse overwhelmed at the thought that this situation had the potential to escalate downwards quickly.
So I made some pretty drastic changes and what I learned in the last 6 months still astounds me. Everybody has the potential to make new habits and this is just my story of what worked for me. I began taking cold showers every morning, doing breathing exercises and I also experimented with the Ketogenic Diet. The changes I felt motivated me and gave me a huge amount of energy. The cold water became my teacher and as I slowed my breath I learned to feel the adrenalin release dissipate quickly, the very hormone that makes me stressed. The breathing and the cold showers increased my mood so much that in the first weeks I would be laughing to myself in the bathroom and on occasion’s giddy and smiling long into the afternoon during my work week. I kid you not. 6 months on, it’s now a mix of cold baths and showers and now in the depth of winter, they are indeed cold. Yet still I’m learning. They’re an integral part of my daily routine I don’t think I will ever stop. They really do make me feel amazing. I also try to focus on how much quality sleep I am getting.
These things I learned from researching and by chance. Many things I learnt from talking to others, even a complete stranger I meet at the beach. Initially catching up with friends felt quite daunting, but was very helpful. Also In a funny way I sort of deleted the word happiness in my head and focused more instead on the word satisfied. More importantly I started telling myself that even if I felt good, to continuously keep watch, just in case and this became habit. I soon became really grateful for my health, my job, my family and all my friends.
Of course I still exercise, it’s now almost definitely some form of addiction!
I’ve never done a Marathon, there’s one in September in Dunedin. However, a friend effortlessly talked me into completing an Ultra Marathon instead. Naturally I was curious! I was really curious about the mental aspect of this as I believe we need to take on opportunities (good stress!) to learn and strengthen our mind rather than avoid them because they seem difficult or uncomfortable. There was no question that I wanted to get involved with Life Matters.
I would like to see people thinking and talking much more about their health. Simple things, like what they eat, how they sleep and how they even breathe. I want people to be more grateful, to challenge themselves to be more physically active and to not always seek comfort over an opportunity to learn. Everybody has the capacity to develop their own lifelong habits that can help them and importantly others around them.
I want people to share with others their own stories and tips, that they have learned to cope with anxiety and stress in their own lives. So I invite people to do this.
Alan McIntyre's involvement (page creator)
Currently my workplace OFS Insurance Brokers sponsors the insurance for the Life Matter's car. Ultimately mental health and well-being is something that very important to me.