Mental Struggle – The Post-Adventure “come down”

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Mental Struggle

I wrote this blog post a while ago but never posted it, honestly because I was too scared too. It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week though, and I know from talking to friends that I’m not the only one to feel low sometimes. So, it felt like the right time to share this, sometimes true honesty is the best policy, how ever scary.

This is for all of you – who have low points and don’t feel ok all the time.

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The hardest part

The biggest struggle I have realised as I do more and more solo adventures is how hard the come down after it is. Now I’ve never done hard drugs, but I can imagine it is similar to that. Very often I will complete one adventure and have another half planned, or get straight back on the bike/road to training for something else. Always looking forward to my next challenge. My next fix. However, sometimes when an adventure has really taken it’s toll on me I need to take a few days or even a week off in order to fully recover.

It’s during this recovery that the come down begins. When you are active your body is used to the endorphins, it thrives off them, and off that way of life. When you rest it takes something different to get through the day to day. Yes, you could say I’m addicted to the endorphins. Exercise is promoted to help mental health, and on the whole, I know that’s true. But on the flip-side, I seem to experience the direct opposite when I take a break. Once I stop, I wobble.

It’s hard. The mind vs body struggle. For me when my body is working hard my mind is happy. Settled. Balanced. But, when the body is resting the mind starts to spin. Frenzy.

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What’s the resolution?

I will be completely honest, I don’t have the answer. I am on a journey of discovery. To find out who the me at rest is. I am all to good at pushing, living life at 100 mph, planning the next step, moving forwards. Resting on the other hand…I find so much harder. I’m not talking about sleeping at night. I am very good at that. I am talking about true rest, time alone, spent ‘chilling’, stopping for a moment to allow myself to think, to reflect.

The real struggle

I’m quite good at doing nothing much with other people. It is when I am alone, during this ‘down time’ that I struggle.

I struggle to let go.

I struggle to accept.

I struggle to feel.

I struggle to just be.

I never feel alone when I am somewhere else, doing something physical, pushing myself. But when I have a day to do nothing, just to sit and enjoy my own company. Then, I can’t stand it. A still body for me, means for me an increasingly busy brain. And without the physical exertion, I struggle to settle my mind.

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The realisation

If I’m honest with myself, this is why rest periods are few and far between. However these days are inevitable. And essential. I need to embrace them. Make time for them. Learn to appreciate the good they do for both my body and my mind. Acknowledge the spiral of emotions that comes during these quiet times on the back of such big adventures and teach myself to accept them.

Time spent reflecting – even crying – alone after a yoga class is not a moment of weakness. It is a moment of great strength when we can recognise the emotions and energy that we are releasing. Yoga is a great tool to help release and unclog these emotions, but only you and your mind can provide the strength and courage to accept and let them go.

My journey out

The first step to resolving any mental struggle is recognition. The next, is acceptance. I am trying to move forwards, to allow myself the wobbly moments, the criticisms, the hatred, the numbness. All the feels that come up when my body is quiet and my mind is working overtime. My journey is to accept them, realise they are part of who I am. Embrace them, as they are part of what makes me me.

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It is in acceptance of our struggles that we are able to be truly comfortable, not in our own skins, but in our own minds and within all our thoughts.

Whilst my mind is most content when my body is on the move, it’s the quiet times that allow me to grow. Embracing these moments of stillness and the roller coaster of emotions that comes with them is all part of the journey.

It’s a work in progress.

But so are we all.

Plus Besides, it is on these ‘chilled’ days I come up with my best adventure plans 🙂

 

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4 Comments

  1. Mark Teague 9th May 2017 / 5:04 pm

    Don’t worry you’re far from alone! I’m exactly the same! Although I resort to drink to switch the over active brain off!

    • Helena 9th May 2017 / 10:39 pm

      Thanks Teague! I used to use alcohol – learnt the hard way with that one! Running/cycling is definitely better therapy 🙂

  2. Iain 12th May 2017 / 11:03 pm

    Helena, thank you for your post. It really resonates with me, struggling to turn my mind off when at rest. Your honestly is really helpful and it’s good that speaking about mental health is becoming so much more prominent. Happy riding!

    • Helena 17th May 2017 / 7:42 pm

      Hi Iain, Thank you so much for your comment. It is great how much better we are all getting at speaking about mental health but I’m sure you know it doesn’t make it easier. Look after yourself and remember there are always people you can talk to 🙂

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