Mental health is a tricky subject. We spend our whole lives thinking we’re fine and everything we feel is “normal”. Feeling miserable, sad or depressed is “normal” and it goes away with time, we’re told. “You just need to calm down and breathe.”
“It’s just stress at work. As soon as I finish X or Y task, I’ll feel better.”
“It’s just the pandemic that is making me anxious. When it’s over, I’ll be fine”.
Except that you won’t. If you don’t keep your mental health – and your physical health – in check, sooner or later it’s going to take its toll. The crash can be slow or sudden, but it’ll come before you know it.
Twenty twenty was the fucked up year that we all know to be: the pandemic hit hard and I, like so many others in the industry, had all work cancelled or postponed. No income and a family to support was putting a lot of pressure on both of us, and I needed to do something to fight it.
Something to keep my head clear. Something to keep my mental health in check.
I ride bikes ever since I can remember and the two wheels have always been part of my life. I used to go to school on a little BMX and eventually outgrew it – my dad then got me a Trek mountain bike and I took it everywhere. Small rides around town or big loops in the district, trying to spend as much time outside as I could.
These rides kept me sane and happy and I didn’t even realize it. Until now.
It’s been over a year since I got a new bike and I’ve been riding around 200km a week. Road, gravel and everything in between.
Either alone or with friends, long 230km rides or small 20km rides. Big loops. Small loops. Grocery and errands runs or getting Julia to and from school.
I’ve taken my Fuji X100F or my phone with me on all rides and I make sure to always take at least one photo while I’m out. If I see something interesting, or the light is just right, I intentionally stop and take a moment to appreciate it and take a photo. It’s like meditation.
I always get home with a smile on my face and my mind clear. Or full of ideas.
These outings are keeping my physical health in check, but most importantly, my mental health has benefited tremendously from it.
Question for you: what routines or activities have you implemented to stay mentally well and healthy? Let me know in the comments below.
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