I decided I miss math class so I put together a little graph of the past two days (by which I mean today and yesterday). I don’t miss it so much that I’m going to calculate the slopes of the lines or make any points about their intersections, or anything like that. So don’t hold your breath.
I know it’s on the small side, font-wise, but for some reason it didn’t occur to me to adjust that while I was working on it. As you can see from the graph, though, I went running Tuesday morning and it was like the heavens opened up to shine happiness and good cheer upon me (I also had 10 in mind for a maximum mood value, I’m not sure why the graph went to 12 of its own accord. And I couldn’t figure out how to fix it). I’m pretty confident I would have stayed in the 7-10 range during the evening, but we’ll get to the reason why things didn’t work out that way in a second.
In contrast to Tuesday is today. I woke up still feeling the effects of last night (it wasn’t a hangover), and didn’t go running (which is what that dip to zero is. It’s not that I had a bad run). Work was actually something of a relieving distraction today, although it didn’t lift my mood significantly. Other than that shift upward, it’s been an unremarkable day. The weather is crummy, I’m feeling stressed and crummy, and my mood is (unsurprisingly) crummy.
So, yesterday. What a nice run. It was freezing outside, but it just reminded me how much I really do love running. Exercising in the morning put me in a good enough mood to carry me through my day. It’s such a great feeling, a little bit like what invincibility might feel like. Something happens that would normally frustrate you, but instead you just laugh at it. You’re kind of sleepy because you were up early, so you’re just detached enough from everything that’s going on to not worry too much about anything, but you’re still alert. And, if you’re me, you’re able to actually eat without thinking so much about it and having such a hard time identifying what you want to eat, and overanalyzing ever single detail involved in every meal. A day that starts with a run is a day that you are setting up to be full of win.
Well, unless something completely terrifying and beyond your control happens. For instance, you come home to find that your fiancé had a seizure earlier in the day. If you’re me, that’s enough to make your mood plummet–you go from happy to worried sick and feeling really scared and helpless in very little time. And then you spend the rest of the evening crying but trying really hard not to cry. And then the following day all you can really think about is your fiancé seizing in your apartment and why it might have happened, and if seizures are ever not a big deal, and how lucky he was that the worst thing that happened (apart from the seizure, obviously) is that he bumped his head, and what you should do if he has another seizure while you’re with him. And you’re still terrified because even though he went to the doctor and is going to go to the neurologist, you still have no idea what happened or why it happened, and you don’t really have anyone to talk to about it, and you’re worried that even after all this, you still might not be able to get him to take his Type 2 Diabetes seriously, even though you’ve been after him about it for a while.
Now, it’s not that I think that if I’d gone running this morning, I’d feel as good as I did yesterday before I got home from work. But I do think it would have cleared my mind a little bit and helped me to get a little bit more centered and a little bit less frantic and frazzled. There would definitely have been much more of an upward trend in the graph above.
I’m going to try to do some yoga in a little bit, so maybe I’ll have to change the data for my after-work mood tonight. Maybe it’ll be uplifting enough to warrant that. I can’t really say, although I do know that I wish it weren’t dark and wintry mix-y outside because more than anything I’d like to put my running shoes on and hit the pavement.
Do you notice any changes in your mood on the days when you exercise or don’t exercise? Have you ever used your favorite form of exercise to get through a difficult time?