My partner and I tend to move our bodies lots because it helps us both manage our anxiety. It’s not a replacement for therapy, medication and other kinds of coping but for our high energy family activity is not just for fun, it’s a key part of our coping strategies.
I walk to work. This year I kept that up all winter (yay!). I feel better when I hit my steps for a day and lethargic when I don’t.
What has surprised me lately is the variety of activities my family members enjoy. My partner loves going to the gym and lifting heavy things. That has no appeal to me at all. Yes, I’ve tried routines many times over many decades but I would rather lug firewood than go to the gym.
My oldest son loves cycling for commuting and indoor rock climbing. On his most stressed out nights I encourage him to go, he always reports feeling better after climbing. I’m terrified of heights. I had to rappell over buildings and cliffs during my military career. I was always glad when it was over. Not my thing.
My youngest son is in grade 9 and recently tried weights and absolutely loves it. He goes so hard in gym class he comes home and sleeps two to three hours. He likes riding his bike and trying parcour moves at the skate park.
My partner and I try to frame activities as things you do to have fun and feel good. I let my kids know it’s a big part of managing daily stressors and to take care of the body that moves them around.
Physique sometimes comes up, especially around how activity can impact how your body looks. It’s true, cyclists tend to look different than climbers who tend to look different than folks who do weights but I also stress that any body has a shape and that is a good shape.
My wish for my sons is to enjoy moving thier bodies, being well and to recognize that movement helps them cope with anxiety and stress.
I know I feel calmer and more confident when I’m active, I hope that’s enough to reverse the common idea that people should exercise for a certain esthetic.