On account of my family history, not to mention my own personal cholesterol issues, it's a Really Good Idea for me to get regular exercise. I asked my GP how much I had to get (in calories, please, because that's an actual objective measurement; 15 minutes of 9-foot DDR is way more exercise than 45 minutes of walking) for him to never bring it up ever again. He said 400-500 kCal, 4-5 times per week.
400-500 kCal, at my current rate of exercise (which is way down because of my messed up left leg) is about 50 minutes. Including prep time and showering after, call it 75 minutes normally. 4-5 times a week. That's a substantial hit to my already basically entirely filled schedule. It's a pain in the ass, it really is. But hey, I like living, so I'm doing it. 500 kCal, 4 times a week, whereas I'm sure my GP would prefer 400 kCal 5 times a week, but regardless, I'm doing it.
The problem is that I really hate exercising. No, seriously. The vast majority of people say that, but then they say that when they do exercise they get all sorts of short-term benefits: better mood, more energy, etc.
Not me. Nope. I get completely exhausted for about 24 hours afterwards, and my mood takes a serious downward hit too. All exercise, every time, no matter how regularily I do it. It fucking sucks.
Oh, and it doesn't help my stress level either.
I was thinking one day specifically about my stress level, which has been high lately, and the whole exercise-helps-stress thing. I started thinking specifically about what's so different about me that I don't get that effect.
Well, the big difference that comes immediately to mind is that I'm a very, very controlled person. Many emotional responses that are instinctive, or even unstoppable, for the vast majority of people simply don't occur for me, or I have to emulate them to not stand out. It's not a serious problem but, to pick a TMI example that gets the point across, I have to consciously decide to make noise during orgasm, and I have to pick which noises to make and so on.
This is true with stressors as well: I respond to stress by trying to deal with the situation rationally, without taking the time to actually feel the emotions the situation causes. 30 years of this led to a general sense of anxiety permeating basically my every waking moment. Whoops.
So, what do other people do when they exercise? Well, a lot of people seem to access stress specifically: the act of exertion is associated with their anger and their boss or whatever. That doesn't happen naturally with me at all. In fact, trying to associate exertion with anger like that is a bunch of extra effort that just feels weird; not cathartic at all.
But what the hell, I thought, let's try it anyway.
So I've spent the last few exercise sessions working hard to access as much stress as possible whilst exercising. It's hard work; I keep dropping it and having to pick it back up. It's also not directly cathartic: I can't make myself feel like I'm getting my agressions out directly by means of my physical exertions, that wiring just doesn't seem to be there.
But it really does seem to help. A lot. I access stress, build up a bunch of adrenaline, and then the stress/adrenaline seems to get burned up by the exertion. My stress level is way down (now I have hypotension symptoms! yaaay! -_-), and I seem to be less tired, although I suspect that it's the SSRI that was causing at least some of the tiredness.