By Lisa CypersKamen, Harvesting Happiness
We all have demons: things that we fear, loathe, avoid at all costs, or feel guilty or angry about. And demons can be lurking anywhere. You’re trying to lose weight but can’t give up French fries. You just can’t bring yourself to let a call go unanswered during your family vacation. You’re afraid that a mistake you’ve made has pushed away someone you love. You have other compulsions that you just can’t control. These types of destructive habits keep us awake at night and breed negative energy from our head to our toes.
Personal demons can take many different forms, but they all have one thing in common: they seem to multiply when we’re lacking a healthy diversion. So, how do you keep your demons from occupying the prime real estate in your mind? There’s always the religious practice of exorcising the demons away (made controversial – and somewhat spooky – by countless Hollywood portrayals over the years). It has been practiced in some religions for centuries, sometimes with reportedly successful results, other times not so much. Exorcisms might work for some, but there’s also a much simpler route to ridding your inner demons: the gym. When you feel your demons taking control, exercise rather than exorcise them away.
You’ve heard the story about someone bursting into tears during an intense yoga workout, and you undoubtedly have a super-fit friend who always goes on a run when something is bothering him. (You usually reach for the chocolate). Even though it pains you to try to emulate your gym-happy friend (and you shouldn’t, in most circumstances!), take his lead in this case. When your inner demons are launching an attack against your psyche, the best thing to do is exercise them out of your body. Press, curl, lunge, lift, rollerblade, stretch or run those nagging thoughts out of your consciousness and into the open. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder; often, fifteen minutes of physical activity is all it takes to send your demons from your mind. And if your troublesome thoughts are purely emotion-based, exercise has an even better chance of helping you conquer them. Study after study has shown that exercise is often the missing link that connects our emotional and physical states and brings a sense of harmony. Demons or not, we could all use a little more harmony in our lives!
Happiness is an inside job
The next time your demons are taking over, set aside fifteen minutes for physical activity. It can be a series of deep stretches, a quick run around the block, or anything else that you find physically satisfying. While you’re engaging in that activity, do your best to use that negative energy as fuel for the physical activity you’re performing. Make a mental note of how your mind and body feel, and try to implement physical activity the next time your demons are calling.
Check out this video by Dr. Akilah El as she explains her personal experience of exercising to exorcise the demons.