Cycling Away My Depression

woman with mental illness requiring help from the national suicide prevention lifeline or a mental health charityI woke up feeling overwhelmed and anxious as I had for the past few months. The darkness of depression had taken hold of me and I couldn’t shake the feeling that nothing mattered and that I would never be happy again. I dragged myself out of bed and started my morning routine on autopilot, not really paying attention to anything around me.

As I was getting dressed, I noticed a flier in my mail pile for a local cycling group that was looking for new members. I had always enjoyed riding my bike when I was younger, but had stopped when I started to feel depressed. The thought of getting outside and moving my body seemed appealing, so I decided to give it a try.

After getting a tune-up at my local St. George bike shop, I showed up to the first ride feeling nervous and self-conscious. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up or that I would feel embarrassed because I wasn’t in good shape. But as soon as I started pedaling, all of those thoughts melted away. The wind in my hair and the feeling of my muscles working as I rode was invigorating.

As I rode, I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of my surroundings. The fresh air and the changing scenery made me feel alive in a way that I hadn’t in a long time. I found myself smiling and laughing with the other riders, and for the first time in months, I felt like I had a sense of purpose and connection.

Over time, cycling became a regular part of my routine. I became familiar with most of the St. George bike trails, and I started to notice that my mood was improving and my anxiety was easing. I was sleeping better and had more energy. And as I got more comfortable with the group, I began to push myself to try new routes and take on bigger challenges.

Cyclist overcoming mental health problems, self harm, panic attackBut it wasn’t just the physical benefits that made cycling such an important part of my life. It also gave me a sense of confidence and accomplishment. It gave me a major boost in my emotional health in only a few weeks! As I improved and tackled more difficult rides, I felt a sense of self esteem and pride in myself and my abilities. And the camaraderie of the cycling group made me feel like I was part of something bigger than myself.

But most of all, cycling was just plain fun. It gave me the opportunity to escape from my worries and just enjoy the moment. I loved the feeling of flying down a hill or tackling a tough climb. It was a chance to challenge myself and see what I was capable of.

The joy of owning a bicycle, investing in new gear, and creating new adventures gave me opportunities to grow and explore. I have never looked back since that first time on the bike.

Mental health issues can be overcome, and physical activity—from cycling to weight lifting to walking around the block—has proven benefits and will all promote feelings of well being in the same way. Some people go their whole life without realizing that a simple act like regular exercise can vastly improve their mind, body and soul.

To this day, I can’t believe how much cycling has helped me overcome my depression and anxiety. It’s all but eliminated my panic attacks. It’s It’s given me a sense of purpose and connection. It’s improved my physical and mental health. And most importantly—it’s brought joy and fun back into my life. I’m so grateful to have discovered the amazing benefits of cycling and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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