As a 22-year-old fully immersed in adulthood for the first time, the last postgrad stress I was anticipating was dealing with my parents' unexpected split.
I immediately stepped in as the family mediator in an attempt to mend damaged relationships. On top of paying rent and student loans, working a corporate job, and navigating a new city for the first time, I found myself desperately trying to pick up the pieces of my newly broken family.
All the stress manifested itself in the form of sleepless nights, chest pains, headaches, and excessive feelings of worry. Physically and mentally drained, I knew I needed a self-care routine that would help me stay clear-headed and calm among the chaos.
Throughout my life, sports had always served that purpose, playing a significant role in my mental health and overall happiness. I knew the endorphins would help me out once again, but I needed someone to hold me accountable the same way my coaches used to.
My solution came by the way of a very thoughtful Christmas gift. After listening to my concerns, my boyfriend gifted me two months of weight-training sessions with a personal trainer. Although I had always been an athlete, weight training was a completely new experience for me. This approach to fitness activated muscles I'd never worked before. My trainer acted as a guide and disciplinarian. One hour every week, she'd introduce me to new machines and tools, break down moves, gauge my limits, and track my progress. Outside of that time, I was responsible for consistently continuing her program and pushing myself. Week by week, I increased my weight and reps for each exercise, which built my confidence and validated my growth.
Outside of the gym, my night terrors and insomnia began to subside. My eating habits improved, and I was drinking more water, which helped clear my skin. When argumentative phone calls caused my thoughts to race, I'd release the negative energy with every rep, shifting into a more productive and positive mindset. Training became my therapy. In just two months, I noticed a physical and mental transformation within myself. I finally felt in control.
Even after I stopped seeing my personal trainer, I was educated enough to continue weight training three to four times a week.
Since I began weight training, I have felt more equipped than ever to handle life's challenges. And every time my anxiety and stress become unmanageable, you can find me at the gym working through it all.