My December Mental Health Challenge

If you follow us on Instagram (you totally should, but only if you want to…no pressure), you may have seen me share on my stories about my personal mental health challenge. I promised myself that I would get outside for some sort of movement (walk, run, pickleball, etc) every single day of December for at least 30 minutes. I asked for accountability and I’ve been reporting daily on my progress.

For the record: This was exclusively for my mental health. 

Getting exercise isn’t my issue.  Even in the depths of winter, I work out most days but I would just stay indoors. As the days get rudely short (it’s just so RUDE how short the days are now) and the temperatures dip, I tend to stay inside all day. I do battle seasonal affective disorder, which is a fancy way to say I get downright depressed in the winter months. One of the things that always helps, but is the hardest for me to do, is to get outside. 

I’m sure there’s a doctor who can explain why, but for me, the vitamin D and fresh air are healing…even when it’s cold. So I’m doing it. I’m doing some sort of movement outside every single day of December.

Here are 6 things I’m learning:

  1. By announcing it as a goal, it helped me stick to it. There was one day I took a long walk but didn’t do my “I just did my outside movement today” post. I heard from some of my friends on Instagram. I loved that people were checking in on my progress. 
  2. December is famously hectic for us all. Having this personal challenge to get outside really helped me manage the day-to-day stress. I do think it improved my overall mental health by being outside, even for as little as 30 minutes a day.
  3. It was hard on particularly rainy and dreary days, but I always (ALWAYS) felt better than when I started. Once on a rainy, cold day, someone asked, “Are you still going to get outside?” I realized we have the privilege of a car and a job I can do without leaving the house, but there are so many people who walk to bus stops and train stations for their commutes and daily needs. Those people don’t get a day off, so why would I?  
  4. On those dreary days, that’s when I needed the tug of this personal challenge and that’s when I benefitted the most. 
  5. My biggest challenge was the fashion of the whole thing…I despise being cold. I learned from my Instagram friends when running in colder temperatures you should dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer. It would be chilly for the first 5 minutes then be fine. 
  6. I’ve also learned that I would never survive a winter in the Midwest. Every time I posted about doing a chilly run when it was 39 degrees, you guys would send me photos of the snow you were shoveling. I get it. You’re way tougher than I am. December in North Carolina (where I live) is very mild, but it’s still chillier than I like. 

I don’t know if I will continue this into January, but I’d like to. What do you think? Should I?