Spoiler alert, global development is not as easy as my Instagram pictures make it seem. In between the amazing scenery and the great experience I am having, there are still bad days, stressful days, and lots of work to be done. It is days like this, after the deadlines, missed meetings, document revisions, miscommunications, and stress have all piled up onto lack of sleep and too many airports, that I start to really learn about myself. We all have coping mechanisms, some are good and some are bad. We all have choices, even when we feel like we don’t. Today, as I was walking into my apartment in Chiang Mai, I had a conversation with myself and my choices. In this time I had two choices: I can slump on the bed, replay all the things that went wrong today, feel overwhelmed, and then take a Xanax before binge watching Netflix,  or I can put my shoes on and get out of my head and into some physical activity.

As I weighed my options I began to recognize that it was very easy to talk myself into the first option and really easy to feel down. After all, I did have a very full and crazy day. I started to think, Don’t I owe it to myself to have a little down time? I began to recognize that my mental self-talk sounded very similar to victim mentality. Have you ever noticed this in yourself? Have you ever thought “I can’t exercise because something out of my control happened to me today”. It’s not my fault, it is someone else’s fault that I feel unmotivated. I started to notice that this type of self-talk was a pattern that I had fallen into recently with the extra stress of being abroad. I routinely chose not to exercise when I felt victimized. Instead, I hide, grab the closest and easiest coping mechanism, and I retreat. After that realization, I knew I had to make a change. Remembering these four truths helped me, and if you are in need of a change too, maybe they will help you:

  1. Exercise is medicine. It is medicine for the heart, the lungs and the muscles, but it is also medicine for the brain. Just 5-10 minutes of moderate intensity exercise will decrease stress and manage anxiety.
  2. Exercise will help me sleep better, and there is nothing more valuable to me than sleep right now.
  3. Exercise is a choice and a behavior that will show where my priorities truly are. Do I prioritize my health, both mentally and physically? Do my actions reflect that priority?
  4. I deserve to be healthy! Above and beyond anything else in the world, I deserve to be healthy.

Today I took a step in the right direction for my personal health. I put on my running shoes and I played the “Zombies, Run!” app on my phone and I tackled two miles. I’ve got to say, running from zombies in the dark in Chiang Mai is the most fun I have had during exercise in a long time.