Does Exercise Help Dissociative Identity Disorder?
What Exercises Help DID Comorbid Conditions?
When you hear the word "exercise," do you usually groan, or do you get excited for your next workout? Depending on the day, I might not be feeling like a sweat session, but I know how important it is for me to squeeze in a little extra time for physical activity.
Exercise can help DID because it helps DID's common comorbid conditions. Aerobic exercises such as jogging, dancing and cycling, have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression.1 This is thought to be because exercise increases blood circulation to the brain, ultimately improving mood and cognitive function. Physical activity also has the potential to reduce anxiety, depression and negative mood by boosting self-esteem and reducing social withdrawal.
But What About Exercise for DID, Specifically?
There is little scientific research on the impact of exercise on DID specifically, but given that DID patients often experience other mental health symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, it’s not surprising that exercise can be beneficial to those living with DID.
Running, for example, has always been one of my favorite ways to get grounded, especially when I run outdoors. Being around Mother Nature encourages me to be more present — the scents, the sounds and the feeling of the pavement under my feet all help me become grounded.
That being said, cardio might not be your thing. On my worst days, I know how difficult it can be to lace up my shoes and hit the sidewalk.
Tips for Exercise When You Live with DID
Here are some tips you can keep in mind to stay motivated on your own exercise journey.
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you aren’t feeling a workout on a difficult day, don’t push yourself. Instead, take the opportunity to practice self-care. Treat yourself to a little quiet time or curl up with a good book.
- Think about how you’ll feel after the workout. I know that personally after a run, the feeling of the endorphins makes the entire workout worth it. There is also a certain sense of accomplishment that comes with completing an exercise, especially if it was particularly challenging.
- Mix it up. As much as I love running, I know how much of a drag it can become if I don’t mix up my routine. If you don’t give yourself something to look forward to, you’re more likely to fall off the wagon. I like mixing in mindfulness exercises, such as yoga and pilates, in between my cardio workouts.
Finally, make sure you’re doing something you enjoy. Whether you love running like me or you can’t wait to hit the yoga mat, it’s important to find your passion. Striking the perfect balance between your physical and mental health can make life living with DID much easier.
How has exercise helped you live with DID more easily? Share your comments below.
- Sharma, A. et al, “Exercise for Mental Health.” US National Library of Medicine, Accessed February 24, 2020.
Vermes, K. (2020, February 25). Does Exercise Help Dissociative Identity Disorder?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, June 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2020/2/does-exercise-help-dissociative-identity-disorder