Apparently Exercise Is Not For Relaxation

My occupational therapist got mad after I told her that I exercise for relaxation. I was flabbergasted when I heard that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you are feeling the same way. But let me explain the story to you.

Kettlebell with yoga mat

Photo credits: Content Pixie (via Pexels)

At this point, I’ve been on my PCS recovery journey for almost 11 months. That’s long and frustrating, which is why I’m doing everything I can to recover.

In fact, if someone told me to stand in a handstand position for an hour every day, I would do it without a doubt.

So you probably understand that when I got the tip to go to an occupational therapist, I immediately made an appointment.

At first, I didn’t know what an occupational therapist (OT) exactly does. But apparently, in my case, she will help me improve my current capacity, and learn me to recognize my limits and how to expand them in a sustainable way.

During our intake, she asked all kinds of questions to find out what symptoms I experience (excessive headaches, exhaustion, inability to concentrate), when they occur, and what I do about them. And one of those questions was how I like to relax.

As a sports fanatic, I love to exercise. It helps me to clear my head and just focus on exercising.

So when I got that question, I started to answer “reading, listening to podcasts, writing, exercising, wa……”. She immediately responded, “NO, stop! We will discuss this immediately”.

I was amazed. What does she mean?

Related article: For Me, Sport Is Much More Than a Little Exercise

Fortunately, I’m not the only one who thinks this way. She explained to me that this is a common misconception.

“It is understandable that we see sport as relaxation, especially compared to our busy work lives. But it is absolutely not.”

Well, I believe specialists, but I felt dumbfounded. With sports I clear my head, and I don’t have to think. Why shouldn’t I see that as relaxation?

She continued; “Even though you don’t have to think and you just follow the instructions of a trainer, your brain is ON. But really completely ON. It is constantly multitasking between listening to the instructions, and actually performing the movements, where you have to move your body in a controlled way. Not to mention the impact on your brain because the rest of your body needs all the oxygen and blood flow.”

Okay, so exercise is not a relaxation for the brain. I slowly started to understand what she meant.

But what is relaxation then? This new information makes me question everything I did for relaxation.

Can I see walking in Amsterdam still as a relaxation activity? Since walking in general is, but the amount of noise, people and cars in this busy city are definitely not…

Fortunately, my occupational therapist is going to help me with this in the coming weeks/months. And then hopefully, I will soon know what is and isn’t seen as relaxation.

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Hi there, I am Resy! Here on Femmelution I hope to inspire women to invest in their personal development to become their most empowered selves. In my bi-weekly column I write about my own experiences within this topic, but also about anything else that is on top of my mind lately.