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Ester Marsh column: Work out, smile at people ways to make day a little brighter

Q: I have been through a lot this past year and am trying to stay positive, but it is very hard to do. My doctor says exercise can help with that, but how do I get motivated to do anything?
A: These times are hard for most people. Many people have lost their jobs, even houses, and sometimes all their belongings. It is very difficult to stay positive through hard times, and this is happening to those at every level of income.
I am a positive person by nature. I believe exercise has a huge part to do with that, but it is also who I am. Each morning when you get up and get out of bed you have a new day. It is your choice to make it a good day or let “issues” make it a bad day.
Don’t get me wrong; I may have a bad day too, but I continue to fight to make it a better day. Does it always happen? No, it does not, but most of the time I can turn it around and make it a good day.
When I get very stressed about work, life and finances (take your pick), a good workout will make my day, even if it lasts just the time of my workout. The endorphins that are released while working out function as a natural anti-depressant.
Lots of people think they can’t make these choices, but we make choices all the time, even when we don’t think we are.
Let’s say you are at work and your boss tells you that you didn’t do something you know you did, and you get very frustrated. However, you make a choice to respectfully answer and redo whatever needs to be done (if you want to keep your job).
The same thing happens at home: your spouse/child/loved one asks you to do something that you already have done but instead of respectfully answering the question, you get mad and show your frustrated emotions through your actions.
Why are you able to answer your boss respectfully but not your spouse/child/loved one? There you go! There is a choice you missed.
In most cases I answer questions the way I like to be answered to. The other day, someone flipped me the finger in the car and yelled obscenities through the car window while peeling away.
Would she have done that if she had been standing in front of me? I don’t think so.
By the way, I waved back at her. There are so many choices throughout the day that we have control over, but it is just hard to make the right one.
Another choice you have to help make your day brighter is to smile at people and acknowledge them. You will be surprised how many smiles and responses you get back. I know it helps my day become a better day.
I mentioned that exercise helps me deal with stress. I have found that when I need exercise because I am stressed, upset or overwhelmed, I need peace ó which means I don’t want to talk (I know that is hard to believe) and I don’t want interruptions.
I love to work extra hard and I like to listen to my favorite music, which changes my mood. After that workout I feel I can conquer the world ó including my “issues.”
The first step is the hardest one of all. It will get easier each time. In my experience, I have seen people’s attitudes change in front of my eyes.
If it is hard to do this on your own, check with your gym or YMCA for programs to help you make that first step.
We are starting a program called “Y Wait?” which started Oct. 5 and runs through Dec. 31.
It is a program for Y members and non-Y members that will help you get and stay motivated throughout this hectic and stressful season. I hope to see you there.
Contact Ester Marsh with health and fitness questions at 704-636-0111 or emarsh@rowanymca.com.

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