Exercise Addiction and Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Regular physical activity and recreational exercise is imperative for our health and must be a continuous part of our lives. However, exercise addiction is a current issue that many suffer from.

I think we forget to realise that addiction can occur from anything that provides some sort of reward. Substance abuse is the most common form of “addiction” but like exercise addiction, it can occur from action instead of abuse of a substance.

The definition of ‘addiction’ is widely debated today and there is not one agreed upon definition. The idea of addiction has connotations of harm, abuse, craving, compulsion, dependency, etc. We do know for sure that it’s not a great idea to be addicted to anything, even if it is initially good for us.

Too much of anything is bad, right?

In reality, we may consider anything with the potential to be addictive. Any act that allows you to feel some sort of escape from other issues/sufferings that are unrelated to the action I believe has the potential to be addictive or at the very least an unhealthy relationship.

This can be anything, exercise, relationships, food, drugs, alcohol, company, work, clothes, shopping, gambling, gaming, social media, phones.

I suppose the real question is: How do you cope?

Coping strategies. We’re never taught how to have healthy ones. As a result, many of us don’t. Many of us drink, smoke, game and many of us exercise too much or count calories. Choose your poison.

Some may say, at least It’s exercise addiction and not drugs. Obviously, these are two very different things and the substance alone is harmful. However, exercising excessively as a means to cope is the same act as taking drugs to cope – the latter is simply a more harmful substance.

If you dim both of these addictions down, they are very similar to one another. Both as a means to cope, as a means to escape from lives sufferings. Anything used as a means for what it is not intended is complicated and problematic.

It’s seems easier to cope with a distraction in the short-term but never in the long-term. Problems in your life will never vanish. Coping unhealthily now will cause you more harm later.

Healthy coping mechanisms is what we all need to work on.

  1. Something that allows you to feel your emotions not burry them.
  2. Something that isn’t harmful to you (physically or mentally).
  3. It is not done excessively.
  4. It makes you happy not drained and exhausted.
  5. You don’t feel obliged to complete it or feel bad when you don’t.

You’ll know when it’s right for you.

Let’s think about you for a second. How are you feeling? Are you coping in a harmful way? Are you coping at all?

Asking the questions will make the world of difference.

Thank you for reading!

Mairi x

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