In the past few weeks I have been quite stressed, and as they often do in such times, my anxiety and depression have increased considerably.
Although I tried my hardest, sometimes I felt too mentally and physically exhausted to do a hard workout, or even a low impact one. I felt devastated and terribly, terribly guilty. Consequently, I started assessing my own body image and the way I view myself more closely, and have come to a startling realization: even years after I've overcome the worst part of my eating disorder, I think about exercise and food in terms of punishment and reward. When I don't work out, I feel so guilty that I will either skip a meal, or binge to suppress the emotion.
Not only does this constant self-criticism do away with the fun in exercising, it simply is mentally draining. In response I am now trying to give myself rest from exercise, or substitute high impact videos with stretching and yoga whenever my mental health gets worse and my stress levels rise. I hope to come to a point where I can balance the needs of my body and mind without feeling this crippling sense of failure and disappointment in myself, and I am ready to work hard for that.
If anyone reading this has similar struggles, remember that you define your own self-worth, and not the amount of exercise you do in a week. I am in no way advocating against exercising a lot, but I have come to see the damage that my obsession with working out has done to the image I have of myself.
So: Be kind and gentle to yourself and listen to the needs your mind and body. Working out should not come at the expense of your mental health, these things should ideally compliment and feed off each other.