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  • Dai Shiroma

Exercising is Important

I was born and raised in Okinawa. It was right after I started college that I realized something was going on with my body. When I decided to go to a university in Tokyo, I had been too invested in schoolwork. I kept telling myself things like the following: “Not everyone can go to Tokyo,” “I came all the way to Tokyo from Okinawa,” and “I should work on getting qualifications if I have time to join a campus group.” The pressure I placed on myself was further enhanced by my gratitude for the opportunity to attend a university in Tokyo.

As I continued to push myself, I started experiencing anxiety-related symptoms and found it harder to go into big lecture rooms. I would sometimes go all the way to my university only to go home right away. But that did not mean that I struggled with every aspect of college life. I still enjoyed group work and small-size lectures, so it took me two years to realize that my difficulty with school was associated with my physical condition. When I saw a doctor, I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Even after I became aware of my struggles with college life, I would tell myself, “It’s just that I am weak so I should work harder.” But I started dropping more class credits because I did not have enough attendance. I felt so behind compared to others who started school at the same time. And that made it even more difficult for me to talk to people about my struggles.

After my anxiety symptoms got worse, I started being more sensitive to shocking scenes in the news or in my life. Even if they were not about me, I would dwell on them. My anxiety about my future and college friends also grew. Being occupied by my anxiety made it easy to get physically and psychologically tired. There were many days when I would take hours to get out of bed. There were times when I wondered if I would eventually turn into a vegetative state. If my body did not move, I did not feel like going out. Then that threw me into a spiral thinking about the past: “Why did this happen?” and “Why didn’t I make a decision sooner?” Making plans with my friends makes it easy to be more future-oriented and reduces the time I think about the past. If people have free time, they can be prone to thinking about the past, so it is important to make fun plans for the future. Even now, I still have days when I cannot get out of my bed. It might sound contradictory, but what was most effective for me has been exercise. Even 30 seconds of cardio exercise at home can uplift you. I understand that getting started can be difficult. I also understand that getting yourself out of the house can be difficult. Instead of doing everything on your own, I encourage you to go out with your family or friends. The books, The Real Happy Pill and Skaermhjaernan (Smartphone Brain), also helped me. I hope you check them out.

Written by Dai Shiroma

Translated by Mutsumi Ogaki

Edited by Emiru Okada

Graphics by Ren Ono


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