I love the music of Alanis Morisette. I saw her live in her Frankfurt concert years ago, and man, was I I love watching her perform on stage. She came a long, long way from the Canadian teen star (ala Britney Spears) to a serious recording artist whose soulful music and ironic (and sometime dark) lyrics remind one of Janis Joplin. She has four Grammys under her belt and sold millions of million worldwide. Yet, like many of us, Alanis, too, has had her ups and downs, from love affairs gone sour to eating disorders and bouts of depression. She probably reached her lowest point in 2007 after a major break up. During that time, Alanis thought food was the ultimate remedy to a broken heart. Expectedly, this lead to health problems, gain weight, low self-esteem, and –yes – more depressive symptoms.
Fortunately, after spending two years in the dumps, Alanis finally found the courage to make major lifestyle changes. She found redemption in a strict vegan diet, working out, and running.
In an interview with Runner’s World, Alanis says
“…running has made being depressed impossible. If I’m going through something emotional [I] just go outside for a run, and you can rest assured I’ll come back with clarity.”
Like most of us, Alanis knows it is easier said than done. I, too, find it hard to drag myself out of my warm bed to brave the cold winter weather for a jogging run.
[she forces herself to] “tie my laces, put on a tight bra and get out there like a little robot. The first 10 minutes are excruciating, but soon I get into the flow.”
Yes, self-discipline is necessary to keep on what one has started. And Alanis has proven she has the discipline and the will power to get up when she was down and move on. The results were astounding – weight loss, no depression, and another smashing hit album.
But Alanis didn’t just stop there. She continues to advocate a healthy lifestyle and she inspires others to do so. She has run several marathons for the benefit of not-for-profit organizations. Her decision to have a major lifestyle change paid off. She’s “back to what I was born to be, at my best. … I feel very alive. … I have no more aches and pains.”
Indeed, clinical evidence is accumulating that a healthy lifestyle is closely linked not only to good physical but also mental health. Depression is associated with genetic and environmental factors. While egentic factors are non-modifiable, environmental factors, mainly lifestyle factors are. Exercise and sunshine, for example, have been shown to relieve depressive symptoms with efficacy comparable to those of pharmacological agents or psychotherapy. From my point of view, that is a great (not to mention cheap) way of managing depression, with long-lasting benefits and no side effects.
And yes, bravo, Alanis!