Exercise for Perspective

Courtesy Of Joanne Dowds MISCP

Taking a break from putting Ikea furniture together, I sit on the floor surveying my house.  This is the last piece of furniture, the place is technically now fully furnished. It is a long way from 2 camp chairs with bin bags for curtains. This final push included emotionally blackmailing a sister to help me pick out a wardrobe for the second bedroom, she spent a fair bit of the time telling me that it wasn’t going to fit in my 14 year old 3 seater but it did-just about- more by serendipity than any actually planning on my part.  I convinced a neighbour to help bring the unmanageable load through the front door and the composite parts are now scattered around the house. This place was less a labour of love and more extreme penance with excessive additional use of my overdraft facility. It has occupied lots of waking moments and nothing will bring my stress levels to a squeaky peak quicker than it something goes awry within these 4 walls.

When the house was in an absolute state pre innovation, the gym was where I went practically everyday for showers but also to work through the particular house related issue of the day. Sweating on a gym mat kept me ‘relatively’ sane.  I get asked now regularly if I am happy with how the house has worked out, now, after it has settled down and it has to be a yes. It was a good financial decision the majority of the pain is hopefully behind me but janey every now and again ( particularly when something breaks) I wish I was still renting and could ring someone to sort it, breeze out for a coffee while not think about the potential implications. But it hasn’t felt like my home until very recently.

 In the last few weeks I have had some plumbing issues, in the hours while waiting for the plumber to call round, diagnosis and find a remedy -I went straight to muscle clenching catastrophizing terror at the potential financial impact. So I took a breath and thought what would make this indeterminable waiting easier….exercise. I went to the gym. It worked, movement again helped establish some order to my thinking, I could sort my worries into a rational list.  I worked off the pent up negative energy, but I the ordered list of worries were still there.

Some places, people or things can feel like home immediately.  The instant whole body recognition of sameness can be terrifying or exhilarating.  Sometime I go running toward a newfound sudden enthusiasm or bolt away with all the speed and guile of a startled sheep.  I remember the first yoga class I ever attended, a church hall in Rathgar, the year I started working, the joy in the slow repetitive patterns of movement, the level of clear headiness I felt afterward, enthusiastically talking about it the following day a colleague told me it could be a life long challenge and so far it has been. Occasionally I step away, get busy, get caught up but I have always come back. The sense of belonging is still there, it brings me home to myself. Isn’t that what a sense of home allows, returning to comfort by instinct, to a known.


After sorting my worries into a rational list, I went to a yoga class which enabled me to put the mental list of worries down. Two forms of exercise in the one day wouldn’t be normal for me, but for that day it was a good choice. When I returned to my place, still with problems but without the anxiety I had left with that morning. The shadow of the old house still exist in my memory; where walls, damp patches and rotten floorboards were located. They are less vivid, fading, I’m not sure if they will ever go completely. But after some exercise related insight, I could see the progress, not perfect by any means but lots of movement forward. Exercise gives me the ability to have perspective on it as it did during the renovation and as it does now dealing with issues including those of being a home owner.  The path that has taken me from where it was to where it is,  strewn with  swear words, tears, learning and on occasion hysterical laughter. But it was worth it.  When I came back I could see the home that I created and I was glad to be there even if the water pump was sick!

So I sit in my ikea fort, in my home, smiling. Contemplating this is all much easier than assembling a wardrobe.

Posted by

I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.