Mental Resilience: How to stay mentally strong

by Jeremiah Reider

Jeremiah is an excellent cyclist who rides with Asheville Winter Bike League regularly and battles with seasonal depression. Here he shares a few paragraphs about his struggle and how AVL WBL and the iDream Athletes Foundation have helped him cope. 

Jeremiah has attended ALL of the AVL WBL rides this season so he is on his way to winning the coveted AVL WBL mug! 

I write this the day prior to the Winter Solstice, for I have endured the shallow arc that the sun is taking across our beautiful Western North Carolina sky. The fact that daylight is now scarce comes with a range of emotions. Some happy and elated because of the holiday season. Some dismal and depressed wondering when spring will begin to show its renewal on the land. Like many of you, I choose to keep pedaling through the winter month, often looking out the window and seeing the cold northerly wind dancing in the trees or the barely above freezing rain falling from the sky. Motivation to ride my bike becomes a fleeting thought.

I choose to ride for the child-like freedom and joy that cycling brings. For the challenge, camaraderie, sense of adventure and Strava KOM’s. Just kidding! I haven’t posted a ride to Strava in almost a year and plan to keep my streak alive ;-).

I prefer to ride off of feel, checking in with my mind and body to see the game that I want to play on any given day. Above all, I ride for my mental health. I have been on a 15 year journey of mental health rejuvenation, for I experience crippling depression and anxiety as I’m sure many of you do. Loneliness and despair can rein supreme if I choose to let them. Over the years I learned that I have a choice when these emotions become all consuming. My choice is to keep pedaling, even when my mind is screaming at me to keep curling my body up in a ball at the end of my bed.

I turn to group rides to keep my emotions in check. To motivate me on the days when my mind wants to ruminate and tell my body to simply stay put. The Asheville Winter Bike League rides have become a mainstay for me and another coping skill when my depression and anxiety rear their ugly head. I encourage you all to come out and reach out to one another through our common ground, and I bet that you will discover that you are not alone when it comes to the emotional and mental health challenges that you face.

Ride steady, ride strong, and above all ride for your emotional and mental health.

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