Grief and Exercise

Hi Folks.

Well, it’s been more than a hellish week for me so far.  This week my grandpa, whom I loved very much and to whom I was very close, passed away.  Although it wasn’t unexpected, it’s still very hard.

While every bone in my body wanted to stay on the couch watching reruns of the Millionaire Matchmaker, I dragged my butt of the couch, and decided to go for a run.  I left my ipod and pacewatch at home, and just ran — free, unplugged from everything.  Breathing the fresh air, I was alone in my own head with my thoughts and memories, and it felt incredibly therapeutic.

While people often focus on exercise as a way to lose weight, stay in shape, etc…, I rarely hear exercise touted as a way to maintain your mental health.  According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, “A growing volume of research suggests that exercise can help improve the symptoms of certain medical conditions such as depression and anxiety.”  Lately, it has been the one thing that makes me feel really good in this difficult time.  Particularly in times of grief, it’s easy to turn to things such as brownies and glasses of wine to comfort and calm yourself and to deal with those tough emotions.  It’s so easy to get caught up in what you’ve lost, that everything else falls to the wayside – including your health.  And although I did enjoy a glass of wine or two this week, I’m proud to say that my focus has been getting my butt in gear and trying to get as much sleep as possible.

Doing thoughtful exercise, such as going for a run, heading to a yoga class, going for a nice bike ride, or simply taking a long walk outside is so healing and meditative, and it allows your mind to reflect and renew.  The benefits of physical activity are incredibly far reaching and can help you deal with a bevy of emotions — whether you’re dealing with a problem at work, or the death of a loved one.

So take it from me — get out there and move…you would be surprised at how alive you feel when your heart is pounding.

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