There are times when your life just seems to fall apart. Maybe you’ve lost your job, or are going through a relationship breakup or divorce, or a family member has a life threatening illness or has passed away. I truly extend my love and sympathies to you if you are going through something like this right now. Those are traumatic, emotional and sometimes just downright awful times.
When you’re going through something like this it is near on impossible to keep on track with your healthy eating and exercise program. So here are some tips that I hope will help you in the tough times.
I know this seems counterintuitive, everyone is probably telling you to stay strong and you feel you need to keep a brave face. That’s ok sometimes, (in public) though the best way to really grieve is to break down those inner walls and let yourself fall completely apart. Take a few hours or days or weeks with a close friend, or family member or by yourself to simply be with your grief. Let yourself cry, scream, wail and keen. Let your tears fall. It is ok to grieve intensely. This is your natural way to release the emotional energy of this massive life change. This is the shedding. Shedding of the memories, the dreams of the future, shedding and shifting your identity and ideas about yourself and the world. You need to do this. Take the time to fall apart. You are allowed.
Now is not the time to be thinking about weight loss. Now is the time to be nourishing yourself completely. Make yourself healthy, hearty casseroles and stews, or ask a friend to help you with some dinners. Think about nourishing your body with lots of vegetables and warming yummy things.
Also, try to include foods that will help regulate your serotonin levels (this is your feel-good hormone). These foods to have been shown to help regulate your mood naturally: Free Range Turkey, Flaxseed/ Flaxseed oil, Buckwheat, Wild Fish and Sea food, Whey protein, Bananas, High quality Eggs, Sour Cherries, Free Range Beef, Dark Chocolate. Read more on these serotonin boosting foods. Yes that’s right dark chocolate. Mmm.
It is ok to ask for help when you are going through a difficult time. Everyone goes through times like these, even those people who appear like their life is perfect. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Be courageous in opening yourself to others. Connecting in grief is one of the most powerful ways humans can connect. The emotions of loss are universal. You will be amazed at the outpouring of support from your friends, loved ones, work colleagues and acquaintances, if you simply share with them that you are having a tough time and could use some support. Ask for a hug. There is no substitute for human touch.
Instead of pushing yourself in the gym, go for softer exercises that will make you feel good and get your blood flowing. A long walk outside will help you feel better and give your brain time to process all the emotional changes you need to make. Walking and swinging your arms naturally is a really good to right and left brain co-ordination activity that will help you to sort your thoughts as you move your body. Being outside in natural greenery or in the sun has also been proven to have calming and mood boosting effects.
When you go through a highly stressful change like this your cortsiol levels rise (that’s your stress hormone) this has all sorts of nasty effects in your body if it lingers over time. So really make a conscious effort to invest time in calming yourself. Yoga, meditation, hypnosis or just simply sitting and breathing deeply will turn on your parasympathetic nervous system and help you to rest and your body to recuperate and recover from the emotional and mental stress.
Often when bad things happen we make them worse for ourselves through the cognitive distortion of ‘awfulising’. This is a process where we’ll take the problem and make it bigger and more pervasive than it really is, inferring negative meanings and identities for ourselves in the process. For example if I am going through a difficult relationship breakup a classic awfulising pattern would be to think to myself “I’m a terrible person”, “It’s my fault.”, “I will never find anyone like him again.”, “My whole life is shit.”, “It’s all so bad.”, “I’ll never love again.”, I’ll be alone forever!”
Watch out for the 3 p’s of pessimism and catch yourself if you’re doing this with your problem:
The truth is, it is not all about you, nor is it your whole life, nor will this last forever. There are still good things going on, and things will get better over time. Remember that and talk yourself out of it if you catch yourself “awfulizing”.
This point deserves it’s own section. Regardless of what is going on, it is not your fault, nor is it the other persons. You and everyone else in the situation are simply doing the best they can with the resources, understanding and emotional capacity that they have at the time. Including you. Including others. If you’ve made mistakes, learn from them and forgive yourself. Carrying around guilt or resentment does no-one any good. It does not undo what was done, it only hurts you further. You were doing the best you could. So was everyone else. Let it go.
No matter how dark the days, the sun will rise again. And there will come a day when you stop crying and surprise yourself by smiling and even laughing out loud. You have peace, clarity and happiness ahead of you, it is your birthright, and you will have it again. Even in the darkest hours there are rays of light and support that will help you get through, focus on those with gratitude and remember that this too shall pass.
If you are going through a difficult time like this and feel that your natural grief or sadness is becoming a more pervasive Depression, or you just want someone to listen help guide you safely through this time please contact me directly to find out how I can help you.
You can also find further help for Depression at organisations like Beyond Blue.
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