Movement for my mental health
My grief journey has been massively helped by a big emphasis on movement.
Some of you know that my dad died in a gym 11 years ago. At first, this made me afraid of exercise, unsure and untrustworthy of any ‘healthy’ recommendations those around me would make. I had never been the most confident in sport and the scare of my dad’s death only worsened my opinion of keeping fit.
In my second year of university, where alcohol was my new therapy and friendship helped to blur the upset and grief I had felt for so many years, I began to realise just how unhealthy I was: pizzas bi-weekly, McDonald’s, Pepsi max in abundance and a diet of Iceland’s best party collection and popcorn. And that was just nutritionally, my bank balance was forever negative, I sought out risks to feel ‘alive’ and I would find myself in the tub in tears after midnight when the alcohol was wearing off and my true emotions and grief were at the forefront of my mind.
In my second year of university, I got a call, a close friend at university had had a heart failure in the street. Later that day, Zara died.
In this often cruel world, it often takes a big wake up call to wake you from a slumber in grief. You’d think I’d gone through enough, but the recall of loss, although excruciating and deafening, made me realise how important health and life are.
Today, I cannot stop moving!
Some may say it’s avoidance, others may say it’s an addiction to cortisol, and some may say I’m lost. I’d say I’m all of those things, but, moving and keeping fit is the one thing that makes me feel alive, in control, closer to people, closer to my dad, like I’m living for lost friends, and like I understand what I need on this grief journey so much more.
For me, exercise is my medicine for the body, the mind and the soul. I’m certainly not ‘healed’ and I never will be, but movement is the biggest tool in my box, that can lift me up, enhance my mind with endorphins, release me from stress and ground me so I’m focussed, present and able to look myself in the mirror and say, I’m alive.
If bereavement has you feeling afraid, numb, tired, or regretful, all you have to do is keep moving. Slowly but surely. You can do it.
Movement can help:
- Heart health
- Mental health
- Social wellbeing
- Risk of type 2 diabetes
- Lower blood pressure
- Feel more energised