There was a point one day, when I had a new little baby girl Brilynn, and I was grieving the loss of my other baby girl Aria, that I called my sister in law. I told her, I don’t know what is wrong with me, my face is going numb, I think I need to go to the doctor. I had not slept in 2 months, because I was checking on Brilynn all night long making sure she was okay. My stress levels were through the roof waiting for the next person close to me to die, and trying to keep everyone alive at the same time.
So two of my sister-in-laws came over, and one of them told me that she has had that when she had really bad anxiety. It all seemed to come together for me. The exhaustion, sleepless nights, stress and worry, they were all compounding and my body was telling me, if you don’t stop and take care of yourself, I’m going to start shutting down. I’ve recently heard of this happening to other people, under extreme stress their face has gone numb. I believe it’s our bodies way of forcing us to step back and take care of ourselves.
From that day on many things changed for me, but I started to make exercise a priority after that. I have always been a person who enjoys exercising, but as time goes on, I’ve started to understand how integral it is to my brain health. I need to exercise even if I don’t feel like it, because my brain needs it in order to have the energy to work through what I need to work through.
Another sister-in-law and I would trade going for runs. She would come over and she would go on a run, and then I would. Then I would go to her house and do the same thing. Seriously, no matter how difficult it seems to get some sort of exercise in your day, it’s possible if you can make it a priority.
I have thought often that our bodies are meant to do heavy labor, working in the fields, carrying babies, planting gardens, searching in the woods for our food. All the things we don’t really have to do because of automation and all the things we have working for us now. I’ve wondered if the heavy labor that has happened in the past, helped people cope. Where now, we sit and eat and have basically everything taken care of, where our brain and body doesn’t have any physical work to work out the sadness and pains that we have in our lives. I feel like exercise and movement is so much more important to focus on now in our modern culture when we are grieving.
So I found exercise very important. It cleared my head. I would go on a bike ride and try to bike as fast as I can to make my blood pump to try relieve just a little bit of that stress in my chest. When I went on a run, I would think thoughts like “I can do this”, “I’m going to make it through this life”, “I don’t know how, but I will figure it out”. And I think it helped cement the idea in my head that I was going to be okay. I found running and biking to be the things I could do the easiest. Find something that works for you. Maybe for you a calmer thing like Yoga would be good to help work through the stress? Or maybe you are like me and just want to beat it would with high intensity workouts.
I also have had a gym membership off and on for when it works for me. I find that it is very helpful for me to actually have some accountability to get to the gym. I go for classes and having a time I need to be there along with someone else telling me what I need to do, helps me actually get a tough work-out in.
Someone had told that you go to the gym to feel good about yourself, but if you want some inner calm and peace you go do something in the outdoors. I have found that to be true. While I love the gym, and it’s an amazing resource to have, getting outside and moving outside can have the greatest impact on your mental health and as a tool for your grief.
It seems like a selfish thing, to ask others to watch your kids so you can exercise, or get a gym membership and put your kids in daycare so you can exercise, but I’m telling you it’s a very important tool you can use to help alleviate some of the stress, pain, anger, and sadness that comes with losing your child. If you can take care of yourself with exercise, you will be in a much better spot mentally to be able to deal with what is in store for your life. I think there are many ways to take care of yourself, but exercise is a big way you can take care of your emotional health as you continue learning how to live with grief.
When you are grieving, your mind can go to such dark places, and if you can lift it just a little bit out of there by getting some exercise, you can get through the next moment. Self care is so important all the time, but especially when you are grieving. You have some of the toughest emotions and feelings you are dealing with right now, and if there’s ever a time to focus on taking care of yourself do it now. If you can find a way to add exercise and movement into your life as a tool to help you manage your grief, you will be in a much better place! I encourage you to take some time for yourself and make it a priority!
If you find this helpful, please share it with a friend who needs it <3.