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How to Use Exercise to Manage Grief

How to Use Exercise to Manage Grief

Most of us spend our days following a similar pattern day to day, based on our jobs, children’s or grandchildren’s activities, and hobbies we enjoy. When a death in the family occurs it disrupts that pattern. Suddenly not only are we grieving the loss of a loved one, often times we are now responsible for many other things: letting other family members know about the passing, comforting others and making funeral arrangements to name just a few. It can be a rollercoaster of emotions between grieving your own personal loss and managing all the things that go along with the end of a life. During this time it is easy to become over stressed because everything is time sensitive and must be dealt with immediately. Depending on how the person who has passed prepared things before their death there can be an overwhelming pressure on you or others close to you who have to manage all of their affairs.


In the aftermath of loss it is hard to get back into the swing of things; at times being overwhelmed by grief and sadness and wondering how will things ever get back to “normal.” Reality is that we may even grieve the loss of what was normal and have to readjust to a new normal.


It is easy to forget about the things we need to do to take care of ourselves during this time. In those quiet moments we remember the one lost and question how will the pain of loss ever go away. All the stress during this time can affect both physical and mental health.


We all know and have heard over and over the benefits of exercise and living a healthy lifestyle. When something like a death of a loved one comes into our lives, it is so easy to let our own personal wellness fall to the wayside. Feeling sadness and experiencing grief is a normal part of a healthy recovery but can also really weigh on us. Feelings of depression, lack of sleep and general anxiety can be a common side effect of grief.


Dealing with the death of a loved one can affect you in so many ways. Using exercise is a great way to manage some of those feelings. Exercise can improve mood and reduces depression, stress and anxiety. If you are feeling any of those things a trip to the gym or even into the outdoors for a walk can help combat them and bring you back to a place of hope and healing.


Another benefit of exercise is that it promotes better sleep and helps you relax. If you find yourself up at night not able to fall asleep, this is often a result of a mind that will not shut off. Think about taking a walk after dinner or lifting a few weights while watching a tv show at home. This will help calm your emotions and promote better sleep.


Being active and making exercise a part of your daily life can also give a peace of mind about your own health. After dealing with the death of a loved one we often wonder about our own health and how it will impact us long term. Doing regular exercise combats many health conditions and diseases as well as strengthens and boosts your immune system.


Grief ebbs and flows through time and often feels as though the waves will take you under. Other times you can see that there is hope on the horizon. Making time to take care of yourself and getting active will get those endorphins flowing and be a helpful hand on your way to healing.

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