Move Your Body to Overcome Grief

Moving the body is the best medicine for the mind.

Divorce is one of the most difficult times a human being can go through, but it is far from uncommon. In my previous article, I discussed some of the heartbreaking factors associated with divorce, as well as some management strategies. Today, I want to look at the rollercoaster of emotions we go through during the grieving process, and present some specific strategies to deal with them.

Too many people around me have experienced this difficult stage in life, and I have seen some channel their pain into positive outlets, and others into not so positive ways. The difference is an understanding of the grieving process, and knowledge of the tools available to address each phase.

The process of grieving is quite universal, whether it involves a divorce, or a death, or diagnosis of a serious, life-changing illness. The overall theme is about loss. When we lose something important in our lives, we tend to experience the myriad of emotions in a certain order:

  1. Shock or disbelief
  2. Denial
  3. Anger
  4. Bargaining
  5. Guilt
  6. Depression
  7. Acceptance and hope

Shock and Denial: Find External Motivation

Sometimes when you are in the phases of shock or denial, you tend to freeze like a deer in headlights. Thoughts of ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ consume you, and it can be difficult to carry out a usual day, especially if your significant other was a big part of your daily routine. Depression can make you unmotivated, tired and lethargic. The will to get out and do things is sharply diminished.

It is exactly for these reasons that you should enroll in a fitness class or hire a trainer, so that the instructor or trainer can hold you accountable if you don’t turn up. The other bonus of joining a class is that you are around other people, and hopefully in a joyous and positive environment, which can help lift your spirits.

Anger: Create a Physical Outlet

It is critically important to channel anger into something physical. Punching the crap out of a heavy bag or engaging in martial arts sparring is a wonderful way to release it all. Do something with high intensity that really works your body. Although you may feel tired after the session, you will also feel great, having channeled that anger out, and replacing it with endorphins—your feel-good hormones.

A roll on the BJJ mat might be just the thing to put your mind at ease.

If martial arts are not for you, there are other exercises that you can do in the gym such as sprinting or jumping rope.

Plyo push ups with a medicine ball are another great option. In order to be able to do this exercise, you must be able to perform push ups and have decent core strength to support the spine. Aim to do 10 push ups each side for 3 sets.

Burpees should not be overlooked either, as they are an awesome full-body exercise. They work your upper body, lower body, and your cardiovascular fitness. Remember to bend your legs instead of just bending at the hips when you lower yourself down to the ground. Kick your feet back to create a strong plank shape for the push up. Once you have performed the push up, bring your feet back in and jump from a squat position. Aim for 3 sets of 20 reps each.

burpees with a jump

Burpees aren’t exactly fun, but they’ll certainly take your mind off of other things.

Channel Your Emotions Into Hard Work

These exercises are high in intensity and require a lot of energy. Jump as high as you can, move as fast as you can, or kick that bag as hard and as fast as you can. These dynamic exercises are exhausting, and that’s the point. They work many different muscle groups, and require balance, power, speed, coordination, and intensity. They are the perfect recipe to channel your emotions in a positive way.

Whether it be divorce or a traumatic event in your life that is causing you to experience grief, adopting some healthy strategies such as these will help you along the process and make it more manageable.

Your body isn’t going to wait for your life to be perfect:

Life Ain’t Easy: Train Anyway