Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

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When The Blues Seem Hard to Beat….

on May 7, 2013

Moment of honest transparency, readers… I’ve been pretty stressed out the past two weeks (Yes, even us therapists sometimes get disregulated, at times!) You know what I noticed in the midst of all that stress? I just COULDN’T do right by myself. I felt lousy at most things I did, and even on happy, good days, was able to pick out a flaw or two. That whole “you are your own worst critic” feeling was just so loud that it was hard to receive any positive feedback or “don’t be so hard on yourself”-s. Not to mention, I found myself easily prone to irritability, fatigue, crying, and seeking comfort in foods you’d never catch me eating on a good day.

And you know what? I’m not alone. One of the biggest trends I see in my clients is attempts at self-sabotage: “It’s my fault I ended up like this” or “I’ll never be able to do that” are common themes. Remember my post on the importance of support in fitness success? (here) Well, sometimes even the loudest cheerleaders don’t help you make the play (…hopefully that makes sense, sports fans). And when that happens, we have to look inward to pull ourselves back up. That’s usually much easier said than done.

I didn’t write the book on the power of positive thinking (actually, this guy did), but, I came up with some things I’ve noticed have really helped:

1.) Exercise! (No surprise there). Usually, when we get stressed, our motivation to run, jump, and lift things goes right out the door. But even just a peaceful walk outside can do wonders (if you prefer that to slamming heavy barbells around like I do). The scientific reason behind this is that exercise produces serotonin, the neurotransmitter in our brain that makes us feel happy. Exercise clears the mental cobwebs out of our heads because during exercise our minds are focusing on the movements as opposed to what’s the matter. Without it, I think I’d be a lot worse off.

2.) Friends, family, and LAUGHTER: Another thing people tend to do when over-stressed is isolate, isolate, isolate. (Insert image of me here wagging my finger back and forth). Again, I’m guilty of this at times, myself. But it’s so important than when things get tough that you seek out the people in your life who make you feel good (and hey, truly good friends recognize that you’ve become a hermit and will do whatever they can to pull you out, anyways!) I’m really blessed to have a wonderful group of friends and family that keep me laughing every day. Getting all science-y, again, there have been studies that the act of laughter actually releases that happy-transmitter serotonin, just like exercise. Maybe they should start putting treadmills in comedy clubs??

3.) Healthy, quality food!: Just because you’re sad doesn’t mean you need to down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. This is not a Bridget Jones chick-flick movie. (In fact, don’t watch chick flick movies when you’re feeling negatively, at all) In all seriousness, though, a lot of those yummy, comfort foods are loaded with chemicals that end up giving us a “false food high” only to have us crash and burn later. I’ve watched youth clients actually get increasingly agitated when their diets consisted of soft drinks, fried foods, candy, or chips. So please, remember that just because your brain is sad, your body doesn’t need to get sad, too.

4.) A little faith: (Ah, my Mom would be so proud of me putting this in here!). Something that I often share with clients that I forget to abide by myself is that we are never given anything we can’t handle. So, have a little faith, in whatever sense faith means to you, that things will be okay and you’re tough enough to ride out the storm. April showers turn to may flowers, sunshine after the rain… all that good stuff. Just know that you’ll be okay. And, when you don’t feel like things will go okay, do me a favor and think back to the items listed above: Go for a long run to a friend’s house and eat a salad… you’ll feel better in no time 🙂

Happy thinking, everyone!

 

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One response to “When The Blues Seem Hard to Beat….

  1. […] and serotonin into your brain. These are “happy chemicals” (see previous post on “When the Blues are Hard to Beat“) that tap into your pleasure center. It’s kind of like when the cavemen found a hole […]

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