Day to day life can sometimes be a drag. Work, school, kids, relationships, family, taking care of yourself — it takes a lot of work to stay sane. It takes conscious effort to keep everything in balance, especially if you are in recovery, dealing with depression or anxiety.
When life gets chaotic, when emotions are running high, when control has been lost, it is easy to give up.
It is easy to revert back to old ways, fall back into bad habits, and to feel as though you will never be able to regain footing.
Giving up is easy. Fighting to stay strong and pushing back against adversity requires awareness and energy.
In times of trouble, when my life felt out of my control, when I couldn’t dictate exactly how everything was going, I turned inward. I cut myself off from the outside world. And ultimately, I took it out on my body.
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Falling in love with working out was a good thing, until I started abusing it.
Eating healthier than I had been was a good thing, until I started restricting. The more turbulent the outside world became, the worse I took it out on myself. I used these beneficial tools to negative extremes. I allowed the external stressors to deteriorate my spirit.
I had wanted to give up. It felt as though I had everything stacked against me, and there was no way out, no way to turn it all around.
It took a lot of hard work, stumbling, and trial and error before I was able to find constructive ways to manage my stress. After being in recovery for three years, I have had to find productive and positive ways to channel that energy.
I had to learn to cope with what I was facing in a different manner.
And I was actually able to do so through healthy eating and incorporating more movement into my day to day routine.
A quick internet search will turn up hundreds of articles that outline the benefits of eating well and moving your body. Both alter the chemicals in your brain, so what goes into your mouth and how you choose to expend your energy will have a great effect on your overall well-being.
When stress begins to creep into your life, it is easy to think you ‘deserve’ the pint of ice cream, those extra drinks at the bar, or the bag of chips, simply because you made it through the day. It is easy to make excuses to skip going to the gym or doing a workout at home, because you feel too burnt out and tired already.
But when you stop and think about how you feel after making these decisions, it is apparent they don’t serve or support you.
Taking a few extra minutes from my day to put effort into the foods I consume, actually taking stock of how I want to feel and identifying what foods will help me to achieve that, is worth it. Spending a quick 15 minutes to move my body after carefully listening to what it needs feels gratifying. Reflecting on my day and recognizing I took great care of myself from the inside out is encouraging.
After continual effort, the habit is formed and self-care becomes second nature.
Before long, a ripple effect has been created, and eventually, you respond to new bumps in the road with a more positive response.
It all starts with learning to manage stress without being self-destructive. How can you possibly get ahead if you continue to drag yourself down?
There is no one-size-fits-all magic answer.
It takes patience, time, and perseverance. Finding what works best for you is an individual effort. The pay out, though, is incredibly rewarding.
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