Stop Being Sad and Be Awesome Instead

Initially, when I decided to write this blog, it was with the intention of using my personal everyday experiences as a lesson for others. Today’s experience will probably adhere to that theme more than any of my blogs so far. If you’ve been reading my blog, you already know that a few months back I broke things off with a girl I once believed would be my future wife. You’re also likely aware that I’ve had bouts with depression in the past as well as fairly recently. Today, unfortunately, did not start out as one of my better days.

You see, the truth is, as happy and relieved as I am to be out of an abusive relationship, no matter how bad the relationship, we are all bound to remember some of the better moments. I’ve been sick for the past few days, so I’ve been sleeping quite a bit. Needless to say, my inactivity hasn’t been helping my moods much either. However, it was after passing out during the afternoon today that I ended up finding myself at my weakest. And it was all because I had a dream, an all too nice dream, about my ex.

As I said, no matter how bad the relationship, there are always bound to be a few moments that made you smile. Today, I had a dream about one of those moments. It was a flashback to when we met for the first time, to when I gave her the very first gift I would ever give her; a small, sterling silver promise ring that I bought with all the money I had at the time. The dream continued to our first kiss, a hesitant, but soft and sweet moment. Finally, the dream brought me to the scene last fall when she was going up to see her parents.

We were at the airport, she was trembling as I held her close to me. I kept whispering to her how much I loved her, how she would be alright, how she would be in my arms again real soon. It was a bittersweet moment, but it was also the moment, when we kissed each other good bye for the last time before she walked through the gate, that I was positively convinced I would go to the ends of the earth for her and that she would do the same for me.

It was the last, genuine moment where I felt like we were in love because, in the months that followed, and due to all sorts of unfortunate events, our relationship would become increasingly strained and increasingly painful for the both of us. When I woke up, all the anguish of saying good bye to her last fall and the knowledge of what came after rushed back into my head and heart like a jet-propelled freight train. For the first time since saying good bye to her for the last time, I missed her.

I sat up in my bed, contemplating how things had gone so wrong for us and wondering if there was anything I could have possibly done differently. Maybe it was due to my exhaustion, maybe my cold, maybe a combination of both plus the weight of nostalgia bearing down on me. Whatever it was, for several minutes I had forgotten all the pain and all the abuse. I forgot about the abusive screaming, the projecting, and her violent temper and genuinely believed I had lost something precious.

It’s a dangerous state of being, but I suppose that goes without saying. It’s what depression can do to you and it is always hard to fight against to get to the reality of the situation. You begin to feel guilt over things that were ultimately out of control, blaming yourself for events and actions that were never even your fault.

And as cheesy and lame as this is probably going to sound, in moments like this I’ve found myself turning more and more to the immortal words of Barney Stinson. Yeah…as if you didn’t see that coming.

whenimsadBefore this blog loses all credibility, hear me out. As simplistic, simple-minded, and overall dumb, as Barney’s motto may sound, he still has a point.

And frankly, it also takes an enormous amount of will-power to enact.

Feeling sad and upset and depressed literally sucks the life and energy out of you. You don’t want to move, you don’t want to eat, and you certainly don’t want to smile. And in moments like what I experienced early, smiling is exactly what you should force yourself to do. Article after article has been written regarding the many scientific studies that have proven the simple act of smiling, even forcing yourself to smile, can make you feel better.

But that’s only the first step. When life beats us down, smile right back at life and don’t stay down. Get up, get active, and do something you enjoy, be it reading, writing, singing out of tune, or, in my case, working out until you can hardly breathe.

Today, I managed to channel the sorrow into motivation. Each and every day I’ve decided to prove to myself in some sort of way that I am better off. While I’ve managed to get back into my work out routine that I neglected so much while being with her, today was the first day my focus went from being “getting back in shape” to “proving she lost something wonderful” and not the other way around. There is nothing wrong with that because it is important to discover one’s own self worth. It is absolutely crucial that we all discover that we are of value, we matter. And people who mistreat us and take our energy and our love and our sacrifices will never deserve us. For every push up I did, I reminded myself of just how much better off I now was. For every pull up, I admired just how far I had come on my own without the burden of being with her weighing me down. For every sit up, every leg raise, and every mile I ran, I was reminded of just how much I loved finally getting my life back, instead of being subservient to another.

And you know what? It was the best damn work out I’ve had in a long time.

😉

Getting Back in Shape- Beyond the Physical

When you we think about getting back in shape, our minds typically tend to visualize dumbbells, dieting, and drinking tons of water from jogging in the morning for the first time in what? Five years? Tough stuff.

For years, I’ve been doing my fair share of all of that. I was a “graduate” of Insanity and my typical routine at the park consisted of running a crazy amount of miles before doing a crazy amount of push ups, pull ups and jumping squats before “cooling off” with several more miles of running around in literal circles. It was great and I was in the best shape of my life. But at the time, I didn’t realize that my mental and emotional well-being had an enormous impact on my physical health. In fact, I didn’t realize that at all until after enduring through a pretty bad relationship. Don’t worry, I’m not going to harp on about that again. I am, however, going to share with you some pretty interesting articles I came across regarding the link that connects our physical, emotional, and mental well-being together.

While this article on news-media.net doesn’t go into the exact details of a fairly recent study, it does give a bit of context on just how our different states of being are connected.

“The interplay between our physical and mental health has long been suspected,” Yoon said. “When I have back pain, I feel stressed. And if it impacts my ability to work, or to do my usual activities, then I can feel upset or even a bit depressed. But no large scale studies existed that showed the statistical proof of this correlation.”

Here, Yoon offers an example related to how our physical well being can affect our emotional. But what about the other way around? According to familydoctor.org, physical aliments can be indicative of emotional duress. Ulcers and high blood pressure can be brought on by stressful events in one’s life and poor emotional health can actually weaken the body’s immune system. And this is without even taking into account how feeling depressed or upset can leave you less motivated to take better physical care of yourself. But if that’s not enough to demonstrate how important our mental and emotional well-being is to our health, just take a look at how “health” is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO):

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.- WHO

Unfortunately, our emotional and mental health isn’t typically taken into account when we’re trying to “get in shape.” For me personally, my neglect of my mental and emotional well-being actually turned out to be the two biggest reasons why instead of getting healthier, I was getting sicker and more out of shape despite dieting and exercise. It wasn’t until I made changes to improve my emotional and mental states that I finally began making real progress regarding my physical health.

So what are the steps that we can take when we really want to “get in shape” in every sense of the phrase? I won’t cover any physical routines, but here are a few steps you can take to become mentally and emotionally healthier. These are steps that I’ve also personally been trying to implement as well.

  • Volunteering- Maybe it’s an animal shelter, maybe a homeless shelter. Regardless, volunteering your time and energy to a cause or organization you believe in can leave you feeling satisfied and accomplished. There are always ways to volunteer your abilities for the benefit of others, and it can range from working with others on a clean up project to just helping an elderly individual pack their groceries away in their car.
  • Associate with positive people- First hand, I can tell you that doing the opposite of this can be the most detrimental to your well-being. Constantly associating with those who only see the negative side of a situation, those who are judgmental and cynical, will result in you acting the same way. As the saying goes, misery loves company. So be sure to hang around those who are the exact opposite. Lately, I’ve been associating with friends and family who are especially positive, and the results they’re association has had on me is extremely noticeable.
  • Just relax- For some, this will probably be the hardest thing to do, especially where I live (it’s number seven on the most stressed cities in the United States). No matter what day it is, no matter what you have planned, find the time to relax a little. Even thirty minutes helps to reset and refresh your mind, preventing you from feeling mentally overloaded or drained. Listen to music, read a book, or do nothing at all! Just sit there and meditate.
  • Make a budget- One of the hardest things in this age of online transactions and student debts is learning how to manage and track your money. No wonder money is also the aspect of our lives that typically cause the most stress. Thankfully, there are also tools and resources we can use to help us get on track with both how we spend and how we save. The blog over at nerdwallet.com has information on a number of apps that can help keep track of just that. Another tip that seems to work for others is by simply using cash and not cards.

These are just a few tips we can all put into affect to help us be happier and healthier mentally, emotionally, and of course, physically. This is just a suggestion, but if implementing these tips into your life seems like too daunting a task, try picking and focusing on one and doing it for a week or month before adding on another. I’m sure you will experience a noticeable improvement in your overall well-being.

Till next time then and be sure to keep smiling.

🙂