Exercise is something that benefits everyone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and two days of muscle-strengthening activity each week.
We all need to get out there and move our bodies, especially during challenging times like divorce. In this blog post, we’ll explore the transformative power of exercise and how it can help you navigate the emotional and physical aspects of going through a divorce.
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The Importance of Exercise During Divorce
Divorce can bring forth a range of emotions like sadness, anger, and disappointment. Exercise serves as a powerful outlet for releasing stress and pent-up emotions.
Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers. Whether it’s experiencing the “runner’s high” or venting frustrations through punching a bag, exercise can help you channel your emotions in a healthy and constructive way.
In addition to indoor exercise options, exploring the outdoors can offer a profound sense of solace and perspective. If you live in a beautiful location like South Florida, take advantage of parks, beaches, and scenic trails. Being in nature can be therapeutic.
How to Motivate Yourself to Work Out
We know that getting out the door can be the hardest part of squeezing in a workout, so here are a few tips to help motivate you to exercise on the days you really don’t feel like it.
Don’t Overthink It, Just Do It
When you make the decision to incorporate exercise into your life, whether it’s joining a gym or engaging in an active hobby like pickleball or golf, the first step is to simply do it. Don’t overanalyze or find excuses to avoid it. Take the leap and commit to moving your body.
It’s natural for your mind to come up with reasons why it’s not a good idea, but that’s where your prefrontal cortex comes in. Use it to override your primitive brain’s resistance and motivate yourself to take action.
Trick Your Brain with Baby Steps
Scheduling your workouts and preparing in advance can help trick your brain into following through. For example, laying out your exercise clothes the night before or having a quick snack ready in the morning can set the stage for success. Remember, even if your brain continues to resist, take it one step at a time. Put one leg in front of the other, grab your gym bag, and get yourself in the car. Despite the ongoing mental chatter, keep pushing forward, and follow through with your commitment.
Begin with the End in Mind
The concept of “beginning with the end in mind,” popularized by Stephen R. Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is a powerful mindset to adopt when it comes to exercise. Visualize how you’ll feel after completing your workout and focus on the positive outcomes. This mental exercise can provide the motivation you need to overcome any initial resistance or doubts.
Exercise as a Social Activity
Exercise is often a social activity, particularly if you choose to work out in a gym or join fitness classes. These environments allow you to meet like-minded individuals who share similar goals and interests. For someone going through a divorce, exercise can provide an opportunity to re-engage socially and alleviate any feelings of isolation or separation caused by the end of a relationship. You may even find new connections and friendships along the way.
The Benefits of Exercise During Divorce
Exercise offers plenty of benefits that can significantly improve your well-being during and after divorce. For instance, engaging in regular physical activity promotes better sleep quality, helping you feel more rested and rejuvenated.
Here’s a look at some of the other benefits of moving your body:
- Improved breathing: Exercise enhances lung capacity and respiratory efficiency, allowing you to breathe more easily and deeply.
- Increased energy levels: Regular exercise boosts overall energy levels, which helps you stay alert and focused throughout the day, even during emotionally challenging times.
- Stress reduction: Physical activity is an effective stress reliever that releases endorphins to improve mood and alleviate the physical symptoms of stress.
- Enhanced physical resilience: When you exercise, it strengthens your body, making it more resilient to the physical effects of stress and helping counteract the toll it takes on your overall health.
- Balanced emotional well-being: Regular exercise promotes a sense of emotional balance, reducing anxiety and depression commonly experienced during divorce.
- Healthy coping mechanism: Incorporating exercise into your routine provides a positive outlet for managing negative emotions, preventing the temptation to resort to unhealthy buffering behaviors.
- Increased self-confidence: Achieving fitness goals and improving your physical health can enhance self-esteem and self-confidence during a time when it may feel diminished.
The Pitfalls of Buffering
During a divorce, it’s crucial to counteract stress and negative emotions in a healthy way. Incorporating exercise and maintaining a balanced diet can be instrumental in this process.
A lot of people find it can be easy to fall into the trap of buffering, which involves overindulging in activities like drinking, gambling, or unhealthy eating to escape negative emotions. However, buffering only provides temporary relief and can lead to unfortunate consequences.
For instance, reaching for a glass of wine to unwind after a tough day might escalate into consuming an entire bottle. Similarly, indulging in a couple of cookies as a treat can quickly spiral into devouring the entire package. This pattern of buffering serves as a temporary escape, but the aftermath often involves regret and physical discomfort.
Buffering behaviors such as excessive sugar consumption or alcohol intake may provide momentary highs, but they ultimately come with a downside. The initial surge of pleasure and relief is often followed by a crash or negative physical effects. It’s important to recognize that most buffering activities have negative aspects and can lead to a cycle of defeat, further indulgence, and increased negative emotions.
By opting for healthier coping mechanisms like exercise, you can break free from the buffering cycle and experience more sustainable benefits. Engaging in physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, which naturally elevate mood and reduce stress. In contrast to buffering, exercise promotes overall physical and mental well-being. It empowers you to regain control and improve your self-esteem, ultimately supporting your journey through divorce.
Buffering with Exercise
While exercise is generally beneficial for physical and mental well-being, it’s important to be mindful of potential pitfalls. Just like you can engage in buffering behaviors to escape negative emotions, it’s possible to buffer with excessive exercise.
This scenario arises when you use exercise as a means of avoidance, neglecting other aspects of your life. You have to strike a balance and avoid using even healthy habits as extreme buffering mechanisms. Awareness of this is important to maintaining a healthy relationship with exercise and preventing it from becoming a means of avoidance.
Prioritizing Self-Care During Divorce and Parenthood
You need to carve out time for yourself. It may feel like there’s a never-ending to-do list, but taking care of your own well-being is paramount. By prioritizing self-care, you send a powerful message to your kids and everyone around you. It demonstrates that you value yourself and your overall life trajectory.
Setting yourself as a priority is a delicate balancing act. Many of our clients struggle with the belief that their needs should always come last. However, we work with them to challenge this mindset. Just like the safety instructions on an airplane advise putting on your own oxygen mask before assisting others, taking care of yourself is essential. You can’t effectively support and care for others if you’re running on empty.
Embracing Exercise and Building Self-Confidence During Divorce
As coaches, we understand the importance of nurturing body image and self-esteem during a divorce. We encourage you to embrace who you are, appreciate your unique qualities, and find peace with your body.
Remember, there is no single “ideal” body shape or size. What matters is taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally, and making conscious choices about what you consume.
If you’re ready to take control of your life and navigate the path to your desired future after divorce, we’re here to help.
Explore our coaching services on our website and set up your free Discovery Call today. You deserve to create a fulfilling and empowered life, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.