SWEATING OUT SADNESS: HOW EXERCISE CAN HELP PARENTS AND CHILDREN THROUGH BEREAVEMENT
Is your family experiencing the painful loss of a loved one? Are you and your children on what can feel like an uncontrollable roller-coaster of emotions such as numbness, anger, denial, desperation and possibly depression? The grieving process is very powerful and added to its complexity is the erratic pattern these emotions can take. Simon Says hosts monthly support groups in 6 locations across Hampshire, where children can interact with other children and young people who may be experiencing similar emotions and parents can talk with other parents in a welcoming and informal environment.
Dealing with this grip of grief is very different for everyone, however there is one activity that seems to offer benefits universally for virtually every grieving person who tries it, and that is exercise.
According to many medical studies (sources and references in the link below), when you exercise, particularly at high intensity, it requires intense focus while giving you a sense of control. If you’ve felt lost in a seemingly bottomless-pit of shock and disillusionment at any point, exercise brings a sense of purpose that requires nothing more than putting one foot in front of the other.
One 31-year-old mother with three sons described the way exercise helped her and her young family take back control of their life after they lost their daddy.
“Initially the running helped me remember ‘I am big. I am strong.’ …In the beginning, I thought ‘I may not be able to control all these other things in my life, but I can control this.’ Then it became ‘Well, if I can control that, what else can I take back? Now my boys come along and it has become something we can share together…we can’t wait for this year’s Santa dash!”
Exercise makes you feel better because of its impact on your brain. It increases blood flow to your brain, allowing it to almost immediately function better. Studies suggest, if you’ve experienced a grief-induced fog, this can help you to feel more focused, virtually immediately. Many of the well-known mood control transmitters are triggered during exercise, such as classic endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. It is in fact becoming one of the most effective prevention and treatment strategies for depression.