“Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well;…and not today’s pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man.”
~James H. West[i]
Betrayal at any level places a lot of stress on the body. In order to stay healthy during these times, physical, emotional, and spiritual self-care is essential. This is easy to overlook, but crucial to your healing. In the next few weeks we will explore the ways in which your choices either help or hinder your healing.
As a personal trainer, I often have beginner clients declare how much they hate to exercise. If they can persevere through that first month and begin to reap the benefits, they soon become believers.
Both cardiovascular exercise and resistance training result in an increase of endorphin and serotonin levels in the body. I call these neurotransmitters my “natural happy drugs.” The best way to produce these God-given natural hormones is to exercise, get a healthy dose of sunlight, receive at least seven hours of sleep, and eat right.
The term endorphin is derived from the words endogenous (which means to originate from within) and morphine. A morphine-like substance is increased within our body during exercise. God’s provision is amazing. He created a way our bodies could produce naturally what we desperately require in times of distress and sadness. You will have to push yourself to exercise, but I can attest from personal experience this will lift your spirits and energize your body.
Serotonin is a hormone that helps control mood swings. Stress and unhappiness have been proven to decrease serotonin levels. Conversely, research proves that regular physical exercise raises these levels. Depression can set in when reduced amounts of serotonin flow through the brain. During this critical time of sorrow it is imperative to do all you can to combat this.
If I had not forced myself to get out and get moving, I most certainly would have fallen into a deep depression. All the warning signs were present. Thankfully God helped me to keep moving physically at a time I had the least amount of will and energy to do so.
The following journal entry describes the battle.
January 29, 2008 (3 months post revelation)
I had an extremely bad morning. With lots of clients I was thankful God helped me keep it together emotionally. After work I knew I had to force myself to do a cardio program, because depression loomed dark.
While running on the treadmill it took all the strength I had not to break down and cry like a baby. Had I not been at work where my clients would have thought me stark raving mad, I would have succumbed. Instead I clenched back the agony with grit and determination.
I guess all the preaching to my clients about the necessity of a cardio workout when struggling with depression is jumping right back at me. I must practice what I preach.
Cardio sure works. By the time I got home, I felt better able to cope with this relentless sadness. I marveled both at God who created a natural way to feel better and science for confirming this truth.
[i] Quote by James H. West (http://www.quotegarden.com/health.html)