Last night as I was winding down, I sensed there was too much “noise” in my head, unproductive fear and worry, to promote a good night’s sleep. I knew I needed to do something about it before I climbed in bed, so I left my family in the living room, enjoying “Chopped” on the Food Network, and went to my room. I grabbed a pen and notepad and wrote down all my fears and worries (aka journaling.) Thinking I’d quieted the “noise,” I went to sleep assuming that my “before bed” activity was a guarantee that I’d sleep well.
Wrong! I found myself wide awake between 3- 5 am, creating completely unrealistic, irrational scenarios in my head. Usually when this happens, I don’t fight it and just go with the flow, seeing it as an opportunity to connect with my creativity, thinking up inspirations for my blog. But not last night. Instead I overstressed about being awake, beating myself up for worrying and obsessing about things over which I have no control. I was frustrated that I could not break out of this emotional storm. After all, I’m a life coach and a balance expert. I should know better!
They say that it’s always darkest before dawn, right? Well, my morning was no brighter. After struggling with a clogged toilet, I was rushing so I wouldn’t be late for my Zumba class. With temperatures outside below 32 and my car iced over, there was no way I was making it to the gym on time, so I decided not to go. Instead, I put on my gloves, hat, and scarf and took a 45-minute walk outside.
And that was the turning point.
Movement, especially outdoors, is a valuable aid in working through emotions. The processing I did during this 45-minute walk could easily equate to a good session with a therapist.
When you’re on an emotional roller coaster and you feel trapped in a cycle of negative feelings, there are 2 things you should do right away:
1. Move your body. Exercise in any form can act as a stress-reliever. The production of “feel-good” endorphins during physical activity elevates your mood, making you feel more in command over your body, and helps release emotions. The singular focus required with physical exercise, like playing racquetball, practicing yoga, or swimming laps, takes your mind off your troubles and leaves you feeling calm. Regular exercise can help with symptoms of mild depression, anxiety, and also improves sleep! You don’t need a gym or a class to get this result. A simple walk in nature does the same thing.