Remember when you found out he was cheating on you, and cozied up on the sofa for three days with a box of chocolates? Now, try to remember why you did that. It wasn’t really because he cheated. It was because you started to think YOU were the reason he cheated!
That thought was enough to make you feel despondent. In that moment, you wanted to escape the emotional pain more than you wanted to take care of your body … and binging on chocolate when you were already beating yourself up for being so fat that he cheated on you was enough to condemn your sinful soul. All this because he’s still learning to make a distinction between a biological urge and love … and you thought it was a negative reflection on you?
Our health starts with our thinking.
I’m not going to suggest that you try to think positive thoughts all the time. Start by being aware of what you think and what it does to you. Then, write about it. Writing about stressful or emotional events improves both physical and psychological health, in non-clinical and clinical populations, according to research by Karen A. Baikie, a clinical psychologist, and Kay Wilhelm, a consultant psychiatrist.
Writing can open up the door to conscious thinking. We are challenged to quiet our minds enough to simply process the thoughts we could benefit from thinking. That’s why people spend money to sit in front of a counselor and talk. I remember my therapist telling me 30 years ago that the therapy would never end; I’d just stop paying him to listen.
If writing doesn’t appeal to you, another great way to quiet your mind is walking — or jogging, or swimming, or biking. And regular exercise helps many of the body’s systems function better, keeps heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other diseases (including cancer and osteoporosis) at bay, relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety, and is a key ingredient for losing weight, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
Decide what you want to think about and for how long. You don’t have to listen to the mind’s endless chatter that plays over and over because you grew up in a “dysfunctional home.” I like to think about flowers and butterflies and wild bunnies while I’m walking because they remind me that I’m part of something that’s orchestrated, something I can trust. I like to think about my grand niece’s adorable face as she smiles and bobs her head back and forth with sparkling eyes because she can’t quite talk yet.
What enlivens you and reminds you that you’re part of something wondrous, that you are wondrous? Think about that … while you’re walking … and you’ll feel better all over.
Think you don’t have time? What are you doing instead that you might not need to do if you got healthy? Going to the doctor? Sitting in front of the TV because you’re exhausted? Working overtime to pay for medical costs, clothes that fit, exercise equipment, or something to band-aid the pain?
While an active lifestyle benefits body, mind a spirit, a sedentary lifestyle does the opposite. And, according to the Nurses’ Health Study and many others, being a couch potato may be harmful even for people who get regular exercise.
Choose to take care of you, to love you. And trust that when you do, somebody who has also learned to love well will be there to love you.