Lately I’ve been feeling sad and depressed, and I’m worried about it taking a toll on my body. So here’s what I’m doing to keep up my health and fitness while dealing with the blues.
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This is not the first time I’ve gone through difficult times in my life.
When my sister lost her battle to leukemia, I felt like I had been slapped in the face, and I couldn’t stop crying for days.
And then, life just took a general wrong turn: my husband fell ill, our business took a nosedive, and we got kicked out of the house we had living in. I started feeling sad all the time, and nothing could make me feel better.
To make matters worse, my eating habits spiraled out of control. I tend to be an emotional eater, so you can imagine what my depressed state did to my body. I ended up gaining almost 10 pounds!
I spent a year trying to get rid of those pounds, and I’m proud to say I succeeded.
But this year started off badly. My father’s illness got worse, and he recently passed away.
Again, I felt like I had been slapped in the face. I mean, I had just started feeling better about life, and suddenly my dad is gone. His absence makes me feel terribly lost and alone.
At first I was just numb, but now I’m definitely falling back into the sadness mode. I have days when I’m feeling positive and upbeat, and days when I have trouble just getting out of bed.
I’m doing my best to keep up my chin up but it’s hard. And I’m also worried I’ll gain 10 pounds again. However, I’m determined not to let that happen.
So now I have a plan.
How to Stay Healthy and Fit While Feeling Depressed
Dealing with depression or grief can take its toll, physically and emotionally.
This is why I have come up with a plan which I hope will help me get through this difficult time while remaining as healthy, fit, and sane as possible.
Eat a Healthy Diet
I know this is easier said than done, but it helps to have a set of guidelines I can more or less stick to.
1. Get enough nutrients
The first thing is to keep my body properly nourished in order to stay healthy.
Serotonin is the body’s natural “feel good” chemical, so it improves mood and helps fight anxiety and depression. Folate, vitamin B, and healthy fats like omega 3 are all helpful in stimulating serotonin production.
These nutrients are found in fish oil, nuts, flaxseed, green leafy veggies, meat, milk, fish, and eggs.
This is great news because I eat most of these on a regular basis (except milk), so I should just try to stick to my regular diet and that’s it.
2. Avoid stimulants
Alcohol, sugar, and caffeine produce highs and lows which can make depression symptoms worse.
Therefore, I plan on avoiding my regular glass of wine and replacing it with a cup of chai tea.
Sugar is going to be more difficult because of the emotional eating, but I’m going to try to keep sweet stuff out of the house, or at least most of it. It’s hard to do with the kids around.
3. Eat at regular intervals
Eating regularly keeps glucose levels in check and this helps avoid the highs and lows.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly down, I tend to eat unhealthy food because I don’t feel like cooking.
But it helps to do meal planning and prepping when I’m in a high mood, so I’ll have healthy food ready to eat when I’m feeling down.
4. Keep junk food out of the house
I don’t want to be tempted to start eating junk out of a bag. It fuels my emotional eating, and it’s a surefire way to add inches to my waist.
This won’t be easy to do when there are two kids and a teenager in the house. Just like with sugar, avoiding junk is going to be the hard part.
5. Do intermittent fasting
This one is controversial, but I’ve been doing this for a while now and it definitely works for me. I stop eating at 7 or 8 pm and have breakfast at 9 the next morning. It’s really not difficult.
Intermittent fasting helps me because on days when I do eat junk, my body feels better after going without food for a while. And even on days when I don’t eat junk, fasting helps settle my upset stomach from anxiety.
This isn’t so difficult for me. I have learned to love exercise and my workouts are something I always look forward to.
Exercise is key for treating depression because it releases endorphins, which are your body’s “feel good” hormones. It also increases energy levels and improves sleep. And stimulates serotonin production.
However, there days when I feel I can hardly move, so I have to find ways to keep myself on a workout schedule.
1. Do short but intense workouts
I really don’t have the mindset to spend an hour or more doing exercise, so short HIIT workouts are better.
It’s easier to work out if I tell myself I have to get up and move for only 15 minutes instead of an hour.
2. Go outside
My kids are strict about their playground time, so it’s a good idea to schedule a workout during that time.
It’s a lot more motivating to work out outside and get some sunshine and fresh air than to stay cooped up at home.
3. Don’t sit around
This is also going to be tricky. It’s one thing to do a workout, but it’s another to keep myself active the rest of the day.
The good news is there are many things which count as physical activity: housework, gardening, walking, yoga.
I plan on having my kids help me with this. They agreed to be in charge of nagging me to do the chores and the yardwork so I won’t sit around all day.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
It’s difficult to keep up with everything when dealing with emotional issues, but I have to try. It’s not a good idea to let things fall apart because that’s only going to make me feel worse.
1. Keep up with my regular routine
Having kids helps with this becuase I still have to take them to school, pick them up, make meals, do chores, and help with homework. I drag my feet through the daily routine sometimes, but everything’s fine as long as I get most of it done somehow.
But I also have my writing and work-at-home schedule to maintain, which might be hard.
I have decided not to be so hard on myself if I don’t keep up with my blogging schedule. I consider it a win that I’m not giving up on the writing altogether.
Besides, I love writing. It might even be therapeutic for me.
The important thing here is to avoid punishing myself for not keeping up with everything. Self-love, please!
2. Get enough sleep
Some nights, I just can’t sleep. Some mornings, I just can’t open my eyes.
My sleep schedule is completely out of whack, but what I can do is go to bed and get up every day at fixed times to get my body on schedule again.
I’ve found reading a book before bedtime and having a cup of chai tea are very good remedies for insomnia. No pills, please!
3. Get enough sunshine
Going out to the playground with the kids helps me get some much-needed sunshine.
Sunshine is essential for wellness. It improves mood and energy levels because it stimulates serotonin production.
So I’ll just let my kids drag me outside for a little while every day.
After my mother-in-law died, my father-in-law pulled himself out of depression by meditating.
Although I haven’t tried it, I honestly believe in the power of meditation. I’m willing to try it if my mood doesn’t improve in a few weeks.
5. Get support
The last time I was depressed, I closed myself off from from other people, and it wasn’t a good idea.
Sometimes, you just have to accept you can’t deal with things on your own.
Like most people, I tend to avoid doing anything that might make others feel uncomfortable. However, it’s easier to deal with grief and sorrow if you’re willing to rely on other people for support. That’s what BFFs are for.
Besides, the rest of my family is grieving too, so we should all support each other. My kids also have emotions to process.
Dealing with grief in a healthy way
I know this isn’t going to be easy.
I’m not sure if it’s going to work, but having a plan reassures me I can deal with the grief and sorrow in a healthy way.
Make no mistake. It’s not easy to stop feeling sad. It requires time, patience, and acceptance.
If you’re feeling depressed, the first thing you should know is you’re not alone. And also know it’s valid to feel better one day and then feel bad again the next day.
Accept the fact you’re feeling sad. It’s a natural, human response to tragic situations. You don’t have to be happy all the time.
Sometimes, bad things happen, but it’s not your fault.
Seek professional help if you don’t think you have the strength to deal with grief, anxiety, or depression on your own.
As for me, I know this too shall pass. In the end, it’s not about bouncig back, but crawling forward, one little inch at a time.