Everyone has different ways of coping when life knocks them down. I think most of us can admit to downing a pint of ice cream after a stressful day at the office, and I've witnessed many guys resort to punching walls when they're angry. Of course, some people just shut down and mope on a couch when they're feeling depressed. No matter what's bothering you in life, health and fitness can help get you back into a routine and moving forward. I called off my wedding this year, and it was hands down the most miserable I've ever been.  I felt like crawling in a hole to die (with a bottle of wine of course!), but I learned that my healthy life habits really helped me to cope with the curve ball life had thrown.  

1) Sweat it out in a group
Sometimes you just don't want to be alone during tough times. Humans are meant for relationships, and we crave social interaction. Small group or group fitness is a great way to combine your social life with your fitness goals. I love the dynamic of small group fitness. It builds camaraderie, and there's something about sweating/being miserable together that really bonds people. If you haven't tried small group training before- I highly suggest it. You'll find support for more than just your workouts.

2) Take a long walk
Whether you enjoy being alone to sort things out or talking things out with a friend, a long walk is the perfect time for this. I can't tell you how many times my best friend and I grab our dogs for a long walk and talk through life issues until I find some relief (with a big cup of coffee, of course!). After an hour of wrestling with the things that have been nagging at your happiness you'll feel better. Even if you don't figure everything out, you'll make some progress and you'll have spent an hour doing something good for your body. Walking is totally therapeutic!
3) Eat nutrient dense foods
This is the hardest category for me!  When I'm emotional about something I find that food makes me super queasy.  When I called my wedding off, I would go days at a time without eating.  When I finally made myself start eating healthy meals again I instantly felt better physically AND emotionally.  Some people are the opposite and tend to overeat or consume a lot of junk food when they're dealing with heartbreak.  All that crappy food will only make you feel even crappier.  What we put in our bodies affect not only our health, but also our moods.  So stick with fruits, veggies, lean meats and nuts/oils. Avoid processed garbage and your body will thank you!

4) Allow yourself a cheat meal
On the flip side of point number 3...sometimes you just need a dang burger!  Or pizza, or ice cream, or whatever it is you're craving.  Make sure to treat yourself once or twice a week.  I never allow myself to get sugary drinks at Starbucks (I'm a black coffee kinda girl), but when I was going through that breakup I definitely allowed myself a caramel macchiato a couple times a week.  You're going through a rough time and it's okay to indulge every now and then if you are getting adequate nutrition 80-90% of the time.  

5) Practice meditation
Meditation reduces stress, slows aging, improves concentration, and helps you get more restful sleep. Besides taking a yoga class, one of the easiest ways to tap into these health benefits is to practice equal breathing. Find a quiet place and sit comfortably with a straight back. Close your eyes and inhale deeply for 4 seconds. Now exhale for 4 seconds. Make sure to close your mouth and breathe through your nose- this adds a natural resistance to your breathing. Try setting a timer for 10-15 minutes every day to focus only on your breath. When anything else enters your mind, bring your focus back to your breathing. This is such a simple way to quiet your mind and slow your heart rate!  

6) Set goals
Have something to focus on besides whatever is getting you down in life.  Always wanted to run a half marathon?  Now's the perfect time to start training.  Want to be able to do 10 pull-ups in a row?  Make a plan and work for it!  Set clear, short term goals and you will always be looking ahead to a healthier version of yourself.  Throw that rear view mirror out because dwelling on the past will only slow your progress.

Written by Stephanie Paige
Owner, Fitness 51


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