I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how after surgery they almost always want you to walk down the corridor. Even if you’re in major discomfort and walking is the last thing you want to do, medical staff will ensure that you walk.
And there’s a really good reason for this. When you walk, you’re moving oxygen throughout your body. Oxygen throughout your blood cells helps you to heal faster. Moving your body improves the function of your internal organs, it reduces the risk of blood clots and it can improve your mood, feeling of independence and self-confidence.
But to you… it’s just a walk. It’s painful, it’s uncomfortable, it’s the last thing you want to be doing.
I think about this a lot when myself or my clients are going through emotionally stressful times.
The last thing you want to do is work out.
The last thing you want to do is eat more veggies (bring on the mac and cheese).
The last thing you want to do is go to therapy or journal about what’s going on in your head.
Maybe the last thing you want to do is to sit still, you’d rather be on the go and avoid dealing with the matter at hand.
When my grandmother lost her husband to a heart attack, her depression was intense. And yet, every single day she forced herself to eat healthy meals. She described it to my mother as the last thing she wanted to do, but she knew it would keep her going. She’d go for a walk down the beach, crying her eyes out. She’d run an errand. She’d lie in bed even if she couldn’t sleep, knowing that at least her body was resting even if her mind was reeling.
Bear in mind that she was retired, living on a remote island. She could have easily kept to herself, not eaten, chain smoked and watched movies all day. Easily. Her family lived on the mainland and nobody would have known if she wasn’t eating or holed herself up.
Remember I did that episode on the lessons I learned from Frozen 2? There is the song, Do The Next Right Thing. When you think of the monumental task you have in front of you – in my grandmother’s case it was surviving the loss of her husband – it feels too big. You would feel immobilized.
But if you think of taking that one step, doing that one next right thing for your mind, body or spirit, it becomes a little less daunting. Likely not fun. It probably still feels like you’re forcing yourself through the motions, but it’s a step.
So whatever that overwhelming obstacle in your way – surgery, loss, financial strain, divorce, physical injury, trauma… what is your equivalent of walking after surgery? What is your equivalent of getting the oxygen moving? What is your equivalent of kick-starting the healing?
I have some ideas for you:
- Make an appointment with your counselor
- Drink more water
- Go to bed at a reasonable time
- Take a walk around the block
- Sit outside in the fresh air with your coffee
- Call a friend
- Take a bath or a hot shower
- Eat some veggies
- Light a candle
- Make a list of things you’re grateful for
- Make your bed
Will any of these things individually solve your problems? Of course not. They’ll help you from going further under, though. They’ll help get the healing started. And maybe you’re scoffing at this like “ugh, Victoria, it’s not so simple as eat your veggies.”
Again, of course not, but you know what eating veggies does? It fuels your body with antioxidants… which have been proven to decrease anxiety. Studies show that making your bed in the morning leads to feelings of increased confidence and control over your life. Meeting with someone in person is the key to connection that we’re sorely lacking, and chemically it helps release oxytocin in our body which helps us feel like we belong.
On the surface these are small things, but under the surface they have an incredible cumulative effect.
Sometimes knowing that something works even when we can’t see it is enough. It’s the placebo effect, right? If you believe it will help you heal faster, you’ll start to see even faster results.
So believe me when I say that these things help. And don’t just believe me, try them.