The connection between mind and body in an incredible one. How you feel physically can definitely effect your emotions. Not getting enough sleep, being sick, all of those things can totally screw with your emotions. And, of course, in reverse, what your emotional state is can greatly impact you physically.
I have been getting a lesson on this in spades this week. I woke up Sunday morning and felt like I had been worked over with a baseball bat. Every single muscle in my body hurt. I attributed this to having run hard during the 10K race Saturday morning and the intense digging in hard clay soil making a final resting place for my baby boy.
I didn’t really think of what my physical state was being related to my emotions at all. I was sure that it would go away. And yet so far this week I have just been a wreck. Surprisingly, I have been sleeping pretty well. But I have been SO exhausted and even doing the smallest thing has felt like such a huge effort. I also have been aimlessly worried and distracted. Things that I do EVERY DAY - like putting makeup on in the morning - I have completely forgotten to do. And I am still very, very sore.
Last night I got home from work and just wanted to lay down I was so done for. I probably would have if it weren’t for Archer. He is doing okay, I think, for having lost his brother that he was SO SO close to. But he just has not been himself. I don’t think that describing him as being depressed is going too far. I have been reading a lot on dogs grieving the death of their pack mates and the articles encourage you to allow them to stick to their routine, to offer them a lot of love, and to make sure they get plenty of exercise. Not surprisingly, all the benefits that people get from exercise, such as lowering stress, boosting endorphins and helping settle your mind - well, those benefits extend to dogs as well.
So when I got home and he was there alone (Marc was on a bike ride), I decided we could go for a run. It took so much mental effort just to change into workout clothes and a short 1/4 mile into our run my body was just screaming STOP. I managed 5 miles, but those 5 miles felt harder than most runs twice that long.
This morning, I still felt achy. And my mind? It just won’t stop. Jumping from topic to topic - stupid things - unfocused and random worries. And there are still brief moments of crying jags.
In the summer, I turn into CARDIO GIRL. I believe in the benefits of other exercise, such as lifting weights, but when the sun is out in northern NY and you know it is going to be gone WAYYYYY too soon, you go out for a walk at lunch, you don’t hang out inside doing P90X.
So I also have not been doing yoga. As lunch time approached and it was cool and cloudy, I thought about lifting weights but as I stared at the dumbbells, I thought that I wouldn’t even be able to lift 5 pounds. So I called up a Yin Yoga class. I thought that maybe I could settle my mind and help my body.
Yin Yoga is always challenging - staying for several minutes in uncomfortable positions, relaxing my body, quieting my mind - well that is a task for me even during the best of times. But as I sat there in pigeon pose - as the instructor in a soothing voice talked about focusing on your breath and letting intrusive thoughts drift away, I seriously thought that I was losing it. My mind swam with a million different thoughts and I actually felt a little dizzy.
I started counting the breath in - concentrating on filling up my lungs and diaphragm. And then letting it out slowly. They say to envision breathing in the good air and directing it to what hurts and envisioning letting out the “bad” air. I tried this, but as the hour was over and I hurried over to a different court for some business I was quite convinced that it had been a futile pursuit.
But after the meeting ended and I walked back, I noticed that I felt a little better. My muscles felt looser and there was less achy-ness. I think that my mind is a little less restless, a little more focused.
Just as after a physical injury your body needs time to heal, I suppose that after an emotional tragedy the mind needs some time, too. And since they are all related I guess I just need to be patient and supportive to myself.
Yes, because I am SO GOOD at that....