Physical exercise is a very important activity in your grief recovery. Most people think that exercise is only a way to control weight, but it is closely linked to stress management. Exercise releases endorphins in your body that help regulate emotions, decrease stress hormones, and can help improve sleeping patterns. Endorphins also stimulate the growth of new brain cells, allowing you to feel mentally sharp.
As explained in the Mind & Body section, grief takes a tole not only on your mind, but your body as well. Elevated levels of cortisol released during stressful situations often causes weight gain and a weakened immune system. Being physically healthy can help counteract these symptoms. When you feel good physically, it will also help with your emotional stability.
Exercise can help relieve feelings of frustration or helplessness which are commonly symptoms of grief. By taking an active role in your health, you can help regain some strength and self confidence you may be lacking after a trauma. For many, exercise also allows you to get your mind off of the grief if only for a short time each day. It is a good time to reflect.
Exercising outdoors is particularly helpful, because you can gain Vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D increases seratonin levels in the brain, which plays an important role in mood.
Being physically fit does not mean you have to go to the gym everyday, or run a marathon. Even incorporating as little as 20 minutes per day can have positive benefits.
Walking is the easiest way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Not only is it convenient and doable for most, but it allows you to relax. Although it is not a vigorous activity, it is very good for you. You can also incorporate social support into exercise by inviting a friend or family member along for the walk. This is a good time to talk things out, or simply just enjoy the company of others as you gain the health benefits of exercise.
Really any activity that gets your heart pumping can improve your emotional state. It is important to choose activities that you enjoy, so it is not another added burden.