When my husband died at age 55 of a series of strokes, I was a mess. I was depressed (who wouldn't be after the love of their life dies?), 35 pounds overweight, bordering on diabetes, had high blood pressure and PTSD (his strokes happened in our bed...it's hard to forget that!). My family doctor was a lovely woman who got very serious with me very fast. She didn't want me to be the next statistic (sadly, she said, many widows die within two -three years of their husbands). That conversation scared me into researching how to get healthy again (and loose that 10 pounds!).
Guess what popped up in almost every search I did? Walking. Regular old walking. Antidepressants, my research said, have nasty side-effects and are notoriously hard to stop using. Plus, the research I was looking at put walking ahead of medicine for all types of depression, but especially situational depression (The kind you get with grief.). I made my notes into formulas so I could make up my mind (When you're grieving, your brains fall out so you have to do things like this.):
Antidepressants + grief = side effects (weight gain, lethargy), slow efficacy
Walking + grief = immediate results (oxygen does wonderful things), weight-loss, blood sugar stabilization, etc., etc.
I bought a pair of walking shoes the next day. I started with a slow pace and walked around my neighborhood for 20 minutes every day. I met people's pets and the mailman. Learned who knew how to garden and who hired a lawn service. Two weeks into the deal I got on the scale. I'd lost 2 pounds. Wow. So I kept going. Now, four years later, I walk about 2 miles a day at a very brisk pace. I'm 35 pounds lighter now and feel so much better physically. I feel better about myself emotionally, too, what a nice side-effect!
Walking to combat grief is effective but it does require a time commitment of 20 minutes a day. A small price to pay when your life could hang in the balance.
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