When the Mr. was in the Army and the son was in Iraq and I was dealing with stress on the home front from many angles, I learned fast that I needed a healthy outlet to exert my anxious energy. I joined the gym and kicked booty in many ways. I worked up to doing an hour of cardio 5-days a week, weight lifting, body sculpting, kick boxing and running. I never felt better. It served me well when later my husband came home and needed care from an injury sustained in training. I was emotionally and physically fit because I had focused on keeping myself healthy while he was gone.
Fast forward a few years and last December I had to have major back surgery. I had four screws and two rods put in and a disc removed and fused. It was a genetic condition of my spine that caused such drastic measures to be taken. I was sidelined for a while between the deterioration that occurred and the surgery that followed. It was a hard defeat for me, but it was out of my control.
Here I am 8-months post surgery and I have worked my way back up to a 45-minute cardio workout 3-days a week. I am already experiencing the benefits! A lot like muscle memory, my emotions remember the feeling of determination that exercise has given me in the past. It’s invigorating to me emotionally and mentally. I remember the mental ‘zone’ of intense exercise.
I once observed about running that seasoned athletes call the dream state a “zone.” It is a contrived altered state of consciousness that is used to stave off the driving desire to give up. This ability serves us well in many areas as military families.
I found a wonderful article on 3 Non-Physical Benefits of Running. I can no longer run, and I don’t know if I will ever be able to again with all of this hardware in my back. The good news is when I am on the cross trainer and my heart is racing I can close my eyes and almost feel the wind in my face (having a fan blowing on you helps!). The benefits are translatable when you work with what you have!
We have choices when we are facing these overwhelming stresses – whether it’s family stress, deployments, redeployment and integration, health issues, or financial. We can not always control the stress that’s send our way, but we do have choices on how we will best prepare ourselves to deal with it.