Pain got you down?

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“I feel crappy,” one client wrote in an email, and then went on to express poor choices in eating and a lack of motivation for exercise. Here is my reply:

I have dealt with depression on a variety of levels in the past, even to the point that doing exercise for an exercise junkie like me was challenging. It is often the issue when we are dealing with pain from a chronic injury or ailment, which limits what we are able to tolerate in terms of discomfort.

My dad, who has a worn-out back, was once told by his doctor that he would be able to continue to golf, but whether he did it or not depended on how much discomfort he was able to put up with. It was not going to make the wear and tear worse, it would just hurt.

That is the hurt versus harm talk. When you have pain, you often stop doing what you enjoy, which can leave you feeling depressed. It’s not always easy to climb back out of the hole of depression. Often you feel very alone and you tend to pull away more from people (almost as if we want to prove that we are alone).

Getting out of depression for me generally involves listening to my inspirational CDs (over and over and over), journalling, and often doing gentle more relaxing activities (yoga, walking, kayaking). It often takes small steps, and sometimes tears. I also have found working with a counsellor helpful for sorting out some of my feelings with someone who is non-judgemental and has no heart connection with me. I go even when I am not depressed. I don’t think people who do counselling are crazy, but the ones who don’t might be.

For nutrition, I recommend the book, Meals that Heal, by Julie Daniluk. The principle behind nutrition and exercise is to save your own ass (if I may be so bold). I heard this statement from Kris Carr. No one else can do it for you. We can all help, listen, and guide, but in the end you are still the captain of your ship.

Start by feeding your cells the nutrients they need to stop the inflammation in your body. Slowly introduce some gentle exercise, even if you don’t want to. Start with 10 minutes a day. It is hard, I know. When I was dealing with anemia, I could barely walk for 45 minutes without wanting to lie down on the side of the road for a nap. My legs felt like lead.

When I hurt my shoulder and couldn’t play hockey, I had to find something else I could do that would help me feel good. It was yoga. Without hockey, I did not feel like myself, and it was so very frustrating. I just kept asking myself what it was that I was missing that would help my body feel better.

If you are feeling stuck in a cycle of pain, depression, poor diet and no activity remember: “The journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step.” Just do one thing each day that is out of the ordinary for you. That will help change your neurological programming.