I’m not a stranger to struggle. In fact, my own struggles are what have led me to create Strength Through the Struggle. I learned a lot through my journeys, but the greatest lesson is this: we may not be able to choose our struggles, but we can choose how we let them define us.

That said, there’s still the ‘getting through’ part that’s tough to navigate – especially if you’re hoping to come out the other side stronger. And stronger is relative – but that’s a message for another day. Today, I want to talk about releasing some of that pressure as productively as possible. Because I’ve learned this (also, pretty sure there’s some kind of physics lesson out there that will corroborate my statement) … at some point, when the pressure becomes too much, whatever’s housing it is going to blow.

So the challenge then, becomes, how to release the pressure in a controlled manner. By that I mean – you can choose to fly off the handle and get physical; you can choose to self-destruct using drugs, alcohol, sex, or whatever other vice you can think of that will bring you down, or you can control the pressure in a way that’s a whole lot healthier.

Pick a sport, my grieving friend. Any sport.

Any form of physical activity will help the person walking through grief because they are able to work through those feelings during their alone activity. Whether it be running, yoga, spinning or walking, the feeling of accomplishment and doing something hard can encourage the person to make it through the rest of the day. If you have just completed a difficult workout, you gain confidence and the endorphins help as well. Your negative thoughts are lessened because you have proven that you can do hard things and make it through.

The solitary activity of running has helped many people go through the grieving process. They are alone with their thoughts and able to process feelings. The running is a journey in and of itself. Vicki Costa says, “The athlete wants to be alone. When they’re running, they’re processing hurt and pain. They raise their heart rate and sweat out the toxins. It’s how the body cries,”

To that I say, yes. Yes, cry it out. Watch me become stronger.

Grief can cause fatigue, weakness, lack of appetite, headaches and body aches and pains. If you are in good physical condition, both through exercise and healthy eating, your body will better be able to deal with the effects of grief.

Did you know – a study from 2008, discovered that exercise has the same effects as antidepressants and the results are long lasting. It can also reduce anxiety and the accompanying fallout.

As with most grief coping mechanisms, just start small. You don’t need to go sign up for a marathon or join the crazy classes at the gym, the point is to just get moving. Exercise helps you to work through feelings, reduces stress and gives you something you can control. Make small exercise goals and start there. Whether it be a walk around the neighborhood or a youtube yoga class, just begin somewhere. You will feel the effects immediately. You will be able to focus on something positive when you see the progress.

You will feel stronger, because you will BE stronger.

Walk with strength my friends,