A couple of months ago, after moving, I could barely get out of bed without pain and stiffness. I probably looked like I was 80 years old when I walked – I’m sure even some 80-year-olds looked better than I did. After seeing my doctor, I was ordered to start physical therapy several days a week because my lower back and pelvis were inflamed and way out of alinement.
Talking with the physical therapist, I learned that if I strengthen my core muscles (stomach, pelvis, and lower back) not only will I heal my back, muscles, and tendons, and feel better (my chronic illness pain), but I’ll prevent future injuries as well. I might even find it easier to lose more weight by exercising these muscles to keep them strong in the future.
The first week or two, I could not even feel my core muscles. That’s because I’ve only ever focused on my arms and legs when exercising or building up my endurance. No one taught me to work on strengthening my core muscles, before anything else. I’m working on my physical healing by strengthening my core muscles
Then it dawned on me, we’re not taught to work on our emotional core muscles either. The same principles would apply to all of our core muscles. Stronger emotional muscles will heal current pain and discomfort while preventing future pain as well.
Working these muscles is part of my every day.
Today, as I started writing this article, I realized I had not done my core strength exercises. I got up to get a drink and I could feel the stiffness in my body. With any strengthening, we have the propensity to go back to the way we were before we started this journey, by not working on strengthening ourselves every single day.
After one day of not doing my morning exercises, I can feel the difference. These new exercises will be something I have to do for the rest of my life. This will keep me strong. Same with strengthening my core emotional muscles. It won’t be easy… nothing in life ever is… but it will be worth it.
Ways to strengthen your emotional muscles.
Each week I’m given sheets with an exercise or two that shows what I need to be doing each day to strengthen my core muscles. Although we have no emotional core exercise sheets (yet), there are the things that we can be doing every day to strengthen your core emotional muscles.
Here are my initial ideas (will update this list):
- Saying no when you’d usually say yes to things you don’t want/need to do.
- Setting a boundary with someone who pushes your boundaries.
- Not allowing someone to use you for what he/she can get.
- Practicing self-care to refuel and pamper yourself without guilt – you deserve it!
- Speaking up when you’d usually stay silent.
- Using your voice (refusing to stay silent) to stand up for other humans.
- Put yourself in situations that help you to grow.
- Be vulnerable and share your story with someone else.
- Accept your past and embrace the future, even if that means you’re a “divorced” woman – embracing that title without shame.
- Talk with a counselor, mentor or trusted friend to process through your emotional healing.
After finding your weakest muscles, you can keep working in those specific areas. And remember, not being strong all the time or asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human. As humans, we need to help each other.
I needed help finding my core muscles again, and I’m not ashamed to share that. After my physical therapy is completed, I’ll be searching for a health and wellness coach to help me keep working on my physical strength and work on my physical health. Emotional health is just as important!
Don’t let your muscles atrophy.
When I first started working with my stomach muscle, I didn’t know what I was doing. My physical therapist asked if I could feel it tightening. I could not. But she said to just keep tightening those muscles 2-3 times a day for 10 reps. Now after listening to her advice for the last couple of weeks, doing 20-30 reps per day, I can actually feel that muscle again – maybe for the first time.
Again, emotional muscles are the same. You might not feel like you’re making any progress with just a few small changes. But after a time of living out these practices, day after day and month after month, in time you’ll see yourself as much stronger and able to work through any problems that come up in life.
Like I’m learning in physical therapy, you have to take it slow. It’s not a race. Don’t try to strengthen all of your muscles at the same time. Pick an area or situation you want to work on and keep your focus there until you’ve built up your strength. Then you can pick another weakness, and so on, until you’re an emotionally strong woman after divorce.
You’ll get there! Let me know if you need any help.
Are you strengthening your core after divorce?
God bless your healing journey,