by Suzanne Grosser
Your body needs to move to release the nasty physical effects of PTSD. Trauma gets stuck in your bones, your muscles, your heart, and it keeps you stuck in place. You want to get unstuck. It won’t happen, unless you move!
Maybe you can't do everything you want to do. But you can do something. And you need to get moving, or the poisonous residue of your poisonous feelings will stay inside you.
You may have injuries caused by your trauma. You have a right to grieve for what you have lost. To be angry and frustrated. You owe it to yourself to feel all those things, then move forward. PTSD wants you to stay stuck where you are. Moving your body gets you unstuck. If you are going to physical therapy, put your best efforts there. Channel your anger into restoring as much of what you have lost as possible. The important thing is to use whatever you have left. And to work around whatever you have lost.
There is one form of exercise almost everyone can do – laugh. Loud, guffawing, belly-laughing that sends tears streaming down your face is good for you! Consider it jogging for your innards. Don't miss out on this easiest and most enjoyable form of exercise.
Now for more PTSD-busters. When you are done laughing, try these:
You could:Beat up on an old pillow. Scream at the top of your lungs. It’s best if you do this while you’re alone. Keep the windows closed too. (You don’t want to explain this to the neighbors or to the cops when the neighbors call them.) This is your opportunity to have a full blown temper tantrum. Just don’t hit anything that will hurt you (walls) or that will break (glass). If it makes you feel a little silly that’s okay. Laughter is good for you, remember? Since you’re alone, when you're done, why not crank up some tunes and dance?
You could: Take a walk around the block, hike across town, or across the country. Tired of walking? You could run, or skip, or hop. You could jump rope or play hopscotch with your kids (or grandkids) - they probably don't even know how. You could teach them.
Playing is a good way to reconnect with the people your PTSD has hurt. Laughing together is good for both of you. And believe me, if you are playing hopscotch for the first time in years, there will be laughter involved.
You could:Try kick boxing or aerobics or Pilates. Warning: watching an exercise program on television does NOT count unless you clear some space in your living room and actually move your body along with program. You don't get credit for being a spectator.
You could:Clean the house. I mean really clean – dust the top of the bookshelves, wash down the walls. Tackle some yard work. Wash the car. Toss out stuff you don’t need and won’t ever use. If it’s still usable, give to charity. Otherwise, trash it!
I hate to exercise because, well, basically, I’m lazy. I enjoy a nice long walk out of doors if the weather is nice. But I don’t jog, and I can’t get terribly excited about going to the gym. If I’m using the treadmill, it’s only because I have a good book I want to read and it is the only way to get people to leave me alone while I read it. I have to have something to distract my mind, like a book or a creative goal. This keeps my brain too busy to notice that I have tricked my body into exercising.
If you feel the same way I do about exercise, try out these ideas to get your body in motion while using your creativity to have fun.
Being tired from work, rather than worry, is a good feeling. It is a new feeling for people with PTSD. Your muscles should ache, a little. You might even be tired enough to sleep tonight. You might even get back in shape.
Free yourself from the emotional rollercoaster that is post traumatic stress disorder. Get moving!
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