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Lifting the Weight of Loss: From Grief to Growth

Almost everyone has experienced the loss of a loved one in their life and I am no

stranger to grief. By 25 I have had 3 big losses within a 9-year period and have

experienced being first on the scene at a fatal RTC – which has affected me more

than I care to admit. Over this period of time, I went from doing absolutely no

physical activity to training 5 days a week. While grief never gets easier, I have

noticed how much training throughout these periods has helped me cope with it. I

use the gym as an outlet for all emotions whether I’m happy, angry, or sad. Training

alone with headphones on I can block out everything else and just do what I need to

do, to be able to get through the day: a moment of peace amongst the chaos. Use

the gym as a place to heal your body and your mind. Use the support of others at the

gym and the community you are a part of and lean on them for support. A lot of the

time we feel alone in our grief, but I can assure you we are not.

When we experience loss and trauma, we feel we have lost control, and the gym can

be a refuge to be able to gain some of it back. It is so important that before, during

and after loss we set realistic expectations of what we need and want to get out of

our training. More often than not throughout these times my goal was purely just to

show up for that day and I could count that as a win. Start small and build back up.

Listen to your body and give yourself time.

It has been shown that physical activity can have a positive impact on our mood, can

reduce stress levels, provide a sense of achievement whilst also helping you feel

less angry or frustrated. It also releases endorphins that can boost your self-esteem,

help concentration and improve sleep (Mental Health Foundation, 2021). If you are

struggling with motivation or discipline you could try different forms of exercise, trying

new things can help you find your spark again doing something you enjoy. Before the

gym I had no outlet for my grief, but now I do, and it has greatly improved my mental

health along the way.

“One day or day one. You decide” - Paulo Coelho

Mental Health Foundation (2021). Physical activity and mental health. [online]

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