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Learning how to wallow in a healthy way

Monday, April 9, 2018
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Learning how to wallow in a healthy way


Over the years I feel like I have at least gotten a little bit better at recognizing how I am feeling and allowing myself to feel my feelings. In the early days of grieving, I would push back against the pain and darkness, or feel guilty if I indulged in my sadness. The result eventually being me retiring to my bed and sleeping too much. And then once I got up, intense guilt and regret that I wasn’t a stronger person. But now I know that my feelings are ok, and I also now know that I do better if I let the ebbs and flows of sadness come in and out of my life. In the past, it was often the struggle against these feelings that made them worse and made it seem impossible to find my way back to the light and happiness I enjoyed before Will died. Being four years out, the distance of this experience has probably helped to keep me a little more even tempered and better able to cope with my emotions. Not to mention all the time I have put into therapy, meditation, mindfulness, and whatever other resources were out there to help me get through.

But getting to know myself and the cycles of my moods more intimately has taught me that my sadness is often managable and temporary, and something that I can cope with if I use the right tools and seek the right support. When the sadness and pain need to have time to work through me, I try to be present. And lately when I feel this, I have done a better job of allowing myself the time to wallow in the pain when it comes and move forward when it starts to fade away.

One of the ways I can recognize a period of sadness is coming is by my choice in music. When I get to a point where I just want to play the slow and sad songs on repeat, I know I am moving into a bout of sadness and grief. And if I want to listen to sad songs about death on repeat 10 times, then I do it. If a happy song comes on and I feel annoyed, I skip it or change the channel. I just go with my gut and listen to the music that bests soothes me.

And when the mood rolls in, I take the time to roll out my yoga mat, create soft lighting, and lay down in a cozy position with my legs supported so my low back pain doesn’t flair up. I am basically just doing a type of Savasana or corpse pose you do at the end of a yoga class, but I haven’t actually done any yoga beforehand. I just lay there listening to the sad songs on repeat, I use a few props for comfort and put a wool blanket over myself for warmth. And it’s pretty great. And it’s better then curling up in my bed under the covers and giving up. Something about lying down with a blanket comforts me, but I know that if I get into my bed, my mind and feelings go downhill really fast. Luckily, at some point I realized while trying to practice meditation that my yoga mat and a cozy wool blanket could give the comfort of my bed, but without the downward spiral. So now, when the sadness comes, I will spend an hour in the evening, laying in my post yoga Shivasana pose, without actually doing any yoga, and listening to a five song Spotify playlist I have created with my favorite sad songs playing on repeat. I might do this three nights in a row before I am able to push through. And it’s with music that I can best connect with my feelings. And eventually, usually while driving, I recognize that I am starting to pull through when a cheerful song pops onto the radio and I don’t groan and change the station. For me this means it’s time to start to pushing myself out of the funk. It’s time to start reconnecting with friends and getting myself out of the house. But I don’t push myself too fast or too soon. I listen to my music and listen to my mood. I let myself wallow in the pain, and I don’t feel guilty. I feel lucky that I have found this way of comforting myself without over indulging in food, making other bad choices, or turning down the path of self-sabotage. And I can feel good about all the cool yoga props I have bought but never used until now. And I am now also reading more more about restorative yoga and finding poses to sit in for long periods of time that are technically yoga. I also realized that even if I am just relaxing and not breaking  sweat, I am still technically practicing yoga. Which is helpful when those super active friends of mine ask if I am exercising and taking care of myself. With my restorative yoga practice I can honestly say yes, I do yoga multiple nights a week. And I know it shouldn’t matter what other people say, but the reality is we all have people in our lives trying to give us advice on how to be happier and healthier. So my new love of restorative yoga, while listening to sad songs about death, and wallowing in my pain can serve two purposes. It allows me to spend time with myself and my emotions. I can wallow without being in bed all day, and it really does feel more productive and helpful than giving into the endless nap. And it lets me honestly tell my super fitness-minded friends that I do yoga all the time and I love it!



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