Wallowing vs Self-Care or How to Find Hopeful Movement after all the Chaos


Don’t you love that time, after you’ve gone through something big – when activity and thinking and decisions and emotional turmoil seem like a never-ending vortex that would pull you along forever – and things become quiet again? It’s so peaceful, just sitting and letting the dust settle on your new life.

You learn to relax again. You get caught up on a season of Broadchurch. You chat on the phone. It’s so comfortable.

Maybe too comfortable, because that was a few months ago; you’re still in that same spot and the dust is piling up.

You’ve gone from allowing yourself a quiet moment of recharging your batteries to full-on hibernation, and you’re starting to feel gross. Sluggish. Your waistline is expanding and your joints complain whenever you try to move.

Did you really just go through everything you did only to end up here?!?

I so get this. Every time I’ve broken up with someone, every time I’ve moved or changed career paths, I get to a point where I just want to curl up in the comfort zone of what’s easiest. But there’s a fine line between taking a moment of self-care and wallowing.

The beauty of change – whether consciously chosen or from the rug getting ripped out from under you – is that it opens the door to opportunity. Lost your job? What a perfect time to open the shop you’ve always dreamed about. Divorced? You can fall in love again…primarily with yourself.

Yes, it’s ripe with potential! Yet, without channeling some of that potential into movement, into action, you will stagnate and go stale.

Look at the trees this time of year. They’ve been standing still and grey, quietly enduring the cold. At a certain point, the sun gets warm enough and their sap starts to flow again. Life literally pours into their branches and they’re awash with colour and communal activity. Without the sap, its limbs will rot and eventually fall off.

Ok, so your arms may not fall off, but your body will feel the lack of vibrant nourishment over time. As poor health, as weight gain, as depression.

Sure wallowing can be part of the process, but when does it start to hold you back from the next necessary steps? And how can you get back into movement when that stillness feels so good?

Recharging makes conscious choices: to watch some TV or eat a cookie or have a glass of wine while you cook dinner.

Destructive wallowing feels like those same activities are a way of avoiding how you feel; they can take over to the point of mindlessness. One cookie becomes a bag. One episode becomes a whole season in one night. The glass of wine replaces dinner.

Recharging sheds tears for all you’re leaving behind – sometimes buckets of them from so deep in your heart, you suddenly understand why you’ve felt so heavy all these months and years. When they’re done, you’re filled with energy and a capacity to now fill that space with creativity and joy.

Destructive wallowing is needy and cries out of self-pity.

Recharging mourns. Wallowing pines.

Deep down inside (sometimes ever so faintly), recharging holds the candle of hope that you will, and do, feel better.

Wallowing feels like nothing will never be good again.

Recharging stays connected to friends and family, if only internally. Wallowing is completely disconnected.

Recharging naturally shifts back into creativity and a need to move. Wallowing can get stuck.

If you’re wallowing and truly feel there’s no way out, please, get help. Call me. Call a friend. Call a therapist.

If you just need a little bit of sunshine to get the sap running again,

  • Put on your favourite music and dance.
  • Go outside and take a walk. Go for a run.
  • Think about that really great day you had a few weeks back, how you felt and what excited you.
  • Get to a yoga class or zumba.
  • Visualize a shower of sparkling white light raining down on you and washing away the grey sludge from your heart and your soul.
  • Turn the dirt and start prepping your garden for planting.

Your mother was right to send you out for fresh air & exercise. Move your body. Get outside. Connect with Nature. Connect with other people…speak about how you’ve been feeling. Breathe.

What gets you back in the game when you’d rather stay curled up in your comfort zone?

If you know anyone who’s stuck in a rut after a big shift, by all means send this along using any (or all!) of the pretty green buttons.

The Soul of Movement


This isn’t about telling you to do more physical activity.

You should know that I’m not the kind of gal who’s going to tell you to eat less and move more, to move for the sake of moving.

Yes, I’m gonna tell you to get your body in gear. But I want you to know why you’re doing it and which types of movement will serve you best.

Stating the Obvious

Let’s get this part out of the way:

If you change nothing else in your life, but add a half hour of physical activity 5-6 times a week, you’ll lose weight. Even if the number on the scale doesn’t budge much at first, notice the fit of your favourite jeans or the way your dresses fall as your body composition shifts.

Articles and studies abound in the ways that exercise will boost prevention, management and healing of many disease conditions. Stabilize blood sugar, improve bone density, circulation and digestion, lift depression and ease anxiety – all as if from a magic pill. If you want the details on any of these concepts, by all means, Google away!

It’s kind of a no-brainer: The human body was made to move.

Your muscles and joints are part of a complex system that ensures your survival. Traditional societies got through by hunting, farming, building, walking, climbing, hauling as part of daily life.

Now look inside.

Your cells and their exquisite machinery are in constant motion, generating proteins and manufacturing energy. The amoeboid migration of immune cells, the peristaltic flow of digestion, the exchange of ions and release of neurotransmitters throughout the nervous system, the shifting of proteins in the dance of life: it’s all movement.

The molecules that make up your cells, the atoms, are containers of energy, vibration. Movement.

As much as we love our modern conveniences, they physically deprive us of an important aspect of our very nature. We deny the body its joy, and experience a breakdown in optimal functioning because of our current lifestyles.

Move It or Lose It

The breakdown doesn’t stop with physical ailments. Mental health is also at stake.

I look at the growing number of kids with ADD & ADHD compared with the dwindling time they spend running around outside. I look at the rising numbers of adults on meds for anxiety & depression compared to the number of hours we spend sitting in offices.

Yes, these are multi-factorial conditions, but like diabetes, physical activity is a key factor.

Mental-emotional issues have a deep root in the fact that we suppress, repress, negate and hold back our feelings. No surprise there. How many of you were actually given the space to have a full-on tantrum or bawl uncontrollably or rip apart your bedroom?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: emotions are energy-in-motion.

The best way to clear the anxiety around that upcoming thing, to dispel the fury boiling in your gut after that fight, to loosen the grief binding your heart is to move. Feel right into it, then do whatever it asks of you. Go for a run, punch a pillow, dance around the kitchen like an idiot. Whatever.

Like a wave, the emotion will swell, peak and wash away in peace.

Move It AND Lose It

Getting back to the type of movement you “should” do. Like with food, we tend to think that there’s a good and bad. OK, there are right and wrong ways of going about certain activities.

What I mean is that it’s not about getting to the gym 3 times a week, running marathons and driving yourself hard at boot camp. That whole “No pain. No gain.” thing is rather outdated. As much as I get nostalgic for ‘80s music, there are some things – along with zippered jackets and big hair – I can do without.

You’ll notice that I’ve avoided the word “exercise”. That too conjures up bad memories of cramps and frustration, and feeling like a failure during the Canada Fitness Test.

Truth is, it doesn’t really matter what you do.

Your body works differently than mine – your idea of invigorating won’t necessarily be the same as mine.

One winter I joined a circuit-training gym to stay in shape between biking seasons (my main transportation for years). Sure my legs stayed strong but I was freezing cold for 4 months straight. That type of exercise was too draining for me.

I adore yoga, but the thought alone of doing it in an over-heated room makes me wilt.

Find something that works for you, for your constitution and your lifestyle.

It might be yoga, walks, runs, jazzercise, Groove, gardening, weight-training, Zumba, boot camp, swimming, circus arts, biking, hiking, skiing, golf, curling, swing, tango, ballet, Pilates, karate, tai chi,…

Make your heart beat faster

Find an activity that makes your heart beat a little bit faster, that stretches you and strengthens you. And yes, I mean those metaphorically as much as physically.

Grab a buddy, set a weekly goal, or listen to music for motivation.

Choose a form of movement you love and DO it with utter abandon!

You might even lose a few pounds in the process.

The Way Out of the Rut

The most not-so-surprising side effect of movement is that it’s the only way to get out of a rut.

Whether you’re stuck in a job, a relationship, an illness, how you feel about your body or your life in any way, you need momentum to help you climb out.

You’ll never rise out of that stuck place if you don’t take that first step.

My tendency is to get lost in my head and disconnect from my body. I get stuck in the overwhelming inertia of shoulds to the point that I get nothing done. The beauty of engaging your body is that it requires movement, it was made for movement, and being connected to that helps you move forward in your life.

Clear that one thing that’s been nagging you from your To Do list for far too long, and notice the burst of energy you feel when it’s done. Take an hourly dance break from your computer. Grab the dog or the kid and go run around at the park.

Moving forward isn’t always easy and it does take some effort to get started.

But oh, to revel in the expansion you’ll experience when you do!

What type of movement did you enjoy today? And how did you feel when you were done? Be it exercise or inner work, a step for your business or an improvement in your home, I want to hear about it in the comments. When you share your thoughts, you open the possibilities for others.


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