When you wake up in the morning and you can almost immediately sense that today is going to be one of those days where you could just stay in bed and hide away from the world, sleeping the day away so that you don’t have to think about what’s bothering you or how life became this difficult…

It’s on days like these that everything seems like such an effort. Even deciding what to have for breakfast feels like yet another decision that you’ve got to make. Sometimes you can’t quite place what is making you feel so low. In reality it’s probably a number of things rolled into one and often it’s hard to know where to start and how to even think about improving our mindset, particularly when elements of our mental health are affected by things we just can’t control.

It’s on days like these that it becomes ever more important to set ourselves a small goal to help us to focus on one positive in our day. We are not designed to stand still and hibernate away from the world. We originated as hunter gatherers living in societies finding comfort in being around others as well as feeling safer in larger numbers. 

In modern day life, we’re not so different. When I went through my divorce, I knew I had to be strong for my daughter’s sake and I couldn’t just give in to those negative feelings of depression and climb back under the duvet. 

Having only been into fitness at sporadic times, mostly a couple of weeks at a time in the past, normally when I was feeling like I’d piled on too many pounds, I thought I’d give running a go again. At first, it was a short run around the block and then as I slowly got stronger and fitter, I increased the mileage and often changed my route to keep things interesting. 

I also found that the more I ran, the more I craved it and it was honestly the main factor that got me through my divorce whilst maintaining a positive outlook for my daughter. 

After months of running, I learnt more about myself. I realised that it was the days when I was really struggling that actually, doing this physical exertion could completely change my mood for the rest of the day. I guess that’s why I’ve always been more of a morning runner as it really does set me up, giving me a clearer focus.   

Now, I appreciate that running is not for everyone. Often it’s by trial and error that you will find yourself an activity that you enjoy and that fits in around your lifestyle. You may even find that to give yourself that extra motivation, it’s easier to arrange to go for a brisk walk, run or cycle with a friend. That way, you may be less likely to bail and often it’s great for giving each other encouragement and you may be more likely to stick to it as part of your new healthier lifestyle. You can also look for apps to give you guidance and a structure to follow like the NHS Couch to 5K plan or the One You Active 10 walking tracker.

In reality, whatever physical activity you decide upon, by exercising your body, your brain releases the good chemicals like endorphins that help relieve pain and stress. Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, all playing an important part in regulating your mood. 

 So, don’t put it off, take a deep breath, tell yourself you can do it and take some time out for you and go for a brisk walk with a friend, join a running club or gym. There’s something to be proud of, finding that inner strength that is inside us all, spurring ourselves on, small steps at a time. After all, if you look after yourself, it becomes easier and a far more rewarding experience in looking after your offspring. 

If you are a separated parent and would like to join our small friendly group on our monthly hike in the countryside to the Wye Crown over-looking the Northern Downs, then check out our Pathfinders for further information and to confirm your attendance. 

Postponed from last year due to Covid restrictions, we are also looking to relaunch our 6 weeks Boot Camp for separated dads, one to two session per week at Critical Fitness in Wye. Embarking on outdoor assault courses and circuit training, the course is open to all abilities. To register your interest, please email frances@dadsunltd.org.uk

How physical exercise can help you through divorce.