When your heart is breaking and your world is crumbling around you, the last thing on your mind is your physical health. You’re just trying to survive, right?
Trouble is, treating your body badly makes everything worse.
Filling your body with junk food, cycles of energy boom and bust or even pushing yourself too hard with punishing exercise regimes will weaken you emotionally and make it even harder to cope.
It’s more important than ever to take steps to nurture your body and mind with gentleness and care.
Like most divorcees, Sandy’s trauma is wreaking havoc with her emotions – and her eating and drinking patterns are following suit.
She’s up and down like a yoyo, partying hard, knocking back gallons of wine with her girlfriends and stuffing herself with Ben & Jerry’s late at night, when she’s home alone.
In the mornings, Sandy feels like crap. She downs strong espressos first thing and when her energy plummets in the late afternoon she hunts for a sugar fix.
She’s jittery. She’s erratic. Her heart palpitations have become the norm.
There’s no way Sandy’s in the right frame of mind to take control of her life and start to heal. So why does she do things that are so destructive to her physical and mental state?
It all goes back to a powerful part of our mind called the Amygdala.
The Amygdala controls our “fight or flight” responses. It reacts in a fraction of a second to sights, sounds and smells that trigger a sense of danger, telling us “that’s dangerous, run away” or “that sounds worrying, go and look.”
These impulses are not something we control. Usually, the memory-forming part of the brain, called the Hippocampus, acts as a gateway, triggering the Amygdala when we encounter something that we know from past experience to pose a threat.
But during trauma, the Amygdala takes over. It becomesoverstimulated.
It dumps hormones like Adrenaline, Noradrenaline and Cortisol (Hydrocortisone) wholesale into our system, pushing up our blood sugar levels and suppressing our immune system.
This is great news when you need to run away from a hungry lion. It’s not so great when you’re dealing with the emotional stress and shock of dealing with divorce.
But the Amygdala can’t tell the difference. All it knows is that something truly terrible is looming, and it takes this to mean that your life is in danger.
Can’t face food right now?
That’s most likely the Cortisol in your system, which stimulates gastric acid secretion and makes you lose your appetite, feel nauseous or lightheaded, or like you’ve been punched in the stomach.
Can’t cope with anything but simple tasks and immediate needs?
Your soaring Adrenalin and Cortisol are shutting out other parts of your brain, short-circuiting your memory and making it too hard to think about anything that’s not right in front of your face.
(That’s also why our Naked Divorce 21 Day Programme uses a Daily Checklist, to help you keep on top of the crucial stuff.)
If your Cortisol levels aren’t brought back under control, this is bad news for your long term health. Adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalance, heart disease, high blood sugar and high cholesterol are all potential risks.
So how do you keep your hormones, your health and your healing under control?
It’s all down to sleep, diet and exercise.
First, pick fuel for your body that won’t throw your hormones further out of balance or give you that achey feeling in your chest.
Eat at regular intervals (your body fires cortisol when your energy levels get low) and avoid sugar, alcohol, junk food, artificial flavours and colours, and stimulants like nicotine, energy drinks, and caffeine – especially after midday. Too much carbohydrate raises your insulin levels, triggering cortisol release, so make sure you’re choosing complex carbs over high-sugar snacks.
Seek out food that actively boosts your levels of serotonin (the “happy hormone”), including Vitamin C-rich fruit and veg, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Second, think about using specific supplements and treatments that lower cortisol and raise serotonin. Maca Root Powder is known to reduce cortisol and improve adrenal gland health.
Stress can deplete the essential salts in your cells, so you may want to restore these with tissue salts. Your health shop should be able to provide you with Number 2: Calc Phos, Number 6: Kali Phos and Number 12: Silica.
Third, be gentle with yourself.
Exercise is a fantastic stress reliever, but don’t go crazy. Keep workouts under an hour – 45 minutes is optimal. Much more than this and your testosterone levels start to fall while Cortisol levels rise.
And rest. Meditate. Go to bed earlier.
Or try listening to our free 21-day stress relieving audio programme, the Naked Divorce Break Up Reboot, designed to refocus your mind on your healing goal, realign the neurotransmitters in your brain, and reboot the flow of feel-good emotions.
Your healing process starts with your health. Take care of yourself now, and you’ll find your trauma far easier to bear.