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Sometimes the most obvious solutions to our problems elude us.  Ending a relationship is usually one of those times.  It's easy to be so blinded by the pain and anguish from our breakup that we fail to recognize what we need to dispel our negative energy.  This is especially true when whatever we need takes effort.

Please hold.  I'm a little bit busy...with my pain

If you were in physical pain, would you have a difficult time concentrating?  Could you perform physical or mental exercises with ease?  Probably not.  

Well, when in emotional pain, physical or mental exercises may seem equally challenging.

Stress and anguish hinders you

Mental Exhaustion 

Heightened negative emotions induce mental exhaustion, a common fatigue that originates from being in an overwhelmed, possibly panicked state for too long.  The brain is in a constant state of stress and over-activity. 

This mental unrest decreases our ability to complete our normal, everyday mental and physical tasks.  It can lead to mental blocks and chronic problems with concentration.  Many experience lethargy, sleeplessness, abdominal discomfort and other physical symptoms that continue to distract us from addressing the problem at it's core.  It raises stress hormones and may cause adrenal fatigue; both of which can cause serious physical problems.

Breakup-Stress Cycle

The emotional unraveling following a breakup may also lead to depression, stress disorders and anxiety.  All of these problems can then worsen each other or cause other diseases, conditions and disorders.  Auto-immune diseases, chronic-illness or heart disease can worsen from mental exhaustion.  

Example:  Your breakup leads to stress.  The stress cause mental exhaustion.  So you eat more, sleep less which contributes to more stress and anxiety.  You start on medication to treat your anxiety which has side-effects that include weight gain, low mood and increased need for sleep.  Your anxiety subsides, but you begin to overeat and become more sedentary because of the new side effects.  You easily put on some more weight.  Pretty soon your doctor tells you you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, which causes your stress and anxiety to worsen.  Then your ex calls out of the blue and wants to get back together which sounds pretty good at that point.  Only he really just wants to hook-up for a couple weeks and eventually he splits which makes you depressed and stressed out which causes sleeplessness and mental exhaustion... 

It's a vicious cycle that needs to be stopped

While reading the example, it may seem obvious, right?  But when it's happening in real time, perhaps over many months or even years, it may become more difficult to recognize problems and symptoms are more than just the individual physical symptoms, rather a breakup-stress cycle brought on by mental overload. 

The individual may get a prescription for things like acid reflux, ulcers, depression without ever realizing the primary cause of each problem is untreated stress.  

Many physicians may increase the dosage of prescriptions which increases side affects.  The patient may recognize some initial improvements with individual symptoms, but generally realize less than an optimal recovery.  Until his/her stress is reduced, the problems are likely to return and/or continue.  ...and so will the stress and, in some cases, reasons for it.

It can be a long, overwhelming experience where the patient may not know where or whom to turn. 

Don't turn to more problems

Unfortunately like our example above, some may turn to bad habits (drinking, smoking, overeating), bad relationships (friends who are a bad influence, former spouses or dating partners) or bad behaviors (blaming others, outbursts, loss of control).  While it's clear such habits won't contribute to long-term solutions, rather worsen the overall problem, they provide some immediate relief and satisfaction that may result in- or stem from addiction, co-dependency or problems with impulse control.   

Mental exhaustion and the subsequent breakup stress cycle are so common and easy to get caught up in that it can make breaking up with your blues very difficult.

Breakup with your blues

Step 1

Speak with professionals

The first place to start when experiencing symptoms of mental exhaustion is your family physician and/or a family therapist.  They can help you rule out any other medical causes for your mental exhaustion so that they can properly diagnosis and treat you.  

The treatment may include specific medications or therapy to treat symptoms of your mental exhaustion. To avoid the cyclical nature we mentioned above, it's important to be honest with your doctor and remember that any prescriptions should be used as part of your recovery rather than solely relied on for it.   

A trained counselor, psychologist or therapist may be better suited for some of the problems for which you may be suffering.  These types of professionals (unless otherwise credentialed) primarily offer talk therapy, not medication(s) or any medical treatment. However, depending on the severity you may need both.

Medication to treat depression and anxiety may help with your symptoms so that you are in a better frame of mind to cope with your daily stressors attributed to your recent breakup.   They may also positively attribute to therapy with mental well-being professionals. 

Stay communicative with your doctor about your treatment plan, medications and their side effects.   It doesn't help to trade one problem for a host of side effects that create more problems.  Their are numerous types of medications and treatment plans available.  Work with your doctor until you find one that helps with side effects that you can live with, and happily.  Isn't that the point?

At the same time as your medical treatment, you must also actively pursue every opportunity to identify the triggers of your stress in an effort to decrease and better manage it.  This will take you to the next steps to breaking up with your blues.

Step 2  Positive Activities

Know your personality type

Clear the fog and get to the bottom of what depletes your mental and physical energy.  Not everyone has the same reaction to mental and physical activity.    So it's important to know yourself and what motivates you.

Fight mental exhaustion with high energy physical activity

Telling someone who is a Type A Personality, a person who is naturally ambitious, aggressive, outgoing, competitive and impatient, that he/she should start a stress reducing regimen with Yoga 45 minutes a day is like telling her to put her foot on the accelerator and brake of a car at the same time and expecting to get somewhere.  It doesn't help. 

While the person needs to learn to take his/her foot off the stress accelerator, ironically his/her recovery from stress may not start with putting on the brakes.  Based on this type of person's personality and motivations, other activities, even high impact sports or cardio, may be better suited to initially relieve stress.

It doesn't mean that every high energy person won't get some success with meditating, Pilates® or stretching exercises.  In fact, a reasonable amount of low intensity activities are beneficial for everyone. 

But, in order to achieve the greatest benefit from a stress reducing regimen, it should be based specifically on each person's goals, current fitness strengths, health, personality, interests and experience.

Pick activities you like and add new things too

Someone with a high stress, high intensity lifestyle may benefit from both high and low intensity work-outs and activities.  The individual may benefit from running, walking or any aerobic or anaerobic activity 3-5 times per week.  But could also add one or two days of strength training, stretching exercises or meditation. 

Create a regimen you'll enjoy, even if it's just taking a walk at lunchtime everyday, it may be enough to reduce your stress, anxiety and depression.  

It's important for a fitness routine to fit your normal mode of operation.  If it stresses you out to fit 45 minutes of any extra activity in your current schedule, then it hardly serves it's purpose. 

It should destress, decompress and relax you instead of continuing to induce more mental exhaustion.   Once you experience a better life balance, you'll be more capable of knowing how and when to apply the brakes when life is speeding out of control. 

Fight mental exhaustion with low key physical activity and activities with limited physical benefits

If you are someone who is extremely low key, you may experience benefits with a primarily low impact activity.  First, you may employ relaxation therapy such as meditation, massage or mindfulness.  You could add strength training and slowly integrate cardio like biking, running, powerwalking or swimming.

Remember, while the benefits of exercise are enormous, the goal of these activities is to help you improve your mood, relax and destress.  So keep it specific to your individual interests.  Destressing activities can be effective right away, but for long-term success of managing your stress, you will need to continue such activities.  So, pick activities you can stick with as part of your consistent, daily routine. 

While aerobic activities are recommended for good physical health, if looking for ways to destress, the activity may be less than beneficial and possibly detrimental.  It may satisfy your recommended weekly exercise as an added bonus, but don't be overly consumed with the idea that stress reduction needs a physical component.  It doesn't.

Activities like reading, taking a 10 minute daily nap, writing or taking up a hobby may be much more relaxing and beneficial to reducing your stress and/or glum feelings than a physical activity like running.   Again, it should fit with your personality, interests and schedule.

Step 3

Identify daily stressors and eradicate them

Until you know exactly what keeps your mind in a tailspin you will not be able to address it.  This is often the most difficult part of dealing with problems that negatively affect your mental and physical well-being.  They are the primary causes of stress that many individuals fail to address.

Failing to manage these primary causes is like treating the skin of a gangrenous limb without treating the infection that causes it.  As gross as gangrene sounds, mental fatigue is very similar.  It will rot away the very core of every strength, attribute and positive outlook if left untreated.

Some common causes of stress may include: finances, work, kids, former spouse, legal problems, housing issues and loneliness.    All of these can cause, worsen or be worsened by depression, anger, blame or guilt.   

Remember, don't get caught up in the cycle of stress where the stress causes physical problems and the new physical problems lead to more stress.  To avoid this, get medical intervention when needed, identify the root cause(s) and develop long-term solutions.   

Eventually you'll find, what seem like, obvious solutions to to your problems for which you were powerless to see before.   Not only will you be able to look the beast in the eye, which formerly sent your mind into a state of "functioning panic and stress", but you will be able to devise short- and long-term solutions to managing stress and avoiding the blues. 

It is essential you have initiated Step 1, Consult Professionals , and Step 2, Positive Activity prior to deciphering these problems. 

  • Talk with your family doctor about medical treatment, as needed, and recommendation and/or referrals for talk therapy with mental well-being professionals.  Stay communicative with your physician and as stress decreases discuss an anticipated end of treatment.
  • Begin therapy, as needed, with a counselor, therapist or psychologist.  Consider peer groups or retreats for an added social component to your treatment.  Music therapy has also been a unique add-on to talk therapy.
  • Physical activity, stretching and relaxation therapy help clear your mind-fog, leading to improved concentration.  You'll also sleep better, be well-rested which provides a clearer prospective, helpful in avoiding the triggers of everyday stress.
  • Activities that take your mind off your problems (e.g. reading or hobbies) also provide a kind of "active meditation", a way to rest your mind and relieve stress.

So, talk to a professional, get active, employ relaxation techniques and deal with your problems directly, without hesitation and based on your interests and personality.  Soon, you will be celebrating your split-up with your breakup blues!


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