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Exercise for selfcare on the healing journey after abuse

Updated: Aug 1, 2021


The Blogging GEMS program for domestic violence survivors is a way to remind and encourage survivors to practise self-care strategies to help with their healing journey after abuse.

The first strategy was the power of gratitude. When used with the right intention, gratitude can positively change domestic violence survivors lives – click here to read how.

The next challenge was to build exercise into everyday life.

Exercise in everyday life

For many, movement and exercise is that 'thing' that we don't like or don't have time to do. That 'thing' that can make us feel guilty if we don’t do it, and if we do, it causes

pain and sore muscles.


If you are not doing as much exercise as you think you should, you are not alone.



How exercise helps


According to Dr Tim Sharp (Dr Happy), regular physical activity is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective ways to boost your happiness and help achieve long-lasting health and wellbeing, both physical and mental.




Exercise is about:

  • using our bodies to enjoy life now and later

  • finding activities that allow us to engage in life

  • doing activities we enjoy now, not waiting until we retire

  • neurochemically helping to deal with stress, increase energy levels, and help us connect with others

  • increasing our resilience to stress

  • bringing joy into our lives

  • ensuring exercise is a fundamental part of life, like food, sleep, social interactions and air.

The Blogging GEMS Challenge

The challenge for the Blogging GEMS was to think about an activity that includes movement that brings joy into their life. Something we loved doing as a child. That could be kite flying, dancing or ball games, or maybe trying something different, such as:

My response to the challenge

I chose to get back into swimming. That was a challenge for me for two reasons:

  • I had flashbacks of being pushed under dirty river water, the outcome being blamed on a snag. You know what I mean. It is strange when the memories come back, an unknown trigger.

  • I am dealing with an injury that made swimming very painful.

After over a decade of not swimming, I did it. I put my big girl swimmers on and borrowed a kickboard and I got back in the water.

It was comforting to see lifeguards.

The kickboard helped me to change up the strokes: breaststroke, sidekick, frog kick on my back.


Also, I did not push too hard, just 10 laps of different strokes each visit. Easy goes. Be kind to yourself.

It felt good to get back gliding through the water.

My next challenge is to keep swimming, to fit it into my busy life. To glide into my future with each stroke.

Blogging GEMS achievements

Each domestic violence survivor faced their own exercise challenge. They wrote about their love-hate relationship, how they dared to find their fit, embraced the challenge, felt like a child again, went outside their comfort zone, and planned walk-and-talk phone calls.

They all found creative ways to build movement, exercise and joy into daily life to help heal after abuse.

Read more about the Blogging GEMS Program





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