It is no secret that we are a fitness-obsessed culture. Yet with today’s over-scheduled lifestyle, it is often difficult to make it to the gym. Even when we do, we might rush through our workout so we can move on to the next item on our to-do list.
While this can seem effective on the physical level, it can also be harmful to your body, as it completely neglects your mental and emotional health. Incorporating self-care into your fitness routine and lifestyle is a necessary step in achieving a well-rounded and healthy life.
Create a Healthy Lifestyle Self-care is not to be mistaken for indulgence. All too easily, we mistake healthy living with simply eating right and exercising, but mental and emotional health are equally important. Practicing self-care is an act of mindfulness that strengthens your self-awareness and helps you tune in to your body’s physical and emotional needs.
In a culture of do MORE, it can be easy to overdo it with exercise. Whether you are a beginner overexerting yourself because you’re unaware of your limits, or you are a gym regular who neglects to give yourself adequate recovery time after an intense workout, you are at risk of injury and damage to your body. Being able to slow down and assess your own needs will help prevent you from overdoing it.
Slow It Down Self-care does not have to be overly complicated. In fact, all of the classes at Island Flow Yoga incorporate meditation and mindfulness practice as well as provide a workout. Try out Candlelight Restorative Yoga on Wednesday nights at 7:30 - 8:30. You can reserve your spot here.
Just ten minutes of meditation a day has a plethora of benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, increased confidence, and heightened focus.
If you struggle to incorporate self-care into your routine, Shape.com recommends simply taking time to warm up, cool down, and stay hydrated to ease yourself into and focus on your workout. You should also consider turning off your phone or other electronics; being able to unplug and be fully present during your workout helps clear your head.
Fitness and Mindfulness for Recovery The benefits of exercise are well established, particularly for recovering addicts. Studies have proven that exercise not only provides a sense of accomplishment and improved health, but that becoming physically fit encourages patients to stay sober. However, it’s important to incorporate mindfulness when building an exercise routine in addiction recovery so that it remains a healthy self-care activity and not a new addiction.
Practicing Mindfulness Throughout the Day Self-care essentially boils down to self-awareness and the ability to address your needs as they arise. This is why what happens outside the gym is just as important as what happens inside it. There are many other ways to practice mindfulness and tune into your body throughout the day.
According to Health.com, people often neglect enough time to recover from long work days or intense exercise, and instead inadvertently create a restless mind and tired body. Practicing yoga breathing exercises throughout the day is a great way to reduce stress and reset the body by forcing you to relax. Journaling and taking short walks can also have this effect.
Use these moments to turn inward and assess how you are doing, then listen to your body. If your calves still hurt from your last jog, focus on strengthening your arms instead of doing exercises that work your legs. If you are stressed about a work project, take time to organize and come up with a plan. These self-check ins are an excellent way to help you understand what you need to be able to function at your healthiest and happiest!
The Balancing Act In today’s world of more, more, more, it is too easy to push yourself into overdoing it. Be it overkill in the gym or over-scheduling yourself, you run the risk of burning out. This does not mean you should not push yourself. Run that extra mile, add more weight, put in extra hours at work--but be smart about it. Taking time throughout the day to tune into your body’s physical and mental needs will restore your body and soul. Self-care is about giving yourself the chance to breathe, recover, and fully balance your health.
Photo credit: Nuances Image