7 Ways to Merge Your Fitness with Self-Care
Combine fitness and self-care for complete physical and mental health.
You probably know about the plethora of benefits that come with following a solid fitness routine. It can build strength in your muscles and bones, improve your cardiovascular health, give you more energy, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and make you a happier person in general, to name a few.
But is it possible to overdo it? Yes, it is. And if you do get to the point where you’re overdoing it, chances are you will eventually burn out, add stress to your life, and possibly quit exercise altogether.
That’s where self-care comes in. No, self-care is not just another term for self-indulgence and pampering. Self-care is simply what it sounds like: taking care of yourself. Though physical fitness is essential to a healthy physical, mental, and emotional life, fitness alone can’t bring you health or happiness. You also need to incorporate self-care into your daily life. Fortunately, it’s not all that difficult to figure out.
Here are seven ways you can bring self-care alongside your fitness routine.
Start a relaxation regimen.
One of the key elements of good self-care is relaxation. You’ll be a much happier person if you make room in your life for relaxing.
Start by finding a hobby that brings you joy and fulfillment. It could be knitting, doing coloring books, crafting birdhouses, binding journals, or any other fun activity that is unrelated to work. Also, make sure you are getting adequate sleep because your body and mind can’t function at full potential without it.
Take any necessary steps to establish healthy sleep patterns, whether it’s purchasing a noise machine, getting new pillows, or installing a dimmer system in the bedroom.
One of the best ways to relax and minimize stress is to meditate. Meditating on the regular can reduce chronic pain, improve cognitive function, promote self-awareness, boost your mood, and bring about many other physical, mental, and emotional health benefits. Moreover, you can create a meditation space in your home. Just choose a comfortable area of the home that will allow enough space, keep it organized and clutter free, and personalize it with decorations.
Follow a healthy diet.
Any personal trainer or life coach will tell you that nothing is more significant to your health and well-being than a nutritious diet. Just as sleep helps our minds and bodies recharge, nutrition gives us the fuel we need to thrive in everyday life.
Put away the junk food and stick to clean, whole foods. You can never go wrong with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts, and seeds (barring any allergies, of course).
Warm up and cool down.
Too many people undergo strenuous workout after strenuous workout without caring for their body before and after the workouts. This can lead to sore muscles, injuries, and even heart problems.
Warm up your body leading up to a workout to gradually engage your cardiovascular system and increase blood flow to your muscles.
Cool down afterward by stretching and walking; this helps your body begin to recover from elevated heart rate and blood pressure.
Unplug from social media.
It’s good for everyone to periodically unplug from social media in this day and age. While it can help to take days off at a time, at least log off during your workouts.
Nothing can distract you from your goals or put your self-confidence in jeopardy like seeing people’s polished versions of themselves on Instagram and Facebook. Also, refraining from using any kind of screen at bedtime helps you fall asleep faster and rest more deeply.
Keep a journal.
Keeping a journal is another way to add self-care to your fitness routine. Journals can be helpful for recording the details of each day’s workouts and tracking your fitness progress.
They can also be helpful for recording other events throughout the day and keep you grounded with perspective and self-awareness.
Wake up early.
Waking up earlier than you really need to can provide you some quality “me” time—whether it’s enjoying a coffee, writing in your journal, eating a good breakfast, doing a hobby, or anything else that helps you relax and slowly start the day. Along with giving you a chance to get some quiet time, it leaves you more time in the day to get things done.
Prioritizing an hour or so in the morning for non-work and non-workout stuff is a great way to balance your fitness and self-care.
Take a break.
Lastly, take a break every now and then. Spending a few days or a week away from the gym is sometimes exactly what you need to avoid burning out. This doesn’t mean you have to forget all the discipline you’ve formed in your life and gorge yourself on fried chicken and doughnuts (though there’s nothing wrong with a splurge meal here and there). It just means taking some time to unwind and take it easy.
Go on vacation, spend some extra time with the family, or catch up on some of the movies and/or books you’ve been missing out on.
The Bottom Line
Fitness is not enough by itself; we all need self-care in our lives to truly thrive. Come up with ways to relax (e.g., hobbies, healthy sleep, meditating). Live by a nutrition-focused diet. Warm your body up and cool it down before and after workouts. Get off social media during your workouts and consider starting a journal. Wake up early in the morning to give yourself “me” time, and remember to take breaks every so often. You’ll be surprised by how much a little self-care can transform your life.
Cover Photo Credit: Crossfit.com