There’s no question that a solid fitness routine can improve your life immensely. We know that regular exercise and a healthy diet can lead to more energy, better sleep, higher self-esteem and more self-confidence. But there’s another aspect to wellness that many people neglect: self-care. Self-care is essential for our physical, mental and emotional well-being. Here is how you can incorporate it in your life.
Make the time
“Self-care” has become a popular topic in the United States in recent years, and more and more gyms are incorporating it into their fitness programs. So why is it rarely practiced? If you think about how fast-paced our world is—and the fact that there is always endless information at our fingertips—it makes sense.
Unlike high-intensity workouts, which are highly effective and steadily gaining in popularity, self-care takes time. None of us feel like we have enough time to do all of our mandatory tasks by day’s end. So who has time to travel, get a massage, or read a book they enjoy? The truth is, much of our time is wasted on things such as TV, social media, texts and emails. Cutting down on things that don’t benefit us physically, mentally, or emotionally is the first step toward self-care. Once you realize how much happier you are when you take care of yourself, it will be easier to make the time.
Practice intentional relaxation
It’s also essential to make time for relaxing. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation and meditation are common forms of intentional relaxation. Anything that minimizes stress in your life should be part of your daily routine. Hobbies such as knitting, coloring books, and playing music can be great for relaxation. Also, creating a space in your home for meditation is great way to slow things down for a moment and focus your thoughts. Perhaps most important is getting quality sleep, as it’s associated with more energy throughout the day, healthier muscles, and balanced hormones. Dark rooms, good pillows and sound machines are known to help some get better rest at night.
Know that adding self-care doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your exercise routine. Fitness and relaxation are not antonymous; they are complementary. Your body usually tells you when you are overdoing it, and listening to it will help you find your balance of rigor and rest. It’s better to cut back on the things that waste your time.
Once you’ve committed to making time for your self-care, it’s important to set goals and re-organize your life to include the new activities. Since there are so many different ways to practice self-care in your busy life, you have to figure out the balance that will help you to thrive the most. Then, write out your plans on a calendar or checklist and stick to it. This will help keep you from burnout at the gym or adding 3 inches to your waist. Like with any area of your life, staying organized will increase your chances of success and add enjoyment to your day.
Spread the discipline
Now that you have a relaxation regimen, it’s time to follow through. If you’ve ever followed a solid fitness routine or diet before, then you have what it takes to execute your self-care goals. Take the discipline you’ve used in other areas of your life and apply it to your self-care. Self-care takes discipline because it requires you to prioritize the people and activities in your life, and it means that you’re committed to staying healthy and balanced day in and day out.
Many people give up on activities that are good for them because they simply don’t believe them to be as important as the more pressing things in their lives. But once you make time for self-care and relaxation, you will see the benefits play out in your life. Organizing and disciplining yourself in activities that are good for your overall health will be a small price to pay for the reward of happiness.
Guest Post was written by Sheila Olson
Photo Credit: Pexels