In today’s fast-paced world, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the need to keep our bodies and minds healthy. We seem to be more aware than ever of the importance of both fitness and self-care, but achieving both can feel like a bit of an ask. Some may have a handle on one or the other, but few can truly say to have found that balance between being physically fit and mentally well.
The Relationship Between Self-Care and Fitness
Sometimes, these two concepts can feel separate. On one hand, fitness is sometimes difficult and grueling, and we don’t often want to do it. On the other, we have come to associate self-care with bubble baths, which is a misconception.
Self-care is anything that we do to improve or maintain our physical, mental and emotional well-being. A fitness routine, which is how we improve our physical health, is an essential part of that. There simply is no self-care without exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Once you understand that it becomes easier to incorporate fitness into our approach to self-care.
Cruel to Be Kind
As Forbes puts it, “self-care is not an indulgence, it’s a discipline.” The reason why so many people struggle to practice self-care while reaching their fitness goals is that they think self-care is what makes them feel good in the moment, not what will make them feel good in the long run.
Understanding this balance is particularly important for people recovering from addiction. After all, discipline and self-control is something they know a lot about. Approaching self-care and wellness in this way can help you tie your fitness goals to your overall recovery goals. You need to take care of your mind and body, even when it seems hard, because that’s how you get better.
Of course, the biggest risk you run when you adopt this attitude is overdoing it. Excessive exercise can lead to damaging physical and psychological effects, which is of course the opposite of what you are going for. This is where the importance of balance comes in.
If it feels impossible to know where the line is, the easiest thing is to let your body tell you. If you experience pain (beyond the normal strain of your muscles), breathlessness, and exhaustion during or immediately after a workout, you are probably overdoing it. Take it down a notch and build up to your goals slowly. You should feel a progressive yet noticeable improvement in your fitness levels.
Also, discipline does not equal self-punishment. Do not be too hard on yourself when you don’t make it to a workout. Just promise yourself to do better tomorrow and remember why you are committing to your fitness and self-care journey.
When you do succeed in completing a workout, reward yourself with something you enjoy. The only rule is that you shouldn’t reward yourself with unhealthy foods. According to the Washington Post, people tend to overcompensate with food following a workout, which leaves you consuming more calories than you would have if you hadn’t exercised at all. While fitness is not just about calories, doing this repeatedly can discourage you if one of your goals is weight loss.
Instead, try rewarding yourself with something that relaxes you. Pamper yourself with a facial, start a new TV show or spend an hour doing absolutely nothing. This approach acknowledges the two sides of self-care, the discipline and the indulgence and ties them together into one balanced routine.
Discipline is an essential part of health and well-being. As you begin to reap the benefits of a balanced, healthy lifestyle, these decisions will become second nature to you. It may take some time for self-care to manifest itself in increased well-being, but when it does, you will understand why pushing yourself to hit the gym was the best thing you could have done for yourself.
Article by Sheila Olson