How To Balance Exercise and Self-Care

When you begin a new fitness regimen, it can be tempting to let it dominate your schedule. However, exercise is only a part of self-care, and you should take proper care to balance your fitness routine with your overall process of self-care. Here are a few ways to help manage your exercise routine.

Find an exercise you enjoy

If you don’t enjoy your exercise routine, you could be experiencing negative effects on your mental health. It is not a good self-care practice to force yourself to follow a routine you dread. Instead, find an exercise regimen that you enjoy, so you’ll look forward to your routine, have fun as you work it, and feel refreshed afterward. The real key is that you are getting your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes each day. So, whether you enjoy weightlifting, gym machines, group classes or aerobic exercises such as running, swimming and biking, test out several different strategies and see which one fits you best. Once you find something, stick with it. Routines can be powerful and part of self-care is having the discipline to follow through even when you feel less inclined. However, if you are injured or sick, take a break from your regimen to heal.

Begin by warming up

Don’t run blindly into your exercise routine each day - that can elevate stress hormones in your body and increase the amount of time it will take for your body to recover. You should always begin your workout with a warm-up period. Start by practicing controlled breathing for several minutes to start with a lower level of stress and blood pressure. Ease yourself in gradually with stretches, light cardio and plenty of hydration. You should also be sure to drink enough water during and after your workout.

In your workout itself, know your limits. Don’t push yourself too hard - while gradually increases of weight and/or difficulty are good for physical fitness, pushing the threshold too far can lead to injury. After your workout is concluded, take 20 minutes to cool down with more cardio and an in-depth set of stretches.

Mind your physical and mental health

Many gyms have begun expanding their services by offering pools, hot tubs and even spa services in addition to their basic workout setup. Massages are useful for minimizing muscle tension and speeding up the body’s process of rebuilding muscle tissue that has been broken down during a workout. Mental health is another critical part of self-care and can be combined with your workout routine.

Many gyms now offer yoga or meditation classes. Both yoga and meditation help calm the mind and reduce stress hormones while also fostering physical development. As an added benefit, group classes offer a sense of community and connection, which is important for mental health.

Self-care in addiction recovery

All of the positive effects of exercise are particularly beneficial for people in addiction recovery. Used as a supplement to the recovery process, exercise can help to reduce depression, anxiety and feelings of isolation. Part of the recovery process is allowing time for the body to heal itself. This healing process can be assisted with proper nutrition - diet, after all, is another key part of self-care. Following a whole food, plant-based diet and staying away from processed foods will help keep you healthier and happier. As a general rule, the more fresh fruits and vegetables you can incorporate into your meals each day, the better.

Exercise, as an important part of self-care, isn’t hard to balance. By being mindful of your stress levels and taking time to let your body rest, you will become healthier physically, mentally and emotionally.







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