Article by Sheila Olson
Self-care: An often-neglected behavior that helps you to stay mentally and physically healthy, which — admit it — you probably often relegate to the back burner #BecauseWhoHasTime. But experts agree that taking care of yourself is critical to living a happy, healthy life.
Ignoring what you need is dangerous and unhealthy. When you take care of yourself, you’ll be better equipped to care for others who depend on you.
One of the easiest things you can do to work more self-care into your routine is to find relaxing hobbies that you enjoy. These activities could be as individual as you are. For instance, you might take up knitting as a hobby that passes times while soothing your mind. There are also coloring books for adults these days, which can tap into your creative side in a very meditative way. Speaking of meditation, you might even consider creating a safe space or room in your home where you can practice meditation or deep breathing. Try to choose a relaxing space where you won’t be interrupted or distracted.
Each of these activities helps to calm your mind and reduce stress. When combined with a good night’s sleep, with help from noise machines, a dark room, and comfy pillows, you’ll be setting yourself up to feel rested and relaxed all day and night!
Finding a balanced approach
If you’re just learning to createthat balance between fitness and self-care, follow these steps:
- Start small with exercise — Begin with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase as you begin to feel more comfortable and gain confidence.
- Drop the “all or nothing” mentality — Adopt a “something is better than nothing” mantra. You’ll probably experience days when that “something” might be 10 minutes instead of the planned 45. That’s OK, too.
- Accept yourself — You’re taking steps to improve your mental and physical health and that’s great! Give yourself permission to embrace who you are right now. Stop negative self-talk and focus on the positive.
- Rethink what you eat — Don’t cut calories to starve yourself. Instead, seek healthy foods high in fiber and lean proteins. Limit processed foods, sugars, and simple carbs.
- Prioritize sleep — Cultivate a consistent sleep schedule, which means going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, including weekends. Experts associate poor sleep with obesity; studies show that sleep is also a vital fitness component that keeps muscles healthy and hormones balanced.
Squeeze workouts into a busy schedule
In a perfect world, you would freeze time for an hour so you could work on getting and staying fit. Twenty-four hours may feel like a lot, but after you factor in work, family, sleep, eating and a little R&R, how much time is really left for fitness? You can still make exercise a priority with these sneaky tips to squeeze activity into your day, just not necessarily in one fell swoop.
Do you live relatively close to work? Turn your commute into a workout. Bike or jog to work. Live further away? Park further from the building to extend walking time; hop off the train a stop early and walk the rest of the distance. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Get up 30 minutes earlier so you can get your sweat on prior to starting your day. Bonus: Most early morning exercisers find that they have more energy throughout the day. Not a morning person? Here are tips to convert.
Incorporate a workout into your lunch break. Those midday breaks often increase your afternoon productivity. Use those 60 minutes to hit the company gym or go for a walk. Scooting away from your desk benefits your body and your brain, too.
Workout at work by standing at a desk or sitting on an exercise ball, which requires core strength. On the
Like to watch TV at night? The average amount of ad time per hour in 2017 was 13 to 16 minutes, so if you watch two hours of television, you can fit in a 30-minute workout. Add a few lunges, push-ups, jumping jacks, crunches and squats during commercial breaks.
The goal of exercise is to elevate the heart rate, get in some cardio and build muscle. Why not have fun while you’re doing it?
Play ultimate Frisbee. Try hula hooping. Sign up for salsa lessons with your partner. Load up your backpack and go hiking. Go ice skating. Strap on the cross-country skis.
Don’t let your kids have all the fun! These other non-traditional exercises also count because they all use a variety of muscles and wide range of motion; you’ll gain flexibility, agility, endurance and strength when you try:
- Skipping rope
- Climbing walls
- Disc golf
The key to success? Committing to making the time to manage and improve your mental and physical well-being. Embrace fitness as a way to improve your life, explore new activities, eat healthy foods, get enough rest and enjoy the adventure of living a happy, healthful life.