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Finding Balance Between Fitness and Self-Care to Achieve Wellness

We all tend to lead busy lives, which makes it hard to find balance between making time for fitness and focusing on our overall wellness needs. With the rise in popularity of short, high- intensity workouts, engaging in self-care seems to take too long in comparison. The key is integrate daily habits for well-being into our current fitness routine and throughout our life. Combine Self-Care with Fitness Technically fitness is self-care because it benefits your physical and mental health, but you can tweak your current fitness routine just a little to include other ways of staying more balanced. ● Add a restorative component to exercise. If you can squeeze in just 20-30 minutes extra, try doing a quick yoga or barre session before or after your workout. In addition to giving your muscles the stretching they need, these restorative practices really boost your mental health through focus on mindfulness and conscious breathing. According to Shape, more gyms are recognizing the need for incorporating self-care into workouts. These restorative practices are beneficial for anyone, but especially for people who struggle with mental illness and those who are in recovery for addiction. Fitness in addiction recovery is a healthy way to stay more mentally balanced because it releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain. For someone who is newly in recovery, you want to be careful not to overdo it with exercise. Try something gentle like yoga or swimming, both of which are calming and also promote bodily awareness, so you know what feels right, and when you need to back off. ● Disconnect from social media while exercising. Disconnecting from all the other “stuff” going on in life is one reason most of us like to exercise, but when you check your smartphone while working out, your mind is instantly brought back to real life. Unplug while working to truly refresh your mind and spirit. Make Conscious Mental Health Choices Part of focusing on overall well-being means making daily choices to care for your mental health. Many of us tend to go through life on autopilot, so start by checking in with yourself daily so you’re aware of your mood and feelings. ● Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. If you tend to think of the glass as half-empty, make a point of recognizing negative thoughts and turning them around. This kind of mental self-care takes consistent effort but isn’t time-consuming. ● Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Along with positive thinking, Psychology Today recommends setting aside just a little time each day to focus on gratitude. Try starting a gratitude journal and consciously choose to live in the moment throughout your day. When you go for a run, notice the scenery. When you’re out with friends, take mental note of how much you appreciate their company. ● Do things that make you happy daily. Simply taking a few minutes to do something that makes you happy is a daily habit that reduces stress and leads to overall wellness. This should include your fitness routine, so if you aren’t having fun with your workouts, try something new that will make fitness a joy! Prioritize Healthy Eating and Sleep Don’t forget that eating right and getting plenty of sleep work hand in hand with exercise. When you give your body good nutrition and are well-rested, you have more strength and energy for exercise, so making these needs a priority is absolutely essential to your overall wellness. It’s easier to eat right consistently when you plan ahead by stocking your refrigerator and pantry with the right kind of foods. To get a better night’s rest, try to disconnect from work and electronics in the evening and commit to taking time to relax and unwind before going to bed. Making time for self-care may feel like a luxury when we’re constantly on the go, but when you prioritize sleep, nutrition and mental health, you will be more productive and successful throughout your day. Even better, self-care makes fitness more enjoyable. What seems like one more “to-do” now will become second nature once you make these habits part of your daily routine.

Sheila Olson

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