A Holistic Approach To Well-Being: Balancing Fitness And Self-Care
Written By: Sheila Olson of FitSheila.com
At the end of a long workday, the last thing you feel like doing is dropping by the gym for a workout or prepping a nutritious meal from scratch. However, evidence shows that a healthy diet and regular physical exercise has health benefits for body and mind alike. How can we integrate fitness into our schedule and make it less of a chore? The answer is to approach self-care in a holistic, whole body fashion, taking care of your physical and emotional needs and prioritizing your wellness. Good self-care practices will make every aspect of your life more meaningful and rewarding.
Make It Fun
You’re more likely to stick to a fitness regimen if you’re doing something you enjoy. If you hate sweating, take up swimming. Not a big fan of the gym? Get in your exercise at home instead, or take it outdoors and go for a hike. Commit to spending a half an hour a day engaged in physical activity that you find enjoyable, even if you have a busy schedule. It’s not just exercise, it’s play, and we need play in order to develop physically and mentally. It’s a survival drive, and one of the ways we take in and assimilate new information about our surroundings. It invigorates our bodies and awakens our minds.
Hack Your Brain
The same way we need physical activity, we need mental refreshment. Studies show that engaging in an enjoyable leisure activity improves your mood and concentration, lowers your stress levels, and helps you be more productive. So if you want to do better at work, be more creative and happier, get a hobby. A relaxation regimen of knitting, stitching, gardening, or even coloring in a coloring book will make a huge difference in the way you feel about your daily life. Consider setting up a meditation space where you can escape and look inward each day, being mindful of the things for which you are grateful and focusing on feeling joy. Take up yoga, and combine stretching and exercise with a meditation ritual. The point is to de-stress and focus on what makes you happiest in your life.
We all know that empty calories increase our waistlines, but did you know that you can gain weight and still be malnourished? A diet of fast food and frozen meals will leave your brain starved for essential fatty acids and micronutrients. Replace processed carbs and sugar with healthy whole grains, high-quality protein, and plenty of fresh produce and good healthy fats. You’ll feel full longer, have more energy and a better frame of mind, and enjoy better physical and mental health. Treat yourself to the experience of eating real food, sit down to a plate at a table at least once a day, and allow yourself to really focus on what you’re eating and how it makes you feel.
Get Your Beauty Sleep
Missing out on sleep doesn’t just make you tired, it can make you physically ill. Over time, sleep deprivation can cause obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Make a point to get eight hours of quality sleep each night. Cut out caffeinated beverages in the afternoon and evening to help you get sleepy on time. Create a nighttime relaxing ritual that helps train you to turn in on time. Get a soothing bath, read a chapter of a good book, journal, meditate, or pray to help yourself wind down. Invest in comfy pillows, room-darkening shades or curtains, or a white noise machine if sleep eludes you. Go to bed at the same time each night, and try to get up at the same time each morning.
Good self-care practices mean making yourself a priority in your own life. Focus on improving your health and happiness by giving yourself permission to take care of your own needs. Make time to eat properly, exercise, and recharge your emotional batteries. Give yourself an outlet for creative expression and time to rest, relax, and decompress. A healthy life balance means giving to yourself so that you can give back to others.