How and Why You Should Include Self-Care as a Part of Your Fitness Regimen
When you’re cooped up inside all day, it’s hard not to let the stress of isolation get the best of you. Anxiety runs high, and your fitness routine falls apart, which leads to the vicious cycle of stopping and starting new programs with very little long-term progress made. So especially right now, it’s important to be taking care of yourself, actively.
As with workouts, everyone has their own needs and preferences when it comes to self-care. But here are some of the commonalities every routine should share.
Every self-care routine should include daily uninterrupted you-time.
It doesn’t matter if you enjoy active or passive mediation, reading, art, journaling, cooking—whatever you do, it’s important that you have time to yourself every day. Life is constantly throwing distractions at us and people always need us, but maintaining some boundaries around a certain window of time or during a specific activity gives you the space you need to decompress.
At the end of the day, if your mental health isn’t a priority, you will experience burnout and skipping the gym will start to feel like a necessity to survive. If your day is packed from the moment you wake up to the minute you go to bed, you might try waking up a half-hour earlier so you have that time each day to check in with yourself.
But if your stress and anxiety are getting too difficult to cope with and manage, it’s best you seek out professional assistance to find the balance you need in your day-to-day to be your best self.
Every self-care routine should include activities you enjoy.
It’s important you allow yourself room to do something regularly purely for enjoyment. When everything else is about reaching some sort of goal or hitting a metric or paying a bill, you owe it to yourself to enjoy the little things in life.
So take inventory of your interests and hobbies. If there was something you could do this week that’s separate from all of life’s responsibilities, what would it be? Carve out some time every week for that very thing. And when you do it, don’t think about anything else going on in your life or in the world.
Every self-care routine should have a system of support and accountability.
There is strength in numbers. It can be really difficult to stay motivated to take care of yourself, especially when you’re stuck at home; and that’s where friends and family come in. Check in with someone every day. Find people who share similar goals and hold one another accountable to making it happen.
It can also help to stick to a fitness regimen other people are doing. There’s a lot of insight to be found on community forums, be it on fitness apps or social media platforms, like Reddit, Instagram, and Twitter. Get involved in the places that offer you the exact kind of support you need, and you’ll definitely have an easier time in your entire routine, from self-care to workouts and meal prep.
Every self-care routine should be a benefit to your mental health.
This is the most important aspect of any form of self-care. If what you’re doing—or not doing—isn’t helping you focus, ground yourself, and handle life’s stressors in a healthy, manageable way, you definitely need to make some adjustments.
It can be hard, sometimes, finding the perfect balance between work, personal and family life, and self-care. Again, if you find you’re struggling to find this balance, the best thing you can do is seek out guidance from a trained professional. However, there are some basic things you can do on your own to start being more mindful of your own wellbeing.
First and foremost, journaling helps you get all your thoughts and emotions out of your mind and off your chest. But besides that, you can use your journal to track your mental state on any given day. Seeing what things you did and what things happened along with how you felt that day is a perfect way to start tracking what habits and activities benefit or negatively impact your mental health.
Get an app.
There are a lot of great mental health apps out there. Check out Calm or Headspace for guided mediation. If you’re needing more direct counseling from home, take a look at Talkspace or BetterHelp. And for journaling, mood tracking, and mindfulness all in one app, there’s Youper and Moodpath.
Talk to a friend.
Sometimes the people around you know you better than you do. Reach out and see if any of their self-care practices is something that might benefit your health, especially if they’re someone who already has a well-established routine.