Guest Post from Self Caring
Self-care is one of those words that, even though we hear it all the time, we don’t really think too much about it. When we have to meet work deadlines, get dinner on the table, and meet our workout partner for lifting or running, who has time to pay attention to self-care?
That kind of thinking can not only hurt your fitness goals, but it can also hurt your overall life goals. For example, what happens when you overcommit at work — when a coworker asks you to consult on a project that you know you don’t have time for but say yes to anyway? You might miss a few deadlines, take risky shortcuts on a project, or act stressed out around your colleagues. Something similar happens to your fitness goals, too. You could be too tired to run at a decent pace, get behind on your lifting workouts, or snack on processed foods because you don’t have the time or energy to prep healthy meals for the week.
So how can we keep self-care — or, really, a lack of it — from ruining the progress we make in our workouts? First, you have to make self-care a priority. Don’t wait or hesitate. Here are a few easy ways you can get started right now.
How to Manage Stress at Home
Your home is your sanctuary, but all too often, we forget to leave stress and worry at the front door. Studies show that stress gets in the way of physical activity, leaving us too tired to work out and our blood pressure too high to safely pursue workouts we love. When trying to establish self-care habits, explore changes you can make at home. If you’ve been feeling the weight of work at home, check your smartphone, laptop, and tablet at the door. Also, carve out a meditation space. You can use a spare room or a spare corner, just so long as you will be free from interruptions. If you can, decorate the room to encourage mindfulness — natural lighting, soft colors, a comfortable chair or cushion, and relaxing music can all help with meditation.
How to Get Deeper, Longer Sleep
The success of your fitness goals hinges on a good night’s sleep. We cannot stress enough how important rest is for recovery and rebuilding muscles. On top of that, poor sleep has been shown to increase the risk of obesity — one study showed that people who get about five hours of sleep a night put on an average of two pounds a week. Making sleep a part of your self-care routine means making sure you get both the right quality and the right amount. Not only will your muscles repair more quickly after a heavy lifting day or a long run, but your mental fortitude will also strengthen. With regular improved sleep, you’ll wake up feeling more rested and eager to take on a new workout, run a new trail, or bike even longer than before.
How to Take Care of Your Whole Health
Exercise alone isn’t enough to keep your body working the way it should, at least not in the long run. For example, a healthy diet that satisfies not only your cravings, but those of the microscopic organisms in your gut, has been proven to improve your metabolism, help you maintain a healthy weight, and reduce stress. In addition to eating well, you should take care of other aspects of your health, like your teeth and mouth. Regular dental visits not only give you a smile you can be proud of, they prevent periodontal disease, which has been linked to heart disease. If you’re one of the many people who hate going to the dentist because you’re worried about the pain, cleanliness, cost, or just plain inconvenience, consider finding a new provider. It’s imperative for your continued good health.
How to Schedule ‘Me Time’ Every Day
Have you ever walked into the gym and felt suddenly like you were about to start doing chores? Or maybe you’re seated on your yoga mat but the last thing you want to do is practice. When exercise is our only “me time,” even that can start to feel like work. That’s why you need something else — another hobby, activity, or passion — that you can spend 30 to 60 minutes on every day. If you enjoy reading, take a book with you on your next run and end it in a park, reading under a tree. For people who enjoy baking, you can put on some music and experiment with heart-healthy, whole-grain recipes. No matter how simple — from a warm bubble bath to knitting a scarf — self-care can help prevent you from burning out on your workouts.
Self-care sounds selfish until you understand what it really means. An old proverb says, “You can’t pour from an empty cup” — and that includes pouring for yourself and for others.
Find more resources about self care at http://selfcaring.info/