by Kelly Brown
We all know by now that working out and moving isn’t enough to keep you healthy. Instead, it’s just a slice of the big pie that leads to a happier, healthier you. More and more research shows that self-care, the art of taking care of YOU, is becoming more critical for your health. In the words of everyone’s favorite Queer Eye member, Jonathan Van Ness, “It’s not vanity. It’s self-care. It’s different!”
Practicing self-care strategies while exercising or on rest days can help you come back to your workouts stronger and more focused. Not to mention that taking care of yourself can make working out much more enjoyable.
No, it’s not just for hippie uncles who are stuck in the 70s. Executives across the world are crediting meditation in-part for their personal and professional success. A quick 5 or 10-minute meditation each morning will help balance your mind for a busy day. Think about everything you’re grateful for and focus on your breathing. Finish each session with powerful, positive encouragement. These days there’s no excuse for not meditating. A simple search in the app store will pull up 10+ applications that can assist you through your first session.
Much like meditation, journaling is a great self-care solution to help you focus on being mindful of everything around you. Simply journaling at night for 5 minutes can help you dump away the day’s worries before sleep (and possibly help you snooze better!). Keeping a journal and favorite pen next to your bed makes it easy to practice journaling every night.
If you’re going to workout, you might as well get some self-care in at the same time! Ditch the comfort of your home or gym and hit the outdoor terrain. Research shows that exercising in the Great Outdoors boosts mental health and decreases tension, anger and depression. Consider hiking along one of Michigan’s beautiful nature trails or head to your local park and do a few sets of pull-ups on the monkey bars.
Loved your cycling workout yesterday? Why not leave a thank-you note for your instructor telling them you liked their playlist and felt great after class (even if you didn’t want to attend in the first place but they totally made it worth it)? Focusing on what you are grateful for might seem simple, but research shows it can have a huge impact. Showing gratitude contributes to better mental health and improved relationships. Consider using your journal time to write down a list of five things you’re thankful for at the end of the week. Or, take time during your lunch hour to call a friend who helped you through a difficult time recently to personally thank them – a phone call means more than a quick text.
Occasionally, we all need to pull away from the mind-numbing scroll of social media. Sometimes, mindless scrolling can easily turn into checking email and before you know it you’re stressed out about an upcoming meeting when you’re supposed to be enjoying a glass of Beaujolais with friends on the back porch! Try placing your phone far away from you at night and don’t pick it up until the next morning when you’ve finished preparing for the day. You’ll be surprised how much time you’ll save in the morning (hello, gourmet breakfast!). And next time you’re out with friends, leave the phone in your bag. Intentional conversation leads to improved relationships and deep, truthful relationships makes everyone happier.