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3 Ways Self-Care Can Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals
When most of us decide to get healthier, the first thing we reach for is our sneakers and a gym membership. We associate health with physical fitness and with our external appearance, instead of thinking about the complex ways in which physical and mental health are interlinked. In doing this, we are actually doing a disservice to our fitness goals. Here are three forms of mental self-care that can have a direct, tangible impact on your fitness regime.
Many people choose to start a fitness regime because they want to lose weight, gain muscle, or otherwise change their appearance. This is not a problem in itself. Losing weight is often good for us, and a healthy fitness regime combined with a balanced diet is the best way to do it. However, it can become a problem when people get overly fixated on their appearance, turning their fitness into a negative, self-punishing experience.
It is difficult to balance the motivation to lose weight with self-love and confidence, but it is crucial. In the long run, self-criticism will only lead to poor mental health and, counterintuitively, weight gain. If you often find yourself being disappointed with yourself and your appearance after working out, you need to reevaluate your approach to your exercise routine.
Exercise is good for your mind and body. It makes you healthier, happier, more focused, less tired, less stressed, and less likely to develop a host of illnesses. A regular fitness routine is an act of self-care and self-love, a favor to yourself. It is not a punishment or a torture to be endured in the name of external beauty. Remember to congratulate yourself when you achieve even the smallest goal, and to focus on how exercise makes you feel rather than how you hope it will make you look.
Learning to Relax
Stress is terrible for our mental health, but we often don’t consider how it could be impacting our efforts to get fitter. According to Shape, stress can be bad for your fitness goals not just because it can make it harder for you to find motivation, but because it can also delay your recovery and progress. This is why it is important to create a relaxation regimen to complement your fitness one.
Incorporate habits into your life that can help you prevent and deal with stressful situations. Consider picking up a soothing hobby, like knitting or coloring, which can allow you to focus on one task and in doing so practice mindfulness. Improve your quality of sleep with a good set of pillows, a noise machine, or by making your room completely dark at night. Finally, think about other ways you can help yourself minimize stress, such as creating a room in your house dedicated to meditation and mindfulness practice.
Dealing With Your Mental Health
Exercise can help with anxiety and depression, but there is a catch. According to the British National Health Service, exercise is most appropriate as a mental health tool for people with mild to moderate depression. If you have a more severe form of mental illness, you are going to have a very difficult time sticking to a regular fitness routine. People with severe anxiety and depression can feel completely immobilized by their affliction and often have a hard time getting out of bed, let alone going for a run.
If you feel like you are suffering from a more serious form of mental illness, make sure taking care of it is your priority. Go see a doctor to discuss your therapy and medication options, and focus on dealing with your mental health first.
The term self-care has become synonymous with relaxation and stress relief, and those are indeed incredibly important to our well-being. However, it is important that we realize that self-care incorporates the full set of actions we take toward our health, and that all of these are interrelated. By noting the ways our fitness regime is influenced by the ways we deal with our mental health, we can strengthen both forms of self-care and work toward a more balanced life.