How to Use Exercise as Self  Care

How to Use Exercise as Self Care

Exercise? Self care? I’m sure that you’ve heard at least one person say how they use [insert exercise] as self care.

And I’m also sure you’ve heard some say that exercise is brutal. Or that they can’t do *real* exercise because they aren’t athletic, because they have bad knees, or because they don’t have time.

Exercise is amazing because the options are limitless. It can be individualized to a person. And it can be amazing for a person’s physical, emotional, and mental health.

But how?

1. Find What You Love

You don’t have to run, do yoga, or CrossFit in order to love yourself through exercise.

If you are moving your body in an intentional way, you are probably exercising.

Consider options like hiking, walking, jumping, surfing, dancing, skiing, kayaking, rock climbing, or swimming.

Use your resources! Be creative! Find something new or different…maybe even invent something.

As with any self care strategy, your options are endless.

So try out different options. Try out a yoga class or go on a kayaking trip. See how you feel afterwards.  Find what makes you excited. Find what you’ll want to keep doing…and do it!

2. Listen to Your Body

What is your body telling you?

Are you craving some good cardio? Do you need to stretch? Is your body telling you to rest?

As important as exercise is, listening to your body is so much more important.

It can be difficult (its a practice!), but learn to trust what your body is saying. Your body is always working on a bunch of complex processes (like healing and rebuilding) to keep you going. It knows when you need more or less movement, what type of movement you need, and when you need to take a break.

Also:

You don’t have to have huge muscles, an amazing endurance, or appear super slim in order to know that the exercise “is working.”

Instead, you simply need to listen to your body. And pay attention to your health. Are you feeling extra tired? Maybe you need rest. Are your emotions out of whack? *Maybe* some exercise might help. Are you feeling super distracted?

What ways can you move your body in order to respond to your current health status?

Don’t forget that your body needs can change over time. You may need to reduce how much running, kayaking, or skiing you do based on what’s going on with your body.

I personally had to completely cut out running for months (!!) because of injuries I sustained. And even though changes can be uncomfortable, they can also be so, so good for our health! If you are in a place where you need to change up how you move your body, maybe take it as an a opportunity to fall in love with something new and as an opportunity to love your body in a new way.

3. Find Your Own Rhythm

Don’t compare yourself to others. It doesn’t matter if your neighbor or best friend is exercising five times per week, twice per day, or for at least one hour per exercise session.

Your body is unique and incredibly different from anyone else’s, which means that your exercise routine can and should look just as unique.

If you try to attain (and maintain) a certain amount or intensity of exercise merely based off of what “other people” are doing, you may be risking burning out, injuring yourself, or otherwise setting yourself up for failure.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with healthy competition or pushing yourself a little. But don’t compete with someone else if you know that you are pushing yourself way beyond what your body can handle.

Be yourself…even when you exercise.

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