Everyone should have a self-care routine. Creating a self-care plan and sticking to it helps reduce (or eliminate) anxiety and depression, minimizes frustration and anger, helps us concentrate, and makes it easier to love our entire self. It also allows us to recharge and be more present. In short, it makes us happier and sets us up for success. But self-care is not only good for your mental and spiritual health, but it also promotes better physical health. Research shows that it fosters resilience, allows us to live longer lives, increases energy, and allows us the ability to manage daily stressors in healthier ways.
An essential part of self-care is focusing on the things we can control and not putting as much value on the things that are outside of our control. When we focus on what we can control, we gain confidence, become empowered, and have a sense of achievement. So a big part of self-care is finding things within your control that are good for your wellbeing. Normally when we think of self-care, the first things that come to mind are little things that we can control, which might be things like having a skin-care routine, taking a hot bubble bath, making a nice meal for ourselves, taking a moment of mindfulness, or connecting with a friend or family member. While adding some or all of these things to your weekly routine is a great way to practice self-care, there is an additional activity that we have control over that should not be overlooked: exercise.
When you feel like your life is out of control, nothing centers you quite like taking care of your body. We talk a lot about the psychological benefits of exercise, such as stress management, confidence building, and decreasing symptoms of depression (as well as a host of other mental disorders, which you can read about in some of our blog posts) of exercising regularly. Part of the reason that exercise promotes better mental health is that exercise is also one of the few things in life that you can control completely. YOU make the decision to work out, and that is your decision alone. Choosing to move your body in mindful ways (like intentional exercise) reminds us that we have agency over our own bodies, which eliminates the feeling of not being in control. Exercise also takes willpower. Successfully completing a task that not only promotes mind and body wellness but also takes willpower feels great and increases your chances of exercising willpower in all aspects of your life in the future!
As an added bonus, unlike some other self-care practices (like a skincare routine or getting your nails done, for example), exercise doesn’t HAVE to cost anything. Yes, having a gym membership is amazing as it affords you the opportunity to learn from others, build a community, and have access to equipment that can aid in building muscle, flexibility, and balance (among other things). However, if you can’t go to the gym, that’s ok! There are TONS of workouts you don’t need any equipment for that you can do from anywhere! (And we have quite a few uploaded to our Facebook page, so if you don’t know what to do, feel free to check that out!) And if you don’t have it in you to exercise with intensity, that’s ok too- even a short walk is a great way to practice self-care!
Carving out time to care for our mind, body, and soul might feel selfish- we assure you it is not. It’s an essential part of total body wellness, and without it, burnout is inevitable. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Let go of your need to constantly help others, just for a few minutes, and take some time to take care of yourself. Your body and mind will thank you, and you’ll be happier, more productive, and more able to spread joy to the people you love!