Physical activity is undoubtedly one of the most important pillars in one’s health routine, but not if it becomes an obsession. Along with experiencing general burnout, individuals who overdo it are at risk for acquiring an eating disorder.
Part of the problem is that Americans feel guilty about relaxing and implementing self-care as a stigma that the busier you are, the more accepted you’ll be in society. But not incorporating downtime into your life has serious implications such as hormonal changes that lead to depression and weight gain and heart issues due to perpetual stress and inactivity. Not to mention, it can be difficult — if not impossible — to maintain a fitness routine for the long-term if you’re burning the candle at both ends.
It’s time to stop feeling remorseful about taking time for yourself, as living a balanced lifestyle can help you excel in everything you do. Here’s how to get started.
Take Up A Relaxing Hobby
Not only do hobbies give you a sense of pride and joy, ignite creativity, and open your mind to new possibilities, but also many of them actually help to calm the mind. For example, whether you’re listening to the radio or playing an instrument, studies have shown that music reduces anxiety, improves cognitive health and promotes feelings of power. The repetitive tasks associated with gardening — along with being outside in the sunshine and fresh air — calm the mind and boost one’s mood. Painting is a creative stress-reliever that helps expel anger and negativity. Though more common, reading and writing are two great outlets for reducing stress and exploring thoughts and feelings.
Get Quality Sleep
Approximately 70 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep, a scary statistic consider rest is linked to cognitive and physical performance, weight management, and an increase in health conditions such as osteoporosis and cancer. Not to mention, sleep is a key element to any fitness routine, though many individuals tend to disregard this fact.
While it can be difficult to turn off your mind at the end of the day, turning your bedroom into a relaxing sanctuary can make it easier to drift off into dreamland. Start by clearing all the clutter and keeping items on your nightstand and dresser, etc., to a minimum. Invest in quality pillows and always make sure you’ve got clean sheets and blankets. Blackout shades and a noise machine (think crashing waves) can help deter outside sounds and light, both artificial and natural.
Find Time To Meditate
Even if only for a few minutes each day, checking in with yourself by meditating can help you stay centered and present. In order to make this practice effective, however, you need a quiet and distraction-free place within your home that can function as a meditation space. If it has a window that looks out onto your backyard or nature, all the better. If not, invest in window treatments that can block out a distracting view.
Lighting is a matter of preference, as some people prefer a lot of natural light while others lean towards a darker room lit with candles. Choose whichever option makes you feel the most relaxed and focused.
Don’t Rush Your Meals
If you’re frequently eating at your desk or car and dinnertime is never without the television, it’s time to be more mindful about mealtime. The concept actually has origins to Buddhism and is a form of meditation. The general rules involve eating slowly, putting your fork down between meals, and not having a meal with any distractions. Use nice dishes to make the experience feel special — and not just on holidays! Be mindful of your food choices, too, even if it takes a few extra minutes to prepare something that will fuel your body in a healthy way.
Another crucial part of self-care is learning how to set boundaries. Without them, it’s more difficult to find balance in your life. While it takes a little practice, once you learn how to tolerate the reaction of others when you say “no,” the easier it will be.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Author: Sheila Olson