Exercise is an important element of overall self-care and a key element of any healthy routine — this is undeniable. But developing a one-track mind about fitness and neglecting other vital aspects of self-care will not only increase your chances of having a burnout, but it will also negatively affect your exercise regimen. For the sake of your overall health and your physical fitness, consider adding these acts of self-care to your daily life. It’s all about balance.
You’re Nothing Without a Good Diet
All the exercise in the world won’t help you if you eat poorly. Taking the time and expending the energy to prepare yourself healthy meals is your first — and possibly most important — act of balancing self-care. Eating right can help you maintain a healthy weight, which will, in turn, help prevent a wide range of health issues (both physical and mental).
If you are busy, somewhat lazy in the kitchen, or simply don’t know where to begin, a good option could be a fresh food delivery service or meal kit delivery. These in essence force healthy eating by controlling your portions, giving you a wide variety of healthy foods, and making it so convenient that it’s easy to maintain a home-cooking routine.
Make Sure Your Body Is Always Ready for Exercise
If you want to care for yourself while putting it through the stress of physical activity, the key is to make time for preparation and healing. Mainly, always remember to warm up, cool down, and stay hydrated throughout the entire day. As Mayo Clinic notes, warming up and cooling down will not only help you prevent injury, but doing so will also increase your athletic performance as well. And proper hydration isn’t rocket science. The keys are to sip water throughout the day and know the signs of impending dehydration (yellow urine, muscle fatigue, mild thirst).
Make Time for Relaxation
Exercise is hard on your body and your brain, as it takes just as much mental stamina to stick to a workout regimen as it does physical strength. Self-care revolves around making sure your body and mind are tended to (in some ways, coddled) every single day. So, it’s vital that you not only work out, but you should also help your body and mind relax and recover.
For daily mental relaxation, try meditation. This can come in many forms, and there’s really no rulebook — whatever puts you in a state of mindfulness will do. For physical relaxation, prioritize stretching, progressive muscle relaxation (also foam rollers or stress balls), and massage.
Keep Your Fitness Personal
This self-care tip wouldn’t have been necessary 10 years ago, but sadly it’s all too relevant in today’s culture. When it comes to your fitness, it may be best to stay off Facebook and Instagram. Not only does this allow you to fully focus on your workouts without distractions, as Health.com points out, but it also serves an even greater purpose: It prevents you from comparing yourself to others. This sort of social media comparison is a drain on your mental state and amounts to a striking act of self-harm.
Want a healthy way to keep track of your daily accomplishments? Try journaling. Expressing your fears, stresses, joys, and heartbreaks are all vital to proper self-care.
Balance between fitness and other forms of self-care is important because in a meta way, self-care as a whole is mostly about balance. It’s learning how to prioritize yourself and your loved ones, your job and your leisure time, and your stress and your comfort. When it comes to your health, make sure you’re tending to all aspects — not solely focusing on those gains.