Take care of your body, take care of yourself.
I want to start this post with an ode to exercising. If you have read some of my past posts you will know that I suffer from anxiety and depression at times. I work very hard on myself to keep my feelings in check, and to jump in with restorative measures when I notice I am going off the rails. Luckily this doesn’t happen very often, and because I focus intently on knowing and understanding myself I am able to get myself back on track with minimal damage. One of the best restorative measures? Moving my body.
Exercise has been part of who I am for as long as I can remember. I have always loved running, and have been doing it since I was deemed old enough to go out by myself. Running around the block then became running around the neighbourhood, and then running around the area. Although I will never run a marathon (maybe I shouldn’t say never, but definitely not in the near future) I will never stop training as if I am planning on running one. I have struggled with runner’s knees for almost 3 years now, and not even that can keep me off the road. You see, exercise has become a healing activity, and one that I will never stop doing (or can afford to ever stop doing!).
Studies have found that exercise can combat depression more effectively than either antidepressants, taken alone or combined with exercise. Getting our bodies moving is not only good for your body, but for your mind as well.
Exercise is a powerful tool, and it can become even more powerful if you include it as part of your self-care routine. Self-care is all about taking care of yourself to ensure you have enough energy, life satisfaction and overall happiness to enable you to take care of others. Without self-care, you will only be an empty shell unable to be there for anybody, including yourself. When we think of the concept of self-care, we usually envision a bubble bath with candles and soft music. Or a snuggle on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea. But self-care is much more than that. It can be 5 minutes of silence, walking barefoot in the grass, taking a stroll through a park, having a heartfelt chat with a friend, or taking a gruelling 30min sweat class.
Self-care is effective when you know yourself, your needs and your dreams well enough to be able to give yourself exactly what you need. Some days I know I need a gentle stretch, other days I know only a mind-numbing run will do the trick. Just like your body tells you when it needs certain nutrients and food groups, it also has the ability to tell you when it wants to move. Start listening.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It is the grownup, rational thing to do. And by adding exercise to your self-care arsenal you are only making it easier, and more effective, to refuel your own tank.