Self-care practices encompass a wide variety of applications. For many, self-care is associated with face masks and journaling. Don’t get us wrong, these things can definitely be part of your self-care regimen. However, self-care is about tending to your emotional, mental, and physical health. Exercise is a crucial time to implement self-care practices in order to get the most out of your workout.
Over time, you will begin to develop not only a stronger body but a stronger mind. It’ll put you in a positive headspace and boost your motivation to exercise and go the distance. Here are a few self-care practices you should incorporate into your workout:
Warm Up and Cool Down
Before a workout, especially one that requires a lot of energy and focus, it’s important to warm up. This gives you time to reflect on your body and on what you’d like to accomplish during the workout.
It’s also crucial to follow your exercise with a cool down. Instead of ending an intense workout abruptly, take time at the end to stretch and allow your heart rate to slow down. Dedicate some time both before and after your workout to perform a stretching routine to improve flexibility, extend your range of motion, and tend to tight muscles.
Concentrate on What Your Body is Saying
Becoming more in-sync with your body is crucial in order to better understand what it’s trying to tell you. Don’t ignore the signs as they can actually help you discover where you need to focus your energy. As you listen, you can determine if your body needs more work in certain areas than others, or if your body just isn’t up for the gym today. If you’re not sure whether or not you want to work out, try easing into it and check in with how you’re feeling. Remember, a workout should make you feel tired, but empowered – not as though you’ve been burned to the ground. And cutting back on your routine one day could lead to a better workout the next day.
Just as it’s important to know what your body is saying, it’s also important to listen to what it’s asking for. Sometimes, it’s good to take a break from exercise when your body or mind just aren’t in it. Pain or exhaustion are both indicators that it’s time to take a break and get back to your routine another day when you’re ready. This will help you avoid burnout and ensure your body and mind are taken care of first and foremost.
Wear Something You Like
Getting and staying motivated to exercise has a lot to do with confidence. Do you feel confident in how you look? Does what you’re wearing fit right? Does it make you feel great?
The clothes you wear can greatly influence how effective you are in your workout. When you wear the right pieces for the specific exercise you’re doing, you’ll work even harder. Make sure what you’re wearing isn’t too tight, too baggy, too thin, or heavier than you’d like for any given workout. What you wear for yoga will likely be different than what you wear during martial arts.
Nourish Your Body
A great workout can’t be accomplished without the proper fuel before and after. Eating the right foods will give you the energy you need and even boost your cognitive function, so you can focus better.
If you’re not sure what to eat before or after a workout to feel your best, check out this guide.
Try Breathing Exercises
It’s simple if you think about it. When you breathe in, you inhale oxygen. Your body needs oxygen in order to function efficiently. The more your body moves, the more oxygen it requires. Depending on the type of physical activity, you may need to breathe in different ways. For example, controlled breathing is useful for strength exercises, while establishing a consistent breathing pattern is essential for aerobic exercise.
Stay Off Social Media
If you’re distracted by your phone, answering messages, or checking social media, your head isn’t entirely in the workout. When you put down your phone, you can focus solely on exercising and really enjoy your routine. Additionally, checking social media may bring up negative emotions, especially if you find yourself comparing your body to others.
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
Most of us know that drinking water is important for our health. However, when exercising, it’s important to up your water intake. The more you sweat and get your heartrate pumping, the more water your body demands. An easy way to accomplish this is by always having a big, reusable water bottle on hand. You want to make sure your water bottle is large enough, insulated to keep it cold, and easy to carry around during your workout.
Get Adequate Rest
One of the most critical ways to practice self-care is by getting enough sleep. Resting allows you to refuel and gives you the energy to work out and take on the day, while simultaneously improving your desired results. When you lack sleep, your body will actually have trouble keeping weight off and building muscle. To counteract this, start by creating a nighttime and morning routine to get your body used to winding down when you want it to.
There are tons of ways to get into fitness: joining a group class at a gym, working out at home, taking your bike for a spin or going for a jog, or learning new skills in martial arts! The most important thing is that you enjoy what you’re doing. At the end of the day, working out as self-care isn’t about muscle gained or weight lost – it’s about enjoying moving your body and celebrating what it can do!