Self-care series: As we enter the season of giving and a time of year when many people struggle not only with getting enough exercise, but also with keeping up with self-care, let’s take a deeper dive into how to make exercise a form of self-care. This blog series will build on my last one about finding the right way to exercise for your body and your life right now. Both of these series serve as a guide to help you use exercise as a way to recharge your whole person, so you can be well now.
Let’s face it, when we talk about exercising to be healthy and well, it is a vague goal. Being healthy is a bit easier to define than being well, but there are still so many facets and factors, it is not always enough to keep us motivated to exercise regularly.
Have you ever considered when health happens? You might affirm you are healthy in a visit with your doctor, but that is not when health happens. Health happens moment by moment. More specifically, it happens in the moments you are well.
When you are in a stress response or alarm mode, your body down-regulates healing and repair. Your energy is needed to handle the stressor. It does that by preparing to move. Heart rate, blood pressure, blood fats, blood sugars, muscle tension all increase so you are ready to fight or flee. When you finally get back to the relaxed state of recharge mode, that is when every cell in your body is able to get back to the work of making health happen. When you are in alarm mode, you could say you are ‘not well’, and when in recharge mode, you could say you are well.
So if health happens in the moments you are well, to be healthy we need to ramp up more ways to get back to being in recharge mode or well. Since you can only be well now, being healthy means noticing when you are in alarm mode, and having instantaneous ways to shift back into recharge mode.
If exercise is part of your plan for being healthy, you are one smart cookie! When your body has prepared to move in that alarm mode, the way out of alarm mode is to give it what it needs. Exercise, when it is not stress-producing, puts you back in the state where health happens. With all the complicated and conflicting information about the right way to exercise to be healthy, it all comes down to simply moving in a way that calms the alarm. The sooner you are able to do that, the more time you get to spend in that health-creating state we call well-being.
So exercise needs to be convenient enough to do when you need it most as well as calming, not stress-producing, for your whole person. That will take some rethinking:
- From exercise as something you need a lot of time, energy, and equipment to accomplish, to simply moving in any way that leaves you feeling better.
- From another task on your to-do list, to a form of self-care.
- From training your body, to taking care of your whole person, your emotional, mental, and spiritual, as well as physical, self.
This shift to exercise as a form of self-care for your whole person is what we can create during this time of year we need it most. Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a closer look at how to exercise for your mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical self in the ways that can restore well being instantly. As we do, share with me your thoughts, insights, and questions by emailing me at Janet@ExercisingWELL.com.
Be Well Now,