Got stress build-up? Here’s a simple solution.

This week I went grocery shopping, spoke with a friend on the phone, and filled up my car with gas. Normally these activities would not be stressful, but these days they are because the concerns about the coronavirus hang over everything. 

Each stressor is like putting a bit of air in the balloon until you are carrying so much tension, you are ready to explode. This is Alarm mode. In Alarm mode, your body is putting its energy into getting ready to move so you can take care of a threat to your safety and well-being. It does this so that you can get back to Recharge mode, the state where your body heals, repairs, and defends against illnesses.  

Daily life is keeping us in Alarm mode almost constantly, but we need to spend more time in Recharge mode so we can stay safe and well right now. One of the most effective ways to get back to Recharge mode is to move, but many of our common solutions to stress don’t require us to move our bodies. Plus, moving is often not convenient or comfortable. What’s needed is a solution that involves both mind and body and that you can use right away when an alarm is triggered. This solution is a Recharge Pause. 

A Recharge Pause is when you move in a specific way to restore calm in your mind and body. It is based on a blend of the sciences of mindfulness, mindset, and movement. There are three simple steps;

  • First, because Alarm mode is most often triggered by thoughts about the past or future, bring your attention to what is happening in this moment, without judging, just noticing.
  • Second, move smart, in the way your body is designed, so moving does not add to stress, but leaves you feeling better. The foundation of this is in the center of your body. Watch my smart core videos to learn how.  
  • Last, set your mind to noticing how your body feels as you move, so your body informs your mind that you are okay, helping to calm the alarm and get you back to recharge mode.

Throughout the pandemic, I will be sharing simple Recharge Pauses with you. Our first Recharge Pause is called Calm and Confident. 

Sprinkling your day with Recharge Pauses gives you a there-when-you-need-it way to let air out of the ballon before stress builds up in your mind and body.

Bottom Line: A Recharge Pause is when you move your body in a specific way to get you back to the state where health and well-being happen. This week, spend more time in Recharge by practicing being Calm and Confident in your mind and body. Next week , we’ll continue to explore how mindfulness, movement, and mindset work together to keep you healthy and well.

To learn more about the science behind Recharge Pauses, go to the ExercisingWELL.com Free Resources page.

Stay WELL,

Janet

P.S. Exercising WELL members learn how to turn different types of exercise into Recharge Pauses, so exercise reduces stress and leaves them feeling more confident about their health and less worried about their ability to stay motivated. Now is a great time to start Exercising WELL. Click here to take advantage of the reduced membership rates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Self care series: Exercising for emotional well-being

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.  To do that, we need to look at self-care from all aspects of your ‘self’—mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual and how to design exercise as a way to recharge your whole person, so you can be well now. 

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If someone sent you a message that said, “I need to tell you something important”, what would you do? Well, if it was from a business trying to get you to buy something, chances are you would ignore it. If it were a trusted friend, you would contact them right away.  

Emotional well-being is not about feeling great all the time, it’s about listening to your emotions because you know they are important messages about your well-being.  

If you think about eating a lemon, your mouth will probably start to water. If you think of being in your happy place, your body will probably relax. This is because thoughts are immediately felt in our body. Sometimes it is subtle, sometimes it is overwhelming, but what you think is always felt in your body.  

This happens through is a vast network of superhighways that run from your brain to every corner of your body through nerve cells. They are continually sharing information back and forth about the state of your well-being. Brain to body, body back to the brain, faster than you can blink. They communicate the degree to which you are are safe, contented, and connected. 

These three qualities of well-being we discussed in the last part of this series are a simple way to think about mental well-being. When your brain perceives that there is a threat to your safety, contentment, or connection to others, it signals to your body that there is a problem. Instantly the thought creates changes in your body to let you know there is a problem. At the same time, it prepares your body to take care of the problem. This is how your brain and body work together to keep you well.  

But if the ‘problem’ is a critical email from your boss, or your clothes feeling tight from a week of holiday parties, those changes in your body to take action won’t help you solve the problem, they may even make things worse. A negative stress response can limit creativity and self-control and send a surge of cortisol into your body, telling it to store fat in case this ‘problem’ leads to a lack of food in the future.  

We cannot change the way we are hardwired to handle stress. Your nervous system is hardwired to prepare for movement when there is a threat to your sense of safety, contentment, and connection. We can, however, listen closely to our emotions, knowing they are important messages about our well-being. As licensed psychologist and author Guy Winch, PhD shares in this powerful TED talk, when we see emotional hygiene as essential as washing our hands when around someone who is ill, we can truly be well.   We can choose to respond to emotions like we would to a trusted friend who sends us an urgent message—immediately with kindness and care.  

Yet, we often forget that those emotions prepare our bodies for movement. Moving with kindness is like washing your hands to clear away germs. When you perceive exercise as something you should do, hanging over your head like another task on your to do list, you miss the chance for it to restore emotional well-being. When you think of exercise as a moment in your day to check in and clear the effects of thoughts stored in your body, you are using exercise as a valuable form of self-care for your whole person.  

Bottom Line: Exercise, when done as an act of self-care, leads to emotional well-being. It gives you a chance to check in, listen to the messages, and respond by giving your body the movement it needs to clear the thoughts held in your body as emotions.  

Be Well Now,

Janet

Exercising WELL gives you a whole toolbox of user-friendly ways to exercise to restore well-being in your own personalized way.  Start by clarifying your Why for exercise in a FREE coaching call with me. No strings. No commitment. Just a conversation that lets you unleash your natural motivation to be well now.  Click here to schedule your call. 

Finding the balance between challenge and self-care

Solving the mystery_ what’s the right way to exercise for your body and the real results you want, Part 1 (4)

The value of testing oneself to achieve greater awareness and strength is found in nearly every religion, inspirational movie, and biography. We know that as humans, we grow the most when we are challenged.    

This gets a bit muddy, though, when we talk about self-care. If challenge makes us stronger, does self-care make us weaker?  

You might know in your head the logic behind the concept of ‘put your own oxygen mask on first’.  Why, then, do we struggle with taking time for ourselves? Does it have something to do with this emphasis in our culture on challenges being good for us? What is the right balance between self-care and personal challenge? 

Exercise is both of these wrapped into one. When you challenge your body, it gets stronger. Physical challenge also is shown to improve mental strength. Research shows the connection between youth sport participation and greater leadership skills. What sports do not do, however, is prepare you for using exercise as self-care. In fact, it makes it even more challenging.  

Exercise is moving to take care of yourself. When exercise is done for the purpose of health and well-being it is, by definition, self-care. Even if you are exercising to be a better athlete, it is still ultimately done for you. The difference is how you treat your body.  

In athletics, listening to and protecting your body can interfere with the goal.  If you try to protect your body from harm while competing, the competition will eat you alive! The idea can arise, then, that self-care makes you weak. This mindset about exercise has infused our approach to exercise for health and well-being. Exercising for weight loss has become a sport.  Getting enough steps is a competition. Our way of exercising to be ready for life, not just sports, is out of balance. 

For well-being and health, the balance between challenge and self-care is essential. This is why it is so important to keep exercising for athletics separate from exercising for well-being.      

There are many ways you can take care of yourself, but movement is essential for complete self-care. Movement is what your body is prepared for in a stress response. Movement gets your body back to to healing and repair mode. Now more than ever, we need to know how to exercise in a way that is stress-reducing, not stress-producing. 

Challenge in exercising is essential for staying strong because your body is a use-it-to-keep-it system. However, it’s important to challenge yourself in a way that is not stress-producing. If you push too hard with exercise and it leaves you feeling worse, your brain will make excuses so you avoid exercising again. Yet, without the challenge, exercise is boring, and your brain will steer you towards other activities and avoid exercising again. Either way, you lose the health and well-being benefits of exercise because you are not doing it consistently. Exercising with just the right balance of challenge and self-care is not so easy, but it’s possible.  

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, I will be writing about how to make exercise a form of self-care. It will build on my last blog series about how to Exercise Right because when you know how to exercise right, you feel better and it becomes an act of self-care.  

Bottom Line:  Both self-care and challenge makes us stronger. Exercise, when it is specifically designed for health and well-being,  provides both.  However, you are the only one who can create the right balance for you between motivating challenge and moving for self-care. What do you need more of right now in your life—self-care or challenge? Try adjusting your mindset about exercise to give you just the right balance of self-care and challenge. Let me know what happens by emailing me at Janet@ExercisingWELL.com

Be WELL,

Janet

Is even the thought of exercise stress producing?  Knowing how to use exercise to challenge your body at the just right level in a way that it feels like self care takes knowing how to exercise right.  Exercising WELL™ blends mindfulness and movement to create mindset that help you find that right balance for you each time.  Find out how to make exercise a source of self care with a unique, cost-effective blend of personal coaching and easy-to-use online learning.  Click here to get started with a FREE coaching call. 

New article: Rethinking Exercise to Counter the Epidemic of Physical Inactivity

Thank you to The Doctor Weighs In for publishing my article. They are committed to providing a more in depth look at a topic.

The ‘sitting disease epidemic’ is one that on the surface looks so simple to fix, just get people moving more. However, when we take a closer look, there is more to the problem of physical inactivity, so the solution is more than steps.

Bench-470328508_4928x3156.jpegMuch of the health care establishment operates under the assumption that the cure for physical inactivity is more physical activity. Yet, when you take a closer look at the effect inactivity is having on our physiology, the solution is not as simple as just moving more. The solution starts with rethinking exercise.

We are less active in today’s world because we are sitting more. However, the real problem is that we are sitting and stressed, not sitting and relaxed.  Read more here…