For some people, exercise is the easy part. They can exercise 2-3 hours daily. Other people—ahem, most people—consider themselves accomplished for getting in 30 minutes. What everyone has in common, however, is the need for recovery. Self-care and recovery are just as important as the workout itself. Here are 8 self-care practices to implement into your fitness routine, both in and out of the gym.
1. Do workouts mindfully
A Finnish study discussed the benefits of mindfulness and exercise. The study found that while it’s hard to avoid negative thoughts and anxiety, it is possible to acknowledge them without ruminating on them. Next time you work out, try to be a little more mindful. Acknowledge negativity, but try to keep track of what’s going on with your body and the workout. This can help you minimize stress and gain greater acceptance of your struggles.
2. Fuel effectively
There are a lot of diets out there, which can make your head spin. However, fad dieting is just that: a fad. Stick with a basic regimen of eating plenty fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats. Of course, you can eat some tasty things as well, but eating healthier will make your body feel better, and in turn, your mental health will improve.
3. Stay hydrated
Keep a water bottle with you often and drink more. A study published in the Nutrition Journal found that water replenishment can help your body not just during the workout, but for recovery as well. Water can energize you throughout the day and increase your health.
4. Take a shower
There’s nothing more relaxing than a warm shower that helps you relax after an intense workout. If you’re more of a bath person, that can help you as well. The heat and cleansing process of bathing yourself makes all the difference in relaxation.
5. Learn something new and fun
Hobbies are a nice way of helping you take life a little less seriously. Hobbies don’t require you to reach a maximum heart rate or do higher reps. Look into coloring books, knitting or crocheting, cross-stitching, writing short stories, or collage art. If you can’t stick to a hobby for too long, that’s okay. Just enjoy the phase while it lasts and keep trying new things.
6. Meditate in a dark place
Find a space in your home where you can be alone. Turn off the lights and enjoy the silence. Focus on your breathing, or do other meditation activities. The darkness minimizes distractions and can bring you peace.
7. Spend time with friends
In a world focused on independence and self-sufficiency, it’s easy to forget the saving grace of loved ones. We need people, and there’s no doubt about it. A 75-year Harvard study found that good relationships keep us healthy in body and spirit.
Examine relationships in your life. If you don’t have enough time for loved ones, make time. You can exercise with them or do something active with them. Make sure you’re with people who give back as much as you do to the relationship.
8. Sleep for recovery
If you aren’t already, make sure you’re getting a sufficient amount of sleep each night. This helps your body recover much faster. Plus, exercise can improve the quality of sleep you get. Physical exercise is good for sleep, and sleep is good for physical exercise. If sleep tends to evade you, consider adopting a bedtime routine and turn off electronics 30 minutes before bed. White noise machines are also useful.
Keep on exercising, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. Exercise is part of self-care, but you also need to recover so you can reach your goals. Try these recommended methods, but don’t feel like you have to do all of them. Stick with what works for you, and you’ll be able to enjoy the life you live.