Taking care of your body is your job. It’s as important as performing regular maintenance on your car or your home, and it’s what will help you stay strong into your later years. You need to nourish it as well as exercise it to keep it in top form. While fitness is an important part of your overall self-care regimen, it’s not the only part.
Staying the course with self-care is a must in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You want your body to function properly, so don’t forget about your mind. Mental and spiritual wellness are also critical ingredients to a healthy life. If your mind and spirit aren’t well, it’s difficult to have the mental fortitude to continue the physical. In other words, if you stay in bed all day eating potato chips, or work until exhaustion then force yourself to do two hours of hard cardio, you’re not doing your body any favors.
Recovery is an important part of your fitness routine that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s during recovery that our muscles build. A good recovery can also prevent injury, which could set your progress back. When you do intense fitness routines, especially those that tax your muscles, give your body a break for a day or two, especially the parts you overworked. This allows those muscles to heal and rebuild.
Sleep is also an important part of your recovery for your physical and mental well-being. Your muscles get extra muscle-recovery hormones during sleep and a lack of adequate sleep can cause fatigue and mood changes. Your brain will thank you, too. Getting enough sleep helps your brain recover from the day, which boosts your mood and can prevent certain types of dementia later in life. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per day, so if you’re not getting that amount, you should work toward that goal. Many wearable fitness trackers also track sleep patterns, so you can better understand what’s going on with you at night.
Stress reduction is as important to your fitness goals as it is to your daily life. Unfortunately, stress is a byproduct of our modern society, so relieving stress is vitally important in fitness, health and general well-being. Stress affects your mood, sleep, anxiety, muscle tension, fatigue and sex drive, digestion and can even lead to drug or alcohol abuse. If you’ve struggled with drug or alcohol addiction in the past, reducing stress and caring for yourself can be critical in preventing a relapse, so don’t hesitate to actively seek ways to mitigate stress in your life. Studies have shown that the greater number of stressors in your life, the greater your chances are for drug and alcohol abuse.
If you’re exercising, you’re already taking great strides toward stress reduction, so keep that up. Also, consider yoga, meditation, relaxation exercises and socializing with friends or family. Make a little extra time for a hobby that makes you happy. If stress is a chronic issue, consider seeing a mental health counselor to talk about it and work on strategies to reduce the stress in your life.
Without good nutrition, our bodies can do the things we ask it to. We all know that the fuel we put into our bodies is as important as the output we expect. But many of us only consider that when we’re hungry, we eat. What we eat can make all the difference in our bodies’ ability to function. Work toward eating enough protein, fruits, veggies and whole grains to nourish your body. When your body gets used to getting all those important ingredients, it will make you feel so much better.
Taking the time to care for ourselves is as important as caring for those we love. If you don’t love yourself, how can you have the capacity to love others properly? When you’re going throughout your day, take some time to focus on why you do the things you do. It will help you clear your head and focus on the important goals you’ve set for yourself. Then go out and tackle those goals with the vigor you deserve.