Fitness is a goal that we all should embrace. It improves our physical health, can add to our emotional well-being and can help us even overcome the challenges of addiction. Fitness can be a crucial component of self-healing, too. And when balanced with self-care, the result is a stronger, more resilient total person.
The concept of self-care is tossed around a lot, but what does it mean? Self-care encompasses any activity that a person can do to improve their physical, emotional or mental health. It’s refueling, not taking away. It can be simple actions or more complex treatments, but in all cases, it should be planned and deliberate to be useful as a life component.
Adding self-care to workouts
As important as fitness is to good health, sometimes fitness can become obsessive and aimed at unhealthy goals. Self-care is an ideal way to incorporate limits in fitness because self-care requires recognizing injury. Self-care as a part of holistic well-being prioritizes health over workout milestones. Here are a few ways to add self-care to your fitness routine:
- Breathing exercises and meditation. Often these are used as a way to center yourself before and after activity because they promote calm mindfulness. If you have space, set up a meditation room/area inside your home. It doesn’t have to be elaborate; all you really need is calming decor, zero distractions, and a little peace and quiet.
- Tap into your body. Know your limits. Listen to your pain. Don’t just run through an ache if you know that the only way you’ll be able to walk tomorrow is with a fistful of ibuprofen.
- Set and track goals that go beyond numbers. Removing quantification from fitness is hard. BMI, weight and blood pressure can all be good indicators of fitness, but fitness goals can and should be broader. A goal to walk every day for 30 minutes focuses less on results and more on healthy habits.
- Organize your life. Self-care can go beyond our bodies, where we create ideal environments around us that are clutter-free.
- Focus on nutrition. Eating a balanced diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruit and lean proteins will improve physical health and concentration.
- Look for joy. Do something that makes you happy every day.
Self-care and recovery
Self-care helps not only in fitness goals but also can be a component of healthy recovery from substance abuse. Since self-care enables holistic health, it can prevent relapse. Understanding recovery requires understanding why some people pursue their addictions. They are seeking happiness, pain relief or escape. Self-care is an integral part of recovery and relapse prevention because it can provide these solutions, drug-free.
Exercise as a potential treatment for drug abuse
Combined with self-care, exercise can also fill a void that substance abuse might otherwise occupy. Studies show that there are at least two reasons that increased exercise results in a decreased likelihood of drug abuse. First, exercise creates a feeling of euphoria comparable or preferable to that of drug use. Secondly, activity can create a lifestyle change where you have no room in your life for unhealthy pursuits. These two are not mutually exclusive, but instead, work together as an element of self-care. Creating good habits that make you feel good is precisely the purpose of self-care. A key part of that is making sure you don’t push yourself too hard while exercising.
Self-care opens the door to self-healing
And some believe that the power of self-care goes far beyond providing comfort, and positivity, but into our abilities to heal. Self-healing is the result of self-care, and not merely in an alternative medicine way. When we look into what makes someone healthy, we often find that healthy people have healthy habits. Conversely, poor habits and a weak outlook on life are common to those predisposed to illness.
Ultimately, whole body and mind fitness combines exercise with self-care. It has the ability to balance us, to keep us from addictive behaviors and can help us heal.
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