Finding Balance Between Exercise and Self-Care: Tips for Busy People

By Jason Lewis

Are you hitting an exercise plateau?

If you aren’t getting enough from your exercise routine, it may be time to examine whether your self-care needs are being met.

A rigorous physical fitness schedule can do a lot of good things for you, from boosting your physical well-being to invigorating your psychological and emotional health.

But exercise alone isn’t enough. There are many factors that affect your life.  Small things can impact self-confidence and your ability to relax, especially if yours is a stressful and hectic life.

Tending to personal needs can help you get more out of exercise and feel better about your life in general. Remember: there’s little point in maintaining a strenuous physical fitness regimen if it leaves you unfulfilled and stressed out.  

Courtesy of  Pixabay

Courtesy of Pixabay

6 Ways to Recover from Stress & Break the Exercise Plateau

Breathe right

Don’t underestimate the effectiveness and mindfulness of purposeful breathing exercises. Concentrated breathing puts you in touch with your thoughts and feelings and makes it easier to manage stress.

There are many different approaches to mindful breathing, from repeating a mantra to a rhythmic approach that alleviates anxiety and lowers your blood pressure.

Deep breathing also clears out the lungs, slows down your heart rate, boosts circulation, and lowers blood pressure.

No screen time

Shutting out the outside world while you’re exercising your body and mind is an important self-care consideration.

Many people are so concerned about multitasking and maximizing their time that they try to keep up with emails and follow friends on Instagram and Facebook while they’re working out. It may seem important, but in actuality, you’re defeating the purpose of exercise and concentrating on activities that are intended to make a hectic life easier to handle.

Allowing intrusions when you’re trying to enjoy physical activity and time to yourself is self-defeating.

Studies have shown that young people who spend more time engaging in social media than physical activity have a significantly higher body mass index than those who exercise regularly. 

So remember that workout time should be something you do just for yourself.

Listen to your body

Sometimes, the smallest, most insignificant physical symptoms can herald a serious health problem.

Pay attention to what your body is telling you.  Slow your pace a bit if workouts are overly strenuous or if you find yourself getting frustrated because you’re unable to keep up a certain pace.

The one thing you want is a positive feeling of satisfaction when you exercise. That’s hard to do if you’re always worried about how many reps you’re doing, or if you’re obsessing about not making enough progress or losing enough weight.

Remember that steady, measured progress is better than trying to do it all at once. 

Write it down

If you have trouble coming to terms with your feelings or understanding why you get frustrated, writing down your thoughts and feelings can provide a perspective that’s impossible if you’re always concerned about bottom-line results.

Journaling helps you communicate with yourself in a healthy manner. Try listing five things you’re grateful for every day and describe why’re you’re grateful.

You may benefit in unexpected ways from carrying on a meaningful dialogue with yourself.

Declutter your life

Living and working out in a cluttered and disheveled environment can elevate blood pressure and leave you feeling tired and out of control—quite the opposite of what you were hoping to accomplish.

If you work out at home, create a clean and orderly space that’s just yours for an hour or so every day.  It’s a good way to keep yourself on track and feeling positive.

Set a realistic schedule

Manage your exercise schedule carefully. Set a realistic routine and timetable so you don’t get frustrated or discouraged.

This means paying close attention to schedule your workout time the way you schedule work commitments.

Review your schedule and figure out the best possible times for you: if mornings are generally hectic, steer clear of setting morning workouts as a new expectation for yourself.

Then, as Plexus advises, “...pick a few days and times of the week that appear best to you and enter it as a repeating appointment on your schedule.” After several weeks, this will start to become a habit and you’ll be less likely to compromise your own physical and mental health.

About the Author

Jason writes for StrongWell and enjoys creating fitness programs that cater to the needs of people over 65.