Exercise is a major factor that affects my mental health, and often it lifts my mood! Although a lot of the time it takes a lot of effort to get onto the exercise mat, once I’ve finished a workout I always feel happier that I did it. I especially love yoga as it’s really good for the mind-body connect and tuning in with your body at the end of a long day. And it doesn’t have to be anything too rigorous, even some basic stretches will work wonders! My love of yoga started around a year ago when I was struggling with anxiety, and I have no recollection of what drew me to it but I remember finding a 30 day yoga challenge, and once I’d given it a go I fell in love. I finished that challenge and started another, gradually building up my flexibility. I also received an elle fit active ‘get bendy poster’ from a friend, and this details a sequence of stretches which not only stretch your body, but also your mind. I began by doing this a few times a week as well as guided yoga sessions a few times a week, and I still return to these stretches when I’m tired and achy.
Recently, I’ve begun some more intense workouts involving HIIT and lifting, and it has allowed me to find a new love for exercise. Before I would stick to my yoga and not stray too far from my comfort zone, but now i tend to workout 3/4 times a week, and then do some yoga on the remaining days. I cannot tell you how much this has helped me, not only have some time for myself and de-stress, but also love my body! A lot of people workout because they hate their body and the want to change it, but I think this is completely the wrong way to go about it. Yes, we all have our insecurities and the parts of our bodies we do not like, but if you focus less on that and more on how your using exercise as a medium for nourishing your body and mind then I can guarantee you will enjoy exercise more. As a teenager, whenever I’d feel insecure about my weight I would immediately turn to intense workouts to try and lose weight / fix what I was unhappy with. But that was never sustainable, and when it didn’t ‘fix’ my body immediately I’d get bored and steer clear of exercise. This new shift in my mindset has made me realise that change is not always visible, often you have to change your mindset before you can even begin to think about anything else.
So here are a few things I have tried that have helped me improve my fitness:
- Change your attitude first – care less about what you look like, and workout because you love your body, not because you hate it.
- Find a form of exercise that suits you! It doesn’t have to be anything intense – it can simply be upping your step count, hiking, some gentle stretches or yoga.7
- Once you’ve found something you enjoy try and find a challenge like my 30 day yoga challenge. This will allow you to get a better taste of your chosen form of fitness.
- Incorporate mindfulness into this – this works well with yoga where you sync your movements to your breathing.
- Try journalling before and after your fitness regime – Talk about how you feel today, what you intend to do, whether your managed to do all of this, how you feel about that, how your feeling now etc.
Here are some other things you can try:
- Find an exercise that works well for you: at home, in the gym, in a fitness class etc.
- Start running – whether it be gentle or training for a race.
What forms of exercise do you guys enjoy, and does it improve your wellbeing?