Here are six ways to love yourself - Valentine's Day not required.
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Whether we’re kicking it with our cat, hunkered down at home with our kiddos, or getting to know a lot more about our roommates than we ever wanted to, there's one person we are all definitely spending a lot more time with these days: ourselves.
And—no judgment—but for most of us, our self-care muscles aren’t exactly bikini season ready.
It’s understandable—we normally live busy lives, and many of us don’t have time to focus on (really focus, not just read memes about) our mental wellness. But letting your mental health sit and eat chips on the couch just won’t cut it anymore.
In the times we’re living in, self-care isn't a luxury—it's a necessity. If we’re going to make it through these dark and stressful days, we quite literally can't afford to not take care of both our bodies and our minds.
So, while you may not be able to attend your favorite Bootcamp right now, that doesn't mean you can't enroll in a Bootcamp of mental wellness. And honestly? It's a lot less sweaty.
Here are six helpful tips based on the tried and true advice from mental health care experts.
Cultivating good routines is one of the mainstays of a healthy mind. Sure, gratifying your inner ten-year-old and eating ice cream for breakfast for a week started off fun, but at some point, it can make you feel untethered and contribute to your anxiety. Having a routine doesn’t mean scheduling every hour of the day, but it does mean having consistent patterns for waking up and going to sleep, as well as dedicated time for both work and fun. Bonus: a sense of routine will give you things to look forward to, and will help the time pass more quickly.
Right now there's still a lot we don't know, and you probably don’t need a therapist to tell you that it’s a pretty straight shot from uncertainty to anxiety. Staying informed is smart, but spending hours reading the rants of strangers online won’t diminish your stress level and will clutter up your brain. So pick a few trusted sources of information, and limit the time you spend reading up on them. And be strategic about when you do so—for instance, consider wedging in your research during the day so that it's not the last thing you're thinking about as you try to get some restful sleep.
Now that you’ve cut back on the negativity coming from your phone or your TV, you might be noticing it from another source—your own head. That’s because it’s easy to be hard on ourselves, particularly when we’re stressed. But when the world outside gets toxic, it’s even more important for the inside of our minds be a safe place. So, make an effort to talk to yourself like you would a friend who’s going through a difficult time. Take the time to acknowledge your accomplishments for the day, even if they’re minor (you did laundry!? Heck yeah!). And if you just can’t silence the negativity, it’s okay to ask for help. There are a lot of fantastic and affordable remote therapy options, and now may be the time to make exploring them a priority.
Now that you’re in your own head—in a good way—the next step to learning what you need is to ask questions. It’s a great time to try out something like a personality test to learn more about who you are and how you relate to the world around you. But don’t get stuck feeling existential—you should also learn how to pay attention to what you need in the moment with easy mindfulness techniques like a Body Scan. Once you’re done, follow it up with some gentle probing: What would taste, smell, sound, or feel good right now? You’ll be surprised at what your body is asking for if you listen. Or, try a virtual meditation class to help you find focused calm.
Once you’ve determined what your body and mind are craving, be intentional and generous. We all have a tendency to mentally multi-task, even when we’re doing things we enjoy—but being intentional means taking time to hyperfocus on whatever nice thing you’ve chosen to give yourself. So savor the sensation of taking that deep breath of air, or throw yourself into a performance of your favorite song. And don’t hold out on yourself: do this kind of thing multiple times a day! It may seem insignificant given the larger life problems you’re up against, but performing small acts of kindness for yourself throughout the day can provide the serotonin boosts that your body desperately needs to stay functional.
Not only is learning super good for us, but it’s also a healthy distraction, which is a very powerful tool for mental wellness. If there’s a topic you’ve always been curious about or an achievable skill that you want to improve in (think organization, not opera singing) now’s the time. Listen to a Podcast on a topic that fascinates you. Open a language learning app and dust off your high school Spanish. And while you’re learning, remember to set reasonable expectations for yourself, because it’s okay if you’re not the next Marie Kondo. The point is to continue to stay mentally active, even if your physical activity’s taken a hit.
Shelter-at-home can mean a lot of time alone with some very scary thoughts. We can either be totally swamped, or we can be kind to ourselves.
Taking time to learn and apply good mental health hygiene will benefit us long after this crisis is over. Hang in there. Be nice to you.
That’s something I never expected to hear. Think about it: we join gyms and studios because of their equipment, instructors, space, community (and AC, of course). But who’s to say we can’t get all that—or at least most of it—with virtual and online classes, too? In this new wave of wellness, we’re all switching up our fitness routines as we switch up our everyday schedules and habits. It’s not just in-studio or at-home anymore. It’s in-studio, at-home, at the park, beach, parking lot, rooftop...virtual, hybrid, Instagram Live, online, on-demand, and so much more. As we’re adapting, adjusting, finding our groove, etc., online gym memberships enter the fray. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
There are tons of benefits to an online gym membership, especially right now.
Let’s break this down:
1. Scheduling convenience
A virtual/online gym fitness membership is a monthly subscription that gives you access to tons of live stream fitness classes you can take anywhere, from studios across the globe. These fitness studios offer tons of at-home workouts, group exercise, and one-on-one training sessions to choose from, no matter your exercise program or fitness level. With so many options, it’s easy to find one that fits your schedule. Whether you want to fit in a morning flow before work, combat that afternoon slump with some cardio, squeeze in some strength training before dinner, or wind down with an evening barre class, you can pick and choose classes to fit your fitness routine.
2. Minimizing exposure to COVID-19
And because they’re online, you can take these classes from the comfort of your home (or wherever you are), thus minimizing your exposure to COVID-19 and eliminating your commute to the gym or studio. By now, many of us have our designated “workout spot,” whether it’s an actual weight room, a quick scooch of the coffee table, or a grassy area in the backyard. Maybe you’re comfortable here... maybe you’ve even learned to love it.
With an online gym membership, you can stay in your safe space/comfy workout spot. Or, you can go somewhere new (local park, beach spot, a different area of the house, you know). You can access these virtual, live stream fitness classes from any device, so you can prop up your phone, laptop, or tablet wherever you want to go, or roll out your mat in front of the big screen TV in your living room.
We all have our favorite, go-to workouts. But sometimes, it feels good to switch it up (especially right now). Working from home all day, many of us are craving some variety and excitement, and an online gym membership can definitely help with that. According to our recent poll about COVID’s effect on our fitness routines, 64% of you have tried new online workouts since the start of the pandemic—I know I have. Maybe it’s because trying new things is easier in the comfort of our homes, maybe we’re finally able to try some classes we normally can’t find locally, or maybe we’re all just bored out of our minds...I don’t know. But I’m excited about it.
With an online gym membership, you can get that spice you’re looking for easily. Start out your Monday by hitting some HIIT, ease your sore muscles with some Restorative Yoga, and end the week with some dance cardio to pretend you’re at the club. The world is yours.
4. Working out without a commute
My favorite part? No commute. There are literally no more excuses when it comes to skipping workouts. No traffic, no schedule conflicts, no fear of returning to the studio. You don’t even have to worry about packing a gym bag with a change of clothes and shower supplies or prepping a snack or protein shake to bring to work. Just shut your computer, throw on some leggings, and get to work.
Community—the element of online fitness memberships we don’t often think of. When we go into studios, we understand the beauty of a fitness community. We’re greeted by our instructors, we chat with others in the class, and we all sweat together and encourage each other throughout. But working out at home is different... or is it?
We can do workouts on our own at home all we want, but we’re definitely going to miss out on the community aspect we all know and love. But, with live stream classes, we can create a different kind of community. The beauty of it? It’s not just your neighbors anymore. Anyone with an online fitness membership can join these classes, regardless of where they’re located in relation to the studio, so you can be working out alongside people from all over the world—now that’s something I can get behind.