I have come to really enjoy the process of taking care of myself. I found a rhythm by testing various forms of care and eventually creating a positive cycle of actions that never fail to lift me up. I also like myself more. I know that I am someone I can trust…sounds kinda funny, but it’s absolutely true.
Exercise, healthy eating, sleep, and hygiene are basic self-care behaviors that we as a society take for granted. Here is my take on how being intentional with these things brings a tremendous sense of well being.
Exercise – There’s nothing like a great runner’s high on a Saturday morning to prep my mind and body for a fun and productive weekend. Find your go-to workout, but be open to other options as well!
Healthy Eating – I’ve learned to love cooking and deliberately choosing the food I eat. It is so satisfying to gather up a bunch of ingredients and slowly combine them together into a meal you make just for myself and/or loved ones. I am always working towards maximizing my fruit and veggie intake, while minimizing and cutting out anything and everything processed or with ingredients I don’t know.
Sleep – Last year, I started writing down my bed and wake times. I’ve since collected significant data and discovered my tendencies and peak hours. I now have an established sleep schedule that I try to stick to. We all know how much sleep affects our days, so why not make it a priority and take the time to figure out the best routine for our life?
Hygiene – Never underestimate the power of basic hygiene. It’s common knowledge that by keeping your body and living spaces clean, you will feel happier and more confident. So don’t forget it! Cleaning feels like drudgery, but the payoff is so much greater than the temporary discomfort. Moreover, a disorganized workspace is a disorganized mind. That’s a good thing if you’re, say, brainstorming new ideas. It’s bad long-term, however, because ideas are ultimately useless without action, for which organization is necessary.
Self-care is little choices throughout the day that ultimately culminate into a big sense of well being. When you don’t take care of yourself, your body and mind start reaching for the closest relief – and that’s never a good thing.
Imagine all your needs are met, you slept great last night, and you have a belly full of nutritious food…your body and mind are fully present here and now…you can reach beyond your needs to your dreams, and create a prosperous future ahead.
You’ve heard it all a million times and you already know what to do. So go do it! You’ll thank me – and more importantly, yourself – later!
Through tremendous heartache, the single most important thing that has helped me keep going is running. Running serves me in so many ways that it’s hard to describe how much it has benefitted me in a single blog post – but for you, I will try, dear reader.
Reason #1: Oxygen to the Brain and Cardiovascular Health
Running forces deep breathing, which is one of the beauties of aerobic exercise. As you may know, increasing heart rate and working up a sweat is absolutely fundamental to human functioning. You are dooming yourself if you deprive this from your life in any capacity. I know because I did deprive myself of aerobic exercise earlier in my life – this contributed to the development of digestive problems, mental health problems, and probably other issues that I’m not even aware of. The good news is I’m on track now.
I’ll bring it back to the breathing because that is the most important part, in my view. The breath control that running enables has translated into completely different situations in my life where breath control is vital, such as when I get anxious. Pertinent now, it relates to breathing while at my work desk for long hours every day (they say sitting is the new smoking, and I definitely think there is truth to that!).
Reason #2: Opening the Mind and Mental Clarity
Running has profound effects on my mood and mental state. I quickly go from feeling depressed, to feeling free, just from a great run! Running improves perspective – you subconsciously realize that challenges are manageable because you are pushing your body in this way, therefore, you can overcome whatever relationship issues or financial issues you are bumping into. Much of this is a result of more oxygen to the brain as mentioned above, which enhances brain functioning, which helps you to see solutions and unique perspectives that were previously clouded.
Reason #3: Pain Tolerance
Running is a test in pain tolerance. If you are like me, you’ll be astounded that you actually can’t resist going the extra mile. It’s just so damn rewarding to beat your previous mileage – or previous pace/time, for that matter. There are moments when I can feel pain in my body, but I’m mentally above it and entirely in control despite it. These “runner’s high” experiences are when my brain is surging with endorphins and I feel unstoppable. Do you need any more reason to become a runner?
Reason #4: Outlet for Frustration
There is one more honest reason why I run: to vent frustration. Rather than yelling or arguing with people, I will go for a heart-pounding run. I then return to conflicts not only having cooled down and released the physical tension in my body, but I come better equipped with a more rational perspective on the issue, as a result of the mind-opening effects of the run.
Look, if you haven’t tried running yet…what are you waiting for? All it takes is a decent pair of shoes (no additional sports gear required) and an ounce of motivation, which I hope I’ve provided. The world needs more people getting high FROM RUNNING :-)
Thanks for reading!
Friendly Warrior is a Personal Development Blog abundant with wisdom and honesty — Ethan Small has been posting to Friendly Warrior since 2013 with the intent of inspiring others to improve their quality of life.
First time here? Start with these posts:
10 Reasons Pain is Good
5 Steps to Eliminate Worry
Persistence Makes Perfect