Self-care can bring up a lot of ideas for different people. For some, self-care is associated with face masks, yoga and keeping a journal. Don’t get us wrong, these things can absolutely be part of your self-care regimen (whatever floats your boat, it’s a free country). However, self-care is also about maintaining your emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing. Exercise or training is an often overlooked time to implement self-care practices to get the most out of your workout.
With consistent activity over time, you’ll begin to develop not only a stronger body, but a stronger mindset – it’ll put you in a positive headspace and boost your motivation to train harder. Here are a few practical self-care practices we’d recommend incorporating into your workout:
Take the time to warm up and cool down
Before any training session – especially one that requires a lot of energy and focus – it’s important to properly warm up. This gives you time to reflect on your body, how you’re feeling physically and on what you’d like to get out of your session.
It’s also critical to follow your training session with a cool down. Instead of ending an intense Krav Maga session abruptly, take time at the end to stretch and let your heart rate slow down to normal. Block out some time before and after your training to perform a stretching routine to improve flexibility, extend your range of motion, and loosen any tight muscles.
Try breathing exercises
The more your body moves during a training session, the more oxygen it requires to keep going. Depending on the type and intensity of physical activity you’re doing, you may need to breathe in different ways. For example, bursts of controlled breathing are useful for strength-based exercises, while establishing a consistent breathing pattern is helpful for aerobic or cardio-oriented exercises.
Concentrate on your body
Becoming more in-sync with your body is important, in order to better listen to what it’s telling you. Don’t ignore the signs, they can really help you figure out where you need to focus your energy. You can determine if your body needs more work in certain areas than others, or if your body just isn’t up for going all-out today. A proper training session should make you feel tired but good – not as though you’ve been burned to the ground. Knowing when to cut back on your intensity one day can end with a better workout the next day.
Just as it’s important to know what your body is telling you, it’s also important to follow what it’s asking for. Sometimes it’s healthy to take a break from exercise when your body or mind just aren’t in it. Pain or exhaustion are both strong indicators that it’s time to take a break and get back to your full routine another day when you’re ready – this helps you avoid burnout and feeling like you didn’t get the most out of your training session.
Most of us know that drinking water is important for our health. When exercising in particular, it’s important to increase your water intake. The more you sweat and get your heartrate pumping, the more water your body needs. An easy way to accomplish this is by always keeping a large reusable water bottle on hand. You want to make sure your water bottle is large enough for your needs, insulated in some way to keep it cold, and easy to carry around during your training session.
Follow up with quality rest
One of the most overlooked ways to practice self-care is by getting enough sleep. Resting properly each night allows your body to recharge and gives you the energy to work out to your desired outcome, while improving your desired results at the same time. When you lack adequate sleep, your body will have trouble keeping unhealthy weight off and encouraging positive muscle growth. Try creating regular night-time and morning routines, to get your body used to winding down when you want it to.