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People tend to think of self-care as getting your nails done or going to a spa. That’s all good stuff, but self-care is more about just taking care of yourself. You have one body and one mind in this lifetime, so you might as well take care of them, right? The danger is that you can get so caught up in your fitness that you forget self-care along the way. The key is learning to strike a balance.
If you’re in addiction recovery, exercise can help you stay on track with your sobriety goals. Exercise helps increase the “feel good” chemicals in your brain, which boosts your mood and helps you get through the day. It helps you channel your thoughts to something other than your addiction, and focus on your health. If exercise isn’t already part of your recovery plan, consider adding it to your routine.
Here are some
ways to take care of yourself while rocking your fitness routine:
Get outside -- Those of us who get our exercise at the gym forget about our body’s need for vitamin D and sunshine. Be sure to balance your gym time with your outdoor time. Go for a run or walk in the park or just take a blanket and a book to relax a bit. The sunshine will help your body soak up vitamin D, and it will also ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Wear sunscreen -- While you’re out there soaking up the sunshine, protect your skin. By now, we should all know that too much sun causes skin cancer and premature aging. Make sure to select a broad spectrum (blocks UVA and UVB rays) SPF 30 or higher. Reapply often, and wear protective clothing when outdoors.
Drink water -- You should drink water even when you’re not exercising. But when you’re working out, you especially need to replenish the water your body has lots through sweat. Your brain and energy levels are directly affected by the amount of hydration you have, so keep chugging that H2O. Drink some before your exercise, too, so you’re not spending your workout catching up.
Eat well -- In our fast-paced lifestyles, we tend to eat what’s easy, and we eat it on the run. That means we eat a lot of food that doesn’t do much more than fill us up. Take stock of what you eat and try to make sure you’re getting enough fruits and vegetables in your diet. They’re easy to ignore, but very important for your health.
Get some alone time -- If you spend your life with a spouse and kids, work demands and family, you likely don’t get much time to yourself. Try to get some regular alone time to decompress. Take a long bath or shower, curl up with a good book, have some coffee in a coffee shop, take a walk with your dog or just veg out with some good music. Having alone time gives you a chance to recharge.
Get some sleep -- Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night. If that sounds like a dream you’ll never accomplish, then it’s time to work on your sleeping habits. Good sleep is important to your overall health, and it has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. Sleep is your brain’s chance to heal itself, and some studies have shown that it cleans itself during sleep, too. Start going to bed earlier and getting more sleep. It’s worth it.
Self-care is important for your overall well-being. If you neglect yourself, then you’ll suffer consequences in your health and mental wellness. It may seem impossible to add these things to your busy schedule, but focus on one habit change at a time, and it will get easier. Consider this: If you don’t take care of yourself, who will?