This year’s Mental Health Week theme is kindness.
But remember that this kindness extends to ourselves aswell!
Doing exercise is essential, but HOW we exercise is even more essential!
Could you imagine standing next to someone in your Pilates/Yoga/Zumba class, or watching a runner go by you, and saying “Eugh, you look terrible doing that. Or your belly looks a bit big, you can’t touch your toes very well can you. Or, seriously is that all you can manage?”
Then why are we so quick to do it to ourselves?!
Be kind and accepting
Times are strange at the moment. We need to adapt. We may now be having to squeeze in a run whilst running with the dog and dragging along a toddler. We may be having a virtual Pilates class with a happy doggy jumping on our lap. We may have spent too much time on work Zoom calls and hunched over the desk with a now aching back, sore neck and hunched posture. We may have lazed around a bit more and moved a bit less and feeling the effects of a few more snacks! We may be having to hide from the kids in a small box room and do our yoga whilst avoiding bashing the office desk and stub our top on a lego brick!
The point of exercise isn’t how good you are at it. It’s about showing up, doing it when it’s hard, pushing yourself to not give up and sit on the sofa, reminding yourself that some days a quick stroll is all you can manage, a stretch class is all you feel like, a half roll back in Pilates is what you feel is best for your body than a full roll up today. It’s about exercising with kindness.
No one knows your body best than you do. Long gone are the “no pain no gain” days. There is no place for that mentality in self kindness or practicing exercise with good mental health.
Top Tips for practicing self kindness in exercise:
- Accept you may be working out in less ideal surroundings, with kids or pets interrupting and obstacles in your way. it’s all part of it!
- Accept some days 10 minutes is absolutely fine! Go for a walk, a bike ride, dance to songs, do one of our You Tube videos.
- Accept some days just aren’t as great as others and exercise doesn’t go as well. It’s still way better that you have done something!
- Listen to what your body is telling you: Sit things out that don’t feel good in your body. Listen to how your body is reacting. Does an exercise make you feel angry with yourself? – modify it until it makes you feel good, or back off the effort, or just don’t do that one today. Exercise should be empowering not demotivating.
- Work without ego and judgement. Do exercise without using Strala or FitBit and putting it on social media. Do it for you! Listen to where your Pilates exercises feel the deepest not the biggest or hardest!
- Take advantage of this opportunity to do more Matwork. It’s what your Pilates studio apparatus work has been building you to do- the ultimate work! Be grateful for the gift you have to see how well you’re doing and how far you’ve come since not being able to lift one leg up without a struggle!
Ok, now you can go have a cuppa and a cake! (life is about balance after all right?!)
Written by Michelle Smith: founder of The Pilates Pod, and Mind Movement Matters