We all appreciate the benefits of regular exercise for our bodies. Staying fit supports your body image, organ health, posture, and more. However, the rewards are not limited to physical wellness and can have a telling influence on your mental health too.
Given our increased understanding of mental health, this is a massive incentive to invest in a better fitness strategy. Here are 10 simple steps to ensure that fitness feeds the mind.
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1| Be Geared Towards Results
All exercises will release endorphins and dopamine. However, there’s no greater sense of satisfaction than hitting your goals. Working with experts like Conte Health & Fitness to set defined objectives and milestones is key. When workouts are tailored towards them, the momentum gained with each success will work wonders. Aside from boosting your confidence in relation to workouts, it should inspire you in other areas.
2| Focus On Fun
Exercise can be a great way to reduce your stress levels. Those benefits are greatly increased when you actually enjoy the workouts. They can become the thing you look forward to during a tough day of work. Whether it’s playing team sports or working on the gym actions you enjoy most doesn’t matter. When getting fit no longer feels like a chore you’ll be far more likely to keep up the good work too.
3| Add Social Aspects
Getting fit is a self-centered and personal task. However, surrounding yourself with the right people can enhance your relationship with exercise. As well as personal trainers, you should look to form new friendships and try working out with friends. Trading a midweek trip to the pub for a workout class, for example, will boost your mindset. Better still, it will make you feel less guilty about the weekend drinking sessions.
4| Include Bucket List Items
We all have a bucket list of things we’d like to achieve in our lives. Most of us include something fitness-related. Whether it’s running the London Marathon, completing a mini-triathlon, or winning the local netball league doesn’t matter. The aspirations will provide a huge source of motivation and can be the driving force behind your workouts. The emotional rewards of getting it right will stay with you forever.
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5| Use It To Build A Schedule
If regular exercise is going to play a truly positive role in all aspects of your life, it needs to be integrated into your schedule. Other commitments cannot be ignored. However, if you leave fitness as an afterthought, you will continue to neglect it and skip sessions. Make sure that your daily and weekly schedules have dedicated times for fitness and you won’t go wrong.
6| Focus On Your Comfort
While the idea of setting goals is a priority, you should not forget that the purpose of getting fit is to boost your quality of life. Therefore, you should always keep a close eye on personal comfort levels. Exercise can actively help you get a better quality of sleep. When supported by the right recovery tips to fight muscle fatigue, you will feel better in daily life. In turn, your mind will remain in a better place at all times.
7| Make Nutrition Exciting
If you are planning to exercise more, it’s likely that nutrition will be on your list of priorities too. It’s important to eat healthily and enjoy balance. However, the great news about the increased activity is that your daily calorie limit will increase too. So, you’ll be able to enjoy a few extra traits. When you use online recipes like BBC Good Food, you can enjoy beautiful meals and tasty treats without any guilt.
8| Use Fitness To Help Others
Are you conscious of living an eco-friendly life? Or maybe you want to support communities that aren’t as fortunate as yours? You can use fitness to make this happen. One option is to raise money for charity when completing your bike ride or half marathon. Alternatively, cycling to work will reduce your carbon footprint compared to driving. The emotional rewards gained from supporting others are huge.
9| Take Time To Reflect On Progress
The ambition to keep improving is a wonderful thing. Nonetheless, if you always focus on the fact that you are not quite where you want to be, confidence may fall. So, taking time to reflect on your progress and how far you’ve come can be a pivotal step to gaining a better relationship with fitness. Just be sure to avoid resting on your laurels or thinking that the job is complete. Otherwise, sustainability won’t follow.
10| Celebrate With Treats
As mentioned, your improved fitness routines should be linked to achieving a better quality of life. With this in mind, it’s vital that you learn to actually let yourself enjoy the improved body and mindset. New clothes that show off your new and improved physique are a good option. Days out, homely products, healthy snacks, and a host of additional items can be used too. They will all highlight the fact that exercise makes your life better. Perfect.
Did you know that May is #MentalHealthMonth?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. #MentalHealthMonth was created to increase public awareness of mental health conditions and to break down the stigma associated with mental illnesses.
Mental health conditions are far more common than you think, mainly because people don’t like to, or are afraid to, talk about them. However, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Everyone experiences the ups and downs of mental health and there is nothing wrong with seeking help to manage it.
As a mom of three and someone who has battled mental health challenges most of her life, my greatest concern upon having children was that my children would struggle with their mental health in the same ways that I did. However, I believe that my own struggles actually made me a better parent. I was more aware and attuned to the needs of my children and never once did I hesitate to seek help when I thought they needed it.
So, what can we do, as parents, to help improve the overall mental well-being of our children?
Communication is the key. Good communication with children involves listening well and talking in ways that encourage your child to listen to you. Communicate the super uncomfortable and challenging things, too. Being open to talking about all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear, and anxiety will help you and your child to navigate potentially tricky situations in the future.
2. RECOGNIZE THE NEED FOR HELP
This may seem silly or even stupid to some reading this. As a parent who has struggled with this most of her life, I just don’t get why seeking aid in this way for your child or children is still a “last resort”, or for some, not even an option.
My oldest is very emotional. Last year, he was caught teasing and talking under his breath during class to a few of his classmates about how they looked. When I confronted my son and talked to him about why he was doing what he was doing, in all honesty, he told me that he wasn’t that sorry for some of it. I knew right then and there was something bigger going on. Not in regards to the relationship with these other children, but within himself. My son needed someone else to talk to and it was my job to find someone else who could give him perspective and insight beyond that of my husband and myself.
3. SEEK HELP
That summer, I arranged for my son to see a counselor. We called his sessions “his class with Michael”. During that time, a few parents and family members questioned my decision to seek outside help for my son. They often said, “Why are you doing that? He’s fine”. But, I knew he wasn’t. I saw a young boy struggling to process how he felt. I saw myself in him.
Seeking help was the best thing I could have ever done for my son as his mom. It gave us a place to communicate with our son and it gave my son a place to communicate openly without judgment. Michael played a HUGE role in my son’s confidence, understanding, and processing of emotions. Most importantly, Michael was a huge game-changer for my son and his future. He now has insight and coping strategies that will serve him his entire life. An insight I wish I would have had at his age. If I would have, then, maybe, my story would have been a bit different.
4. DON’T JUDGE
For many parents, at the first sign that their child appears to be sick, there is no concern or questioning on getting them medicine to help them feel better. So why aren’t we looking at our children’s mental health, their mental well-being, in the same light as their physical well-being?
I urge you all, parent or not, to put all your personal issues aside and see your kids as they are. To attend to them in the best possible way that has nothing to do with you. Seeking help is not a bad thing. Would you ever look down on someone for seeking treatment for a medical ailment? More than likely, no. So, I urge you to do the same for you and your child’s well-being, especially when it comes to their mental health and wellness.
So, I ask you, during #MentalHealthMonth–what does your child need? As someone who has struggled most of her life with mental health and wellness concerns, I can tell you that having a therapist has been one of the best things I have done for myself and it made all the difference for my son, too.
If you are interested in learning more, check out these great resources on Amazon.
If you had asked me what a safe relationship was as a kid or even a young adult, I would have responded that the other isn’t physically harming you. But there is more to a healthy relationship than what goes on physically. Open, honest, and safe communication is a fundamental part of any healthy relationship.
It has become apparent that there were many emotional processing and communication skills I was lacking and, unfortunately, never learned as a growing kid and teen.
Years ago, I had an addiction and survived because that deep dark struggle brought forth the need for these necessary skills.
Now in my thirties, I am so grateful to have learned:
- Boundaries, what they are, why they are necessary, and how to set them
- Effective communication
- How anger is a surface emotion for sadness and hurt
- Sharing how I feel is to help, not hurt.
- It is not my responsibility as to how others receive my feelings.
- There are healthy ways to communicate even scary, uncomfortable things.
Years ago, I would not have known how to communicate safely and healthily. I would not have known how to validate another’s experience because I would have been too overwhelmed with my own. I would not have known that I could feel one thing and someone else feel another and still be OK.
We all have the opportunity to grow. To learn. To expand. To be stretched.
That the way we respond to situations and things is often more about us than it is about the other person. When I finally understood that my relationship with life, others, and I made a massive shift.
We all can make a shift. That shift can be an uphill battle, or it can be a process where we can all learn from the way we have done things in the past, how others respond and grow from them. Learning effective communication has been a game-changer for me to transform my relationships with my husband, my kids, clients, and my parents. I am no longer tied to the back of their car as they ride the rolling hills of their life and emotions.
If you want to create safe and healthy relationships, you must effectively communicate (PERIOD). Going through the process of recovery has taught me that the first relationship I need to improve is the one with myself. I had to relearn how to process my emotions because the two strategies I was taught were exploding, and holding it in, wasn’t working. That process was long and, at times, overwhelming. But moment by moment, month by month, year by year, things began to change. And for me, yoga had a lot to do with that process. I used my yoga mat to learn to feel, learn to process and learn to take action. Yoga became a place where I rekindled my relationship with my Higher Power and slowly with those that I love. My yoga mat helped me understand that what I was feeling didn’t have to dictate how I lived. And teaching yoga taught me how others felt didn’t have to run my life.
My hope for you today is to step back and breathe.? This coming from the girl who had explosive reactions and took everything personal-step back and takes a breath.
Doing so requires you to do two simple things:
- STOP and step back (literally, step back).
- Inhale and exhale.
Being stuck in our heads makes taking any action twice as tricky. That is why the yoga I know was pivotal in my recovery and learning these vital skills to better communicate with myself and others.
And do not be afraid that even after taking a breath (or many breaths), what needs to be said may not be warm and fuzzy, but it needs to be said…⏩Press on.
Other people try to complicate this process and make you buy into a profound complexity of how it is to learn better, more effective communication. And sure there are additional ways to dig deeper, but what I’m telling you is, until you can stop, step back and take a breath in those moments, all those other fancy steps won’t work. They won’t work because you haven’t called time out. Just like my 11-year-old need a time out to take a moment, breath, and emotionally calm down so he can feel and better communicate. We as adults often need that too.
A business coach once told me some conversations are more effective when there is space (time) put in-between them.
Now some people are against time out because it seems harsh or cold. But a time out gives you time to feel, breathe, and process so you can come back and respect the conversation and relationship. It helps you decide what is truly important to communicate when approaching a time out from a whole place. There have been hundreds of things I wanted to say to the person on the other end. But when I gave it time, I discovered that it was something else, something more profound, or it was more about me and how I was feeling from another situation than the one that was currently in front of me.
My yoga mat was often my time out. I would go there to feel, process, and step away so I could figure out what was going on. See the pattern, see the conversation in a new light, see what I want to say, and sit with the feeling I was having around that conversation, that person and the relationship.
?I have a mantra that I tell myself daily: “I cannot control how others perceive and receive me and what I have to say, as long as I say it with kindness…say it”.
One of the BIGGEST skils I have cultivated when it comes to healthy and safe communication is the ability to “sit” with feelings, and even more sit with the possibility that someone else may not have liked what I had to say, and may project unhappiness towards me. But knowing I have control over how I respond. And within receiving that, an opportunity to learn from it has now become a blessing. So keep breathing my friend, keep feeling, and remember that validating another in no way invalidates you.
May those that need to hear this find it ♥️.
In today’s technology-centered world, there seems to be an app for almost every situation. If something is wrong or needs improvement, we can pull out our smartphones and search for the right app. However, when it comes to improving our physical well-being, that tends to be a little more challenging.
Taking Care of Your Body
I think anyone reading this can agree that a big part of the quality of one’s overall health comes from movement–or lack thereof. Various illnesses can be linked back to how we live in our physical bodies. Much like house maintenance, the longer you neglect your body, the more damaged the structure becomes. Then, those once small issues become much larger and harder to fix.
It’s a pretty straightforward concept: the more active you are, the healthier you will be. However, most people spend most of their day at work or in a work environment. So, yes, while incorporating exercise into your daily routine is important, it isn’t going to magically fix your “house.”
What Can You Do?
Think about the environment that you put yourself in day after day. Should you consider a change in that environment to prevent your “house” from becoming damaged? The best way to increase our well-being is to evaluate the environment around us– especially our work environment. But, is merely making the change to standing all day instead of sitting enough? The simple answer is no.
The Pixar movie Wall-E is more than another cute, animated film. It tells us that if we don’t change the way we live, we will turn into unhealthy humans who, by continuing to treat the environment as disposable, will also destroy the world. In her book Don’t Just Sit There, Katy Bowman talks about how to avoid the Wall-E syndrome so that you can be a much healthier, happier, functional version of yourself.
Try to make these simple changes to the environment around you to ensure your “house” continues to serve the purpose for which it was created.
1. Promote Fluid Movement, Natural Living and Reduce Stress
1. Increase Natural Light
Consider how much natural light you are receiving into your work environment or home. Increasing natural lighting can boost serotonin, which can increase our alertness and better our mood in our work environment and at home.
2. Decrease Clutter
Work to decrease clutter in your work environment and home. Physical clutter is easily transferable to both the feeling and experience of mental clutter. Having more fluidness in your work environment will easily affect work output.
2. Promote Natural Fluidity & Movement
Evaluate if your work environment or overall environment promotes a lifestyle that encourages movement, or if it entices a sedentary lifestyle.
I have dramatically reduced eye strain and the feeling of tiredness by not having the lights on in my office and by keeping the shades open during office hours.
By taking the time to let go of possessions that no longer serve me, I have physically and energetically made room for the newness I am working toward in my life.
3. Make Change at Home, Too
Finally, I have begun re-evaluating my work environment and home life and investing in my family’s health on the front end. This has included creating standing workspaces, using functional chairs (like the Move), breaking stereotypes at the dinner table by enlisting our family in picnic-style dinners on the floor, and by adding walking lunches. All these creative and healthy choices have helped me to promote movement and a more fluid lifestyle for each of my family members.
Some of these changes cost my family and me very little, and others a bit more, but what I have essentially done is flipped where I spend my money. I am no longer dumping my hard-earned cash into constant visits to the chiropractor or massage therapists. My overall total daily movement has dramatically increased, which has also reduced my stiffness and back and neck pain. As a bonus, I mentally feel better.
Upgrade Your Seating Options
If you are considering making a real investment in your work environment, work experience, and home environment, check out the Move by Varier® and get ready to transform your work environment into one that truly gets you moving!
Are you interested in upgrading your home or office seating? Join me in the “Move” ment with the Move by Varier. CLICK HERE to learn more!
Little changes can make a huge impact. I challenge you to evaluate your environment–home and work–and make changes where you can!
I never thought that yoga would become such a huge part of my life. To be honest, I didn’t even know what yoga was until a co-worker said to me one day, “You look like someone who would practice yoga.” Hmmmm…thanks? I guess?
You know, those moments in life that just hit you like a ton of bricks? Well, at 17 years old, that is exactly what that moment did to me.
I truly believe that life has a way of nudging you in the right direction. Of course, it’s up to us if we decide to follow that nudge or not, but, nonetheless, it’s there.
Destined To Do Big Things
I’ve never shared this before but when I growing up, I always knew that I was meant for more. As a child, you could usually find me tucked away, inside of my closet, stapling papers together to create books. Not books to share, but books that I planned to store away with the intent to be found by someone one day when I was gone. That someone who would say, “Wow, this is amazing.” Okay, looking back–maybe that was a little weird BUT the point is–I always knew that I was going to do big things. I knew I was going to be known for something more.
Then came yoga. Practicing yoga was a saving grace to me. It was my lifeline. Every Wednesday night, it gave me hope that I could do it. It showed me I was strong. It showed me what I was capable of. It showed me that I was meant for more.
Yoga changed my life.
Then, randomly one day, my yoga teacher casually suggested to me that I consider teaching yoga. Funny how life works, right?
Yoga Was My Nudge
My first search–“How to become a yoga teacher”–landed me on an ashram in Rollingsville, Colorado. Don’t ask me how or why, but I just knew that this was the place for me. Without hesitation, I signed up, gave them my money, and booked my tickets. However, it wasn’t all quite that simple. The catch–I had finals during my month stay in Colorado. I know what you are thinking– “Ok, Hope, that’s not that big of a deal.”
Here is the thing– I went to a Catholic university and I was off to an ashram to learn how to teach yoga SO it was sort of a BIG deal. The two couldn’t be more different. That next week, relying on my faith and a prayer, I asked my professors if they would consider letting me take my finals early. They all said yes. My stars were aligning.
My Yoga Teaching Journey
There was no hiding it–I was scared. I was still struggling with an eating disorder and there appeared to be no real hope or end in sight. I wanted to stop. I desperately wanted to be able to live a normal life. But I knew I still had a long way to go.
I still remember my first day in our yoga teacher training at the ashram. Eleven of us sitting in a circle and everyone was at least 15 years older than me. I was determined to step aside from my fears and make the most out of this month-long stay–all 98 pounds of me. I was praying to God this would heal me. This 30-day stay would be just what I needed to clear my head and conquer my addiction–for good.
That afternoon, sitting in a circle on the freshly carpeted floor, I knew this was where I belonged. That day I heard a voice inside my head and it told me eleven things I would do going forward from that day. These were things that I never thought I would do. They were things that were never in my scope of dreams. However, to be honest, struggling with an eating disorder, depression, and a laundry list of other issues–survival was the only thing I could focus on. But I pulled out my yellow legal pad and printed out one goal on each line. I tore off the sheet and folded it up. I was on my way.
My article on Mind Body Green highlights what I believe are the 7 Secrets of Becoming a Successful Yoga Teacher.
My Yoga Training Forever Changed the Course of My Life
My yoga training gave me hope that all the prayers that I had said and all the things that I had been through would not be a waste.
That yoga training was hard. It rocked me to my core. It challenged on what I thought about life, movement, and myself. It challenged my faith to go deeper into myself and see wh at and how I really connected to God.
I believe we all need those moments in life in order to truly get to the bottom of who we are. We are all here on this earth for a purpose and it is us who gets in our own way and downplays our potential for greatness.
My yoga training taught me that we are all worth it.
You Are Worth It
For you, it may not be enrolling in a yoga training class. (If it is, please reach out to me if you have questions. I would be happy to help you find the right fit!) Whatever it is, remember–you are worth it. You are better after it and there are never any mistakes in life. Just opportunities. Opportunities to learn and soak up all that is waiting to be had.
Picture a day when you are no longer struggling to get out of the gutter. Instead, you are leading others from it.
A day when you are no longer asking for forgiveness, but receiving gratitude from those around you.
A day when you are not searching for the next best thing. Instead, you find yourself attracting what you desire all the time.
Picture a day when all you have been through was absolutely worth it.
Today is that day. You owe it to yourself.