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  • Writer's pictureJulie Love

Self Care: Move

From the Archive: February 2020

Exercise. Ugh. You were all dreading this corner of Self Care, right? Yeah, yeah, we know, exercise is important – I’ll start doing it, I promise, I just can’t today because….

I didn’t say exercise. I said move. If going to the gym is your thing, fine. But why are all the cars parked in the spaces closest to the gym’s entrance? You do realize that walking from your car counts, too, right? Steps taken when you’re not wearing your pedometer still exist. A full yoga class is wonderful, but taking a few moments for a thorough, satisfying stretch when you wake up is pretty glorious, too. Stairs are a nice low-tech way to get to the higher parts of a building.

Too often we view our bodies as the things that carry our brains from place to place. When we think of taking care of our bodies, it seems to be yet another chore on the list. Take a moment to reacquaint yourself with your body – notice how it feels (not just cataloging aches and pains). Notice the pressure of the chair as you sit, the floor beneath your feet. Notice what muscles feel tight, or relaxed, whether you’re hot or cold. Now, move – and notice the change. Stretch, shrug or roll your head around, or massage your hands or face, or stand up. And how does it feel when you move more – walking, carrying, lifting something heavy, balancing? Now go play – do something fun, that includes moving and might even make you tired, but where the goal is having fun, not just physical exertion for its own sake.

Yes, of course exercise is important, getting your heart rate up for 150 minutes a week (75 if it’s really vigorous) is good for you. But your attitude about exercise is important too. Too often we look at whatever we’ve done and immediately think, “Yeah, but I didn’t do as much as I should have.” In a world of comparisons, we’re never good enough.

I took a Ninja class last year. (If you don’t watch such shows, it’s basically obstacle courses.) Every class, they’d present a series of physical things we were all going to do, and I’d chuckle and think, “Yeah, right – you’re going to do that, but there’s no way I’ll be able to.” And then every time, there’d be at least one moment when I found myself doing something I never thought I could! And at least a half dozen examples of a completely accurate assessment of my non-ability. But still – that one thing! I did it!

Celebrate what you do. Should you do more? Maybe. But if every time you do anything active you feel like a terrible, inadequate person afterwards, how likely are you to do it again? Look at the goals you set yourself and honestly ask, “Is this a list of what I plan to do, or what I expect to scold myself for not doing?” And then revise the list, so you have more cheering, less scolding. Make movement a reward, not a punishment.

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