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This past month has been a really difficult one for me.
I’ll get into that more on a later post, but for now just think of lots of good stress, bad stress, busyness, and a really difficult goodbye.
Once upon a time I had a love/hate relationship with exercise. I didn’t use it in a healthy way, but since then I have learned that exercise can be a wonderful tool for getting through stress and hard days. It’s also a much needed medication in helping with my energy and focus.
“Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.
When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. Or, if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.”
I have found that on days I exercise, I just feel better.
I’m able to take on more physically and, even more importantly, emotionally. On the days I don’t, the craziness of life seems to get to me a little more easily.
In mid-January I stumbled on Adriene Mishler’s 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene series and I am SO glad I did.
I had no idea how much her videos would help me make it through the month of February!
Each morning I would roll out my mat and take a few moments to breathe deep.
My beautiful, yoga teaching friend introduced me to yoga about 4 years ago.
I mean, I knew what it was, but I really didn’t think it was for me until Melis grabbed my hand and told me to open my mind and try it. I was instantly hooked, but I don’t have a gym membership and wasn’t sure how to even begin a home yoga practice on my own.
I had found different videos online and followed those, but nothing compared to being in a class with my friend.
I just wasn’t connecting to the videos.
When I found Adriene’s series, I figured why not?
I grabbed my mat and began the first day.
It was cathartic.
Each day I took the time out for myself I found it easier to cope mentally and emotionally with what was being thrown at me. And in turn, each day that I didn’t, I wanted to crawl in my bed by 4pm and pull the covers over my head. I’m not going to say I rocked my rough month because of yoga, because there were definitely minutes, hours, and days that I completely failed to do anything but survive.
But, I didn’t fall apart.
I gathered strength from the good moments that helped me make it through the bad ones.
I relearned an important lesson…
There really is a direct correlation between how I treat my body and how it will perform for me.
If I nurture myself and take time to strengthen the physical, every other part of me is strengthened in the process.
When I release the bad, there is room for the good.
Maybe yoga just isn’t your thing, that is perfectly ok. Choose what kind of movement you like and put it to use to find peace on the hectic days, joy on the sad, and energy on the ones you don’t think you can face.
Take a walk, play tag with your grandchild, run down a quiet dirt road, hit the gym, heck, do airplane squats with your rambuctious 3 year old if that’s where you are at today! Just do something.
Like Adriene says, “Find what feels good.”