The holidays are here, which means now is the perfect time to find new ways to conquer stress and meet your fitness goals. Here are four ways you can relax, re-focus and re-center yourself so you can welcome the new year with a healthy frame of mind.
The best thing about breathing exercises is that you can do them whenever you want, even as you go about your day. All it takes is a little mindfulness and a conscious decision to help yourself feel better. Try breathing in through your nose and watching your stomach fill with air as you inhale. Count slowly to three as you do this. Hold for one second – make sure it’s a full second! – and then exhale through your nose on another three-count. Easy, right?
The nice thing about meditation is it provides you both short-term stress relief and tactics for long-term stress management. While there are a lot of techniques to try, you can start with this simple routine. First, sit or lie comfortably in a place of your choosing – you don’t have to sit on the floor unless that’s comfortable. Next, close your eyes and make no effort to control your breathing – just breathe naturally. Focus your attention on your breathing, and how your body moves with each inhale and exhale. Notice how your body moves when you breathe – from your belly to your rib cage, chest and shoulders. If your mind wanders (and it’s only natural that it will), return your focus back to your breathing. Try this for 2-3 minutes, and over time, try it for longer periods. When finished, you’ll feel relaxed, centered, focused and ready to get on with your day.
Stress tenses the muscles, even though you don’t realize it. There are a number of ways to help calm and relax your body. You can loosen your muscles by stretching. For guidance on stretching techniques, talk to any Fitness Connection representative at your local gym about which stretches are right for you. A hot bath or shower is also helpful, as is time spent in our dry sauna. If you can, treat yourself to a massage. And practice progressive muscle relaxation – the conscious tightening and loosening of muscle groups, starting with your forehead and moving down to your toes. By tensing and then relaxing these groups in progression, you’ll learn to recognize signs of tightness over time and become aware of where you need help.
Exercise not only relaxes your body and mind; it also helps improve your mood. Try to work out for at least 30-minutes a day, three to four times a week, scaling up or down depending on how intense your workout is. Whether you enjoy an intense weight training workout, cardio or a group fitness class, exercise can help you maintain focus, direction, and alleviate unnecessary stress from your mind and body. Your local Fitness Connection gym provides you with all the tools you need, for whatever level of workout you prefer. No matter what, you will walk out the door feeling better and ready to take on the world.
When stress seems to be getting the best of you, remember we’re here for you. During this holiday season, Fitness Connection will be open until 2pm on Christmas Eve, and we reopen the day after Christmas at 10am. So, take time for you. Commit to your workouts and stay focused on your mindfulness practice. You’ll be glad that you did.