We’re back to school and looking forward to the holidays, so 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 coast into 2020 with a healthy frame of mind.
The nice 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 breathe out again through your nose on another three-count. Easy, right? 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 – you don’t have to sit on the floor unless that’s comfortable. Using pillows to support you is also fine. 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.
Stress tenses the muscles, and there are a number of ways to help fight back and calm your body. You can loosen your muscles by stretching, so 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 about two hours total every week, scaling up or down depending on how intense your workout is. One of the best ways to maintain physical fitness and center yourself is with yoga. Yoga combines exercise, controlled breathing, meditation, and physical movement in one group fitness class, directed by an expert who can help you modify poses to your skill level. The good news is, if you’re a member at Fitness Connection, you have access to our yoga classes – as well as every other class we offer. Check the schedule at your local gym to see when your Fitness Connection has yoga!
Got any questions about stress management? Come into your local Fitness Connection. We’d love to answer your questions and help take the stress out of your fitness journey.