What it can DO. It’s potential not only physically, but mentally as well. I love that exercise allows me to not only look after my physical health, but just as importantly, my mental health.
Stay forever amazed at the awesomeness of your body. Let’s dive in.
Exercise for Mental Clarity
It is widely accepted today that exercise helps with stress, mood disorders and mental health. I’ve spoken before about how I alleviate anxiety by practicing yoga. You can read more about that here.
Here in Australia, anyone diagnosed with depression is eligible to receive a rebate for five sessions with an exercise physiologist, which is an incredible step forward. But you don’t need to have been diagnosed with a mental illness to spring clean your mind with exercise.
Have you ever gone for a walk to clear your head or ridden your bike home from work after a shitty day, only to realise once you got home that you didn’t care anymore? By eliminating distractions and hitting the road/gym/court/ground/trail, we forget the frustration and let our thoughts drift away.
Regular exercise helps us to sleep better, increases our levels of serotonin and as our physical body grows stronger, so does our mind. In this way, exercise becomes less about the physical and more about being a powerful tool for you to take care of your mental health as well.
For example, my Friday evening yoga session is a beautiful way to end the working week and relax my mind as the weekend rolls around. The repetitive, meditative, rhythmic nature of exercise is soothing to the mind. Fresh air, breathing, endorphins. All good things.
On top of all this, increased mental clarity increases output and performance – yes, taking a break from your desk will up your productivity! Even a 10 min break from my laptop to just jump around, dance to some music and shake it all out (yes I do do this) can help farewell brain fog. Give it a go.
Repeat after me. Tired? Stressed? Exercise is best!
Exercise for Creativity
Writer’s block? Inner artist nowhere to be seen? Struggling to get those creative juices pouring forth? This works in the same way that exercise improves clarity, but perhaps not as widely practiced. Get out of your mind and into your body and let the creative juices flow. Exercise has an amazing way of loosening up the words, the colours, the plans, the bright ideas.
By stepping out of our analytical mind and getting sweaty, we improve our cognition and open up the gateways for the left brain to do its thing. I always have the best ideas for a blog post or painting when I’m out walking or running (thank God for iPhones, my notes app is filled with sweat fuelled creative gems!)
It could be the adrenaline, the breathing, the focus. Maybe the fact you’re concentrating so hard on how bloody hard you’re working, that you just release and let go. Then, BOOM! Breakthrough.
Exercise becomes fun and awesome. Creative abundance activated. Which is a win.
So next time you’re staring blankly at the discouraging whiteness of a new Word document or just cannot seem to think of a new recipe, e-book idea, craft project, outfit to put together, song to write – Get outside! Get sweaty. Get your heart rate happening. Move your body and shake those creative diamonds out.
Repeat after me. Getting sweaty gets my creative juices flowing.
What can your body do?
Take a long hard look at your body and instead of seeing all the parts you would like to change, focus on all the amazing things your body can DO. For me, this meant dropping my obsession with wanting to lose my love handles and instead focusing on the fact I am fit enough to run 5km or be finally able to touch my toes, which I couldn’t do two years ago. Now I can wrap my hands around my feet!
What can YOUR body do? Get into crazy yoga poses? Hike mountains for days? Play a full game of tennis? Maybe you cycle to work instead of driving and save on fuel?
Whatever your body can do – stay amazed at this! I have so many yoga asanas I am working towards and every time my body does something new or goes that little bit further, I say WOW and show it some love, because it’s damn right flipping amazing!
I’m much more excited now about beating a 5km personal best or doing an unsupported headstand (even just for 10 seconds) than trying to work out how to burn off that extra slice of apple pie and ice-cream.
Our physical beings are a marvel. It’s time to stop saying ‘Ugh, I hate my body’ and start saying ‘Hell yeah, my body rocks’. Quit it with the ‘fat days’ and do something everyday that makes you go ‘Wow – look what I can do!’
Then show yourself some LOVE. Be grateful for your legs, arms, stomach, back, toes, calves, shoulders, hips, waist, fingers and thighs. Your body is amazing.
Repeat after me. My body blows my mind.
We’ve learnt how to get back to basics by ditching the scales and calories, and creating a caring intention when we exercise. We’ve learnt how to accept our bodies as they are and tune in with how we want to feel. By appreciating and staying amazed at the mental and physical benefits and possibilities our physical beings are capable of, we can truly learn to love exercise and ourselves.
Are you starting to fall in love with exercise and your body?
Tell me in the comments below, what can YOUR body do? I’d love to hear from you! And if you resonated with this series, please share this post around by clicking the links below!