Finding exercise that you actually enjoy!

We are all aware that exercise is good for your mental and physical health.  For the last two decades (at least) this message has been beaten into our heads.  But if you don’t find the exercise that works for you, you will probably stop doing it.  How many times have you joined a gym and rarely (if ever) gone? Bought a bike, treadmill, elliptical machine etc and never used it? I get it, I’ve been there myself.  For me running has always been an outlet.  But before you say, I HATE running, understand I’m not recommending you run.  I run, because I have ALWAYS loved to run.  As a kid, teenager and now as an adult.  So for me, running is the obvious exercise of choice.

If you’ve never enjoyed running, try to think about an exercise you have enjoyed, and think WAYYY back into your childhood.  I have a friend who was very good at using a hula hoop as a child.  Now for exercise she uses a weighted hula hoop (yes these exist, and it’s really HARD) and swings away while listening to music or watching a movie.

Another friend of mine loves to dance.  When she dances, she is in her element.  So recently during the winter time when she was lamenting the lack of exercise she was getting, we brainstormed ideas.  She realized she could easily set aside 30 minutes a couple times a week, to dance her heart out in her apartment to her favorite music.

Think outside the box when it comes to exercise and be very deliberate about your choices.

-Do I want to be with others, or do I want alone time?

-Does this exercise need to be outside/inside?

-Do I need to purchase equipment?

-How much before thought is required to actually get started on the exercise?

-How often can I realistically do it?

In my case, running is my time to process, so I am very picky about who I run with.  This also means that sometimes I prefer to be alone.  I also HATE treadmills, so because I can’t run outside during the winter, I joined a gym with a track.  I made my exercise work for me all year round. (For the record, this is the first winter that it actually worked out.  I used to stop running during the winter months but brainstormed with a friend, and learned of a gym with a track!)

If you are a more social person, than maybe joining a gym that has a lot of classes would be a great fit.  Zumba is my nightmare, but for many extroverts it’s the perfect form of exercise.  A patient told me recently he loves to spin because the lights go off, the music is high energy and he can just get in the zone.

Whatever exercise you pick, 99.9% of the time, you will always feel better.  I’ve never gone on a run and thought to myself, “Well that was a poor use of my time!”  Never.  It’s especially powerful on those days I feel sluggish, depressed, victim-y, and cranky.

And finally, trick your brain.  If you start telling yourself that your exercise time is YOUR time and you are looking forward to it, you will actually start to.  Put it in your calendar.  Don’t cancel on yourself.  Don’t you hate when people do that to you?

Take care of YOU.

Turn off your phone.

Caregivers are notorious for taking on the problems of others, after hours.  I’m writing this post mostly for myself right now.  I just turned off my phone so that I would stop reading the text messages that kept coming in.  As I felt myself getting more and more stressed, I allowed myself to evaluate how I was feeling.

1.) Did any of these text messages require my immediate attention?

Nope. Not one.

2.) Were any of the text messages related to me and my issues? Or were they somebody else’s issue/dilemma?

Every single one was 100% a problem someone else was having.  And yet, I had allowed my head to be consumed with their issues as I tried to send comforting/therapeutic text messages in response.

3.) What if someone really needed to get in contact with me but couldn’t?

What am I, Jesus?  No.  I’m a tired lady, who needs to relax.  I had to stop putting myself up on a pedestal as if to say, “But my people need me.” Turning your phone off for a couple hours here and there, will not throw off the balance of the universe.  It will however allow you some peace.

People all around me are going through it.  Life is hard.  But guess what, people around me and you will always be going through it.  I can promise you that.  I’m not saying that you can’t be there for your friends.  But pay attention to where you are allowing your energy to go especially when you already feel spent.

Text messages seem innocuous enough, but are they?  Have you ever read a text message that ruined your day?  Of course! Don’t underestimate their power.  Words are powerful, and one little text can be the catalyst for a ruined day off.  Same thing for phone calls. Unless I am on vacation or really rested, talking on the phone often drains the life out of me.  I have to talk to people all day long. I have to be “on” all day long.  I once calculated how many people I interacted with during one working day and it was astounding.  I also stopped counting.

How many times have you heard people talk about the freedom they have felt when they turned off their phones.  We almost feel like we are rebelling by daring to turn off our phones?!  Heaven forbid no one can get in IMMEDIATE contact with you. There are times when it’s necessary to have it with you.  But practice going without it, especially when you are decompressing and practicing self care.

Give it a shot and always….

Take care of you.

The perils of overtime…

Was that dramatic enough for you?  Reality is, we often only see that positive aspects of working overtime.  And let’s face it, primarily it’s about the money.  While I don’t want to deny you that extra little something in your paycheck, I do want you to pay attention to the REAL cost working overtime has on your life and your self care.

I encourage you to ask yourself these questions:

1. Have I come to rely on working overtime so much that if I don’t pick up extra time, I can’t make ends meet?

I learned this lesson at my first nursing job.  I watched as nurse after nurse came to rely on working overtime to keep up with their lifestyle.  They came to expect that they would always have that overtime money.  They no longer looked at it as “extra” and so the unhealthy cycle of working beyond their full time hours became a crippling necessity.

2. Am I overtired?  Do I feel run down?

Working too much overtime can lead to exhaustion.  Exhaustion can lead to mistakes, burnout, irritability, overeating, sickness….and the list goes on.  Check in with yourself.  How do you really feel?  Will you actually be an asset to others or will you barely carry your own weight.  Many people think that not working an extra shift means you’re not a team player.  I beg to differ.  Personally I’d rather be short-staffed than work with someone whose exhaustion is effecting their work and mine!

3. Is the money worth the time that could be spent relaxing and decompressing?

The answer to this question can be yes. But don’t assume that is the answer every time.  Sometimes it’s not worth it.  Sometimes you need to go to that show with friends and connect, or have a quiet night at home.  Try to get in the habit of checking in with yourself before you automatically respond.  There’s nothing more frustrating than not listening to yourself and being stuck in a situation you didn’t really want.

I will not deny that for many people, overtime is the only way they will make a livable wage.  This is heartbreaking, because more often than not, people are pushed to their limits and beyond. However, if this is not the case for you, take a closer look at your life.  Have you come to rely on overtime at the detriment of your health/personal life/happiness?  How many times have you picked up overtime, only to learn you missed out on something you would’ve enjoyed? And finally, is it really giving you that much more financial freedom?  Honestly? Or could you budget so that you can still have a life outside of work and make ends meet.

Take care of YOU.

Welcome!

If you’ve landed here chances are you have an interest in getting better at practicing self care.  My goal is simply to post what I’ve learned and continue to learn about practicing self-care.  I am not an expert.  More often than not I will post stories based on the mistakes I’ve made and what I learned from them.  I am someone who continues to work at taking better care of myself internally, so that I am a better nurse, friend, person…But first, a couple of housekeeping items.

You do not have to be in the care-giving profession to read this blog.  Even if you don’t work in the service profession you are a caregiver in some capacity and I’m hopeful anyone can find some nuggets of truth that make sense to them here.

And finally, my suggestions come from incredibly insightful friends and family, a very patient therapist and from personal realizations and mistakes…I mean “learning opportunities.”  I want to acknowledge that without some amazing people in my life, this blog wouldn’t exist.  My goal is to post once a week.  Sometimes things will come up and I will post more or less frequently.   But as long as it is useful to myself and others, I will keep on keeping on.

So…let’s get started!

Yours,

Esther