Self-Care 101: Five Tips for Balancing Exercise and Relaxation (Guest Post)

We all face times where we struggle to find balance between our two important Rs — responsibility and relaxation. From meeting important deadlines to getting a healthy dinner on the table, completing our to-do list shouldn’t require that we sacrifice health and wellness. Prioritizing our physical health is an important aspect of self-care — not only will we be better able to succeed in caring for ourselves, but we’ll be better able to care for others. Find the balance between your two Rs with these tips for balancing your fitness routine with self-care.


Add relaxation to your fitness regime

If you set aside an hour a day for exercise, whether it is taking a spin class or running in the park, take the last 10-15 minutes for deep breathing and meditation. Let your body slow down, while your mind lets go of the day by taking savasana— known as final relaxation in yoga— at the end of a workout. Even as little as 10 minutes of meditation a day can have a big impact on mood and mental health.


Create a fitness space in your home

Don’t let a busy schedule keep you from physical and mental health. Create a space in your home for working out your mind and body. If you have a spare room, you can split the space between physical health — weights, cardio equipment, mats, stability balls — and mental health — a meditation cushion, aromatherapy, a soothing view and natural light.


Get a good night’s sleep

A regular exercise routine can help improve the length and quality of your sleep. Sleep is your body’s way to recover and rebuild. Even just half an hour of moderate exercise can help send you into deeper sleep for longer periods of time. Plus, research shows that exercise can release stress and tension from the mind. The rush of endorphins from a good cardio workout improves mood, and the better our mood, the easier we fall asleep. Take it a step further by making sure you have comfortable pillows and linens, low lighting that points away from the bed, an updated mattress and blackout curtains that block light.


Start new hobbies

Exploring new interests can provide a good balance between responsibility and relaxation. You can take on new creative activities such as learning how to knit, paint, scrapbook or jewelry making. When we engage in creative hobbies we stimulate areas of the brain that boost confidence, self-esteem and problem solving. Combining creativity with physical activity is an ideal way to enhance the health of mind and body. Learn archery, go horseback riding, take dancing lessons— these are all ways to burn calories, build muscles, improve coordination and soothe the worries that plague our minds.


Take a mind body wellness class

Almost every gym offers its clients a variety of classes, and a quick way to improve self-care is to sign up for ones that provide wellness for the mind and the body. Check out classes such as yoga, tai chi or Pilates if you want a fitness experience that promotes overall health and well-being. While taking a class can be good to help you learn proper form and function, you can still explore these exercises without a gym. There are thousands of free, good quality instructional videos online. Not only can you practice any time, anywhere, but you can also learn new poses and postures in the privacy of your home.


Self-care is often cast aside in our fast-paced, busy world. It’s not that we don’t care about meeting our own needs; we don’t prioritize our needs. Instead, we might feel pressured to meet the needs of others. When you add one or two exercise and relaxation changes to your fitness regimen, you’ll see how easy— and enjoyable— self-care can be.


Sheila Olson of |


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