In today’s fast-paced, time-is-money society, self-care usually gets bumped to the end of our To Do list...especially if it’s a type of self-care that some of us may not find particularly enjoyable (i.e. working out). But, what most of us fail to realize is that self-care, specifically exercise, can actually make you more productive and create balance in your life. Working out helps to reduce stress on both a physical and mental level, and having less stress in our lives leads to finding more balance. So, how can you use exercise to create balance in your life?
Reduce Stress on a Physical Level
Working out creates feel-good endorphins in the body, which helps us to feel less stressed so that we can handle day-to-day life as calmly and efficiently as possible. Not feeling physically stressed increases the likelihood that you’re able to find balance, since you feel more energized and capable of taking-on the tasks of the day.
Additionally, while research has long touted the benefits of regular exercise, recent studies are shedding light on just how bad a sedentary lifestyle is for our health. Maybe you’ve heard the tagline: sitting is the new smoking! Dr. James Levine, author of Get Up! Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About it, claims that the average Western office worker spends about 13 hours of the day sitting down (at work or during leisure), 8 hours sleeping, and only 3 hours moving… does that sound like balance to you!? The health hazards of prolonged sitting include cognitive impairment due to decreased blood circulation to the brain, hormone imbalances, elevated blood pressure, and even accelerated aging! The good news, however, is that even minimal movement introduced throughout the day can help to counteract the physical toll that sitting has on the body. For a sample exercise circuit that you can do right at the office, keep on reading!
Reduce Stress on a Psychological Level
Not only does exercise relieve stress on our bodies, but it also helps to put our minds at ease. As we discussed, working out releases endorphins that make you feel more energized, and thus allows you to check more off your To Do list. This increased level of efficiency can reduce mental stress, since a lot of anxiety comes from being overwhelmed and feeling as if there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.
Furthermore, taking a pause in the day to get in some exercise allows us to have some undivided time to focus just on ourselves. So much of our day is spent catering to other people: our bosses, family members, friends, etc, that caring for ourselves often gets lost in the mix. Putting ourselves last is not only bad on a physical level in terms of longevity, but also mentally for our peace of mind. In order to be able to serve others throughout the day, we must first serve ourselves. We all need an outlet to blow off some steam, and working out is a great way to do that. Finding some time just for yourself can allow you to connect back with your body and your breath and hit the reset button. And, it’s also a great morale booster: reaching a new fitness goal or lifting something heavy can make you feel accomplished and productive in a different type of way.
You Can Exercise Anytime, Anywhere
While some of us may be thinking: “I don’t have time to stop and exercise in the middle of my busy day!”, research shows that we are actually more productive when we take a break and then go back to performing the task at hand. And, what better way to spend a short break than by getting your blood pumping? Many people save the gym for either before or after work, but for those of us who have to balance a work life and family life, that may not be a viable option and thus exercise falls to the wayside. So, for those of you with limited break-time, squeezing in short workouts incrementally throughout the day is a great way to incorporate some self-care into your schedule and find that balance.
To create more balance in your day, you can do 10-minute full body workouts at various points throughout the day--no equipment required. Here’s an example of a good circuit that you can do just about anywhere:
-15 Air Squats
-25 Jumping Jacks
-15 Pushups (you can modify by standing up and doing them vertically on a wall)
-1 Minute Plank
Repeat this circuit 1-3 times in a row, and multiple times throughout the day to get your heart rate up and have you feeling good!