For some, the month of February signals a time to show particular attention to romantic partners, or even friends and family. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the impulse to gush with affection is inevitable. While it’s nice to offer these demonstrations of love to the people around us, one must remember at the end of the day it is impossible to care for and love others when we don’t adequately care for ourselves first. After all, this is also Heart Health Month for a reason, which means focusing on our inner health and well-being.
Think about the airplane safety instruction demonstration that tells you to secure your own air mask before assisting others: It’s not that you need to be selfish or self-centered; it just becomes hard to take care of or show love for others if we cannot take care of and show ourselves love first. That’s why securing one’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being are such a crucial part of giving love. Through the years, I’ve developed some methods for staying balanced and taking time for myself to rejuvenate and reconnect. Here’s what has helped me the most.
More than two years ago, as is inevitable of all brides, I got serious about my fitness and started exercising a lot more. True, the motivation was to look fit at my wedding in front of 500 guests and all of the photos that would memorialize this day forever, but actually, those few months changed my life because of how I approached my health thereafter.
Through exercise, I found myself feeling much more energetic and physically fit. Because of the workouts, I also felt like I slept better, and I actually ate less junk food afterward, because my body craved natural, wholesome ingredients to keep it fueled. In the few doctor’s checkups that I had during that time, I had noticeably shed pounds in fat, my skin was glowing, and even my sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure numbers had improved, though they were never in bad shape to begin with. They had just improved thanks to exercise, and I didn’t need a personal trainer or expensive luxury studio to do so. I simply signed up to a gym, attended their group fitness classes regularly, and augmented that with cardio work on the treadmill and elliptical through the week. I also took regular Bikram hot yoga classes, which I found were effective at toning the body while the cardio exercise was helping me burn calories and fat. Don’t feel like getting a gym membership? No sweat! You can do this cheaper:
- Use a free fitness app like the Nike Training app to download workouts without having to hire a trainer or go to a gym. The Kayla Istines app, which is about $20 a month, is also effective.
- Get outdoors to get active: Go for a run, walk, jog or hit the trails. Find a sport you enjoy to get physical.
- Stretch at home — watch a free youtube yoga class for guidance
Essentially, when you are trying to improve your physical health, there is one key thing to keep in mind: diet and exercise together are essential. If you are exercising extensively but maintaining a poor diet full of junk food, sugars, highly processed food and alcohol, your body will still lose out because it isn’t getting the right nutrients to replenish you from the inside out. Similarly, you could be eating all of the right things and letting your muscles go to waste. Exercise allows us to build and strengthen our muscles, boost energy levels and get our blood pumping. All of these lay a great foundation for physical intimacy in a relationship.
The cool thing about exercise is that while it makes you look and feel good about yourself because you feel more confident, it also truly does make you feel good because of the increased energy levels and release of chemicals during your workouts that elevate your mood. The key word here is “release.”
In the words of one of the most profound legal minds of our generation, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”
The crucial thing to note here is that emotional and mental well-being can be sourced in two ways: from focus or from release. In the case of exercise, some people may find that the focused attention to a particular activity allows them to release focus on other such as work or personal problem. That’s why my go-to is running or yoga, where I immerse myself in the activity and let go of all other worries for that 30 to 90 minutes.
At the same time, focusing negative energy and stress into a creative project or hobby also provides a release. There have been times I have been so overwhelmed with a particular emotion that I channel it into a blog post about life, friendships, work and relationships, or I try to write a song that expresses those feelings, to be set to music later by my more melodically inclined friends. However, the creative project need not be one that uses the source of your stress as the subject. Simply picking up a creative project— maybe a DIY improvement at home, an art class, pottery, photography, whatever it may be — allows you to focus your attention and energies elsewhere, into an activity you enjoy. For me, that has been cooking, blogging and music.
- Find a creative outlet to release tension and negative emotions in a healthy way.
- Pick up a hobby or project to focus your energy elsewhere
- Take a yoga class — to help with focus and relaxation.
- Practice deep-breathing exercises– getting fresh oxygen into the body help with circulation.
- Practice meditation
- Read a book — which allows you to enter a completely different world for awhile and leave your current worries behind
I understand that spirituality is personal to each individual, and each finds it in his or her own way. For me, it can be a few things: sometimes, it is through actually visiting places of worship for the sense of community, and peacefulness it provides. Here, amidst the soporific smell of incense and the chanting of hymns, I find myself calm, collected and connected to something much larger than myself or anyone around me.
However, I also feel this connection to something greater when I immerse myself into certain cultural or natural environments, for instance, when I perform Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance with a live orchestra, or when I experience the great outdoors, miles away from any city skyline.
For the Indian performance arts, which have their roots in ancient Hindu texts and mythology, they transport me the world of the gods, where I am imitating their movements by reenacting their stories. The music for this art itself is so moving that I feel a connection to something greater than me– beyond my immediate setting and even this lifetime.
With the outdoors, when I’m in the presence of something truly beautiful and awe-inspiring, simply marveling at the grandeur of some of our world’s natural assets, that’s when I feel most spiritual. It makes me realize these natural creations have been here long before our time and will continue to remain afterwards, and that we are merely a speck in the universe. That perspective itself helps me let go of whatever minor irritations I’m facing in my life.
- Visit a peaceful place of worship. Use your time there to think about all of the things for which you are grateful and the gifts and opportunities you have been given.
- Go to a live concert or classical theatrical performance – Get lost in the music, dialogues, expressions and story
- Visit a state or national park – use your natural surroundings to disconnect from the routine pressures of daily work life and social media. Use this immersion into nature to think about what really matters to you most
- Meditate at home
At the end of the day, maintaining your wellness is a personal journey. Each person has to find what gives him or her physical, emotional and mental peace.
How do you maintain wellness?
How do you tend to your personal wellness, and how does that help you give love and care to others? We want to know! Join the Love Blog Challenge!
JOIN THE CHALLENGE!
This post is part of blogger Brita Long’s Love Blog Challenge, a linkup series focused on addressing various aspects of love.
Brita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. While her first love will always be Paris, she lives happily with her husband Daniel Fleck in the Atlanta area.
My co-host for today
Today, I’m cohosting this linkup on wellness with Laura of Do Five Things A Day. Laura is a big dreamer, full time marketing manager, blogger, and part-time artist. She aspires to inspire people in their everyday lives and help them to live towards their dreams and making the most out of every day by sharing her own experiences and stories. Her blog, Do Five Things A Day, offers an eclectic mix of excitement, passion, and a story to tell of self-discovery, development and love. She focuses on topics about taking care of yourself, and learning to find beauty and light in every moment and adventure life has to bring us. Laura’s goals this year are to launch her Life Coaching program and to finish her novel.
We want to know about how you deal with wellness! What do you do to maintain various aspects of wellness? Follow these guidelines to join the Love Blog Challenge and drop your link below!
- Today’s prompt is Wellness. Read the whole prompt list! Mandatory rules are bolded. The other rules are optional. Use this link-up to meet new bloggers! Each daily link-up is open for 4 days.
- Follow the prompt. The prompts are open-ended, so be creative. But if your blog post doesn’t relate to the prompt, I will delete it from the blog link-up.
- Comment on the link before yours and at least one other link. Get to know your fellow bloggers!
- Yes, you can link-up an old post, or multiple posts, as long as they all follow the prompt.
- Please limit yourself to 3 links per prompt.
- Follow your host Brita and the co-hosts on your preferred form of social media.
- Use the Love Blog Challenge button and/or link back to the blog link-up. The more bloggers who link-up, the better!
- Share your posts on social media using the hashtag #LoveBlog2018.
Sharing the Love: Enter the Love Blog Challenge Giveaway with LuLaRoe Fashion Retailer Callie Richards!
One lucky winner will receive a fabulous LuLaRoe outfit (Irma and leggings) in the size(s) of your choice from Callie Richards, LuLaRoe Fashion Retailer. The giveaway ends on February 14th. US residents only. While Callie will consider your style preferences, she cannot guarantee any patterns or colors in your outfit.
Brita Long of Belle Brita will verify the winning entry before emailing the winner during the third week of February. If the winner doesn’t respond, she will start the process over again. Good luck!