Five ways to move for your mood that you might not have thought of…

We’re all being constantly bombarded with statistics and information telling us we don’t do enough exercise, we’re too fat and we’re not burning enough energy because we sit all day.

I’m not (necessarily) disagreeing with those sentiments, but I do believe that moving your body is about SO MUCH more than just energy burnt, or minutes logged. For me, moving your body is about connection with yourself, enjoyment of life, and self-care – honouring the incredible physical feats our body achieves on a daily basis – for example, when you start moving faster, you don’t have to think about breathing more to get more oxygen – your body is constantly measuring minute changes in your inner-chemistry, and just makes this adjustment naturally – how rad is that! Getting more movement doesn’t need to mean going to the gym, signing up to a team sport or joining a group fitness class.

Here’s a list of five ways to move that are about getting to know your body and the different shapes and movements it’s capable of, but also having fun and feeling good!

ways_to_move_you_might_not_have_thought_of_dance

Free, expressive, no-instruction dance.

Try No lights No Lycra (just what it sounds like – a darkened room where you ‘have a date with yourself on the dance floor’), 5rhythms (creative expressive dance) or just turn up the stereo in your lounge-room! Try thinking about how your body naturally wants to move to the different rhythms you hear, instead of thinking about how you look.

Five-ways-to-move-for-your-mood-that-you-might-not-have-thought-of-roll

Self massage/rolling

Movement ≠exercise. Moving your body doesn’t have to be about getting a sweat up. Using therapy balls, tennis balls, foam rollers, yoga blocks, or other soft-ish bits and bobs you find around, you can get to know areas of your body that you might have lost touch with. Proprioception is the name of our sense of knowing where our body is in space – and self-massage can help to improve this. My favourite therapy balls come from here.

Five-ways-to-move-for-your-mood-that-you-might-not-have-thought-of-play

Your local play-ground

Sure, the local council may have built the play-grounds with kids in mind, but there’s no rules to say adults can’t use them too! If you have kids, take them along and join in the fun, if you don’t have kids, playgrounds are often pretty empty during school hours or first thing in the morning. They are a great place for trying out some movements you might not have done since you were a kid – like hanging, climbing and crawling through tunnels. Bonus – it’s free!

Five-ways-to-move-for-your-mood-that-you-might-not-have-thought-of-bounce

Bouncing

How many years since you bounced on a trampoline? Bouncing has become a popular activity recently, with companies like Bounce Inc and Xtreme Air opening up giant buildings full of fun things like mega trampolines and ball pits. You will definitely get a sweat up with this one – I recommend getting a bunch of friends to join you (so you have a team for dodge ball!).

Five-ways-to-move-for-your-mood-that-you-might-not-have-thought-of-climb

Indoor rock climbing

Indoor climbing is great for many reasons – it’s great for your coordination and neural stimulation (brain training!) and you will definitely feel your arm muscles the next day! More than that though, you need to have trust in the person who is belaying for you (holding your harness rope taut) and it can be quite exhilarating when you make it all the way to the top for the first time – it’s quite high! This is another good one for bringing a friend along – it helps to have someone handy to belay for you. Check out Hardrock if you’re in Melbourne.

 

What about you? Do you have more ideas for fun ways of moving your body?

 

what it’s like to live in a depressed mind

Sometimes there’s doom in my mind

Doom, death and destruction. There’s an air of hopelessness, of grey. My mind points out all the things that are wrong with me, that are wrong with the world. The terror, the death, the injustices and the atrocities that occur daily. It’s fucking depressing in here. How is a person meant to thrive with this going on inside their head, all day every day? When the one who you rely on to advise you, advises you that the world is shit, that you are shit, that it’s all fucked? Sometimes it feels like it’s not worth living when living feels like this.

But.

My mind is also the opposite.

It’s also the place of light and love. It’s the place that keeps trying, keeps offering me new solutions about what might work to make me feel better. It keeps driving my body to get outside and exercise, even when I feel so so tired, tired to my bones. It’s my mind who offers me gems like this little thought –> maybe it’s the world that’s fucked, and depression is a natural, normal response to that. Maybe I’m the ‘normal’ one to feel down about all these things!
My mind can interact with other people I let inside my bubble in these moments, and connect with them on a level so deep that many never make it there. My mind points out that it’s my depression that creates this connection. That and the other person in the interactions’ own brand of fuckedupness.

It’s my mind that tells me that perhaps if I read a book I’ll feel better. It’s my mind that encourages me to cuddle my partner, and phone my mum. It’s my mind that points out that far from the idea that my depression makes me a crap phoney in my profession (movement for mental health and wellbeing) it is actually the greatest gift I can offer the people I work with. I’ve been there. I am there. I get it.

inside-my-depressed-mind

And it’s my mind that reminds me I can offer hope.

Not the hope of a cure, I’m not touting ‘do what I do and you can be like me, cured!’ but rather, hope of a life worth living.

When I’ve been depressed is when I’ve been able to write my most connecting pieces of writing. The pieces that other people connect with, because they’ve been there too. The pieces that talk about grey, about disconnect and overwhelm. About the lack of colour and vibrance in a life. About the drag, the constant drag, where getting through a day feels like wading through honey. All while you plaster a smile on your face, for the moments when you have to make eye contact with people who, if you’re not careful, might see what’s happening behind your eyes. Because what would happen if they did? Society says you wouldn’t be respected at your job anymore. Your employer might find a reason to ‘let you go’. You might lose a perception of capability. People might think you are weak, selfish. Or wallowing in your own self-pity.

You know what though? When I tell people I am feeling depressed, or when I talk about how I’ve felt depressed in the past, the most common thing that comes up?

“Me too.”

It gives people the safety and permission to bare their own soul. It provides a space where they know they won’t be judged. It lets people just be, whoever they are, at their core.

I’m in this profession because I care, and because I’ve been there.

Because I have experienced, in my own mind, my own viscera, the difference it can make. The way movement opens us up to emotions we’ve been holding in. The way muscles clenching and relaxing bursts energy rushing through our veins. The way breath and movement in synch creates the space for us to just be, a blessed relief from the pounding, repetitive thoughts that are so often around at the moment.

I thank my mind for the hope and love and support it gives me, and equally for the depths it’s taken me to, for the connection it’s led to. If it’s anything, this life is a crazy adventure.

Has your fuckupness ever led to a deeper connection? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. xx

Five reasons you should take your movement outdoors

take-your-movement-outsideimage from here

1) It improves your mood

Around here, we talk all the time about how exercise improves mood. Recent studies have shown that this effect might be enhanced by doing your exercise outside! Even spending five minutes exercising outside has been shown to improve mood levels. Why not pop outside on your lunch break and look at a tree!

take-movement-outsideimage from here

2) It makes you exercise harder

When allowed to self-select walking speed both indoors and outdoors, people walk faster outside! This might be due to a ‘distraction’ factor that exists when exercising outdoors, similar to the affect music can have on your exercise intensity. Take your run from the treadmill to the park and see if you have a better time.

five-reasons-move-outsideimage from here

3) It could decrease your risk of heart attack

Viewing a forest (both a picture, and walking in one in real life) has been shown to increase heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is inversely associated with risk of cardiovascular disease, which means the higher the HRV, the lower the risk! And decreased risk of heart disease is always good.

move-outside-5-reasonsimage from here

4) It can increase your immune function

Certain hormones that are released in times of stress (epinephrine, nor-epinephrine and cortisol) all decrease after being in nature. This is great in itself, but as a bonus, the decrease in epinephrine is associated with an increase in immune function by an increase of natural killer cells! (NK cells get rid of cells that have gone a bit wonky, before they turn into something nasty, like cancer).

take-movement-outside-5-reasonsimage from here

5) Exercise feels easier

When asked to exercise at a given level of perceived exertion (how hard you think you are working) people exercised at a higher intensity when they were outdoors. This means that exercising at the same intensity felt easier, so people increased their effort outside. You can workout at your usual intensity and it might feel easier!

Do you prefer to exercise inside or out? How come? Let me know in the comments!

Gladwell et al. Extreme Physiology & Medicine 2013, 2:3 http://www.extremephysiolmed.com/content/2/1/3

Why Belle Gibson deserves our compassion

belle_gibson_compassionPhoto from here

Unless you live in a humpy, you’ve probably heard about Belle Gibson – she (in)famously lied about having cancer while promoting her app, The Whole Pantry.

Since then, many of her stories have unraveled to reveal that most of what she claimed isn’t true. Belle just appeared on 60 minutes last night, which reignited all the media/social media abuse and public anger. My opinion? Belle deserves our compassion.

Before you get all rage-y and start querying my sanity, let me add a clarification:

having compassion for someone doesn’t mean condoning what they have said or done, or letting people act without consequence.

It means recognising a common humanity – which Kristin Neff describes as acknowledging “that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience”  To recognize a common humanity is to treat all people with respect – even when you’re angry and upset with them.

 

I don’t know if you guys have been following either a) Belle or b) the media articles about her, but holy crap! The aggressiveness, insults, and straight-out shaming has been insane.

I understand that people are very angry, hurt, outraged and shocked about finding out that she lied about having cancer – and they’d like to see some consequences for her actions. However, shaming someone (especially publicly) is not a helpful, compassionate or effective way of changing their behavior. Brene Brown says that:

“Shame is about anger and blame, not accountability and change”

and rather than encouraging someone to make amends, actually just leads them to feel “intense pain, isolation, and fear”. So if you’re upset with the action that someone has taken, and would really like to see them being held accountable for their choices, shaming them probably isn’t going to have the desired effect.

 

Here’s an opinion from someone who knows a bit about compassion – the Dalai Lama

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”

I’m inclined to agree with him. Compassion isn’t something we should give only to those who are ‘good people’ or who ‘deserve it’. Everyone deserves compassion – even those who we perceive as having done something ‘wrong’. I mean, I get it: it’s hard. It seems reasonable to have compassion for a young child who has been rendered homeless by a natural disaster. But a person who deliberately miss-led a lot of people and made a lot of money in the process? That’s a bit more difficult. Does that mean we should stop trying and revert to name-calling? I don’t believe so.

We’ve all made mistakes. We all will make mistakes in the future.

some big, some small. I fully believe that we should be held accountable for our choices, and in the context of big mistakes that might mean things like paying fines or even going to jail – and this holds true for Belle in her situation. But because someone made a choice that you (or even the majority of our society, or our law) disagree with, doesn’t mean that insults, name calling, threatening and shaming are OK.

What do you think about this? Do you reckon everyone deserves compassion or do some choices leave the chooser undeserving of compassion?

 

Why I made up colleague appreciation day

gratitude

Last week I took it upon myself to celebrate colleague appreciation day at work.

To my knowledge, no such thing officially exists. I was thinking about how much I appreciate my colleagues (for different reasons) and that I wanted to make some sort of gesture to express that gratitude. I thought about doing some baking to bring to work (a favourite way of expressing gratitude of mine) and I also thought about writing some little notes telling my colleagues exactly why it was that I was appreciating them.

 

I know that expressing (or at least, being aware of) your gratitude is linked to wellbeing.

A study by Randy and Lori Sandsone states “Experiencing gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation tends to foster positive feelings, which in turn, contribute to one’s overall sense of well being.” Basically, telling people why you’re grateful, makes you feel good. So I was all set to tell my colleagues how much I appreciated them, knowing that it would likely give them a little boost, but also knowing I’d feel really good.

appreciation

Photo by Christi

Then I thought – why keep all the gratitude to myself?

If I know that expressing gratitude can improve your wellbeing, why not give my colleagues the opportunity to express themselves too? So, colleague appreciation day was born. I did it the old school way – collected ten envelopes, and everyone got one with their name on it. Then over the course of the day, we all wrote little post-its with expressions of gratitude and appreciation on them and popped in the envelope. By the end of the day, everyone had a nice bulging envelope to take home (not to mention a few cookies in their belly!).

 

It worked. People felt great.

But you know what the funny thing was? Everyone felt so connected and cohesive as a team – before anyone had read their own appreciations. It was the simple fact of sharing how they appreciated each other that led to the uplifting feelings, not hearing how people appreciate them. The next day, waiting in line for coffee with one of my colleagues, she said to me (again, before she’d read her collection of appreciations): “After colleague appreciation day yesterday, I went home thinking about what it’s like working here, and I decided that it might actually be the best job I’ll ever have.”

 

There were so many warm and fuzzy feelings going on, I felt a real sense of bonding with my workmates. Have you thought about expressing your gratitude and appreciation in your workplace? Do you think your colleagues would be into it?

Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2010). Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 7(11), 18–22.

The major factors to consider when choosing the right yoga class for you

Often when I tell people that I work with peeps who want to use movement to help manage their mood, they respond with ‘Oh yeah, like yoga and stuff’.

There’s a reason that yoga is one of the first places peoples’ minds jump to when they think ‘movement’ and ‘mental health’ – several studies have shown results like decreased rumination (focusing on unpleasant thoughts), improved sleep, decreased severity of depression and improved quality of life. One study even found that a yoga intervention worked better for improving depression symptoms than pharmacotherapy (drugs)! So, there’s certainly validity in using yoga as part of a movement practice to improve mood. But, the difference it makes can depend on a few variables…

how-to-pick-yoga

Photo by Leo Prieto

The style

Of course, the style makes a huge difference, and there’s no ‘better or worse’ –it depends on your purpose. If you want to work your muscles, get warm, and sweat it out, and increase energy, power yoga or vinyasa might be good for you. If you want to chill, breathe, stretch and find some calm, perhaps yin yoga or restorative is a better bet. I recommend doing some research, taking some time to think about what you want to get out of your practice, and then make an educated choice about which style you choose. And why not try a few different styles to see what works for you!

 

The teacher

Having completed many yoga classes with both fantastic teachers and those that made me go ‘meh’, I can say from experience that having an experienced teacher who is in it for more than the fitness aspect is a totally different experience than a class run by someone who is mostly about building muscles and improving flexibility. My favourite classes are always those that have some greater meaning or message built into them, whether that be in the form of a theme for the class, or just a few words that the teacher offers during savasana. Traditionally yoga is much more a spiritual practice than just physical poses, and teachers who offer a little bit of something for the psyche on top of teaching the physical movements are always my faves.

2309429837_376cf88225_oPhoto by MorkiRo

 

The time

I’ve done classes that go for 45-50 minutes, like group fitness classes in gyms, and I’ve always found they don’t really allow enough time to do a proper stillness practice. Some have written about savasana (the corpse pose) being the most important asana (pose) in yoga and it’s certainly important from my perspective. I love the practice of it in the studio, of taking a moment to let your body consolidate what you’ve just gone through in the last hour or so, and just focusing on breathing. I also love taking that concept into the rest of your life – allowing time for processing, resting, and taking a breath before moving on to the next thing. In shorter classes, there is usually only a couple of minutes of stillness, which I reckon isn’t enough. My fave classes go for 75 – 90 minutes.

 

The environment

I’ve done yoga in some pretty picturesque places. Like open, bamboo studios surrounded by papaya trees and jungle, or huge, converted warehouses with exposed wood beams and huge windows through which the afternoon sun streams in…And, while it’s not 100% a prerequisite for a good class, I reckon the additional calm and peace that comes from spending time inside a beautiful studio (as compared to a plain walled room with minimal natural light or air flow) is important.

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That’s what I reckon has the most impact on what makes a good class. The other stuff, like the mat or the clothes: less important from my perspective. Although having a good mat is a nice luxury – I’m currently using a really ratty old mat that sheds little pieces of rubber every time I use it. It’s kinda annoying. (Recommendations for good brands of mat welcome!)

 

Did I miss any important considerations for a good class? Where’s the most beautiful studio you’ve practiced in? Let me know in the comments…

Why I’m grateful for the fire

 

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

 

Last night I went to a friends’ house for a dinner party.

It being Melbourne, and it being winter, it was cold. She has a wood fire, so someone went off to light it. Thirty minutes later there were calls of ‘does anyone know how to light a fire?’ and I went and took over tending the smouldering coals. I got that baby cranking in no time, with an adjustment of the air flow and adding some well-placed sticks.As I sat watching the mesmerizing flames take hold, I thought about how handy a skill it is to be able to light a fire.

grateful_fire

When I was growing up, my family home had wood fired hot water.

Even though we lived in rural Western Australia, it was still old-school. And yes, it meant that any time we wanted more than a kettle-full of hot water we had to light a fire and wait half an hour. And yes, this was very annoying. (It also meant I learned the handy skill of chopping wood with an axe, but that’s a different story).

 

 If they had tried to tell me at the time…

I was reflecting last night on how grateful I felt, that I had this skill of fire-lighting, and laughed to myself imagining how I would have reacted if, while grumbling about having to light the fire, my parents had said ‘you’ll be grateful for this one day!’ And, thinking back on it, I wouldn’t choose to do it again. It was annoying and time consuming, and I would prefer to be able to jump in the shower as soon as I arrive home from the beach freezing cold. But I can also see the benefit I got from the experience.

gratitude

Which I thought was a great example of what gratitude means (to me).

To express gratitude for something doesn’t need to mean that you would choose the same thing over, if you were given a choice. It doesn’t need to mean you’re stoked that what happened, happened. It just means that whether the experience was enjoyable or not, you can see that there was some outcome that was meaningful for you. Sometimes it’s really easy to find gratitude for things we perceive as pleasant experiences, and it can be harder to be grateful for things that are less pleasant.

Have you had a shitty (at the time) experience that you can look back on and be grateful for? Let me know in the comments

Five things I learned from running a mindfulness and communication retreat in Bali

 

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.

– Brene Brown

bali_retreatPhoto by McKay Savage

I recently co-facilitated a mindful communciation and movement retreat in Ubud, Bali, along with my Mum (Marg Pontin) who is a certified trainer in NVC (Non-Violent Communication). We delved into mindfulness practices, including sitting, moving and walking; mindful listening, to others and ourselves; and mindful communication, expressing ourselves to others and asking requests of others and of ourselves. We discussed shame, vulnerability, and self-compassion, and practiced prioritising self-care the whole time. All in all, it was a mind-blowing week of learning, growth and connection. Here’s a few gems that I took away from the retreat…

1) It really is “all about connection”

That was the name of our retreat: ‘it’s all about connection’ and wow, did it turn out to be true. Of all the learning exercises we did, all the group discussions, so many just came back to that single point. How important it is for us humans to be social, to have a tribe that we belong to – to be connected to others. It’s such a powerful thing.

2) Allowing yourself to be vulnerable can be excruciating – and can also lead to incredibly deep connection with others

Once you’ve agreed with number one, it begs the question – how to get connected? And wow, the connections that were forged in our 7 days together were incredible. It never ceases to amaze me that the sense of connection with others always comes after the tears, the talking about deep pain, or fear, or anxieties, all the uncomfortable places to go. There’s just something about someone seeing those tender parts of you and saying (not always in so many words) ‘I see you, I hear you, I’m with you’ – which is what we were practicing doing throughout the retreat (otherwise called ’empathy’).

mindfulness_retreat_baliPhoto by Hadi Zaher

3) You can still have crappy days and/or moments – even when you’re in a tropical paradise

It’s so easy to leave home for a holiday, leaving behind all your literal and metaphorical baggage, and then fall into that trap of ‘oh, life would be so much easier/happier/relaxing if I just upped and moved to Bali/Prague/Iceland…’ and I actually find it somewhat comforting to remember that life happens, wherever you are. Going on a holiday (even a working holiday!) can be a great break and a breather, but putting your ‘stuff’ on hold doesn’t get rid of it – and if you were to stay in your paradise, eventually you’d still have to deal with it. (And I did).

4) Dancing is the best

I rediscovered my love for salsa (LA style, in case you’re wondering!) and somehow found the time to go to three group lessons and three social dancing nights…and yes, an amazing 2:1 semi private salsa lesson held in the meditation bale of my accommodation – total bliss, it has to be said.

I also noted how many of our group lit up when we did the private lesson for our group of eight – I so love the beautiful way that moving our bodies, especially to music, can bring us joy. And the best part? When our salsa teacher explained to the group at the end of the lesson that in salsa, ‘it’s all about the connection’. It was like we paid him to say it! (We didn’t!)

bali_retreat_mindfulnessPhoto by Trent Strohm

5) How deep the sense of contentment and fulfillment is when you do what is really meaningful for you

All I have here is wow. The overwhelmingly positive feedback from the retreat just blew me away. I amazed myself with the energy I had for other people during the sessions – even on a busy day, when I sat down one-on-one with participants, I was so focused and in a state of ‘flow’ that the time flew by. To finish the day tired, but with a sense of ‘yep, I did something that is authentically me’ – and added a bit of value to someone else’s life in the process – is so immensely satisfying. I want more.

 

Ever thought about going on retreat to Bali? Or learning more about mindfulness, communication and connection? Sign up to my email list at the top of the page to be in the loop for the next live event!

 

How I stop my negative thoughts

The short answer?

I don’t.

Let me explain…

negative-thoughts

Image by Craig Sunter

What do I mean by negative thoughts?

I don’t like the term negative. To me that’s suggesting that it is a bad thing, that should be avoided or fixed, or something along those lines. Rather, I prefer to think of thoughts and emotions in terms of enjoyable, and not enjoyable. I enjoy thinking about how much I love my friends and family, I enjoy feeling peaceful and grateful and (belly)full. I don’t really enjoy feeling sad or irritated or stressed, or thinking about what would happen if that car pulled out in front of me or where I would go if I ran out of money and couldn’t pay my rent…you get the picture.

 

We all have them.

I’m actually bummed that there’s so many articles and books about stopping ‘negative thoughts’, because I don’t believe it would ever be possible. Every single human has un-enjoyable thoughts and/or emotions at some point. Every one feels things like anger, guilt, sadness, frustration, tiredness…so why do we have this big story going around that it’s somehow wrong to feel these things, and it should be stopped? The nature of human life is to experience both highs and lows.

we-all-have-negative-thoughts Image by Meg Wills

Why do we have un-enjoyable thoughts?

From an evolutionary perspective, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have negative thoughts. We needed to be cautious and suspicious about other people stealing our territory away from us, from predators, from food that would make us sick. Our brain is still just trying to protect us, by warning us about every old thing. Sometimes our brain does its job perfectly, warning us about a legitimate danger like an approaching car, or letting us know that there’s something that we need to do in order to live a more enjoyable life (like leave our crappy job).

 

Sometimes though, our brain sends us unnecessary warnings.

You know those really big, loud, scary-looking but somewhat-dense dogs? You might be sitting at home with your faithful canine standing guard, and your friend comes to visit, and the dog goes berserk. Barking and jumping around, warning you (its beloved owner) about this threat that has presented itself. Of course you, as a rational human being, check out the situation and see who’s at the door. You quickly notice that in fact it is your friend, and really, poses no threat at all. But try convincing old pal puppy of that.

how-to-stop-negative-thoughts

Image by Mark Robinson

That’s what your brain is like sometimes. A big, stupid, loveable dog.

A dog that is inclined to go berserk about many and varied situations that could be interpreted as threats, but you in your rational mind can step back and see that in fact, it’s not a threat at all. Then you can choose to approach your thoughts the same way you can approach a barking dog. By acknowledging it, checking out the situation for yourself, and then calmly telling it that you don’t need it to protect you, because you are running the show here. Oh brain, I see we’re bringing up the story about ‘I-can’t-ever-trust-another-man-again’, are we? Thanks for bringing that up. I’ll take it from here though. And then, carry on as you see rationally fit, letting your brain make it’s harmless barking (un-enjoyable thoughts) in the background.

 

And know that it’s doing all that barking from a deep, deep desire to protect you and care for you. Which is a beautiful thing.

How about you? Does your brain go crazy sometimes with warnings that you could really do without? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

How to motivate yourself to exercise first thing in the morning

These days, most people have heard the message that they ‘should’ be exercising everyday.

Yet so many of us don’t – according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2007/2008 a whopping 72% of Australian adults did little to no exercise. This comes at a time when diseases like diabetes and heart disease (closely linked with diet and lifestyle) are at an all time high.

So, if we have the evidence that exercise is good for our health, we have the knowledge of what we need to do (at the very least 30 minutes a day) why aren’t we doing it?

A lot of people tell me they ‘just don’t feel motivated’ to get out of bed and exercise. Your brain will come up with a hundred and one reasons about why you should stay in bed. You’ve probably told yourself things like “It’s so warm in bed and it’s so cold outside.” Or, “I’ll exercise tonight instead.” Or, “I went to bed later than usual last night so I should probably keep sleeping.” But the (hard to hear) truth? These are all just excuses. Whether they’re true or not, they are a story your brain is telling you that stops you from achieving what you set out to do. The simple fact is that if you have decided to exercise in the morning, then it’s likely you’ll feel better if you stand by that decision.

Luckily, I have some small easy steps you can take that will have you jumping out of bed as soon as you wake up!

Picture it: you’ve set your alarm for the early hours of the morning so you can get up and do a quick walk before going to work. But it’s warm and cozy in bed, and it would be so easy to snooze the alarm and go back to sleep…

 

  • Focus on the first step. When you’re lying in bed, don’t think about how cold it will be when you are outside, or how much effort it’s going to take to walk all the way around the block – just think about right now. Focus on the task at hand – getting out of bed. Then, once you’ve gotten out of bed, focus on the next task – getting dressed. Focusing on a task that is many steps ahead of where you are currently (ie walking along the river, when you are currently in bed) can be overwhelming and make the task seem impossible.
  • Notice the difference between your thoughts and your actions: you have a choice. Notice what you’re thinking in bed, along the lines of ‘it’s so warm and cozy here’ ‘I could just snooze the alarm’. Then, acknowledge those thoughts, and make a choice to get up anyway. An example of how this might sound in your head: ‘Hmm, I’m noticing that I’m thinking that I could just press snooze on my alarm instead of getting up. I value my health though, so I’m going to do it anyway.’
  • Make it easy for yourself. Who wants to get up and root around in the dark for their runners? Putting out your exercise clothes the night before makes it easy to step straight into them. And once you’re in them, it’s that much easier to make it out the door. Lay out clothes, runners, water bottle, music player, keys – whatever you need to take with you.
  • Give it ten minutes. Consider making an agreement with yourself that when you really don’t feel like exercising, you don’t have to – as long as you do ten minutes of it. Often the hardest part of exercising is just getting to the starting point – whether that’s the gym or out on the road on your bike – and once you get there, you feel better and start enjoying yourself. Agreeing to give it at least ten minutes before you give up gives you a much higher chance of then finishing off whatever session you had planned – as well as the option to make the choice to stop if you really are feeling unwell or unable to exercise.

Have you tried any of these tips and tricks? What stories does your brain tell you to keep you from your exercise routine?