Use it or Lose It (Your Mind, That Is)
A recent shoulder injury had me out of the gym and in the dumps.
"Use it or lose it." We've all heard this old adage reminding us that if we don't use a muscle, we'll lose its strength. And most of know that our mind acts as a muscle, too; so if we don't work out our brain, we'll lose our some of our cognitive abilities. (Try solving a calculus problem if you haven't done one since senior year of high school!)
But have you ever thought that the two could be connected? That moving your body could be key in keeping your mind fit, too?
Recently, a shoulder injury kept me out of the pilates studio for weeks on end. (Normally I workout at least five days a week.) And while my jeans started to feel a little bit more snug, what I really noticed was that my anxiety was starting to ramp up a bit more and my mood was starting to drop a little more than usual. Overall, I just didn't quite feel like myself. It became very obvious that the exercise that kept my body fit and in prime condition did the same for my mind. Today, after finally getting back to my workout routine, I told myself "use it or lose it!' and something just clicked--the "it" was my mind! If I didn't work out, I would probably lose my fucking mind.
For me, working out is not only a great way to stay physically fit and in shape, it's a great way to clear my mind. For someone who is prone to multi-tasking, analyzing and worrying--constantly--the hour a day I spend working out is a chance to let all that shit go. I often find that my best ideas come when I'm working up a sweat. I'm able to generate creative ideas when I'm focused simply on my body and my breath. I strive to be mindful in my everyday life, but with so much (it seems!) to get done--lists to check, errands to run; true crime podcasts to listen to--it's really hard for me to just focus on the moment. But being in a workout class with no other distractions (it helps that my phone doesn't get service in my yoga studio so my FitBit isn't buzzing with notifications) serves as a moving meditation for me. I love when my instructor asks us to set an intention for the class and allows us to reflect during our final shavasana. In fact, many of my favorite blog posts have been inspired by a thought I've had on my yoga mat, or were even first written in my head from that mat.
I know it can be hard to find time to squeeze in a full hour for a hot pilates class or run on the treadmill, but as someone who has battled depression, skipping workouts on a regular basis is not an option. If you've noticed that the holiday blues aren't clearing up post-holidays, consider upping your workout frequency--even walking around the neighborhood or an at-home yoga video can be a mindful meditation practice if you let it. Focus on your breath, set an intention for your workout and remember to be grateful to yourself for the time you're making to take care of your body and your mind.
Ready to move? Book a mind-body session with me today!