Each fall at Ascend, we like to take the opportunity to turn over a new leaf on our health and wellness journey. As the seasons and our schedules change, it’s the perfect chance to commit to a new routine. So, to start, we’re talking all things self-care with a focus on the mind. First, we’ll talk about what self-care means to us, and then we’re offering tips on how to incorporate sustainable self-care practices into your routine that nurture the mind.
What does self-care it mean to you? It’s become a buzz-word in the wellness world, but we believe the definition is very personalized. The most basic definition is to care for oneself in the same way you would care for another. It’s taking a break from ongoing demands and finding ways to nourish your whole self — mind, body, and spirit — so that you’re more apt to make healthy choices and avoid burnout.
Self-care for the mind means addressing our mental, physical, and emotional health. It’s being kind to ourselves, learning what support we need, and adopting simple habits that bring us back into balance. Life can be crazy, but learning how better navigate the bumps along the way is well worth it.
Also, self-care doesn’t need to break your bank (a common misconception); there are many small and affordable acts you can do to show yourself some love.
Keep in mind that we’re simply offering suggestions. Pick and choose a few ideas to try, but ditch them just as quickly if they don’t serve you. The beauty of self-care is that it’s personal and looks different for everyone. Just as your diet or workout routine can ebb and flow depending on changing needs, so can your methods of self-care.
Mindful living doesn’t mean being free from distractions or interruptions. While peace and quiet is helpful, you can also practice mindfulness throughout your day. When we’re busy running from one task to another, it’s easy to go through the motions. Instead, try focusing your attention on the present world around you, with less worry about the past or anticipation of the future. What does this look like? Concentrate on the task at hand. Instead of eating your lunch multi-tasking in front of your computer, instead take 10-15 minutes of screen-free time to focus on your meal.
Touted for lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, increasing serotonin, and improving immunity, meditation is a powerful relaxation tool that can help you connect with your inner self and find emotional balance. Several apps (Calm, Headspace) provide guided meditations set to a specific length of time so you can squeeze in a few minutes whenever your schedule allows. There are many different types of meditation (Transcendental Meditation, body scans, mantras, breath work, etc.) but what matters most is consistency – just a few minutes per day can have a profound impact on your ability to handle stress and its influence on the body.
Just like meditation, shifting our perception to focus on the positive can actually change our brain structure. This doesn’t equate to pretending that everything is fine and avoiding all negativity in the world. Rather, take note of the things present in your life right now for which you are grateful, big or small. Try jotting down two to three new things each day before going to bed (or just think about them if you don’t want to write them down). This could include a nice gesture from a stranger, catching the sunset on your commute home, or acknowledging how someone had your back at the office. By expressing gratitude on a regular basis, we more clearly see the good things in our lives that are ever-present, no matter our temporary struggles.
Pass on things that don’t serve you (this is especially important for people-pleasers or those who overcommit themselves). This means setting boundaries and protecting your time and energy, from saying no to obligations that don’t excite you, to releasing relationships that cause more anxiety than pleasure. Your time is precious, people; spend it wisely!
Laughter truly is the best medicine. It reduces our stress response and improves our mood, almost instantly. Finding humor in situations allows us to shift away from overwhelm and view our situation in a larger context. Carve out time to be silly, hang out with people who make you belly laugh, or watch a comedy.
A clutter-free environment can improve productivity and induce a sense of calm and control. Take 15 minutes to tidy up before you leave the house or before bedtime. The same can be said for organizing our time by creating to-do lists, prioritizing tasks in order of importance. By sorting out our thoughts on paper, we de-clutter our minds and free up space for action. Try jotting down your to-do’s for the next day before you hit the sack (a tip for better sleep, too).
Technology has a place in our lives, but it can be a time suck, interfere with our sleep, or leave us feeling “less than” through comparison. Enjoy those cat videos or a Netflix binge, but try setting small time boundaries when you need it — usually around sleep is a good place to start (no phone after 10 pm or before 8 am, for example), then try expanding your screen-free time on weekends.
In this digital world, texting or engaging on social media may make us feel connected, but nothing can replace human contact. Go to that happy hour, plan a date with your partner, grab coffee with a friend after spin class—whatever suits you; schedule face-to-face time with people who lift you up.
Drawing, painting, writing, and playing music can spark inspiration and engage the creative part of our brain. You don’t need to be an expert, just find something you enjoy and plan some time to do it!
Climb higher, sprint faster, Ascend.
Our classes are crafted with one goal in mind: to help you reach peak performance: We help you unleash your inner power with intentional rides, you leave the studio a stronger version of yourself. Our instructors know how to push you beyond perceived limitations, empowering you build physical and mental stamina. It comes full circle for us when you bring that newfound confidence into every aspect of your life.
2413 Mt Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, Virginia 22301