woman sitting on floor stretching and feeling clam

Moving Your Body Can Be the Key To Calming Your Mind

The day is over and we didn’t workout, even though we promised ourselves we would. Intrusive thoughts like, “How will I fit into those pants?” and “I didn’t burn off those desserts from this morning” start to fill our mind. But WHY?

Why do the feelings of guilt and shame and insecurity bubble to the surface when we don’t workout? And, why do these feelings never motivate us to workout? The answer is simple: because they aren’t meant to.

Negative feelings don’t motivate, positive feelings and results motivate. Let’s be honest: even the word, “workout” sounds like chore. So let’s scratch that and just call it moving our bodies. Because we have to start from a place of positivity to create more positivity.

If you’re looking for a fresh start or a reset from stressful life events, (hello COVID-19 and everything in life), now’s the time. Here are four, positive mindsets to help you start moving.

1. I was created to move.

In the book, “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall, the author describes the Tarahumara Tribe in Mexico, who can run insane distances (up to 100 miles) without being injured. Moving is more of a lifestyle than just an event or competition. The Tarahumara run without fancy shoes and cute outfits. They run in thin, basic sandals. They run because they know that moving is part of being a human. 

Even though I’m not someone who goes on runs regularly, this book reframed my perspective on movement. Instead of moving being a chore or just an activity on a machine, moving is inherent to who we are as humans. You don’t have abs, deltoids, lats, quads, hamstrings, glute muscles just because they look good. Your muscles are first and foremost for function

2. I feel at peace when I move.

It’s rare to hear someone say they feel awful after moving their body through some form of exercise. If they do, it’s because they’ve injured themselves in some way.  Most of the time, we feel amazing after moving our bodies. So what is it for you?

If a run, a HIIT circuit or something high-intensity brings you peace, go for it. For others it might be walking in nature, cycling on a bike,  or, a more structured form of movement like yoga, barre, or pilates. We know we feel happy, calm and accomplished from moving our bodies. Because it’s not so much about what we’re doing, but how we feel as we do it.

More important than what kind of physical activity we do, is what kind of conversation we have in our mind as we’re doing the physical activity.

Sadie Lincoln, founder and CEO of Barre3

If you remind yourself “this brings me peace” or “this is helping me feel grounded” while you move, it can help you enjoy the movement even more. Talking to yourself matters! Remind yourself of how movement makes you feel. 

Plus, science proves that moving your body truly calms your body. As a published article from Harvard Medical School put it: 

“The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts.”

3. Moving is good for me.

Whether it’s the endorphins or the sense of accomplishment you feel after moving your body, remind yourself: this is good for me. I am caring for my body.

Well-known author and self-help guru, Rachel Hollis, articulates it well when she says, “Do something today that blesses your body.” Because doing one thing today, right now, isn’t as intimidating as thinking long-term. You can do just one thing today, right? 

Guess what? If you do one thing every day to bless your body, overtime that adds up. Pretty soon you have a habit. And, according to Mayo Clinic, you’ll see long-term effects like better sleep, more energy, improved sex life, and stronger immunity to fight off disease. (Um, hello, those all sound great!)

4. I move because _____________.

It’s your turn to create a positive mindset. Why do you want to move? What do you hope to gain? Or why do you enjoy it?

Perhaps it’s simply because you can. After my c-section, I could barely walk down the hall—major abdominal surgery is no joke. I remember feeling so proud of myself when I could walk out to the mailbox or climb a flight of stairs without wincing. From that experience, I learnt to value movement just because I can move.

Maybe you’ve given birth too or you’ve had a surgery or an injury or anything else set you back to the most basic level and now your “why” is because you can. Maybe you’re training for a half-marathon or doing an accountability challenge with friends. Or maybe you just want to feel better! All of these reasons are valid and okay. Anything you put in that fill-in-the-blank is good. Because it comes from you. 

The first three mindsets matter, but the fourth matters the most. Take a minute and write in on a sticky note or a scrap of paper or a napkin. Put it on your bathroom mirror or your fridge or your laptop (because many of us are working from home). Remind yourself WHY you choose to move. Then, go do it. 

Go move your body, calm your mind, release your stress. 

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