Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Including Stillness as a Fitness Goal

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and it's a perfect reminder for me to
check in with my stress level.  It's an extra busy month for me each year meeting professional and personal commitments while accommodating my health needs.

I recently did a 15-minute High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout, and I followed it with a guided meditation of the same duration.  When I found myself needing more willpower to stay engaged during the meditation portion than I needed during the high-exertion portion, it occurred to me I really needed to work on calming my mind more.  

Averaging 30 minutes of exercise per day is a common recommendation to maintain good physical health. This is a goal I try to meet, and I usually accomplish it each month. For years I've tracked and categorized exercise as Movement, Stretch, and Strength, and I've aimed to get a mix of them. Those were the types of exercise I valued most. After seeing how much effort it took me to meditate, I knew I needed to add stillness to my daily tracking. It's just as important for physical and mental health as nutrition, exercise, and sleep.  

I'd rather aim for stillness than meditation in my daily goals because it feels less specific. I don't have a minimum time threshold or prescribed body position to meet my stillness goal.  Ways I've included stillness are varied and limitless:

  • I've rested reclined on the sofa while wearing a heated eye mask. With a timer set for five minutes, it's a calming and rejuvenating way to help offset screen time impacts. 
  • Taking a moment to close my eyes, relax my body, and take a deep breath makes a huge difference in my stress level when I'm wound up. 
  • Guided meditations of every sort are available online. Finding one with a tempo, time duration, and pleasing voice can take some time, but there are plenty! They are also wonderful for helping me stay focused and still for a longer time than I would on my own. 
  • Years ago, I participated in a meditation circle once a week. I still recall it fondly and cherish that time in my life. It was a delightful combination of stillness, quieting my mind, and connection with dear friends. 
  • I've loved yoga classes for movement, strength, and stretching, but I've overlooked the value of breath work and savasana (resting at the end). Quieting the mind after full body movement encourages a peaceful spirit.  

Adding stillness as a fitness goal has emboldened me to practice it more often, and calm moments are more frequent. Thank goodness!

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