Staying Balanced with Self Care

I feel like self care is getting a lot of press these days, which it should. Everyone should have the time to exercise and eat well and get enough sleep and see family and friends and enjoy their hobbies. Too often this is something that is reserved for those with plenty of extra resources, and even then, our culture is not one that often embraces the idea of stepping off the treadmill of work to step onto the actual treadmill (or trail/yoga mat/kitchen/etc).

That said, I’ve also noticed a trend (mostly in myself but I’m guessing there are others out there), to prioritize exercise and eating healthfully  in a detrimental way. It becomes so important it seems stressful. Exercising becomes another  thing to check off the to do list. Other tasks are looming, but dinner has to be made and while a peanut butter and jelly sandwich would be easy, it’s not the healthiest so instead I embark on a longer recipe and end up tired, hungry, and grouchy. Self care should bring more balance rather than throwing it further out of whack.

School starts in less than two weeks, and I know it’s going to be overwhelming. Two hours of commuting per day plus new people plus five classes plus readjusting to getting up and out of the house very early – it’s going to be a shift. A shift I am welcoming, but a shift nonetheless.

In the midst of all this, I’ve been thinking about how I want to approach self-care during the next few months as I readjust to a heavier workload and new routine. I haven’t yet touched on cooking and eating, though I’m expecting to utilize the freezer more and rely on Alex more heavily, but I have given quite a bit of though to my exercise habits. I wanted to share what I came up with in case it’s helpful for anyone else trying to figure out exactly how to prioritize these things without going overboard.

Goal: Between now and the new year, run three times per week. No distance goals or time goals or challenge goals. Just get my shoes on and run in whatever way feels good.
Reason: I’ve been struggling with my running motivation for a while now. Alex and I want to run a marathon next year, so I really want to build up an enjoyable base, and remember why I like to run in the first place. Some days that might be sprint intervals, and I’m guessing a lot of days will be slower, easy runs. Come January, I want to add in hills, distance and speed work before picking up formal training in April.

Goal: Three yoga sessions per week (two flow and one yin or restorative) of whatever length works on that day.
Reason: Yoga is good for me. I haven’t been doing it consistently in the last few weeks since we moved and I can feel it, both mentally and physically. I won’t have time to go to a studio for 60 or 90 minute classes that often, so I’m trying out YogaGlo and like it so far. You can filter by length of class and style, and they seem to have quite a variety of videos. Going from three flow to two and one restorative is an effort to both go deeper physically and slow down emotionally.

Strength Training
Goal: Two to three lifting sessions per week. No major strength goals except to maintain.
Reason: Ideally, I’ll hit three, but in practicality, it may more often be two. I just straight up enjoy weight lifting and don’t want to let it slide just because I’m busy. I’m still learning how to balance running with strength training, and may examine that more deeply in future posts. My schedule is going to be tight in the mornings if I workout, so I’m going to have to start being more efficient at the gym. I’ll definitely be writing about this.

Goal: One full rest day per week.
Reason:  I need this mental break. I’m currently not very good at it, and need to practice. In order to do this, yoga and running will likely have to overlap days, which actually makes sense to me anyway as yoga can be a great warm up for a run or post-run stretch.

For me, letting go of major exercise goals is going to free up a lot of mental space for school, while having broad goals will ensure that I’m taking study breaks and taking care of my body.

I’m going to celebrate each 20 minute jog, and be present in my 30 minute yoga practice. This may sound basic, but I suspect I’m not the only one that struggles with pushing and pushing and pushing, in the name of being healthier. I want to focus on exercise (and cooking/eating, too) as a wellness practice that can be tweaked and adjusted, based on what else is happening in my life, rather than an end goal.


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