Easy Ways to Add More Self-Care Into Your Gym Routine
The gym is where you go to sweat it out, push your limits, and transform your physical health. But what about putting your overall wellbeing first and balancing out all the hard work with some self-care? After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Adding some self-care and recovery practices to your routine will not only prevent burnout and reduce your risk of injury, but it will also actually enhance your performance too. If you’re nourishing your body and giving it adequate opportunity to rest and repair itself, you’ll have more energy, a better range of motion, and will be more able to perform key movements safely and correctly, leading to better results and progress.
Here are three ways to put yourself first and add some self-care to your fitness routine:
1. Glam up your post-workout routine
Once you finish a workout, it can be tempting to get swept up in the chaos of life and dash off to your next commitment. But stop right there! It’s important to take some time for yourself after a workout, to allow yourself to breathe, calm your nervous system, and stretch your sore and tired muscles out. Not only will this support recovery, and switch on your “rest and digest” nervous system, it will prevent injury, stiffness and tight muscles later on in the day.
Even if you feel like you should be diving straight into your to-do list for the day, put yourself first and take those extra few minutes to cool down and set yourself up for a calmer day ahead.
Bonus points: add a deliciously scented body wash or moisturiser to your gym bag, so you can wash off your workout. This little touch is luxurious, yet simple and easy to implement.
2. Listen to your body and REST
While there’s no denying how incredible you feel after a sweaty workout (post-workout endorphins are definitely a thing) both mentally and physically, there’s always a place for rest in every fitness routine.
To truly put yourself first and support optimal physical and mental health, you need to schedule at least one rest day per week. On your days off, try some active recovery — go for a light walk, stretch out your tired muscles, or even take a dip in the ocean! You don’t have to be glued to the couch all day long, you can still move your body. Just be sure to do so in a gentle, nurturing way.
Rest days give your muscles the chance to repair, grow and strengthen. Think about this: each time you workout, you’re creating tiny microtears in your muscles. And it’s the repair process of these tears that actually allows you to become stronger. If you’re not giving your body the chance to repair, you won’t see the results you’re looking for.
Rest is the ultimate way to put yourself first and practice self-care. Show your body some love.
3. Find a recovery protocol that works for you
Whether it’s a weekly infrared sauna session, a sports massage, hot and cold therapy or even a yin yoga flow or long stretch, it’s important to practice self-care by adding recovery protocols to your gym routine.
Each of these practices has its own benefits and is uniquely able to help your body recover from all the hard work it does during your gym sessions — from improved circulation and toxin release from the sauna to activation of the parasympathetic nervous system to balance hormones and calm the mind in a yin class.
Not only do these recovery protocols support your body’s repair and performance, but they also support your mind. By taking the time to enjoy some self-care, you’re telling your body and your mind that you’re worth it. You’re worth putting yourself first, and your health is worth caring about.
So add these self-care practices into your gym routine, and see the mental and physical transformations that result. And remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health.