One question I am frequently asked is about the idea of ‘self-care’. What do we do when we notice we are not at our best (eg. feeling unmotivated/sad or overly stressed). There is often a desire to get proactive, in order for these feelings not to deepen or get ‘stuck’. Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. These actions, our individual self-care routines, may look a little different as we all have different preferences and sensibilities. However, the critical point is taking action in positive and healthy ways, as opposed to using unhealthy strategies.
Unhealthy and maladaptive strategies might look like, for example, increased use of alcohol or an increase in ‘comfort foods’. However, the use of these ‘strategies’ inhibits our connections to our internal emotional states and leaves us disconnected from external challenges. In other words, the use of alcohol or other substances masks our internal feelings, as opposed to bringing us more connected to these feelings and thus better equipped to meet these challenges.
Self-care tips and ideas are easily found online and can be adapted to your own personal preferences and sensibilities. Some are located here.
Today, I wanted to connect you with a resource that highlights the importance of one common self-care strategy – Exercise.
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
A groundbreaking and fascinating investigation into the transformative effects of exercise on the brain, from the bestselling author and renowned psychiatrist John J. Ratey, MD.
Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: Aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.
In SPARK, John J. Ratey, M.D., embarks upon a fascinating and entertaining journey through the mind-body connection, presenting startling research to prove that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction to aggression to menopause to Alzheimer’s. Filled with amazing case studies (such as the revolutionary fitness program in Naperville, Illinois, which has put this school district of 19,000 kids first in the world of science test scores), SPARK is the first book to explore comprehensively the connection between exercise and the brain. It will change forever the way you think about your morning run—or, for that matter, simply the way you think.
Spark is available from your local library or most online book retailers. Better yet, it is also available as an audio book so you can listen while going for a walk/hike, run or whatever ‘sparks’ your joy and gets your body moving.