Welcome to November, a new month in the Stress Less Habits Challenge. If you’re already signed up, then you know that this month our goal is to move our bodies for 30 minutes every single day.
I can hear so many of you already saying how you don’t have time, or you think that this is about body shame or judgement.
No and no are the short answers.
Before I explain why those are both no’s, let me explain the science behind movement and its relationship to stress. Your body and your mind are completely connected. If you breathe deeply enough, you direct oxygen to your brain which helps you to improve decision making. If you drink enough water, you again feel mentally clear and vibrant. What you do to and with your body impacts your mental state.
Movement has been shown to decrease depression, decrease anxiety, improve your mood AND it builds your resilience. Why? Because if you’re in fight or flight mode, moving your body can help relieve this state. So you can actually build up a tolerance, or a resilience to stressful times. By moving your body and increasing your heart rate, it’s as though you’re fighting the proverbial lion. You increase your heart rate, then it comes down naturally following the activity, and your brain then thinks that you’ve overcome this obstacle, whether you have or not.
Heart rate goes up through movement, heart rate comes down in post-movement recovery. Resilience to stress grows.
As we enter the winter months (for most of us) it can mean we feel less likely to get in our movement. Maybe the paths are icy or it’s bitterly cold outside. Fewer hours of daylight make it tricky to get outside during the daytime. We change our behaviours. So what we need to do instead is to intentionally move our bodies, and perhaps move them in different ways.
So back to the thirty minutes piece. Honestly that again comes down to science. We aren’t meant to be sedentary creatures. We are made to move, and we were honestly meant to move more than 30 minutes a day, but if you can increase your heart rate for 30 minutes you’re off to a great start. So how do we do it?
All at once is not always possible for everyone, especially as we navigate a pandemic. Maybe you have more on your plate and less time on your calendar than ever before. So my challenge to you is to get a cumulative 30 minutes of movement in a day. Think of the difference that six 5-minute breaks could make in your day?
How am I doing it? During the week I walk to and from work, which is new for me. If I choose to work from home then I’m trying to take a quick walk at lunch time, or I’m doing my physio exercises while watching TV. I have friends who are doing Cosmic Kids Yoga with their little ones, or others who are squeezing in their workout in segments throughout the day (the joys of working from home in stretchy pants). A few squats here, a few bicep curls with a can of beans there.
It truly all adds up.
Now, let’s talk body positivity here. This challenge has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with what you look like, what you weigh, or the number on your pants. It’s about helping you feel mentally strong and resilient. It’s about helping you feel calm. It’s about less stress. That’s it.
The best kind of exercise is when it’s like meditation through movement. I’m not saying it has to be quiet, but there’s this mind-body connection that can really decrease stress. Think yoga, think walking, think the rhythmic strokes in swimming, and for me I think of my barre workouts.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I don’t know about you but my heart was racing, constantly. Would we lose our house? Would my husband lose his job? Were the kids going to be home forever? So many questions, so few answers.
So I started doing Barre Body Studio workouts from my home. The difference was phenomenal. I began to crave the workout… which is a phrase I’ve almost never used in my life. But it brought me relief and peace. It calmed my monkey mind and helped me to sleep the night through.
I love Barre Body Studio so much that I’m doing a giveaway over on Instagram where you and a friend can win a month’s membership to their online platform. You pick the workout that’s right for you, then you can do it anywhere, anytime.
Regardless of whether you enter the giveaway or not, I really want to challenge you to make 30 minutes of movement a habit this month. Get creative. Make it unique to you. Walking all you want to do? Great. Want to sweat it out while you clean and reorg your house, Home Edit style? Totally fine. Just move your body.
Your mind and your stress level will thank you for it.