When I recommend exercise as one of the five forms of Self-care that keep your brain creative, I’m frequently met with resistance.
“I know I should exercise, but I don’t have time,” people tell me. If they’re really honest, they admit “I know exercise would be good for me, but I just hate it.”
I get it. For a lot of people, exercise is uncomfortable or downright painful. It’s sweaty. It happens in sweaty clothes in places the smell like stale sweat. Exercise is something you endure or punish yourself with. For many people, it’s embarrassing and a source of shame.
So here’s my radical idea: if you hate to exercise, don’t.
Stop trying to force yourself to do something you don’t enjoy. Stop feeling guilty when you can’t force yourself to do this thing you hate. Give up on the idea of “exercise” once and for all.
After all, there are four other forms of Self-care you can focus your attention on. And while you’re doing those other things that are so helpful for your brain and body, every once in a while, move your body in ways you enjoy.
Do things you used to love to do when you were a kid.
Walk with people you enjoy in beautiful places. Skip out of work at lunch and sneak over to the swimming hole. Take up juggling. Go dancing.
Play agility or Frisbee with your dog. Roughhouse with your kids. Throw yourself down a hill, rolling like a log to the bottom. Jump in a pile of leaves. Try to catch leaves. And when the weather changes, go sledding or skating or build a snowfort and lob snowballs at your neighbors.
You may still need to give a little “oomph” of effort to get moving (because of initial inertia), but you’ll need a lot less “oomph” to do something you enjoy than you would need to force yourself to exercise. How we label things has a HUGE impact on what we do and what we experience.
Let me make this perfectly clear: this is not exercise. This is about being comfortable in your own body moving in ways that your body likes to move, doing things you enjoy doing. Do not, under any circumstances, start exercising. You hate to exercise, remember?
What happens when you do what you love and love what you do? Please share your experience.