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On a recent podcast (episode 45) I spoke about self care tips for people who are busy AF, and one of the various tips I included in that episode was that skipping the gym can be self care.
I also made an Instagram post where I referenced this episode, building on this one sliver of the show, and since then, there have been a lot of questions popping up in our private Facebook group.
They're all a little bit different, but at their core, the common denominator is this question:
How can I tell if my desire to skip the gym is an excuse, or if it's self care?
Is it laziness, or is it listening to my body?
And this is SUCH a great question. So I wanted to offer my two cents to you today, er actually, my 3 different strategies for sizing up your urge for down time.
Here's a quick checklist to run through to see if taking an extra rest day, or two, or 25, is self care or nah:
If you listen SUPER close to your gut you already know the answer is "rest"
If you slept like shit last night, or the past few nights
If you've been going harder than usual in the gym and dialing up your intensity
If you've have a super stressful week at work
If you have a nagging injury that won't quiet down
If you've been exercising consistently 4-5 days a week for months or years
If you get to the gym and begin working out and immediately feel like you don't want to do it
If you've been busy AF in your personal life
If you have a ton weighing on your mind right now
If the idea of taking an extra rest day sends you into a panic:
You probably need to rest.
For more on how intense exercise compounds stress, listen to episode 37 of She Thrives Radio, all about Overtraining.
Take a quick shift in your perspective, and instead of worrying about this one extra rest day or two, get a bird's eye view:
In the grand scheme of this year, or your life, do you think this one rest day or week off will make a massive difference?
Is this a season where prioritizing a ton of exercise is of extreme value to you (like training for an upcoming meet)? Or are you working out for general health and wellbeing?
If it's the latter, an extra rest day or 5 is probably in order, ESPECIALLY when you can hear your body whispering that that's what it *actually* wants.
You might also like this blog post: In Defense of an Unbalanced Life: Why Something’s Gotta Give
Get real (like really RULLY real) with yourself about why taking an extra rest day is so difficult.
What do you fear will happen? How are you concerned it will impact you? How are you feeling about how it may appear to others? Dig in here. You might be shocked at what you find.
We're almost pressured by our current health-obsessed culture to move every single day, and if we don't, we feel like we've failed. But it just isn't that simple!
If you have even an inkling that your body is saying it wants rest, don't ignore it.
Overriding your body's cues in order to maintain the status quo and do what your Instagram feed makes you believe you must do, is a recipe for trouble.
Feeling like you're being lazy or making excuses because you're skipping the gym ONE DAY is a byproduct of our current culture and conditioning, and it's simply not serving us.
Yes, physical exercise is amazing for our health in myriad ways. I'm not arguing that.
But if you are a healthy, regular gym goer who is taking part in super high intensity exercise on the regular, there absolutely IS a point of diminishing returns.
Don't be afraid to slow down, so that you can go hard when it counts.
And always remember that while full-on rest is something you should REGULARLY be doing, trading the gym for a walk, yoga, or other low key exercise is just as helpful sometimes.
You're not being lazy or unhealthy by taking extra rest. You are showing up for yourself, listening for what you need, and honoring what you hear.
THAT, my friends, is what health, self care, and wellness is all about.