Ashley's realistic, real-life tips can help you take 2018 to the next level.
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Whether we’re kicking it with our cat, hunkered down at home with our kiddos, or getting to know a lot more about our roommates than we ever wanted to, there's one person we are all definitely spending a lot more time with these days: ourselves.
And—no judgment—but for most of us, our self-care muscles aren’t exactly bikini season ready.
It’s understandable—we normally live busy lives, and many of us don’t have time to focus on (really focus, not just read memes about) our mental wellness. But letting your mental health sit and eat chips on the couch just won’t cut it anymore.
In the times we’re living in, self-care isn't a luxury—it's a necessity. If we’re going to make it through these dark and stressful days, we quite literally can't afford to not take care of both our bodies and our minds.
So, while you may not be able to attend your favorite Bootcamp right now, that doesn't mean you can't enroll in a Bootcamp of mental wellness. And honestly? It's a lot less sweaty.
Here are six helpful tips based on the tried and true advice from mental health care experts.
Cultivating good routines is one of the mainstays of a healthy mind. Sure, gratifying your inner ten-year-old and eating ice cream for breakfast for a week started off fun, but at some point, it can make you feel untethered and contribute to your anxiety. Having a routine doesn’t mean scheduling every hour of the day, but it does mean having consistent patterns for waking up and going to sleep, as well as dedicated time for both work and fun. Bonus: a sense of routine will give you things to look forward to, and will help the time pass more quickly.
Right now there's still a lot we don't know, and you probably don’t need a therapist to tell you that it’s a pretty straight shot from uncertainty to anxiety. Staying informed is smart, but spending hours reading the rants of strangers online won’t diminish your stress level and will clutter up your brain. So pick a few trusted sources of information, and limit the time you spend reading up on them. And be strategic about when you do so—for instance, consider wedging in your research during the day so that it's not the last thing you're thinking about as you try to get some restful sleep.
Now that you’ve cut back on the negativity coming from your phone or your TV, you might be noticing it from another source—your own head. That’s because it’s easy to be hard on ourselves, particularly when we’re stressed. But when the world outside gets toxic, it’s even more important for the inside of our minds be a safe place. So, make an effort to talk to yourself like you would a friend who’s going through a difficult time. Take the time to acknowledge your accomplishments for the day, even if they’re minor (you did laundry!? Heck yeah!). And if you just can’t silence the negativity, it’s okay to ask for help. There are a lot of fantastic and affordable remote therapy options, and now may be the time to make exploring them a priority.
Now that you’re in your own head—in a good way—the next step to learning what you need is to ask questions. It’s a great time to try out something like a personality test to learn more about who you are and how you relate to the world around you. But don’t get stuck feeling existential—you should also learn how to pay attention to what you need in the moment with easy mindfulness techniques like a Body Scan. Once you’re done, follow it up with some gentle probing: What would taste, smell, sound, or feel good right now? You’ll be surprised at what your body is asking for if you listen. Or, try a virtual meditation class to help you find focused calm.
Once you’ve determined what your body and mind are craving, be intentional and generous. We all have a tendency to mentally multi-task, even when we’re doing things we enjoy—but being intentional means taking time to hyperfocus on whatever nice thing you’ve chosen to give yourself. So savor the sensation of taking that deep breath of air, or throw yourself into a performance of your favorite song. And don’t hold out on yourself: do this kind of thing multiple times a day! It may seem insignificant given the larger life problems you’re up against, but performing small acts of kindness for yourself throughout the day can provide the serotonin boosts that your body desperately needs to stay functional.
Not only is learning super good for us, but it’s also a healthy distraction, which is a very powerful tool for mental wellness. If there’s a topic you’ve always been curious about or an achievable skill that you want to improve in (think organization, not opera singing) now’s the time. Listen to a Podcast on a topic that fascinates you. Open a language learning app and dust off your high school Spanish. And while you’re learning, remember to set reasonable expectations for yourself, because it’s okay if you’re not the next Marie Kondo. The point is to continue to stay mentally active, even if your physical activity’s taken a hit.
Shelter-at-home can mean a lot of time alone with some very scary thoughts. We can either be totally swamped, or we can be kind to ourselves.
Taking time to learn and apply good mental health hygiene will benefit us long after this crisis is over. Hang in there. Be nice to you.
If you’ve ever taken a hot yoga class, you know it’s always going to be one thing—outrageously hot. Not the “let’s hang by the pool and get that sun-kissed glow” kind of hot either. I’m talking that “I can't believe I have this much sweat in my body” and “I may or may not pass out” kind of hot. It’s nothing to mess around with, and after a year or so of not being able to go, it’s easy to forget just how serious that heat can be.
To get the maximum enjoyment and benefits out of your heated yoga classes, you need to prepare yourself before and take care of yourself afterward. Luckily, I’ve been taking some classes (sweating enough for the both of us) and I’ve listed my five favorite must-dos to help you readjust to your heated classes and get back to the hot yoga summer that we all want.
Heated classes are difficult in nature. The normal difficulty of regular poses is mixed in with the added challenges of sweating and dealing with the humidity and the heat (at times, I’ve seen the thermostat climb to 108 degrees—yikes!). Depending on what type of yoga class you’re taking (sculpt, Bikram, power vinyasa), the difficulty level and temperature are going to vary. It’s also important to remember that each person in the room is going to practice in a way that’s unique to them. Hours slept, hydration levels, food intake, and different lifestyles are all contributing factors that make our practices different. What you practice on your mat is your own––trust your body and only do what feels right to you. And remember, it’s okay to take breaks!
The rise in temperature mixed in with the humidity that we all know and love creates the perfect recipe for sweating—like A LOT. You go into a heated class dry and come out feeling like you just took a dip in the pool. Before heated classes, I had no idea it was physically possible to sweat that much. If you’re going to a heated class, especially after a long break, it’s easy to forget just how much you might sweat. Is it possible to lose that much water if you haven’t consumed it first? Trust me, going into your heated class super hydrated is going to make a world of difference and help you feel good throughout your practice. And don’t forget to take some sips of H2O while you’re practicing!
Heated classes are challenging, but I can’t stop going. Nothing quite compares to overcoming the challenge— and experiencing the cleanse my body feels after I’m done. It’s the perfect blend of hard and rewarding, but I couldn’t do it if my body wasn’t properly nourished. On the days I know I have a heated class booked; I like to make sure I am eating right. I make sure to take my vitamins and fuel my body with fruits, vegetables, and my favorite superfood shake. I hold off on food about an hour before my practice, so I feel comfortable. After the class, I like to replenish with a big protein shake (boosted with collagen to aid with muscle recovery and skin elasticity). There is no one-way path for properly nourishing your body but making sure you’re fueled for the challenge of a heated class is essential for getting the most out of your practice and feeling good on and off your mat.
Increasing and maintaining your water intake on the days you take a heated class is important, but sometimes you need something a little extra. If you’re sweating that much, you’re basically an athlete (at least in my book) and if you’re performing like a rockstar yogi, you need to hydrate like one as well. That means replenishing those lost electrolytes. Reward yourself and your body for the hard work and treat yourself to your favorite drink. I switch off between electrolyte-boosting drinks and coconut water depending on what I’m in the mood for that day. Adding these to my post-practice self-care routine has helped me feel more hydrated after and ready to take on the world again after especially sweaty classes.
Usually, a yoga mat is all you need for your practice––but heated classes are a different ballgame. I’ve gone with just a mat, and I’ve slipped all over the place. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than having sweat drip all over the place while you’re trying to hold a pose that makes you grip your mat for dear life (never again). Make sure you bring a towel to place over your mat, this will help with support and grip. Bringing a smaller towel is also a good idea. You can use the smaller towel to dry yourself off during water breaks or whenever you’re feeling just a bit too sweaty. This is a small step that makes a world of difference during those super-hot classes.
So, there you have it. Five of my favorite tips (more like lifesavers) that have helped me readjust to those heated classes I love so much. Getting back into it is a challenge for us all, so know you’re not alone. No matter where you’re at in your practice, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself––celebrating your health and your body’s ability to do what you love. We’re all just getting back out there, together.
Ready to jump back into your hot yoga routine? Browse Mindbody to find the perfect class for you.
While you’re at it, check out some Intro Offers near you that can help you get back to your cadence of hot yoga classes.