Our lives are crazier than ever as we scramble to pack ever more into our waking hours in pursuit of our “best life”. But is this the right way to go? If you tap into the latest trends in wellbeing the surprising answer is “no”. Intuitively, we assume that the more good stuff we can get done the happier we will be. But the reality is that wall to wall schedules with barely enough space to draw breath are causing health issues and actually hindering our progress towards a happy, balanced life.
What’s going on?
When we pack so much into our days that we’re constantly rushing from one thing to the next, a few things happen. Firstly, we start producing stress hormones in greater quantities, such as adrenaline that can make us feel anxious and give that fluttery heart feeling. We also produce more cortisol, a stress hormone that’s been linked to weight gain.
In addition to these chemical changes in our bodies, our brains are put under excessive pressure, meaning we never get caught up on processing our experiences. This can lead to gaps in our memory, and even poor decision making as our over-crowded minds make snap choices without thinking things through.
The overarching effects of overly busy schedules are feeling stressed, pressured and burnt out. We never get the chance to truly enjoy the experiences we’ve created, as we’re focused on rushing to the next one.
How to slow down in a busy world
- Practice smart swaps. If you’re doing 3 HIIT classes a week, consider swapping one of them for yoga or another gentle class that helps you relax your body and mind. Consider swapping your spin class for a swim, anything you can think of to bring something less frenetic to your fitness regime.
- Plan your meals: Making healthy nutritious meals every evening for the whole family can be time-consuming and lead to extra stress. Gym Plus members have free access to Shape My Plan, a meal plan website that helps you to customise meal programmes to fit your specific needs and tastes. Allowing you to plan ahead and enjoy cooking with your family.
- Schedule “you time”: If you’re super busy, self-care can slip right off the bottom of your to-do list unless you consciously make time for it. Whether it’s curling up with a good book, going for a swim, getting a massage or taking a scenic walk, make sure you have a slot each week devoted to the things that give you peace.
- Practice mindfulness: Build specific points into your day when you’re going to be true in the moment, focused on what you’re doing and not thinking about things past or future. This might be taking 20 minutes to really relish every bite of your lunch or taking five minutes to just enjoy hugging the kids or grandkids. As you master doing one thing mindfully on a regular basis, look for other opportunities.
- Try meditation: Meditation has well and truly gone mainstream with apps like Calm and Headspace offer guided chillout sessions ranging from a couple of minutes upwards. Practising meditation for even a short period each day will give your brain a break and help you to slow down.
- Keep a gratitude journal: Taking the time to think about all you have right now and record that each day is a great way of slowing down and connecting with how great things are in the present, stopping the continual drive for more.
- Build-in recovery: Your body will benefit from a fitness regime that builds in recovery time far more than one that’s just a relentless push of effort. Your muscles need time to repair after exertion in order to fully realise the benefits of your workout.
Want to find out more about how you can build slow into your fitness regime? Come and visit us at Gym Plus and we’ll work with you to get the balance right.
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