Mind Over Matter Monday
Despite a hot and sticky weekend here in New York, I’m ready to face the work week with new energy. While that’s definitely due to a bit of rest and relaxation, it’s also because I made a point of fitting some fitness into my days off. So I thought it was the perfect time to address one of my biggest sources of motivation: exercise helps sharpen my mental focus.
For as long as I can remember, working out has helped me sort through what I like to call mental clutter. Clearing that clutter with a kick-butt cardio session, group exercise class or weight training circuit allows me to me to re-group and tackle whatever issue I need to spend time sorting out in my brain. It’s as if by sweating out the anxiety surrounding the need to address a situation, all I’m left with is an endorphin rush to actually sit down and sort things out.
Putting the serious “stuff” aside for a moment, I can simply say having an improved mental focus helps me get things done. Ever have a to-do list get all jumbled in your head? The tasks of the day, week or even month ahead seem daunting and overwhelming. For me, just 10 minutes in to a 30-minute elliptical session, things start to un-jumble. I listen to my favorite music, feel my heart beating and my breath coming faster and I feel as I’m gaining new confidence with each stride on that machine. Confidence that things will get done. Maybe not immediately following that workout, but I will meet my deadlines and somehow get it together.
It’s after these workouts when I return home, clean up and refuel with healthy food that I can then turn what was once a jumbled mess into a thought-out list on paper or here on my computer so I know exactly what I need to do. Having a plan is the first step in getting things done. Exercise helps me take that important first step.
On the “heavy” side, I can honestly say in times of worry, distress and grief, clearing the mind with a workout somehow helps my heart feel lighter, too. I realize exercise in itself can’t solve the big problems or make life-altering decisions for you. I also know it can take a burdened heart some time to catch up with a newly uncluttered mind. However, through the ups and downs of my life, exercise has always been a good place to start my search for emotional solace. (Okay, I won’t lie, chocolate helps sometimes, too!)
On Mondays, I know many of us look for motivation to put a fitness plan into action or to ensure we stay on course with the one we’ve worked so hard to make a part of our daily routine. So here are my two cents: Why not make this the day you start clearing the clutter so you can get back on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Posted on August 6, 2012, in Fitness, Health and tagged Cardio, Exercise & Mental Health, Exercise & Stress, Group Exercise, Laura DeAngelis, Leslie Hassler, Personal Fitness. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.
I agree! Working out helps me stay sharp, destress and get energized to conquer my to-do list. I also enjoy prayer walks at the trail to connect with God and pray for others.
Hi Jessica! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, amazing how taking a bit of time for ourselves, whether it be through exercise, prayer or reflection can make a difference in our crazy lives! Wishing you a fantastic day!
Sing it, sister. Exercise helps me reboot when my mind starts to freeze up worse than a Dell computer circa 1999.
Love the analogy, Emily! Circa 1999, eh? That DEFINITELY calls for a reboot! Hope your week is off to a great start! Happy Tuesday!
Laura, this is exactly my experience of a hard workout. You’ve perfectly captured it. I often say that I work out for my mental health as much as my physical health.
An important insight here- perfectly expressed. And inspiring.
Hi Tom. It’s amazing how mental clarity can come from physical exercise. I’m also amazed at how even on the days I feel too tired to get a workout in, when I do push myself to do something, I end up feeling so much better in the end! Have a wonderful day!