Here is the stressed person’s guide to making time for exercise which is very important for stress management and a better life. I am sure we all know how important is our health in order to be happy and manage our stress better.
The question is how to find time for exercise? You can find in this post all the answers you need.
The Stressed Person’s Guide to Making Time for Exercise
If you were to ask a random selection of people why they don’t exercise, the majority would likely reply that they just don’t have time. It’s true, life is exceedingly busy and stressful; that’s exactly why we need to find time for exercise in our demanding schedules. The truth is we spend time on what we place value in and prioritize. If you are not finding time to spend on your general health and wellbeing, it could be a result of not placing enough value on yourself. You are worth investing the time into, for your health and wellbeing!
The thought of exercise is often accompanied by psychological barriers that make us more likely to avoid it. According to clinical psychologist and author Lavinia Rodriguez, Ph.D., this is generally because of a “lack of motivation, lack of enjoyment, negative associations, fear or maybe low self-esteem.”
The trick to making time for exercise involves breaking down these barriers. To help you do this we’ve compiled a list of strategies recommended by celebrity trainers, psychologists, exercise scientists, authors and everyday busy people (just like you):
- Failure to plan is a plan to fail: According to Chris Evert (18-time Grand Slam tennis extraordinaire), having a written plan is vital if you are going to find time for exercise. Whether it is a handwritten diary, an online calendar or a daily planner on your phone, schedule in specific times for exercising. Once you’ve got your plan in place, review the schedule every morning to stay motivated and to remind you of what you intend to do. If you’re finding that there are too many things to schedule in and not enough time, then exercise counselor Lisa Druxman suggests categorizing and prioritizing. Break your to-do list up into 3 categories (i.e. ‘Me’, ‘My Family’ and ‘My Work’), then list the top 3 items in each category. You can then schedule in specific times for these vital things (including exercise). As Druxman says: “It’s OK to have dirty clothes in your hamper…It’s not OK to cheat your health.”
- Don’t waste time in front of a screen: If we’re being honest, we all love a little TV time and some mindless scrolling online yet our screens make us less happy. That 10 minutes on Instagram can quickly balloon into an hour or more of wasted time, while that 30 minutes of TV watching has turned into a full series binge session. Try to be mindful of the time you are allocating for this type of relaxation. Set a timer to limit your screen-time or try a little multi-tasking while you watch. Spend the time between shows planking. Engage in a little high impact cardio during the ad breaks. If you have some basic fitness equipment (like a skipping rope, kettlebells or resistance bands) then keep these next to the television to remind you of your exercise goals.
- When carrying out household chores, make the best use of your time: If you find that you’re constantly swamped with picking up the dry cleaning, doing the grocery shopping and collecting the kids from school, then try analyzing if there is a smarter way to run your errands. Can you get the kids to pitch in with easy household tasks like folding the laundry or washing dishes? Would doing a single bulk shop save you from running to the supermarket every second day? Here’s a funny infographic to show how that could benefit you. Can you make use of pickup and delivery services for things like dry cleaning? If your children have classmates who live close by, can you arrange a carpool schedule with other parents to save you all a bit of time? It also pays to be on the lookout for opportunities to squeeze in a little exercise amidst your daily ‘to-do’ list – run up the stairs, do squats while waiting for the microwave to go off or get into the habit of parking a little further away so you’ve got a chance to increase your daily steps (wearing a pedometer is a great way to track this).
- Money is a powerful motivator: There is nothing worse than feeling like you’ve wasted money – and this could just be the big motivator you need in order to stick to your exercise schedule. For example, how likely would you be to skip the gym if you’ve pre-paid for personal training sessions? You don’t need to be forking out huge sums of cash, but a little investment of money can make the difference between staying on the couch or getting in an exercise session. If you’re not big on the idea of a personal trainer then you could sign up for a fitness class, enroll in an upcoming sporting event that will require training (local half-marathons are a great goal to work towards) or even just arrange for an hour of babysitting a few nights a week.
- Create positive patterns: According to psychologists, we may be inadvertently self-sabotaging our exercise goals with negative thinking. How often do you find yourself thinking, “I’m just too busy/tired to work out” or “it won’t matter if I skip just one session”? Instead of talking ourselves out of exercising, we need to switch to a more positive message. If you are aware of a self-defeating thought, actively override it with something more positive, like, “I have time to make myself healthier” or “I want to be more active today”. We also need to acknowledge that it’s okay to start small – even if we’re just doing five minutes of exercise, it’s better than nothing and should be mentally celebrated as an achievement. If you get into a pattern of doing five minutes of exercise every day, then gradually this can be increased to 15 or even 30 minutes every day.
- Don’t be afraid to mix exercise in with business and pleasure: Be on the lookout for ways to mix exercise in with other routine activities. Do you usually get coffees delivered to the office? Could you volunteer to walk to the local coffee shop and pick up the order instead? If you need to talk something through with a colleague, why not suggest doing so while walking around the block? Many of your co-workers will likely jump at the chance to get up and move around a little more throughout a sedentary workday. This practice of mixing in exercise can carry over to socializing with family, friends and even onto dates. Propose going for a hike, taking dance lessons, playing tennis or taking a swim. There are many ways that you can have fun and connect with the people who are important to you while also engaging in some form of exercise.
- You don’t have to go it alone: If you find it really hard to get motivated on your own then find someone to help you get excited about exercise. Ask around to see if any of your friends or co-workers are interested in taking a class with you; enlist the help and encouragement of a personal trainer; or, make plans with someone you met at the gym to train together a few times a week. It’s also a great idea to nominate a family member or friend to be your own personal cheerleader – they can offer encouragement, support, and motivation to keep going when you’re feeling like giving up. Another option is to join a local or online fitness community that focuses on positive reinforcement amongst members.
- Find what makes you happy: Not everyone will enjoy the same forms of exercise. What might be great fun for one person is the worst nightmare of another (e.g. not everyone will enjoy running, but some people love it)? Don’t force yourself to do something you hate (a sure fire way to derail your exercise motivation). Exercise physiology professor and celebrity trainer Marta Montenegro MS, CSCS, CPT recommends that you “analyze your lifestyle and personality to find a routine that suits you.” This can help you get a better understanding of the kind of exercise you’ll enjoy, which in turn will make you more motivated to do it. This also applies to what time of day you exercise. Statistically, people who exercise in the morning are less likely to skip a workout, but if this wreaks havoc on your schedule and is just not workable then there’s nothing wrong with exercising in the evening instead.
I hope this article, this stressed person’s guide to making time for exercise can help you with stress management and find ways how to add exercise into your daily life. Exercise can really help to reduce stress, improve your health and you would surely feel better if you find ways how to incorporate exercise in your daily life.
What do you think about this article and these tips? Do you use exercise to manage your stress levels, improve your health and feel better? Let me know below!
Thank you very much, Julie, for this great article! I am sure it reminded us how important is exercise and we can always find time for exercise, for ourselves and our body’s need.
Thanks! Until next time!
Founder of How To Reduce Stress Naturally