For many, exercise is a preferred self-care practice. While movement is a great option, it may be helpful to consider how to “P.A.C.E.” your approach to using movement for self-care.

P – Pause

A Mindful Pause to stop, breathe, think and choose can help you determine the best option for movement as self-care. Stop for an intentional pause to consider your options. Breathe with attention to restore balance…counting 4-5 counts to the in-breath…balanced by 4-5 counts to the out-breath.  Think about the following …

A – Attitude

Movement is medicine for body, mind, and spirit. It’s easy to narrowly focus on intention on the body benefits. In order to truly be self-care, our movement choice should reflect our needs in body, mind, and spirit. A Mindful Pause can help you shift your attitude from chore to chill, duty to delight, and workout to playout!

Is your energy low? Sometimes just 5 minutes to reset with uplifting music, a healthy snack, a drink of water, or a conversation with a friend or loved one can re-energize you and shift your readiness to move. Being out in the sun can energize. Being in a pool can feel as if you’re “washing away” all your tension. Following an instructor can relieve your mind from thinking about your routine. Or tapping friends for accountability can add energy and fun.

What is your mood as you approach your workout? Do you really need a “workout” at the end of a fast-paced and energy draining day? Sometimes it can feel as if you’ve been on a treadmill for your 8, 10, or 12-hour shift!  Even if your day is predominantly sedentary, the sense of duty, drudgery, and more work added to the day requires an energy reserve that is sometimes tapped.

Exercise can become a “being” activity as much as a “doing” activity. Try cultivating an attitude of joy by dancing for your workout. Zumba always leaves my cheeks tired from smiling through the fun choreography and uplifting music. Or cultivate social connection by participating in a group fitness class…virtual options have become popular during the challenges of the pandemic. If you’re weary from human interaction, either live or virtual, get outside for a walk or run and connect with the natural world for restoration. Reflect on the following when determining the proper “attitude” for your exercise:

  • How is my energy?
  • What mood am I currently experiencing?
  • How can I shift to a mood or energy that satisfies my need?
  • What activity is the right choice for the right time?

C – Calendar

With days that are full of competing commitments, your self-care commitments need to be scheduled into your day. Where do you keep track of important appointments, meetings, and deadlines? Put your movement commitments there as well. Let others see that you prioritize your self-care!

Got a full calendar? Where can you piggy-back movement into an already existing commitment? Can you walk with a friend instead of sitting for coffee or a drink? Can a meeting be held on a walk? Are you taking kids to activities? Check out how you can be active while you wait.

E – Experiment!

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it has forced us to become more creative. Retain that sense of adventure and try something new. I tried snow-shoeing this year. I have several friends who report enjoying a variety of virtual exercise options. I’ve heard of couples taking dance classes and others making space for home exercise equipment. And so many have enjoyed the many free parks for a variety of activities.

A Mindful Pause is complete when you Choose to mindfully align your preferences, commitments, and values into action. Choose to Move!