Now that we have talked…ok, now that *I* have talked about things to consider when you don’t feel like doing your workout, let’s look at your feelings in a different way.
Today, I’m inviting you to consider how you WANT to feel and how your habit will help you get there.
I wrote about this a bit last year and invited you to consider how some aspects of feelings and exercise and now I want to expand on those ideas a little.
How do you want to feel?
In general, goal-setting advice in the health realm promotes picking something you can measure – number of sessions, increases in strength, changes in skill – but considering something trackable but intangible, like feelings, doesn’t come up as often.
Obviously, it can be easier to use a measurement of some sort, if that kind of thing serves you well. Noting minutes spent, reps completed, and skills gained is very straightforward and can be very useful – I have just started tracking something like that myself.
But, often, our wellness goals are not just increasing skills or strength, they are also about how we want to feel -physically or mentally.
Perhaps you want to have greater peace of mind.
Or you want to feel happier or calmer.
Maybe you want to feel balanced…or to feel like you have good balance.
Or you want to feel nimble or fluid.
Maybe you want to feel capable or grounded or solid.
Perhaps your practice gives you space away from certain feelings or gives you room to hold them.
Those are all valid and helpful things to seek from your practice. Fitness is about your whole self, not just about your muscles. Positive emotional or sensory experiences in addition to physical results will give you a richer sense of well-being overall.
But, just as building muscle takes time, finding the feelings you are seeking is a gradual process and I hope you’ll be kind and patient with yourself about them. It may take time for your practice to produce those positive effects and you’ll have varying results from day to day. Slow and varying results are a natural part of the process, not an indication that you are doing something wrong.
If you look back on any measurements of reps or minutes you have kept, you will probably find it surprising to see how far you have come because we forget that we couldn’t always do what we can do right now. I think that emotional changes are even trickier to remember and without some sort of record, you might not realize that you have moved closer to your goal. But, even though you can’t measure emotional or sensory results in minutes or reps you can keep track of how your habits contribute to experiencing the feelings you are seeking.
It would probably help to start by making some notes about what that feeling means for you or how you have experienced it in the past. That way, you’ll know it when you feel it. So, for example, if you want to feel fluid in your movements, try to recall a time in the past when you felt that way and take note of what your body and mind were doing at that point. You can then use that remembered experience as a point of comparison for future experiences of fluidity.
Once you know some specifics about what you are seeking, you can put reminders in your calendar to check in with yourself regularly about those feelings and then either make a journal entry or a short note about them.
If you like to keep daily records of things you can use a spreadsheet or a journaling app or you can do some more elaborate bullet-journaling style tracking. Just be kind to yourself and don’t make the tracking process so onerous that you end up avoiding it. (so says a person who has fallen into that trap many, many times)
And, if you also make notes about what you did in your practice on a given day, you may be able to see if certain actions or activities provide a more positive emotional effect over time. Perhaps you are less anxious about your writing on days when you have meditated, or maybe you feel more balanced on days when you do squats.
Obviously, your experience will be specific and personal but it is definitely worthwhile to see if your practice is bringing you closer to the feelings you want to experience more often.
So, today, I invite you to consider your feelings.
Are there any specific emotional or sensory experiences you are hoping to get from your practice?
Is there anything you can add (or take away) from your practice to contribute to the experiences you are seeking?
If it interests you, is there an easy way to track your feelings that will show you changes over time?
How can considering your feelings ADD to your overall kindness to yourself?
And finally, if all of this feelings stuff isn’t relevant to the habits you are building, I invite you to ignore me completely! 🙂
Here are several gold stars for your efforts today, whether you are journaling your answers to these questions, sweating your way through a workout, meditating with ease or dragging your mind back to your breath over and over, or still just figuring out how you might move a little more today.
Note: When I wrote the first feelings post yesterday, I thought I would be able to cover everything in two posts. It turns out that I need three. So, please tune in tomorrow when I’ll be talking a bit about how building habits can stir up challenging feelings. I am not a psychologist, I am not a mental health professional and I don’t have any training in trauma, so I won’t be delving into anything that requires expertise I don’t have. I’ll stick to general advice about self-compassion and link to a few articles that address issues around when exercise or meditation generates relatively manageable stress or anxiety. If your emotional reaction to building wellness habits goes beyond that or is overwhelming or all-encompassing, I hope you can seek professional help from someone trained in supporting people through processing those emotions. I wish you ease and I am earnestly trying not to cause additional harm.
For the second year in a row, I’ll be posting a Go Team! message every day in January to encourage us as we build new habits or maintain existing ones. It’s cumbersome to try to include every possibility in every sentence so please assume that I am offering you kindness, understanding, and encouragement for your efforts right now. You matter, your needs matter, and your efforts count, no matter where you are applying them. You are doing the best you can, with the resources you have, in all kinds of difficult situations and I wish you ease. ⭐💚 PS – Some of the posts for this year may be similar to posts from last year but I think we can roll with it.