3 Mental Tricks for When You’re Short on Time but Need to Workout

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It’s 6:30 pm on a Tuesday night. You just got home from a long, stressful day at work. A million things need your attention — the kids, the kitchen, the laundry, your significant other, your pet. Taking care of yourself is the last thing on your mind.

A quick workout might seem like it’s a low priority item on your to-do list, but it’s essential. Exercise clears your mind, relieves stress and empowers you to tackle the rest of the day.

The hardest part is getting started. Here are three mental tips to get your mind right before a quick exercise session.

Breathe purposefully.

How often do you think about breathing? Probably never. Elite athletes work on breathing all the time. They are aware of each breath and how it affects their performance. When done correctly, breathing slows down your mind and centers you. Athletes call this, “getting in the zone,” but anyone can do it!

When you’re anxious or stressed, your breathing is short, shallow and sporadic. Although you might not realize it, this perpetuates stress. Do you find yourself yawning throughout the day even when you slept enough the night before? This is most likely because you are not breathing efficiently. Here is how to get the most out of each breath:

  • Start by inhaling deeply. Rest your hand on your stomach and feel it pushing out as you inhale to the maximum capacity.
  • Now exhale slowly. Emphasizing the exhale slows your heart rate down and stops your thoughts from racing. Your exhale should last for at least 5 seconds. Push all of the air out.
  • Repeat these two steps until you feel more relaxed.

Breathing deeply and focusing on the exhale allows more oxygen to reach your brain. It will leave you feeling refreshed, alert and ready to work out.

Erase your whiteboard.

Another trick that coaches use with busy, stressed athletes is called “erasing your whiteboard.”

Imagine you have a whiteboard in your mind. When you are stressed, the whiteboard has words written all over it in different directions. Sometimes, you write so many words on your whiteboard it’s difficult to read anything on it. You move from one task to another without clearing your head. A cluttered, stressed mind prevents you from staying present and focusing on the task at hand.

The next time you come home with your “whiteboard” full, take the time to erase it. Imagine taking an eraser and wiping your board clean. Clear your mind of any thoughts about the past or future. Wipe over all the negative thoughts and excuses. Wipe everything out until you see a blank board.

Next, focus on what you need in the moment — to get a workout in so you can feel good. Before you know it, you’re running on the treadmill with your earbuds in, music blasting and taking a step toward a healthier you!

Let your actions create feelings (not the other way around).

Have you ever encountered someone you knew was having a bad day because of their body language alone? Maybe they were walking around frantically with a worried look on their face or with their head down and shoulders hunched.

We often let our feelings dictate our actions. We’re tired, so we don’t go to the gym, despite the benefits of exercise. It’s important to be aware of your body and use actions to dictate your feelings. Even if you’re having a rough day, you can do something outwardly that will trigger more positive feelings. It’s a trick elite athletes use it to push themselves when they feel like giving up. You can channel this superpower too!

This superpower will allow you to “fake it ‘till you make it.” Even if you don’t feel like working out, change into your gym clothes, lace up your shoes and drive to the gym. Once you’re there, you may feel more energized and ready to go. If you think about it, it’s easier to talk yourself out of it. Instead, make a conscious effort to take positive action regardless of how you feel. Let your actions create feelings, not the other way around.

These three mental tricks can help you get in the right mindset for a workout. If you want to take the next step in becoming a healthier you, check us out. Body Fit St. Louis offers at-home, private personal training throughout the St. Louis area. We bring the equipment and expertise straight to the comfort of your own home. Try us today

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