Dragging at the gym? More tired after a workout than you should be?

These are not signs that you should push yourself harder, but perhaps that you could use some self-care.

As Mary Jayne Rogers, Ph. D states: when you’re not in balance with the other components of your life, exercise can actually become a task-master, leading to unhealthy exercise behaviors.

If you want to do CrossFit more often or stick to your more rigorous training routine, you need to make space for other aspects of your life through self-care.

What Is Self-Care?

Although practiced differently, self-care is taking time to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Unforced activities such as yoga, painting, or meditation all count. You must freely enjoy the activity to get the most benefit from it.

Furthermore, the activity does not need to take up a lot of your time. Drawing a quick sketch or writing a short journal entry count just as much as a hike.

Why Does Self-Care Matter in CrossFit?

Self-care is important in combination with CrossFit because it improves mental and emotional clarity, making a person more in-tune with his or her body.

This new attention to what your body needs can help you decide whether to take a recovery day or push yourself even harder to achieve new goals. Additionally, it can also improve your mental stamina, which is critical for tough workouts.

The following list of activities can help rejuvenate you physically, recharge you mentally, and readjust you emotionally.

1. Find Hobbies

One of the most fun aspects of self-care is discovering new hobbies. Always wanted to take a painting workshop? Give it a shot. Want to learn to knit? Go for it! That’s how you found out you liked CrossFit, right?

Remember, you are not automatically devoted to everything you try. Try new things, and keep what you enjoy while ignoring what you do not.

2. Mindfulness

Often, when people hear the word mindfulness, they think of new-age meditations retreats or zen mindsets. However, mindfulness is simply a mental check-in with yourself and your surroundings. Often, this is achieved through breathing exercises and paying attention to what is happening around you in the present.

Mindfulness of the breath can be extra helpful during cardio-intense workouts, where successfully controlling your breathing can lead to faster finishes.

You can also check-in physically. How fast is your heart beating? Are you sweating? Taking these moments to tune into your body can help pace workouts, making them more effective.

3. Self-Compassion

Sometimes, self-compassion is confused with “letting yourself off the hook.” However, research has found that forgiving your mistakes and failures while resolving to do better next time, actually improves motivation and increases the likelihood of later successes.

Bummed because you didn’t PR your deadlift? Being kind to yourself in failure might help you improve your efforts next time!

4. Healthy Diet

Self-care in your diet means considering what you eat and taking steps to improve your dietary choices. For example, you can take a day during the week to meal prep.

However, even taking a few extra seconds to make a healthier dinner choice counts and can make a big difference for your body over time.

You don’t have to eat a perfectly healthy diet, but at least be mindful of what foods you’re consuming.

Remember, your body runs on the fuel you provide. It is worth taking some extra time, even seconds, to make the best possible choices when nourishing yourself.

5. Better Sleep

Not only is sleep critical for resting up for the next day, but your body repairs any muscle fibers that might have been torn through activity, stores memories and new information, and resets your body’s internal clocks.

A full night’s sleep also helps you stay in peak performance at the gym since your muscles are rested, and your reflexes are sharp.

Trouble sleeping?

If you are like so many other people who have trouble winding down and going to sleep at night, try meditation.

A body scan is often very successful in helping one sleep.

First, lay comfortably and take a few deep breathers. After, focus on your feet. Contract the muscles in your feet as hard as you can for 10 seconds then relax. Next, move to your calves. Then your thighs. Concentrate all of your attention on one section of your body, then the next. All the way up to the top of your head, though you may be asleep before you get that far.

It’s All About You.

Don’t feel bad about taking time out for yourself. Some people confuse self-care with self-indulgence. However, they are not the same. Self-care is necessary to live a balanced, healthy life—everyone needs a day off occasionally. Self-care is not a self-indulgent use of your time.

Next time you feel a little out of balance, try one of the tips above. Have a different idea of a self-care activity? Please share it with us below and give inspiration to fellow readers!