By Sage Thee
As our favorite shops and restaurants begin to reopen and our worlds slowly return to normal, there are a few habits I hope we hold on to. Over the past year, many of us have been finding refuge in the outdoors — it’s big, it’s airy, and it’s not hard to stay six feet away from others in all that wide-open space. Even as we are able to gather indoors again, I hope that we will also continue to go on walks and hikes, enjoying all of the beauty our state has to offer. Spending time outdoors does not just have to mean going up into Big or Little Cottonwood, either — your neighborhood is a perfectly good place to walk around and soak up some Vitamin D. The sunlight does wonders for mental health — from helping form a healthy sleep schedule to overall mood improvement, even just a little bit of a sunlight a day can be massively helpful if you’re struggling with mental health issues.
If you have ever skimmed my weekly articles, you probably know that mental wellness is essential to me. Our physical and mental wellness are intrinsically linked to one another; if we take good care of our bodies, our mental health will begin to improve as well. Exercise is an integral part of this—our bodies need to be active, whatever “active” looks like for us. The best advice I have ever been given about health and fitness is: Do not worry about what anyone else is doing. Do not compare yourself to anyone else; health and fitness look different for every single person! The things our bodies can and cannot do are not the same as others. We all have different needs, restrictions, and levels of ability. With so many variables, it is not logical to pretend that there is One Standard of health and fitness we should all be striving toward.
It is so important to listen to your body. Some things one person can do, you might not be able to, and that is more than okay! For example, I have a bad back, and things like yoga and Pilates are just not feasible for me or my body anymore — and that’s okay! There are alternatives that my body is able to do and things that work for me. All of our bodies have limits, and it is essential not to try and force them into something they are not able to or ready to do. Exercise is healthy and important, however, which is why it is critical to figure out what works for you. Exercising releases endorphins to the brain that can improve mood. Regular exercise is shown to lower stress levels and give your brain a more expansive capacity for joy and pleasure! Those things will come regardless of your body type. Do not try to force your body to be something that it isn’t; you are beautiful just as you are.
Our bodies are extraordinary machines — they get us from place to place, they keep us breathing and living and working and moving, and we should be kinder to them, I believe. Give your body a “thank you” today. You are still here, still breathing and living and working and moving, and that is miraculous.