by Kellie Boyle
Many adults come to counseling telling me they are aware of the importance of exercise but fitting it into their hectic schedule of a full-time job, kids, kids’ practices and extracurricular events plus commute time is nearly impossible. Other adults can find the time; however, the thought of exercise sounds miserable and the absolute last thing they want to be doing. I’ve had a few tips for them, that I’d like to also share with you.
Don’t call it exercise. If you are telling yourself you have to make time to exercise or go to the gym, when you are someone who dreads the so-called ‘gym’ or the word ‘exercise’, this will be much harder for you. It’s like telling yourself you must eat your broccoli tonight. Call it whatever you want to call it: “Heart work” “stress relief” “power hour”, heck, you could call it “boys night” if you want. Many people cringe when they think about stepping inside of a gym or the thought of stepping on a treadmill. It’s simpler than you have imagined; you don’t have to do either to exercise. Exercise can be putting on some music in your basement and dancing while you pick up all of your kids’ toys, it can be a walk around the neighborhood with your husband after dinner, it can be throwing the Frisbee with your dog, hiking to a beautiful waterfall, or even running down the sidelines as you coach your daughter’s soccer game. Are you someone who once enjoyed contact sports? Go join a rec league basketball team or a fun kickball team. Bottom line, be creative. There are several ways you can get exercise without stepping foot inside a gym.
Work it in with chores or parenting. Ok, so your kids and spouse may think you are strange if they see you doing jumping jacks in the middle of the hallway, but if you’ve got 2 minutes, you’ve got 2 minutes. If you are picking your kid up out of the crib, do a squat before you reach in and then after with your kid in your arms. Make silly faces at them each time you do a push up as they are practicing tummy time. Play hide and go seek with your kids. And really hide and really bend and stretch to get into those close corners. Make excuses to walk up and down your stairs, whether it’s carrying one laundry load at a time, or checking in on your teenager who hasn’t come out of their room in 4 hours. Incorporating your kids into these activities can be a great way to introduce them to healthy living also. Pets are other good excuses for exercise.
No matter where you are, you can almost always think of a way to exercise. Beach? Take a walk on the beach before you reach for that 4th Corona or bring out the boogie board you haven’t used in years. Just lugging around sand and water from the shore to the sandcastle is exercise. Work trip? Take the stairs. Most hotels these days have gyms and pools. Can’t do an hour workout? Do 15 minutes at a higher intensity. Or your normal intensity. It’s better than nothing at all.
I’ve seen people who absolutely despised exercise earlier in life become much more involved in their health and fitness because they have been able to find something that they really enjoy. Dance classes, yoga, even bowling can be a form of exercise. You could even get that purple jumpsuit Jesus wears in “The Big Lebowski.” (Major bonus points from your 5-year old, not so much from your 12-year old).
To summarize, if you can find something you enjoy doing or you can find some sort of activity that gets your heart rate up, even if it is not your typical type of exercise, it will be less of a chore and challenge for you. Start small, don’t beat yourself up if you skip, and go for that gold.
What if you do a Google image search for sunrises and sunsets? After looking at hundreds of pictures what will you see? Can you actually tell the difference between a sunrise and sunset? Perhaps there is something about a sunset that makes it look different, or maybe it is something about you that you see a picture of the sun on the horizon and it seems like a sunset but maybe it is not.
We all see the world through our own lens according to how we think and feel, or what our attitude is. Maybe what we see is not what we think it is. Maybe we need to ask ourselves how our minds are shaping our perceptions.
We all need someone to challenge our assumptions sometimes, even though we may not realize it or want it. Sometimes a good friend or caring parent is there for us. Sometimes we hear from a co-worker or a neighbor.
There are times though, when we need more expert help in the process of looking within ourselves and uncovering the things that need attention. Healing within so that we can see more clearly the way ahead is hard work. It is also some of the most important and rewarding work there is. Do you need a guide on a healing journey?
“I wouldn’t know what to talk about.”
This is sometimes the reason people don’t go to counseling. You’re not quite sure what to say to the stranger in the room in front of you. However, something inside of you says that you need to discuss your day with someone else outside of family, friends, or co-workers. It can be awkward at first.
You essentially get invited into a room where there will be a possibility of comfortable chairs or even a couch. You then have the opportunity to tell someone you have never met before, what’s going on. It’s not like a medical exam in which you would sit on a table with crinkly paper. There are no pills or any shots. The counselor may ask you questions, sometimes on initial paperwork or in person that can be detailed and quite personal. Write down what you feel comfortable writing down, and eventually discuss things that you may not at first feel comfortable discussing. Don’t expect that every single counselor knows every detail of your life. They don’t know about you until you share about yourself.
If you’re coming into counseling to talk about not feeling great about your job, well then that’s what you talk about. Chat about not feeling great about your job and all the bits and pieces that go into that. Don’t feel like you need to discuss what was going on in your life when you were a five-year-old if you’re 45 years old and you’re simply not liking your job. However, know that if there are issues in addition to your job a qualified counselor can help you to talk through those things. A good counselor will not judge you for not wanting to talk. A good, confident, clinically trained counselor will not judge you for any of your most intimate secrets.
Counselors are people that clients can come to talk about the hard or embarrassing stuff in life. Counselors are the people trained to not shy away from topics such as the mechanics of a sexual encounter, the pain of losing someone to suicide, or the thoughts that go on in your head that you might not feel like you want to be having. There is a very broad range of wellness and illness and with it comes the ideas and activities that each of us has in our daily life. A counselor can help you sift through them. Not every session is deep and dark and tricky. Some might be for some people, while other may never have these types of discussions. People come talk to us about their jobs, their parenting, their relationships, their next awesome business idea, or about the people that are bullying them and they just don’t know what to do. People talk to us about the life choices that they are making with drugs or alcohol and they want to find out more about healthful choices they can make for their bodies that may not be as damaging.
There is no right way or wrong way to talk to a counselor. Simply be the respectful person that you are and remember that the counselor is human too. Counselors themselves have been through many life experiences and hundreds of classes that can help guide you to make the decisions that are best for you. So, when you feel like you don’t know what to talk about with a counselor simply say that. Tell the counselor you have never sat with someone like this before and that you’re not sure what to do next. This is probably not a first session ever for the counselor, in which case they can guide you to help discover what it truly is that you’re there to talk about. Try it out. You never know what you might learn.