One of the most common areas that busy people struggle with is fitting self-care into their lives. When life gets crazy it is usually relaxation time, eating well and exercise that slides and we can get stuck in a rut. I have found we don’t have to tackle all these areas at once to get ourselves back on track. Exercise is a great way to recommence your self-care, and the other areas usually flow on from there as you start to feel well again.
I, like most people I know, have a tendency to overcommit my time. I think I’ve done this since my teens. Work, study, family, social and voluntary projects keep me pretty busy. The best way I’ve found to stay balanced is through exercise – although I’m picky with the types of exercise I’ve chosen. Here are my preferred ways to keep fit.
I find that traditional karate ties in beautifully with my work as an acupuncturist. There’s a nice crossover on the development and application of my skills. While I train in karate I’m developing mental focus, uniting the body and mind to work together, understanding how to manipulate Qi (life force) to improve techniques and even working with the acupuncture points and channels (although admittedly, as strike points). As an added bonus I get an excellent cardiovascular, flexibility and strength training workout. I make it to karate training two to three times per week, and have for many years on and off, since I was a child. I have always felt happiest when karate has been a part of my life.
Getting on a push bike really is the busy person’s answer to exercise. It’s a cardiovascular workout with the added benefit of getting you from A to B. Replacing any 10 minute car drive with a 30-minute bike ride gives you a workout, saves you money on fuel and is better for the environment – all for a journey that you had to make anyway. For eight years I have cycled when possible to my clinic or place of study. I keep toiletries, shoes, towels and ironing needs at the clinic so that all I need to do is put the day’s clothes in my backpack and away I ride knowing there is a shower at the other end to start the day fresh. Cycling in the morning makes me more alert during the day, and by cycling home I have let go of any of the day’s worries before I walk in my front door. I like to throw a long ride in for enjoyment on the weekend. I have been cycling on Sundays with some of my family for several years. It’s a great way to catch up and we always spoil ourselves with a nice breakfast along the way.
Walking and running
Walking is the easiest, cheapest way to get the benefits of exercise. I like to throw in two to three good walks per week around the Brisbane River. Walking gives me the opportunity to practice mindfulness. I love taking the time to really experience what is happening around me - how the seasons are changing, the riverscape, the wildlife, and the people – some exercising hard, others quietly reflecting and other groups of people enjoying a picnic together. Whenever I walk by the river I realise we have so much to be grateful for. Another favourite place to head for a walk is Mt Coot-tha in Brisbane. This is an excellent place to go for hill training (extreme cardio) and more green space. At times in my life when I haven’t had time to do my usual 1 1/4 hour river walk circuit regularly, I’ve turned it into a run instead – then I don’t have to change my favourite route but I can have it done in under an hour. And still enjoy every minute of it!
There are many ways to fit exercise in when you are busy. I find making a timetable can help you schedule exercise around other tasks. Sometimes it means you need to get up earlier, or seize your lunch break for a work out. If you have kids there are some forms of exercise you can do with them – some yoga and martial arts classes are inclusive like this. A walk around the river will see many parents cycling or jogging with their children. The forms of exercise I have listed are just what work for me. I know many other people enjoy yoga, dance, gym and ball sports. Most importantly, do what you enjoy and makes you feel great – it’ll do wonders for your motivation!
About Sarah George
Sarah George is a respected acupuncturist and massage therapist passionate about inspiring positive health transformation through applying the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies within the context of modern living. Sarah practices from the HealthWise Clinic in the Brisbane CBD and lectures at Endeavour College of Natural Health.