Taking care of your body is an imperative part of wellness, but healthy habits driven by fear and punishment aren’t very healthy at all and can actually hinder you from reaching your wellness goals. Too often, we view self-care as a chore and add things like eating healthy and exercise to our long list of things to do. You may feel pressured – from unrealistic standards set by society - to do a specific kind of workout, follow a specific diet, avoid certain foods, or lose a set amount of weight. But if you’re taking care of yourself like it’s a chore or worse, a punishment, you’re missing the pleasure aspect of self-care. And when we miss out on pleasure, we’re missing a key component to our total wellness.
Humans have an innate desire to experience pleasure. We want to feel good rather than bad. And likely, our association with pleasure is feeling happy, relaxed, peaceful, and alive. We tend not to experience pleasure when we’re stressed, anxious, too busy or in a rush. If we don’t take the time to slow down and experience pleasure in our lives, we will continue to crave it and feel dissatisfied. Emotional eaters, in particular, will turn to food as a substitute for pleasure because its lacking in their lives.
The solution is simple – experience more pleasure! But how, are we supposed to experience pleasure when we’re always busy, with a million things to do and no time to do it in? How can we experience pleasure when we’re dreading our exercise regime? Taking care of yourself and your body should be enjoyable, so that you can experience pleasure in your journey of wellness and working on your health. This is what self-care is all about!
I encourage you to evaluate your eating and exercise habits and consider if you enjoy them or if they’re a burden. If you realize that there’s very little pleasure in your life right now, how can you change that? Can you find some pleasure in taking care of yourself?
Food & Eating
While emotional eating is using food to provide you with comfort and pleasure, its still okay to enjoy your food – without eating your feelings. Mindful eating allows us to eat slowly, be present with our meal and pay attention to all our senses. When you eat, do you take the time to notice how your food smells? How it looks? What its texture is and how it tastes? Taking the time to notice these things pulls us into the present and allows us to enjoy the food we’re eating. Therefore, mindful eating allows us to take pleasure in our food – in a healthy way! In contrast, emotional eating typically results in eating too much, too fast and as a result, we cannot register the same amount of pleasure from the food we’re eating. Try slowing down with mindful eating and see if you experience more pleasure from savouring your food.
Physical Activity & Exercise
The reality is, if you force yourself to do a type of exercise you hate, you won’t stick with it. You also won’t have the added benefit of feeling good during or after your workout is done! Get rid of any exercise regime you dread and swap it for something you actually look forward to. This could be a dance class, yoga, Pilates, or even boxing! And who’s to say exercise needs to be in a gym? You can just as well take care of your body by any type of movement you enjoy like walking, swimming, playing sports, or even stretching at home.
There are so many great ways to take care of yourself and enjoy it! Whether its setting a bedtime, sleeping in, or trying a challenging new exercise class, experiment until you find what works for you. If it feels forced – don’t do it. Remember that self-care looks different for everyone. While one person may love running, another person may dread it. One person may enjoy a relaxing bath while another may prefer a dance class. Discover what you truly enjoy and receive pleasure from – forgetting any kind of pressures or expectations.
Whether it’s the food you eat, the activities you participate in, or other self-care, experiencing pleasure is important for all of us. And when you experience pleasure in life through self-care, you won’t feel the need to satisfy your “cravings” with food.