As part of my life worth living, I incorporate exercise. By taking care of my body, I am in turn taking care of my mind. Exercise is a component of the PLEASE skill, in the emotional regulation module, in DBT. The PLEASE skill includes tending to physical and mental health, exercise, staying off of mood altering substances, sleep and balanced eating. Paying attention to these things helps to minimize emotional vulnerability. When one of these variables is off kilter, we often find that others quickly follow suit. I don’t recommend working on all the PLEASE skills at once if they are a struggle for you. Instead, pick one to focus on, and by doing so, notice how some of the other PLEASE skills inherently improve. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on exercise.
I woke up the other day and wasn’t quite sure what type of exercise/movement I was in the mood to do. After researching “Fitness Marshall” videos on youtube for a zoom birthday celebration, I was quickly inspired to DANCE! So I turned on the TV, connected my Pelaton app, and started one of their on demand Dance classes. After the class, I felt energized and wanted to move more so I went for a short run!
I’m sure we can all agree that we don’t wake up the same everyday, and as the day goes on, our thoughts and moods shift as we interact with the world. Knowing that each day brings on something different, we also want to be aware that our bodies may not feel the same day in and day out! Generally, if we don’t get enough sleep, it can impact on our energy, our motivation and our willingness to move.
Specifically with pre-menopausal women, our energy levels, hunger levels, and moods can vary depending on the stage of our cycle. With that being said, we all know that having a routine can make working out easier. There will be times when you may have a specific movement activity planned and your body is telling you “DO SOMETHING ELSE” because you may be too sore from the previous day or maybe you just aren’t into what you have planned. It’s important to check in, bring awareness to how you are feeling physically and mentally, and then choose an activity that fits with where you are, right here, right now.
Something to think about when choosing what to do is whether or not it is going to be enjoyable and fun! Finding activities that are fun for you, while moving, are going to give you a double dose of those “feel good” endorphins! Another thing to consider is whether the activity will be challenging and possible. When we do things that are challenging and complete them–we build a sense of mastery. When we build a sense of mastery we increase our confidence as well as competence which makes us more resistant to depression and other negative emotions. The idea of building mastery is to generate a sense of accomplishment. Activities that are too easy will not increase your sense of mastery. Activities that are impossible will lead to failure and a lowered sense of competence. Try picking activities that are difficult and possible in order to build mastery!
I’m sure we’ve all heard of the many benefits of regular exercise. According to the Mayo clinic: exercise combats health conditions and diseases, can improve mood, boost energy, promote better sleep, and can also improve your sex life. There are so many different types of exercises and movement activities out there to choose from: dancing, yoga, walking, weight training, swimming, boxing, thai chi, zumba, tennis, pickleball, cycling, and running, to name a few. It can be helpful to have a daily exercise/movement routine, where everyday you do X at Y time. It is also not necessary to stick to that exact thing, the goal is to JUST MOVE!
**Please consult your physician before starting any exercise routine