When I lost a very dear friend last year who succumbed to the effects of the virus, I needed to find a way to stay sane and push through the hurt. I will never heal from it, and I know that many of you will never heal from personal loss. But we can learn to live with it, and the best thing we can do is to invest in our health both mentally and physically.

For me, salvation was in the way I pushed my body in training. I’m not saying that you should become a professional athlete to be able to cope with the pandemic and other life challenges, but I am saying that fitness is a powerful way to heal and cope.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you or myself and tell you that fitness came like second nature to me, because it didn’t and if it did, I’d have nothing to share with you. In reality, making fitness an integral part of my self-care routine was a challenge that I was able to overcome by figuring stuff out along the way.

And now I’m going to help you skip the extra steps yourself.

Prioritize your workouts

The first tip I can share with you, which is something that dawned on me way later than it should have, is simply to buckle up. Exercising properly, in a way that challenges your body and heals your mind, is a tough task. Most of us, myself included, don’t want to do it because it’s difficult, time-consuming, and usually think that its restrictive in some way.

But, if you approach fitness with the idea that you’ll get something really good out of it, you’ll have a much easier time. The most important thing is to realize that you’re investing time and energy into your overall well-being.

The second most important thing is that there’s no magic way to start exercising – you just got to prioritize it. Do you want to heal? Do you want to be stronger physically and mentally? Do you want to lead a healthier life?

Then you need to prioritize working out and introduce regular training sessions into your schedule no matter how hectic it may be.

Find a fitness support group

Yeah, I’m over here talking to you about sucking it up and getting to work, but I definitely know that it’s not easy. I didn’t start working out regularly and with more intensity because I felt a sudden rush of enthusiasm and a love for the barbell, I did it because other people pushed me.

That said, I wanted to be pushed, so I joined a gym where people worked together and supported each other. Now, you can join any group fitness class you want, I chose a mix between strength training and conditioning. Sort of like CrossFit but without the injury potential.

I didn’t fool myself into thinking that I can stick it out without a support system, and neither should you. If you want to make fitness a regular part of your self-care routine, then make sure to surround yourself with people who are going to hold you accountable and push you forward.

Find the energy to work out

The more you work out, the more energy you have, right? Well, I found out that it’s not that simple. Yes, I felt a surge of energy and alacrity when I first started, but I quickly realized that my job and my hectic lifestyle were weighing me down.

I knew I could not keep this up if I didn’t find the energy to do it, which I quickly realized comes down to my nutrition and supplementation. Now, I’m not saying that you need to be a certified nutritionist to optimize your energy levels, but I am saying that taking your diet seriously is a must.

For one, I could only work out after work in the evening, so I started supplementing with a pre workout for women to get the energy I needed to complete a workout instead of backing out halfway through. That’s about the only supplement I take, the rest comes down to my nutrition.

I’m not going to tell you how to eat, because I’m not a nutritionist, but what I can tell you is that eating clean foods at regular intervals has made me more energized and positive. Try it out for yourself to make this transition easier.

Strike out on your own

Once I started getting into the groove of eating healthy and maintaining my energy levels, along with regular training, I figured it was time to strike out on my own. Hey, if you love the idea of training in a group, that’s great, but I found that going solo was a transformative experience for me.

I decided to start working out on my own in order to get out of my comfort zone and prove to myself that I’m self-sufficient and self-reliant enough. In a time when I needed to grow and overcome life’s challenges, this was one of the best things I could have done for my mental health.

When you feel ready, I suggest you try taking the same step.

Use fitness to steady your mind

I’m going to end the story of my fitness journey by telling you a very simple truth that I took too long to realize – for us women, fitness is not so much about muscles or endurance, as much as it is about mental health.

I truly believe that a healthy body harbors a healthy mind, but you also need to actively use your workouts to build mental clarity, fortitude, and zeal. Get in the zone, push your limits, and use your training sessions to achieve a new level of being so that you can return your everyday life stronger than before.

Over to you

I’ve been exercising on and off for many years, but only in the last year have I started to use fitness to overcome the pain of personal loss, and the stress that this global crisis has brought into my life. I know that many of you are struggling as well, so if I can share any piece of advice, it’s to make fitness a part of your self-care routine. I hope you have found this helpful, and I can’t wait for you to share your experiences below in the comments.

Sophia Smith is beauty and lifestyle blogger, graphic designer and a food enthusiast. She is very passionate about eco-friendly and green topics, sustainable fashion, and conscious business. Sophia’s other hobbies centre around her love for yoga, wellness rituals and living in balance with nature. She loves sharing meaningful content that inspires people and has covered topics ranging from organic beauty products and sustainability to self-care and mental health. Sophia has contributed to a number of publications including Eco Warrior Princess, Naughty Nutrition, Herbs Mother Earth Living, Sivana Spirit, Urban Naturale, Carousel, and Cause Artist. You can find out more about her writing by following her on Twitter @sophia_bri.


Image courtesy of Jonathan Borba.