With a flip of a calendar page, here we still stand in 2021. The last year has been indescribable, to say the least. Whether you are reading this as a new member to PRO or a returning one, we would like to thank you for your support. Now that January is here, it is valid to approach the new year by setting goals and adopting a new mentality. However, don’t forget to B.A.R.(Breathe, Acknowledge, and React)!
First and foremost, take a few moments to breathe! This step is important in many aspects of life, but almost mandatory after the past year. This technique could be used before your first stressful post-holiday work meetings, or even before beginning your first workout at PRO. By taking the time to breathe, you contribute to the process of being mindful of what has happened, is happening and what you plan to do this year. Here is a breathing exercise to try:
Square Breathing – Find something in the room/area that is somewhat square or rectangular shaped. Do a breathing exercise that is paced with drawing your eyes around the square. Breathe in as you draw your eyes up the left side of the square, breathe out as you draw your eyes across the top, breathe in as your draw down the right side and then breath out as you draw across the bottom. Try to take slow even breaths that take about 2-3 seconds per side. Repeat for several rotations around the square until you’ve felt your breathing even out and your heart rate slow down.
During these stressful times, it is important to acknowledge what you are feeling. It is not a good idea to suppress and ignore emotions as that never benefits us. In fact, when we use these coping mechanisms, even though the emotion and problem is not at our forefront, it is slowly becoming greater and greater deep down.
Many therapies focus on teaching this skill. If you have ever attempted a guided meditation, you are encouraged to become aware of your problems and feelings, but also let them go. An effective way to look at this is to view your thoughts and feelings as clouds. If you’ve ever laid in the grass and looked up in the sky, you’ll notice the very subtle movement of the clouds above you. When pervasive thoughts and feelings come up, we can pretend they are clouds. We see them. We identify them. We acknowledge them. Just as the atmosphere moves them along out of view, our breath also lets them go out of our mind. This is one skill to practice whenever you have an overwhelming thought or feeling.
It is also important to recognize how far you have come and what you have accomplished. It’s easy to forget the good when it is often overshadowed by the bad, but there is still some there! If your day was not as productive as you would have hoped, reflect on what you did accomplish. A method you can use daily to strengthen this skill would be daily gratitude. Start small and write down one good thing per day or 3 good things per week. It can be anything from what you appreciated to what you accomplished to what you look forward to, just as long as it is a positive aspect. As you practice daily gratitude, the dark clouds dissipate. There is also ample scientific research on the powerful effects that gratitude has for your mind; happiness, kindness and resiliency to name a few. Acknowledging where you are currently at or how far you have come in your fitness journey will help you set goals for the year.
Finally, the last step after breathing and acknowledging is to react. Now that you’ve taken the time to relax and verbalize your current state, it’s time to take action. This could be something as simple as going for a walk once a week, calling a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or taking advantage of a complimentary 55-minute training appointment at PRO. Note that it’s ok to hover between the three stages, the mere fact that you are a part of the PRO family means that you have the tools to succeed at your disposal. Maybe you need some more time to breathe before thinking about the new year. You may need to write down and acknowledge where you are at before you set a goal for the “new me”. Lastly, it may be some time before you react and make your new start.
The most important thing to remember from this article is that above everything around this time that is new, the controversial term “new normal” is not so bad; it can be personalized to each and every one of you. At PRO, we offer many different services that you can choose as part of reacting. These range from treating yourself to a massage at the Spa, strengthening your mind at the Counseling Center, or meeting with a personal trainer to get started on those goals.
Here’s to making this year a Happy New Year. Congratulate yourself on making it this far, and don’t forget to B.A.R.!
Molly has been active and athletic her whole life, participating in soccer, track and field, swimming, and volleyball. In college, her passion for health, wellness, and fitness truly blossomed when she adopted a regular fitness routine and began making her mental and physical health a priority. She firmly believes that health and wellness encompasses a balance between the mind, body and spirit and it is crucial to nurture all three domains. With this passion, she wants to encourage and help others on their health journey in order to feel well, live well, and be well.
From North Carolina, Kevin Barcarse is an exercise physiologist entering his 5th year of practice with over a decade of fitness under his belt. His passion for fitness began in childhood when his older brother trained him using 8 lb. dumbbells while Rocky music played in the background. After a battle with obesity and hypertension through his teenage years, Kevin made a lifestyle change and lost 53 lbs. his senior year of high school. Now more than ever, he believes fitness is a lifelong journey while understanding what it’s like to experience fluctuations on the scale, rehab numerous injuries and most recently build a routine back up during a pandemic! His training style promotes a “we” mentality and allows for fluidity, molding programs to goals like weight loss, muscle gain, sports performance and conditioning. Most importantly, Kevin is driven by his obsession to help you be the best version of yourself; whether it be mental, physical, or emotional. In his free time he enjoys seeking new adventures, hanging out with his cat, and wearing shoes (just look at his feet when you meet!)