During the month of January, I participated in a fundraising initiative to run or exercise everyday for the month of January. I am very pleased to feedback that I managed to do this for all 31 days in January. The original challenge was to run every day, but due to an ongoing achilles injury, I had to limit my running, so I did a combination of running, spinning and speed walking. I surprised myself by managing to achieve this, as like most of us, I have a busy life and finding a free 30 minutes at any point in the day can be tricky.
I attribute my success in achieving this to two key things; firstly, the guidance for the challenge states that even if you can only manage to run a mile then that is enough. It takes an average person about 10 minutes to run a mile, that’s 10 minutes out of your day – I don’t think that is a big ask. The second thing was the mental commitment, when on the 31st of December, I decided to participate in the challenge, I proceeded to plan my days to incorporate the exercises. They were built into whatever I was doing that day and noted it in my calendar, it was part of the routine for that day. Sometimes I would wake up earlier to exercise or speed walk to meetings if this was possible. I even took lunch breaks to exercise; lunchtime was previously something of a luxury. I treated these daily exercise routines the same as needing to eat or sleep. I didn’t allow any mental space to talk myself out of it.
Something unexpected happened whilst I was taking part in these daily exercises. I found myself using the time to think and reflect. If I went in the morning, I would start planning for the day ahead, the week ahead. If I went in the evening, I found I would reflect on the day that I had just had. I really started to enjoy and appreciate this time I had daily to myself, to prepare and to reflect. It became about the time to think rather than the exercises. It felt like a luxury that I hadn’t previously had. I even started to practice some mindfulness whilst I was outdoors, running or walking early in the morning. I started to appreciate and become more aware of everything, my life, the things around me, things I hadn’t previously noticed or had perhaps taken for granted. At the end of the 31 days, I felt I wanted to carry on as it had become habitual and so built into my daily life it felt normal and it was making me feel so good, mentally and physically – why stop!
So, what do I take from this that I would like to share with you? When we are so busy thinking about and worrying about work, family, life, the things we haven’t done and need to do we completely loose site of what we do have and what is going so well for us. Take the time to be in the present moment. If you don’t want to go out walking or you are not a runner, then maybe think about eating your breakfast or lunch in a much more relaxed and mindful way. Enjoy that cup of tea and just think about all the wonderful things in your life that you have to be grateful for. Think about every small and big thing you have achieved through your day. Slow down and enjoy being present.