Back to School, Back to You!

By Mara Towne, PT, DPT

It’s back to school time for kids in Colorado!  This is a great time for patients to refocus on self care!  Summer gets busy with vacations and a lack of a consistent schedule.  However, now that the kids are back on a schedule, isn’t it time to put your health back on your schedule as well?

Many of our patients have been mentioning in the last few weeks that they have not been able to be as consistent with their home exercises.  They would like have better consistency. But, how do we make this happen?

1.      Define your goals:

Here at Physical Therapy Specialists, we have been focusing on both our personal and professional goals for the present, as well as, the future.  When you are defining your goals, think about your long-term goals and work from there to identify the steps you need to take to get there.  For example, most of our patients want to decrease pain. This is a long-term goal. They may have been informed by their physical therapist that they have some muscle imbalances in their pelvis which are contributing to their pain. Therefore, to eliminate their pain, it is best to perform their home exercises to improve strength and decrease tension.  An example of this is deep diaphragmatic breathing or pelvic bracing exercises. When you have defined your goals, write them down. We can do this together in a session if you would like help!

2.      Find your time of day:

When do you feel at your best during the day?  If you don’t know, that’s ok!  Try to carry a journal or make a note in your phone about when you notice a peak in your energy for about a week and see if you notice a pattern. Try to fit in your exercises during that time of day.

3.      Put yourself on your schedule/calendar:

Technology can derail us but it can also help us!  There are several free habit apps that you can download to help you form new habits. I like “Productive-Habit Tracker” and “Goals Reminder”. You can customize it to add your exercises or set the time of day you will receive a reminder. You can also add your exercises to your calendar on your phone and treat it like you would any other appointment.

4.      Find joy in your exercises/self care routines:

If you don’t enjoy your exercises, then you aren’t likely to do them.  Try listening to your favorite music or watching a TV show while doing your routine.  What exercises make your heart sing?  Start there!

5.      Discuss obstacles to being consistent with your exercises with your physical therapist.

Our goal is to be there to help you on your path towards healing.  Let us help you identify barriers to performing your exercises 4-5 days a week and ways to remove those barriers.  We’re here for you!

6.      Reward yourself and try not to beat yourself up:

When you have been consistent for a week or so, treat yourself to something enjoyable for a job well done. You could get your nails done or go have lunch with a friend. This creates a connection in your brain which will make you more likely to continue to do your exercises. Also, research shows it takes 66 days to create a new habit. You will have ups and downs along the way and that is natural. Remember, SELF-CARE IS NOT SELFISH!  You are investing in yourself so you can be at your best when helping others!

We are here to help!

Do you have any other tips for maintaining a routine? we’d love to hear them.  Email me at: mara@ptspecialist.com