How to recognise self-pressure

How do you control the self-critic to avoid undoing the benefits of exercising?

Experiencing nature, wildlife, the benefits of sunshine and the great outdoors is a great way to restore depleted levels of energy and boost the happy endorphins.

Exercise, especially outdoors this time of year can be a highly beneficial way to improve mood, mindset and mental health. But when the self-critic pops up choosing what to do can make or break your day.

Starting the day early I headed out for a run, all was going well and starting to feel the waking energy of the new day until I became aware that my watch had not vibrated to log my 1k laps. I realised that my GPS watch wasn’t tracking me.

For a while I became very distracted by this – how would I know if I was achieving my goals?

The wellbeing I was feeling quickly began to evaporate and was replaced with a disgruntled irritability as I began to go through why it might not have started.

Irritability rapidly moved to feeding my critical self and becoming annoyed for not checking it when I started out. I started the watch and continued but the mindset benefits I’d been feeling were clouded by the negativity of my thoughts. Why was I giving myself such a hard time about this?

I turned it off and for the first time in ages I just ran. Liberated by not checking my watch for pace and distance meant I could take in the surroundings and be totally mindful of my surroundings, I even stopped. I took some photos, enjoyed the sunshine and appreciated nature, the deer and even parrots.

I have no idea how long I was out for, or how far exactly I had gone, but I felt as uplifted and thankful I had silenced the critical me once again. Had I let it, something that was meant to be a positive experience could have so easily become something I ruminated over the rest of the day.

It is often easy to recognise when others are a source of stress, but self-inflicted pressure can be debilitating. Recognising when the ‘critical-self’ pops-up and proactively working to silence it will make you feel stronger.

It’s not always as easy as pressing a button but choosing to silence the inner critic is powerful enough to let you get on with the day the way you intended.