K and I took Scooter, our cat, to the vet for a check-up visit last Friday. Scooter never enjoys the experience, but this time he seemed to be more upset than usual.
It is times like these that I wish he and I could communicate in the same language, as it’s impossible to understand exactly what he’s feeling (though I would guess fear, frustration, and anguish) and my presence and words of comfort and support were not calming to him.
Scooter is in better spirits now that he is home and the trauma of the vet visit is in the past, though he’s alert to the possibility of a future trip and hasn’t quite relaxed into his usual routine. (We’ve scheduled Scooter’s annual teeth cleaning appointment for next month, so he’s not wrong to be concerned about another vet visit.)
Like Scooter, we can all relate to experiencing stress in the past and being concerned about experiencing stress in the future.
Focusing on the present moment and being mindful of what you are experiencing right now can help to alleviate the stress that may come with worrying about the future or dwelling on the past.
Further, taking action in the now is where you can impact your life.
Though the past can serve as a reference and may contain valuable information, the past is done and cannot be altered.
And though it is helpful to plan for the future, the future is not here yet.
Being mindful of the present and living in the moment can help you to feel empowered and confident about the choices you choose to make.
For the sake of our discussion, let’s talk about exercising outside. We can’t affect the weather, but we can look at previous experiences (ours and those of others) to better plan for our future outdoor exercise excursions. Despite our best efforts to plan, the weather might not cooperate in the moment, and we can adapt or struggle.
Sometimes we adapt and continue to struggle.
If you plan for a sunny, twenty-degree day and the temperature is warmer while you’re exercising, you could adapt by taking off a layer and continuing on your way.
If you plan for a sunny, twenty-degree day and the weather gives you a low-visibility blizzard, you could adapt by pulling up your hood or by cutting your workout short. Even with the adjustments you’ve made, you might still be struggling for a time.
Alternatively, you could adapt your mindset by accepting the conditions and moving through them until you have completed your workout. The workout is just part of your day and will not last. Whatever discomfort you may be feeling is temporary and will not continue indefinitely.
You can’t control the weather, but you can control how you react to the weather.
Adapting your mindset to weather the conditions presented (whether those conditions are weather-related or not) is a skill you can learn. Exercising outside in a variety of conditions helps to develop mental toughness and build confidence in your ability to achieve your goals, even when conditions aren’t ideal.
We aren’t always going to have excellent workouts, but we can improve our experience during tougher workouts (and challenging days) by recognizing that these conditions are temporary.
As you encounter situations that challenge you and you flex your mindset muscle in response, know that you will grow stronger and more resilient with practice.