What a weird title. And it is. What on earth do zoning out and working out have to do with each other? Isn’t zoning out a bad thing?
On the surface, it’s easy to think that zoning out and working out probably have nothing to do with each other. And even mean very little. But hear us out.
What does zoning out mean?
In this context, we’re talking about zoning out as in clearing your mind. Keeping it empty of intrusive thoughts, worries, or anxieties that tend to crop up during the day and stress us out a bit.
It’s a lot easier said than done, but zoning out allows us to be entirely present with the moment that we are in. Not thinking about the future, the past, or the abstract. Focusing only on the action at hand in order to give our minds a sense of freedom from the usual noise they often deal with.
These are the basic principles to many concepts like meditation, mindfulness, and yoga. The sense of peacefulness and relaxation that can come from zoning out is really powerful.
Why do zoning out and working out go hand in hand?
When meditating, or beginning to meditate, it’s often encouraged to focus on the breath in order to help clear the mind of other thoughts. Or the body. Focusing on something simple, that’s entirely in the present moment, is helpful to quieten down any other activity going on inside your head.
Working out is great for our physical health, but also our mental health. On top of the rush of endorphins it can give us, working out can be a great tool for escapism and a release from the stressors of our everyday lives.
Focusing only on the physical actions we are doing and how our bodies are responding to them is a great way to become more in tune with our bodies. Listening to what they can do and what they can’t. It also offers a simple focus for us to zone out over.
Returning from a gym session or an exercise class where you were focused only on your body and what it was doing, helps you to feel much more empowered, relaxed, and energised by the activity.
How to zone out while exercising
As those that have tried meditation before will know, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Our minds are not used to being so quiet. They often try to interrupt us with passing thoughts or worries. That’s okay. The key is in acknowledging that your mind has wandered from the task at hand, and gently bringing it back to your point of focus.
There are some tricks to help get started with zoning out during exercise. The first is to make sure you’re comfortable and not in pain. No exercise should cause pain. The second is to leave your phone in the changing room. It’s all too tempting of a distraction. The third is to choose exercise that you like. It’s pretty hard to zone out over something you hate, so pick your preferred exercise and one that you can really enjoy.
Figuring out how to zone out is all about practice. It takes time to develop a sense of peaceful movement that’s not distracted by thinking. Don’t be disheartened if it takes a while to perfect.
The key is to keep your focus on your body movement at all times.
If you’re running, focus on the rhythm of your strides and the way your feet land one after the other. Notice the sensation of your feet on the ground. Feel the breeze against your skin. Acknowledge the controlled swinging of your arms.
If you’re lifting weights, notice the tightness of your core as you perform the movement. Feel the contraction and lengthening of you muscles as you perform the different phases of the movement. Feel the tingle of your body as you start to warm up and the blood starts flowing.
It’s not for everybody. You might prefer to use the gym as your thinking time and solve all the worlds problems in your head. Or you might appreciate a little head space from the daily noise by zoning out during your exercise. We’ve all got to Hussle in our own way.