Ashley Kelly

Push past your limits with some mental stretching

Ashley Kelly

Physical activity has always been a big part of my life. I loved playing sports when I was a kid and as I got older it was only natural for me to add regular exercise into my routine.

I found health and fitness so interesting that I decided to get a degree in health science along with some other certifications as well. No, I’m not always dedicated to my health and fitness. I’ve definitely gone through phases where I’m more diligent and phases when I’m not.

But there’s one part of physical activity that I’ve always avoided and only did because I had to.

Stretching.

Yep, for all the knowledge I have about health and fitness, and knowing the benefits of why stretching is super important, I still avoided it (and sometimes still do).

I used to think it was because I just didn’t like it and because I wasn’t that flexible of a person. I’m actually not that flexible and never have been (maybe that’s because I avoided stretching lol). Go figure.

But really, the real reason is because I find it difficult. I find stretching uncomfortably hard.

It’s the part of working out where my mind is full-on. My thoughts run wild. My mind chatters incessantly about nothing and everything and it won’t turn off. The sensations are hard to bear and my mind would play off that.

This hurts.

It’s too hard.

You’re not good at this.

You’re not even flexible.

I don’t like this.

This is stupid.

There are several aspects to your health and fitness, all of which are important and where you avoid one, it’s not long until it becomes your limiting factor.

I think life is the same.

There are certain things that cause us tremendous discomfort. Maybe for you it’s social settings, maybe it’s public speaking, maybe it’s having difficult conversations, maybe it’s being alone.

If we give in to the chatter that happens during these uncomfortable scenarios, I find it’s easy to start making excuses for ourselves that we start believing. Like, oh, I’m just shy, always have been, always will be so I won’t go to that party…or the next one or the next one. Or, oh, I’m no good at public speaking, I just get too nervous and it's not a skill I have so you find any reason to avoid trying. Or, maybe you keep cycling through toxic relationships because the thought of being on your own is unbearable.

Whatever the area of discomfort is, it’s calling for you to lean into it and stretch yourself. Why does this make you act a certain way? What response is this bringing out in you and why?

Ignoring it and pretending it’s not there only gives it more power and ability for it to become a limiting factor in your life.

I’m not saying you need to conquer all your fears and difficulties in one fell swoop. The point is to acknowledge that it exists and that working on it little by little is a step in the right direction.

Just like stretching. I’m not going to improve my flexibility because I stretched once. That happens over time, with small steps and stretching myself a little further each time.

As you lean into the discomfort it starts getting easier. It doesn’t hurt as much.

Don’t let limiting factors in your life hold you back from your potential. They don’t need to have that much control.

So, lean into the stretch of whatever’s calling for your acknowledgement, mental or physical, and push just a little farther.