healing foundations

Stress Management

Troubleshooting Challenges and Setbacks

Kristina Wong, WellTheory Health Coach

Common Movement Barriers & Ways to Overcome Them

We all have different barriers and challenges that get in between us and movement. Below are a few common items that come up along with some suggestions for overcoming them and making them easier.

As you read through them, you might think about what your top barriers or challenges are around movement. You can also take note on what one or two methods might be helpful for you to potentially use to overcome your specific barriers or challenges.

Lack of Time

Identify the time you CAN add in movement or schedule time for movement. Ask for support from others to help with other things in order to create space and time for movement.

  • Use movement you already currently do in daily activities or routines.
  • Move a smaller amount of time, but increase how hard or often you move.

Lack of Energy

Know your commitments and how much energy they take. Pre-identify low-energy movement you can participate in (like stretching).

  • Decrease how hard and long you move, but increase how often it occurs. i.e shorter, more frequent occurrences.

Lack of Motivation

Revisit and reconnect with your ‘why’ for movement. Create a non-food based incentive or reward for right after movement or after meeting your movement goal. Check-in and honor yourself and your needs. What else is going on in your life? Do you need something fun and exciting, or easy and relaxing?

  • Pair movement with something you enjoy (make it fun).
  • Reframe and/or create new meaning or ritual around the movement (think Marie Kondo, but movement!)
  • Focus on the desired outcome (what you want) not the present state (where you are currently).

Fear of Symptoms or Injury

Take a class and learn proper movement forms and how to warm up and cool down to prevent injury. Learn and know your limits — energy, fitness level, skill, and condition/symptoms. Choose movement with minimal risk and have a plan for when you have symptoms or flares.

  • Use movement you already currently do in daily activities or routines that are less likely to cause symptoms or flares.

Strategies to Tackle Challenges and Setbacks

Strategy 1: Focus on Learning from ALL Your Experiences

  • After you complete your movement, and especially if you missed your planned movement, REFLECT on: 1. What’s working? 2. What’s not working?
  • Use the above info to ADJUST your movement for next time based on what you learned. For “what’s not working.” What might you do differently? Or what might need to change or be adjusted? What will you try differently next time?

Strategy 2: Celebrate Your Wins and Practice Gratitude

  • Regularly celebrate what is going well no matter how big or small and reflect on what you are thankful for.

Strategy 3: Think Ahead and Anticipate Challenges & Setbacks

  • Create an alternative movement plan for your known or anticipated challenges and/or setbacks. Example: If my joint pain is severe on the day of my gym class, I will stretch or do a yoga video instead.

Strategy 4: Let Go and Reframe Mindsets

  • Let go or reframe any beliefs or mindset that is preventing you from starting up, building up, or following through on your movement. Example: If I can’t move for 20 mins, what’s the point, I might as well not do it at all. Reframe to: “A little bit of movement is better than no movement.”

Strategy 5: Ask for Help or Support

  • It’s okay to ask for help, especially if you are stuck and notice a repeating pattern of not following through on your movement plans. It can be from someone you know or a professional like a coach or trainer.

Getting Back Up After Setbacks

Sometimes it feels like we take three steps forward only to take five steps back. We have whole days, weeks, months or even years where physically things are not going well — we are in a flare, known symptoms are getting worse, or we have new symptoms impacting our daily lives - not to mention whatever else life throws at us at work, in our families, relationships, or finances.

When we face setbacks there are a couple important things to remember:

  • All that you have accomplished so far (this is why celebrating your wins and/or journaling is important - we are not always good at remembering what we HAVE accomplished)
  • The progress you have made from different time perspectives: since the start of your health journey, the last few years, months or weeks
  • What you have learned and gained from your health journey
  • What your big “why” is for seeking healing and health? What are the important things in your life?

The essence of reconnecting and anchoring into these things helps to bring gratitude and appreciation so that we do not remain and sitting in feelings of despair or disappointment. They are important feeling to acknowledge and honor, but may not be helpful for encouraging and motivating us to keep going on our healing journeys.

Take Action: Troubleshooting Challenges and Set Backs

Reflecting on this activity, what is something you learned or are taking away?

Handout: Troubleshooting Challenges and Set Backs.

(Optional) Grief & Loss Around Movement

In the previous sections we looked at a few different barriers and challenges to movement, but a big one that we did not cover is grief and loss around movement. We have a worksheet to go through if this feels like a relevant topic for you. Please note that if this feels too hard to do right now, or you don’t have the capacity, you can save this for later — download it, and set a reminder to revisit it another time.

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