Finding What Feels Good

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, April 29, 2020
By Lisa Jimenez, LMHC

If you’ve never heard the term “joyful movement,” that’s okay. Movement is another way of describing a physical activity or what one would typically refer to as exercising. Joyful movement is moving in ways that feel good and that we find pleasure in because we love and respect our bodies. It is not exercising to punish our bodies or exercising for weight-loss or weight-control. It is not exercise as our only means of coping. This can lead to disordered exercising or exercise dependence. Some examples of joyful movement might be skateboarding to a friend’s house, gardening with your spouse on a weekend afternoon, or swimming with your kids. For me, more recently, this has been dancing. 

Lisa Jimenez blog

Joyful movement feels good but it has also been an important piece to my own personal growth and relationship with my body.

Specifically during this time, as things are pretty difficult and we’re being faced with some harsh realities, I’ve found it to be essential. I find that moving my body in ways that I look forward to and get excited about helps me release toxic energy that no longer serves me. 

I’ve never considered myself a good dancer. I made peace with my mediocre dance moves after joining the dance team in 8th grade. I’ve never taken any particular pride in my dancing skills or wanted to share it with others. But guess what? That’s changed! 

I recently came across the Instagram account of Ryan Heffington (@Ryan.heffington) who promotes dancing for all ages, races, body types, and more. What I didn’t know then, but I can gladly report now, is that dancing has brought back a sense of playfulness and joy into my life that has been so appreciated in this time of home quarantine. 

In my clinical work, people will often express resistance to movement and frustrations with themselves for being in that place of resistance, something often misunderstood as a “lack of motivation”. If this is you, I hear you. We’ve all been there. I know I’ve definitely been there. Something that I often do with my clients is to help them in identifying what these barriers are. Here are some of the most common ones that come up:

  • Starting your movement routine with a diet plan. Just as quick as the diet drops off so does the movement plan (p.s. diets don’t work!).
  • Abusing our bodies or pushing past limits. Naturally, we don’t want to return. It hurts!
  • Insecurities around our body size or shape.
  • Past experiences such as being forced into moving.
  • Playing mind games with yourself such as “it doesn’t count” or any all-or-nothing thinking. 

With the limited space available to us at this time and the sedentary routines that many of us have been pushed into, I want to remind you that there’s a healthier, easier, and more freeing way to look at movement that can help. Your body knows what it needs. Tune into it. Move when you get that itch. Rest when your body needs it. Here are just a few pointers that can support you on your way to joyful movement:

  • Focus on the feelings during and after: Did you notice any differences in your stress levels that day? Did any feelings of strength or empowerment come up? Did you sleep better that night?
  • Keep in mind your intention. If you’re engaging in an activity with the goal of a better future, well then let’s remember all the health benefits that come with it. Staying active can help decrease blood pressure, increase bone strength, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases (the list goes on).
  • Make it fun. Invite a friend if that feels enticing. Do it alone if you prefer. Find that thing that you like about it, whatever it is that makes you want to come back to it.

Personally, I’ve really enjoyed blasting the music, running around my living room, and moving my body in ways I forgot I could. It rejuvenates me and alleviates stress. Most importantly, it feels good. And if there’s something I know to be true, it’s that I’m more likely to repeat something that felt good. I hope you find that thing for you.


What is your “joyful movement”? If you don’t have one, what can you do to create one? Does Lisa’s blog help stir some ideas?

Leave your comments here.


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Feeding the Front Lines Miami

During the COVID-19 Crisis, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami has been vigilant in making sure our families have what they need.

Here are the FACTS. BBBS Miami has committed to help our families by providing:

Food Distribution, Access to Virtual Trainings, Connection via virtual programming and ongoing access to BBBS staff, Transportation: Delivery of food and basic household supplies, Support: Social and emotional support through Mentoring

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Gesu Catholic Church needs our help! Several days a week, the soup kitchen at Gesu feeds over 80 local senior citizens and countless homeless. These individuals rely on Gesu for warm meals. Due to COVID-19 and the suspension of masses at Gesu, donations, which are used in part to pay for the warm meals.

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The Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa are collecting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The Missionaries need our support to help people in homeless situations during this crisis. You can drop off the sandwiches at 724 NW 17 St. Miami, FL 33136. Please note hours: Every day until noon except Thursday. They are closed on Thursdays.

Touching Miami with Love has an urgent request for bikes for the parents in their Overtown and Homestead programs. These parents have to go to work but do not want to take public transportation because of Covid-19. They will take adult OR teen/kid bikes because “they are not too proud to ride a kids bike to get them where they need to go”. If you have a bike to donate, please contact them.