January 21, 2019

Take a Break…

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Take a Break…

… and practice deep breathing! Simply close your eyes and take three to five deep breaths. Don’t worry about breathing technique such as breathing in through your nose or out your mouth, etc, do what feels most comfortable to you. Instead breathe in for a count of 2-3 seconds, hold for 1 second, then slowly exhale for 3-5 seconds. Then pause and relax, and begin again. The key is to not rush each breathe, just find your natural rhythm. When we breathe mindfully, our nervous system receive a message to relax. In doing so, our muscles relax, tension releases, stress decreases, our mind clears and we feel better.

 

Quiet Your Mind

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Quiet your mind!

Meditation does not have to happen sitting on the floor, in a quiet room. In fact, meditation or the action of quieting your mind and calming your body can happen anywhere, at any time. Here’s how:

Sit, stand or lie down comfortably. Close your eyes if possible.

Inhale and picture in your mind a place, person, object or space that gives you complete and total peace and calm.

The key is to make the experience “real” in your mind picturing every detail, and involving all of your senses. What do you see, hear, feel, smell?

Perform 3-5 inhale and exhale cycles as you take your mind into your experience fully.

Next open your eyes, shake out your muscles, and enjoy the mental refresh.

Ease Neck Tension

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Ear to Shoulder Stretch!

Ease neck and shoulder tension with this simple stretch. Begin standing. Lace your fingers behind your body with both arms straight. Inhale and pull both shoulders down and back. Exhale and gently drop your right ear toward your right shoulder. Inhale and return your starting position. Exhale and gently drop your left ear toward your left shoulder. Exhale, and return to your starting position. Hold each position for 10-30 seconds. Never stretch into pain or discomfort.

 

*Consult your physician before performing exercise.

End-of-Day Stretch

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Stretch!

Ease your sore muscles from sitting all day with this Bend-Forward stretch.

Here’s how to do it: Sit forward in your chair with your feet hip-width apart and flat on the floor. Place a rolled up towel or coat on your lap to act as a buffer from bending too far forward. Tuck your chin to your chest. Inhale and place your hands on your thighs. Exhale and walk your hands down your legs until you feel a gentle stretch. Inhale again. Exhale and slowly return to your seated upright position.

 

*Always consult your physician before performing exercise.

 

Too stressed to exercise? By Jana Ross

I’m a morning runner – I wake up before my alarm goes off at 5:30am, crave the sunrises, and savor this quality time I have with my city. In my six years as I runner, I have never set foot to pavement after work. Until one night this week. I tell you this context so you understand what kind of day I must have had to run when it’s already pitch black and not getting any lighter. (Or warmer – it was hovering around 8˚ and only dropped.) One person on a street corner said, “You’re dedicated.” I smiled back and thought, “You have no idea how this run is helping me right now.”

As  to-do lists lengthen, we have no choice but to find some kind of stress reliever. Mine is running, but maybe it’s yoga, a good book or cup of coffee for you. Savor it and don’t let anything keep you from finding the time to pursue whatever it is that calms you down. Sometimes you can’t get to your exercise or stress-reliever the very the minute you need it though, and it helps to have a few tips in your back pocket so you don’t lose your cool. Here are 5 stress-relieving tips:

1. Breathe
Simple but underrated. Use your fingers to press one nostril close and breathe deeply through the other for five seconds. Switch sides and repeat until your pulse slows.

2. Keep Perspective
Play an “it could be worse” game and think about how your stress fits in to the bigger picture. Will someone really remember a few weeks from now if you brought store-bought cookies to the cookie swap? Or pushed a deadline back a few hours to turn in high-quality work?

3. Practice Gratitude
I keep a handy “Things I’m Grateful For” list that I refer to whenever I’m having a really low day. Maybe it’s browsing through your iPhone pictures or calling an old college roommate, sometimes we just need to get out of our own heads.

4. Stretch
There’s something about taking a few minutes to lengthen our cramped muscles that instantly calms us down. It’s restorative and relaxing by nature.

5. Write
Seeing our stresses on paper sometimes helps to understand them as fleeting, manageable, and actionable.

Stress is paralyzing because it overwhelms our rationale, but there is almost always some positive step to take. It’s a choice to be positive. Not an easy choice, but a choice. Now excuse me while I go for a run.

Jana is a healthy living blogger from Boston writing about her love for running, community fitness, and nutrition. She’s run five marathons and is looking ahead to her first triathlon this summer. Check out her blog via www.bananasforbalance.com

Keep Your Personal Strength Alive by Laurie Miller

After a health crisis hits, after the shock of the diagnosis and the meetings with your doctors, hope and desire to overcome the illness is strong. Your loved ones and friends are supportive and positive. Hope is a powerful thing and is necessary in managing to maintain a positive outlook.

Personal strength – physical, mental and emotional – allows you to handle the rocky road and the ups and downs that are inevitably part of a health crisis. Personal strength comes from many sources and your belief system (spiritual, religious, or about life in general) plays an important role. Mental and emotional strength, in particular, come from the messages you send yourself and the choices you make. If your upbringing included messages like “you can do anything you set your mind to” or “you are capable of creating your positive outcomes,” those messages become the solid base of that gives you strength.

It is easy during a health crisis to take on a “poor me” attitude or feel like a victim. Some of this is normal, but too much weakens your personal strength and personal power. When you find yourself in this negative state, notice it, feel it, experience it, explore it . . . and then release it. “Poor me” may seem protective as it enables you to stay stuck and not really deal with the emotions that come with health crisis such as fear or make necessary but difficult changes.  However, in the long term this attitude only serves to bring you down and lessen your quality of life.

Physical strength can be built back after chemotherapy, radiation, or other medical treatments. Give your body good foods, nutrients, and supplements to strengthen it. Drink plenty of water and exercise within your capacity to enhance physical stamina and strength. When you feel physically strong, mental and emotional strength follow and likewise when you are emotionally and mentally strong and resilient, you have more physical resources.

So, if you are in a space where you need strength, take a deep breath and feel a surge of oxygen entering your body and giving you life force energy. Do it again and you will feel even better, lighter, and more comfortable. When I find myself feeling down, I say, “Hello down (or sadness or fear or whatever the emotion may be). I am aware of you.” Staying stuck in that negative place feels icky so I make a conscious decision to shift my mental, emotional, physical state and it works! I feel better, I smile, and I thrive!

Taking your mind away from the details of the health crisis to pleasure, fantasy, and enjoyable stimuli also helps shift you out of a negative state and build your strength. It is important to engage in activities that enhance your quality of life such as reading, attending movies and concerts, and getting plenty of laughter. Set aside the health crisis and all the decisions, questions, and concerns for a period of time. Listen to music, a hypnosis CD, or something else that brings you pleasure and relaxation. When you do this your body relaxes, your emotions calm, and your mind quiets. This restores the inner strength and personal power that keeps you going, keeps you positive, and keeps you motivated to live well even in the midst of a health challenge.

Laurie Miller is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with more than 30 years of experience helping people achieve health and happiness.  Laurie can use her training and her experience with illness to help you.  Read her articles for free here. Purchase her prerecorded hypnosis sessions at http://www.hypnosisconcepts.com/cds-and-mp3s/.

Break-Time: At-Your-Desk Stretching

Unfortunately sore, tired, painful muscles and joints are a regular and ongoing challenge for those who work in front of a computer. However, there is help! Welcome to the world of ergonomics. Ergonomics involve fitting a worker to his/her work space. An ergonomic evaluation will review posture, reach and focal points, including such angles as seat height, monitor position and keyboard placement just to name a few. A proper fit prevents many of the overuse conditions we may experience, such as cumulative trauma disorders, repetitive stress injuries and repetitive motion injuries. We know of these conditions as tendonitis, sprains, strains, carpel tunnel syndrome, neck/back pain, and bursitis.

One beneficial action to take right now is to take mini-breaks during your work day, school day or study day. Here are several stretches with which to begin: (As always, consult your doctor before beginning any exercises.)

Reach up and over stretch. Reach both arms straight up overhead. Lean to your right, then your left.

Wrist circles. Circle your wrists 5 times one direction, then 5 times the opposite direction.

Extend fingers stretch. Make a fist, then extend and straighten your fingers.

Hands behind body with chin to chest stretch. Lace your fingers behind your body. Keeping your torso upright, extend your arms, and press your hands down toward the floor. At the same time lower your chin toward your chest.

Arms out to sides stretch. Extend both arms straight out the sides of your body. Keeping your arms parallel to the floor and your palms facing forward, pinch your shoulder blades together and pull your arms back.

Hands behind head stretch. Lace your fingers and place your hands on the back of your neck. Keeping your hands in place and your torso upright, pinch your shoulder blades together and pull your elbows wide.

Palm down and in stretch. Extend your right arm in front of your body with your palm facing the floor. Curl your fingers in while bending your wrist down and in. Repeat with your left arm forward.

Arms overhead with look up stretch. Lace your fingers and reach both arms up overhead until your elbows are straight. Look up to the ceiling.

Investing in a professional ergonomics evaluation, taking breaks and doing a few stretches or range of motion exercises during the day will help reduce common overuse injuries we find in the workplace. You’ll also improve work efficiency as well as comfort during your day.

5 Stretches to Transition from Work-Time to Relaxation-Time

Perform these easy stretches to relieve work-day stress and ease your body (and mind) into relaxation of evening-time. The following stretches are for those without injury. Please consult your physician before beginning this or any exercise program.

Single Knee to Chest Stretch. Lie on your back. Inhale; Extend both legs straight on the floor. Exhale; Pull your right knee in toward your chest. Inhale;Release your right leg. Exhale; Pull your left knee into your chest. Release your left knee back to the floor. 

Hamstring Stretch. Lie on your back. Inhale; Extend your right leg straight up, perpendicular to the floor. Exhale; Hold ten to twenty seconds. Change leg position; extend your left leg straight up, perpendicular to the floor and hold.

Figure 4 Stretch. Lie on your back. Inhale; Cross your right ankle onto your left thigh, pull both legs off the floor and in toward your chest. Exhale; Hold ten to twenty seconds. Change leg position; place your left ankle on your right thigh, pull both legs in toward your chest.

Cat-back Stretch. Begin on your hands and knees on the floor. Inhale; Round your back up. Exhale; Arch your back.

Standing lunge stretch. Standing, inhale and step your right foot back about three feet. Keep both feet flat on the floor and pointing forward. Exhale; Bend your left knee and hold ten seconds. Change leg positions; step back with your left foot back about three feet, keeping both feet flat and pointing forward, bend your right knee and hold ten seconds.
 

 

5 Ways to Relax and Relieve Stress by Nicole Burley

Everybody is stressed. Too little sleep, long work hours, and their shoulders are up around their ears all day long. Does this sound familiar?
 

Stress is rough on your body in a number of ways. It can lead to tension headaches, anxiety attacks and high blood pressure – but it can also really mess with your weight! Steady levels of stress hormones in your blood will make you hold weight and keep you trapped with extra pounds. It’s not always practical – or even possible – to quit your job, go on vacation, have weekly massages or hire an assistant to help you manage the stress in your life.

Here, however, are 5 totally free – and totally doable – ways to reduce your stress and find some peace.
 

Do absolutely nothing. Don’t underestimate the power of doing nothing! This can mean 5 simple minutes of staring out the window – or a whole afternoon of watching bad TV without guilt. See if you can find a little, tiny patch of time where you consciously, purposely do NOTHING. Let yourself veg out – even if it’s in the bathroom stall for a few moments!

Make something. Make a pie, make macaroni art, make a little man out of paper clips; sketch a portrait of your boss. Create something. Free up a different part of your brain so that stress and anxious thoughts have to take a temporary back seat.

Look at a tree. Seasonal allergies aside, there is something very powerful and calming about nature. Could you find a few trees or some grass or some flowers and spend some time appreciating them? Even if they’re only out your window, just taking some deep breaths while looking at something green can do wonders.

Find a four-legged friend. Play with a puppy, or any kind of animal. Animals can be big balls of love and happiness. Sometimes all you need to do is SEE a happy dog or a cute bunny and it will lighten your spirit and relax your blood pressure. If there are no pets roaming around your workplace (!), check out one of the countless YouTube videos of animals being adorable-it can really shift your energy!

Write. Possibly one of the more powerful ways to alleviate stress and anxiety is to write. Writing helps you find clarity, and also gives you a way to get all your anxious thoughts OUT of your head and on to the page, where they are much less destructive! If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by stressful thoughts and all the things you have to do – write it all out on a piece of paper (or on the computer) and look at it objectively. Seeing everything laid out in front of you can give you a new perspective – and make things seem more manageable.

Nicole Burley, M.Ed is a certified Life Coach and Health Coach in NYC. Her motto is, “Health is fun. Diets are not”. Nicole helps frustrated dieters find a happy, healthy weight – no dieting or deprivation allowed! Nicole holds a masters degree in education from DePaul and a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell. She is a graduate of Coach U and a certified member of the International Coach Federation. www.NicoleBurley.com. Facebook.com/NicoleBurleyCoaching. Twitter: @YourCoachNicole