According to Wikipedia, Labor Day honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of our country. You’ve earned that relaxation! If you’re like my family, you’ve earned the time off to tackle all the house projects that you’ve been working on this past weekend. What is relaxation?
Some things take time. If you’ve had an issue for awhile, chances are that one massage is not going to resolve it totally. I suggest coming in more often than once a month if you’d like to improve how you feel. Progress with each massage will build on the next one if they’re closer together.
For example, the first massage may relieve the tension built up because you’ve had pain and will also diminish your discomfort. If you get a second massage a week or two later, you’ll still be fairly relaxed so the goal will then be to ease the muscles completely.
Bananas are a great food for your muscles. They’re high in potassium and magnesium which help decrease muscle tension.
Magnesium is especially good at calming your nervous system and even helps you metabolize sugar, decreasing your risk of diabetes. Other foods that are high in magnesium are almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, and sunflower seeds. You can mix them all together with other fruit and goodies for a wonderful trail mix.
Try flax seeds or flax seed oil to get magnesium with an added boost of omega 3s! You can use it in a homemade salad dressing or cook and bake with it the same as you’d use olive oil.
Stretching before bedtime may relieve discomfort in your back and legs that could give you a better night’s sleep. Here are some of my favorite stretches.
If you want to stretch your lower back, pull your knee into your chest one at a time while lying face up. Then, extend both legs. Raise one leg, gently pull it close, and hold for a couple minutes. Put that leg down and raise the other. This stretches your hamstrings.
If you roll over, sit back on your heels, and extend your arms, you can use this child’s pose to stretch your lower back as well. I suggest holding this pose for a couple minutes too. It’s a great time to practice a few slow, deep breaths which just might put you in the mood to snooze.
Stretching keeps your muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. This simple stretch lengthens your abdominal muscles, hips, and thigh muscles. It improves flexibility in your spine and stretches the muscles between your ribs.
This single stretch can reduce muscle tension in your abdomen and back and also may help you breathe more deeply. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Place your right hand on your hip and raise your left arm. Bend your torso to the right until you feel a stretch in your side. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side. Take full breaths while you stretch to increase the release.
According to The American Institute of Stress, 77% of Americans are dealing with physical symptoms because of stress.
It’s believed that stress can even undo all the benefits from exercise and a good diet. I know that just taking 10 minutes from my day to go outside, sit quietly, or talk with a friend helps keep me grounded, balanced, and happy.
Wouldn’t that be nice? It turns out, you can! And it’s free. It’s as simple as going outside. Plus, the benefits are bigger, the longer and more often you spend time in nature,
For years studies have shown that being in green spaces is good for your health. Recent research has confirmed this once again and gone a step further, showing that your nervous system is directly affected, similar to your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. You breathe easier while lowering your blood pressure, and now you can actually increase the part of your brain that makes you smart and happy. You might even pay more attention than before.
Drinking water can be fun! I promise.
Most Americans don’t drink enough water and it’s even more important when we have a heat wave. The biggest reason people give is because they don’t like the taste of plain water. Yup, it can be boring. But, it can make the difference by reducing muscle aches, headaches, and giving you more energy. In weeks like this, it’s crucial.
So here’s the cure. My dear friend, Deb Dittner, wrote a great book called Body Balance that includes this recipe for a Healthy Electrolyte Drink. It’s written for hockey players who are looking for healthier ways to eat that are convenient, give them more energy, and don’t require much reading. Take away the hockey stick and the ice skates and this book is helpful for almost all of us.
Mix the following and chill before serving:
4 cups pure warm water
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. honey
For even more variety, I’ve made this in a blender and added whatever fruit or berries I’ve got. I’ve even blended it up first and added frozen berries when I want to drink it right away. No need for chilling!
I spent most of this past weekend in the garden where it was vewy, vewy quiet. Although, I’m not sure if any of the rabbits in the thicket are named Bugs Bunny.
I leave my cell phone in the house for practicality so it doesn’t get hot, dirty, or wet. Because of that, I discovered I’m more focused and productive, but I’m also more aware of what’s going on. I notice the bird songs, the color of the sky and clouds, and the antics of my outdoor cat.
You would think that taking pauses to observe my surroundings would slow down how much I get done, but I’ve found it does the opposite. There is something about quiet time that is soothing to your body. It resets your nervous system to relax mode. When you’re in overdrive, you can actually miss important details as well as bigger obvious things. You can’t take in as much data to help you make decisions.
Slowing down is an important part of functioning. That’s why your nervous system is divided into the sympathetic, fight or flight part, and the parasympathetic, rest and digest part. Our culture rewards the fighting side of your nervous system and many of our recreational activities like gaming and even watching TV triggers the adrenals that fuel it.
Quiet time guarantees that only our resting nervous system is engaged. You might have a few anxious thoughts that come and go if you’re not used to slowing down. Wait them out and let them pass or employ several slow, deep breaths to ease your tension.
Build some form of quiet time into each day, especially in the morning and before bed. It doesn’t need to be meditation. You can read a book, stretch, or watch a sunset or sunrise. You could play music or enjoy a hobby like gardening, knitting, or woodworking. Just 10 minutes of quiet time might even give you a half hour or more of relaxed productivity elsewhere in your day. If you’re like me, at the very least, you’ll feel refreshed, relaxed, and happier.