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 Insititue 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. If you’d like a copy, let me know.
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.
Laughter is unique to humans according to Aristotle.
I heard this on a podcast recently. It’s accepted that laughter has healing properties, is infectious (in a good way), and can deepen our relationships when it’s shared. Yet, Aristotle might be wrong that only humans can laugh. We just might not know how to recognize laughter in animals. I’ve seen squirrels playing in the park and, for me, it’s not too big a leap to imagine they can laugh. I think the idea makes our world feel even more magical.
You’re not alone if you have somewhat rounded shoulders. Your desk, chair, and car all provide a comfortable place to sit, but they enhance a tendency to slouch forward in a C-curve. In ancient times, this was a protective posture that decreased the target area ofyour vital organs. Unfortunately, if this position is held too long, it leads to overstretched back muscles, potentially causing pain.
You can counter this position by elongating the front of your body. This shortens back muscles and gives them a chance to relax. It also releases shoulder tension and can offer more space for the lungs so we can breathe more deeply. You really need to do this important stretch EVERY DAY.
Roll a thick blanket or towel or use a foam roller, or even a pool noodle from the dollar store as a support. The noodle can be cut into thirds allowing you to keep one at your desk, in your car, and at home. Lie down face up, with the bolster behind your ribs where your bra strap is (sorry, men, I couldn’t think of another reference point). You can adjust it as long as it’s behind your upper back, not lower. You can also turn it 90 degrees so it runs along your spine. You may need a different spot each day.
Feel free to bend your knees and place both feet on the floor if you have lower back tension. You can place your arms overhead or down by your side. Most importantly, stay there for at least two full minutes. Enjoy the effect of melting into the floor. I like this stretch best at the end of the day, but there is no right or wrong way to do this stretch.
Spring can bring a host of outdoor activities such as lawn and garden cleanup. You may want to add some exercises now to your weekly routine. This will get your muscles ready and may prevent soreness which will keep you from needing a massage. It’s always more enjoyable to get a massage when you don’t hurt.