If you’re like me, the reward of a slower pace after the busy holidays can quickly become the new normal. I’ve learned that it’s important to shift gears, otherwise I’m jump-starting myself each day until spring comes. Let me share some of the healthier ways I’ve found to recharge and enjoy this colder season.
1) Just keep moving.If you’re not big on outdoor sports, try yoga, tai chi, or even do some walking. Aim for at least 20 minutes a day.
2) Soak up the sun. On beautiful sunny days like today, take a cue from cats. Sit in a sunny spot with a warm cup of tea and something to read. You can justify this coffee break since it’s medicinal. 🙂
3) Eat fruits and vegetables. Filling up on bread and pasta can be tempting, but they’ll only add to that groggy feeling. I enjoy roasted beets and sweet potatoes. They’re a filling comfort food for me. Pomegranate, kiwi, and mango are exotic winter fruits. What feels like a treat for you?
4) Drink lots of liquids. No, you can’t count wine for this one 😉 Drinking water gives you more energy, helps you feel full even while eating less, and flushes out sugar from the inevtable treats. Drinking water is easier than explaining why the cookie jar is empty…again.
5) Enjoy the slower pace. Find a few ways to indulge yourself that you might not have time for the rest of the year. Take a hot bath, get a massage, or spend the whole evening on a video call with an old friend.
“Laughing and crying are the same thing – laughing just feels better” – Mexican shaman as told to Douglas Abrams
My new year’s resolution is to read more books. There’s a Japanese word for the act of buying books, letting them stack up, and never reading them – tsundoku. I realized my little pile was growing and I’m at risk of tsundoku-ing.
I’m currently reading The Book of Joy by Douglas Abrams which entails conversations with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. What a combination, the book was irresistible. Here’s an excerpt.
“It is much better when there is not too much seriousness,” the Dalai Lama responded. “Laughter, joking is much better. Thenn we can be completely relaxed. I met some scientists in Japan, and they explained that wholehearted laughter – not artificial laughter – is very good for your heart and your health in general.” When he said “artificial laughter” he pretended to smile and forced a chuckle. He was making a connection between wholehearted laughter and a warm heart, which he had already said was the key to happiness.
In line with this idea, I’d like to share a project I’ve been working on. I’m writing short stories of all the funny things that went on when I was raising my children. My wish is that it will produce real laughter leading to greater health and happiness.
You don’t need any fancy tools to relax this holiday season. It’s as simple as breathing in and breathing out. Inhale slowly through your nose. Then, exhale as you whisper “aaaaaah.”
Before you breathe in again, let out one last bit of air. Yes, there will always be a little bit left. I’ve been practicing yogic breath work for 30 years and am still amazed that no matter how completely you exhale, there’s still more. It helps you breathe more deeply, triggering a relaxation response and brings more oxygen into your body.
Use this complete breath for 3 to 10 cycles whenever you would like to reset your enjoyment of the day.
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We live in a culture that notices when you push the limits of endurance. You see this in phrases like “no pain, no gain” and “feel the burn.” However, there is no evidence that is the best way to achieve anything.
In our bodies, good health is when we’re in balance, called homeostatsis. In our muscles, it shows up as a comfortable flow between tension and relaxation without remaining in either state too long. Yet, most of us spend much more time in a tense state than otherwise. This wears down our muscles leading to injury and disease.
Prolonged tension often shows up as a digestive disorder since that system is made up largely of smooth muscle tissue. When we work through lunchtime, we’re ignoring the important “rest and digest” part of our nervous sytem. In other words, we’re not slowing down during a meal to balance the activity before and afer lunch. Tension can sometimes build up faster from mental activity than from physical work, so you’re not safe if you have a desk job.
Building some form of tension reliever into your routine strengthens your muscles by providing a fluid flow between their active and relaxed states. So yes, each massage makes you stronger.
Current messages about salt intake can be confusing.
If you have any kind of heart issue, you should consult with your doctor before making any changes. That being said, I would like you to know about some of the real benefits of new salts that are in stores.
Unrefined salt is mined from the earth instead of the sea and is believed to be untainted by environmental toxins since it was deposited there long before humans manufactured pollutants. Called by many names, usually depending on the mining location, these salts provide a rich source of many important trace minerals. Two of the more common ones are Himalayan and Celtic salt. They come in an array of colors such as pink, black, and there’s even a blue salt, although it’s very expensive.
A benefit beyond table salt, is that unrefined salts contain trace minerals which improve muscle function and your level of hydration. This may reduce the chance of muscle cramps, restore electrolyte levels, and balance your body’s pH.
Pink Himalayan salt has become popular so it’s now easily available and affordable. I’ve switched over and think it helps me recover more easily from aches due to exercise. It’s also reduced my craving for salty foods so I’m wondering if that means I’m now getting the nutrients that I need.
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.