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.
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.
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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 rounded shoulders. Your desk, couch, and car all provide a comfortable place to sit, but they slouch you forward in a C-curve. In ancient times, this was a protective posture that decreased the target area of your vital organs. It’s helpful if you’re in a fight, but if this position is held too long, your back muscles overstretch, potentially causing pain.
Counter this position by elongating the front of your body into an arch. Your back muscles shorten, giving them a chance to relax. Shoulder tension may release, offering more space to breathe 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 with your face up, with the bolster behind your ribs where your bra strap is (sorry, men, I couldn’t think of another reference point). Adjust the pillow as needed, as long as it’s behind your upper back, not lower lumbar area. You can also turn it 90 degrees to run along your spine. You may need a different spot each day.
Bend your knees and place both feet on the floor if you have lower back tension. 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 time 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.
These exercises help strengthen the muscles that improve your balance. As you practice them, try to increase the time that you hold each pose. If you breathe deeply while staying in position, you pass the time and relax easier.
- Stand on one foot.
- Sit down and stand up without using your hands.
- While holding onto the back of a chair, bend your knees slightly and lift your heels up and down slowly at least 10 times.
- Sit in a kitchen chair and extend one leg out in front of you. Lower your leg and repeat 10 times with each leg.
Walking, swimming, and practicing tai chi are other ways to improve your balance, strength, and endurance.
All you need is love.
But a little chocolate, a massage and a great night’s sleep doesn’t hurt.
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No words of wisdom today, no to-do list.
I’ll simply share some anonymous musings and an image of humor and hope.
“I long for a better world where chickens can cross the road without their motives being questioned.”
Are you ready to give up and live with those aches and pains? There’s one more thing you can try at home that can make a huge difference in how you feel.
Stretching first thing in the morning and just before bed can ease your body enough to help you be happier, more productive, and get a good night’s sleep. Keeping muscles tight takes up a lot of your physical and mental energy.
I like to do the downward dog yoga pose followed by the rag doll in the morning. It elongates my spine and loosens up tension in my neck and between my shoulder blades. Then, at night, I’ll stay in the legs up the wall pose for 5 minutes to release back tension and soothe my nervous system.
If you’d like help finding the right stretches for your problem areas, just give me a call, text, or send an email.
- Pour a handful of Epsom salts in a plastic tub with hot tap water. Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes. You’l also absorb some magnesium which calms your nervous system
- Place plain, inexpensive rice in a cloth bag (or pillowcase) and close the end. Microwave until the rice is warm, but not too hot. Place it around your neck, on your lower back, or wherever you need it.
- Lay as flat as you can (I prefer on the floor). Take at least three slow, deep breaths and extend the exhale so you fully release your breath. I find that my neck and back relax more when laying flat. In this position, gravity is helping you roll your shoulders back too.