You fold the laundry while keeping one eye on the kids and another on the television. You plan your day while listening to the radio and commuting to work and then plan your weekend. But in the rush to accomplish necessary tasks, you may find yourself losing your connection with the present moment—missing out on what you’re doing and how you’re feeling.
Whether we realize it or not, every action we take in our daily life – big or small – has an impact on the way our physical body functions. And over time, any stress on our bodies creates an imbalance that could drain us of strength and energy. For some, an imbalance may result in nagging muscle aches or pains; for others, it may manifest in a chronic condition.
Do you carry a heavy purse on one shoulder? Commute to work, only to spend eight hours sitting at a desk? Cross your legs when you sit? Carry your child on one hip? Hold the phone to your shoulder with your ear? Your everyday activities may be affecting your physical body functions more than you realize!
So how can we become more mindful and aware of the effect of our everyday actions and prevent our “unhealthy habits” from wrecking our bodies? Here are three ways:
VISUALIZE YOUR DAY
In your mind, walk through your typical daily activities – from getting out of bed in the morning to going to bed at night. Visualize the way you’re standing when you brush your teeth, the way you sit at your desk, talk on the phone, eat your lunch, play with your kids, sit on the couch, even your workout regime. You might be surprised at how many activities you engage in that create imbalances or put negative stress on your body.
Brainstorm some ways to combat these imbalances. For example, if you drive long distances or sit at a desk all day, schedule stretch breaks where you can counteract the stresses of sitting with gentle backbends and some neck and shoulder stretches. Or if you carry your purse on one shoulder, try to be conscious of switching arms as much as possible.
In the morning, at lunchtime, and in the evening, perform a “check-in” with the body. Here’s how to do it: Get out of that office chair and rise to a standing position. Direct your attention to each body part and notice if there are any areas of tension, pain, or discomfort. See if you can trace this discomfort back to an action or activity (large or small) that you recently engaged in.
Once you have a focused awareness of your body tension(s), perform some gentle but targeted stretches to release tightness in the muscles. The more time we spend connecting our minds with our bodies, the more likely we are to catch and let go of negative stress before it creates strain on our muscles or joints.
Incorporate regular bodywork into your life. Just as cars need regular maintenance, so do our bodies. Making an appointment to spend time working on your body increases your awareness of your physical habits and their effects. Whether it’s in the form of a monthly massage, a weekly yoga class, or a daily guided relaxation, bodywork is a fantastic way to maintain and nourish a healthy, balanced body. And as an added bonus, your mind will feel refreshed as well.
So, as each day progresses, bring greater awareness to everything you do. You might be surprised by the results!
It is quite common to see parents holding their child on their hip. What most don’t realize is when we hold our child on our hip, we are utilizing a variety of muscle groups in the hips, back, shoulders, neck and even our arms and hands! This position, repeated over a period of time, can potentially lead to headaches, tension or discomfort up and down the spine, shooting pains or numbness in the hip and/or down the leg, rotator cuff and/or carpal tunnel issues.
So what other positions do we put ourselves in throughout the day? And what can we do to prevent any future issues from arising?
Two words… Body Awareness.
Pay attention to your positioning throughout the day. What side do you hold your child on the most? Do you bend at the waist when picking them up? When getting down on the floor with your child, do you squat down with weight bearing on your feet and ankles or sit down in a weird position?
Here are a few scenarios to think about:
HIP / LOWER BACK PAIN: While holding your child, you may unconsciously hike the hip up towards the rib cage or become weight bearing on one favored side that may be the most comfortable for you at that moment. This contracts muscles along the spine and in the hips and may end up creating lower back tension. It can also create the hips to tighten up and limit your range of motion.
NECK / SHOULDERS TENSION: When cradling your child in your arms, you are contracting not only the muscles all around the shoulder, but the ones that go up into the neck, down the spine and even in the chest. This posture can create tension in the neck leading to headaches, and it can also turn into poor posture, including rounded shoulders and forward head posture. When the front of the neck and chest get tense you can feel it in the back of your neck and shoulders.
MID-BACK: When holding your child or sitting on the floor with them you may notice yourself twisting to the side, even if it is the slightest. This rotation, if repeated daily on the same side, can create discomfort and tension in the mid back. These muscles are so little and can lock up pretty easily if we are not aware of our posture.
Time to build a deeper understanding of the body and learn how certain positions repeated over and over again throughout our day create tension in different areas. What is your body telling you??
Have you ever noticed your body whispering to you? It may be as simple as you feeling tired, anxious, depressed, fatigued, hungry, restless, or sore. Stop for a minute, ask yourself… How do you FEEL? Do you have the energy to accomplish your everyday activities? If not, why do you think that is? 🤔
The first step to listening to your body’s needs is to RECOGNIZE how you are currently feeling.
Close your eyes, put your hand on your chest, take a deep breath in and a slow exhale, focus on your heartbeat, your breath, your chest rising and falling… Ask yourself how do you feel in the present moment? What can you do to show your body the love and respect it deserves? What do you NEED?
As I sat in my house for the fourth week in a row, due to this shelter in place order, I started becoming AWARE of all the feelings I was going through. I was NERVOUS about not working due to COVID19 and the thought of not being able to bring in an income to help support my family. I was ANXIOUS about the unknown of this crazy pandemic. I was OVERWHELMED with the transition of previously being a working mom, to overnight becoming a stay-at-home mom. I was EXHAUSTED running around after a toddler all day long while my husband was working. I was SORE from not listening to my body’s needs and ignoring all of the signs. These feelings were my body’s way of telling me to slow down and focus on what’s important… ME!! ❤️
By the second month, once I realized how to trust my body’s instincts, I started to notice my feelings shift… my heart was HAPPY to have more one-on-one time with my little boy to help him learn about the world around us. My body was RELIEVED to take a break from my physical work. My mind was able to calm down and RELAX as I started taking more quiet time for myself. With all this extra time on my hands, I began to rethink how I managed my time and energy each and every day.
So how can we manage our TIME and ENERGY while listening to our body?
It all starts with making a conscious decision to be AWARE of how you are currently FEELING and listen to those NEEDS before your body starts screaming at you. Your health is what’s important... stop ignoring the WHISPERS!
P.S. Here is a great article for those of you looking to learn more about how to listen to your body and give it what it needs! 😊
Quite a few of you have mentioned how you have been feeling stressed and are trying to stay as positive as possible during this crazy time. How do we manage these negative thoughts that come flooding in when we feel stressed? And how is this related to the chemicals like cortisol and dopamine in our body? 🤔
Two main hormones affect your stress level, cortisol, and dopamine. Both of these chemicals can influence your mood.
Cortisol is part of our body's built-in alarm system. It's our body's main stress hormone that controls our mood, motivation, and fear. I'm sure many of you have heard of the flight or fight response, this is our body's natural instinct during high-stress situations. When stress levels are high this can lead to several health problems including; anxiety, depression, headaches, heart disease, problems with digestion, trouble sleeping, weight loss, and even negative thoughts!
On the other hand, we have dopamine which is our body's chemical messenger sending signals from our brain to our body. So, as you can imagine dopamine is a super important part of the central nervous system controlling functions such as movement, pleasure, attention, mood, and motivation. A lot of people know this as the happy hormone that helps create positive thoughts.
With that said, I truly believe there is a connection between our thoughts, how we feel, and what we create. Our thoughts, feelings, and actions can be controlled through stress management.
I have a fun little exercise for those interested in managing their stress levels. It's called the bounce principle. After an argument or stressful situation you may notice a negative thought pop into your head, be mindful, each time your brain switches to a negative thought bounce it into a positive thought or reaction instead.
I talk to a lot of people about what is currently going on in our society and the stressful impact it has had on each and every one of us. With that said, during a chaotic time like this, how do WE as individuals find peace?
How can WE be the change we wish to see in the world?
It starts with YOU. Align your mind, body, and soul by accepting that stillness within and connecting with yourself to find what makes YOU most at peace, what makes YOU happy. That is where you will find the inspiration and motivation to lift others and accomplish anything you put your mind to.
This friendly evening reminder is a great routine to get into by yourself or with your family. It allows you to connect and become in-tune with your overall well-being; physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
I'll let you in on a little secret... We all know this year has been a bit stressful. Every individual has had a very different experience from the next.
My family and I personally went through a loss at the beginning of this year, before we even found out about this crazy pandemic. During that time, at the end of January, I came to the realization of what truly matters in my life... Living in the moment with my family and loved ones. They showed me so much unconditional love and support during that time. But most of all, they helped me stay positive and keep my head up during a time when I needed it most. I am so truly grateful for each and every one of you who were there, by our side during that time. (You know who you are!!)
I learned the secret to life is to stay positive, no matter your situation, you can get through it! This is yet another reason why I became a wellness coach years ago, to help those in need who feel stuck. Just remember you are not alone. Every person has their own unique story. Staying positive doesn't mean you will never experience times of sadness or frustration. In those moments create awareness within and ask yourself, "how will I handle this emotion?" Will you talk to someone? Will you meditate on it? Will you bottle it up and hold onto those emotions? When you are feeling overwhelmed in life how you choose to respond to the situation will impact your journey in the most incredible ways!