There are a lot of factors that can affect your health. The factors I'd like to focus on right now are really basic, but important factors that a lot of us tend to let slide when the day gets too full. If you add these five things into your day today, it will affect your physiology, your brain chemistry and the ability of your body to function at a more optimal level.
1) Breathe. OK. This may sound really easy, but you would be surprised at how many times you are actually taking a full breath throughout a day. Right now, sit up straight, take a deep breath in through your nose...breathing all the way down into your abdomen, so that your belly distends slightly from your diaphragm actually extending to it's full expanded space. That is a full breath. Some of the reasons we tend NOT to take full breaths throughout the day are because our posture doesn't lend itself to full breaths AND that our natural stress response is to breathe in the upper lobes of our lungs.
In the book, Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh, he reminds us to allow daily 'interruptions' to be your call back to the moment. So, the next time the phone rings, or you get caught at a stoplight, bring your thoughts to your breath and breathe deeply a few times. It's a great wake-up strategy in the mid-afternoon...and will generally help you feel better and more alert. Deep breathing will also change your chemistry, improving circulation and lower overall muscle tension.
2) Move. Yes, your body wants to move...every day...that's what it was built to do. Our muscles will begin to atrophy and lose strength when not used. Even just 30 minutes of walking every day decreases your health risks in a number of categories. Taking a walk at lunchtime will give you so many advantages, from being more alert to improving your ability to level your blood sugar. It doesn't even need to be power walking...just get moving!
If you need to be on the computer all day for work, figure out how you can bring your computer up to a level you can stand while working for parts of your day...and make sure you have a spot for your water bottle, which is Fort Collins Massage Health Tip #3.
3) Drink Water. Clean Water. There is so much information about drinking water out in the world, some that says that you don't have to drink water. Weeeeelllll, we have been known as the water police, because we have seen not only our own experience, but many clients who were chronically dehydrated. We believe in the 'half your weight in ounces' rule of thumb, because we've seen the difference for so many people, when they just worked on getting hydrated.
Many of us are chronically dehydrated, which will often show itself first in joint and muscle pain. The reason for this is that your body will always prioritize its needs, and make sure that the volume of blood is adequate for your organs...including your brain. If you are chronically dehydrated, your body will pull from the secondary functions. Your body pulls all needed nutrients first from your joints and muscles...which is often why people will find they have muscle cramps, when they are 'short' on a mineral, like magnesium. Your heart needs the nutrients to keep you alive, your calf muscles are secondary, so they will be more likely to cramp, your joints to ache, because the proper hydration is not available to those areas in your body. Our single biggest suggestion for clients who are experiencing long term muscle and joint discomfort is about how much water they are drinking. No, tea, juice and coffee don't count, and if the beverage has caffeine or chemicals in it, you will need to add MORE clean water to help your body process it. So! How much water ARE you drinking?
4) Get Rest. This is something a lot of us have a hard time with, whether it's filling those sleeping hours with work or insomnia is stealing those hours from you. We've read study after study that shares the negative effects of sleep deprivation on health. Making the choice to get enough sleep, which most sleep experts will say is 7-9 hours, is an investment in your long term health.
For those of you who are having TROUBLE
sleeping, there are some very effective 'sleep hygiene' routines to be
sure you get better sleep at night. A few quick tips:
-Refrain from caffeine, or at least after 2:00 in the afternoon.
-Get some form of exercise throughout your day, finishing no closer than 3 hours to bedtime.
-Turn off all digital screens at least an hour before bed, because they stimulate your brain affecting your biological rhythms.
-Removing your TV from your bedroom, or at least not using it from your bed is important to brain training for the sleep deprived.
-Use your bed only for sleeping, so that every time you get into bed, you are programming your body and brain to sleep.
-Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
We also have personally found that an epsom salt bath an hour before bed can help with sleep. Some folks use magnesium supplements to help with both nighttime leg cramping and getting more sound sleep.
Ultimately, your body needs rest to heal every cell of your body, so find ways to be sure you are getting the rest you need.
5) Eat Real Food. You are what you eat. Really. It's important to feed your cells with foods that are pure and contain the nutrients your body needs. There is so much NON-food in the grocery store, that it's often hard to differentiate what is really food these days. The easiest way to make sure you are eating real food is to cook your meals from scratch, with ingredients that are as close to the original, unprocessed form as possible. It's becoming more important to eat organic, since now it's not just the chemicals they are using during farming practices, but that the food itself can be genetically modified if it's not organic. Let's start with the simple application: if you can't pronounce the ingredient list on any 'food' in your pantry or refrigerator, then trash it. Make a commitment to feed your body food that is really food, not just chemicals disguised as food.
If there was a 6th necessity on our list...it would be: Laugh Today. Laughing makes a huge positive shift in our physiology...so, do that today too. :)