New Year, New You, right? Everyone makes resolutions…losing weight, writing the great American novel, taking over the world. We all have aspirations, and then when that ball drops at midnight, it’s a new day, new year, and a new leaf. Many experts agree that it takes 21-30 days to create a habit. What if you are like me and get distracted and off your mark? What if you get overwhelmed? It’s easy to do.
Ask yourself why you remain active. Is it because you want to feel better about yourself? Is it about health and longevity? Is it because that plate of cookies that you just destroyed is mocking you? Everyone’s reason is a personal one. I don’t judge.
Making sure we are at our best selves no matter our situation is key in life. Getting regular checkups, letting your body heal after injury, and having regular bodywork sessions can help you be a better you. But, when we are going a mile a minute taking care of everyone else in our lives, how can we possibly take some time to be proactive rather than reactive? No matter how busy we get in our lives, there is always time to make sure we are ok.
By now, you have probably read several lists on how to live as your best self in 2016, I am not about that. I am about the little, simple things that keep me going every day. These steps listed below are small enough to help me day to day and big enough to let me think I am doing myself good.
Making sure you have an adequate water intake is paramount in any healthy plan. Fascia reacts to whether or not you are hydrated. Fascia is a collagen substance that surrounds each muscle fiber and organ in your body. By being dehydrated, the fascia can start to tighten up and place undue pressure on the muscle fibers and surrounding tissues.
I am talking about a plain smooth high-density foam roller. No ridges, bumps or anything fancy (those little bumps can shock the soft tissue). I know many people have a love/hate relationship with foam rolling. It is great for recreating the deep tissue massage experience for long, broad muscles and tendons such as IT bands, Calves, Quads, and Hamstrings. Read my article on foam rolling to get the basics.
For the love of all that is good in this world, DO NOT let a day go by without stretching! The number one complaint I get is “My (insert muscle here) is tight.” I always follow up by asking about stretching. Nine times out of ten10, my client gets quiet, and eyes start slowly going downward. You can guess what that means. There is evidence that static stretching before a workout does little to nothing for you, but stretching afterwards does. So DO IT (please)!
Take Mini Breaks
In a past life, I was an Administrative Assistant to a large hospital Nursing Director. Believe me, I know what it is like to feel like you are married to your office, desk, and computer. But too much sitting has been shown to be detrimental to your health. Start slow. Try setting up a schedule where you get up once every 90 minutes to take a small walk, get some water, and do some light stretching. Your brain can only concentrate for so long; do it and your body a favor and take mini breaks throughout the day. As you become more accustom to this, try shortening the time to once an hour.
[RELATED POST: Is Sitting Down Actually Killing You?]
Spending some time alone is nothing to be scoffed at. When you have a family, work, and social commitments, it’s sometimes hard to make sure that you take time for you. You may feel guilty; you may feel that there is never enough time. Even 5-10 minutes in a quiet car during your lunch break can make a difference. Take some time to quiet your mind, take a few slow, deep breaths to slow your respiration and heart rate down.
Oh, sleep. How I love thee. Since I currently have a toddler, a full-time job, and a few other projects going, I don’t always get the sleep I so desperately want/need. My husband makes fun of me because as soon as we put our daughter down to bed, he says it’s always my bedtime too (he’s not wrong). I do go to bed early because we are always up before the sun. Getting enough sleep is not only good for your attitude, but it also helps your cardiovascular system, your brain function, and it aids in recovery when you are sick.
See? Not so bad, right? No matter what you choose to focus on in the New Year, make sure at least one of your goals is to focus on yourself. You don’t even have to do all of this at once. Picking one thing a month to add to your daily regime helps too – by the time you get used to one thing, add in another.
I wish you all the happiness and health in 2016. Go out and there and make it great!