Stretching is just one of many ways that you can be and feel better about yourself!
Last year at this time, in sync with National Wellness Month, we shared these tips for maintaining your mental and physical health. Well, a year has come and gone and hopes that the pandemic would come to an end have not come true. Masks on. Masks off. Masks on again. It’s a lot to deal with which is why we’re choosing to share these timeless tips that if you follow them, will bode you well no matter what the circumstances.
1. Drink more water Water lubricates joints (especially important as we age!) and transports nutrients for energy and health. Try and drink at least 36 ounces a day. If you want to change it up a bit, try adding some water infusion drops that have zero calories, sugar or artificial sweeteners but allow you to add a little flavor to your drink.
2. Get outside and exercise Yes, it's been pretty hot, but consider swapping the air conditioned gym for an outdoor workout instead. You'll reap the benefits of a psychological boost that an indoor environment can't compete with. Good for the body and good for the mind!
3. Streamline your snacks Eating between meals is OK and won't pack on extra pounds—if you do it right. That means swapping out those ready-made smoothies and granola bars for things like air-popped popcorn, celery or carrot sticks, and making your own smoothies using fresh or frozen fruit or veggies and plain yogurt or milk. Another easy way to have your snacks and eat them too: Never eat directly out of the bag or box. Take out a sensible portion, and put it in a bowl then put the rest away. Out of sight, out of mind.
4. Practice deep breathing Stress has a way of hurting your health—and interfering with your breathing. You may not mean to do it, but when you're stressed you hold your breath or take much shallower breaths. And then? Your whole body tenses, creating muscle tension and maybe even pain. There are so many ways to breathe, and the 4-4-8 technique is just one of the many: 1. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, bringing the breath into your abdomen. 2. Hold your breath for a count of four. 3. Breathe out through your mouth with a whooshing sound for a count of eight. Ahhhhh.
5. Cut back on sugar The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. It's not just from the sugar you put in your coffee, but from sources of hidden sugar like salad dressings, alcohol (a glass of rose has 7 grams!), juice and pasta sauces. Excess sugar consumption is linked to diabetes and heart disease and can make you feel tired and grumpy. The number to aim for is six teaspoons per day, says the American Heart Association. You can still get your sugar fix but do it smarter: add blueberries to your yogurt or cereal, drink plain water instead of soda, use spices like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice in place of sugar and roast veggies like parsnips, carrots and tomatoes (which turn sweet when roasted).
6. Slow down It always feels like there's not enough time to get everything done, doesn't it? But when you spend your days in a feverish rush, you miss out on special subtleties and nuances that speed by and elude your notice. Slow walking is actually a way of actively meditating.
7. Be kind to your eyes Too many people neglect the health of their eyes, and each year about 50,000 Americans go blind, mostly from treatable or preventable eye diseases like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Make sure to get annual eye exams, eat a well-balanced diet, and, if you smoke, quit. Also wear sunglasses and use safety eyewear or protective goggles where necessary. If you work at a computer, look 20 feet away from your screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes and take a 15-minute break at least every two hours.
8. Stretch Beginning your day with a good stretch is like sipping a good cup of coffee. Aside from preserving mobility and independence as you age, stretching helps keep your muscles flexible and strong and protects your joints and muscles from injury. Stretching may seem overwhelming and time consuming, but the most important areas for mobility are in your lower extremities (your calves, hamstrings, hip flexors in the pelvis and quadriceps in the front of the thigh), say experts at Harvard Medical School
9. Read food labels It's an easy—and effective—way to check in with yourself and your nutrition and stay accountable to your health. Sometimes those "hidden" details can be shocking, like how much sugar is in a slice of bread and how much salt is in some cereals.
10. Meditate You can find a guided meditation on YouTube to lift your spirits while keeping you grounded.
11. Listen to music Anything that will make you sing, dance, or just let loose is always a good thing.
12. Reconnect with someone Maybe it's someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Or, check in on your friends and loved ones.
13. Work on an art project Whether it’s painting, doodling, or sketching – find a way to release creativity. You might be surprised at your own creativity.
14. Clean something Whether it be your desk or your inbox, cleaning something can help you feel invigorated.
15. Have something to look forward to at the end of the day Maybe it's a little reading, or simply relaxing in bed before calling it a night. Whatever it is, having something to look forward to can help you make it through the day.