We’re kicking off our #backtobasics week of Self-Care September with the foundation of it all: the breath.
Did you know that while breathing is indeed a reflex (something you do without thinking about doing it), doing it mindfully harnesses the power to drastically improve your physical, mental, and emotional state, no matter where you are or how much money is in your bank account?
Did you know you can train your breath to flip your fight or flight response to a rest and digest state of being?
Did you know the way you breathe can affect the shape of your face, the quality of your sleep, and the accessibility of your airways?
Your breath is your best friend.
If you’ve been around for awhile, you probably know the drill: straighten your spine, relax your shoulders, lift your chin, close your eyes if that feels right.
Inhale for a count of five through your nose, filling your lungs and sending the breath down deep to expand your belly. Hold for three, then slowly and completely exhale for a count of seven.
When you wake up… before each meal… during a stressful meeting or phone call or conversation… when you go to bed at night. Please breathe.
💦Now that we’re mindfully breathing, let’s make sure we’re drinking enough WATER. It’s another easy, basic way to take care of yourself.
💦Water helps your body flush out toxins, regulates your body temperature, and allows for greater nutrition absorption.
💦Staying hydrated is also key for optimal brain function, smooth digestion, and peak physical performance when bending, twisting, and stretching your body.
💦Additionally, drinking enough water on a daily basis positively influences your blood circulation, energy levels, and skin health.
💦Water is life. Literally. It’s similar to breathing that way - without it, you could not survive.
💦Today, and every day moving forward this month, your goal is to drink your body weight in ounces. You can drink it hot, room temp, or ice cold. You can flavor it with citrus fruit, berries, or herbs. You can use an alarm or app to help you remember.
💦No matter how you decide to approach it, let’s get after that hydration.
We know that energy flows where attention goes, like attracts like, and what you think about, you bring about.
We talk about it all the time around here: focusing on what you are grateful for, even in the toughest of times (ESPECIALLY in the toughest of times), has the ability to mitigate stress. You cannot feel gratitude and anxiety at the same time.
Not only that, but scientific studies have found that a gratitude practice is associated with:
💕more optimism and positive emotions
💕new and lasting relationships
💕more progress towards personal goals
💕fewer aches and pains
💕more alertness and determination
💕increased generosity and empathy
Gratitude builds your capacity to flip your focus from WHAT IF into WHAT IS. This is not about spiritual bypassing or ignoring the reality of what may be happening in the world around you, it’s about strengthening your resiliency and ability to face the challenges head on. This is just good sense.
Today, and every day moving forward this month, GET GRATEFUL.
Write down at least 3 things that activate your sense of gratitude. It can a person, a circumstance, a place, a thing, an event; it can be pertinent to each particular day or generalized about your whole wide life experience, but try not to repeat throughout the month.
Remember, there is always, always, ALWAYS something to be grateful for.
Move it or lose it, my friends. Move it or lose it.
Fact: your body is beautiful just the way it is.
Fact: a body in motion is a happier, healthier body.
No matter where you’re currently at, the idea here is to look for additional ways to keep your muscles working through each day, which adds up to a more active lifestyle, which then translates to greater mobility as you age.
This can translate in ANY number of ways, including but not limited to:
* Taking the stairs.
* Parking in the far corner of the lot.
* Squatting while folding laundry.
* Meeting a pal for a walk and talk instead of drinks at the bar.
* Calf raises while washing dishes.
* An after-dinner stroll around the neighborhood.
* Dance, Dance, Revolution instead of Mario Kart.
* Walking across the house to speak to someone instead of hollering.
* Going up in weight on your lifting days.
* Stretching before bed.
If you have mobility issues, address them. Look into physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, acupuncture.
(Remember, you are an investment worth making.)
Think of movement as a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for something you ate, or a pursuit of taking up less space in the world.
Today, and every day for the rest of this month, look for ways to move.
One of the best ways to stay healthy and well is to not let problematic germs into your system in the first place, and washing your hands is one of your strongest lines of defense. (Not touching your face is another!)
I’m sure you are already doing this, but today’s a great day to check in with your hand washing technique and frequency. Double check that multiple times per day, you are using soap and clean running water to clean all the surfaces of your hand, fingers, and fingernails for at least 20 seconds. Be mindful that you’re washing every time you enter your home, before every meal, after every sneeze, and immediately following each trip to the rest room.
Follow up each hand-washing session with a generous dollop of hand lotion if you start to experience dry skin, but don’t let dry skin stop the regularity of hand-washing - a little dry skin is much easier to manage than falling ill over and over again.
Every minute of every day, we have a choice in how we hold our bodies.
Power posing is an intuitive and feel good concept that results in a message that everyone can get behind: empowerment.
The idea is that because our body language governs how we think and feel about ourselves, how we hold our bodies can have an impact on our minds.
Sometimes referred to as “postural feedback,” power posing became popular after speaker Amy Cuddy told a TED audience about her research which indicated that when people assume an open, expansive, or commanding stance (make themselves appear taller and wider), they subsequently feel more powerful. After initial backlash, studies proved it again.
Today, take two minutes and try it: Adopt a Wonder Woman stance, or lean back in your chair with your hands behind your head, elbows wide (one of my coaches calls this “the Oprah” :) ) Use a power pose any time you need a boost of confidence and empowerment this month, or to remind you of the undeniable truth that you ARE powerful beyond measure.
“You, yourself, more than anyone, deserve your love and affection.” -Buddha
Today’s tip is about bringing a concentrated focus to your physical self through the lens of care and gratitude. Self-care doesn’t ONLY mean caring for the aesthetics of your body, but that IS part of it.
Head-to-Toe TLC might (or might not!) look like:
* dry brushing your skin before a shower
* applying a deep-conditioning masque to your hair
* exfoliating your skin
* soak in an Epsom salt bath
* trimming and/or filing your nails
* slathering moisturizer on all your bits and bobs
* washing, toning, serum-ing, moisturizing, spf-ing your face
* applying a face mask
* pluck stray hairs
* clean everyday jewelry
* brush and floss teeth
* clean your ears
* foam roll your muscles
One size does not fit all when it comes to what our bodies need, and an important part of the self-care revolution is learning how to fine tune your listening skills when it comes to communicating with your body.
It will *always* let you know what it needs.
When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you do good.
Next up, Week 2: Nutrition Nuggets!
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