Taking care of your physical self 2020
Taking care of your physical self 2020
So right now, many of us are spending a great deal more time at home than we may be used to. Working from home in less than ideal seated positions, sitting around a lot more and much more confined than we're used to being.
Here's a few things that have helped me that may help you.
There's some stretches, some massage self-care and notes on the immune system which may be especially useful right now.
This would be a great time to be doing Pilates or Yoga if you have that in your skills bank but if you don't, it's important to be doing some kind of movement to keep that energy flowing and your muscles moving.
Stretching can be done easily and within your own comfort levels. Remember though, never bounce within a stretch and never take it too far. A stretch, no matter how gentle is still a productive and effective stretch if it's done properly. Always hold a stretch for at least 12 - 15 seconds. You'll be amazed at the effectiveness this creates when you repeat it 2 or 3 times.
I've noted a few helpful stretches below if you'd like to try a few.
1. Legs and lower back
This one is great one for so many things. If you’ve been sitting a lot, whether that’s in your normal work space, an unusual work space, driving lots or sitting on your couch more than usual. It’s also great if you’ve been walking more than the norm, standing on your feet all day or running. It stretches the muscles and connective tissues all the way from the tips of your toes, up the backs of your legs, through the lower back and up into your neck. Perfect if your legs are feeling a bit tight or you have an ache in the lower back.
- Stand with your feet hip width apart
- Bend forward at the waist keeping your knees straight and allow your arms to dangle towards the floor
- Bend forward until you feel any form of gentle stretch anywhere
- Hold this position for at least 12 - 15 seconds
- Take a breath in, breathe out and see if your body wants to go any further simply with gravity – don’t push this
- Again, hold this for at least 12 – 15 seconds
- Continue doing this as many times as you like, each time, feeling that gentle stretch in a different part of your body
- Once you’re done, as you breathe out, gently roll yourself back up to a standing position
2. Deep lower back ache / sore knees
Sometimes our lower back discomfort can either be added to or actually coming from muscles at the front of the hips. This one takes a little patience and you may not feel this as much as some stretches but it’s incredible effective in releasing that band of tightness around your lower torso. Obviously if you’ve got very sore knees, please do use your own judgement as to whether this is suitable for you. It may cause some slight discomfort but should never be painful.
- Sit on a padded surface on the floor on your knees with your ankles also flat on the floor
- Feel yourself sitting down with gravity into your heels
- Take a moment for your body to settle into this position and you should feel some gentle stretching probably at first, just above the knees or in the front of the ankles
- Again, as you breathe, allow gravity to take your body lower into your heels
- As you sit further and further into this stretch, you’ll feel it move from your knees, up into the quads at the front of your thighs, up into the hips.
- If you feel you’d like to take this stretch further and have a high level of flexibility, you can take the heels further apart to be able to sit further down into the floor – please do not do this if you have serious medical issues with your knees
- You may hold this position for 30 seconds the first time before it becomes uncomfortable but that’s fine. See if you can extend on that each day
- If this is particularly uncomfortable in the fronts of the ankles then try resting more forwards leaning on your hands to begin with
3. Sore neck
If you’re staring at a screen too much that’s not at eye level or looking down at your phone or tablet, you may feel the back of your neck down into the shoulders. There’s a couple of things you can do here:
- Looking straight forward, put your finger on your chin
- Think about that finger pushing your chin directly backwards so your head shifts straight back. I know, not the most attractive pose but it’s effective!
- You’ll most likely feel this in your upper neck and around the base of the skull
The second thing you can do:
- Gently and slowly, roll your head around on it’s axis
- When you feel a tight spot just hold that position. Breathe in and out and see if your body relaxes into more of a stretch. Again, don’t push this, just allow it to stretch as it wants
- Hold this 12 – 15 seconds then gently allow your head to roll into a slightly different position and feel for the next tight spot
- You’ll feel this around the front of your neck, down into the shoulders, down the back and down the sides of your neck
I know I could do with a great massage right now but unfortunately this isn’t going to be possible at the moment so I’m going to share with you a few things you could be doing for yourself in the meantime.
A tennis ball or massage ball is great for self-care. You can use it against a wall or for certain areas, lying on the floor against it. Against a wall you can use it for that aching between the shoulders and for the lower back in particular.
You can stand supported by leaning against a wall and roll your feet over a tennis ball or massage ball, or you can lay on the floor to work the muscles around the neck, head and shoulders.
You can also do some trigger point work for yourself. This basically means finding a specific point in the body that relieves the pain your feeling. If you find one of these areas, some of which I’m going to focus on here, the discomfort you feel from it should never be above a 6 out of 10 (1 being the lowest, 10 being the most pain).
If you’re getting headaches above the eyes and at the front of the head or at the base of the skull:
- Using your index finger, gently feel around your forehead working from around 1cm above the eyebrow (one side at a time) from the inside of the eyebrow to almost where it arches. If you feel an area of tenderness, gently press here until it feels less easier, this may be for around 10 or 15 seconds at the most
For headaches around the sides of the head:
- Imagine there’s an arch at about 1.5 cm around outside of your ear from the front of your hairline to the back. Again, using your index finger, gently feel around the line of that arch to see if there’s any tender areas. Gently press on each one till it feels easier for around 10 – 15 seconds at the most. You can always go back and do them again if they’re still tender.
For headaches towards the back left or right of the head:
- For the left, turn your head slightly to the left. Using your left hand, pinch the bulky slightly tender part that feels like a rope just under the jawline. Pinch here till it’s a 6 out of 10 for 12 – 15 seconds
- For the right, do the same on the other side
- Support your left arm by the elbow
- Using your left hand, pinch along the top of your right shoulder line between the shoulder and the neck
- Swap hands and do the other side
- Lying on a comfortable floor, place the tennis ball or massage ball at the base of your head and roll around till you feel relief
Take care of your immune system
Take care of your immune system
Your immune system is always important but now more than ever.
What boosts the immune system?
A good variety of vitamins and minerals in your diet. One thing to keep in mind is eating the rainbow. A variety of colours of fruit and veg means you’re covering a good range of these.
If you need to take additional supplements then always make sure they’re good quality. There are cheap options out there but often they contain fillers or are in capsules that are difficult for your body to digest. I always recommend visiting a specialist shop if you’re looking for something new. They can tell you what the best options are for you as an individual and what combinations work the best together. I’m no nutritionist, which is why I always recommend a specialist but I have picked a few other tips along the way. If you have a capsule containing powders, use a tooth pick to prick a hole in each end meaning the contents get released quicker. If you’re unsure of how easily your supplements are being absorbed, try putting one in a glass of water and see how long it takes to dissolve. Zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D are particularly good for the immune system.
Good sleep. During your sleep is when the body heals itself.
Avoid any additional build up of toxins in the body. Think about what’s in the lotions and potions you put on your body. Try to reduce the amount of refined sugars you eat and alcohol you consume. Drink lots of water and cut down on the processed foods.
Exercise. Not only is this good for our mental health but it helps pump the lymph around the body. The lymph system is what helps our bodies eliminate any harmful bacteria.
As much as possible, try to reduce your stress and anxiety levels. High stress means more chemicals released for the body to process.