14 Ways to Be Kind to Your Body this Valentines Day

Woman Hugging Heart Balloon

When you think about your body, do you spend more time focusing on the negative or the positive?

It is easy to complain about the inches we would like to lose, or limitations that came with an injury, or how our body moves slower than it did a few years ago.

Or maybe you are focused on other areas of your life and don’t even notice your physical condition until you get the flu or throw your back out.

With so many responsibilities at home and work, it’s easy to overlook our body’s most basic needs. Despite the distractions, let’s not forget to be grateful for the amazing things our body does for us each day.

Valentines Day seems like the perfect time to show your body some love.

It’s important to take care of your body if you want to be able to rely on it – to be sure its keeps showing up for your for decades to come.

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8 Hobbies to Support Your Physical Health & Wellbeing

Woman Gardening

Many of us in midlife find ourselves without a hobby outside of our career, relationships, and parenting. Who has time for scrapbooking or bowling?
The truth is, the right hobby can contribute to our physical health and fitness, mental stability, and general wellbeing. They can contribute to more energy, better sleep, optimized metabolism, more patience, decreased stress, and even decreased risk of depression or heart disease. With those kind of benefits, it may be worth our time to find a heathy hobby.
If you feel like your body or mind could use a boost, one of these hobbies might be the answer!

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How Managing Stress Can Ease Aches and Pains

Woman Rubbing Forehead

 

Most of us are so used to living in a state of stress, we often don’t realize the negative effects it is having on our body. In fact, small infrequent doses of stress are not bad.  It can help you accomplish tasks and avoid getting hurt.

Stress is the body’s reaction to a real or perceived harmful situation called “fight or flight”.  If you were a caveman, running from a bear, stress hormones would allow you to run faster and harder. When a stress hits, your body’s critical systems for survival rev up and less urgent needs are set aside.

Immediate physical symptoms of stress can include a headache, muscle tension, rapid heart rate, insomnia, dry mouth, clenched jaw, and nervousness. While stressed, your nervous system keeps the body on alert.

But, what happens when traffic jams, work deadlines, no WiFi, or a long line at the coffee shop gets our blood boiling on a daily basis? 

The Effects of Chronic Stress

With chronic stress, your body remains in a prolonged state of muscle tension and produces high levels of stress hormones.  This type of stress can cause or worsen many health problems including mental illness like depression or anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive problems, and skin conditions like acne or eczema.

You might think of stress being a problem only for your mind or psychology. However, your brain and body work together and cannot be separated.

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system and signals the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and cortisol that slows digestion (because this isn’t really the top priority if you are running from a bear) but also increases inflammation in your body.  The hormones constrict blood vessels and reduce blood flow to soft tissues including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves.

As you would imagine, this results in muscle spasm, slowed healing, and frequently pain symptoms. Please remember though that stress and emotional factors that lead to pain result in real physical symptoms and are not imagined or made up.

Stress and Pain are Linked

The bodies experience of stress and pain each have an impact on the other creating a vicious cycle. Pain is regulated by the nervous system so the brain is a key player in how we perceive pain.  To maintain balance in our body and help us function, the brain works hard to try to minimize pain signals.  When you are stressed, your brain is unable to filter the pain (or inhibit) signals so pain intensity will increase.

Whether your pain or stress came first doesn’t really matter, both negatively affect your quality of life.

A change as small as lack or disruption of sleep caused by pain and/or stress limits your body’s ability to heal and recover. For many people, learning how to avoid or cope with stress can lead to significant pain relief.

Where to Start?

Sometimes stress relief can be as easy as taking three long deep breaths.  To be most effective breathe in through your nose and let the air fill your belly.  Hold for a few seconds and then slowly blow out through your mouth.  In the moment, this can decrease the production of stress hormones and start to relax your muscles. 

Other times stress builds up to a point that we need help teaching the body to let go and relax again.  As physical therapists, we are experts at retraining the nervous and muscular systems.  Using hands on techniques we can help your muscles relax, release the knots and tension, and relieve the pain that is keeping you from the sleep you need and activities you love.  Click the link below learn more about us and request to speak with a doctor of physical therapy today for free. 

In the meantime, head over to Facebook where we invite you to our private group Peak Wellness Tribe.  You will find tips, tricks, conversation, and Live chats on these and other health topics.  You are welcome to post any questions you have on that page as well.