You might be aware that it’s Stress Awareness Day/Week/Month - depending on where you live! It is deserving of our attention for the whole month. Stress can be very detrimental for both our mental and physical health, but there ARE strategies you can use to take back control of the stress in your life. Particularly at the moment as we re-enter lockdown.
If you were to write a to-do list, what would you include to help your mental health and wellbeing? It seems to be much easier to think of things to improve our physical health. Many people have no idea what to do for their mental health and wellbeing. So, let us start with something called "5 Ways to Wellbeing" These are evidence-based ways and actions we can all do to improve our wellbeing.
Let's see what they are and if any of them surprise you:
You could also consider constructing a “What NOT to-do list” as well as a “to-do” list What things do you think you currently do that are unhelpful to your wellbeing? Too many late nights, Too many hours on your electronic devices/social media? Ignoring symptoms of illness, whether physical or mental? Isolating? Jumping to negative conclusions? What could you do instead with the time you have freed up?
If you’d like to read more about this, I’d recommend the NHS site.
Staying positive and optimistic during times like these can feel impossible, but it’s vital to your physical and mental well-being. With the limitations to our lives caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, even the most cheerful of people may be having a hard time staying positive. Remaining optimistic in the face of social distancing and isolation, constant news and social media scaring about the virus, concerns about employment and possible loss of income, general uncertainty about so many things requires so much deliberate effort and continuous mindfulness.
It's long been thought that there is a direct correlation between overall health and optimism. Most would agree that optimists are happier than pessimists, and happiness is better for your overall mood than unhappiness.
Focussing on our mood in today’s pandemic environment should be a priority to us all. Remaining calm and constructive at times of uncertainty can help us navigate through difficulties and find a path towards our much stronger selves.
Here are some things you can do, starting today, to improve your positivity:
1. Exercise. It's so important to incorporate exercise into our daily routine now more than ever. If you’re already pretty active, you’ve probably made necessary adjustments to keep exercising at home instead of at your usual gym or classes. If you’re not regularly active, now is the perfect time to make exercising a priority and incorporate it into your day. Try Pilates or yoga. if you want to challenge yourself, go for High-Intensity Interval Training. Aside from its physical benefits, exercising releases endorphins - your happy chemicals in your body which triggers feelings of positivity, so include an exercise routine into your day, even if it’s only a short one.
2. Feel Grateful. Even in these strange times, there are things we still have for which we should be grateful. Make a point of regularly noticing both significant and small items for which you are thankful. Important things can include your home, your health, your family, your friends, your ability to put food on your table, and other essentials. Small things are more momentary pleasures, like a hot cup of coffee, a calming bath, a good book, or a funny meme.
3. Slow down and relax. Enjoy the slower pace, one of the benefits of social isolation is your ability to pace yourself and let go of some usual anxieties. Don’t rush into things, including any conclusions about information you’re getting from the news or things you’re hearing from family and friends. Try and practise mindfulness. You can do this by trying to remain as present in the moment as possible. Focus on the details around you, like scents, and sounds. Quieten the noise of your thoughts, focusing on the breath can help with this. Be aware of your muscles, and if you’re tensing up your jaw, or your shoulders, or if you’re frowning, breathe and relax. Practise doing quick checks of the body throughout the day. From the crown of the head to your toes, be aware of your body, your muscles, and your breathing. This also helps make mindfulness an easy regular part of your daily life.
4. Practice calm breathing. If you've never had meditation into your life, try practicing lots of short mindful breathing sessions throughout the day. Try to step aside from other activities to focus on this. Early in the day is a great time to start. Also, just before you go to sleep. What makes calm breathing an excellent meditation exercise is the focus it asks you to place on your breath. Focus particularly on a long, slow, out breath. By remaining engaged on how to breathe super slowly, your mind is less likely to wander back to other thoughts, making it a great relaxation practice for beginners. There are also other benefits to calm breathing, like lowering your stress hormone levels, lowering your heart rate and helping you relax
5. Be in control of your digital self. Just because we’re all practicing social distancing, it doesn’t mean we can’t stay in touch with our family and friends. There are so many modern ways to get involved digitally, doing video calls, joining group chats, and even attending virtual parties and concerts, are valuable options for which we should be grateful. Check-up on your friends and reconnect with those you may not have heard from for a while. Keep in mind that your friends and family are likely suffering from the same types of anxiety and stress that you are experiencing right now, so make a mental effort to contribute positively to the conversation. You could have a super-positive influence on their day.
6. Incorporate humour and laughter into your day. It is well known that there are short and long-term benefits of laughter on the human body and mind. Everything from stimulating your organs to lowering your stress levels, improving your blood circulation, strengthening your immune system, and even relieving physical pain – laughter really is the best medicine.
7. Find the strength to leave behind negativity In this current climate, it is easy to get pulled into negative interactions that can leave us feeling distressed, insecure and negative. Giving ourselves permission to remove ourselves from these situations and interactions can help us manage our stress and contribute to our positivity. This includes obsessing over constant news feed, and updates about the virus. Staying informed and aware of what is happening locally and globally are important, and we should all make sure we are as educated and prepared as possible. But creating a healthy balance between news consumption and our daily routines is also crucial in helping us maintain a sense of normality and control over our mental health.
8. Believe! We can do this as humans, we can continue to pull together in our communities, we can have faith in our scientists to come up with a cure, we can trust that our health care heroes will continue to do everything they can. We can be kind, empathetic and supportive of others and what they are going through. We can have faith in ourselves to be resilient and strong and to believe in our future - one without Coronavirus in it!
A body weight exercise is any exercise that uses only your own body weight as resistance (think push-ups, squats, burpees). So convenient because you don’t need lots of equipment. One of the ways to make bodyweight training more interesting is to incorporate functional body-weight specific equipment into your workouts such Gliding Discs.
These allow for a greater range of motion, recruit more muscles to aid in the exercise, and they are surprisingly fun to use.
Being able to slowly slide out into position using the gliders provides a smooth transition of the muscles and tissues from a deactivated to an activated state, which decreases the risk of potential injury. Since you are gradually gliding out into positions of excessive tension, the muscles and the tissues are able to adapt and change in a safe, controlled manner.
You will notice that when you are using the gliders you will have to use more muscles. That is due to the fact that in order to bring the glider back towards the body during a gliding lunge for example, you must use the adductors, (inner thighs) glutes, and hamstrings too. This in turn provides you with a more effective workout because you are having to stabilise yourself too.
We have used these gliders in class this week and they have provided us with quite a giggle and I think allowed us to work in a different way, finding muscles we never knew we had!! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
Pilates has great benefits for the body and mind; there are no age or agility restrictions and a wide number of reasons as to why this form of exercise is now in the mainstream. Pilates energise the body and the mind whilst also being a natural painkiller, an aid to maintaining weight loss and a fantastically spiritual activity for pregnant women.
Pilates is a refreshing mind and body workout; correct breathing is emphasised as well as spinal and pelvic alignment. This is a great advantage for those wanting to tackle physical or psychological issues, such as stress and anxiety or common pains such as lower back pain, this is also highly likely to occur within and after pregnancy which is why Pilates is now so regularly recommended for pregnant women. Reducing your stress levels, whilst teaching you how to correctly hold your body and naturally assist mild to moderate pains as well as keeping you in shape are all wonderful life long lessons.
Pilates exercises help to develop a strong centre of the body, known as the core, which is your deep abdominal muscles. Pilates also improve joint mobility and muscle elasticity, a body that is experienced with this form of exercise is much less likely to be injured or have chronic back pains. Doing Pilates will actually condition your entire your body, even down to your feet with a correct balance of all your musculature – this will leave you energised, refreshed and able to continue your daily tasks with more ease, a better performance and less chance of injury. Pilates is also increasingly popular in the world of professional athletes and a crucial part of their training regime for these reasons.
People of all ages can enjoy Pilates, as it is such a gentle form of exercise, with many positions being in sitting or reclining positions and the point being the quality of your movements and not the quantity. Rehabilitation of injuries through physiotherapies often includes Pilates due to it being so safe and gentle and it is also widely popular with those in advanced years. There are many modifications to this exercise that range from beginner level to advance and there are Pilates classes in Maidenhead that you can find that fit around your regular schedule.
Although you can practice Pilates at home, many people prefer to attend classes, as there are trained instructors like Claire to ensure that exercises are followed correctly. Particularly if you are pregnant, or have had an injury, an instructor’s advice is valuable, as you don’t want to cause any injuries or worsen any symptoms by doing things wrong. Pilates is more than exercising it is a life change and an education into how to get the most out of your body and your mind.
But it’s also challenging…
Pilates is also an extremely flexible exercise system. Modifications to the exercises allow for a range of difficulty ranging from beginning to advanced. Get the workout that best suits you now, and increases the intensity as your body conditioning improves.
Fitbuzz runs Pilates classes in Maidenhead. Pilates is great for everyone, young and not so young! Whether you want to add Pilates in Maidenhead to your exercise repertoire to compliment your other activities, or you’ve never really done any exercise and you want to make a start. Try Pilates!
Pilates is a low impact exercise which educates your body and mind. Pilates teaches correct posture, increases your body awareness and encompasses body-conditioning exercises, which lengthen and strengthen the muscles, without stressing the joints or the heart. Pilates gives you a leaner, suppler, more toned body and a calmer, more relaxed mind.