STRETCH & REST CARE for the wellness warrior
Even though I've worked in health care for over 30 years and know the importance of self-care, I didn't truly become proactive with my own rest "care" until I was introduced to Yoga Nidra in 2018.
At the time, I was struggling with the physical, emotional, and mental demands of being the primary caregiver for my father who had a stroke in 2015 that left him with memory and vision issues. He went from living on his own and Commander of the VFW in his retirement to living in an assisted living facility and needing help with everything.
I was managing his medical care and life.
After his stroke, he had multiple health conditions and cancer diagnoses that had to be addressed. Just when we got one area under control another would pop up. Before his last cancer surgery, we weren't sure if he could get strong enough for surgery or have to go into hospice.
For years I'd help patients and families through the similar situations, but when I got on the other side and became the caregiver for the "patient" I experienced a different level of exhaustion and stress.
I needed to ramp up my rest care toolbox for sure as my normal coping strategies and mind body practices weren't enough to ride out the waves of his medical crises while juggling a career at the same time.
I was at the peak of my caregiver fatigue after helping my dad through 3 cancer surgeries in a year when I was introduced to yoga nidra.
That ended up being a turning point in my own self-care journey.
It's when I truly started to prioritize rest.
It was simple so I could stick with it.
I just had to close my eyes and listen to a meditation for 15 minutes.
I would get the rest medicine I needed that day.
Nothing helped me feel as refreshed, re-energized, and back in balance than those nidra naps.
It quickly became a non-negotiable and daily practice for me.
Even though my caregiver journey with dad has ended since he passed away last year, I'm passionate about sharing the powerful rest tools I've found over the years with the helpers & healers of the world. They're some of the most high risk groups for exhaustion and burnout.
In a culture that values busyness and views rest as lazy, it takes courage and support to prioritize having a Rested Body & Lifestyle.
I recorded a podcast with Genevieve Richardson, a Speech Pathologist and owner of Life Speech Pathologies, to share a little bit of my rest story and burnout prevention strategies for caregivers. Genevieve works with and has the Listen For Life Aphasia Podcast for stroke survivors that have aphasia and their families.
We discussed Rest and Relaxation Practices to help manage the stress and fatigue associated with caregiving as well as how to set yourself up for success by shifting your mindset around rest, prepping for rest, and building a rest support team.
Anyone, not just caregivers, can benefit from the rest tips we shared on this podcast episode (episode 37).
The good news is it doesn't take hours and hours of resting or meditating all day to feel more energy, ease, & flow each day.
It's all about resets and reps when it comes to calming your nervous system & turning on your bodies healing powers.
Listen to the podcast to find which rest move you want to add to your rest toolbox today.
Please share with any of the nurturers, caregivers, or stroke survivors in your life.
To A Rested Body!
P.S. Want to experience yoga nidra with me? The wait list for our NEW Rest Camp: SHINE™ is open.
You know how much I love simple yet powerful moves to help our brain & body perform better.
Here are 2 moves to help you reset & have more energy in less than 2 minutes:
1. Brain Reset: Use this breathing exercise (a "physiological sigh") to reduce stress in the moment.
2. Body Reset: Follow the Head To Toe Posture Checklist to turn on your core stabilizers & reset your posture during the day, to prep for workouts, or after sitting long periods.
These tiny muscles need reminders and better posture helps light up your brain. This FIT Blog shows you a simple routine to find them.
Both of these moves are most powerful when you do them for a few reps each day.
Reps help your brain rewire for healthier thoughts & better movement patterns over time.
Stress & poor posture won't be as draining on your energy levels.
Set an alarm to remind you to practice throughout the day when you're first getting started.
Enjoy the energy boost!
P.S. The Waitlist for our NEW Rest Camp: SHINE™ is OPEN.
How’s the transition from all the Summer fun going?
Transitions like from Season to Season, vacation to work or school, work to being at home, or even as you go from being awake to lying down to sleep each night can be overwhelming.
As routines or responsibilities change, it can often trigger Monkey Mind.
Monkey Mind is when your mind is full and jumping from thought to thought sometimes leading to an anxiety spiral that you can’t seem to turn off.
3 SIMPLE MOVES TO CALM MONKEY MIND:
#3 is a new one I’ve found particularly helpful these past few weeks.
1. Move your Body- do some squats, planks, stairs, stretch, Yoga moves, or take a walk to help you calm your body and brain.
2. Do a Brain Dump- write down everything that is bothering, worrying, or nagging at you then tackle the #1 thing that is most bothersome (i.e. NUTS- Nagging Unfinished Tasks). I break down in detail how to tackle your NUTS in this FIT blog.
3. Mouth Move- this one blows my mind honestly with how effective and simple it is. The hardest part is remembering to use it when you need it. Making it part of your daily practices like breath work or body work will probably be the best way to implement it.
Here's how you do it:
Relax your jaw so your mouth is like ½ inch open. Not sure if your jaw is relaxed? Say “Emma” and keep the position your mouth ends in at the end of saying that name. This is neutral alignment and a relaxed position for your jaw.
Next gently press the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Bring your attention to your mind.
What do you notice? Did the chatter stop?
Every time I do this, it pauses the inner chatter going on in my brain.
That pause can help me reset and get out of anxious thought patterns.
So Freakin’ Fascinating- right?
Apparently, we use the same muscles and tongue movements for talking when we are just thinking thoughts (or maybe it’s that they are activated) but when you do this position with your jaw and tongue it interrupts that movement pattern- basically like we’re tongue tied- which helps stop the thoughts.
As I shared my excitement with Ender over how powerful and simple #3 is, I found out he uses it regularly to help him fall asleep or when meditating.
In all fairness, he thought I knew about it.
I’m like "What other calming exercises have you not shared with me these past 19 years?"
He gave me several more which got him out of the doghouse (for now). I’ll be sharing them with you soon.
So go ahead and add the Mouth Move to your insomnia toolbox.
I've also heard it can help with TMJ issues.
The next time you notice Monkey Mind creeping in, test out these 3 Moves to see which one creates more brain space and helps to calm your mind.
To More Peace & Ease!
P.S. Calling all Busy Bodies & Brains... the wait list for our NEW Rest Camp: SHINE™ is open.
It's T-I-M-E! We've opened the Waitlist for our NEW Rest Camp.
Calling all Busy Bodies & Brains...
Anyone on the Waitlist for SHINE™ will be the FIRST to know the details and special offers when we open up camp this Fall.
This online camp has my go to Daily Rest Moves & Tools for caregiver or clinician burnout prevention and recovery.
They've helped me survive these past few years as the primary caregiver for my dad (and our Senior Dogs) as well as being a healthcare professional during a pandemic.
It's the self-care program I wish I had learned about in physical therapy school.
If you're a caregiver or health professional that:
Come Rest & Shine with us!
Did you get to test out any new sleep moves from last month's FIT Blog?
Besides staying on top of a healthy sleep routine this summer, I've got some tips to help you stay strong AND rested.
If you're traveling, they'll help you prep for your next trip so you can be a well-rested travel warrior.
1. Strong Body- use 1 Minute Workouts to stay on top of your strength training when you're short on time.
Super Bands* travel easily so you can exercise on the go.
2. Strong Gut- eat a balanced breakfast, drink green juice or powder to get in your veggies, pack healthy snacks, and stay HYDRATED!
3. Rested Body & Brain- breathe, stretch, and move to calm your body as much as possible especially when traveling to help your body & brain heal itself & get stronger. Find moments during the day to relax with naps, nature, or daydreaming. Use your sleep moves to prep your body and the room before sleep.
Download the Healthy Traveler Packing List for more immune boosting nutrition & exercise resources.
Stay Summer Strong!
P.S. If you’re a caregiver or a healer that's experienced burnout, we’ve got a special program coming soon designed specifically for you! The wait list opens up soon.
*indicates affiliate link
Has your sleep routine gotten off track now that Summer is here? Longer days, travel, school breaks make it easy to get out of your sleep routine.
How about pillow fights at night? I'm still on a quest to find the perfect pillow for side sleepers.
If you’re not waking up feeling refreshed or well-rested, it’s time for a Sleep Check Up.
Sleep is when our body & brain restores, heals, and balances the cells.
There are 4 stages of sleep, and you need stage 3 or 4 to wake up feeling refreshed or rested.
Stage 3 (Delta) recharges your battery and is the primary time for our growth hormone production.
Growth hormone helps repair damaged cells and our body makes less as we age. It’s the most natural anti-aging and restorative process for the body.
If you’re exercising and eating well but not getting enough sleep or quality sleep, you’re actually aging yourself faster and lowering your immune system.
Sleep is the foundation to any workout recovery program.
Exercise causes stress on your body. You’re damaging tissue.
Your body only gets stronger during the rest time after you’ve stopped working out.
Not enough rest equals higher risk for injury.
Studies show athletes are more likely to get injured when they are traveling for competitions. The #1 reason is poor sleep due to not being in their own beds.
The general rule: MORE STRESS = MORE REST
It doesn’t matter if that stress is physical, emotional, or psychological in nature. Stress is stress.
The more active you are and the more impact your sport has, the more rest or recovery time you need.
This is particularly true if you’re nursing an injury. Sleep is your best medicine.
I’ve had to do some tweaking of my sleep routine/prep these past few months due to hormonal changes as it’s really messing with how deep my sleep is.
I’ll share some Sleep Moves I’ve been testing to address my issues that are helping but it’s definitely a work in progress as my body is still changing.
Let’s start with research supported Sleep Recommendations.
7 HEALTHY SLEEP MOVES
6 PERSONAL SLEEP MOVES
Here are some personal Sleep Moves I’ve added to my monthly acupuncture and regular Yoga Nidra naps to improve my quality of sleep (& balance my hormones):
1. Morning Sun- I’ve intentionally worked on making sure I get sunlight first thing in the morning even if it’s just a few minutes to help my circadian rhythm. It’s led to my new obsession – hanging out with our hummingbird friends not just in the morning but when they come by at sunset too. Their movements are fascinating to watch & bring me so much joy as I try to get a good photo which gives me a bonus boost of happy hormones.
2. Screens- I'm avoiding screens an hour before bed or Blue Light glasses if I can’t turn off the damn show or find myself scrolling mindlessly- it happens despite my best efforts.
3. Melatonin PR- Traded in CBD chews for Melatonin 3mg Prolonged Release (Douglas Laboratories) a few hours before bed. My functional medicine doctor added this a few months ago and it’s been a game changer for getting deeper sleep.
4. Magnesium Glycinate- Traded in Natural Calm (Magnesium Citrate) for Magnesium Glycinate (Pure Encapsulations) before bed- another addition from my FM doctor.
5. Cut Down on Caffeine- I’ve cut way down on caffeine as I’m more sensitive to it now and I’ve connected the dots to how much it can mess with my sleep. Bonus from this change is having less afternoon energy slumps!
6. Breathwork- I've added a few Breathing Exercises in Bed to relax my body & calm my nervous system. Part of my sleep prep is still a few massage & stretches with my Rollga foam roller but that’s before I head to bed. I do the breathing exercise once I’m comfortable in bed.
OVER TO YOU
Hopefully you’ve got some new sleep moves to help you get more of the restorative, deep sleep your brain & body needs each night or to help you get back on track with your healthy sleep habits (especially if you’re traveling a lot this summer).
Let me know if you've got a go to tip for better sleep especially if you're dealing with hormone issues as well or have found the perfect pillow!
To Deep Healing Rest,
P.S. If you’re a caregiver or in a healing profession, we’ve got a special program coming soon designed specifically for you! Stay tuned…
We do not provide medical advice. Always consult a physician prior to starting a new fitness or wellness program.
It's time to prep for Summer and start planning as many outdoor water activities as you can.
It's a necessity if you're going to be in the 100+ degree Texas heat but also to take advantage of the power of water to heal, calm and refresh us.
If you can't get near a body of water, here are 3 exercises to help you experience the power of water no matter where you are.
They'll help release toxins, recharge your energy, and even get your creativity flowing.
1. Water Meditation: lie down in a comfortable position and visualize a waterfall pouring over you. Inhale In the good healing powers of the water. Imagine absorbing all the “energy” or “power” of the waterfall.
Exhale and release anything you want to let go of (i.e. toxic thoughts, pain, etc). Continue for 3 minutes or longer if it feels good to you. You’re letting the water refresh you and wash away anything you no longer need deep into the ground below you.
Pro Tip: if you have a hard time visualizing, try this version in the shower. Close your eyes, get present with a few deep breath and feel the water as it flows over you from head to toe. Imagine all the toxins, negative feelings, or events from your day washing down the drain.
2. Soak in the Tub: take an Epsom salt bath with lavender to release toxins and relax your body and mind.
3. The Fountain: this is a great Qi Gong moving meditation to help you get in the flow and “just be water.” It can be done in sitting or standing. Kids love it. It’s a fun one to do when you need a quick break to clear your mind, calm your body, or recharge. Just 7 reps can make a difference and help you find your flow. Watch this short video below to learn how simple it is to do.
Find time to get outside & refresh near water as much as possible this summer. Use these exercises to fill in the gaps when you can't get outside.
Which one feels best in your body? Make sure to schedule regular "water" breaks into your day.
Go Find Your Flow!
Happy Earth Day!
A great day to do a green, healthy living check in & explore new ways to support nature and the planet.
This year’s theme is “Invest In Our Planet”- creating a “partnership for the planet” that accounts for all people, and holds businesses and governments accountable.
How do you want to get involved? Here are some ideas and resources to check out.
GROW YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Commit to learning more about healing the Planet. Find Books, Podcasts, or Documentaries about Environmentalism.
Help with Wildlife & Environmental research in your area.
April's City Nature Challenge: Join over 400 cities across the world finding local wildlife (Texas link or Global Link) on 4/28/23.
The contest is simple: Find wildlife (animal, plant or fungus). Take a picture or record a sound anytime from 4/28/23 to 5/1/23. Share using the iNaturalist app.
DONATE TO ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ORGS
Plant Trees (donate to reforestation projects): Tree Sisters
MAKE A HEALTHY HOME
HEALTHY BODY MOVES
Commit to daily sun & walks in nature for your overall health. Bonus points if you can get near water. It’ll help you refresh and reset by calming your nervous system, boost your mood, and improve your sleep.
Which one piques your interest? Make it fun. It all matters. Small moves from all of us add up.
Go celebrate our beautiful planet every day!
P.S. CAMPS WITH A CAUSE: our online Rest Camps will not only help you have a Strong & Rested Body but every camp sale supports an organization that improves the health & welfare of animals.
April Focus: April 22nd is also National Beagle Day. Beagles & Nature- I'm doing a happy dance!!! For every camp sale in April, we'll donate to Beagle Freedom Project. They rescue and rehome beagles & other animals who have been used for lab testing in the U.S. and abroad. They also work tirelessly to champion laws & legislation to ban the cruel practice of animal testing nationwide.
There is one recommendation I share with all my clients.
It doesn't matter if they have a strength or weakness issue.
It doesn't matter if they have an ortho or a neuro issue.
Or whether we are working on improving their pain, posture, or power.
What is it?
It's a hip check up.
Why the hips? Movement begins at the hips.
Your hips don’t lie.
Imbalances in strength and flexibility of your hips will cause issues all throughout your body because everything’s connected to everything through your fascia (connective tissue).
Fascia is the tough connective tissue that spreads throughout your body in a three-dimensional web from head to toe.
It holds everything together from your bones and organs to the nerves, blood vessels and muscles.
There are over 10 fascial lines running superficial to deep throughout your body that connect specific muscles.
Did you know pain in your foot or neck can be coming from a tight hip?
Since your hips are at the center of your body, tightness in your hips will pull on the end of the lines.
Imagine pressing on the center of a spider web. What happens?
The edges get pulled in.
The same thing happens in your body.
Tight spots in the body put tension somewhere on the fascial line resulting in stiffness and/or pain.
If you find and release the tight spots in your fascia instead of focusing on one muscle at a time, you can improve the mobility of the entire line.
Better mobility helps prevent injury, re-balance your nervous system, decrease inflammation/pain and improve your posture no matter your age or how many injuries you've had over the years.
Start in the center of your body.
Find your tender and tight spots in your hips then work your way down the line toward your head and feet to lengthen the fascia to make lasting changes in your posture and flexibility.
Here's a hip spot to target first: Your Gluts!
Grab a ball and do a hip check up to help release your tender and tight spots using the following massage & stretch moves.
HIP MASSAGE MOVES
HIP STRETCH MOVES
Be gentle. Go slow, breathe, and let the tissue let go without forcing it before you massage or stretch deeper.
Let pain be your guide at first as a sign that you need to back off or for how much pressure or stretch to do.
If you find some tender or tight spots on one side, give that side more attention.
If you don't feel tender or tight, then you've got healthy hips. Go You!
It's pretty common to have spots in the gluts when you sit a lot or are very active, especially if you don't have a daily stretch care routine for recovery.
Regardless of what you find, here are 3 more stretch moves that will help you open up and have healthy hips.
To Happy Hips!
P.S. Want to get stronger with less effort? Download this 3 minute Active Recovery Yoga Routine to help you train smarter, it's free! Download It Now
We do not provide medical advice. You should consult your physician prior to beginning any new exercise program.
Ready for some more simple moves to help you boost your Happy Hormones?
These healthy moves can be a great sugar substitute if you love sweets & snacks like me.
And no, I'm not talking about Stevia. I love it in my coffee or tea, but it doesn't give you that Dopamine hit we are going for.
Dopamine manages your brain's reward center. You get a boost of it when you do something pleasurable. It gives you a feeling of well-being, satisfaction and motivation.
Think of the way you feel when you eat chips, donuts, or even binge on Netflix.
Oh so good, but not so healthy and what happens next? You usually have to keep going to stay satisfied and before you know it you've gotten to the bottom of the bag of chips or finished a whole season to keep that feeling going. Haven't you?
Outsmart your brain with these 10 dopamine boosters instead:
3. Daily Sun
4. Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night
5. Eat a protein-rich diet
6. EAT chocolate (sorry but it's true just keep it in moderation & the darkest you can enjoy; great for PMS time of the month)
7. Listen to upbeat music
8. Tackle the NUTS in your life
9. Break tasks down into small bites so you can complete one task
10. Celebrate your wins
Bonus Move: Use the 3 Bite Dessert Rule- studies show it's just as satisfying for your brain to eat 3 bites vs the whole dessert.
Test & Track to see which ones work best for you.
You've got this!
P.S. Ready to Spring forward? Here are 2 strategies to help you adjust. Both are on the dopamine booster list!
Did you know we just had World Wildlife Day? For every camp sale this month, we're donating to one of our fav's. Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescues & rehabs orphaned elephants, rhino’s & wildlife in Kenya to return them healthy to the wild as well as securing habitats for future generations, providing fresh water relief, vet rescue units and my favorite- their canine project using dogs to sniff out wildlife crime.
Mollie Miller, PT