It’s been a little over a month of the Rona (COVID-19) roller coaster ride in the Austin area. I’ve been experiencing waves of emotions almost like different stages of grief. It has been intense and I’m doing my best to let it flow.
The initial panic that turned into what felt like a collective grief has left a lot of us exhausted and others with cabin fever. A reminder of how connected we all are yet we are all in different cars on the Rona Ride.
Since we’re all on different tracks of this coronavirus pandemic depending on where you are in the world, here are the initial resources I pulled together for our community back in early March to help manage the anxiety that happens when your routines and plans get flipped upside down.
It's a balancing act of staying on top of the latest public health recommendations vs staying calm through daily self-care practices.
Unfortunately, communities may be in and out of sheltering in place and social distancing until we get a better way to treat the virus, faster testing and tracing, or a vaccine.
Remember when we’re asked to slow things down and not stress the healthcare system all at once, our job is to control what we can.
Everything we do is going to help those around us be more safe including using basic hygiene and staying calm as much as possible.
Let's get real for a second. We are barely at the beginning of the Rona Ride in the US and the medical community is on the verge of burn out. They've been working non-stop to keep everyone as safe as possible. Everything changes almost daily on how we have to approach things as we learn in real time about this virus.
I help coordinate teams of therapists to go safely into a brain injury survivors homes for rehab. My youngest brother is an ER physician on the front lines in VA. He's at the entry point of the medical system and I'm helping patients as they re-enter their home and community. The whole system is upside down right now.
Please do your part to support all the essential workers (not just medical ones) by making the COVID-19 basics part of your daily life. For the best outcomes, it'll take a village team effort from all of us.
Let's review the basics and some resources to help you make the safest decisions for you and your family.
COVID-19 SELF-CARE BASICS
It seems so simple but it’s true, the #1 thing you can do is thorough hand washing for at least 20 seconds throughout the day especially when you’ve been out of your home. Be extra mindful of anything you touch and not touching your face. Avoid shaking hands right now. Don’t wear a lot of jewelry that can attract germs.
Pretend you’re a health professional. We never truly know what germs we are being exposed to in a health care environment, so we treat everyone universally the same. It’s our number one defense against all the foreign germs we are exposed to on a regular basis. It works even when we don't have gloves.
Now more than ever is the time to bust out or get in place some immune boosting and stress reducing DAILY practices.
Remember your body heals itself and gets stronger at rest and when it’s calm.
It’s time to be proactive at turning on your parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) to boost your immune system every day.
Never been a better time to add some breath work to your daily self-care tool box. I’ve been using The Ha Breath has become one of my personal favorites since this all started.
At the top of your self-care practices should be getting enough sleep. At least 7 hours a night. If you aren’t waking up well rested, then add in naps during the day. Rest, rest, rest and more rest. It helps your body heal and stay healthy.
Download this free 5 minute rest meditation for better sleep. Use it to take a quick break, prep for a nap or to relax your body before sleep.
As I watch air pollution going down around the world, it’s hard not to think Mother Earth is telling us to slow down. Actually, she’s yelling at us to do that AND to get more rest. It's time for us to listen.
Next you can improve your gut health to boost your immune fighting power. Superfoods. Probiotics. Clean Eating. Check out this blog post for more tips and recipes to support your gut health.
HEALTHY TRAVELER TIPS
Some of us will be able to slowly get back out into our communities soon. Before you do, check out an oldie but goldie blog post we did on being a Healthy Traveler. All the recommendations on the Healthy Traveler Packing List are appropriate for right now to boost your immune system and help decrease stress. You’ll want to add social distancing and wearing a mask when in the community as well.
Besides the CDC website, here are some COVID-19 resources that you might find useful:
COVID exit strategy- how ready is your state to re-open?
Dr. Aviva Romm - An Integrated MD's Commonsense Approach
Marie Forleo has pulled together a bunch of resources in one spot
How to Keep Your Pets Safe
Follow Andy Slavitt on twitter (@ASlavitt) or on his podcast (In The Bubble)
Having a hard time finding your fruits and veggies lately? Here are two delivery services to check out:
Can’t find toilet paper? Try this tree free, 100% bamboo toilet paper delivery service:
COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR AUSTIN
Austin Resources in one spot
Surgical Masks: Austin Emergency Supply Foundation provides free masks to small business and those in need. You can buy masks for just yourself or for you + help others get them too.
Hand Sanitizer: Banner Distilling Company makes hand sanitizer in addition to their Vodka and Whiskey products.
Bored or tired of your own cooking? Our friend’s Austin catering company now has curbside meals for families and alcohol: Pink Avocado Catering
I imagine by now that we all know at least one person who has had a battle with the virus and many whose jobs have been impacted. We’re sending love and peace to everyone and a gentle reminder to take it one day at a time. You are strong and will get through this.
I truly believe Anything Is Possible.
There are glimmers of hope and light, but you’ve got to stay away from the news to catch them. Are you searching for them?
We WILL get through this. We’ll do our best with what we know and have access to right now. We’ll keep adapting. Things will look different on the other side of it but just like a diamond under pressure we’ll shine brighter.
All is Well!
P.S. Working from home for the first time? Don’t forget to take mini movement breaks for less stress & stiff muscles. Download the Mini Moves Planner to help your body feel more energy, ease, and flow each day.
*denotes affiliate link
One of the things I love about Pilates, Yoga, and Qi Gong is the emphasis on the breath work.
They all teach you how the breath is where it all starts. It controls everything. How you heal. How you feel. How you move.
And there are so many breathing exercises out there that can give you different results.
You can change the way you breathe so that it calms your nervous system, to turn on your nervous system before or during activity, to boost your energy, to loosen muscle tension, and/or to decrease anxiety and overwhelm.
It’s fascinating how something so simple can make such a difference in your body and mind.
Put your hand over your heart and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Repeat a few more deep breaths.
Did that release some tension in your neck? Do you feel a less overwhelmed? How about more grounded or centered?
You can use this breathing exercise anytime you feel like life is spiraling out of control. It reminds you that you DO have control.
One breath can change everything. Your mood. Your energy level.
And as they say you've gotta feel it to heal it. Breath work will help you do that.
Having a variety of breathing exercises in your self-care tool box will help you manage stress, fatigue, and pain to perform and feel your best each day.
Here is another breathing exercise for you to try that will help you release STRONG emotions: The Ha Breath*.
Some of us were taught that it's not OK to express strong or negative emotions (i.e. anger, sadness) and they get trapped in our body. This technique will help you release them.
Not to get too woo woo on you, but it'll also help you center yourself by combining both your masculine and feminine energy so you’re in a more peaceful place.
THE HA BREATH
Remember…baby steps, my friend. All is well.
P.S. Want to feel more energy, ease, & flow each day? Download this free daily planner that'll help you pick out a few self-care mini moves so you can find your groove.
*FROM THE BOOK: Daring To Rest by Karen Brody who learned The Ha Breath technique in a Sierra Bender workshop.
If you’re worn out, burned out or in need of a time out, here’s my favorite tool to help you get re-energized.
I've used it daily for the past 2 years. It's been my #1 self-care practice as I continue to ride the emotional roller coaster of providing elder care for my dad.
I learned about it on a podcast that led me to a book that started me on a 40 day challenge with a simple rest tool called Yoga Nidra.
I was completely worn out from helping my dad through his 3rd cancer surgery in a year when the podcast caught my attention.
I'd heard the name many times from my Yoga Therapist colleagues, but didn’t really "hear" it until my body needed it the most.
My body was like “Yes, THAT is what you need to do when you get home.” Deep rest was exactly what my body was craving and I was the perfect candidate to test out the power of it.
I'll never forget my first yoga nidra nap and the way it refreshed and energized my worn-out body (and soul).
It’s the most relaxed I’ve gotten on my own without going to acupuncture or massage. I would even say it’s a deeper relaxation experience that energizes you versus having that post bodywork fog where you can barely drive home.
What is Yoga Nidra?
It’s basically meditation while you rest.
You lie down, listen to a guided meditation, and rest. It’s called “yogic sleep” and involves intense relaxation.
Doesn’t it sound fascinating and fun?
It’s my favorite rest tool for managing fatigue and stress.
If you’re a caregiver for little ones, old ones, even furry ones... it'll help you re-charge each day.
If you're in a healing profession... it's your burnout prevention tool.
If you’ve got a job that requires you to perform (athlete, speaker)… it’s your pre-game “find your flow” mindset tool.
A 15 minute yoga nidra nap will help you calm your nervous system so your body can repair and heal itself.
It has been such a powerful healing & recovery tool in my life. I know it can be in yours as well.
Getting Started With Yoga Nidra
BOOK AND CHALLENGE:
P.S. Check out your brain on Yoga Nidra. The research on brain scans during Yoga Nidra is remarkable. Your brain is asleep and awake at the same time. After you wake up, you're primed and ready to act: Brain scans
Have you gotten clear on your ONE fitness goal for January 2020?
Does it include having more energy and less inflammation in your body?
Is 2020 the year you become a joyful & well-rested Wellness Warrior?
If so, we’ve put together a few NEW YEARS deals on our online bodywork camps to help you get started without burning yourself out.
They’ll help you take the first step to having more energy, ease & flow each day… by giving your body the gift of stretching and massage to release your tight & tender spots with less than 10 minutes of daily self-care (or what we call "stretch-care").
Both camps begin on January 6th.
At this time of year when there’s a ton of pressure to speed things up and change everything about your workouts and diet, we want to show you the benefits of slowing things down.
Let’s set you up for success by breaking the habit of going too hard, too fast. It’s THE recipe for inflammation, injury and burnout.
Instead let's calm your body with daily fascial stretch-care and bodywork tools so it has time to work its magic...to heal itself and get stronger.
Your body gets stronger at rest.
You can train smarter by resting harder whether it's to support your workouts or your wellness.
Our bodywork camps show you how easy it is to do this.
They lay the ground work for you to stay active, agile, & pain-free at any age.
It’s like when the flight attendant says to “put on your oxygen mask first.” Our camps are the "oxygen" for a strong, well-rested body & mind.
Our online bodywork camps are on special until December 31st. Choose the one that is the best fit for your body's needs right now.
GETTING STARTED WITH YOUR STRETCH-CARE:
If you’re a newbie to fascial stretch-care, our online MINI Bodywork Camp™ (How to Foam Roll & Massage for More Freedom & Flow) will help you get started with a simple daily foam roller routine. You'll learn how to use our favorite flexibility hack, foam roller massage, to calm your body for better mobility & stretch results- it’s 50% off for a limited time. Learn more.
GOING PRO WITH YOUR STRETCH-CARE:
If you’re ready to take a deeper dive into improving your mobility for better posture & faster recovery from workouts, you’ll want to check out the special we’ve got on HIP Camp™ (Stretch Care & Recovery Tools for the Mindful Athlete). It includes an AWESOME bonus holiday offer: The Pelvic Floor 5 Day Strength Challenge.
HIP Camp™ is our 4 week online base training program that will help you build a strong core with a well-rested body & mind. We'll walk you through our simple system to find & treat ALL your spots- the tight, tender, weak (& tired) spots to make lasting changes in your mobility & performance. You can get $150 off when you pay in full or we have a new payment plan option available with this special offer. Learn more.
It’s time to renew & refresh yourself in 2020.
Let’s do this!
Mollie & Ender
P.S. All holiday deals and bonus offers expire Tuesday, December 31st at 5pm CST.
The Pelvic Floor 5 Day Strength Challenge is a BONUS offer when you purchase HIP Camp™ by December 31st. It includes a pop-up Facebook Group for coaching & support beginning February 3rd. We’ll have daily challenges + office hours for questions, prizes, and cover strength, cardio, & clean eating exercises to improve the health of your pelvic floor & more. It’s the perfect compliment to HIP Camp™ trainings. Learn more about camp here.
Real quick, let’s do a body check.
How well are you moving without pain or stiffness?
Mobility is your ability to move without pain or restrictions during your daily activities.
So how are you doing with that?
Before you throw the age card out, here me as I gently call B.S. to that.
It's NOT a sign of healthy aging to wake up or end the day with a lot of tightness or soreness.
Healthy tissue doesn’t hurt. It isn’t tender to touch. It isn’t stiff. It doesn’t hurt when you move.
Inflammation, soreness and stiffness are signs of inflammation and over-training (or over-doing).
I know you go, go, go and never take a time out to allow your body to rest.
I see you...
Seriously, you may not be giving your body enough rest and recovery time between your workouts and activities.
Stiff, sore muscles are signs you need to slow down and work on your mobility.
Most people think about stretching as the way to better mobility.
We’re asked all the time what's the best way to stretch for this or that.
Yes, gentle stretching is a great way to work on your tight spots and improving your flexibility.
Going after your tight spots is one piece of the mobility puzzle.
But there's a flexibility hack you can do to maximize your stretch results.
It's a way to make lasting changes to your mobility, posture, and performance.
Did you know you have a superpower? Yep, it's true. We all have it no matter our age or ability. It’s neuroplasticity! Your brains ability to rewire and grow when challenged.
It’s the reason I can confidently say it’s never too late and anything is possible. You can grow, learn new skills, be active & agile at any age.
But, there's a catch. It only happens when you challenge yourself outside your comfort zone and do lots (and lots) of repetition to cement in that new healthy habit or skill.
As a physical therapist working in brain injury rehab these past 20+ years, this was my job. Provide tons and tons of opportunities that challenged the patient who had injured their brain to use their weak side so they could walk and function better.
It's called a "forced use approach" to regaining muscle function (motor control). You're trying to turn on the weak muscles and create new pathways in the brain to help the body move better.
My patients all learned the easy way to move on their own using their strong side. Sometimes on day 1 of their injury. It wasn’t efficient and it limited their ability to reach their full potential functionally, but it was easy for them to pick up on their own.
That’s what your brain will do if you don’t challenge it. It’ll find the easiest way for you to function but most likely will keep you small and limited. And if you don't use it, you LOSE it. This is true whether it's a goal to improve your physical, mental, or emotional health.
Typically, every new habit or goal you want to achieve is outside your comfort zone. It's not something you are used to doing. You've got to learn some new skills to accomplish it. Turn on some new brain cells (neurons) and make new pathways.
And as soon as you decide you’ve got a new goal, whether it’s from fitness to finances, you brain is going to resist with fear and sabotaging behaviors. We all experience this. We always will no matter how healthy, successful or happy we are.
The research shows not even a life-threatening diagnosis of say cancer or heart disease will encourage most people to change their diet or behaviors like smoking. I can’t tell you how many patient’s I saw pushing their IV pole outside of MD Anderson Cancer Center for a cigarette during a chemo break when I worked in the Houston Medical Center.
Your brain is just trying to protect you. Keep you safe (in your comfort zone.)
That’s why I love a good brain hack. It might be from the support of a coach or therapist, a shift in mindset, or adding a new mantra to your bag of tricks. The more tools you have to deal with resistance and limiting beliefs, the better.
It takes practice and repetition, but the good news is that IT IS POSSIBLE to rewire your brain to accomplish any skill, goal or healthy habit you desire.
I've got 3 brain hacks to help you snap out of it when you start sabotaging. #3 is brand new so be sure to test it out.
3 BRAIN HACKS TO HELP YOU PLAY BIG & TAP INTO YOUR SUPERPOWER
Did you figure out your Peak Time to workout yet? If so, did you shift anything around in your schedule and see changes in your energy or performance?
Hope so. I've got another fitness hack to help you plan your workouts.
You can use your monthly cycle to help guide you with exercise.
Cycle check in (for females):
Where are you in your monthly cycle?
Your body needs different activity and has different energy levels based on the changes in hormones you go through each monthly cycle.
Paying attention to and respecting these needs throughout the month will help your body have more energy and perform better with less effort.
In general, you want to be gentle and take it easy while you are bleeding and start to ramp up exercise during the middle of your cycle. You want to ramp down as you approach the end of your cycle.
Beginning of your cycle (Days 1-5): focus on Rest/Reflect/Relax activities (i.e. naps, meditate, gentle stretching/walking).
Middle of your cycle (Days 6-20): you can train harder and increase the intensity (i.e. strength, cardio, interval training).
End of your cycle (Days 21-28): start to taper down training (i.e. yoga, pilates).
To dig deeper into this, check out the:
Not bleeding regularly or at all? You can use the lunar cycle to guide you. Kate's book talks about this in detail but basically:
If you are male, you can do this too. You actually go through all these hormone cycles in a 24 hour period. Every. Single. Day. You've got a few options:
Cycle syncing + working out at your Peak Time will help you get better results with less effort!
If you test it out, you'll see what I mean. Give it a go and let me know your results in the comments below.
P.S. Want to feel, move, & perform better in 3 minutes or less? Download the free MINI MOVES Daily Planner & Cheat Sheet for simple self-care exercises that’ll help your body feel more energy, ease and flow each day.
Want to get better results with less effort when you exercise?
Here's a cool fitness tip for you to test.
One of the best things I started doing a few years ago was planning my day around my body’s natural rhythms and peak times.
If you pay attention, you can figure out your peak times for exercise, work, and other activities.
Peak Time check in: When are you at your best?
One of the first steps to know your peak time for exercise is figuring out if you’re a lark or a night owl.
In the research, a LARK is defined as an EARLY RISER or what you might refer to as a morning person.
A NIGHT OWL is someone who naturally goes to bed at 1 or 2am.
The summer is a great time to figure out which one you are naturally especially if you’re on vacation.
When you don’t have an alarm clock, when do you naturally wake up or go to bed?
The goal is to exercise, train, or do physical activity when you’re at your peak time.
The best time for LARKS is to exercise is between 7am to midday.
And the best time for NIGHT OWLS to exercise is around 8pm.
Schedule your workouts or training at your peak time to perform better with less effort.
You’ll naturally have more energy during and after exercise plus it’ll be less depleting to your body overall.
I realize work and other commitments can interfere with your ability to do this all the time. Just do your best to block it off.
Be creative and mindful as you plan your workouts to see if you can shift any of your current activities to support your peak times.
Even if you do this 20% of the time, you’ll feel a huge difference in your energy and performance.
P.S. Download this free daily planner to help you pick out a few self-care & mini moves each morning. Your body will love them!
I had the most fascinating thing happen last month. I got a 12-minute treatment for dry eyes that my optometrist recommended and without changing my glasses prescription I was able to see SOOOOO much better.
Driving home, I felt like a kid at Disney World looking around in awe at all the details. Everything was so sharp and clear. Kind of like you feel after getting a new pair of glasses or contacts. Or it feels watching a 3-D movie.
And walking the dogs in the dark that night was dramatically better. The difference before and after treatment really blew me away!
Being in the brain injury rehab world, I had heard some info on dry eyes but now I really get it.
Besides going to the eye doctor each year and eating your carrots, people don’t talk much about what you can do for your eye health.
It’s more important than ever because we all have so much screen time.
Anytime you’re focusing on a screen (any screen), you’re blinking less among other things.
We’ve got some tiny oil glands in our eyelids that help keep the eye lubricated and love it when we blink. Apparently, they also love heat and massage.
The treatment I got a week ago was a heat and massage for my eyelids called LipiFlow. It helps unblock those tiny oil glands that get backed up for various reasons.
I didn’t realize all the things I could do to help them function better. Honestly, I didn’t really know they existed until this past month.
Here’s what I’ve learned you can do to counter screen time and help support the function of these tiny oil glands:
Not sure if you’ve got dry eyes? Here are some symptoms to look out for:
Burning, dryness, irritation, light sensitivity, vision fluctuations, contact lens intolerance, eye fatigue.
MINI MOVEMENT BREAKS
Just like our eyes need breaks when we spend too much time focusing, the body needs to MOVE to feel good and work well.
We preach & teach about mini movement breaks throughout the day because the research shows it all adds up to support your brain and body health whether it’s 3 breaths, 3 reps, or 3 minutes of movement.
Mini Moves, as we call them, done throughout the day can help your body feel more energy, ease and flow each day.
Your brain likes to move especially after long periods of sitting or focusing on a task.
When your brain slows down, or brain fog sets in, it’s time to MOVE.
Ignore these signals and you’ll likely get more easily frustrated, be less focused, and less productive.
Want to feel, move, and perform better?
We’ve got 16 mini moves for you to experiment with and see which ones work best for your body (including another eye massage exercise you can do). They take anywhere from 3 reps to 3 minutes to do.
Download the MINI MOVES Daily Planner & Cheat Sheet to help your body feel more energy, ease and flow each day.
Enjoy & don’t forget to blink!
P.S. Download this free daily planner to help you pick out a few self-care & mini moves each morning. Your body will love them!
Do you wake up feeling well-rested and pain-free on most days?
Did you know that’s even possible?
Lots of clients tell us they’ve always been tight, are living with aches and pains, and assume they always will be.
Because that’s what happens when you get older, right?
You’re not destined to a life of stiff or sore muscles, slowing down, and eventually falling and breaking your hip.
Stiff joints, sore muscles, and fatigue are all signs of over-training (or over-doing) and not giving your body enough rest or recovery time between your workouts and activities.
Your body needs time to work its magic…to heal and repair itself.
Stiff, sore muscles are also signs you need to work on your mobility or flexibility.
The truth is…
You can win the battle against gravity, sitting, adhesions from old injuries, and the impact exercise has on your body’s flexibility as you age.
It’s possible even if you’ve never touched your toes.
It’s about technique and knowing what to target.
Once you know the fundamentals, you can see how easy they are to sprinkle into your day.
The pill-free way…
So, how can you stop struggling with stiff, sore muscles and fatigue?
You can stretch.
You know that thing you skip when you're trying to squeeze in a quick workout.
But, here's the deal.
Healthy tissue isn’t stiff. It’s elastic. Bungee cord like versus rope like.
Is that how you feel when you move right now?
If not, it’s OK because it’s never too late to improve your flexibility.
The first step…
Stretching is the first step to bringing the spring back into your tissue (after having good hydration and sleep habits).
And it doesn't take a lot of time when you know what to target and what to do before and after you stretch.
Just like we’ve evolved from flip phones to smart phones, we’ve made advances in stretching that’ll make a lasting impact on your flexibility and posture.
If you feel pain with stretching, you’ve gone too far…
There’s nothing more annoying than seeing an athlete on the sidelines getting his hamstring cranked on by a trainer. There is such a thing as over-stretching.
Bottom line: if you have pain with stretching, your body will tighten up more. The body’s response to pain is to protect, tighten up, guard.
And since you’re the best judge of what’s painful or not, you’re the one who should be the stretch “super star” of your body.
You can help your body stay active, agile, & pain-free at any age when you know # 1 thing to target with your stretching and how to stop over-stretching.
We’ll show you how in our FREE training, MINI MOVES: How to have more energy, ease, and flow in your workouts (& life).
In this free mini training series, you’ll learn:
READY TO BE ACTIVE & AGILE AT ANY AGE?
The technique we’ll share with you can benefit everyone. We’ve used it on clients with chronic neck or back pain to professional athletes.
Our pros always seem to achieve their personal best after a treatment (i.e. no hitter, new race time).
Are we promising you’ll become as flexible as a prima ballerina if you stretch daily? No, anatomy and genetics does play a role.
But it’s never too late to improve your flexibility…
if you’re willing to spend 10 minutes a day on simple self-care stretches and moves.
Let's get you stretching with (lasting) benefits!
Mollie & Ender
P.S. Sign up before 6/10/19 to get the free Mini Moves training – it's in 3 short parts (just like your stretch self-care can be) to help you feel better, move better, and ultimately live better.
Mollie Miller, PT