HEALTH, self care

Lets stretch and loosen up..

Everybody needs something to wake up in the morning. 10 alarms, a cup of coffee, a cup of tea or a splash of water on their face. We need something to set that kick in to get us started with the day. Similarly our body also needs something to wake up. We often feel lethargic and heavy and stiff after waking up in the morning.

Stretching is known to have many benefits pre and post workout. Similarly it has many benefits when done first thing in the morning. Stretching every part individually may take up a lot of time and since most of us are running late in the mornings, we might avoid it.

So here are few stretching exercises that will give you a full body stretch and will get you ready for the day. Make sure to invest in a good quality comfortable pair of leggings, a full support sports bra and a tank top which moves with your movements and doesnt restrict them.

Standing side bending-

Stand with your feet together. Now slowly take your arms overhead and interlace your fingers, with index fingers pointing towards the ceiling. Inhale deeply while doing so.

Now exhale slowly and bend our upper body to either of the sides. Remember you have to stretch just the upper body, your hips shouldnt sway or twist.

When you feel the stretch, maintain that position for 5 counts and then slowly come back to the centre. While maintaining this stretch, do not hold your breath.

Repeat 5 times on each side.

Forward bending

Stand with your feet slightly apart and knees slightly bent. Always keep in mind that knees shouldnt be in a fully extended or hyperextended position. You dont have to lock them.

Inhale deeply and extend your arms back with your fingers interlaced behind.

Now, breathe out and start bending forwards, with your arms simultaneously moving towards your head, fingers towards your ceiling. Always maintain your lumbar curve while bending.

Stop where you feel the stretch and hold for 5 counts.

Repeat 5 times.

Inchworm to downward dog-

Stand straight with feet slightly apart. Bend forwards as if trying to touch your toes. Place your hands on the floor and walk forwards with your hands and stop when you attain a plank position.

Exhale and lift your heels away from the floor and lengthen your tailbone/ sitting bone away from the back of your pelvis as if you are lifting it towards the ceiling.

Try and stretch your heels down towards the floor and straighten your knees, but be sure not to lock them.

Keep the head between the upper arms and dont let it hang.

Maintain this position for 5 counts, and then come back to the standing position in the reverse sequence.

Repeat 5 times.

Runner’s stretch-

Stand with your feet hip width apart. Now step your left foot forward and lower yourself into a lunge. Place both the hands on either side of your left foot but shoulder width apart.

Breathe in deeply. Now straighten your left leg. When you feel the stretch, count till 5 while maintaining that position. Slowly return to the lunge position.

Repeat 5 times on each side.

Seated back twist-

Sit on the floor with your legs straight. Bend your left knee and step your left foot over the right leg and place next to your right knee. Place your left hand on the floor for support.

Bend your right elbow and turn to the left. Place the back of your right arm against the left knee. Inhale and sit tall.

Exhale as you twist, pressing your right arm onto the left knee and look over the left shoulder. Stop when you feel the stretch, hold for 5 counts. Do not hold your breath. Slowly come back to the centre and repeat on the other side.

Repeat 5 times on each side.

Foetal/ baby pose- this stretch also acts as a cool down.

Kneel down on the floor and touch your big toes to each other as you sit on your heels. Place your hands on your thighs. Inhale.

Exhale and bend forwards with your palms sliding on the floor. Lay your torso between your thighs as you do so.

Stretch the tail bone away from the back of the pelvis as you lift the back of your head slightly away from the back of your neck. Stretch your arms forwards and place them in front in line with your knees.

Since this is also a resting pose, you can stay in it for a few minutes.

Benefits

1. Increases the blood flow and gives a boost of energy throughout the day. It prevents lethargy and feeling of tiredness.

2. Increases oxygen flow to the brain for improved morning alertness.

3. It helps to calm your mind.

4. Increases flexibility and range of motion and thus fewer aches and pains throughout the day.

5. Improved posture- for people who have desk jobs at work or work in front of the computers for longer periods of time. These people often develop poor posture due to overstretched back muscles and tight chest muscles. These stretches when done before starting your day will loosen up those muscles and if done regularly will improve the posture over a period of time.

6. And of course, you will burn some calories as well.

“If you stretch correctly and regularly, you will find that every movement you make becomes easier”.

HEALTH, self care

23 tried and tested ways to de- stress

These days life has become very stressful. Things like traffic jams, unhappy/ troubled relationships, heavy workload, motherhood, exams, everyday expenses are the most common sources of stress and tension. Whenever, we are stressed, our hormones go into the fight or flight response. This increases our heart rate and we start breathing heavily/ feel anxious/ feel nervous. Whenever in such a situation, it is important to activate the body’s relaxation response. Being stressed is not really a choice, but to relax is.

Today’s post is all about things that help me to relax or de- stress and which maybe useful for you all too. The list is in no particular order.

  1. WALK: go for a walk, especially where there is greenery. Might be a neighbourhood park or your own garden or even in your balcony with your potted plants. This boosts our endorphins and reduces the stress hormones. This will automatically attract your attention to the surrounding and away from the stress causing factor.
  2. DEEP BREATHING: will make your body feel relaxed. Deep breathing-> oxygen boost-> reduced stress.
  3. MEDITATION: easier said than done. We are not saints who can meditate anywhere and everywhere. So what we can do is, we can concentrate all our attention on one particular point in the room/ wherever you are. It might be the wall, a painting, or a showpiece. Automatically, your brain is diverted to that thing and away from the stress. Many a times chanting “AUM” also works.
  4. TALK/ SPEAK- UP/ SHARE: It maybe your friend, your mom, sibling, colleague or just any random person. Just vent it out. Keeping it within is going to increase your stress- level. It is necessary to get rid of your stress inducing thought.
  5. MUSIC: It is often suggested that we listen to classical or soothing music to relax. But, i would say, listen to whatever music that makes you happy. We need to release those feel good hormones to relax. For some it might be rock or maybe jazz, basically any music that you love. I have known surgeons who listen to music while operating just because it relaxes them. And if none of the above, then sing/ humm for yourself. Worse come worse you will end up laughing at your singing skills, which will also give the desired result- relaxation.
  6. YOU TUBE: watch funny videos, especially those of animals (cats and dogs) and babies. There is no way you wont feel relaxed. Laughing-> increased oxygen intake-> releasing feel good hormones -> relaxation.
  7. MATHS: I know, many of you might be saying, this woman is crazy. But trust me solving a simple maths equation or sum will relax you well. It might even be something as simple as counting forwards and backwards or reciting the tables.
  8. GET CRAFTY: Create/ make something. Activities with repeated motions like knitting, jewellery making, origami, drawing and painting, doodling, or sometimes even colour my daughters colouring books. These fine motor activities grab your attention such that you forget the reason for your stress.
  9. Take a warm bath or relax in the pool.
  10. YOGA: SHAVASANA is the most common asana for relaxing. It helps you regulate your breathing and also in muscle relaxation. All you need is a mat or even a carpet will do. And if nothing is available just lie down on the floor. Or just lay back on your chair. You can even try the other stress- relieving poses like the eagle pose.
  11. DANCE: Go to a pub, discotheque, or just dance in front of the mirror or wherever you are. People might make fun of you, but its helping you. And when they see you enjoying, i am sure they will join in. Remember how Meredith Grey (Any greys anatomy fans here?) dances it out? Its the same. Dont worry about anything or anyone, you need those feel good hormones.
  12. HUG: Now, this might sound stupid to many. But ask someone to hug you. It might be your office colleague, sibling, BFF, or a random person. You can even try hugging your favourite pillow. Whenever you hug someone or someone hugs you, you feel the support, you feel cared for, you will feel happy and so relaxed.
  13. PET: that furball of yours will give you immense joy when you play with it or take it out for a walk. Hug your pet Nd talk to it.
  14. DECLUTTER: This is one of the main things that i personally do to relax. Just pick a corner of the house, or a drawer, or your cupboard and start decluttering and cleaning and organizing it. The idea is to get rid of the junk or unwanted stuff. It acts like a vent out for the negativity that is causing the stress.
  15. ROCKING CHAIR: Ever wondered why and how a crying baby is consoled or put to sleep? Its the rocking movement that is used. This rocking movement releases the endorphins which improve your mood and thus reduce anxiety. Now, obviously you cannot be held like a baby, so go get that rocking chair.
  16. SCREAM/ SIGH: The idea is to let it all out. I have seen it in a bollywood movie. Letting out a scream or a heavy sigh makes yu take in more oxygen after, which helps to calm down your nerves and you feel light and relaxed.
  17. CHEWING GUM: According to some studies, chewing a piece of gum, improves your breathing and thus reduces anxiety.
  18. TREAT TIME: A small piece of chocolate never hurt anyone. I am not saying binge eat or eat the whole bar. Just a small chunk. Getting a little sugar in your system will definitely make you feel good. And no, this doesnt mean that i support stress eating.

The above mentioned ways were what you can do when you are feeling stressed, like immediately at that moment. But there are certain things that you should follow in general in your daily routine to help you fight stress. Lets take a look at them:

  1. Try and get GOOD QUALITY SLEEP. Switch off that mobile/ TV atleast an hour before going to bed. Light some scented candles in your room, have a warm bath, have a nice conversation with your partner and go to bed. Also, do not drink tea/ coffee after 7 PM. Caffiene will make you more alert and will compromise your sleeping time.
  2. REDUCING SCREENTIME: More screentime throughout the day leads to disturbed sleep, stress and depression (in extreme cases). If you are a office worker, then screen time= work. So, try and take breaks every hour or two. Drink water, take a small walk in and around your office, listen to some music, chat with your colleague, do stretching exercises at your desk. Just go off screen for sometime and then return refreshed and start working again. For SAHM, make sure you use your mobiles, laptops, TV when the kids are sleeping or are at the school or day care. When they are home spend all the time with them. Automatically your screentime reduces to just a few hours. And spending time with kids is one of the best stress busters.
  3. MINDFUL EATING: Always be careful of what you put in your system. There are some foods that may cause digestion issues. These might get you stressed. Snack on healthy options like dry fruits, nuts, fruits. Get out of the room, go to a peaceful corner with lots of air and light and eat. Focus on the food and how it makes you feel. It is very important to nourish your system from within.
  4. HOUSEPLANTS: Some plants are not just air purifiers but also act as calming agents. Keep one on your office desk, decorate them in your living room/ bedroom/ in your house. Even talking to plants helps. Imagine you are talking to your friend.
  5. SELF CARE: That occasional visit to the salon or spa is also needed. Get a nice massage or just a mani/ pedi. Enjoy that me time. Go for shopping alone. Retail therapy never hurt anyone, especially you girls out there.

So thats all..

I know it was a long post but i am sure you would agree with a couple pointers here and will find the others to be helpful as well. Most of these methods are tried and tested by me, so i know for sure that they work.

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Stay tuned for more.

Till then

BBYe…..

HEALTH

The nutty affair..

We are often advised to eat soaked almonds every morning to improve our memory. We have seen our grandmothers and mothers adding dry fruits in some or the other way to our food or milk every day. I for one was never too keen and serious about consuming them in my daily diet. I used to munch on a handful of them if and when I felt like.

However, since the past couple of months, I have been including them in our daily diet, which has benefited me in many ways. So, in this post I will share with you all how I include them in my daily diet and how it has helped me.

Every night I soak around 10 to 12 almonds and 3 walnuts for us. And I also soak 8 to 10 black raisins with 3 to 4 strands of saffron for myself. My husband and my daughter, eat the almonds and walnut with their breakfast. I however eat them first thing in the morning along with my raisins and saffron. And sometimes as a snack in the evening. And for my 17 months old son, I just grind them and add it to his food. As he is still unable to chew them completely.

Let’s look into the benefits now.

  1. Almonds– are high in monounsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin E, which help in maintaining cholesterol levels. It also contains magnesium and potassium which normalizes the blood pressure and heart function. It is also rich in dietary fibre, proteins and good fats (helps in weight management).
  1. Walnuts– are rich in Vitamin E, Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants, which improve one’s cognitive function, helps to fight stress and provides a sense of calm. The B- vitamins and antioxidants present in a walnut prevents the signs of ageing (wrinkles), strengthens the hair and prevents hair fall.
  1. Dates– rich in iron, hence beneficial for anaemic people. It has high amounts of natural sugars, which provide a boost of energy. Used by many to break their fasts. It’s high fibre content promotes digestion and relieves constipation.
  1. Raisins– made from dehydrated grapes. They are packed with fibres, vitamins and minerals and energy. They are known to reduce acidity and help in digestion. Some people even eat a few raisins before going to bed at night. They also boost your iron levels and keep your bones strong. They also help in treating bloating, anaemia, fever, and sexual dysfunction, help in a healthy weight gain, also have a good impact on eye, dental, hair and bone health.
  1. Pistachios– help lowering the bad cholesterol level, boost immunity and even fight diabetes. But of course, not the salted ones.
  1. Cashews– are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (vitamins E, K and B6/ minerals like copper, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron and selenium). All these help in maintaining good body functions. It helps in reducing the blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels. It helps the body to form and utilize the red blood cells, thus, keeping the vessels, nerves, immune system and bones healthy. It also helps in weight loss (good cholesterol).

My personal experience:

My hair loss has reduced tremendously, my hair texture and quality has improved and so has its growth rate. My acidity and bloating has completely vanished, there is an overall improvement in my digestion. Also, my skin has become smoother, and it glows. Yes, it does (the saffron definitely has a role to play here).

So, go ahead and start eating these powerhouses from tomorrow. You may soak them and eat in the morning or maybe just as a snack. But do include them in your daily diet. And see the results for yourself.

 

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till then

bbye.