4 Ways to De-Stress

By Megan Vick

 

Recently, we took a two-week vacation in the desert southwest – starting in Las Vegas and ending in Tucson, Arizona. Frantically packing just hours before our 8:30 AM departure, we made sure we each had the e-reader, cell phones, tablets, and at least one laptop. When I realized how many electronics we had, I started wondering about how people can truly enjoy a vacation and de-stress while still being “connected.”

 

What happened on our vacation was truly remarkable. Once we arrived in Arizona, the world melted away. We had little to no cell reception and wireless was no where to be found. The laptop and tablets were just extra weight in the travel bag and the phones were turned on airplane mode and used as cameras.

 

And then it happened: I realized I wasn’t stressed out. 

 

I had no control over the lack of connectivity, so I was able to let go and truly enjoy the last half of vacation with my family. So, for those of you looking to de-stress, here are 4 ways you can do it.

 

Relaxed cat

 

1) No Electronics

Absolutely none – not even your e-reader. Without electronics buzzing and tweedling, you can focus on whatever you want: yourself, your partner, your kids, your garden, the way your pinky toe looks – anything you want. You can institute a “No Electronics Day” at your home,  or simply take 30 minutes every day to get away from anything connected.

Try it – you’ll love it.

 

2) Get outside

Being outside – especially on a gorgeous day – will increase those warm and fuzzy feelings, which will help you be more productive later. Spend sometime in your garden, go for a bike ride or run, take a book (yes, a real book) to the park and read for a while, or meditate outside. Connect with nature – not the internet.

 

3) Indulge

Cheat on your diet. Buy the shoes. Get the luxurious skin care item you want.

Do something for yourself that you wouldn’t normally do – even if it’s just for a few minutes.

 

4) Be Selfish

Very similar to indulging, by being selfish, you get the chance to determine what will happen in your day. If you don’t feel like doing the laundry tonight, especially because you’ve done 1-3 above already, then don’t do the laundry. If you need a “mental health” day from work and want to play hooky – do it.

 

At the end of the day, it’s all about moderation. Remember, there is no “Most Stressed Out Person” award. There is only you, your health, and happiness. Without those, you can’t be the best person for your family, for your employer, or the planet.

 

Take care of yourself. There’s only one you – and you are special.

 

Namaste

Living in a Labeled World

By Megan Vick

 

Today, everything has a label. Everything, people included, is becoming so specific about what something is and what it isn’t, that we are running the risk of not being able to truly enjoy anything.

 

Humans, by nature, seem to be contradictory creatures when it comes to labels. If you say one thing and do another, that’s okay. We’re not here to judge you. Just remember to always be yourself and do what you feel is right. Societal expectations almost demand to fit into a category, so we keep coming up with categories as if these will somehow define ourselves and our neighbors.

 

Quit worrying about if “fit” the category of vegan/locavore/anti-GMO/fashion-savvy/healthy/out & proud – whatever. You are who you are and there is a place for everyone in this world.

 

Namaste.

Best Stretches to Increase Your Flexibility!

By Megan Vick

There is nothing like waking up in the morning and stumbling around while you wait for your hamstrings to stretch out.  Or maybe you’ve been dying to try a yoga class and you don’t feel comfortable because you’re not as limber as you once were.  Here are some stretches to help you regain your flexibility.  Just remember to go slowly and gently while you stretch to avoid injury.

 

1. Pike Sit/Long Sit

This is a pretty standard stretch.  Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you.  Be sure you are sitting on your sitz bones (the bones in your booty) and not slouching at all.  Your body should make a straight “L” shape.  You may feel tightness in your lower body just by sitting in the proper position.  To maximize your stretch, lean forward and reach your hands to your toes.  Make sure you don’t slouch over your thighs or knees.  Reach forward with the lower back and try to rest your forehead on your shins.  This may not happen right away, but over time, you’ll gain flexibility in your lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles.

 

2. Straddle

Again, this is a stretch most people know.  The easiest way to find this position is to sit in proper Pike Sit position, and then open your legs as far as you can to make a “V”.  Be sure you continue to sit 100% upright- don’t slouch.  To maximize your stretch, flex your feet.  From there, slowly “walk” your hands out in front of you and imagine your spinal cord lengthening as your chest moves closer to the floor.  You’ll gain flexibility in your inner thighs, hamstrings, back, and ankles.

 

3. Splits

Ah, yes.  The dreaded split stretch.  The journey to the splits is long and semi-uncomfortable.  Splits are a great way to strengthen and stretch the hips, glutes, quads, and hamstrings.  The easiest way to start working on your split is stand up on a flat surface and slowly slide one leg forward and the other leg backward.  Make sure you keep your hip bones pointed straight ahead with that front leg!!  If you swivel your hips, you run the risk of injury and make the stretch less effective.  Take your time!  If it helps, place two dining chairs on either side of you to give you support and balance as you move closer to the ground.  Be sure to have both the left and right leg in front to keep your flexibility even!

 

4. Downward Facing Dog

Down Dog is a standard yoga pose that many people know.  It’s a great pose because it strengthens and stretches the body.  Stand on the floor and bend down toward your toes and rest your palms on the floor.  It’s okay if your knees bend to do this.  With your palms still on the floor, take a few steps away from your hands, creating an upside down “V” with your body.  Feel free to adjust as you much as you need to maximize the stretch.  Your weight should be evenly distributed between your palms and your feet.  Take several deep breaths and you will feel the muscles relax.  Stay in this position for at least one minute.  Feel free to gently rest on your knees when you are finished In this pose.

 

5. Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose (or folded leaf) is a relaxing pose for many people.  Start by sitting on your knees with your glutes resting on your heels.  Round forward with your arms stretched out in front of you.  Relax.  Feel free to stretch your arms out more or bring them closer.  This stretches your glutes, back, shoulders, and arms.  Over time, you’ll feel yourself get closer to the ground as your spine elongates.  Enjoy the relaxation this pose brings.

 

6. Cobra Pose

Cobra Pose stretches your abs, chest, biceps, and neck.  Lie on the floor on your stomach.  Place your palms on the floor under your shoulders and press your upper body up.  Your pelvis and legs should remain on the floor while your back is arched.  After doing this pose, I like to push myself back into Child’s Pose for just a few extra moments of relaxation.

 

Remember to move slowly and gently to help avoid injury.  If you have any medical concerns, please see your doctor before changing your exercise routine.