Friday, October 30, 2015

When You Need to Feel Better Right Now

Dear Girls,

My friends and I talk rather often about how physically taxing it can be to be a woman. Between the hormones, the stress, and trying to keep all our plates spinning at one can be really tough. Most of us end up putting everyone else's needs before our own on a regular basis and, before we know it, we come to realize that our bodies just can't physically take any more.

The biggest problem with not feeling well physically is that it quickly spills over into everything else. I become a miserable son of a gun when I'm hungry or exhausted, and I find that it's difficult to think beyond my own needs. That's a problem when so much rides on my ability to keep those plates in the air.

And it's so easy to think the worst when we come to the end of our rope physically, isn't it? (I've Googled my symptoms many a time and come up with some pretty serious illnesses.) When really, the answer is this:  we need to take better care of ourselves.  Knowing your body and its limitations can be a huge step in the right direction. Having a list of things you know you must do to maintain the well-being of your body is just as important.

Here's what I do when I need to feel better fast.

>> Drink water.  This is a biggie.  It's so essential to our health, and I can really tell when I haven't drank enough.  The relief comes almost immediately after my first glass.  We've all heard that 8 glasses per day is what we should be shooting for, but I believe it all depends on your size, activity level, and environment.  This article talks about how much you should be drinking, in addition to explaining the many benefits.  Now, I'm not crazy about plain water, but I began adding lemon to it often, and that makes all the difference to me.  Katie talks about putting lemon in your water here.  Whatever you need to do to boost that fluid intake, do it!  It's amazing how good it makes you feel, and the long term benefits are fantastic as well.

>> Exercise.  It seems counter-intuitive, I know.  Sometimes when you're most tired and achy and not feeling well it can be hard to gather the motivation to get moving.  But so many studies show that exercise actually boosts your energy levels, in addition to elevating your mood and promoting better sleep.  (And who couldn't use some more of that?)  For me, my exercise of choice is Pilates.  I find, especially if I'm sore, stretching my muscles with a good Pilates workout helps immensely.  I always walk away feeling better.  Not your thing?  They say a 30-minute brisk walk every day is the most simple, yet extremely beneficial exercise that anyone can do.  No time?  Try these exercises you can do at (or near) your desk.  Can't peel the kids off of you long enough to fit in a good workout?  Try these and make it a family affair.  Whatever you do, start small and start now!  You'll be amazed at how good you feel. 

>> Rest.  Wanna know a secret?  When we feel like we can't take another step...that's our body telling us we can't take another step.  So sometimes all you really need to feel better is a little R & R.  This doesn't mean  taking regular naps in the middle of the day.  (Unless you do...then, more power to ya!)  It means we're taking the time to just stop.  Sit down.  And breath.  I usually do this after lunch while the baby takes his afternoon nap.  I value silence, so I turn everything off and just simply allow myself to veg.  Sometimes I read.  Sometimes I write.  Sometimes I binge on Netflix.  Most times I do nothing but just sit and close my eyes.  But the point is, I'm paying attention to my body's signals and giving myself much-needed downtime.  Take however much time your schedule will allow...even fifteen minutes can work wonders. 

>> Eat.  And eat well.  This is actually one of my biggest daily challenges, oddly enough.  With a husband who's out of the house before six, and you girls to get on the bus at two different times each morning, I hit the ground running every day.  Because of this, it's easy for me to skip breakfast.  By lunch time, I'm so hungry I feel sick, so preparing a meal ends up being a survival thing and I'll eat whatever I can get my hands on the fastest.  (Hello, Ramen noodles.  Again.)  Usually I give a lot of thought to how well I'm feeding my family and next to none about my own nutrition.  But none of this is okay.  Food is fuel, and on days when I fuel my body well, I feel so much better.  I've found a couple of ways to ensure good nutrition throughout my day.  First, a little planning and prep goes a long way.  For example, I'll hard boil some eggs while I'm cooking dinner, then throw them in the fridge for the next morning.  Then all I have to do is grab a piece of toast and a banana, and I have myself a well-balanced breakfast to get me through my hectic morning.  Also, I've found that rotating a few "regular" meals cuts the thinking aspect.  (Because we all know staring into the fridge having to think about preparing a healthy meal is no fun and usually causes you to not eat healthy at all.)  When it comes to breakfast, I'll do the eggs/toast/fruit thing on days when I'm hungry for salty and savory, and oatmeal/fruit when I want something sweet.  It works for me because it's simple and I don't have to think about it.  There's no denying it...the more "clean" foods you eat (free from added chemicals and such), the better you feel.  Not much room in the grocery budget?  You'll be happy to learn that healthy doesn't mean expensive.  This article lists some great ways to eat healthier on the cheap.  

>> Turn it all off.  As in, whatever device you're most fond of staring at for long periods of time.  I recently read an article that shed some light on all the exposure to technology and how it affects us.  I was shocked at some of the statistics.  For example, did you know that when you tilt your head 60 degrees to read your smartphone, you're adding an additional 60 pounds of pressure to your neck?!  (according to Neuro and Spine Surgery journal)  Yikes! Some of the other physical effects of technology include eyestrain, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tons of exposure to germs and bacteria.  (Even more importantly, I think, is the effect it can have on your mind and your relationships.)  So when I'm feeling "blah" and possibly a little distracted...I turn it all off and step outside.  It's amazing what a little fresh air can do, for both mind and body.  Read the facts and possibly get inspired to unplug here.  

So again, when I'm feeling less than awesome, the solution is usually pretty simple.  It's when I pay close attention to these five things in my daily life that I function the best.  Next time you need to feel better fast, give them a try!


Photo // Unsplash

Have any good tips or tricks that help you feel better fast?  I'd love to hear about it!