Have you heard of flexion addiction? According to Dr Eric Dalton, Founder & Executive Director of the Freedom from Pain Institute, we are a ‘flexion-addicted society’. By this, he means that we have moved from being actively mobile to spending most of our time sitting at a desk, in a car, watching television, working on the computer, being on phones and so on. We spend prolonged periods with our bodies in states of flexion. Our ankles, knees and hip joints are all flexed when seated; the spinal vertebrae flex to create a forward posture whilst the shoulders become rounded giving rise to the head and neck protruding further forward.
Even an hour in this fixed flexed position causes the muscles to become tired and strained which in turn leads to muscle weakness. Normal circulation through these tissues becomes impaired and we begin to suffer the symptoms of pain and tension. Tight, tense muscles restrict a full range of movement through our joints causing stiffness and loss of flexibility. To compensate for this, the body begins to adopt alternate postures: the upper back slouches, so the shoulders become more rounded and the head and neck protrude forward, drawing the entire front of the body into a state of flexion. Stress further complicates matters, adding to the experience of muscle fatigue, tension and pain.
Here are a few tips for preventing flexion addiction:
Where does your sense of well-being come from? What is ‘at the bottom’, where you can go no further?
Well-being is not a peripheral or surface-layer state – it is something that lies right at the root of yourself. It’s made up of your fundamentals. The important thing to know is that well-being does not lie in other people, in things, at the bottom of a bottle or in the promise of future times: it needs to be in the present time.
If you have a chance today, spend some time playing around with the idea of what is at the root of your well-being. What are your fundamentals? This might feel a bit uncomfortable at first, because it can challenge our ideas and encourage us to question the status quo. Whatever you ponder, remember that caring for your roots allow for more well-being shoots to thrive.
I don’t know if there is anything better than the colours of autumn! I completely love this time of year in nature – the golds, the reds, the oranges, the yellows… And it is this week’s crop in my veg patch that has inspired today’s blog, which is a recipe, this time using pumpkins and parmesan – two of my favourite ingredients.
Pumpkin and parmesan soup
1 onion, peeled, chopped
1kg pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and reserved, flesh cubed
800ml hot vegetable stock
110g parmesan, or a similar vegetarian hard cheese, (include the cheese rind if desired), roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large frying pan over a low to medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the butter and onion and fry gently for 8-10 minutes, or until softened but not coloured. Increase the heat to medium, add the diced pumpkin and continue to fry, stirring well, for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the hot vegetable stock over the pumpkin mixture and bring to the boil. Stir in the parmesan, then return the mixture to a simmer and continue to simmer for a further 8-10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Transfer batches of the mixture to a food processor/blender and blend to a smooth purée. Repeat the process until all of the mixture has been blended to a purée. If you like, you can strain the soup mixture through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan and heat until warmed through.
“I’ve never been very good at that.”
“That’s just the way I am and there’s no changing me.”
“I always…” or “I never…”
This is limiting language: pigeon-holing ourselves into small boxes that perhaps, in one sense, explain our behaviour and understanding of ourselves; yet, in another way, can be limiting and fettering. Many of the stock phrases we use to describe ourselves are just plain out-dated. They are old habits that, with constant repetition, continue to be peddled.
How about today you change your old habits and try something different? Instead of “I’ve always done that/been that way”, try instead “I’ll have a go at that and see where it takes me”. A whole new world of novel experiences and feelings await when you ask yourself if the old rules still apply. And if they don’t, where will that lead you? Somewhere exciting, I’m sure!
Today’s blog is about crying – how having a good cry can be restorative and relieving. It’s not a new concept obviously, but it’s something that I have employed recently in place of my usual ‘get even busier and do even more exercise’ coping method. It feels cleansing, a way to release pent-up emotions so they don’t lodge in the body as stress symptoms such as fatigue or pain. Tears are your body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and frustration.
It’s not just about emotional benefits either: tears are salt water and they lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, reduce stress hormones, and they contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes.
Our bodies produce three kinds of tears: reflex, continuous, and emotional. Each kind has different healing roles. For instance, reflex tears allow your eyes to clear out noxious particles when they’re irritated by smoke or exhaust. The second kind, continuous tears, are produced regularly to keep our eyes lubricated: these contain a chemical called lysozyme which functions as an anti-bacterial and protects our eyes from infection. Tears also travel to the nose through the tear duct to keep the nose moist and bacteria free. Typically, after crying, our breathing, and heart rate decrease, and we enter into a calmer biological and emotional state.
Emotional tears have special health benefits. Biochemist and ‘tear expert’ Dr. William Frey at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis discovered that reflex tears are 98% water, whereas emotional tears also contain stress hormones which get excreted from the body through crying. After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Additional studies also indicate that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and ‘feel-good’ hormones. Interestingly, humans are the only creatures known to shed emotional tears, though it’s possible that that elephants and gorillas do too. Other mammals and also salt-water crocodiles produce reflex tears which are protective and lubricating.
Crying actually helps us feel better, even when a problem persists.
As the clocks go back this weekend, no doubt there will be loads of comments about how dark it is! So, this week’s blog is about light.
When someone lightens up your life just by their presence, it’s a wonderful feeling to bask in that light. When someone is a bit of a downer, there is usually some hidden inner baggage which contains sadness and darkness. Which do you bring to the party? A little light or a little dark? A lot of optimism or a little pessimism?
Before the days of flicking a switch to light up a whole town or village, one candle had to be lit by another. If you are aware that you are holding some darkness, it might be useful to spend time with someone whose light is already lit, and stays lit in most situations. Eventually, we may learn the art ourselves, and then act as a candle to others.
Some very sensible advice that I need to take for myself here:
It has been seven years since I taught my first exercise class, so I’m having a celebration this week to mark the fact that I have now taught well over 1,000 classes, not to mention the training courses and workshops that I’ve run, and the countless freelance days I’ve enjoyed. I’ve been thinking about why I love running my own business and have come up with my top seven reasons: the WWWWWHIs.
I get to decide:
For someone who craves independence and doing things my own way, this is a perfect method of working. It means I can focus on my well-being first, which is pretty important considering the field in which I work.
So, if you fancy celebrating with me this week, join one of my classes, where there will be post-exercise snacks to enjoy!
Just a final word of thanks to everyone who has attended my classes, courses and workshops over the years. Without your presence, Clean Well-Being would be entirely lacking. Thank you!
Do you ever long for the days when your life wasn’t influenced by apps, phones and laptops? If so, consider taking a manual day, a dedicated, hands-on day. This is where things are created for real, not just joined-up electrons. Try putting up a shelf finally (of course you might not be good at it, but that’s not the point). Practice doesn’t make perfect; it simply makes better. Bread and soup made, casserole in the oven, the home/garden prepped for autumn. Art or craft project started or finished. Some DIY completed. Being outside in ‘real’ weather with appropriate clothing.
We are a finely-tuned mind-body creature; and when mind and body are in synch, they produce magic. Make it a mind-body manual day today!
Did you know it’s National Fitness Day today? The aim of the day is to highlight the role physical activity plays across the UK, raising awareness of its importance in helping people lead healthier and active lifestyles. Across the country, people are participating in a huge range of activity options, such as ‘plank-offs’, yoga and Pilates classes, treadmill challenges, high-street HIIT classes, dance-offs, mass walks and many more. At my classes this week, we’ll be adding an element of competition by challenging ourselves to do a little bit more than before.
In case you wanted some motivational assistance, physical inactivity has been listed as a leading cause of preventable diseases and conditions such as type-2 diabetes, some cancers and osteoporosis.
But if this type of approach doesn’t work for you, how about noting how you feel before and after exercise? After the initial creaking, my body really enjoys moving and I feel more positive and settled afterwards. Tonight’s tap dance class certainly helps lighten my mood, when I catch sight of myself in the mirror, busting moves that look much better in my imagination!
For more information, go to www.nationalfitnessday.com.
Many of my work practices are based on how they affect my well-being. Considering well-being is my business, this is no surprise, and I’m in a position where I can test them out. Over the years, I have developed a few ways to manage workload and would like to share two of them with you.
Lacking time? Rather than feel wretched because you can't create more time, work on other dimensions instead, namely space and energy. Create more space for yourself: get rid of clutter, stuff, and distractions. This helps with clarity and is one of my favourite ways of feeling better in work. Then, create more energy for what you are doing. This will help you to focus, to say no when necessary and get to better return of investment on time you have used up.
How possible does this seem to you? I’d love to hear what you think.
On Sunday, I went to a fascinating lecture by Dr Paul Batman on non-exercising activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which describes the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, working in the garden, doing housework and DIY and fidgeting. In other words, getting benefits from moving more all through the day, rather than doing one exercise class/gym session and sitting idly for the rest of the day.
I love to potter around the house and garden and find that this really suits my body: constant up/down and side-to-side movements of gardening, putting things away, and cooking are all ‘activities’ that mean my body is not stuck in one position for too long, nor is it under too much strain or stress. It is how we are built to move. Therefore, this week I am advocating the Pottering Principle, a phrase I coined whilst listening to the lecture. I regularly talk about how many of the movements we do in my exercise classes can be incorporated into everyday life (while brushing teeth, waiting for the kettle to boil, watching adverts, etc.) but the PP goes one step beyond that: making sure you move more and between positions, using multiple muscles, while reducing your sedentary time.
Movement is a privilege, not a chore. How will you potter more this week? I’d love to hear from you.
For more information about NEAT, click here.
Are you a procrastinator? I can be, and have found that it is not only the thief of time, it is also the creator of subtle inner tension. You know you are cheating yourself.
There are three secrets to overcoming procrastination.
And the options to those ideas? One - ask for help. Two - completely forget about it, you don't have to do anything! Three - if there is anything you can learn from the process then see it as action learning.
Six ways to overcome procrastination... Do you have other ideas? Let me know.
What is contentment? How about this: wherever I am is wherever I am meant to be, whatever I am doing is whatever I am meant to be doing and whatever everyone else is doing is exactly what they are meant to be doing.
If you do want to change where you are, or what you are doing, the first thing is to be content with wherever you are and whatever you are doing right now! Paradoxically, that's what usually attracts opportunities and invitations to be somewhere else. This is because you are a living magnet, and contentment is one of your most attractive qualities.
Your dominant thoughts will attract the right people and circumstances into your life. Being content right now attracts the best possible future.
(I'm taking a break next week so there will be no blog on 28th August 2019.)
Do you like to multi-task? For many people, the ability to multi-task is like a badge of honour, as if they are saying, “Look how many things I can juggle at once! Aren’t I impressive and capable?” But increasingly, they are finding that they don’t do any of these tasks particularly well. They can flit between several different things and think they’re doing something pretty special, when really, they are not doing anything very effectively. It all becomes a bit tiresome.
Then I came across the phrase ‘mono-tasking’, when only one thing is done at any time. By focusing on just the one job, it can be done efficiently; and increasingly, I’m finding that I enjoy it more too. I can relax out of the whirlwind of being ever-so-busy and lean into the singular task in hand. It’s a great feeling to corral my thoughts and actions into one task, staying focused and in the flow. It takes a bit of practice, but like all skills worth having, I need to put the time in. So, from now on, it’s one thing at a time.
Hi, I'm Joanna from Clean Well-Being.
|Fitness and well-being provider||
Clean Well-being ramblings