Five Winning Wellness Tips
By, Brian Tully of Better Together Fitness
Anyone else here shocked by how quickly 2021 has flown by? I mean it literally feels like last week that we were setting up the tree for the 2020 holiday season. And here we are again. Decorating and getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. With so many things taking our attention these days, I thought a quick article with a few bite-sized fitness and wellness tips would be a good idea. Just to keep us from getting too far off track during these busy days.
1. Break Out of Your Bubble
Here’s a mood-booster to keep up your sleeve for days when you’re feeling low: go out and explore new places. A study tracked people and their moods across NYC and Miami for several months. Here’s what it found: people whose physical locations varied day to day felt happier. To put it another way, breaking out of your bubble is a good thing. You don’t have to venture out to far-flung corners of your city (or at all) – you can use this advice within the scope of your daily routine, say the study’s authors. Here are some ways to do that:
Try a new skill you can learn at home (cooking, painting, coding, yoga, anything!)
Do regular activities in irregular places (e.g., do your morning stretches outside instead of in the living room)
Listen to a type of music you wouldn’t normally listen to or read new types of books
Interact with different people (face-to-face or online)
Rearrange your living or working spaces to make them feel fresh and new
Bottom line is, anything you can do to experience new sights and sounds is a good thing. Why not give it a shot today and see how you can mix things up?
2. Improve Your Posture
Did Momma ever tell you not to slouch? Well, she had a point. Good posture reportedly opens up your lungs and airways, reduces back pain, and increases energy. It may also have a strong psychological impact. Research has found that we feel more confident when sitting or standing up straight in comparison to slouching. It only takes a minute to do a quick check-in on your posture. According to Healthline: “When sitting, your feet should rest flat on the floor, with even weight on both hips. Your back should be mostly straight (you’ll have natural curves). Your shoulders should be back but relaxed and your ears should line up over your collarbones. When standing, your legs should have a slight knee bend so you're not hyperextending or locking your knee joints.” Why not start right now? Leave a reminder note on your work desk: Every time you see it, you’ll be prompted to quickly check in on your posture.
3. Take an Awe Walk
It’s no mystery that going for a walk is good for your health. But did you know that doing it with the right mindset can have positive long-term psychological effects? In a 2020 study, those who took an “awe walk” reported greater joy and less daily distress over time. The idea is simply to allow yourself to be in awe of your surroundings as you walk. Awe can be described as “a positive emotion elicited when in the presence of vast things not immediately understood”. So, when were you last in awe? Often it only takes a change of perspective. You can give it a try by follow the steps here https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/awe_walk
4. Celebrate Wins (No Matter How Small)
It’s easy to get stuck focusing on the negatives (we all do it – it’s called the negativity bias). But here’s the good news: it is possible to re-train our brains to be more positive. One way to do this is by celebrating our wins. When we do this, we feel a sense of achievement – which inspires us to want to progress more. This creates a positive cycle. And guess what? Minor victories are as important as major breakthroughs – so celebrate them all! Maybe you got in 10,000 steps today, cooked a delicious new recipe, or cleaned out that junk drawer. Whatever it is, acknowledge it and give yourself props for making it happen. To help you build that win momentum, try ending the day by journaling your wins for the day. Try it tonight to list down three things you won at today – big or small!
5. Improve Mind-Muscle Connection for Better Workouts
The concept of mind-muscle connection is simple: focus your mind on the muscles you’re using, and you’ll do a better job of activating them. Say you’re doing squats. You can think about what’s for lunch, or you can think about squeezing your glutes like you’re trying to crack a walnut between your cheeks. If your goal is muscle activation, do the latter! Here are a few tips:
Do warm-up sets. Nail your form first using lighter weights, then you can shift focus.
Use visualization. Imagine the muscle activating and growing.
Slow down – especially during the eccentric (i.e., negative) part of a movement.
Place a hand or fingers on the muscle you’re activating for sensory feedback (or get a workout partner to do it…just make sure you have a close personal relationship with the person you asked to do this. Asking a stranger at the gym to put their hand on your glutes during a squat might get you some strange looks 😊).
Before you know it, we’ll be packing up the holiday decorations and preparing for another new year. Hopefully some of these tips will be just the reminders or ideas you will need to get you started on the right foot as we wrap up this year and move into a new one.
As always, if you have any questions or other thoughts to share, I would love to hear from you!