Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal, Writing

Writing and Exercise Go Hand in Hand

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of vacationing and writing. We took the boys to a water park. It was fun, but we were ready to come home. Family vacations are important. They give us an opportunity to connect with our kids again. They’re especially important this year because of the pandemic. I’m so glad things are finally starting to open, and we can travel now.

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about staying active, especially for writers or people who sit at a desk for eight hours a day. It’s so important to get up and move. I’m trying to exercise at least five days a week. I was able to achieve that goal last week, but it’s harder when I’m working.

It’s important for writers to get up and move because writing is such a sedentary occupation. Did you know that sitting more than three hours a day can take two years off your life? Even if you exercise regularly, you still need to get up and move around every couple of hours. Take a break and go for a quick walk. Get the blood flowing again.

The benefits of exercise are not just physical. It helps with depression and anxiety. Exercise increases serotonin levels and dopamine levels which explains the fact you’re happier after you work out. I find that when I’m feeling anxious, going for a quick run helps reduce my angst.

I’ve also found that when I get stuck in my manuscript, if I step away from my work and go for a run or a hike, I can usually work out the problem. When I’m running, my brain works differently and I’m able to work out solutions to my story problems.

Any type of exercise will do. I run and do palates, but you could do Yoga or Zumba. Anything that gets your blood flowing. I used to do Yoga when I was younger and I’m going to start it up again just because I need the variety. How about you? What kind of exercise do you do? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Is Yoga the new Wonder Drug for our Health?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work, writing, and reading. Yes, I needed to decompress a little bit this week and what better way to decompress than to read, right?

I thought you’d agree. 😉

Anyway, more about that later. Today, I’d like to talk about stress and how to deal with it. There are many stressors in life that we have to handle. Back in the olden days, when we had to run from predators, our body would send out the stress hormone cortisol and it’d get us moving.

Now, our greatest stress isn’t running from predators, it’s dealing with stress from work, stress from over-commitment, family stress, and so on. In the past, when we’d get that rush of cortisol in our system, we’d run to escape the predator chasing us and we’d burn up the cortisol in our system. We’d run to safety, usually a short distance.

In today’s world, we can’t run from our stressors, so the cortisol builds up in our system. This leads to high cortisol levels, which leads to increased amounts of belly fat, which leads to diabetes, a life-threatening disease. So, the question is, how do we keep cortisol levels down when we can’t change the stressors in our lives?

My first thought was exercise. So, I’ve been running on the treadmill at least two to three times a week. I usually run about four miles, which is hard to do on a treadmill. (It’s winter right now and I don’t run outside in the winter because of the cold and ice.) While running is good, I did some research to find out what was the best way to reduce cortisol, and I learned some interesting facts.

First, extended exercise (more than sixty minutes) increased cortisol levels. It seems that too much exercise depletes our stored glycogen and when that happens our bodies release cortisol. So, what’s the best way to reduce cortisol when we’re dealing with stressful situations?

Short, high intensity workouts, such as sprints, HITT, or weight training are proven ways to reduce cortisol in your system. Another way is doing yoga. Yes, yoga has been scientifically proven to reduce cortisol levels. This is good news because yoga is a great way to quiet your mind as well. It’s good for you mentally, physically, and physiologically. Who knew?

It’s my understanding that you must make sure it’s restorative yoga and not hot yoga, or Ashtanga yoga. Anything that makes your body work hard will raise cortisol levels.

 So, there you have it. Yoga is the wonder drug when it comes to reducing cortisol levels in your body, and reduced cortisol levels means less belly fat. Less belly fat means lower risk for diabetes. Like I said earlier, it’s good for you mentally, physically, and physiologically.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How do you feel about yoga? Have you ever tried it? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, Personal, Women

What is your Standard of Care?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after having a couple of guests for the last couple of weeks. I hope you enjoyed them, but I’m back today after a stressful week at work and trying to work on my writing at the same time.

It has been a week of trying to find balance during an incredibly stressful period. These are unprecedented times. What with the election and the pandemic, it has been hard to focus on my goals. It’s during these times that we must focus more than ever on where we’re going. We can’t let the world events deter us from our path, no matter how much anxiety they cause us. By focusing on our aspirations, we’ll alleviate our anxiety. Moving forward is one of the best ways to deal with worry.  

I forgot this concept this week. I put my self-care on the back burner. Something I do when I’m stressing out. I don’t eat right, and I don’t exercise as much as I should. However, I saw the signs quickly and pulled myself out of my funk. I did this by deciding on a standard of care for myself. You see, I want to be healthy and active in my old age. I want to be one of those women who’s still running in her sixties. So, to do that I have to exercise a standard of care today.

I’ve been running and I’ve dropped my weight. I’ve also changed my eating habits and I’m watching how many carbs I eat a day to keep the weight off. Well, that’s my goal. This week, I veered off my path and started eating some sugary sweets and not exercising because I was stressed out. Because of this, I’m thinking I need to do some yoga to help alleviate the mental stress of trying to work, raise a family, and write during a pandemic. The exercise is awesome for getting those endorphins surging, but if it’s raining or too cold out, I struggle with jumping on the treadmill. It’s not the same as running outside. So, I’m going to add a couple more activities like yoga and Pilates to my exercise regime. I’m trying to do two things by doing this, strengthening my core and improving my mental health. Yoga is a great way to calm the turbulent seas of my emotions, and by increasing my activity, I’m changing my focus from things I have no control over to things I can do something about.

So, in a nutshell, I’m taking the standard of my self-care up a notch and I recommend that you do, too. I don’t think this pandemic is going away anytime soon and there are whispers of a shut-down. You don’t have to go gym to do Pilates or Yoga, there are plenty of YouTube videos out there. Check them out. It’ll be good for your health, both mental and physical.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. What is your standard of care? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health

Finding Balance

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a long weekend of writing and hanging out with my family. I’m getting closer to the finish line, and I hope I can do this story justice, but enough about that. 😊

Today, I’d like to talk about how important it is to find balance in your life. I’m sure you know that balance is important for your mental health, because the mind and the body work together.

Right now, I’m struggling with balancing everything I’m trying to accomplish, and making time for is exercise. Yet, I know I need to exercise to keep up my health. In fact, my doctor recommended I exercise at least six times a week.

Now, when I exercise, I usually run, and I dedicate an hour to it. The problem is that some nights I don’t have an hour. I get home late and want to hang out with my family for a while, or I’ve had a stressful day at work and all I want to do is sit down and relax, or I’d rather work on my story. So, there are times when I’ve blown it off. I started running in the morning, and I’ve found it increases my energy level for the day, but I still can’t seem to do more than two or three times a week.

 

Photo on Visualhunt

There is one drawback to running and that is, when I have to run on the treadmill, it is incredibly boring. I have a hard time motivating myself to do it. So, I decided I’m going to look into a yoga class. I used to do yoga once a week before the kidlets arrived and I enjoyed it immensely. There’s also that mind/body connection with yoga that I miss.  Whenever I finished a yoga class, I always came away with the feeling of being totally relaxed while also being fully aware. It was an awesome feeling that’s for sure.

Photo on VisualHunt.com

I’m going to count that as exercise even though it doesn’t increase my heart rate. I hear hot yoga is good for your body and helps build muscle. Have any of you tried hot yoga? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Photo on VisualHunt.com

There are some side benefits to yoga, too. It improves your circulation, strength and flexibility as well as your spine health. Spine health is important these days when you sit in front of the computer for most of the day.

Yoga is a great alternative when you just don’t feel like pounding the pavement and it stretches the whole body, whereas running only works your legs. So, there you have it. My plan to work yoga into my already busy life, so I can create balance. Does that even make sense? LOL!

Photo on Visualhunt

How about you, what do you do to exercise your body? Any yoga practitioners out there? How do you add one more activity and create balance? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Writing

Dealing with Self-Doubt

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back after a long week of studying for an exam. I passed! Yay! But enough about that.

Photo credit: bridgetnikole on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-N

Unbeknownst to me, November 1st was National Author’s Day. I’m bummed that I missed it, but I was still trying to recover from studying for my exam, so I have a legitimate excuse.

Because I missed a Day that is near and dear to my heart, I thought I’d write about dealing with the self-doubt all writers deal with when they’re creating their stories. It can be crippling.

Photo on Visual hunt

So crippling that many writers don’t finish their work. They linger between rewriting and editing what they’ve already written and stopping their writing all together because they’re paralyzed with fear.

Part of this fear is that tiny negative voice in our heads that tells us we’re not worthy of our dreams and goals. It’s hard to block this voice out, but you must to continue your work.

So how do you drown out that voice that stops you in your tracks when you’re writing? That voice that makes you feel like every word you’re writing is drivel.

Well, the first thing I do is go for a walk. That’s right, I walk away from my manuscript and get out into nature. I’ve always found a hike through the forest is good for my soul as well as my body. Did you know that walking through the woods is good for your health? So, not only are you solving your plot holes, you’re also taking care of yourself.

Photo credit: Nicholas_T on Visual huntCC BY

Another way, I deal with the self-doubt that leads to writer’s block is exercise. I go for a run or do some yoga. This physical activity releases those wonderful endorphins that make every situation easier to deal with and it really does dull that incessant voice in your head.

Photo on Visualhunt

The third thing I do is get together with friends and put my writing aside because staring at a blank page or rewriting the same chapter over and over again isn’t productive.

There’s an underlying theme here and that is self-care. Taking the time to step away from your manuscript and taking care of yourself is a sure-fire way to dull that nagging voice in your head. So, do what works for you. Take a bubble bath, cook an awesome meal, or binge watch something on Netflix. Whatever, your go to activity is do it when you’re feeling low and uncreative. You’ll reawaken that creative muse and you’ll be on your way. So, how do you deal with the self-doubt that plagues us all at times? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, Personal

Are You Taking Care of Yourself?

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week. I’ve started a new job and it’s great to be back to work full time. I’ve missed it. However, I’m still committed to my writing. I’ve got two manuscripts I’m committed to finishing and a third one that I started a while back that I want to finish as well.

Today, I’d like to talk about self-care. Taking care of your health should be one of the most important goals an individual has. In my younger years, I took my health for granted and picked up some bad habits, like drinking too much pop. It’s bad for your bones and your body needs water. So, I’ve made a conscious effort to drink more water and limit the amount of pop I drink.

That’s just one example. Through the years, I’ve tried to be consistent about exercise as well. Exercise is so important for our body. It’s great for maintaining our mood and managing our stress.

So, when I think about self-care, I think about the basics. What does my body need to be healthy?

  1. A healthy diet

For me, a healthy diet is more salads and less sugar. I’ve tried to cut down on sugar, but I haven’t eliminated it all together. I’ve also developed a plan where I eat carbs only in the morning and at night, leaving my noon meal for proteins and vegetables. I’m trying to work with the changes that occur in our bodies as we age. I still need carbs, but I don’t need as many, and I feel the time of day I eat these things is also important.

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          Our bodies also need water. Lots of it. 😊

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  1. Exercise

Our bodies are designed to move so the more movement you can get, the better off you’ll be. It can be anything like walking, hiking, or cycling. I run, but I also change it up with hiking and walking so I don’t get bored. I also work out with free weights to keep my muscles strong. Exercise is also an excellent way to relieve stress.

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  1. Stress relieving activities

Besides exercise there are other stress relieving activities we can participate in, like yoga or reading or getting together with friends. All of these activities are important ways to maintain both our mental and physical health.

 

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  1. Setting boundaries

I list setting boundaries with people as a part of our self-care because we can get wrapped up into taking care of other people. This includes our spouse and children. Sometimes Mom needs a time out and that’s okay because you’ll be a better parent if you take care of yourself. Not only that, but your setting a good example for your children on how to take care of themselves without feeling bad about it. Go you!

Photo credit: Mark Zilberman Photography on Visualhunt.com /CC BY-NC

 

  1. Setting goals

I list setting goals because part of taking care of ourselves is managing our time. If we set goals we know where we want to spend our time and how much time we want to devote to that activity. By doing this, we can eliminate all that unimportant crap that can demand our attention. We learn to say no to things without guilt.

 

So, there you have it. A blue-print for self-care. It looks easy, I know but, it’s hard to do. It’s hard to find the time sometimes for exercise and stress relieving activities when your family is demanding your attention. It’ll take some practice and some juggling, but I’m sure you can do it.

 

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What do you do for self-care? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!