Being a parent, employee, fitness-minded individual and consumer in today's technology-driven society can take a toll on your body as you bounce around from role to role throughout your day. Your body is your biggest tool and its health plays a huge significance in the quality and longevity of your life.
If you don't take care of your body each day and continually run around on fumes, then you won't have a sound structure to support a healthy and fit lifestyle. Taking care of your body begins with being aware of the physical stress you put on yourself and realizing the importance of addressing this stress prior to feeling aches and pains. Feed your body with the following proactive body awareness strategies and you will set the foundation for a strong, resilient body.
"We have a lot of stress every day. But it's not until the body aches or you start feeling bad that you become aware of how your body feels," explains Bryan Manpezoni, massage therapist at Elements The Woodlands. "That's why being aware of what your body needs and getting massage regularly is really important to your body's health."
Tune Up for Healthier Living
When you aren't in tune with your body, mental and physical ailments can create a domino effect that if overlooked for too long will eventually lead to more serious conditions. Initially, the most common signs that it's time to tune up your body include getting sick often, feeling unbalanced or uncoordinated, muscle soreness, irritability, and aches in your neck, shoulders and upper back.
Many people aren't aware that their bodies aren't functioning properly or being taken care of well until they start seeing these type of signs. At this point, body awareness practices such as massage, yoga, stretching or mediation can only be used as a reactive tool to address your specific ailments, instead of a proactive practice that maintains your overall health and wellness.
"By the time people come see me for a massage, they aren't feeling well," explains Manpezoni. "Stress reflects badly in your neck and shoulder area. Anxiety shows up as stomach pain and you can tell when people are really upset because they clench their jaw. It's important to be aware of what your body needs before signs like this show up."
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Repeat Often
One of the simplest, yet most effective, ways to monitor your body's reaction to the stresses of daily life is to check in with your breathing patterns. When you're calm, you will have longer, deeper breathing patterns. But when you're stressed, your breath will tend to be quicker and shorter.
To stay connected with your mind and body throughout the day, make it a point to take a few deep breaths throughout your day and focus on breathing from your diaphragm, rather than your throat area.
"I have so many clients come to me who are so stressed out and just need some quality quiet time," says Hannah McClure, massage therapist at Elements Westford. "They just need a breather and massage is the perfect place to take a break. The setting alone is relaxing with light music, warm blankets and a comfortable atmosphere where you get to lay down and take a rest. My job as a therapist is to create the most relaxing atmosphere possible for my clients."
In addition to massage, regular meditation can be a powerful tool for getting in tune with yourself. The simple act of taking five minutes of quiet time each day to just sit by yourself without technology, kids running around or being in the office can elevate your awareness levels.
"Take an intentional breath and breathe into the area of the body that's stressed," advises McClure. "When you breathe out, mentally and physically try to release your stress."
Stretch it Out for Mental and Physical Longevity
Whether you consider yourself an active person or not, stretching your sore, tight muscles is beneficial not only physically, but mentally as well.
Manpezoni suggests combining stretching before and after physical activity with a five-minute warm-up and cool-down to support the best performance of your body. When working on a computer or at a desk, he suggests getting up from your workstation at least every 45 minutes to stretch your neck by bringing your chin to your chest, looking up to the ceiling and moving your head from side-to-side.
Making stretching a regular part of your daily activities helps to stay aware of and detect any possible aches and pains that may be surfacing throughout your body before they flair up into an injury.
"One thing I suggest to all of my clients is stretching," explains McClure. "Not only does stretching help with physical ailments like tight muscles, but in the long run as you age it's so important for the health of your mind and body."
Taking care of your body today with a mix of self-reflection time, stretching and massage will provide many short-term benefits associated with body awareness, but it also can help establish a lifestyle based on achieving overall health and wellness for the long-term. Enjoy taking care of your healthy body; you deserve it!