Move More and Sit Less

On average, people in America are sitting over 10 hours each day. This may come as a surprise to some, however, those of you who work desk jobs or are students will agree that the time you spend sitting is a huge majority of your day. Not only do many of us sit while we work or study, but most, if not all of us, sit while we eat our meals, during our long commutes, and while watching television and unwinding from our stressful days. Chances are you’re also sitting while you’re reading this.

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Sitting requires little to no engagement of our muscles, especially our legs and glutes. By not regularly engaging these large muscle groups, they lose their strength and ability to support us, which can lead to injuries. Not only do our muscles become weaker, but being inactive for long periods of time put us at risk for:

  • Obesity

  • Heart disease

  • Diabetes

  • Cancer

  • Backache

  • Dementia

  • Depression

Aside from affecting our health and well-being, sitting for long periods of time can aggravate or worsen preexisting conditions, such as arthritis and bulging or herniated discs. This is because sitting puts more pressure on the spine, which can increase back pain.

With sitting being such a huge part of our daily routines, it’s important to not be discouraged, but instead to act and do the most we can to counter its effects. When it comes to the risks associated with sitting, it’s not so much sitting that’s the problem, but rather sitting and being inactive for long periods of time. Here are some tips for finding a balance:

  • Take breaks. Set an alarm to remind you to get up at least once every hour to stretch or walk.

  • Drink more water. Not only is hydrating good for you, but you’ll also need to get up more frequently to use the restroom.

  • Pace. Utilize your earphones or headset and walk around while you’re talking on the phone instead of sitting.

  • Stretch. There are a multitude of stretches you can do while sitting to not only keep your muscles active, but also to alleviate any discomfort sitting may cause.

  • Exercise. Engaging your core is an easy exercise to do, and not only will it keep your abdominals working while sitting, but no one will even notice you’re doing it.

  • Walk. Park further away from your destination and take the stairs instead of the elevator.

It’s no secret that exercise is the best medicine not just for existing diseases or conditions, but also for preventing them. Although sitting isn’t something we can eliminate from our lives, it is something we can manage and find a balance with. Be aware of your daily activity schedule and make sure you’re including movement to counter the sedentarism according to your own lifestyle. As with any new lifestyle change, it’s important to not be discouraged by initial inconsistencies and instead be proud of your efforts and actions. After all, some change is better than no change.

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Single-Tasking

The ability to multitask is something most of us claim to have and rely heavily on. Multitasking has become associated with efficiency and intelligence, however, very few of us are actually “good” at it. When carrying out multiple tasks, rather than focusing simultaneously on everything, our brain toggles our focus back and forth between each task. This constant shifting of focus ends up leaving us overwhelmed and drained, reducing our productivity, and stressing us out.

Single-tasking, or focusing on one task at a time, is a smarter (more efficient) way of being productive. By maintaining complete focus on one task, you eliminate the time it takes for your brain to shift focus, meaning you’ll get things done quicker. Not only does it save you time but dedicating 100% of your focus to each task will increase your performance and reduce your stress.

Our body reflects our mind, meaning if we’re overwhelmed and stressed by our thoughts, our bodies will develop the same stress and tension. Not only does single-tasking ease your mind and make you more productive, but it also prevents your tasks and responsibilities from affecting your well-being.

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To make tackling your to-do list more productive and manageable, practice these single-tasking strategies:

  • Start small. Giving yourself 3 easy tasks is a great way to get yourself feeling accomplished and motivated to do more. Take pride in each task you complete and gradually work your way up to completing more.

  • Break down larger tasks. This makes larger, stressful tasks seem more realistic by creating a clear step-by-step plan. This is also a great way to prevent procrastination.

  • Schedule time for each task. Work in bursts and take a break in between each task. Rotating the tasks you work on is a great way to tackle multiple things in one day, while still dedicating yourself to one task at a time.

  • Be patient and realistic. Forming a new habit isn’t easy, and it takes time and consistency. Take it day by day and strive for progress, not perfection.

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Single-tasking may seem simpler than multi-tasking, however, it requires practice and training since multi-tasking has become habitual. Although the process of changing our habits can be discouraging, the benefits you’ll receive in the end far outweigh the challenge. If at any point you find yourself needing encouragement, we recommend scheduling time with us at Serenity, where we’ll handle the physical stress so that you can focus on your mental stress.

Vance Joy - Take Your Time

The Benefits of Breath Awareness

Breathing is not something that we think about or focus on, and it often goes unnoticed. When most of us think of “deep breathing” we think of the amount of air we breathe in. The key to deep breathing is actually not the amount of air we take in, but the use of our diaphragm vs. our chest.

Chest breathing can make us feel constricted, tight, and anxious. Deep breathing, also known as belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, allows for more oxygen to enter our bodies, subsequently improving our well-being. More oxygen in our bodies, means more carbon dioxide being expelled, and more toxins being released from our bodies. Aside from detoxing and improving our immune system, practicing deep breathing regularly can:

  • Increase your energy

  • Improve digestion

  • Relieve muscle tension

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Slow down the appearance of aging

  • Improve sleep quality

  • Relieve stress and anxiety

The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique is a popular exercise that is effective at reducing stress by regulating your breathing and activating your parasympathetic nervous system. In doing so, it regulates our fight-or-flight response and helps calm us. To do this technique, sit upright in a comfortable position or lay down if you’re trying to induce sleep. Then, in one breathing cycle you will:

  1. Slightly part your lips and while making a whooshing sound, completely exhale out your mouth

  2. Close your mouth and silently inhale through your nose, while counting to four in your head.

  3. Hold your breath for seven seconds.

  4. Exhale from your mouth for eight seconds.

  5. Repeat for a total of four breath cycles.

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Regularly practicing deep breathing exercises is also extremely important during massages. Controlling your breathing and relaxing your mind during your massage will lead your body to do the same, resulting in a deeper sense of relaxation. By taking deep breaths during your massage, you’ll be switching from your fight-or-flight response to your parasympathetic nervous system. Your parasympathetic nervous system will lower pain reception in the body, promote toxin release, and increase blood supply to stiff muscles, making sure you get the most out of your massage.

Although breathing is mostly involuntary, we only breathe properly when our body is functioning properly. Our back and chest muscles relax and contract during our breathing cycle and may tighten or become stiff when we experience stress or anxiety. This can affect our breathing, making it more shallow and resulting in a limited amount of oxygen in our bodies, which can lead to fatigue, headaches, and nausea. Body massages can help alleviate stiffness in our back and chest, improving the function of our respiratory system. Breathing deeply during your massage will also help strengthen your primary breathing muscles, further providing a more effective resistance to stress.

By being conscious of your breathing, you’ll be able to manage your stress and anxiety more efficiently. It may take practice, but by making focused, deep breathing part of your daily routine, your massages will be more effective, giving you a more relaxed, quality lifestyle.

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The Power of Positivity

At Serenity Zen, we believe in not only offering quality services to our customers, but also offering a maximally relaxing experience and escape from everyday stressors. While massage therapy is extremely effective at relieving physical tension, much of our stress could be managed and even prevented simply by our thoughts and mentality.

Negative thinking. We all have negative thoughts from time to time, but how we move forward from them really has a significant effect on our health. Every negative thought is an opportunity to reframe things in a more positive way, and when not controlled, having negative thoughts can take you down a rabbit hole of unhealthy ways of thinking.

Negative thoughts can cause chronic states of depression and anxiety, decreased heart health and immunity, and even shorten your lifespan. The most common form of negative thinking is overthinking, which can feel like a coping method that allows us to control a situation. The fact is, however, most of life’s stressors are not controllable and having them constantly on our mind does more harm than good to us.

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Positive thinking has been proven to improve the way you cope with stressors, increase your immunity, limit your risk of heart disease and increase your lifespan. Positive thinking can also be a huge motivator, opening more opportunities to you and increasing your chances of success and happiness. Rather than falling apart during a crisis or high stress situation, positive thinking can provide resilience and make you more proactive in finding a solution and moving forward.

Here are some common negative thoughts and their positive alternatives:

I’ve never done it before → This is an opportunity to learn something new.

It’s too hard/it will never work → I can keep trying my best because it is not impossible.

I’m not cut out for this → I’m learning from my mistakes and can also see what I’m doing right.

Bad things keep happening to me → I will come out of this stronger and more prepared.

Today is going to be a bad day → There is so much potential for the day.

Having a consistent, positive mentality takes practice. In the beginning, it can be as simple as starting the day by saying, “today is going to be a good day.” Most importantly, by practicing overcoming negative thinking by switching them to positive thoughts, you’ll become better equipped for managing your stress and preventing unnecessary tension.

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