April is National Stress Awareness Month, but let’s face it—for some, stress is something that can be experienced all year round. Is stress entirely bad? No! The opposite actually. Some studies have found that people who experience moderate amounts of stress have better mental health than their non-stressed counterparts. However, too much stress can be seriously detrimental. WebMD cites cardiovascular disease, obesity and gastrointestinal complications, to name a few, as consequences of long-term stress.
Whether you experience lots of stress or hardly any at all, stress is a natural part of daily life. We’re sharing our top six simple ideas for managing and reducing your day-to-day tension.
Okay, okay. We may be bias but exercise has been clinically proven to reduce stress. Not only does exercise get your endorphins pumping, it improves your mood which, in turn, helps alleviate feelings of stress and strain.
Here are a few of our favorite workouts that will get your endorphins up and keep the stress levels down.
Get Your Sleep
The phrase “sleep it off” very well may have been coined for stressed-out folks. Why? Because a restful night of sleep restores your body by promoting better concentration, elevating your mood and encouraging more precise decision-making. It becomes a bit of a catch-22 when stress makes it difficult to sleep, but if the cycle can be broken—sleep will help equip you to take on the day feeling less anxious and more prepared for life’s curveballs.
Manage Your Time
There may be some big stressors in your life that can’t be helped but juggling too many things in too little time won’t help, either. By ensuring your time is spent meaningfully, you’ll feel less rushed or crunched in your daily life. Consider your stress reduced.
Make a List
Making a list—and checking it twice—won’t get rid of your stress, but it can help reduce your anxiety. By prioritizing and taking inventory of your achievements, you’ll reward yourself with the satisfaction of looming tasks now marked complete. When you’re feeling stressed, a list can help work through what needs your attention immediately and what can wait, giving you power over your to-do list and a sense of control when you’re spread a bit too thin.
Drink More Water
You may think this tip is a bit far-fetched, but the relationship between hydration and stress are no joke! When you stay hydrated, your body is able to keep cortisol levels low. Why does that matter? Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by your adrenal glands and keeping them in check is key to more relaxed well-being.
Cut Back on Caffeine
We hate to say it, but that extra cup of coffee may be doing your body more harm than good. If stress is creating problems in your life—it may be best to put the coffee down and pick up a glass of water instead. Caffeine can give you a much-needed boost to energize your stressful day, but beware—it can actually be causing you more stress. Caffeine increases cortisol in your system leading to a vicious stress-inducing cycle that a caffeine-cutback could help break.
What are your tried-and-true tips for dealing with stress? Let us know!
4 Ways to Stay Motivated During Your Workout
We’re all tempted to cheat on our workout at times—whether you’re talking yourself out of doing that last set, debating if you really need to do cardio today, or convincing yourself to not do leg day so you can walk tomorrow, experiencing a lack of motivation in the gym can be just as detrimental as experiencing it before you get there.
We believe that the only workout hurdles that test us are the ones we jump over, so we’ve compiled a list of ways to stay invested during your entire workout. You’ve got this!
Make it a friendly competition.
Even if you don’t have a competitive nature, having to push your efforts in relation to someone else can be a major motivator. Whether it’s the stranger running on the treadmill next to you or a dedicated workout partner that’s a little bit closer to where you want to be, letting someone else’s motivation rub off on you will help you push yourself farther, keep going longer and stop you from being tempted to quit.
Make a bet.
From fitness accountability apps to friends who won’t let you off the hook, there are plenty of ways to hold yourself accountable—especially when there’s cash on the line. Make a bet with yourself, a friend or an online community about a goal of yours. Whether it’s frequency of workouts for the next two weeks, amount of progress made over the next three months or the amount you’re able to deadlift this time next year, putting your paycheck on the line will make you think twice about skipping that extra rep
Setting physical goals are great, but what powers you to achieve them? The satisfaction isn’t always enough incentive for you to see your goals through, so try giving yourself a tangible reward! A new pair of headphones or maybe a pair of jeans, even a dinner at your favorite restaurant are all awesome ways you an encourage yourself to stay motivated.
Consider a trainer.
Many people think that they don’t need a personal trainer if they know what they’re doing, but working with a trainer at any level can help kick your workout into overdrive. Having a professional there to remind you about form, technique, and following through on each rep will take you further, encourage you to work harder and keep you dedicated for the full duration of your workout.
Sometimes motivation is hard to come by…but with these tips, you’ll be ready to kill it at the gym for the entire time, every time!
How to Make the Healthy Breakfast Smoothie Bowl of Your Dreams
When you discover a good thing, it can be hard not to dive in headfirst! Tell everyone you know, and eat, eat, eat. I fell into this trap when I discovered an irresistible smoothie bowl. You may have seen them on your Instagram feeds in all their fruity, colorful glory.
The obvious hurdle is that buying smoothie bowls regularly isn’t sustainable, especially if you’re tight on time, money, or calories. So, what do you do? Find a way to mimic the goodness!
Smoothie Bowl Steps
Smoothie bowls are very similar to smoothies, they’re just consumed in a different way (spoon, not straw), and include additional toppings and texture. So, start with your favorite smoothie recipe, blending fruit, some greens (spinach, kale), ice, milk (soy, almond), juice (orange, pomegranate, carrot) or yogurt (greek), and a little healthy sweetener (agave syrup, maple syrup, honey). Have fun with it and try your favorite flavors. You can even make two different smoothies to combine in the same bowl for more interesting bites. Keep thickness in mind overall, as you won’t want it too soupy.
Choose colorful fruit toppings.
The trick is in the toppings. Consider your base and then add complimentary (but not necessarily identical) fruit like blueberries, strawberries, bananas, passion fruit, and raspberries. This is your chance to try something new or uncommon. When’s the last time you had a kiwi? Try a little on top.
Texture is key. You don’t want everything to be smooth, so add some healthy seeds (chia, sunflower, hemp, etc.), grains (granola, oats), and/or nuts (walnut, pumpkin, almond). A little unsweetened coconut flakes sprinkled on top is a nice finishing touch.
Beware of sweetened yogurt, high-calorie granola, and other unnatural, processed ingredients. Stay as fresh as possible, and know that you’ll get a lot of sweetness from the smoothie and additional fruit toppings. You may even find you want a dollop of crème fraîche or plain greek yogurt on top to tame things!
Have fun with the design.
Just like the “recipe,” which can be varied in a million ways, have fun with the assembly. Pro tip: It usually looks nicer if toppings are added in chunks, in their own space; and it’s best if the heaviest items go last. You can always mix it and lose the pretty when eating!
Admire your creation. Then dig in!
That’s it. Whether or not your final bowl is Instagram-worthy, you can pat yourself on the back for starting the day with a healthy breakfast. Way to go!
If you’re looking for more specific direction, find many smoothie bowl recipes online.
How Foam Rolling Affects Your Body
Foam rolling is a practice that’s becoming relatively mainstream in the fitness world, but not everyone understands what good it does your body. We’re breaking down the ins and outs of foam rolling to help you understand how your body (and muscles) will benefit!
Fascia, the biological fabric that holds us together, forms a sheath over our entire muscular system, a knot in one part of your body can eventually cause dysfunction in another area as your body tries to compensate at the site of the troubled area. When fascia binds up, the ability for glia to help transmit information to an area may be blocked, and pain is often redirected known as referred pain. Referred pain changes how coaches prescribe methods for recovery.
All of my client’s sessions end with at least 10 minutes of recovery via self-myofascial release using a foam roller. You can think of foam rolling like you think of brushing your hair. If you don’t brush your hair, it gets tangled. If we don’t roll out our muscles, they get adhesions.
Adhesions are just muscle ﬁbers that get stuck together causing limited range of motion, improper muscle ﬁring and aches and pains in the body. Our bodies are one big kinetic chain—we may have an adhesion in our calf that’s causing pain in our back. A balanced workout and recovery is key to creating a happy, healthy, mobile, pain free body.
Where to Find Foam Rollers
Hyperice uses vibration to stimulate the nervous system and provide relief in less time—and it actually feels good!
Get More Foam Rolling Info
Thomas W. Myers, the author of Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual & Movement Therapists, is arguably the leading expert on fascia in America. Myers has studied directly with experts including Drs. Ida Rolf, Moshe Feldenkrais, and Buckminster Fuller. He has been practicing integrative manual therapy for 40 years, leading him to create the most in-depth education programming for movement professionals.
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