Thursday, August 18, 2011

Exercise for Mental Health (173.4)

My neck & upper back have been killing me for a while.  It's only when I'm at work, so I know it's a keyboard/chair issue.  I have already been to physical therapy once, that included discussions on changing my laptop screen positioning (so I'm not looking down at the screen) & getting an external keyboard.  But I haven't had a keyboard tray and my shoulders have been hunched UP for long enough that it is messing with my neck and shoulders.

Today I installed a keyboard try.  I am also getting a new office chair.  I hope both of these things will help. 

I also think that I need to learn to sit and stand better, and strengthen my core for the sake of my posture and back. I have been been doing chest openers the past few nights (rolled up towel on the floor between my shoulder blades).  I have been paying attention to when my shoulders slump forward--which is all the time. 

All this leads me to my post for today.  After work yesterday I had a headache from my neck tension.  I had planned to do a weights class, but felt too horrible for it.  I went home, did the normal after school routine, and started feeling sorry for myself.  Poor me, I want to work out but just can't.

Around 6:30 I decided that if I didn't do something physical that night, I was going to be even more miserable.  I wasn't thinking about how I needed to workout so I'd lose weight or build muscle.  I chose to move my body so my mind would be healthier and happier.

I did the yoga DVD again.  Only 40 minutes of it, because I started it at 7 pm and the kids needed my attention for bedtime routines.  But it was enough.  I got through all the standing poses, added some down dogs & planks myself, and did about 10 minutes of seated work. 

Luke tried to interrupt me about half way through, whining that he wanted to watch TV.  I was in the family room using the big TV; we have a TV in our bedroom--the kids do not have TVs in their rooms and, as God is my witness, they never will--so I told him to go in there and have Daddy put on a show for him.  But before I could tell him that, Sophie said "Luke, mommy has to do her Yoga!"  I smiled at her, said thank you, and agreed that doing yoga makes me a better Mom.

After I was finished I felt like a new person.  The standing poses make me sweat.  They also work my core.  I love feeling strong when I can hold a difficult pose. 

The difference for me with working out lately has been a significant shift in thinking.  My long-term goals of having less fat and more muscle and a body that looks good naked can get lost in the daily grind.  Those goals seem so far away, sometimes unattainable, and they can be fodder for "I'll workout tomorrow" thinking.  Because, honestly, the Big Goals have "someday" written all over them.  "Someday" is code for "never."

On days like yesterday when I just don't wanna, I can reach for the immediate reward--a healthier mind and more peaceful emotional state.  I might not notice the changes going on in my body from day to day, but I certainly notice the changes in my mental state.

And for me, that's as important a reason as any to workout.  The physical results are a bonus.


Vickie said...

do you have a back room with enough room to be flat on the floor with towel a couple times a day?

if not, can do the same thing against a wall. put rubber bands around the towel to make it more like a bar/stick so it is easier to handle. You might even put some sort of stick in the center to give it more form.

yoga teaches a lot. mental and physical.

good for kids to learn to respect others too.

youngest does yoga before school every morning (on her own with dvd) for all the same reasons you just described.

good long term outlook.

those of us with secondary conditions are truly blessed in a very backwards kind of way.

we have immediate negative feedback and then have reward when we take action.

acne, gi track, migraines, swelling/bloating, waist band, tension, anxiety, etc all fall into these secondary conditions.

They can be a wonderful tool.

Vickie said...

find some time each day to be on your belly propped up on your elbows (like a child in front of TV on a saturday morning).

your forearms are on floor, hands flat on floor, arms and hands are pointed forward

make sure your head is straight off your neck/spine, so you are not looking up, you are looking at an imaginary X on the floor a foot or two in front of you.

Shoulders go back and down - tuck them in your back jeans pockets.

you can put a little bit of traction on your spine this way - pretend that you are ever so slightly dragging your torso forward by your elbows.

YOu don't actually drag, you just apply a bit of pressure back with the elbows so the torso is lifting slightly up and forward.

in yoga this is a form of cobra, updog is the more advanced move.
do cobra, not updog.

Laura N said...

Vickie, thank you for the back exercise (cobra pose). When I was in physical therapy, one of the best things she did for me was traction on my neck (she stood behind me while I laid on my back and she pulled my head). It felt so great. I wish I had a way to do this myself. I will try cobra and see if that helps.

I actually can lie on the floor by my cubicle and do chest openers. I have done that on days when my neck has been really bad. I have a towel I keep here. My cubicle is hidden from the doors and unless someone comes directly around to my workspace, I am hidden. I have a window behind me, which is wonderful. It's a small work area, but I do love the privacy.

I've missed your comments so much. I had no idea how much I rely on hearing from you until you were gone for a week!