How to care for your tired, overworked body.
It is Friday afternoon, you have had a long week sitting at your desk and running to meetings. Add early alarms for rooster exercise classes and to get some extra work done. And toss in a few late nights at Soho House and evening social meetings. Suffice to say that both your body and mind are tired. You are more than ready for the weekend.
The grey Manhattan skies — unless you are fortunate enough to live in a sunshiny scene — have you ready to retire to your couch. But before you get comfy, try one of these fantastic remedies to reboot your mind and body.
Hydrate: coconut water, alkaline water, and electrolytes // I have spoken about how important hydration is for your immune system. Keeping your body hydrated is just as important during your day to day, workouts, and after hours. When you do not keep hydrated, and especially when you sweat, you lose integral minerals and nutrients, such as electrolytes; you need to restore! This can cause the heart to have trouble pumping blood, leading to fainting during a strenuous workout. Coconut water is a great natural mineral replenisher, and does not have any artificial ingredients or added sugars. Another option is adding an electrolyte powder to your water. As I mentioned when discussing how to stay healthy this winter, I love the lemon lime Vega Sport powder. Water is the obvious go-to for hydration. Alkaline water is another wonderful option; its alkalinity helps break down the lactic acid that builds up in your body during a workout.
Soak in an epsom salt bath // A notorious fitness world therapy to relax and renew. Epsom salt is a mixture of magnesium and sulfate, which, through reverse osmosis, is absorbed into the blood stream while the body eliminates toxins. The benefits of magnesium are immense, and it is becoming a new fad. The bath is ataractic for the nervous system, improves circulation, and soothes cramps and muscle inflammation. For women, magnesium is especially beneficial for hormones. It supports the thyroid, placates insomnia, and aids in the production of progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.
A few favorite bath products. Dr Teal's Milk & Honey epsom salt, Mio Liquid Yoga, and Dr Teal's Ginger & Clay epsom salt. I am not a fan of fragranced products, yet these are light and soothing.
Foam roll // If you do not own a foam roller, buy one! If you do not know what a foam roller is, well, it is time to join the rolling revolution. It is, frankly, the most painful yet effective foam device known to man. It just hurts so good! Lay on top of the roller and target certain muscles. Roll them out. This self-myofascial release is like a heavy-duty massage to release trigger points. It aids mobility and breaks down built up lactic acid (alkaline water, I see you). Foam rolling is fantastic when preparing for a workout and for recovery. It is also a great workout in itself. If you are not the most physically engaged, this can be your activity! A great guide to follow is Taller, Slimmer, Younger: 21 Days to a Foam Roller Physique by Lauren Roxburgh.
Use arnica // This natural remedy is effective for pain relief, arthritis, bruising, swelling, and injuries. It not only helps soothe and reduce pain related to inflammation, but it stimulates the body’s healing mechanisms. Many natural supermarkets and drugstores carry both an oral and topical form. For sore muscles, massage the gel on the target. This loosens the area and relieves pain immediately. It feels like ICY HOT, but eases symptoms rather than covering them up. A great alternative for when you body is dunzo and you would rather not consume a NSAID or put prescription medication into your body.
Treat yourself to a massage // Getting a massage may be a luxury, but it can also be harrowing. Having a professional rub down, such as a Swedish or hot stone massage, to the scents of eucalyptus and lavender is a great treat to wind down after a long week. A deep-tissue or sports massage, on the other hand, is effective, but for different reasons. It is like foam rolling, but better. As the masseuse works through your built up muscles and relieves the inflamed fascias, you definitely feel it. When having a deep-tissue massage, you should feel the pressure, but not so much that you will walk out bruised.
Take a nap // Being partial to the Italian culture, napping is a biggie in my life. I agree, when you sleep for too long, you wake up feeling groggy, lost, and even fluish. The technique is to nap for a time that corresponds to sleep cycles. The best pick-me-up is a slumber between 18 and 26 minutes. Depending on your body, this interval is enough to complete one REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycle. It is ideal to not sleep longer in order to receive the benefits: improved alertness, heightened performance, and a better mood. If you have the luxury to sleep for 90 to 110 minutes, then be my guest. This allows you to complete one full cycle, a core, in which you go from lightest to heaviest and back to lightest sleep. While longer naps improve memory and creativity, finding the right duration according to your body and schedule is key. And who does not want to pretend they are on vacation in Portofino, napping after a delicious lunch of trenette al pesto.
Get a good night sleep // This is imperative. Sleep is a vital time in which the body restores itself. The amount of sleep an adult needs varies, but evening sleep is without a doubt the most remedial. Preparing your mind and body for a great rest is decisive. Avoid caffeinated drinks in the late afternoon and evening, as these alert the body. And while alcohol may make you doze, it can disrupt the second half of your night when the body begins to process it. So that is why you always wake up early after a night out! Try to stay away from screens for at least 30 minutes before sleep. This goes for sugar too! If you absolutely need to be connected, f.lux is a great computer application that sets the screen in shades of amber, so it does not throw off your circadian rhythm. The new iPhone software has a similar feature. Yet, this is not an excuse to play with your devices in bed! An epsom salt bath and meditation session are optimal for winding down. Make your sleeping environment dark, quiet, and chilly. Sip some camomile or this Yogi Kava tea blend and continue reading that fantastic book on your nightstand. See if you can make it more than three pages. Establishing a healthy sleep pattern helps the body adapt to its new routine. Sleeping in on weekends may disrupt this. When you receive quality sleep, you function well. You are more focused and alert, in a better mood, and less stressed. You are, additionally, less susceptible to “chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression,” according to Brené Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection. This rest reduces inflammation and promotes a healthy weight. When you are tired and cranky, you veer towards more sugary, unhealthy foods, tend to skip your workouts, gain weight, and in turn, become unhappy. Challenge yourself to set a new sleep pattern and feel the benefits for yourself. Come Monday morning, you will not recognize yourself!
Meditate // Being mindful enables you to live while life is happening; you are truly present. When you are in the moment, you are neither thinking about what happened last Friday, nor worrying about what will happen in your big presentation next month. Meditating, however and whenever you chose, positively effects the mind, your physical wellbeing, and your perception. The next time you need a break, sit and breathe for ten minutes. Let yourself pause. You deserve it.
A few great apps for first-time meditators are Buddhify, Headspace (my fave!), Omvana, and The Mindfulness App.
Do some yoga // Although going to a yoga class — or doing some on your living room floor (there are great apps and YouTube videos with Y-7 worthy sequences) — may be the last affair in which you want to engage after a long week, it will be worth it. Whether you choose to go to a heated Vinyasa class, practice Kundalini, or end your week at ModelFit or with a SoulCycle Survivor, sweat yourself up for success. In addition to the distinct deluge of endorphins your body produces while sweating, you leave feeling invincible. When you consume energy in a healthy way, your body becomes more tired, yet simultaneously energetic. This is why working out leads to a better night sleep. Whatever it is, go sweat it out!
Check your diet // Your diet plays an enormous role. The more inflammatory (processed and high-sugar) foods you consume, the worse you feel. It is like magic: when you eat cleaner and according to your needs and activity, you have more energy and are clear-headed. Whether you already know what to eat or have been procrastinating to ask for help, certified nutritionists, health and life coaches, and doctors can point you in the right direction. When, what, and how you eat is crucial. Everyone’s body is different. What works for you may not work for your sister, husband, or workout buddy. And often, starting to clean up your diet is the hardest part. Once you start feeling and seeing results, you will ask yourself why you were indulging in what made you feel so miserable.
Remember your rest days // For some, working out is a daily necessity; it feels so good. For others, it is more of a chore, something preferably avoidable. While working out is so important for your mind, body, and overall health, rest days are just as important. You push your body; it deserves time to restore and build muscle and strength. The same applies to life: at a certain point, you need a break from your routine. If you continue pushing yourself on empty, you will not see results. More rewarding than struggling is taking a break, resetting, and then resuming.
Try one of these remedies this weekend. You may love it, or you may be more interested in a different one. Let yourself feel as exceptional as you should. Do not hold yourself back. It is all you!
Have a great weekend!
Please note that I have no relationship with any of the brands or products mentioned in this article. They are all products I use and support personally.