October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
For the next 3 weeks on Thursdays, we will be honoring Breast Cancer Awareness by discussing healthy living with special guest posts!
To kick us off our Breast Cancer Awareness Healthy Living Series we are excited to introduce Kaitlin Gardner, guest posting from An Apple Per Day. She is talking about exercises that helps reduce stress! Welcome Kaitlin!
Exercise that Helps Reduce Stress
As a busy Mom, letting go of stress is always on my mind. Between preparing meals, getting the kids where they need to go, and trying do everything on my list, there’s a lot that makes me tense. I tried not doing anything about it, and that sure didn’t work. So I make sure to carve out stress reducer time, and here are my best resources.
Go for a walk. When I say walk, I don’t mean walking while I’m tied to my phone, checking emails, making lists, and texting friends. I usually try to leave the cell phone at home. I get out onto a great shaded walking trail near our home, and just keep the walk very simple. When I’m not distracted, it’s amazing how many birds I can hear, squirrels I can see, and how much I just enjoy being in nature. I can feel my shoulders relax as I walk, and by the time I return home, I’m ready for the next round of busy in my world. Here are some great resources with other details:
Aqua aerobics. I discovered the joys of being in the water a couple of years ago, and it is one of my best stress busters these days. I’m not into swimming, so I hadn’t thought about the pool, until I started to read about other things you can do in the water. We are blessed to have a back yard pool, so I have a handy resource right there, now that I know how to use it. I sometimes will get in the deep end of the pool and just tread water for a while. It gives me a good cardio workout which gets me breathing pretty hard. Waving my arms back and forth really loosens my shoulder muscles, and paddling my legs helps them unwind.
Yoga class. I try to hit a yoga class at least once a week. My husband has seen how much if benefits me, so he gladly watches the kids in the evening for me. Yoga is all about stretching, moving slowly, calming, all coordinated with slow and relaxed breathing. I really like doing the cobra pose, where I’m on my stomach, put my arms in a push- up position, and keeping my lower body on the mat, push- up and arch my back and neck. This exercise stretches out my back – which tightens under stress, and I love it. The only thing that always puzzles me is that with all that slow moving and deep breathing, I come out of class with my t-shirt completely soaked with sweat.
Practice Tai Chi. I’ve just started on this one, but I already like it. I think this may soon become a favorite. The first time I went to a class, the instructor told us that Tai Chi is actually based on a martial art, and we’d be learning movements that reflected that origin. He said Tai Chi always felt like a ballet in slow motion to newcomers, and I quickly saw what he meant. He emphasized that slower is better. We worked to coordinate our breathing with each step and arm movement. I quickly got into it and felt myself calming and feeling more grounded, as we fluidly moved around the floor. There was peaceful music low in the background, and people didn’t talk, which only enhanced the relaxation I felt. I left class in a wonderful and peaceful mood, and ready to go back for another class.
If I take time to use my stress relief resources, my whole family can tell how much calmer I am. Even better, the things I have to do each day are a joy, not a chore.
Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to further her passion for a family friendly, green living lifestyle. She is married to her college sweetheart and lives in Pennsylvania. She and her husband enjoy going for long hikes, to get out and enjoy nature. She is working on her first book about ways to live an eco-friendly, healthy, natural life.