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Practice Extreme Self-care for Long-term Relief of Back Pain

Once you’ve followed the BACKCoach process, learned the reasons your back hurts, addressed the contributing factors, and achieved relief from chronic back pain, the focus then shifts to maintaining your health and getting back to life. You will transition from recovery to a maintenance phase, adding the practice of “Extreme Self-Care”. 

Extreme Self-Care

After understanding the true reasons your back hurts and then addressing them, you may find that you occasionally find yourself in pain again. I like to think of this as the “Weebles” phase of recovery, as in, “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down” from the old toy commercial.

When this happens, when you begin to feel that the pain is reemerging, when your neck muscles feel tight from the effects of stress building in your body, or when your posture fails and your back aches, you can simply go back to the basics, recollect the risk factors and what made you better, and make self-care a priority. 

You see, when you don’t take care of your body, it will tell you. At first, it may whisper by, for example, giving you an achy feeling at the end of the day. Then, if you don’t listen and you don’t respond, it will speak to you, this time louder: the pain will increase. If you still do not listen, the pain will continue to increase until you change what you are doing and take better care of yourself.

Use the BACKCoach Model of Chronic Back Pain as a guide to what may have slipped over time. Perhaps you are not moving enough, or you are under a lot of stress and not addressing the cause of the stress or its physiological response. Or maybe you have stopped paying attention to your mechanics and are falling into old postural habits. You may not be fueling yourself properly, relying on pseudostressors such as caffeine instead, are overworking, or you’ve stopped applying ergonomic principles.

Or, in some overall sense, you are simply not taking very good care of yourself. If this is the case, shift your focus to practicing extreme self-care. Make your own self-care your primary focus, beginning by asking yourself the following questions. 

What message do you send when you don’t take care of yourself, when you put yourself last? How can you expect your body to respond when you consistently don’t give it what it needs?

Then, assess the ways that you may not be meeting your own needs physically, emotionally, spiritually, and in your relationships.

Instead of looking at pain as something to combat or eliminate, consider it a message from you to you, and then listen. Assess the contributing factors for back pain and fill in any gaps that may have appeared. Then, give an honest, objective look at how well you are taking care of yourself and then find ways to provide yourself with extreme self-care. 

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Copyright ©2015-present, Mary A. Williams/Corporate Health Alliance, LLC/BACKCoach™. All rights reserved.

Strategies for a Healthy Holiday Season

The holidays can be a challenging time to stay healthy. With holiday parties, demands on our time, and treats and desserts everywhere, it can be tempting to give up and wait for that New Years Resolution to get back on track. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can still enjoy your holidays, and even some treats, without having January regrets, by following some simple practices. Make a Plan As with anything you’d like to accomplish, it helps to have a plan. What will your plans for staying healthy be this December? Think through what your upcoming week or day will be like and decide, in advance, what you would like to happen in terms of health behaviors. By making a deliberate plan, you are more likely to choose healthy and feel better. What will your healthy holiday plan be this year? Keep Moving For your overall health, and in particular if you have back pain, it is essential that you find ways to keep moving throughout the holiday season. While you may not be able to keep up your normal routines, you may be able to find ways to fit movement into your holidays. Ask yourself, can you:
  • Walk or ride a bicycle to work? Can you walk part of the way?
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator?
  • Find ways to take mini fitness breaks and do three callisthenic exercises, such as push-ups, lunges and squats?
  • Awaken 10 minutes early to begin each day with a refreshing morning yoga routine?
  • Take a 20- or 30-minute walk each day? This could be around your neighborhood, a mid-day walk, or even two or three 10-minute walks around your block or building.
What will you do this holiday season to be sure that movement is a part of each day? Give yourself a foundation of balanced nutrition. It is easy to let nutritional habits slip any time of the year, and each year we hear reports of pounds gained during the holiday season. But, it doesn’t have to be. This year, instead of passively letting nutritional habits slide, focus on providing yourself a solid foundation of balanced nutrition by following these three simple tips.
  • Think of each meal as a protein, a complex carbohydrate, and a fruit and/or vegetable. If you stick with this basic formula, it won’t matter as much if you indulge in a cookie here or an eggnog there.
  • Eat three healthy meals or four-to-six smaller meals, whichever works best for you. Schedules and individual preferences can help determine which approach is best for you. Just try not to have more than three full meals, or get into the habit of all-day grazing.
  • Save your splurges until after a meal. You will have less spiking – followed by a sudden drop – of blood sugar and brain chemicals such as serotonin and beta-endorphin if you consume sweets or simple carbs after a balanced meal.
You could try the 90/10 rule, which is simply to consume 90% of your calories as healthy food choices, with 10% splurge foods. This way you still get to enjoy and be a part of the holiday treats, while still feeling good and maintaining your weight. Make time for self-care Between work, family responsibilities and the additional demands of the holidays, meeting your own needs can take a back seat. But it is even more important this time of year to put self-care at the top of your to-do list. Even the little things can make a difference. Take a few minutes today to think about any self-care practices that you would enjoy during the holidays. Maybe it’s taking ten minutes in the morning to relax with a cup of tea, going for a walk with a friend whose company you enjoy, or scheduling a much-needed massage. Some positive aspects of self-care are that there are no rules or criteria to meet, it can take as little as 5 minutes a day, and can vary or be a consistent routine. You get to decide what works best for you. And when you take care of yourself, you are not only benefitting personally, you will also be able to help others more. What self-care activities will you enjoy in the next week? # # #  

Copyright ©2015-present, Mary A. Williams/Corporate Health Alliance, LLC/BACKCoach™. All rights reserved.

 

Are you ready to change your health?

People change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.

Change AheadHave you thought about making changes to your health or wellness habits and been unsuccessful? If you are like, well, nearly everyone, your answer is likely to be yes. But why is it so hard to change, especially when it comes to long-term habits?

I think that January is a great time for changing health behaviors, as is February, March, and even September. Why not? When you’re ready to change, you’re ready, regardless of what the calendar says. And if January 1 spurs change, that’s fabulous. The real question is not what day is it, but are you ready for change, and why is changing important to you? Learning about the stages of behavior change can be helpful in developing strategies that will make achieving your health goals more successful. (more…)

Before setting New Years Resolutions, begin by taking a look back

calendar

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

– Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

As another year comes to a close, many of us look forward and set New Years Resolutions. Before you do, may I suggest that you begin by taking a look back?

Look back upon the last year, and ask yourself some questions. What went well last year? What did you do that you enjoyed, that you found yourself looking forward to? And what did you put up with? What did you dread?

What do you want to have more of in your life, and what do you want to have less of? (more…)

BACKCoach Healthy Holidays Tip – Make time for self-care

Between work, family responsibilities and the additional demands of the holidays, meeting your own needs can take a back seat. But it is even more important this time of year to put self-care at the top of your to-do list.

Even the little things can make a difference. Take a few minutes today to think about any self-care routines that you may have let slide in recent days, or come up with new activities that you would like to implement in the upcoming weeks. Maybe it’s taking ten minutes in the morning to relax with a cup of tea, going for a walk with a friend whose company you enjoy, or scheduling a much-needed massage.

Some positive aspects of self-care are that there are no rules or criteria to meet, it can take as little as 5 minutes a day, and can vary or be a consistent routine. You get to decide what works best for you.

And when you take care of yourself, you are not only benefiting personally, you will also be able to help others more.

What self-care activities will you enjoy in the next week?