Let’s Get Physical

by | Feb 28, 2018 | Blog

There is no end to tutorials and talk about the tools of the trade in a creative’s line of work.  As creatives, we’re always striving to better our skills, but often we overlook other ways we can improve ourselves.  Worse still, we can develop a toxic relationship with our work if we let it overwhelm us.  There are so many facets to healthiness.  The journey toward physical health is something that can affect all the others.

WHERE TO START

It goes without saying, our bodies were built to move.  It comes as no surprise, then, that the best thing you can possibly do is simply get up and move.  You don’t have to torture yourself becoming a fitness guru or an Olympic athlete to overcome bodily aches and pains, but there are good and bad ways to go about it.  Here are some tips for a smarter approach to your physical health:

Learn how your physiology works.

Instagram has become a great source of this for me.  Irwan Librata hosts a lot of physiology and biology information on his Instagram page.  He will often share information about current or recent valid studies conducted by medical research groups. 
We often attribute small aches and pains or discomforts with “growing old”, but that isn’t inherently true of all conditions.  If you find yourself using that as an excuse, you may be avoiding something that could be relatively simple to address or fix entirely, and those issues could become worse the longer you let it slide.
More importantly, you must learn your individual physiology.  We may all share the same anatomy but factors like genetics and other contributions that make us unique individuals will also mean that what treatments or methods used to fix someone else’s symptoms, however similar they may be to yours, may not work for you.

Mindful Movement.

When we hear the term exercise, we tend to think of the mainstream activities: either hitting a gym or engaging in sports.  Thanks to modern society, we’ve also been programmed to make our efforts ones of monetary expense, but it doesn’t cost you anything to begin developing mindful movement.  Mindful movement requires that you take the step I mentioned above so that you can begin tackling what ails you without causing further injury.  There are some great resources I’ve found on Instagram (big shocker, I know) and they share plenty of tips, just like Irwan does:

Dr. Jacob Harden: Jacob regularly posts great movement tips, including a series he did recently on combating “desk-jockey” ailments.  Much of what he covers is also coined “prehab”, or pre-habilitation.

Dr. Jacob Harden

Helping you live better 1 minute at a time.

JoeTherapy: Joe posts two types of tips – muscle release techniques and stretches.  Some techniques might require the use of external tools, but they can be simple items like a tennis ball or a wall or chair to prop your extremities or your whole body against.

Joe Yoon

Massage Therapist, JoeTherapy

Move University: Just as their slogan says, “Learn to develop a strong, balanced body, and move without pain.”

They have an online program available through their website: moveu.com but their daily Instagram posts are extremely helpful just to start.  In addition to their full online program, they host regular webinars with Q&A segments.

MoveU_Official

Learn to develop a strong, balanced body, and move without PAIN, MoveUniversity

Take Regular Inventory.

Our daily lives get so busy that we mentally shut off and out-right reject what our body is communicating to us about what it’s dealing with.  Taking regular inventory of our physical health means paying attention to what our body is telling us.  It’s just a fact of life that we get so busy we tend to ignore those aches and pains, so it makes perfect sense that we take some time regularly to assess ourselves honestly. 
Having a flare up of pain in your lower back?  Is it causing you to limp slightly when you walk?  Have you been letting it go for too long?  Suddenly dealing with severe, debilitating pain and now you’re calling out of work?  Can’t sit, stand, lay down, or do anything for long periods of time due to extreme discomfort?  These are all signs you’ve been ignoring the warning signs that came much earlier.
A great tip if you’re having trouble adopting this: start a journal or diary.  Enter notes twice a day or once a day, either when you wake up, or when you go to bed.  This journal should be a simple catalog of what pains or aches you either woke up with or developed through the day.  Then start asking yourself questions about what, where, and when those symptoms started developing.  If it gets worse…

 

Consult your Primary Care Physician.

In the United States, there’s an acute distrust of “doctors” in a general sense.  However, taking stock of your physical symptoms with a journal can make quite a difference when consulting a physician.  Family medicine, or diagnostic medicine, will only get you so far, but that can be a springboard to connecting you with a proper specialist who can help you with what you’re facing.  Remember, you are your own doctor.  Only you know exactly what you are experiencing with your body, so you are your own best line of defense against the effects battling your health.

HOW TO START

All the information above doesn’t have to be executed in full, immediately.  Like anything else you’ve been doing for a while, you get better at it as you go.  Make a commitment to yourself to just put at least a little bit of energy into it each day.  We all have heroes or mentors we look up to in the industry that started somewhere with their skills and talent.  They had to learn those skills just as you’ve been learning your creative skills.  Everything in life takes time and gaining control of our own physical health is no different.

Start with small changes.

Little changes don’t take a lot of mental capacity to accomplish.  Passive changes, no matter how small can still reap dividends almost immediately.
What’s your sitting situation like?  If you’re not centered with your screen or find yourself craning your neck to look in a certain direction, optimize your desk or workstation area so that you can at least have proper posture while you’re sitting.
Even switching to a standing desk or investing in a balance ball that may force you to engage your core to maintain proper posture can all have a positive impact.

Standing will force you to activate your abdominal core and can promote good posture, but standing for extended periods of time can be equally fatiguing.  There are standing-desk solutions that can allow you to switch from sitting to standing quickly.

For more active changes, try setting incremental reminders to get up and stretch, or find simple “office exercise challenges” that might motivate you to explore physical activity.  Make small adjustments to your work or free-time habits.  If you sit all day for work and then go home and binge-watch or practice the sedentary lifestyle for home activities, explore lifestyle changes that engage you during your favorite pastimes.

Establish a routine.

Don’t take my word for it.  If you look at any professional you consider to be successful, you’ll find evidence they have a routine.  Those that showcase what they do on Youtube may even share this tip openly. Christian Hensen, co-founder of Spitfire Audio and composer for film and TV can be seen regularly taking brisk hikes in his Vlog series.

Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) talked about Health & Stress from his perspective in a Vlog post.

He covers a range of health topics including how he deals with stress, which I may cover in the future.  There are virtually endless videos and blogs of creatives sharing their experiences of how they found a balance that has worked for them.

You’d be surprised just how much energy and focus you can gain just by getting more physical activity into your daily life. Exercise not only stimulates the body but the mind as well. Countless studies have shown that correlation, as described in articles from Harvard Medical School, Shape, and even The Huffington Post. Increased blood flow to the brain allows it to activate more, which in turn boosts your mental state as well as elevating your mood.
Establishing a routine is the key to unlocking the long-term benefits of the resources above.  In fact, it’s a big key to unlocking success in every aspect of life.  What did you think of these resources so far?  Do you have any useful tips?  Feel free to share in the comments below.
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