How to stay fit and stay fresh for the Summer

Some references from Health.com

authors note:

Hi Breathe Blog subscribers! Thank you for your patience on awaiting a new blog while I navigate my way through motherhood. I have a now two-month old son who has been taking up all of my attention. I am so grateful and happy to be experiencing this new season of life. It is the most rewarding and exhausting thing I have ever experienced. But now that we’ve gotten a little bit more of a routine down, I thought I would post a new blog and get back into it.

let’s celebrate the end of the pandemic, while staying fit & fresh

It’s easy to let go of your fitness regime during those Summer months while you’re enjoying the sun in your backyard & sipping your favourite Summer drink.

Especially with the pandemic coming to an end, it’s easy to give into the temptation of fine dining, indulging in food festivals, having more than your fair share of celebratory drinks.

So while you are basking in your rejuvenated social life, here are some tools to help you stay fit and fresh for the Summer.

workout outside!

Whether its a hike at your local trail or mountain, a workout at your favourite local beach, or a simple full body blast in your backyard or the park across the street. When you are out and about running errands, park your car at the back of the parking lot and get those steps in. Instead of 10,000 steps on your fitness app, set it to 15,000. Give yourself motivation…get outside to workout!

hydrate

Following the age-old advice to drink plenty of water does help you feel lighter, especially in warm weather. In the hot summer, your body tends to get dehydrated, so it holds on to fluids, which can make you feel bloated. Though it sounds counterintuitive, this means you need to sip throughout the day to maintain the right balance

Keep it small

Ordering your favourite drink from Starbucks? Or maybe even heading to the drive-through of your local fast food joint. Keep it small and avoid ordering the larger portion sizes. This way you get to eat your favourite foods without the guilt, regret, and over-full tummy. Everything in moderation is the healthy way to go. You don’t want to deprive yourself of the things that bring you joy in life.

Mindfulness

What is mindfulness? A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. Take some time out of your day to practice mindfulness. Check out this post about Breathing Exercises to help practice mindfulness

Did you realize you can also channel mindfulness during your workouts? Consciously tune in to your body position while you exercise, especially during strength training. Ask yourself, ‘Where am I feeling this? Am I really present doing this exercise right now?

Get your zzz’s

Getting a good amount of sleep helps with weight control. Research has shown that sleep deprivation can create an imbalance of hunger hormones and increase appetite. When we are shortchanging ourselves in terms of our sleep—school, travel, working multiple jobs, staying up watching Netflix— our brain enters into a sleep deficit. The brain has limited options for promoting wakefulness when it is truly sleep-deprived, and eating is one. To make sure you’re getting enough rest even when your summer schedule becomes erratic, set an alarm for as close to the same time as possible every day, detach from screens at least an hour before bedtime, and expose yourself to natural light right when you rise.

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Interested in more blog posts about mindfulness & reducing stress? Check out “10 affirmations to keep your momentum going” and “10 breathing exercises to help reduce stress”

How to stretch your tight hips!

Resources from healthline.com

Many people have tight hips, from people who spend several hours a day sitting to regular gym-goers and professional athletes. Some people are more prone to tightness in that area of their body, too. Tight hips may put you at increased risk for injury due to the increased demands on tissues that aren’t moving properly.

Read on to learn more about tight hips and what you can do to relax these muscles.

1. Foam roller stretch

You can use a foam roller to loosen up tight hips.

  1. Lie face down, with your foam roller beneath and slightly below your right hip.
  2. Place your left leg to the side with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Rest your forearms on the ground in front of you to take some of your body weight off of your hip. This will make the stretch less painful.
  4. Stretch your right leg straight out behind you, with your toes pointed backward and the front of your foot flat against the ground
  5. Slowly move backward and forward over the foam roller.
  6. For an extra stretch, add some side-to-side movement as you roll.
  7. Continue for up to 30 seconds. As you roll, identify any trigger points, or points that feel extra tight or painful. You can focus on those areas for about 10 seconds to relieve some of the tightness.
  8. Repeating with your left hip.

2. Kneeling hip flexor stretch

You can do this stretch daily to help loosen your hip flexor.

  1. Kneel on your right knee.
  2. Put your left foot on the floor with your left knee at a 90-degree angle
  3. Drive your hip forward. Maintaining a straight back, lean your torso forward.
  4. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat 2 to 5 times with each leg, trying to increase your stretch each time.

3. Pigeon stretch

This stretch is commonly seen in yoga practices. It can be used daily to improve mobility in your hip flexor.

  1. Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  2. Bring your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist.
  3. Place your right ankle in front of your left hip.
  4. Straighten your left leg behind you, making sure your left knee is straight and your toes are pointed.
  5. Keep your hips square.
  6. Gently lower yourself to the ground.
  7. Stay in this position for up to 10 seconds.
  8. Release the position by pushing on your hands, lifting your hips, and moving the legs back into your starting position on all fours.
  9. Repeat on the other side.

4. Spiderman stretch

The spiderman stretch can help warm up your body before a workout, or it can be used on its own or alongside other hip flexor stretches.

  1. Begin in the push-up position.
  2. Step forward with the left foot, bringing it to the outside of your left hand.
  3. Stretch the hips forward.
  4. Hold this position for two seconds, then return to start.
  5. Repeat five times to complete one rep.
  6. Repeat with the right leg.
  7. Perform three reps with each leg.

5. Butterfly stretch

This is a great stretch to practice after a workout or if you need a break from sitting in a chair.

  1. Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Bring the soles of your feet together, and then move your heels as close to your body as you can.
  3. Lean forward with a straight back.
  4. Push on your thighs with your elbows for a deeper stretch.
  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

6. Horizontal squat stretch

This stretch can also help loosen your back muscles.

  1. Begin with your elbows and knees on the floor, and your knees bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Walk your knees as far apart as you can and lengthen the spine.
  3. Lower your upper body onto your forearms as you draw your hips back and down.
  4. Hold for up to 60 seconds.

7. Sitting stretch

This is a great stretch to try at your desk if you work in an office. You can also do this one while watching television or riding in a car or on an airplane.

  1. Sit on a chair with your back straight.
  2. Place your right ankle on your left knee.
  3. Fold your torso forward until you feel a gentle stretch.
  4. Hold for up to 60 seconds.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

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Interested in more blog posts about stretching? Check out “How to Improve your Posture” and “10 Stretches to Help Keep your Body Healthy”

10 Breathing Exercises to help reduce stress

Resources from Healthline.com

Take a deep breath in. Now let it out. You may notice a difference in how you feel already. Your breath is a powerful tool to ease stress and make you feel less anxious. Some simple breathing exercises can make a big difference if you make them part of your regular routine.

How to add breathing exercises to your day

Breathing exercises don’t have to take a lot of time out of your day. It’s really just about setting aside some time to pay attention to your breathing. Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Begin with just 5 minutes a day, and increase your time as the exercise becomes easier and more comfortable.
  • If 5 minutes feels too long, start with just 2 minutes.
  • Practice multiple times a day. Schedule set times or practice conscious breathing as you feel the need.

1. Pursed lip breathing

This simple breathing technique makes you slow down your pace of breathing by having you apply deliberate effort in each breath.

You can practice pursed lip breathing at any time. It may be especially useful during activities such as bending, lifting, or stair climbing.

Practice using this breath 4 to 5 times a day when you begin in order to correctly learn the breathing pattern.

To do it:

  1. Relax your neck and shoulders.
  2. Keeping your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nose for 2 counts.
  3. Pucker or purse your lips as though you were going to whistle.
  4. Exhale slowly by blowing air through your pursed lips for a count of 4.

2. Diaphragmatic breathing

Belly breathing can help you use your diaphragm properly. Do belly breathing exercises when you’re feeling relaxed and rested.

Practice diaphragmatic breathing for 5 to 10 minutes 3 to 4 times per day.

When you begin you may feel tired, but over time the technique should become easier and should feel more natural.

To do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees slightly bent and your head on a pillow.
  2. You may place a pillow under your knees for support.
  3. Place one hand on your upper chest and one hand below your rib cage, allowing you to feel the movement of your diaphragm.
  4. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling your stomach pressing into your hand.
  5. Keep your other hand as still as possible.
  6. Exhale using pursed lips as you tighten your stomach muscles, keeping your upper hand completely still.

You can place a book on your abdomen to make the exercise more difficult. Once you learn how to do belly breathing lying down you can increase the difficulty by trying it while sitting in a chair. You can then practice the technique while performing your daily activities.

3. Breath focus technique

This deep breathing technique uses imagery or focus words and phrases.

You can choose a focus word that makes you smile, feel relaxed, or that is simply neutral to think about. Examples include peacelet go, or relax, but it can be any word that suits you to focus on and repeat through your practice.

As you build up your breath focus practice you can start with a 10-minute session. Gradually increase the duration until your sessions are at least 20 minutes.

To do it:

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable place.
  2. Bring your awareness to your breaths without trying to change how you’re breathing.
  3. Alternate between normal and deep breaths a few times. Notice any differences between normal breathing and deep breathing. Notice how your abdomen expands with deep inhalations.
  4. Note how shallow breathing feels compared to deep breathing.
  5. Practice your deep breathing for a few minutes.
  6. Place one hand below your belly button, keeping your belly relaxed, and notice how it rises with each inhale and falls with each exhale.
  7. Let out a loud sigh with each exhale.
  8. Begin the practice of breath focus by combining this deep breathing with imagery and a focus word or phrase that will support relaxation.
  9. You can imagine that the air you inhale brings waves of peace and calm throughout your body. Mentally say, “Inhaling peace and calm.”
  10. Imagine that the air you exhale washes away tension and anxiety. You can say to yourself, “Exhaling tension and anxiety.”

4. Lion’s breath

Lion’s breath is an energizing yoga breathing practice that is said to relieve tension in your chest and face.

It’s also known in yoga as Lion’s Pose or simhasana in Sanskrit.

To do this:

  1. Come into a comfortable seated position. You can sit back on your heels or cross your legs.
  2. Press your palms against your knees with your fingers spread wide.
  3. Inhale deeply through your nose and open your eyes wide.
  4. At the same time, open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue, bringing the tip down toward your chin.
  5. Contract the muscles at the front of your throat as you exhale out through your mouth by making a long “ha” sound.
  6. You can turn your gaze to look at the space between your eyebrows or the tip of your nose.
  7. Do this breath 2 to 3 times.

5. Alternate nostril breathing

Alternate nostril breathing, known as nadi shodhana pranayama in Sanskrit, is a breathing practice for relaxation.

Alternate nostril breathing has been shown to enhance cardiovascular function and to lower heart rate.

Nadi shodhana is best practiced on an empty stomach. Avoid the practice if you’re feeling sick or congested. Keep your breath smooth and even throughout the practice.

To do this:

  1. Choose a comfortable seated position.
  2. Lift up your right hand toward your nose, pressing your first and middle fingers down toward your palm and leaving your other fingers extended.
  3. After an exhale, use your right thumb to gently close your right nostril.
  4. Inhale through your left nostril and then close your left nostril with your right pinky and ring fingers.
  5. Release your thumb and exhale out through your right nostril.
  6. Inhale through your right nostril and then close this nostril.
  7. Release your fingers to open your left nostril and exhale through this side.
  8. This is one cycle.
  9. Continue this breathing pattern for up to 5 minutes.
  10. Finish your session with an exhale on the left side.

6. Equal breathing

Equal breathing is known as sama vritti in Sanskrit. This breathing technique focuses on making your inhales and exhales the same length. Making your breath smooth and steady can help bring about balance and equanimity.

You should find a breath length that is not too easy and not too difficult. You also want it to be too fast, so that you’re able to maintain it throughout the practice. Usually, this is between 3 and 5 counts.

Once you get used to equal breathing while seated you can do it during your yoga practice or other daily activities.

To do it:

  1. Choose a comfortable seated position.
  2. Breathe in and out through your nose.
  3. Count during each inhale and exhale to make sure they are even in duration. Alternatively, choose a word or short phrase to repeat during each inhale and exhale.
  4. You can add a slight pause or breath retention after each inhale and exhale if you feel comfortable. (Normal breathing involves a natural pause.)
  5. Continue practicing this breath for at least 5 minutes.

7. Resonant or coherent breathing

Resonant breathing, also known as coherent breathing, is when you breathe at a rate of 5 full breaths per minute. You can achieve this rate by inhaling and exhaling for a count of 5.

Breathing at this rate maximizes your heart rate variability (HRV), reduces stress, and, according to one 2017 study, can reduce symptoms of depression when combined with Iyengar yoga.

To do this:

  1. Inhale for a count of 5.
  2. Exhale for a count of 5.
  3. Continue this breathing pattern for at least a few minutes.

8. Sitali breath

This yoga breathing practice helps you lower your body temperature and relax your mind.

Slightly extend your breath in length but don’t force it. Since you inhale through your mouth during Sitali breath, you may want to choose a place to practice that’s free of any allergens that affect you and air pollution.

To do this:

  1. Choose a comfortable seated position.
  2. Stick out your tongue and curl your tongue to bring the outer edges together.
  3. If your tongue doesn’t do this, you can purse your lips.
  4. Inhale through your mouth.
  5. Exhale out through your nose.
  6. Continue breathing like this for up to 5 minutes.

9. Deep breathing

Deep breathing helps to relieve shortness of breath by preventing air from getting trapped in your lungs and helping you to breathe in more fresh air. It may help you to feel more relaxed and centered.

To do this:

  1. While standing or sitting, draw your elbows back slightly to allow your chest to expand.
  2. Take a deep inhalation through your nose.
  3. Retain your breath for a count of 5.
  4. Slowly release your breath by exhaling through your nose.

10. Humming bee breath (bhramari)

The unique sensation of this yoga breathing practice helps to create instant calm and is especially soothing around your forehead. Some people use humming bee breath to relieve frustration, anxiety, and anger. Of course, you’ll want to practice it in a place where you are free to make a humming sound.

To do this:

  1. Choose a comfortable seated position.
  2. Close your eyes and relax your face.
  3. Place your first fingers on the tragus cartilage that partially covers your ear canal.
  4. Inhale, and as you exhale gently press your fingers into the cartilage.
  5. Keeping your mouth closed, make a loud humming sound.
  6. Continue for as long as is comfortable.

The Take Away

You can try most of these breath exercises right away. Take the time to experiment with different types of breathing techniques. Dedicate a certain amount of time at least a few times per week. You can do these exercises throughout the day.

Check in with your doctor if you have any medical concerns or take any medications. If you want to learn more about breathing practices you can consult a respiratory therapist or a yoga teacher who specializes in breathing practices. Discontinue the practice if you experience any feelings of discomfort or agitation.

The Benefits of Cardio Exercise

References from topfitness.com & darebee.com

If you are new to working out or returning to the gym, deciding what kind of exercises you should do can be overwhelming. While it doesn’t hurt to try a little bit of everything, there are some exercises that will be more beneficial toward your goals. For instance, cardio is one of the best and most popular types of exercises people perform. However, a lot of people also despise cardio in any form. Even though you may not find the physical activity of cardio enjoyable, it has a lot of major health benefits—discover a few reasons to start doing cardio.

GREAT FOR WEIGHT LOSS

One of the main reasons why people adopt a cardio exercising routine is because it can help you lose weight. Cardio is a great exercise for those looking to slim down because it helps you burn fat and lose calories. While diet is more instrumental in weight loss, you will want to work cardio into your routine to further advance your goal to shed a few pounds. This is because cardio can burn hundreds of calories in a session.

STRENGTHENS YOUR HEART

Cardiovascular relates to the heart and blood cells, so when you perform a cardio exercise such as running or biking, you strengthen your heart. This is due to the fact that cardio exercise makes your heart rate accelerate and properly pump blood. As a result, this strengthens your heart, which is arguably one of the most important organs of your body.

 

REDUCES THE RISK OF SEVERAL DISEASES

Cardio exercise also helps reduce the risk of several deadly diseases. Roughly 1.5 million people suffer from heart attacks and strokes annually in the United States. Cardio exercise is one way you can reduce the risk of heart attacks and disease along with their underlying causes such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Many people also suffer from diseases such as diabetes and cancer, and fitting in time for physical activity like cardio can also help you prevent these diseases.

IMPROVES LUNG CAPACITY

Many people tend to shy away from cardio because it can be tough to breathe as you perform the exercise. However, that heavy breathing you are experiencing is actually improving your lungs. Cardio will increase your lung capacity as you push your breathing ability to the limit during a tedious workout.

NATURALLY BOOSTS ENERGY

It is quite common for people to consume energy drinks and coffee throughout the day to stay alert. Other people can’t get through a day without taking a long nap. But these methods can be harmful to your health if you overdo them. A healthier option is cardio exercise. It can naturally boost your energy, which is why many people start their day off with some cardio in the early hours of the morning. When our body goes through an activity that requires energy, such as running, it releases endorphins. These increased endorphin levels, in turn, boost our energy.

GREAT FOR MENTAL HEALTH

Since cardio exercise releases endorphins, another benefit is that it simply makes you feel good afterward. Cardio is a healthy way to combat mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or stress. Many people have coined the feeling one experiences after physical conditioning as a “runners high.” Aside from the endorphins, as you are doing cardio, you are challenging yourself mentally. There are bound to be many times throughout your workout when you feel like you may quit. Pushing through a tough workout and eventually finishing gives you a great sense of accomplishment and leads to a natural “high” you may feel afterward. When you get into the routine of doing cardio exercise, you will start to feel better about yourself overall and improve your confidence.

BETTER SLEEP

Many professionals recommend you get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night; however, a lot of people do not accomplish this. This results in low energy that can make the day a huge pain to get through. For many, good sleep is difficult to come by simply because it’s hard to fall asleep. When you add cardio to your lifestyle, you will begin to experience a higher quality of sleep. With cardio as part of your day, you’re sure to feel tired come the evening, which is right before going to bed. In turn, this will make it far easier to get in bed and fall asleep at a reasonable hour.

HELPS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

Nobody wants to get sick. You may not be able to afford to miss work or have an important event coming up. The worst thing about getting sick is that it often happens out of nowhere, perhaps at the most inconvenient time. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Cardio exercise can help your immune system fight any bacterial infections you may be vulnerable to because it changes your antibodies and white blood cells. With regular cardio exercise, the antibodies or white blood cells in your body will move around faster and gain a better ability to find potential illnesses.

Bottom Line

Adding 20 minutes of cardio to your daily routine three to five days a week comes with all these incredible health benefits. Plus, it doesn’t need to be boring. You can add in plenty of variation, so your cardio workouts won’t feel so overwhelming. Further, you can easily choose the intensity at which you perform cardio exercises.

The main point is that we are not meant to sit around all day—we need to keep our bodies active and moving. Cardio is one of the best ways to remain fit and treat your body as a temple. Additionally, it’s one of the easier exercises to compete because you can do it outside, at the gym, or at home.

Here are some great at-home cardio workouts:

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How to create a morning routine!

Resources from Lifehack & The Hollis Co.

Even if you are not a morning person…there is a perfect morning routine that will make YOU happy and productive all day – you just have to find yours.

A morning routine is said to boost happiness, increase productivity, reduce stress levels and get you grounded and settled for the day. It’s about getting started on the ‘right foot’.

A morning routine also allows you to start your morning with intention, rather than letting the day run away from you. You control the day; the day doesn’t control you. This positive feeling of being on top of things has results in a positive feeling and effect on your entire day.

I can’t possibly make time to create and execute a morning routine.” That’s not true! We all have the same 24 hours in a day and how we use it is up to us. Feeling doubtful? Check out Rachel Hollis’s morning routine example. She is a mother with many responsibilities and paints a motivational picture of what it’s like to live a chaotic, crazy life with a blissful morning routine.

“Focused, productive successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days – which inevitably create a successful life.”

How to Create Your Ultimate Morning Routine

Let’s look at the morning routine through the lens of Integrative Wellness principles, which take into account the four aspects or ‘systems’ of you: Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual.

Mentally

Put simply, this has to do with your mind, including thoughts, beliefs, values, goals, hopes, dreams, desires and plans.

Some options to create a positive mental space in the morning include:

Set goals.

A great way to set some goals is to focus on the three most important goals you have for the day. This gives you something to focus on – and makes sure you have a sense of achievement throughout the day. And because it’s only three things, it still leaves room for other things that come up – so there’s built in flexibility too.

Make a list.

Get it off your mind. Sometimes in the night we worry, waking up thinking about what we need to accomplish. This means we wake up already feeling behind. Instead, if there’s something you know you need to do, write it down. Make a list so you can free you mind for more important thinking.

Create a plan/schedule for the day.

When you know you’ve got a hectic day ahead, a little planning can go a long way. Have a look on your calendar and see what’s there – integrate your goals and your list of to-do’s so you have a plan of action.

Emotionally

This is all about your feelings, emotions and relationships. You can think of it as all things related to the heart.

Some things you can do to help your emotional well-being and have a happy morning include:

Express gratitude.

New research continues to surface on the science and benefits of gratitude. Studies have now proven a multitude of benefits from expressing gratitude; ranging from how it improves relationships, physical and emotional health, sleep, mental stamina, energy and overall happiness. Rachel Hollis is a fantastic influencer that provides many tips and resources on gratitude journaling, and even sells a journal called the “Start Today Journal”. But to keep it simple – when you wake up every morning, write down three things you are grateful for.

hug someone! or something.

Hugging boosts your oxytocin levels (the love hormone), increases serotonin (elevates mood and creates happiness), strengthens the immune system, boosts self-esteem, lowers blood pressure, balances the nervous system and releases tension. Put simply, hugging makes you feel good. Find someone – or something – to hug. It only takes a few seconds and it can put you in a positive mood for the day.

Identify what makes you feel good.

What brings you happiness, joy or excitement for the day ahead? What makes you feel grounded or connected on a deeper level? Meditation, yoga, breathwork? Get more of that.

Physically

All those things we think about that we can do with our body or physical space. This might include what we eat or drink, how we move and anything that has to do with our physical selves.

Here are some options for increasing your physical well-being in the morning:

Get moving.

Get the blood flowing. We all know the benefits of exercise. This might be a run, hike, trip to the gym, yoga, stretching or finding your own short workout. Remember, what works for one person will not work for everyone.

Check out the post Tips for working out at home on The Breathe Blog!

Drink water.

Before you reach for that first cup of coffee, reach first for something that hydrates you.

Eat a good breakfast.

What does that mean for you? A protein smoothie? Great. Avocado Toast? Awesome. Oatmeal? Fantastic. Eat a healthy, ‘real-food’ breakfast to get you going.

Clean your physical space.

When our physical space is cluttered, our minds often feel the same way.

What works for you? Tidy up your workspace. Get the clothes in the hamper. Make your bed. Whatever makes you feel more settled in your physical space, it is worth the effort.

Read this article if you aren’t sure how to declutter.

Spiritually

This can be anything related to you and a feeling of inspiration, which means, ‘in spirit’. While it doesn’t have to convey religion, it may for you. It’s more about what you need to feel connected to something deeper, bigger, higher – and what makes you feel most connected to yourself.

Meditation.

While some of you may be reading this thinking, YES, I love my morning meditation practice, others might be feeling a sense of stress or trepidation reading yet another article about meditation.

If you’re feeling hesitant but want to try it out, there are a ton of great apps (The Mindfulness app, Headspace and Calm) and other resources out there for you. Take a look at this guided morning mediation for something short and sweet.

Positive Affirmations

Short for time? Even reciting some positive affirmations to help keep your motivation going is helpful. Check out this post on Breathe Blog on Positive Affirmations.

Be in nature.

Find a place you can sit or walk and just be. Notice the colors of the trees and the sky, the smells in the air. What do you hear if you listen closely? Take a moment to feel the earth beneath your feet or the breeze against your face.

Take a walk in nature you’ve got physical and spiritual needs covered all in one go! If you don’t have time to go for a walk outside – spend part of your morning while you write in your Gratitude Journal on your porch, deck, or in your backyard.

What to Keep in Mind

1. A healthy morning routine starts the night before.

Getting quality sleep is essential to starting your mornings off right. Make sure you get the recommended 7-9 hours (or whatever works for you). If you’re going to get up earlier for your morning routine, you need to go to bed earlier.

Here are some basic ways to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Get off your electronics at least an hour before bed
  • Make sure you have a comfortable pillow and mattress.
  • Set a consistent sleep routine, reduce outside noise and sleep in a well-darkened room or wear an eye mask.

2. Keep it simple.

Find one or two things (three max) that you feel will work for YOU to get you on a roll. Start with a quick win and work your way up from there.

It’s not recommended choosing eight things and then giving up – or beating yourself up because you couldn’t make it work. If you put too much on your plate, you won’t do anything. Eventually, you’ll want to have at least one activity from each of the four categories, but you can start small and work your way up.

3. Take a test drive.

Once you’ve settled on a few concepts that you think will work for you, try them for a few days before you decide if it does/doesn’t work. Like with any habit, you need at least 21 days to create something that sticks.

4. Set a reminder.

Put something in place that reminds you of your morning routine, like a reminder on your phone, or a note on your fridge or mirror etc. etc.

5. Integrate.

Find ways to integrate your morning routine into what you’re already doing, rather than adding more on your ‘to-do’ list. You can also double up, finding activities that covering a couple multiple ‘systems’ of your body.

Start today!

You’ve been given the tips and tricks, now it’s time to take action! Grab yourself a notebook or use your phone and start creating! Need some more guidance? Click here for tutorials on creating your morning routine through planning, writing, and motivational videos. Also, here are some quick examples:

9 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Article referenced from Brigitt Earley and Melanie Rud 

Here are 9 ways that you can help improve your mood during the winter!

1. Give your skin some TLC

There’s no denying that your skin looks better in the summer, with its sun-kissed glow and fresh dewiness (thank you, humidity). There’s also no denying that as temperatures and humidity levels plummet, all that cold, dry air takes a toll on your complexion. That’s why fall is the perfect time to up your skin game. Reevaluate the ingredients in your skincare routine and get the pros involved. Check out the Breathe Blog post on How to Protect your Skin in 2021

2. Make your environment brighter

When your body is craving more daylight, sitting next to an artificial light—also called a light box—for 30 minutes per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication. Opening blinds and curtains, trimming back tree branches, and sitting closer to windows can also help provide an extra dose of sunshine.

3. Eat smarter

Having a well-balanced diet it so important for our mental health. Ensure you are trying your best to consume enough fruits and vegetables, along with protein and healthy carbohydrates. Certain foods, like chocolate, can help to enhance your mood and relieve anxiety. Other foods, like candy provide temporary feelings of euphoria, but could ultimately increase feelings of anxiety and depression.

4. Simulate dawn

People with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that usually begins in late fall or early winter and fades as the weather improves, may feel depressed, irritable, lethargic, and have trouble waking up in the morning—especially when it’s still dark out. Studies show that a dawn simulator ($50; walgreens.com), a device that causes the lights in your bedroom to gradually brighten over a set period of time, can serve as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed.

5. Exercise

2005 study from Harvard suggests walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week, or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Exercising under bright lights may be even better for seasonal depression: A preliminary study found that exercise under bright light improved general mental health, social functioning, depressive symptoms, and vitality, while exercise in ordinary light improved vitality only. Try these mood boosting workouts and 10 stretches to keep your body healthy.

6. Turn on the tunes

In a 2013 study, researchers showed that listening to upbeat or cheery music significantly improved participant’s mood in both the short and long term.

7. Plan a day-trip

Longing for an adventure? With the pandemic surrounding our lives, it’s hard to take a vacation…but the simple act of planning a day-trip to your local beach, or a road trip to one of your favorite parks causes a significant increase in overall happiness! Make a picnic lunch, grab a Starbucks, or order some take-out and enjoy your day in an environment (safely) that isn’t your home!

8. Help others

Want to help others while social-distancing? Sort out your wardrobe (or even your whole house) and take your unwanted items to your local homeless shelter, thrift store, or Salvation Army!

9. Get outside

Talking yourself into taking a walk when the temperatures plummet isn’t easy, but the benefits are big: Spending time outside (even when it’s chilly!) can improve focus, reduce symptoms of SAD, and lower stress levels

Get Help

Not sure where to go to find help or who to turn to? Consulting with your healthcare provider or another trusted professional is always a great start.

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How to improve your posture

Resources from girlslivingwell.com

You can improve your posture at any age, but the sooner the better. The longer you wait with aiding your posture, the more damage you can put on your body. The best way to improve it is to start taking measures in your daily life and be conscious of wanting to improve. The good news is that changing posture is very much possible.

Here are some tips & tricks to help improve your posture!

1. Get in the right mindset and recruit a friend
  • Being aware of wanting to make a change is a great first step in improving your posture. Make a plan of what steps you are going to take and give yourself a pep talk. Be kind to yourself and keep up the motivation. It takes up to 5 weeks to make new actions habits and so create a timeline and keep it. Can also recommend recruiting a friend for accountability and motivation.
2. Focus on not slouching
  • Just focusing on not slouching is another great way to improve your posture. Make reminders on your phone or post-its in your house and it will go a long way in helping you stand and sit straighter.
3. Look up more
  • Day after day of looking down is bad for your posture. The head is tilted, and stress is put on the muscles and joints of the neck. This stress alongside straining the eyes can cause headaches and prolonged poor posture will eventually lead to degeneration and poor posture. Holding your phone straight in front of your face (as if you were taking a photo) and lifting your PC screen will help your posture.
4. The right fit bra and comfortable clothing.
  • Having the wrong bra can impact your posture as it can inhibit a muscle called serratus anterior and this muscle needs to be strong to give you a good posture. When this muscle gets weak it will cause shoulders to roll forward and cause your shoulder blades to wing and your back to slouch. The best is to wear a bra that has no wires or the very least wear one that is the correct size and not too tight.
5. Stretch
  •  Make sure to incorporate a stretching routine for the neck and back. Stretching these muscles will help muscles get relief, decrease tension, and help your posture. As little as 5 minutes can do wonders and a good way to incorporate stretching is to do it while watching TV.

Keep reading for 4 quick stretches that will help you get there!

Child’s pose

This resting pose stretches and lengthens your spine, glutes, and hamstrings. The child’s pose helps to release tension in your lower back and neck.

To do this:

  1. Sit on your shinbones with your knees together, your big toes touching, and your heels splayed out to the side.
  2. Fold forward at your hips and walk your hands out in front of you.
  3. Sink your hips back down toward your feet. If your thighs won’t go all the way down, place a pillow or folded blanket under them for support.
  4. Gently place your forehead on the floor or turn your head to one side.
  5. Keep your arms extended or rest them along your body.
  6. Breathe deeply into the back of your rib cage and waist.
  7. Relax in this pose for up to 5 minutes while continuing to breathe deeply

Forward Fold

This standing stretch releases tension in your spine, hamstrings, and glutes. It also stretches your hips and legs. While doing this stretch, you should feel the entire back side of your body opening up and lengthening.

To do this:

  1. Stand with your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart.
  2. Bring your hands to your hips and fold forward at your hips.
  3. Release your hands toward the floor or place them on a block. Don’t worry if your hands don’t touch the ground — just go as far as you can.
  4. Bend your knees slightly, soften your hips joints, and allow your spine to lengthen.
  5. Tuck your chin into your chest and allow your head to fall heavy to the floor.
  6. Remain in this pose for up to 1 minute.

Downward Facing Dog

This is a forward bend that can be used as a resting pose to balance out your body. The downward-facing dog pose helps to relieve back pain, while also strengthening and aligning your back muscles. Practicing it regularly helps to improve posture.

To do this:

  1. Lying with your stomach on the floor, press into your hands as you tuck your toes under your feet and lift your heels.
  2. Lift your knees and hips to bring your sitting bones up toward the ceiling.
  3. Bend your knees slightly and lengthen your spine.
  4. Keep your ears in line with your upper arms or tuck your chin all the way into your chest.
  5. Press firmly into your hands and keep your heels slightly lifted.
  6. Remain in this pose for up to 1 minute.

Pigeon Pose

This is a hip opener that also loosens up your spine, hamstrings, and glutes. The pigeon pose can also help to stretch your sciatic nerve and quadriceps. Opening and stretching these places in your body makes it easier to correct imbalances in your posture.

To do this:

  1. Come down on all fours with your knees below your hips and your hands a little bit in front of your shoulders.
  2. Bend your right knee and place it behind your right wrist with your right foot angled out to the left.
  3. Rest the outside of your right shin on the floor.
  4. Slide your left leg back, straighten your knee, and rest your thigh on the floor.
  5. Make sure your left leg extends straight back (and not to the side).
  6. Slowly lower your torso down to rest on your inner right thigh with your arms extended in front of you.
  7. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  8. Slowly release the position by walking your hands back toward your hips and lifting your torso.
  9. Repeat on the left side.

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How to protect your skin in 2021

Resources from Byrdie.com

We have all had to adjust the last few months to a different way of life in many ways. Let’s take a self-care approach that can help us feel a little more comfortable in our own skin. Wearing a mask can be inconvenient in a number of ways and let’s be honest, our skin has suffered from this new-found way of life – so here are some tips and tricks to help prevent that dreaded “Maskne” in 2021.

6 natural remedies for skin-care that actually work


1. Baking Soda

“Technically baking soda and water soften blackheads and any clogged pores in the skin. It’s best for congested skin,” says Vargas. She recommends a DIY baking soda mask

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

“It’s the best astringent in nature because it helps to balance the skin’s pH, making you both less oily and less dry,” says Grigore. She warns that apple cider vinegar is very pungent and that you must always dilute it before using. “I recommend using a mixture of one part vinegar to four parts water. Apply to your face with cotton or a spritzer. No need to wash it off,” she says. 

3. Turmeric

According to Holecek, turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. She recommends it in gentle, exfoliating bases like chickpea flour, oat powders, or kaolin clay.

  • Turmeric powder is made from the root of Curcuma zedoaria, a form of ginger native to Southeast Asia. Its active ingredient, curcumin, is what gives it that yellow-orange tinge; it’s also what makes it such a potent anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is also found to lighten hyperpigmentation.

4. Honey

Holecek says honey is a soothing remedy for those pesky acne scars. For a DIY facial, she suggests mixing honey, aloe vera, one teaspoon of chickpea flour, and a pinch of turmeric to make a paste. Spread the paste on your face. Once you rinse off with cool water, use an ice cube on the skin for 30 seconds to treat a congested face.

5. Fine-Grain Salt

“Fine-grain salt cleans deeply, removes dead skin cells, balances moisture, and pulls toxins from pores, making it especially great for preventing acne or quick treatments during flare-ups on the face and body,” Grigore says. “The simplest way to use sea salt is to wet your face or body, put some salt on your wet hand so it sticks, then pat it gently onto your skin. You can leave it for a few minutes or rinse immediately. Just make sure not to scrub too hard—it is too abrasive by itself.”

6. Tea Tree Oil

According to Grigore, tea tree oil is known as a “miracle antiseptic.” 

“It’s renowned for its antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties, making it an easy and effective spot treatment,” she says. She suggests diluting tea tree oil in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil or organic jojoba oil and applying it directly on a zit. 

8 tips to protect your skin while wearing a face mask


  • Choose a mask made with two layers of breathable material, such as cotton.
  • Wash your mask regularly, ideally washing it after each time you wear the mask. Avoid wearing makeup. If you wish to wear makeup, use a mineral makeup.
  • Wash your skin with a gentle cleanser and apply a moisturizer twice a day.
  • If you are experiencing dry patches of skin, apply a thin amount of a barrier repair cream to the area affected.
  • Avoid products that will not clog your pores. Look for, non-comedogenic products, which means it will not clog your pores
  • If you are experiencing breakouts, spot treat the area with a benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid product.
  • Give yourself weekly at-home facials with the natural skin-care remedies above!

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How to set an achievable goal

What if I fail? fly?

Resources from tonyrobbins.com

With the arrival of the New Year, there is no better time to focus on your health. Many people will set New Year’s resolutions this year, but only a few will keep them. Ready to leave New Year’s resolutions behind? Don’t give up on them yet, research shows that setting goals is still the best way to get results. People who set goals are much more likely to achieve them than those who don’t.

Having a plan and not relying just on willpower will help you be more successful in keeping your New Year’s goals. If you have struggled with a goal in the past, then it might be better to take a step back before taking a step forward. Understanding how you got where you are will help you with a plan to be successful in the future. Before setting your New Year’s goals this year, first ask yourself these questions:

  • Why do you want the change? 
  • What is it going to do for you? 
  • What has been holding you back? 
  • What will happen if I don’t make a change? 

Choosing goals that have personal meaning while also understanding the barriers or challenges that have prevented you from reaching your goals in the past will be key to your success this time around. Now that you understand your WHY, here are a few more helpful tips for setting healthy goals this New Year!

Goal Setting Tips

1. Perform a brainstorming session. Give yourself six minutes to brainstorm a list of anything you’d like to achieve, create, do, have, give and/or experience in the next 20 years. Write as many things down as fast as you can in this time.

2. Refine your goals. Setting deadlines is crucial to the goal-setting process. Go back through your list and write one, three, five, 10 or 20 years next to each goal to indicate how long it will take to achieve them.

3. Review your list. Go over what you’ve written. Choose your top four one-year goals. These are goals that truly excite you. Write a paragraph for each goal explaining why you will absolutely achieve this goal within the next 12 months.

4. Evaluate your goals. Are your goals specific? Measurable? Achievable? Realistic? Do they have a specific timeframe? These are the components of a SMART goal. You set SMART goals with purpose and intention, making them more concrete and easier to achieve.

How to make it happen

1. Visualize accomplishing your goals. Visualization is a powerful activity. When you visualize your goals on a daily basis as if you’ve already achieved them, you align your purpose and values with your actions. 

2. Share your goals. Find a friend, family member or another person you trust and share your list of goals with them. You can also share the list with a mentor or life coach. Sharing your list will make you more accountable and give you a partner who will work with you through frustrations or roadblocks. The right partner can help you transform obstacles into opportunities and stay on track.

3. Keep your goals visible. Where focus goes, energy flows, so it’s critical to focus on your goals. Tape them on the mirror in your bathroom or pin them to the wall next to your computer. If your goals involve adopting a healthy diet and losing weight, put them on the front of your refrigerator or a kitchen cabinet.

4. Regularly review your goals. Have a set schedule to review both short- and long-term goals. This helps you track progress as well as determine what activities are helping you and which are hindering you. It’s important to know when alterations to your course are necessary: Stay flexible and make changes where necessary.

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10 stretches to keep your body healthy

Resources from self.com By Amy Marturana

Why stretching is important

Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.

As a NASM certified Personal Trainer with specializations in Integrated and Neuromuscular flexibility, these are some of the most beneficial stretches to ensure your body is maintaining it’s mobility & flexibility throughout the day.

here are 10 stretches to help keep your body healthy

This image may contain Fitness Sport Sports Exercise Working Out Human Person and Yoga

Standing Hamstring Stretch

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms by your sides.
  • Exhale as you bend forward at the hips, lowering your head toward floor, while keeping your head, neck and shoulders relaxed.
  • Wrap your arms around backs of your legs and hold anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes.

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Lunge with spinal twist

  • Start standing with your feet together.
  • Take a big step forward with your left foot, so that you are in a staggered stance.
  • Bend your left knee and drop into a lunge, keeping your right leg straight behind you with your toes on the ground, so you feel a stretch at the front of your right thigh.
  • Place your right hand on the floor and twist your upper body to the left as you extend your left arm toward the ceiling.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Lunging hip flexor stretch

  • Kneel on your left knee. Place your right foot flat on the floor in front of you, knee bent.
  • Lean forward, stretching your left hip toward the floor.
  • Squeeze your butt; this will allow you to stretch your hip flexor even more.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Side bend stretch

  • Kneel on the floor with your legs together, back straight, and core tight.
  • Extend your left leg out to the side. Keep it perpendicular to your body (not in front or behind you).
  • Extend your right arm overhead, rest your left arm on your left leg, and gently bend your torso and right arm to the left side.
  • Keep your hips facing forward.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Frog stretch

  • Start on all fours.
  • Slide your knees wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Turn your toes out and rest the inner edges of your feet flat on the floor.
  • Shift your hips back toward your heels.
  • Move from your hands to your forearms to get a deeper stretch, if possible.
  • Hold for for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Figure four stretch

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Cross your left foot over your right quad.
  • Lift your right leg off the floor. Grab onto the back of your right leg and gently pull it toward your chest.
  • When you feel a comfortable stretch, hold there.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Lying pectoral stretch

  • Lie on your stomach with both arms extended to the sides so your body is in a T shape.
  • Push off the ground with your left hand and bend your left knee for balance as you start to roll to your right side. You should feel this in your right-side pectoral muscles.
  • As your mobility increases, you’ll be able to stretch further and roll your body further.
  • Repeat on the other side.

seated neck release

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, or sit down with your back straight and chest lifted.
  • Drop your left ear to your left shoulder.
  • To deepen the stretch, gently press down on your head with your left hand.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

extended puppy pose

  • Start on all fours.
  • Walk your arms forward a few inches and curl your toes under.
  • Push your hips up and back halfway toward your heels.
  • Push through the palms of your hands to keep your arms straight and engaged.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

lying quad stretch

  • Lie on one side.
  • Keep your bottom leg straight and bend your top knee so your foot is by your butt.
  • Hold your top foot with your hand, pulling it toward your butt.
  • Keep your hips stable so you’re not rocking back as you pull.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

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