5 Ways to Nudge Your Body Toward Optimal Function

The human body is a marvel.  Its ultra-intelligent design allows it to operate in ways without even requiring our attention.  The billions and billions of chemical reactions occurring each second are nothing short of symphonic.  The habits that become your lifestyle radically influence that symphony, for better or worse.  By providing your 70 trillion cells with the support they need to function at their highest levels, you make it possible to prevent or reverse disease, increase energy, and lengthen your time on the planet.  

In his book The Healer Within, Roger Jahnke, Doctor of Classical Chinese Medicine, explains, “Dozens of spontaneous self-healing mechanisms . . . are programmed to sustain or restore our health and vitality automatically.” And further, “The foundation of all self-healing, health enhancement, stress mastery, and personal empowerment is deep relaxation.” Below, you will find some of the best techniques I know to help you develop that foundational sweet spot.  (Reminder: I’m not a medical professional, and you should consult your Doc or NP prior to trying anything new.)

  1. Yoga – It took me many years to understand the statements get out of your head and drop into your body, bits of advice often dispensed by my well-meaning yoga teachers.  But finally, it hit me: by placing my attention on my breath and body alignment during poses, I put aside the process of jumping from one distracting thought to another for the duration of the class.  Dropping into my body calms my mind, and this calm stays with me for hours afterwards.  (Plus, all that stretching, twisting and bending keeps me an arm’s length away from aging!) According to an article in Psychology Today, regular yoga results in the central nervous system’s release of GABA, a chemical which works to suppress anxiety for hours after the practice ends.  Check out my friend Cindy’s blog Unique Times for some quick, heart-opening hybrid practices.  She’s a bright light and a great motivator. 
  1. Massage – According to an article from Mayo Clinic, massage is good for not only stress release, sore muscles, and circulation, but also insomnia, nerve pain, fibromyalgia and digestive disorders.  I have been a huge fan of massage as far back as I can remember, primarily because it feels so good to get my stuck energy remobilized!  In the past, I’ve gone once a month, but for the past few years, I’ve increased my time on the table to twice per month.  My neck and shoulders are much happier!  No massage therapist? No problem. Even self-massage can yield benefits.
Massage tables on the cliffs of Big Sur, CA
  1. Meditation – This practice dates back for thousands of years, and I’m guessing the reason it’s still around is because it is so advantageous.  U.C. Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine published an article stating that in addition to meditation boosting emotions, decreasing anxiety, and helping with depression, it also improves heart function, slows age-related cognitive decline, and strengthens the immune system.  What’s more, I’ve read from other sources that it increases creativity.  Years ago, when living and working at a Buddhist Retreat Center in Northern California, I had a regular meditation practice.  Presently, I am renewing that commitment.  A huge thank you to my neighbor, Jan, for introducing me to the Headspace Guide to Meditation on Netflix.  I find guided meditations easier than going it alone.
Music night at the hostel with the Tin Man and Scarecrow
  1. Music – Research shows that Celtic music, jazz, classical, and Native American music are great for reducing stress, says an article on Chopra.com.  In addition, playing an instrument or singing causes endorphins (happy chemicals) to be released in the body.  The article goes on to say this is especially beneficial for children and cancer patients.  Personally, I can’t imagine getting through a single day without listening to music, humming, singing, and a little dancing, can you?
Golden Gate Park
  1. Nature – I’ll bet you knew this was coming, didn’t you?!  As I write this post, I’m sitting outside in the warm Arizona sunshine listening to birdsong and the wind blowing through the trees.  According to the article Why Nature Sounds Help You Relax, According to Science on Health.com, sounds such as rustling leaves and a babbling brook can help reduce stressful fight or flight feelings and increase the body’s capacity for relaxation.  

As you can see, these techniques not only help you achieve the foundation of relaxation needed by your body for optimal function; they have beneficial side effects as well. Combining one or more of them with other healthy habits can be the key to unlocking your best possible life. What could be better?!

What are your favorite relaxation techniques?  If you don’t normally honor your body’s need to relax, would you do me the favor of trying one of these?  I’d love to hear your experience.

Blessings for Healthy Foundations,

Lisa

74 thoughts on “5 Ways to Nudge Your Body Toward Optimal Function

  1. My version of relaxation is a version of meditation whereby I empty my head of current events (both personal and outside) and stare a something stationary, but attractive – to me anyway. My wife calls it watching paint dry, my father accused me of chasing butterflies, whatever the description, I end up feeling relaxed and thoughtful.

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  2. All of these sound wonderful to me. I have already incorporated yoga, nature, and music into my daily life. I enjoy meditation and massage but I don’t partake often. I’ll have to change that. Maybe I’ll add something to my goal tracker so that I can hold myself accountable and make them part of my routine. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello, Jeff, and thank you! I bought some seeds this week, which is something I hadn’t planned (I wanted to get plant starts since nothing yielded last year.) My optimism about my less-than-green thumb has returned! I was told to plant toward the end of this month. When will you be planting the seeds you’ve started inside? 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome! Oh, good, how fun! Ha! That’s okay, my thumb is only partially green. 🤣 I actually just planted the indoor seeds last Saturday. They are already sprouting!! We will see how many make it to the planting stage, which will not be for about 4 weeks. I will probably share a post next week on these little seedlings. 😊😊

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  3. All good tips, Lisa. Makes me realize how long it’s been since I got a massage. I get into nature as much as possible and I do some yoga and stretching. My husband got me a keyboard for Christmas, so I’m able to play again. All of these are relaxing. I also find weight lifting relaxing and I certainly don’t have time to think about anything else when I’m doing that. 🙂

    janet

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Janet, I’ll bet it’s warm where you are! We are having the most beautiful days here now. Get a massage, girl! You find weight lifting relaxing?? Hmmm . . . I’ll have to check my thoughts during my next workout, but I’m pretty sure I think about how happy I’ll be when it’s over! Have a super weekend, my friend! 🌞

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      1. It’s been in the 90’s for too long (about a week) but should drop back into the 80’s soon. I do find weight lifting relaxing, although not in the classic sense. First of all, you have to concentrate, which is a bit like meditation, and then naturally when you’re done, it’s relaxing to stop. 🙂

        I bet it’s lovely weather up your way now and I know you’re enjoying every minute. In a bit over a week, I’m off to southern California to visit our older daughter and her husband for a week, so a huge change of scenery once I get through the most boring drive in the US. 🙂 They’re only a few blocks from the beach now, so I’ll see more water than I’ve seen in the entire year we’ve been in Arizona. Ha! I’m looking forward to it greatly. Love to travel. Next Saturday I’m off to Tucson for another blogger meeting; in fact, another Lisa. 🙂 Looking forward to that too and time at Sweetwater Wetlands and a new tea place. You have a great weekend as well and hello to your other half.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. California sounds delightful, even with the boring drive! Have fun! We are flirting with the idea of heading to Carlsbad for a few days sometime this month. It’ll be a combo work and pleasure trip. Fingers crossed! I look forward to seeing images from your Cali trip as well as your meeting with Lisa in Tucson! 🌞

        Liked by 1 person

      3. We went to Carlsbad Caverns when I was a child and then again quite a few years ago. What a spectacular place! I hope you make it. I’m planning to have a couple of books on CD for the trip this time because even I couldn’t find much to enjoy looking at and then you have two large cities on either end. But it will be grand once I get there and I would imagine you’ll see photos from both trips. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Walking in nature – in the mountains or along the beach … medicine to my body. On our long hikes, I’ve learned how to “switch off” and think of nothing, while listening to my own footsteps or nature’s whispers in the wind.
    Great post Lisa 💌.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great post, Lisa! After reading about it in Joanna’s post I’m now halfway through Bruce Lipton’s “The Biology of Life”. an amazing book and whilst it is a 10th-anniversary edition I would probably still need to be brought up to date and reading your post has done just that. I’ll be looking into “The Healer Within”. Have a great weekend 🙋‍♂️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello, Ashley, nice to see you again! I really like Bruce Lipton. Now age 76, he still seems as excited as ever about his work in interviews! However, The Healer Within was written years before Biology of Belief! The difference is, Lipton talks about his beautiful scientific discoveries, and Jahnke writes about the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which have been around for eons! But, I highly recommend it! 🌞

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  6. Interesting alternative approaches to health. As an ultra-trail marathoner, I get a lot of opportunities to enjoy nature and I’m usually talking to myself nonstop towards the ends of the runs so I can definitely confirm two of them ha!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Amazing article. Stunning pictures. As a working woman I hardly get any time. But that’s an excuse. Whatever extra time I have I read a book. Cooking is another stress buster. And I like to go for a vacation and explore places with my family. Visiting friends and relatives and calling them to your home is rejenuvating.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you Lisa for a lovely reminder and sharing such a positive post. I enjoy all 5 mentioned in your post and especially during these unprecedented times, I find myself finding ways to get to do that is good for the body, mind and soul.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Music always helps me mostly. But massages and yoga are excellent ideas as well. Meditation, too. These are five good things almost everyone could add, or at least try the one that works for them. Relaxation is important to give the body a rest from stress and be ready for the next hurdle.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. My dear friend Lisa, I am so touched and honored you added me into your amazing post! Thank you so much for the very kind shout out!!!
    All of your tips are essential for day to day living and your pics and other quotes were fabulous. Happy Monday!
    💖💖💖

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thank you Lisa! This is a GREAT blog and a much needed reminder to put my overall health and well-being at the FRONT OF THE LINE!

    Liked by 1 person

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