Welcome to another edition of the “Get Happy” series!
Just as a reminder, the point of the articles in this series is to try different ideas and methods to bring you to a higher baseline happiness level. These “baseline happiness boosters” have cumulative effects, meaning that if done only once, you probably won’t get much benefit out of it. What we really want is the lasting effect of doing it so often that it is engrained into your brain, and it is part of who you are. If you do it on a regular basis to the point where you do it without even thinking, then you will see a huge overall positive surge of benefits!
In this post, we are talking about Stretching! 🙂
Did you know that when your muscles are stretched or exercised they send signals to the brain which help keep your body and mind from degenerating (damage and aging in the body)? That’s right! Even just 15 minutes of stretching every day will allow you to enjoy the benefits of a healthier mind and body as you continue to grow older.
Aside from just the long-term effects, the act of stretching literally loosens your muscles by creating a mild stress response in the body. When you do this, you are bringing oxygen into the muscles which in turn puts you into a better mood due to the increased oxygen and blood flow in your body. You feel better physically and mentally. While you are loosening and relaxing all of your muscles, you are literally eradicating your stress. All day long you have little things that cause you to feel slightly pressured, annoyed, stressed, anxious, etc. The amount and intensity of these emotions you feel vary from day to day, but we all feel them. When you are stressed, your body responds to how you feel by tensing up and tightening its muscles. By stretching, you are reversing this stress process and renewing your body for a more relaxed state of being. When done daily, stretching can really help eliminate stress while increasing your mood and health. It’s completely a win-win!
If you want to take stretching to the next level, you can also activate your spiritual and emotional side of stretching. To do this all you need to do is turn on some relaxing music and take some deep breaths while doing different stretching exercises. You will be surprised how great it feels, and how different it is from stretching without it. And by the way when I say relaxing music, I mean that it has no words. It is just calming music. You are trying to breathe and relax. If you don’t know what kind of music to listen to, then you can always put on some meditation music from YouTube. Just type in music for meditation, or for studying, or relaxing, etc. Usually hours of nice, soothing music shows up. You can also do Yoga. This has long been known for its mind body spirit connection. If you don’t want to sign up for a class, Yoga with Adrian is a YouTube channel and you can learn Yoga from your home if you have never done it before.
Most people say that your muscles and bones and everything else just gets weaker as you age, but research hasn’t actually proven that to be completely true. Yes, as you age, you do begin to degenerate from damage in the body and brain (that’s what aging is, damage. There are no aging genes). But that doesn’t explain how 80-year-old men are able to become just as fit and muscular as people in their 20’s. There have been a few studies based solely on these facts, asking how this is possible for some people at 80 while others are struggling mentally and physically at 50.
The secret has to do with physiology, or how people move their bodies on a daily basis. The reason most people’s muscles begin degenerating in their 40’s is not necessarily because they are aging. If that was the case then everyone at 40 would have this problem, and we all know that not everyone does. So what is it? The answer lies within the most basic concept. Move your body every day. Most people in their 40’s and up have set their habits and sit at a job all day to come home and sit around some more. Where’s the exercise?! Nowhere to be seen.
The people who have the least amount of problems with their bodies and minds as they grow older are usually the people who live more active lifestyles. It doesn’t matter whether that is walking, running, lifting weights, stretching, yoga, biking, whatever. As long as you are moving your body daily for at least 15 minutes, you are setting your present moment and your future up for lasting success, happiness, and health.
SO, by stretching for just 15 minutes every day your body, mind, and spirit will all be much happier and healthier. Try it out yourself! Just remember to not over-stretch. If it starts to actually hurt, then you have overstretched. That is an injury. Don’t stretch more than your body is comfortable with. Flexibility comes with time and consistency.
Here are some other benefits I noticed from daily stretching (which I have done for about 3 months now):
- Greatly reduces the risk of injuries as long as you go at your own pace when you stretch to avoid over-stretching.
- For women around their menstrual cycle, no back pain anymore and reduced cramps by 80% with the remaining cramps at only 60% of the usual intensity.
- Puts you into peak state. In other words, it relaxes you and puts you into a centered state of being.
- Increases flexibility a lot
- Puts you in tune with your body, so that when you stretch every day you notice every little difference in your muscles or whatever else each day.
If you want to create a better life for yourself, start with your physiology. In other words, start with moving your body every day. I recommend starting with stretching because it is one of the easiest ways to move your body (compared to other exercise). Many health problems are created by people to themselves because they don’t take care of their own selves. One particular area where people are pretty bad at taking care of themselves is exercise. But it is one of the most important. Moving your body and eating Happy Food is key to an extraordinary life and a higher baseline happiness level.
To your utmost happiness and health,
ps: One of my favorite ways to stretch is to use the Yokebar. I can usually get a deeper stretch and feel better in 15 minutes using the Yokebar than if I did 30 minutes of floor stretching. The Yokebar is used and known best for its intense workouts and exercises you can do to train like a pro, in fact it is even in olympic and military gyms. But honestly, I have used it for more than three years to work out and I still like it best for stretching.