Words: Cassandra Stern
Photo: marekuliasz, Svetlana Monyakova, anyaberkut, m-gucci,
It’s time to wind down after another tough day on the jobsite. Whether you spent the day on the wall, mixing mortar, unloading brick and block, or a combination of them all, masonry has been and will always be challenging work for both the mind and body. In the previous two installments of this Staying Healthy series, we have discussed the best ways to start your day and how to power through the afternoon. In this article, we will be exploring some excellent options to recharge and refuel your body so you can recover and be ready again at the crack of dawn.
Mindfulness may sound a little overwhelming at first, but in reality, it is actually one of the most effective ways to reset at the end of a long, stressful day. Have you ever meditated before? It may seem challenging at first but is actually incredibly simple to get started. To try meditation, head to a comfortable spot in your home, and then dim the lights. Start in a position most comfortable for you where you can remain still, set a timer for 5 minutes (or however long you would like to meditate for), and then shut your eyes.
During this time, and especially during your first attempts at meditation, your inner voice will be chattering away. The key is that wherever a thought pops up, perhaps something about an estimate or an invoice, simply acknowledge the thought, and let it pass through your mind. While at first, it will take conscious effort to clear those thoughts away and quiet your inner voice, over time, you will become a practiced master at quieting your own mind!
Meditation produces a whole host of benefits including stress and anxiety relief, decreased blood pressure, improved focus, sleep, and even memory skills. By clearing your mind and allowing yourself some time and space to process your thoughts and feelings about the day, you will find that with even 10 minutes of meditation a day, you will soon feel greater self-awareness as you move throughout your day. Meditation can be done anywhere, anytime, and any place, but is especially beneficial as you ready yourself for sleep. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System demonstrated that people who practice meditation before bed fell asleep sooner, stayed asleep longer, and enjoyed a more restful sleep than those who did not meditate.
We have discussed a lot about what foods to eat for the best nutrition, but have not talked much about good eating habits. Consistently eating three meals a day is what most people usually do, but this one size fits all approach to eating doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, some people observe intermittent fasting and only eat at certain times, or even once a day. The fact is, as long as you are eating foods rich in the nutrients you need, how often or how much you eat is really up to you. That being said, when you eat your meals is just as important as what you are eating. While the research is unclear as to whether or not eating a large amount shortly before bed can contribute to significant weight gain, studies have definitively proven that late-night eating contributes to indigestion and subsequent sleeping issues. A light snack before bed, however, should not cause such problems.
Consistency, consistency, consistency! While you sleep, your body is hard at work repairing damage and rebuilding itself for the day ahead. While you may be aware that the Center for Disease Control suggests that adults require an average of seven hours of sleep a night, you may not know that recent research strongly suggests that a consistent sleep schedule is equally important as the recommended amount of sleep. The study concluded that there is a definitive link between inconsistent sleep patterns and an increased risk of developing problems related to hypertension, elevated blood sugar levels, obesity, and even heart disease. Conversely, it is somewhat reassuring to know that with a regular sleep schedule, you can also reduce your risk of developing these issues as well.
Sleeping, eating, and meditating are all equally important when it comes to taking care of yourself. In order for you to do your best on the jobsite, you need to feel your best, and that starts with setting yourself up for success. Before you implement any changes in your lifestyle, be sure to discuss your health with your doctor and follow their advice. Try to integrate small changes slowly rather than several drastic changes at once and focus on building good habits one decision at a time. With the help and support of family and friends, you’ll soon be surprised at just how good you can feel, even after a hard day on the wall.