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Stiff Muscles Make You Feel Sick Often: 8 Natural Muscle Relaxers You Can’t Miss

Stiff Muscles Make You Feel Sick Often: 8 Natural Muscle Relaxers You Can’t Miss

Walking, smiling, frowning – what’s the commonality in all this? Muscles, that’s what. Muscles work in two ways – by contracting and expanding, thereby pushing and pulling the joints and bones into movement. This is what is generally called the flexing of muscles. For muscles to stay healthy, they need to go back to a relaxed position after muscle flexing occurs. When muscles are unable to contract back to their resting position, it creates muscle stiffness and pains.

Why is muscle stiffness bad?

You might be attributing your muscle stiffness to that latest boot camp workout you tried the night before, but ignoring muscle aches is not good for health. Regular and untreated muscle stiffness can turn into chronic and debilitating body pain to say the least, and can cause brain fog, general fatigue, a feverish feeling, and even restrict movement and posture to a great degree. Muscle stiffness needs to be treated at the root of the problem – not by pain medication that just blocks the pain signals, but by remedies that aid the body in muscle relaxation.

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Are there any natural remedies to help muscles relax?

Whether you are experiencing weather-related stiff muscles, general soreness from a workout, or even posture-related muscle aches – there are these eight things you can proactively do to alleviate the symptoms at their core:

1. Get a massage

Thought massage was only good for the skin? Research shows that a massage can really ease stiff muscles by getting the blood to flow faster into the sore areas, and letting the body heal itself from the inside. Trained therapists can also locate pressure points and are able to manipulate them to release tension and ease pain and have you looking and feeling great all over.[1]

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2. Try herbal TLC

Arnica is not just a great hair oil ingredient. In fact, this high-altitude plant, often called the mountain daisy, is a great pain reliever too. Available at most health food and herbal pharmacies, arnica can be bought as a tincture, cream, salve, or ointment meant for topical use. It also reduces aches, bruises, swelling, and soreness because of its active anti-inflammatory properties. Some athletes actually swear by it, though the scientific jury is still out on its effectiveness.[2]

3. Indulge in some spices

Capsaicin, the “heat” agent in cayenne pepper responsible for that on-fire tongue, is a great anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent. Eating a peppered dish will not only slim you down, but also ease any and all stiff muscles. Capsaicin also stops the brain from sending too many pain signals while the muscles relax into their normal state.[3]

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4. Take a soak

We know that muscles work by expansion and contraction. For expansion, the muscles are flooded with calcium ions, which make the muscles stretch. To contract back to their relaxed state, the muscles are flooded with magnesium ions. A soak in warm water enriched with magnesium-rich Epsom salts allows your body to soak in the required magnesium, which prods muscles into relaxing back to their resting stage.[4]

5. Eat protein

When you stress those muscles, you are making them work on protein power. So in order to replenish and rejuvenate those tired muscles, you need more protein! If you are feeling sore, don’t reach for comfort fried foods. Healthy proteins like chicken, eggs, and lentils will ease the soreness and prevent any muscle damage in the long run too.[5]

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6. Indulge away

If you feel like reaching for a treat to alleviate those poor, overworked and by now stiff muscles, make it a dark chocolate bar. The antioxidant content of dark chocolate helps the body combat oxidative stress. It eases the muscles into relaxing while simultaneously alleviating pain. The taste and the other anti-stress benefits don’t hurt either![6].

7. Drink a cup of tea

A cup of peppermint or chamomile tea can go a long way in easing stiff muscles because of the pain-relieving properties of both the plants. Chamomile is rich in flavonoids, which are antioxidants and help in easing inflammation, thereby reducing soreness. Peppermint, on the other hand, contains menthol, which is anti-inflammatory and analgesic in nature (think ibuprofen) and helps the muscles ease into their relaxed state naturally.[7]

8. Hydrate, pronto

Water is needed by the whole body, and muscles are no different. Stiff muscles can be a sign of dehydration because water is essential to maintain the ideal electrolyte balance (calcium for contracting and magnesium for relaxing) in the muscles. A glass of water might make a big difference since it lets the body flood the muscles with magnesium ions, in order to contract the muscles into their relaxed state.[8]

Remember to pay attention to your body when it sends you a pain signal. Popping a pain reliever will only stop the brain from sending the signal in the first place, not treat the issue at hand. Using natural remedies to help the body heal itself will work the best. And stay away from any and all pro-inflammatory agents like sugar, alcohol, and caffeine – at least until the pain goes away!

Reference

[1] http://www.livestrong.com/article/500025-ways-to-loosen-up-tight-muscles/
[2] https://www.12minuteathlete.com/sore-muscles/
[3] http://www.prevention.com/health/10-healing-foods-that-fight-pain
[4] http://www.top10homeremedies.com/kitchen-ingredients/10-best-natural-muscle-relaxers.html
[5] http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/recovery/eat-and-drink-away-sore-muscles_38375
[6] http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/health-benefits-dark-chocolate
[7] http://www.top10homeremedies.com/kitchen-ingredients/10-best-natural-muscle-relaxers.html
[8] http://www.livestrong.com/article/446204-can-drinking-plenty-of-water-a-day-prevent-tight-muscles/

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Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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