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10 Self-Improvement Tips for Winter (None of Which Require Leaving the House)

10 Self-Improvement Tips for Winter (None of Which Require Leaving the House)

Winter is a season that most people tough out, but there are joys to be had beyond the holidays.

Let the coldest time of year remind you of light and warmth, with acts of self-improvement and love, all within the cozy walls of your home. Your house is your hearth after all, and a few tips will see you through the season:

1. Batch Cook Comfort Food

There’s nothing like a good home-cooked meal, and while you’re at it, why not make extra? Stash away freezer meals to pop in the oven later for nutritious comfort food on the chilliest of days.

Take a whole day to tend to stew, soup, chili or lasagna. If you prefer to stay in bed, put together some tasty freezer meals in your slow cooker. Once it’s done, just store it away.

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2. Update Your Journal

At some point, you’ve started a journal, and it’s been several weeks, months or years since you’ve added to it. Write a new entry, even if it’s from the perspective of your cat observing your day. Make it strange! Make it interesting! Write about how you feel.

3. Write a Novel

You may have always wanted to try your hand at novel writing. First drafts are meant to be crappy. It’s a rite of passage to the glorious revision. Write, now!

Keep a pad and pen with you. Write a few sentences between chores or during a conversation with the friend who takes 10 years to describe a 10-minute moment. It all adds up.

4. Build a Capsule Wardrobe

Are you guilty of a badly put together grab-and-go look? Fling open your closet door, pull the clothes out of your drawers and mix and match. Build your own capsule wardrobe, with a few versatile pieces you love, that you can rearrange into many different outfits. It’s a mix of functional and stylish pants, shirts, blouses, skirts, dresses, and outerwear.

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The payoffs are big. You don’t waste time raiding your closet. You realize what a waste of time binge shopping is, and save money because you’re finally satisfied with your wardrobe. Only update it as needed.

5. Regulate Your Sleep Cycle

Hibernation may be for the bears, but you want to stay in bed, too. It’s understandable to not be as motivated as you would during the summer. Think of winter as the perfect time to finally regulate your sleeping schedule.

A lack of quality sleep affects your concentration, mood, and overall health. Create a ritual to wind down before bed and relax. Stick to set times during the week and on the weekends to go to bed and to wake up. When you regulate your sleep schedule, you’ll also notice improvements in your health and mood.

6. Develop an Indoor Exercise Routine

Whether you practice yoga or Zumba in your home, developing an indoor exercise routine will keep you motivated in the winter months. Exercise will get your blood flowing and keep you warm, producing helpful hormones to keep you alert and stress-free. When you don’t want to go to the gym, a 30-minute workout indoors is just as good.

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7. Learn a New Language

Brush up on another language you learned in school but are out of practice with. There are many beautiful languages with unique idioms and phrases that express complex emotions with one simple word. Expand your horizons and rewire the way you speak, think and relate to learning a new language.

8. Pamper Your Skin

Once a week, have a spa day and take care of your skin. After all, it’s your body’s largest organ. Your skin protects you from disease and helps keep you warm in the winter. Give it love with homemade skin care recipes, from natural face masks to creamy body lotions.

9. Organize the Messiest Space

Whether it’s your desk, closet or a storage room, organize the messiest space in your home. The rest of your house and life won’t look so challenging, once the biggest mess is out of the way.

10. Do One Random, Silly Thing Every Day

Playtime is good for adults, and you know you work too hard. Turn off your cell phone and take off the serious mask.

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Release your inner child for unstructured playtime. Have a dance party. Build a blanket fort. Skip on your way to the bathroom. Sing in the shower. When you let yourself play, you’ll boost your mood, be more productive and laugh.

Avoid the seasonal blues and have a good winter by staying engaged with life. Keep warm and cozy indoors as you cook comfort food, write the great American novel or learn a new language. Winter may mean longer nights, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them.

Featured photo credit: Giulia Bertelli via unsplash.com

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Kayla Matthews

Productivity and self-improvement blogger

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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