December 4, 2020
Written by Heather Callahan, Associate Director of Fitness & Programming
Take a moment and set a timer for one minute. Make a tally of how many breaths you take during that minute. Try not to change or think too much about the span of the breath, try to breathe as comfortably as possible.
It is likely that you took about 12-20 breaths during that minute – which is the average for a human being. Now let’s look at a tortoise – they take an average of four breaths per minute. Comparing life spans, tortoises live an average of 98 years longer than human beings.
So, does breathing have something to do with longevity? Health research concludes this as a yes – good breathing practices are positively correlated to decreased mortality risk. Here’s why.
Breathwork Induces Stress Resilience
What is stress resilience? This is your body’s natural reaction to stressors in your environment. Having a good resilience to stress is a very good thing. Breathing practices bring you quickly to the present moment, which helps to reduce stress, symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD.
There are two important components of your autonomic nervous system:
Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) – “Fight or Flight”
Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS) – “Rest and Digest”
If you are familiar with these terms, you may have heard that good breathing practices help stimulate the PSNS, which is good for all your normal bodily functions.
When you have stress resilience from a good breathwork practice, you achieve sympathovagal balance, enhancing your body’s reactivity to all environmental (physical and mental) stressors, so you can more appropriately activate your SNS and PSNS nervous systems. It’s all about balance.
Easy Breathwork Practices to Start
The current global landscape is stress and anxiety-inducing already. Wearing a mask for prolonged periods of time may limit the depth of breath you can take and the amount of oxygen taken in during that breath, which will stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the heart rate.
Because wearing a mask is currently something we are required to do, whether during work or grocery shopping, or in enclosed spaces, it is important to have good breathing habits whenever you are not wearing it to maintain good health.
Important note: breathwork practices should never cause stress and anxiety, so if you are experiencing that during any breathwork, come back to a comfortable, steady breath. It can be a good habit to take a few normal breaths between rounds of your breath practices.
Breathing Exercises to Try
Deep Abdominal Breath
This breath can be done anytime you need to slow down and relax. When we take a deep abdominal breath, it encourages the use of our diaphragm (primary muscle of relaxed breathing).
How to do it:
You can lay on your back or sit tall in your chair with your eyes open or closed, softly. Relax your jaw and tongue away from the roof of the mouth. Take an inhale and let the belly expand outwards, sending your breath down. On your exhale through your nose, slowly draw the belly button towards your spine. Elongate the breath to your comfort level. Repeat for 1-2 minutes.
This technique can be done to alleviate stress and anxiety, and learning how to breath more slowly with control. Only practice this if you feel comfortable holding your inhale for 7 seconds.
How to do it:
Lay down or sit tall in your chair with your eyes closed or open, softly. Relax your jaw and tongue away from the roof of the mouth. Inhale for 4 seconds (counts), holding the breath in for 7 counts. Slowly exhale for 8 counts out of your mouth. Repeat for 1-2 minutes, longer if desired.
November 13, 2020
Written by Tanner Hoffarth, Former Marketing Employee
Self-Care isn’t always easy and often can be something many put on the side burner. This list of 10 practical self-care ideas is a great way to get your foot in the door and begin to change course as we head into a busy season of the semester. Each idea listed below requires little time/effort but a lot of discipline. Let’s get started.
The first of many, and possibly the most important is sleep. With all of our crazy lifestyles, it seems that we “don’t have time for sleep”. By sleeping we are able to reset our bodies, regain our energy, retain memories better, and reduces stress.
Focusing on your gut is your next task. This can be done in multiple ways, but one of the best ways is staying hydrated and drinking a lot more water than you are right now. Doing this will boost skin health and beauty, flush toxins more quickly, and help maintain body temperature and blood pressure.
Learning about self-care is just as important as participating in it. With a better understanding of what to do, why you do it, and how to do it will boost the benefits through the roof.
Taking a nature walk/run has been my number one thing to do during the pandemic and is also a very beneficial idea for self-care. Not only are you exercising, but you are also getting some much-needed vitamin D.
Buy some house plants. House plants provide many different benefits from removing odors from the air, to providing oxygen, and adding a pop of color to your space.
Skin Care Routine
Create a skincare routine, wash your face daily, moisturize, and most of all where sunscreen. Trust me, you will still get tan.
Practice yoga. Yoga helps to restore not only the body but in a similar fashion the mind. Yoga is a great way to relieve stress promote sleep quality and improves heart health. The Group Ex Plus membership at LaHaye is the perfect way to get started with your yoga routine!
Find Your Hobby or Recover a Lost One
Did you grow up playing piano and haven’t touched one since moving to college? How about reading one book a month? Recovering a lost hobby or finding a new one encourages giving your brain a break from the life circumstances that are stressing you out. This also gives you something fun, with no goal to achieve or deadline, to look forward to throughout your week.
Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
I know what you’re thinking, you’d rather skip right over this point. But, hear me out. Caffeine has a number of benefits but also proves to be just as harmful. Being able to consume caffeine in a realistic manner and at good times of the day can help save you from most of its harmful effects. Scientific studies have shown that caffeine can help prevent many forms of cancer, improve memory, and the most commonly help with alertness and weight loss. However, living caffeine-free or even reducing your intake of caffeine can reduce anxiety, heart rate, and insomnia — leading to better sleep, greater focus, and better heart health.
The last and one of the most over-looked self-care practices is journaling. Creating a journal improves memory like many of the other self-care ideas. Journaling also serves as a great form of meditation, benefits creative expression, and helps set goals and track progress.
Self-care, in many ways, is another term for self-recognition. Through these exercises and ideas, you continue to learn more about yourself, through your emotions, health, and even down to your motivations and fears. Self-care isn’t selfish. It is taking care of your heart, mind, soul, and body so that you can better benefit those around you.
October 16, 2020
Written by Victoria Dissmore, Marketing Employee
Getting a good night’s sleep is an integral part of your overall health and wellbeing, especially as a student. You need that sleep to be able to focus in class and do your homework well. If you’re having trouble sleeping or want to get better, deeper sleep, check out these five tips for improving your sleep quality.
Dim Your Lights
Having lights on around you at night will delay your melatonin production, telling your body that it’s not time to sleep and making it harder to fall asleep at bedtime. Instead of turning all your lights on at full brightness, dim them if they have a dimmer switch or unscrew a couple of lightbulbs if it’s a multi-bulb light. Also consider completely turning off overhead lights and switching on a lamp that’s not as bright.
You can also light a few candles or hang string lights to set the mood in the evening so by bedtime you’re ready to fall asleep.
One more thing to note is that darkness is crucial for a good night’s sleep, so try to shut out as much light as possible. Blackout curtains might be a good investment if it’s bright outside your bedroom windows and be sure to close your bedroom door if there’s light out in your living area.
Stay Off Screens
You can dim your lights all you want but if you’re still looking at your bright, blue-light producing screens up until bedtime, you won’t be ready to fall asleep because your brain will still be wide awake. Try staying off your phone, tablet, and computer at least 90 minutes before bed.
If you must look at your screen devices, try turning on a yellow-orange filter like night shift mode for Apple products, and wear blue-light blocking glasses to prevent exposing your eyes to the harmful light.
Instead of watching Netflix or scrolling through Instagram before bed, try doing non-screen activities like…
- Doing a jigsaw puzzle
- Drawing or painting
- Coloring in a coloring book
- Doing a crossword puzzle
- Listening to a podcast
- Reading a traditional paper book, like your Bible!
Have a Consistent Bedtime
Studies suggest that in order to get the best sleep, you need to go to sleep at the same time every night. This will get your body into a rhythm so you can fall asleep better and wake up more refreshed. Similarly, it’s also important to wake up at the same time every morning so your body gets used to waking up at that time.
Avoid Certain Foods
The foods you eat before bed actually have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep, so here are some foods to avoid and why:
- Protein: protein takes a lot of energy to digest, and one of the amino acids in protein promotes brain activity which will keep you up into the night
- Dairy: avoid eating that late-night ice cream snack because the high fat content triggers a higher acid production in your stomach, leading to acid reflux or heartburn
- Celery: yes, celery is a healthy vegetable, but avoid this food before bed unless you want to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night
- Spicy food: these will get your blood pumping and raise your body temperature, neither of which are conducive to a good night’s sleep
Eat Certain Foods
If you are still hungry after dinner but before bedtime, try eating these types of foods instead:
- Protein + carbs: protein by itself might not be the best nighttime snack, but protein coupled with carbs, like almond butter with apple slices, will help stabilize your blood sugar levels for better sleep through the night
- Bananas: these yellow fruits contain lots of magnesium which is known to be relaxing for muscles and nerves
- Honey: just one teaspoon of honey before bed can stimulate melatonin production and shut off orexin, the hormone that makes you alert
- Oats: grab a bowl of oatmeal or granola for a bedtime snack rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, which encourages insulin and melatonin production
Give a few of these tips a try and you will notice your sleep quality improve!
October 2, 2020
Written by Victoria Dissmore, Marketing Employee
It can be hard to take a whole day to rest when you have homework piling up, but the Sabbath is an important spiritual discipline that will keep you from burnout while strengthening your relationship with God.
Taking a Sabbath doesn’t have to mean sitting around doing nothing or watching Netflix all day. The Sabbath is meant to be an enjoyable, restful time with the Lord, which should make you want to prioritize getting your homework done at other times.
Whatever day you choose to Sabbath, these suggested activities will give you a fun break from work to help you enjoy God and delight in the life He’s given you.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like Fall is the perfect baking season. Find a friend who lives on East or off-campus and get a few more friends together for an afternoon in the kitchen. Baking or cooking something simple is a way to spend quality time together doing a shared activity and enjoying each other’s company. And then you can eat whatever it is you made together!
Watch a Movie at the Theatre
There’s something special about going out to see a movie as opposed to watching one at home. You get to leave your worries outside, sit in comfy seats for at least two hours without the distraction of your phone, and you get to focus on just one thing. It’s also fun having a shared experience with the people around you.
This applies to seeing a theater performance or an orchestra concert, as well. Did you know that Lynchburg’s Regal is now open? Check out what movies they’re playing here.
Write Letters to Friends & Family
You could Facetime or email or text them, but writing letters is so much more special. Your friends and family members will appreciate the handwritten note in the mail, and the time you take to write it out will be refreshing for you, too.
Take a Day Trip
Sometimes you just need to get out of the Liberty bubble. There are so many places to explore in the surrounding area that would be a great place to drive to for the day. Try…
- Going on one of the many hikes near Lynchburg (i.e. Sharp Top, McAfee’s Knob)
- Visiting one of Virginia’s beautiful lakes (i.e. Lake Anna, Lake Moomaw)
- Exploring a nearby city (i.e. Roanoke, Charlottesville)
Go to a Local Sports Game
Obviously, this one might be a little tricky in 2020. But even if you’re not into sports, it can be fun to go out and cheer for a team! You could go to a Lynchburg Hillcats baseball game, or if you have any local friends with kids, you could ask to go with them to their kids’ sports game. And of course, you can go to one of Liberty’s many sports games, including club sports and intramurals.
There’s nothing like the wide-open starry sky to remind you that God is bigger than that paper you have to write or that test you have to study for. Try to find a spot on campus without too much light, but for a real view drive out to Liberty’s very own observatory just past the Liberty Mountain Equestrian Center.
Go for a Jog
Take a minute to appreciate the body God has given you and go for a jog! Getting your heart rate up and your blood circulating will be just the boost you need to get back to studying after your sabbath. You can also work out at our lovely LaHaye Rec & Fit Center. You can run, walk, lift weights, rock climb, play some basketball, swim some laps and more!
Just like writing letters to friends and family, journaling can also be refreshing, not to mention therapeutic. It’s a way to get all your thoughts and worries out of your head where you can process them and bring them to God. Writing with pen and paper is also a good way to rest your eyes from looking at screens all day.
Read a Book
You’re probably tired of reading for school but reading a good book for fun could be the rejuvenating break you need, especially a fantasy or realistic fiction novel. Sometimes it can even be fun to read a children’s chapter book, and it doesn’t take as much brain work as reading your textbooks.
Have you ever gone outside and just sat? No phone, no homework, maybe even by yourself? Sometimes it can be really refreshing to just sit with nature and breathe in the fresh air. Our very own Hydaway has lots of great spots to sit and relax with the God who created the nature you’re surrounded by.
March 23, 2020
Written By Lauren Stinner, Marketing Intern
Just a few weeks ago, the term “social distancing” had never even been a thought. If you are cooped up inside, try and get active for at least thirty minutes per day. In these coming days or weeks, there are some excellent ways that you can keep your body moving while social distancing yourself.
Find an At-Home Workout Routine
Luckily, in our day and age, finding workout resources on YouTube, the App Store, Pinterest and more is easier than ever. Keeping your body healthy and moving can help keep your mind sharp, as well as drive out any anxiety. Take what you usually do at a gym or outside and translate that into a workout you can do in the comfort of your own home!
Learn a New Dance
With the rise of TikTok, there are hundreds of new dances to learn. Not only does this create movement while being inside, but it can also be fun for others to do with you. If you are home with family and distancing yourself from public places and people, try and get your family members to learn a dance with you! This can create community within your living environment while just letting loose.
Go for a Walk
This might sound so simple, and that’s because it is! Fresh air can be so good for our bodies. Going for a brisk walk can help get you into a more positive headspace after being inside all day! Go alone or invite the family dog so it can get some energy out, too.
Learn Some Yoga Poses
Yoga can be an excellent way to clear your mind of any worry or fear. Go on YouTube and find some new yoga poses, or even a yoga routine that will be best for you. Find a quiet place in your home and practice these techniques. Maybe this means waking up before the rest of your family so you can start the day with peace and prayer!
Clean Your Living Space
Whether it’s your room, kitchen, bathroom, or any room in your home, right now couldn’t be a better time to clean, organize, and Marie Kondo your place. Try and find the most commonly touched items in your house and disinfect them. If you don’t have any disinfectant, look up some substitutes. You’d be surprised what household item can be used to get rid of germs (hydrogen peroxide, anyone?!). Be extra cautious of surfaces you touch, and go the extra mile when tidying up. Try to turn this into a game with your siblings or see what other chores you might be able to do that help you reach your move goal!
Challenge Your Friends
If you have an Apple watch, share your Activity with your friends who also have one! This will help keep each of you accountable and turn your move and exercise rings into a daily challenge with each other. Or, see what type of trends are happening on Instagram right now like the 10 push-up challenge!
All of these things can be useful tools while social distancing. The temptation to sit on the couch all day and binge watch Netflix shows is very real, but keeping your body moving will not only keep your immune system up, it will also keep you in shape for when life goes back to “normal”. Finally, lean into God with your fear, uncertainty, or anger you have in this new season at home miles away from your friends and trying to figure out online classes with your family around 24/7. Cling to the words of Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
February 21, 2020
Written By Lauren Stinner, Marketing Intern
As Christians, the weeks leading up to Easter can be a time of spiritual preparation. One of the ways you can prepare your heart in this season is by participating in Lent. The purpose of Lent is much like fasting; it takes something out of your everyday life and replaces it with time to grow in faith. This year, Lent starts on February 26th and ends on April 9th. As you approach this season of faith, think about what you can set aside in order to focus on your spiritual walk. As stated in our mission, Liberty Recreation Centers seeks to provide holistic well-being, and Lent is a perfect example of this. Here are some ways you can prepare for Lent.
Prepare Your Mind
The mid-semester stress is starting to set In, and it can be so easy to let other priorities crowd our heads. 1 Peter 1:13 says “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Setting aside a portion of your day to clear your mind can be beneficial in you walk with Christ. Meditation can help ease your stress, and activities like devotionals and yoga can be very helpful.
Prepare Your Body
Taking care of your health can be both physical and spiritual. 1 Timothy 4:8 says “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Taking care of your physical health can aid in your mental health. When you take care of your body, you are not only honoring yourself, but honoring God.
Prepare Your Heart
This is the most important because getting your heart in the right place to hear God in the season of Lent can mean so much. Job 11:13-19 says “If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins and leave all iniquity behind you.” When you choose what you will give up for Lent, make sure your intentions are pure. Although every person is born with a sinful nature, keeping you heart set on God assures you are on the path to righteousness.
Think of Something You Can Give Up to Honor God More.
For example, giving up coffee or a social media platform can eliminate something you are subconsciously dependent on and replace it with more of Jesus. Lent is a wonderful way to spend time in your walk with God. Use this season to better your relationships, change your mindset, and reflect on the sacrifice Christ made for you.
April 5, 2019
Lindsey Haithcock- Marketing Employee
Even though it may not feel like it quite yet, spring is officially here. Although Spring comes with warmer weather and beautiful scenery, it can be a busy time – and a sneezy time. Between trying to finish out the school semester, and getting allergies from the beautiful newly blossoming trees, it can be easy to forget about your self care.
Be sure to take time to refill your personal well with these spring self-care strategies:
Spring is the perfect time to clean both your physical space and your emotional space. It can be a time for you to let go of the things that don’t work for you anymore, like unhealthy diets or unhealthy habits. It can be a time for you to get rid of those clothes you haven’t worn in months, or those shoes you’ve been holding onto for far too long – getting rid of unused items can be extremely therapeutic. A clean space (and head space) makes all the difference.
There is something so special about getting out into the fresh air of spring and getting in some Vitamin D from the sun. It’s proven that these two things will be sure to lift your winter spirits. If you struggle with those pesky spring allergies – here are a couple tips that may help you:
- Plants release pollen early in the morning, so try to schedule activities after 10 a.m.
- Check the weather forecast for the predicted pollen count – if it’s high, take allergy medication before the symptoms start.
- Dry, windy days should be avoided if possible.
The weather is warming up, which tends to make us get out and make the most of the day. While it’s important to stay active and productive, it’s also important to rest. Sit outside with your friends, or find a quiet spot in your favorite park and start reading that book you’ve been wanting to read. Whatever is restful to you, do that.
Enjoy all of your spring work but remember these spring self-care strategies so that you can tackle them and feel refreshed. None of these have to take a ton of time out of your day, but it’s important to take some time each day for these things in order to keep your mind and body healthy. Check out our Self- Care Strategies Part 2 Workshop on April 18 if you’re interested in learning more about self-care practices.
March 22, 2019
Karolina Gawlak- Marketing Intern/ Member Services Manager
Yoga trains the mind and body, but in order to maximize your practice and feed your mind, you have to fuel your body the right way. Your body needs to be properly hydrated and fueled in order to make the most of your mat time. Here are a couple tips to help ignite your metabolism, improve your digestion, and regulate your emotions.
- Drink Plenty Of Water
A few hours before your yoga class make sure you come well-hydrated and avoid caffeinated products. If you had an intense yoga workout, chances are that you were sweating quite a bit. It is extremely important to drink plenty of water after your workout. Not only does water refuel and replenish your body with plenty of essential vitamins and nutrients, but it also hydrates your skin and muscles. If you are looking to enhance your digestion and neutralize AMA toxins, try this recipe:
- 3 thin slices of fresh ginger
- ¼ tsp. fennel
- ½ tsp. cumin
- 2 black peppercorns
- 2 sprigs of mint
Boil 8 cups of water and add the herbs, allow it to steep. Enjoy.
- Post-yoga Nutrition
To keep your soreness to a minimum after a yoga workout, try eating plenty of foods that have high levels of protein. While some may turn to boneless chicken or tuna for their protein, there are plenty of other choices. For example, two tablespoons of peanut butter will give you eight grams of protein. Get some low-fat crackers and spread some peanut butter on them for a healthy post yoga snack. You can also use apples and bananas if you don’t have any low-fat crackers. Another great option is to make a smoothie with fruit, greens and chia or hemp seeds.
Make the most of your yoga practice, and prepare for our upcoming workshops!
February 12, 2019
Ashley Mauzy- Marketing Intern
For many of us, recreational activities are meant to bring forth emotional enjoyment from heavy routine schedules. But unfortunately, physical activities that we usually consider to be fun and enjoyable can sometimes be taken in by that dreadful trap that we call, competition.
We’ve all been there. You’re sitting at the gym near your lifting station, scanning the room to see what you want to hit next. Then out of the corner of your eye you notice someone hitting their lift with way more weight. You know what comes next. Feelings of envy kick in. Questions of, “why can’t I do that? Or, “why am I not good at this?” kick in. You doubt yourself and your ability to do what you enjoy doing. You that you are stuck in the comparison trap. Whether it comes to fitness or any other recreational activity, the comparison trap can become one of your worst enemies. So, here are some truths and tips that you can tell yourself when you feel this way:
1. Realize that comparisons strain us of our joy.
Comparison, like many other innate thoughts, is pretty much a lost battle. Comparison to others will bring no benefit to you and will only distract you from what your meaning of life is. A way to start battling this strain is to be good to yourself. Find joy in the things that you do by focusing on the joy that you had when you started recreation. Don’t let others take away the enjoyment you have with your activities.
2. You are YOU.
You may hear this a lot, but it’s very true. You are a unique individual. Just like everyone else, you have unique talents that only you possess. So when you compare yourself to someone else, you cannot say that you can properly compare yourself. There is just no possible way that your gifts and contributions to society can be compared. Know that you have your strengths and weaknesses as well as anyone else in the same room.
3. Seek the Lord over seeking thoughts of others.
God commands us as his children to seek his approval over other people. God only wishes for us to seek him, so why do we waste so much of our time seeking approval from the wrong source? Take note from the apostle Paul in Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of Man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man. If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Paul knew that he would not gain satisfaction from gazing his focus on man, so he instead looked towards God. Look towards God when you are faced with comparison and realize that He is overall the most important.
Competition itself isn’t a bad thing. But the way you channel the competitive energy matters. So, consider self-competition. Set goals for yourself every time you start your activities. Try to beat your own personal records and find confidence in those small victories.
January 17, 2019
Lindsey Haithcock- Marketing Employee
The cold-weather months can take a toll on your mental health, so it’s extremely important to carve out time for yourself. The days are shorter and the weather is colder. The holidays are over, and suddenly it feels like an eternity until the next break or warm weather. While some of us enjoy the aspects of spring, summer, and fall, winter just seems to be more of “love it or hate it” season. Whether you’re managing seasonal depression, or new-semester stresses, effective self-care strategies to get you through the winter months can make all the differences in how you feel as the months drag on.
Here are 5 winter self-care strategies to help to get you through these ever-so-frosty winter months:
1. Get some sun!
Getting outside is important all year, but especially during the winter months. Vitamin D is crucial for the health of our bones. The lack of sunlight can also negatively affect your mood. Pushing yourself to layer up and go for a run outside, a walk, vitamin D supplements, or even buying special lights for your dorm / apartment can make all the difference.
2. Leave the house
Going to the gym can help you connect with others while also boosting your health on several levels. Exercise is amazing for your body – it helps combat stress, and it gets you out when you’re feeling tempted to lay in bed and watch another episode of that show on Netflix. Getting to the gym may be a challenge, but we have so many options to get you active and motivated – check out our workshops!
Use the inclement weather and early nights to start a new hobby. Try something you’ve been wanting to try, or enjoy time to yourself. Creating something by yourself or with friends is proven to boost your mood, decreases feelings of loneliness, and improves your overall sense of well-being. Do something you’re passionate about. Invite some friends over to paint, go on a photoshoot, whatever you like to do – do that.
4. Swap comfort foods for wholesome foods
When winter leaves us feeling low in energy and mood, it can be tempting to turn to comfort food, only to feel worse later on. If this applies to you, notice what you’re craving and dig deeper: what is the true need underneath this feeling? While some foods can be coping strategies, other kinds can be genuine self-care. Make time to nourish yourself from the inside out, and help your immune system fight off the colds and flu that surround this time of year.
5. Get comfortable!
Whatever self-care means to you – do that. Read a book, buy new fuzzy socks or a new blanket, light a candle, listen to your favorite songs – Insert your favorite way to take care of your physical and metal wellness here. Maybe get a few indoor plants to remind yourself that nature will bloom again soon.
You’ve got this!