Stretching & Stress

Stretching & Stress

When you see a cat doing an outrageous stretch that makes you chuckle, you may not realize these stretches are important for its health. Likewise, regularly stretching your own muscles improves flexibility; prevents muscle stiffness, strain and soreness; and leaves you feeling refreshed.

Because stretching improves blood flow throughout your body, it’s important for muscular health, and it’s the cheapest way to relieve stress. Taking just 15 minutes out of your day to stretch can be incredibly therapeutic — both for your muscles and your mental well-being.

If you sit in front of a computer most of the day, you not only face the mental stresses of your day, you can build up extreme tension in your back, neck and shoulder muscles. It’s important to take a few minutes every couple of hours to stretch — you’ll feel more productive and alert, and you’ll feel less stress.

Here’s a simple stretch you can do in your office to relieve tension and stress. Stand with your feet together and your arms at your side. Slowly exhale, and bend your body at the waist allowing your head and arms to hang loosely toward the ground (your upper body should be completely relaxed, as though your arms, neck, shoulders and torso have “gone limp”). Stay in that position until you have completely exhaled the air from your lungs. As you inhale, slowly stack one vertebra on top of another to stand up straight. When you get to your shoulder area, gently roll your shoulders back and very slowly straighten your neck until your head is upright. Then slowly exhale through your mouth. Not only does this simple stretch refresh all parts of your body, it encourages proper posture and opens your chest cavity for optimal breathing.

It’s important to listen to your body as you stretch. If a particular motion is painful, make the necessary modifications so you don’t over-exert yourself. Keep at it, because the more you stretch, the easier it gets, and the more flexible you’ll become. (Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.)

Help Animals in Need

cute-kittenweeeThe ASPCA was founded in 1866 as the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere. The Society was formed to alleviate the injustices animals faced then, and we continue to battle cruelty today. Whether it’s saving a pet who has been accidentally poisoned, fighting to pass humane laws, rescuing animals from abuse or sharing resources with shelters across the country, we work toward the day in which no animal will live in pain or fear. Learn more about the ASPCA »
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The Key

buffalo2007_page_25_image_0001The Key

Jacob Vinson

I feel as though I am in a room of mirrors, yet instead of my own image being in them, I see several different people- several different aspects of my personality. I see the happy, the sad, the downright evil, and even the unrelenting kindness that I try to portray- as well as my many other moods and personality traits. I wonder how all of these attributes could possibly come together into one human being. Behind my grin, my frown, my smirk, and my warming smile, I see locked doors, all with compelling decorations adorning them. My smirk is the most noticeable mirror, taunting me to just give up and fail, fall into the darkness, and disappear.

I have the key to one of these doors- unfortunately, I don’t know where it fits, but I am certain it is for a door that will open and leave me facing in awe at the radiant beauty inside- a passageway that will finally set me in my place. When I pass through it, I’m sure that I will be totally and forever content with my life. When I do find this door, I will shun the bad things that my past has wrought, hold on to the good things and glide freely into the abysmal yet radiant gateway.

It sounds so nice, but realistically to accomplish a path to my correct setting, I must go through my life, morally face all of my emotions, and continue on my worldly journey for happiness. They say the journey creates the man, as does the man create the journey, and every journey begins and ends. It has its ups and downs, from seeing loved ones thrive, and others tragically perish. A journey also includes seeing nations fall and rise like the seasons, seeing the flowers blossom, grow and die, seeing the sun, feeling the rain, breathing the cold winter air, but never in vain– all in a seemingly magical and wondrous cycle.

The vanity of vanities would be to live one’s entire life without purpose, and I will fight to make sure that my own life does not end up this way. I have the key- that much is certain- and I pray that along the journey I may pick up clues that will eventually guide me to the end of my voyage- to a door in which my key fits.

As I said, every journey ends- some unfortunately end badly, but others end well. I have the power to control my destiny. I have the power to defeat the pessimism that is in my heart and soul- to destroy that demeaning smirk behind my hazel eyes and change it into a warm and calm smile- a smile that is content- for then I will no longer need a key- I will have found the place to which I belong, and in that moment, with relief, everything will be clear.

With life being so unpredictable, the two things that I would want most would to be able to live my life clearly and contently- to never have to worry if I’ve taken the wrong step, to never regret the choices that I have made, and to never doubt my next move. One day I will be free from the tangling grasp of anxiety and depression.

With the key held firmly to my heart, I press on.

Flow

My paranoid aura is beginning to fade beyond my calming yet manic eyes- as I divulge into worlds unknown, tearing apart my world from above, analyzing my flaws and faults upon a melancholy backdrop of sky and ocean. The stars shine and glimmer about, flashing through unknown waters- below the vast seas I travel, wanting to feel the radiance of the sun, wanting to hear more than silence, wanting to forget my ghostly past, just wanting- just flowing in a monsoon of thoughts and worries- going with the flow.

No one tells you that the flow isn’t actually a flow at all. It’s a blowing, ferocious storm, and it is a part of you. Once you decide to let it control you, it will certainly do so. The earth is beautiful, but society is not. Take people off of the earth, and you have a living, growing – thriving world – a world that shines, smiles, and rebounds from its own storms. You put people on those shores, and let them fight against the wind and rain, against storms and hurricanes, and you are eventually left with chaos.

However, it’s not the people’s fault that they live where they do when these horrid things happen. It’s just life. It’s unforgiving, it’s cruel; it’s life – just life. We make life choices that change how we live, where we live, what we have- usually not what others have, and that is one of our greatest flaws. It’s all about us, not about anyone else. We close our eyes and turn away from the truth that some unfortunate people have to face. We refuse to volunteer our time and money to help something or someone that is in a less-than-fortunate situation. Why? It doesn’t benefit our income, our way of life, or our possessions.

Luckily, some people do see the truth- the truth that it’s not about what we have, it’s about what all of us have, and until we agree to come together- to fight, breath, and live as one, then we fail to improve our morality and our purity, and continue to dive into the realm of poverty and economic and global stress. Since we choose to live on this earth, shouldn’t we do something to help, just one little thing- just something?

My eyes close as I end writing that thought, still thinking, still flowing. Although hard, I’m trying to make as much sense of this world as I can. The world is so beautiful in a lot of ways, but so horrible in others. It’s just life, but hopefully the beauty will have its day to shine above the darkness that lies within. Perhaps the good will defeat the evil completely. Until then, I live on in a motionless torment, below the sky and sea, yet above everything. One day I’ll walk on a beach of pure white and sun- when the fight is fought and when the fight is won, or lost- depending on which side you’re on.

Regardless, it’s always darkest before the dawn, and the dawn sprouts life and warmth, which will heal us all, and perhaps bring us together for good. But, who knows, everything is chance, and in a world of chance, it’s hard to find motivation to live. That’s just my opinion, but I am optimistic that things will change for the good, and I’ll find my place somewhere in the world one day, once I’m out of this unforgiving flow. Time is the only thing that can heal us, yet it’s also the only thing that can kill us.

Time is almost as unforgiving as the flow of life, but it’s the only thing that you can count on to be there, when everything else stops, when your heart skips a beat, time still moves on, and it’ll bring you where you’re supposed to be. So just live for yourself, live for others, live for improvement, just live. Everything will figure itself out in the end. When the storm is over, you’ll land where you belong.