Self-Care Tips From Contributors

From PHN Issue 43, Fall 2020

My Daily Health and Fitness Program
By Aging Graciously

My daily health and fitness program is simple, easy, and doable. I borrowed it from a Loma Linda University health article and would like to share it with you. It’s the acronym “NEW START”:

N is for NUTRITION: Eat your vegetables, fruits, and hot cereals on your food tray, along with your healthy snacks in your lunch box such as almonds and dried fruit

E is for EXERCISE, ENERGIZE: Walk, stretch, jog, move around

W — drink your required amount of WATER: This is mandatory

S — get your 30 minutes of SUNSHINE: Get outdoors

T — be TEMPERATE: Don’t overdo anything; use moderation

A — get fresh AIR: Early morning is best

R — get your REST: Sleep your 8 hours

TTAKE TIME for prayer and meditation

Every day is a brand new day—a new start.

Workout Tips & Routines for Native Bros in Solitary Confinement
By Joshua O’Connor aka “Apache”

Being in solitary confinement can be challenging, lonely, and depressing. One thing you can do is to use workouts and routines to keep you strong.

Stretches: Do stretches when you first wake up. Trust me, do this every day and it will help your muscles so much. You’re locked in your cell 24 hours a day—it is vital you stretch.

The best workout you can do is burpees. It’s a great total body, cardio workout and important when you are in a small cell. I personally do 28 down burpees, then 28 up. You do 28 burpees, then 27, all the way to one. Then, you can reverse and increase them (one, two, three…) to 28.

How to Do a Burpee

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, weight in your heels, and your arms at your sides.
  • Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body into a squat.
  • Place your hands on the floor directly in front of, and just inside, your feet. Shift your weight onto your hands.
  • Jump your feet back to softly land on the balls of your feet in a plank position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to heels. Be careful not to let your back sag or your butt stick up in the air, as both can keep you from effectively working your core.
  • Jump your feet back so that they land just outside of your hands.
  • Reach your arms overhead and explosively jump up into the air.
  • Land and immediately lower back into a squat for your next rep.
  • Form tip: Avoid “snaking” the body off the ground by lifting the chest first and leaving the hips on the ground when raising the body back up off the floor.

Luckily, this move is super versatile and can be tailored to any fitness level. To make a burpee easier, move into a plank position by stepping, rather than jumping, your feet behind you. To make a burpee more challenging, you can add a push-up to the plank position or add a knee tuck to the jump. You can also perform the entire burpee on just one leg (then switch sides and do on the opposite leg).

I do 28 because it’s a sacred number. Twenty-eight is the number of ribs in the buffalo. Be sure to keep your core tight when you do this. Overall, you will be doing 812 burpees in this workout.

  • Leg Workouts: A great leg workout is 28 down jumping-down squats (go down like a normal squat then jump back up, having your feet leave the ground.) Then, do 28 down lunges. After that, do 11 sets of 11 step-ups off of your bunk or stool. Finish by doing four sets of 100 calf raises. I do eleven sets because it spells “Native Pride,” and I do four sets because that equals the total number of seasons.
  • Arm Curls: If you want to do arm curls, try rolling up your mattress and curl with both hands, or use your pillowcase filled with books.
  • Push-ups: Instead of always doing regular push-ups, try Navy Seal one-armed push-ups or incline/decline pushups. (You can do this simply by doing incline/decline off of your bunk or desk.)
  • Iron Eagles: Last great workout is something I created, called “Iron Eagles.” I do 28 full Iron Eagles for a great chest workout. One Iron Eagle consists of 10 regular push-ups, 5 one-armed Navy Seal push ups, and 5 burpees.

Managing Self-Care in Peer Support

By Rodney Derrickson, certified peer specialist and Wellness Recovery Action Plan

Editor’s note: This article was originally written for people who offer peer support. Peer support programs are facilitated by people in prison who are trained to help other incarcerated people going through mental health challenges—but we think the writer’s self-care tips can be useful to anyone.

Managing self-care in peer support is a priority that must not be overlooked. How can we provide support to anyone when our own self-care is not in check? As Certified Peer Specialists, it is necessary that we maintain and manage our self-care.

It is essential to work on self-care because we don’t have any checks or balances in self-care, peer support can become counter-productive to maintaining overall mental wellness. Maintain control and awareness over your self-care by taking it one-day-at-a-time. Take time out to reevaluate, reassess, and readjust triggers.

Maintain self-awareness of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Utilize the four components of self care: the physical, a type of exercise; the psychological, doing something to relax; the emotional, how to cope and express your feelings; and the spiritual, understanding your purpose and drawing from a greater power!

Having awareness of these four components of self-care will help better support ourselves as well as others. Remember, we are not perfect and we’ll have bad days, but make the bad days an exception and not the rule. Maintaining a balance is key!

Have a little “me time.” Take time from each week to relax, read a good book, exercise, get the necessary professional, emotional, and spiritual support as needed. Have a little fun, and try to laugh more. This will help immensely.

Challenge yourself to do a little more each day to achieve a successful mental wellness. Once we have awareness of self-care and the tools used for empowerment, our service becomes motivational and inspiring to others.

Take care of the most urgent priorities first, i.e., you! This will help maintain your overall wellness and self-care. Once our self-care is in check, our peer support will help empower those who seek our service to take control of their own self-care and wellness. Isn’t this what peer support is all about?

Acupressure Points for Stress and Pain Relief

Jaan Laaman, shiatsu therapist, anti-imperialist political prisoner

Editor’s note: Acupressure is a practice that is part of traditional Chinese medicine. Acupressure is done by using the fingers or thumbs to apply pressure to different places on the body to help alleviate pain or other symptoms, like nausea or tension.

There are hundreds of acupressure points on the body, but let me describe three of them that could be helpful to you for many types of headaches and stress or tension.

For headaches: The point right in the middle of the web of skin on the top of your hand between the thumb and first or index finger. With your opposite thumb, firmly press this area. Inhale fully and as you exhale and press this point while holding the pressure. Inhale and exhale again and hold this point—do it at least four times on both hands. Your headache should slowly start to ease away.

For stress or tension (headaches too): Two points, first just above your nose between your eyebrows, use your thumb and firmly press in and up. The second point is the “crown point”—the very highest point on your head. Press down firmly on this point, again on your exhale. You can also press the crown point as you simultaneously press the point between your eyebrows.

Finally I would also urge everyone to learn yoga. It is a good physical workout, and it also keeps you focused “in the moment.” Yoga also includes meditation—definitely do this too—try it and relax. Stay healthy, stay positive. Freedom is a constant struggle!

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