Here’s How You Can Sleep Well Even if You Have Back Pain

Getting to sleep is hard for many of us. Let alone trying to get to sleep with pain. Here are some ideas to help you get to sleep and stay asleep if you suffer with back pain.

Guest Post by: Cheryl Conklin of WellnessCentral.info

Back pain is one of the leading causes of sleep issues. You can’t get comfortable, don’t get restful sleep, and have problems that carry over into the morning. It can make you fatigued and lead to other health issues. Whether you wake up with back pain or you’re heading to bed in pain from a long day of working your muscles, there are many things that can help you manage your back pain. These include medicine, physical therapy, and surgery. However, there’s also one surprising way that’s been proven in a study to be of potential benefit.

Apps May Be the Answer

The study was conducted in early 2019 and showed that participants with back pain that used a management app for 12 weeks found more relief than those that didn’t. Does this mean apps are the answer? It couldn’t hurt. With that in mind, here are a few apps to start with to see if they can help with your back pain and related issues. 

Stretching Before Bed

Stretching before bed is one of the best things you can do to release any pent up tension or aches and pains you’re feeling in your back. It will help relax the muscles so you’ll sleep better. With apps like 6 Minute Back Pain Relief, which is a gentle workout program that helps to reduce your back pain or Yoga for Back Pain, which uses yoga poses made specifically to reduce back pain, improve flexibility, and stretch your muscles. 

Relaxation Apps 

One way to reduce your pain is to reduce your tension. That can be achieved by relaxing your mind and body before falling asleep. Just like stretching and yoga are meant to help, so is meditation. With Headspace, you can learn to meditate, live mindfully, get expert advice from a former monk, and enjoy themed sessions, including stress reduction, sleep-enhancing, focus improvement, and anxiety relief.

Diary Apps

Recording how you’re feeling will help you better track your back pain so that you can determine any patterns and share results with your doctor. With CatchMyPain, an intelligent pain diary app that helps you track your pain, you can even connect to similar patients and trade tips. The app also provides a body model that lets you draw where your pain is and label the intensity of your pain. You can also track your happiness, stress, and fatigue, record your medication intake, and much more. It’s the perfect way to help you track what’s happening with your pain. 

iTens Device

TENS devices are made to provide pain relief stimulation to areas that are experiencing pain. TENS devices work by sending tiny electrical signals through your skin, which intercept pain signals and keep them from reaching your brain. They’re used by athletes for pain relief and faster recovery. iTENS is an app-controlled version of this device that can help you get over your back pain. With customizable settings, you can use it on various body parts and pain levels. With the app, you can control these settings and even be able to track your results after each session. iTENS can be used on your ankle, knee, wrist, back, and shoulders. 

One Last Thing

Using apps on your phone overnight (or even your smartwatch) can run the battery down. In addition, some apps require the use of your plan’s data. Running them overnight could eat up your data and lead to overage charges. You can avoid this by looking into unlimited phone service plans, which will give you more data to explore apps that will bring you a better night’s sleep. Either way, giving yourself the tools you need to overcome sleep issues is a good start. 

Although back pain can disrupt your life, there are steps you can take to help alleviate some of that pain. And while you might not be able to eliminate it altogether, you can find ways to give yourself some reprieve to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Image provided by guest author, Cherly Conklin via Pixabay

Veggie Omelet, Tomatoes, and Kale

Want a healthy and easy breakfast? Look no further! Lots of veggies, protein, and healthy fats in this meal.

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly, my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy

Ingredients:

  • Eggs: 2-3/ person
  • Avocado: 1
  • Tomato: 1/2 per person
  • Potatoe: 1/2 per person
  • Broccoli: 1/4-1/2 cup per person
  • Onion: 1/4 cup per person
  • Mushrooms: 1/4 per person
  • Cilantro: for garnish
  • Chives: for garnish
  • Kale: 1/2 – 1 cup per person
  • Olive Oil: for sauté and to dress the kale
  • Salt & Pepper: to taste

The Cooking Part …

I am not great at making omelets so this picture is an important one in my cooking skills.

Shred the potatoes. In an ovenproof pan coat with oil and lay potatoes in. Bake at 350 while you work on the rest. Chop the broccoli, onion, mushrooms. I usually use a little olive oil to saute the onion to translucent. Then add broccoli. Let onion and broccoli saute to soften. Finally, the mushroom to warm and blend flavors.

While the onion and broccoli are sauteing I scramble 2 eggs (per person). after adding all vegetables to blend, add the scrambled eggs. Allow eggs to surround veggies and “set up”. If you have an omelet pan use it. I do not and have to improvise.

Here’s how I do it: As the egg gets firm around the middle of the pan, use a spatula to gently lift the edges and allow liquid egg to move below the bottom layer. Be careful so you are not burning a part of the eggs, but not moving it so much that you tear the set layers. In the end, if you do, it becomes a veggie scramble rather than an omelet. Still tastes the same 🙂 When the egg is set enough you can fold it over and remove it from heat.

While the egg is setting I rip the kale, slice tomatoes, and chop avocado. Just watch the egg and attend to the omelet as you go. As the eggs finish, I remove the potatoes from the oven, add a little oil to the egg pan and fry each side of the hashbrown to make them crunchy. Sometimes I run out of time for this and do not want my eggs to get cold. Then I just skip this step.

Plate. Garnish with cilantro and avocado, sprinkle oil on the kale, salt, and pepper. Serve and enjoy.

What to serve with …

I am not a vegetarian so I often add cheese, bacon, ham, or whatever leftovers we have that might go good with eggs. I have been known to use the leftover pizza toppings as the omelet guts. I use a variety of veggies depending on what is in the fridge including cauliflower, carrots, and spinach.

Yoga & Psychology. Looking Closer at Maya and Samskaras

When you think about psychology, do you ever consider that yoga has a lot to say about the study of the mind? Two of my favorite overlaps are Maya and Samskaras. The ancients knew a thing or two about what it means to be conscious and intentional about living a full and embodied life.

Over the last year I have been diving back into yoga. It has been a long time since I looked at the ancient texts. Last year I chose to deepen my understanding of yoga philosophy. I re-read Light on Life, Light on Yoga, dove back into the sutra translations, and the Yoga Pradipika. In my world of somatic psychology the research on yoga is flowing. I attended the United States Body Psychotherapy Association conference in 2018 and attended a number of sessions on the interplay between yoga and psychotherapy. All this exploration brought me back to why I have never given up this practice. 

Over the years I have been a yogini, a yoga teacher, a yoga enthusiast, and sometimes even considered quitting the practice for the newer shiner object in the group exercise world. But I never did. Sometimes I did not even know why I continued to practice. Sometimes it felt flat, other times energizing. I continued to pay attention. Then in early 2018, my friend and yoga teacher, Sarah Klein asked me to work with her on a project to explain the psychological overlays of the ancient yoga philosophies. The path was set and we began a journey into what is yoga and why does it work. 

Although I think the answer to this question is vast, I do have a better understanding of why yoga works and why it works differently than other avenues of fitness. I began to look at yoga from the orientation of psychology. When I was 5 I asked my mom why people do what they do. She laughed and said because they do. I decided I would figure that out. I have found my yoga study to be similar. A big undertaking with so much possibility that determining exactly why becomes muddled. It gets lost. The concrete answers become less fascinating than all the interplays between possibilities. This is the marker of a great system. Something so simple, yet so vast at the same time. 

As I continue to read, relate, and connect the dots between these two worlds I am amazed at the wisdom the ancient practitioners brought to the world. I find myself drawn to understanding Maya and Samskaras the most. No surprise as I address them both in my psychology practice everyday. 

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Maya is the lens we wear to view the world. As a psychologist I work to help people see that what they might think is not always reality. That they can change perception and shift emotional states for something more positive and suiting to them. 

In yoga we come to the mat to explore these lenses. How do I talk to myself about my practice, my ability to maintain the pose, my role in the room with others? We overtly ask ourselves to challenge our belief patterns. 

I see this work in other group exercise classes however the intention is different, the study much more narrow, and the focus shifted to aspects of being according to the class format. In yoga we turn the lens away from how many reps, sets, and weight lifted to the inner landscape of being. This self study helps shift our view of ourselves in the world and our view of the way the world is. Thus, we have an opportunity to engage differently. We can begin to create the world we want with clarity versus the world we were handed through culture, community, and limiting self beliefs. And it all happens through our embodied experience of being. 

Samskaras are those things that get in our way. They are the experiences and slights we have experienced in our past. They hook us, trigger us, and keep us stuck in old ruts repeating patterns of being over and over. These little knots are caught in our nervous system. They are part of our learning that says “danger, don’t do that again”. However, if we honestly look at them, often they are outdated old messages about a particular situation and not the one we are living in now. With study and careful attention to our experiences we can release them and find new patterns to engage our lived experiences. Ones that are more healthy for us. Ones we want rather than what we got. To me, the study of these two focal points is critical to creating your life vision. 

This is the message of yoga – it is all union and we are all one. Connected beyond what we can see yet individual in our experiences of self and others. This is the simplicity of yoga – we are all one. Yet the complexity of yoga – having an individual experience.


If you find this work interesting and want to join Sarah and I on a deeper study of The Integration of Yoga and Psychology, please do.  

Deepen your own practice, help your students and clients deepen their experiences of self, others, and spirit too. We teach what we need, don’t we? And it somehow fits what others need as well. 

Click Here To View FREE Online Class: The Integration of Yoga & Psychology. Wisdom Informs, Science Explains.

The Integration of Yoga & Psychology. Wisdom Informs, Science Explains

6-Week Course. Plus, get 31 Yoga Alliance CEUs

There is so much to learn. If you want a couple of guides with over 25 years of yoga practice experience, join Sarah and I. The full class starts soon. 


If you are feeling like you need to deepen your own understanding of self in the therapy room, visit my practice website at www.stacyreuille.com 

4 Health Tweaks You Can Easily Introduce to Your Daily Routine

Are you looking at 2020 wondering how you will implement changes to your health goals? Feeling overwhelmed already? This year look to simplify changes by making small tweaks in your current routines and add little increments to your health behaviors for maximum success.

Guest Post By: Jennifer McGregor

Well-intentioned health goals are a dime a dozen. Everyone always has something that they want to achieve, whether it’s losing 20 pounds or running a 5K. For many, reducing stress is also a compelling objective, especially those in high-stress occupations like caregivers. Regardless of what your goals are, know that it takes more than just good intentions to meet them; you need action, too. Thankfully, with strategic tweaks here and there, you, too, can incorporate solid health practices into your daily routine. Here are a few to get you started.

Choose the good.

The fulfillment of any health goal invariably starts with one thing—making good choices. In fact, mindfulness is known to not just improve your physical health, but also your mental well-being, too. 

No doubt, the thing that particularly benefits from this is your diet. The practice of mindful eating means listening to your body’s signals—that is to say, eating when you’re hungry as opposed to bored and knowing when to stop. Not only that, but it also means consciously choosing to consume food that’s healthy and nourishing, cutting back on processed food rich in sodium and sugar, which would be particularly beneficial to caregivers prone to stress and conditions like hypertension. Another way to eat healthier (and less) is to order healthy options from a meal delivery service because with pre-measured ingredients, you can control portion sizes

Beyond just your diet, being mindful means making choices that truly serve you and your body, too. This can be as simple as going to bed an hour earlier to get more quality shut-eye, or even taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Move with intention.

Of course, regular physical activity is a must for just about any health goal. And it’s hard not to see why with the many known benefits of movement. Its physical perks such as weight loss and improved immune and lymphatic systems—to name just a few—are common knowledge, but even more interestingly, movement also enhances brain health, elevates your mood, and reduces stress.

While the idea of movement inevitably brings to mind exercise, there are other ways to go about it, too. This could be anything from stretching to dancing to gardening. Indeed, simply being on your feet will already do wonders to your well-being holistically, so it’s great practice, therefore, to always make it a point to move.

Prioritize relaxation.

As rewarding a vocation as caregiving is, it also leaves you vulnerable to feelings of overwhelm and frustration, making caregiver stress a real problem. This is why it’s doubly important for caregivers to make relaxation and stress management a priority. 

Doubtless, the easiest way to go about this is to introduce relaxation techniques to your routine, such as meditation and deep breathing. It’s also a good idea to make it a point to go on a break and take time to do something you love, like reading or pursuing a hobby. Going on vacation is another way to relax. Even a staycation in your own city will do wonders for your overall well-being. 

Allow indulgence.

In the same vein as taking downtime, you should also give yourself a license to indulge from time to time, as long as you make it worthwhile. For example, partaking in your daily red wine is one indulgence that’s really good for you as red wine is chock full of antioxidants that protect you from a plethora of diseases, as well as anxiety and depression. Hiring a health and lifestyle coach is another, as you could certainly benefit from a customized health plan, plus it helps to have someone hold you accountable.

Suffice it to say, health goals are just ideals when you don’t have concrete steps to follow through on them. Thankfully, being healthier need not be earth-shattering. So start making small changes and see the difference.

Photo Provided by Author: Jennifer McGregor via Upslpash.com. Image URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/VKnjdEesFxw ~ Image Credit: Photo via Unsplash.com

Plyo-Dumbbell Total Body Shred

To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.

This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.

Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.

Workout Basics and Warm Up

Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work portion.

When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.

If you are unclear about a movement, look it up (Check out my YouTube Tutorials Here). There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.

The Workout

The first portion of the workout consists of a metoblic fat burning time set. Do each movement for 1 minute as many/hard as you can, then rest for 30 seconds. Move the next exercise. Do this whole set 2x through.

  • Compass Jumps
  • Plank Spider Walks
  • Rocket Girls
  • Bear Crawl
  • High Skip Traveling Jumps
  • Plank Rockers

The next portion includes a dumbbell matrix. With each DB move use the abdominals to rotate while lifting. It is important to have good form here. Go slower and lighter on the weight until you feel strong enough to hold good form. You’ll do one DB exercise followed by a 30-second plank hold in between each DB movement. Do the whole group 2x through.

  • Rotate and overhead press
  • Rotating bicep curl with alternating leg backward lunge
  • Alternating uppercuts with isometric plié squat
  • Narrow squats with Y overhead press
  • Frontal to lateral should raise
  • T-Burpees

The third portion of the workout is all about balancing out your core strength. Do these exercises 2x through then congratulate yourself and stretch!

  • Bicycle curls
  • Supermans with cactus arm pull-downs
  • Upper to lower body curls
  • Quadruped opposite elbow to knee curls and extensions

Finish Strong

YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.

Words of Caution …

Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.