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For some of us, winter is a much needed break and the part of farming we see as necessary down time. For others, the only thing that gets us through winter is looking forward to spring. And when that time of year comes, when a gardener’s thoughts turn to digging, planting and preparing the garden for the bounty of summer, she’ll put away the seed catalogs, buy a new pair of gloves and get back into the gardening swing of things.

The response to going full-on like that is likely to be “Ouch!” as muscles and joints used to lazy days by the fire are called back into action. According to chiropractors, the most common injuries involve the back and a significant number of these injuries occur while gardening – and after the winter lull these injuries spike among gardeners.

It’s not surprising because gardening – even on a balcony – involves a lot of bending and heavy lifting. Ceramic and concrete pots, soil and compost, and various items of garden furniture are just some of the hazards gardeners face. Unless you can hire a team, it usually means stress on your body. And a body that hasn’t been warmed up to the task is likely to protest very loudly.

One way to keep in shape and avoid injury is to join a gym during the winter months and work some weights. Keeping limber and fit will mean you won’t be imposing unexpected strain on inactive muscles and joints. Another safety tip is to learn to lift weights correctly while squatting down and using your legs – not your back – to raise heavy objects off the ground. If this is hard on your knees, be sensible – get a two-wheeled trolley to move heavy things or call on someone to assist you. Being stubborn and insisting on doing it yourself could lead to a visit to the chiropractor – and this is already their busiest time of year.

Another hazard is repetitive strain injury, which doesn’t just affect office workers at their desks. It can be caused by any task that forces the body to maintain a single ask for hours. Bending over a rake or a shovel without respite puts a gardener at serious risk of repetitive strain injury. Kneeling in the flower beds digging holes with a hand trowel and planting seedlings has the same effect with added strain on your knees and wrists

It is essential to keep changing and varying tasks so that there is no repetitive strain on the body. Fortunately, gardening offers many ways to do this. Do some standing tasks like potting up seedlings and use a padded kneeler for planting seedlings in the ground. You can do away with kneeling altogether, saving long-term damage to your knees, by putting in raised garden beds. But again, do not spend all your time in the garden bending over the plants. Take frequent breaks and take time to have a good stretch.

If you can’t get to a gym to warm up for spring, find some good warm-up exercises on the internet and make sure you do at least 10 minutes before you start gardening. It will be worth it to know you have lessened your chances of falling foul of a garden injury, so you will be able to enjoy the results of working in your garden all year round.

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Mind Over Matter: Your Beliefs and Your Appearance

The law of attraction has become a popular topic in books, films and journalism as well as amongst “alternative” thinkers. It’s fashionable nowadays to say that we draw all of our life experiences to us energetically, and that our energy is created through the focus of our thoughts. What is not so often pointed out, however, is that this “law” applies even to something as intimate as our bodily image, our physical appearance.

If we constantly influence our external environment with our thoughts and feelings, then clearly the closest (to us) portion of that environment is our own physical form. It is no accident that we may appear youthful or aged, sexy or unattractive, slim or voluptuous in the eyes of others. The effect that your appearance has upon a beholder is not the mere chance result of the way your features formed in accord with some strictly biological design.

Your image is the reflection of your thoughts and feelings about yourself, your worth as a person, your relationship to others, your place in the world and many other considerations. You could think of your physical body as a kind of statement that you’re making to everyone with whom you may come into contact.

Your beliefs about yourself mold your appearance as surely as they create every other aspect of your life. Some schools of alternative or New Age thought might suggest that you adopt very simple methods for changing aspects of yourself that you feel unsatisfied with: Just think good thoughts, or repeat positive affirmations and things will change. But if you explore your personal reality more deeply, you may find that you have strong underlying reasons for wanting to look the way you do.

Maybe you feel that you’re not a good, worthy person and therefore you shouldn’t look attractive. Maybe you fear drawing “the wrong kind of attention”. Maybe you believe there is something unhealthy about being thin. There are countless inner reasons why we choose to appear the way we do before the eyes of the world. Discovering what your reasons are will require some personal exploration. This is a journey that goes a lot smoother if we truly believe that all the answers to our lives do lie within us. Taking personal responsibility for the reality that you have created for yourself will open up the doors to new, unforeseen possibilities. You will see that the road you chose is but one of many roads that are available.

The effect that our appearance has on others is determined by inner qualities that we may or may not be aware of. If we want to change the way we look, the way that others perceive us, we have to become conscious of our real beliefs about ourselves. Diets and exercises will produce temporary results at best if we don’t first change the way we think about ourselves. Our thoughts always materialize in the world, whether it’s in the form of the relationships we draw to ourselves or in the reflection that we see when we look into the mirror.

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