Many of us find ourselves with house projects that turn into playing weekend warrior to get it all done. Try these 10 tips and points of caution to watch out for as you go about your projects. They can make all the difference for your body and mind come Monday morning.
My husband and I started our own house project this past weekend… refinishing the back deck. It had been a couple years since we did this last and I had forgotten just how much time and work is involved. However, after just one day of moving, sweeping, and sanding, my aching muscles quickly reminded me that I needed to exercise some smart thinking and self care to come through this without feeling utterly exhausted and sustaining a muscle spasm. I hope this tips will help you stay in better balance and health in whatever your latest house project is.
- Evaluate Whether You Want To Do The Job Yourself: more than money is to be considered when looking at whether to hire out for a job or DIY. Yes, finances do play a role as to what and how much you hire out, but also consider the emotional, physical, and mental toll on you and your family as well as what you would like to be doing instead. If you work 60 hours a week and dislike house projects, the cost to yourself of trying to DIY could be high due to your mental attitude. If you don’t want to do it, this energy will come through and very often all sorts of things start to go wrong with the project. If you and your space don’t do projects well together based on different styles, attempting one could add relationship tension. Look at the whole picture when examining costs so you don’t end getting “spent” in more ways than just your pocket book.
- Consider Hiring Out Some Of The Work: this doesn’t have to mean break the bank, either. Look at what tasks require a lower level of skill and look around. For our deck project, I actually hired two fourteen year old neighborhood boys to do the sanding along the deck edges with a palm sander. There was a little instruction time as well as extra questions along the way, but for $7/hour they did a great job and saved me hours of work and toll on my body. So worth it! In this tight job market, you can likely find willing labor at cut rate prices across the board. Just don’t try to cut too much… being fair to your workers will always produce better job results.
- Pace Yourself: this is especially true of big jobs. If you throw all your energy into the game early on, you won’t have the stamina for the long haul.
- Take Stretch Breaks Often: different jobs are going to work different muscles but anything which you are doing repetitively is going to eventually catch up with you in the form of overly tight muscles and possibly even a muscle spasm. By breaking often and stretching things out, you give your muscles a chance to release some of the tension, which will hopefully decrease the chance of you going into a muscle crisis or sustaining an injury. If you don’t know what stretches are needed, work with a physical or massage therapist, or personal trainer to get some advice.
- Drink Lots Of Water: your muscles need hydration, especially when you are giving out lots of energy through physical labor and is absolutely key on hot days. Not only will you get fewer muscle cramps but you also will stay on the safe side of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
- Know When To Stop: it can be very tempting to keep going because you can see the end, but BEWARE… this is the high danger point. Many injuries occur by being in a fatigued state and going too far. When your body and mind are tired, you are more apt to make mistakes plus you simply have less to give at that point. How do you know when you’ve reached the stopping point? Listen to your body. If you’re feeling exhausted, you’ve already gone too far.
- Have Some Post-Job Tension Remedies Ready: to take the edge off your day’s labor, especially if you’re starting again the next day, you want to have some tools ready. Yes, there are over-the-counter pain relievers but they can have side effects for some. Instead of or in addition to the pain relievers, try good old fashioned hot baths with Epsom Salts, a heating pad, rolling on tennis balls along the back and hips to create pressure point releases, or even get a professional massage. The investments you make in the moment can save you big in long term tolls.
- Arnica cream or homeopathic pellets work with your body from the inside out to aid in soft tissue/muscular tension relief. In other words, they ease the aches and pain. For whole body aches and pains, use the homeopathic pellets which can be found at most health food stores and an employee should be able to tell you what dose to take. If you have a specific area of the body that requires extra TLF, use the cream on that area. The best cream I’ve found on the market is this cream put out by a company called True Botanica.
- Hot Or Cold?You might be familiar with using a heating pad or ice pack but not know when to use what. Here’s the basic guideline. Cold is used for reducing inflammation/swelling often with an acute injury; can provide pain relief; and can sometimes decrease a muscle spasm. When using cold you need a protective layer between the cold pack and your skin and time should be limited to no more than 20 minutes. There are also some health conditions which are contraindicated for cold so be sure to check with your health professional before using. Superficial topical heat has long been used for muscular and joint pain, promotes relaxation by lengthening the soft tissue parts, and promotes healing by bringing more blood, nutrients and immune support to the body part. With heat you need to watch out for burns and should not be used if you have any of these conditions: an acute injury of less than 2 days old, skin infection, inflammation, hemorrhaging (blood loss), or the inability in the body or part to receive sensory input which prevents you from getting feedback on what’s happening to the tissues. For basic aches and pains without injury or spasm, heat is likely the best choice.
- Stretch At The End Of The Day: stretching is what gives your muscles to message to let go of the work and tightness and come back into a relaxed, resting state. It is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Yoga provides a great full body approach so feel free to take a class or use an audio or video product. There are also good stretching books on the market or, again, work with a local professional to help you design a simple but effective routine that fits your needs.
With these ten tips and techniques packed in your tool box, you are now fully ready to tackle your next house project. Have fun and let me know how it works!
©Jamie Durner, 2009
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Jamie Durner is an accomplished wellness professional with a diversified background including twenty-plus years experience and over 3000 hours of professional training including certifications in Ayurvedic medicine, Inspired Learning Facilitation, Life Coaching, Kundalini Yoga, Craniosacral Therapy, Reiki, and Massage Therapy. She offers empowering resources to support wellness on all levels of body, mind, and spirit through individual consultations, group programs, corporate wellness in-services, keynote presentations, self-care home products, and healing retreats. Find out more about her services at