I hope you are enjoying the beautiful spring weather!
This is a time of emerging out of our cozy homes, maybe with more physical activity and engagement with people. Here are some tips for engaging your whole self in a beneficial way while reducing stress and strain. Please note summer schedule changes below.
Stress and strain are related
When we feel stressed or anxious, we react with our whole self, including muscle tension, release of stress hormones that get us primed to act and thoughts and feelings. With prolonged stress and anxiety, excess tension sticks around, leading to movement restriction and strain. We might become accustomed to this way of being and assume that’s just the way it is.
Take time to stop
When we keep going, going, going, it’s as if we add one layer of tension over another. We get revved up, and that affects both our physical body and our mental state, not to mention our relationships. By taking the time to stop, we can train ourselves to let go of excess tension. Conscious rest is a great practice for letting go of what you don’t need, allowing your body to reset and reorganize. Conscious rest gives you an opportunity to come back to your self. (If you haven’t done it before or want a refresher, you can read about conscious rest here.)
I know, we’re told all our lives to try hard! Trying hard can actually get in our way. Trying hard can lead to tension and repetition of inefficient effort. Then when we’re done, we try to relax! Instead, how about taking a pause to observe where you might be tensing, questioning how much of that you need, and use your Alexander Technique constructive thinking to expand and release outward. That might actually make your body more available for movement, give you more strength than tensing does, and help you to think more clearly.
Take pains in stride
Pain is normal and it helps protect us. Sometimes it’s telling us that it’s time to back off or slow down. Other times it’s overly protective and keeps us from doing things that won’t damage us, like many recurring or persisting pains. When that’s the case, generally speaking we should gently move into the pain in a non-threatening way. If you’ve been in classes, you know this is a message I share constantly. How do you know if you should stop or gently move into it? That involves learning to listen to your body and questioning. Questioning doesn’t mean doubting it’s real or thinking you must have imagined it or not being believed. It means being curious. It means questioning, What is this pain telling me really? What’s the actual sensation?