This week in the series Pandemic to Possibility, we will be focusing on ‘The Body.’ “To master the body is to feel whole and aligned with oneself, standing strong, in one’s power and ready to face the turbulence, joy, and abundance of life’s experiences.” –Ruth Minnick. Why the body? There are several reasons to tune into this fantastic organism that allows us to do, be, and experience all the things in our daily lives. Many of us have altered how we have been historically navigating our worlds over the last couple years. Our bustling schedules had us on the move with the commute to offices, schools, work-out, being social, playing sports, attending events, and many other places consistently. Then, we were halted from this lifestyle. We may have spent many hours operating our jobs, schooling, and all these different activities from sofas, kitchen counters, living rooms, bedrooms, and basements. That’s enough to make your chiropractor cringe! Our daily adventures of strolling through the office, the hikes up and down around town for coffees, the commute walk from parking spaces or train to our destinations were gone. If you are like me, you may have been far more sedentary than you would like to admit. Many of us have also shifted our wardrobes to accommodate the Covid-19, 19-pounds added to the cushion we sit on, that is. Ugh! What do we do about that? Luckily, now in the Midwest since spring has sprung, we are itching to get back outside.
However, I haven’t even scratched the surface yet of why everybody should love that body. Nevertheless, I have the ultimate reason to give some love to that vehicle that lets you navigate here, there, and everywhere. We have had this cooped-up lifestyle, but we have also internalized significant emotions, stress, anxiety, and possibly burnout. We internalize all these sensations and park them throughout our bodies. We have also held our breath with alarm around illness, finances, job losses, racism, war, politics (whatever way you lean), grief, and so much more. These internalized stresses could be considered little “t” trauma. We are experiencing them daily, and they are making a comfortable home in our muscles, belly, heart, and nervous system and clouding the lens of our perspective of the world around us. Over time this can change much of how we feel and approach our lives, and it can begin to look like extreme anxiety or depression. Our bodies hold these sensations as a threat and will respond. Warning! Warning! The internal alarms will go off, sending signals to our body to ramp up for a fight or pull the plug on all of our sensations, leaving us tired, lifeless, and numb. Yuck! So, what now? Take a breath and get moving!
We need to calm the turbulent seas within our bodies and regulate our systems. We can achieve this naturally without drugs, alcohol, food, or the many other things we reach for in a pinch when stressed. Renowned trauma psychiatrist Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk has focused on the body for the last 50 years and explains that we can do this easily with natural practices without drugs. We can decrease our stress with deep breathing, literally calming our nervous system and giving our cells a reset. Spending 5-20 minutes of deep, slow breathing can be like updating the internal software of your nervous system. We can also detox our anxiety load with touch with massage, cardio, and rhythmical engagement with one’s fellow human beings, such as yoga, tai chi, and dancing. It’s time to upgrade the software to something that fits the impressive human beings we are! If you are ready for an Upgrade in your Body’s IOS…Here are some basic assignments for you: Breathe:
- Take some time each day this week, 5 minutes, and slow down.
- Listen to some gentle music or sit quietly and let yourself breathe deep into that belly so that it looks round and lovely.
- Exhale longer and slower than the inhale.
This technique lets your activated system calm down like we would for sleep.
- Carve out some time for yourself as self-care and get moving.
Take a walk or run and breathe in the fresh cool spring air. Take in the scents of flowers, mulch, or fresh April rain.
- Get yourself moving to some music in between work meetings. Get others to do it with you too. Stand up and shake what you were given, letting yourself laugh at how silly you feel. Laughter is really good for you!
- Yoga and Tai Chi are great too. If you can squeeze in a class with others, that would be great.