Moving towards well-being and getting unstuck in this sticky time.
Our current Covid situation has brought the subject of mental health to the forefront and it has impacted all of our lives in varying and significant ways.
For many of us our movement and mobility has been limited the past several months. Quite literally in that you may have cancelled a trip or flight. Or maybe you’ve had the same tank of gas in your car for months. Perhaps you were used to moving at the gym or yoga studio. In one way or another, the ways in which you were used to moving through the world have been altered and this has a lot of people feeling stuck, stifled, and sluggish.
As a yoga teacher, a health coach, and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner in training I’m particularly interested in the role of movement in our wellbeing and mental health and how movement can help us get unstuck.
First, let’s acknowledge the importance of words - words can change our physiology. Hearing and using a specific word can make you feel warm and fuzzy, happy, defensive, mad. Another word could make your body recoil, flinch, tense, soften, relax.
People often comment on my curly hair and the compliment always makes me smile. A while back someone referred to my hair as ‘frizzy’. That word, ‘frizzy’ - ugh, it makes me cringe! When I heard it I literally flinched and the wrinkle between my brows showed up. That word has an immediate effect on my physiology.
This of course is a simple example. Words are used regularly to describe, label, or diagnose our bodies and behavior and the language used has the potential to change our physiology in ways that may, or may not, be helpful. So I invite you to choose words and language that feel good to you, especially when it comes to your personal experience of ‘mental health’.
This thing we call mental health isn’t something we can necessarily own or attain - like a car or a degree. Rather, it is something we are constantly moving towards.
We are moving in the direction of health, well-being, balance, organization, peace, regulation when we:
Have access to all our options - ie. we can see there are different choices/routes we can take in any given moment
Don’t get stuck in a place/feeling/experience - ie. we can experience sadness or disappointment etc. and move through it to the next experience
AND we have access to support to get unstuck - ie. we have resources to hit reset and get back to our baseline
We typically think of moving as going for a walk, run or exercising. Other ways we can move are to speak up, take an action step, and change our perspective.
Let’s explore two practices we can use to move towards well-being and out of feeling stuck.
1). Using Your Voice
A big sigh can be a release. Humming and singing, with their vibrations and extended exhalations, are calming. If you’ve sung in a choir or chanted in a yoga class you’ve experienced this. Sound can be a tool in your toolbox.
A few weeks ago I participated in a group Primal Scream session. We had pillows on hand to scream in to and punch. It was cathartic and fun. Weird and different times call for trying weird and different things my friends.
How can you use your voice to feel unstuck?
Daily reflection: Before bed take a moment to reflect or journal and ask yourself; is there anything I need to tell someone?; is there anyone I wronged and need to apologize to today?; is there anything I left unsaid today?
You may find you need to walk over to or call the person or put it on your to do list for tomorrow. Writing a note may be more appropriate and not all notes need to be sent, getting the words on the page and ripping them up may suffice.
2) Using Your Body
Real talk: No One is Moving Enough Right Now! We probably weren’t moving enough before all this but a lot of folks turned the sedentary dial up to 8 or 9.
I’ve been teaching yoga for a long time so people are often surprised to hear me say this but yoga might not be the movement you need right now.
We’re living in a time of extra uncertainty and activation and you might think that means you need to step up the relaxation with meditate and more yoga. And that may be true. But not necessarily. You could benefit more today from lifting weights than a gentle slow flow.
Reflection: Take a moment to pause. Take three conscious breaths and, without judgement notice; how you’re feeling, physically and emotionally? Remind yourself that all feelings are welcome. Then ask, how can I move to shift or to match this energy?
Feeling a sluggish? try bouncing, on a trampoline or the balls of your feet. Feeling anxious? try a big movement like jumping jacks. Feeling angry? Try wringing out a rolled up towel or doing a few pushups. Feeling stuck in your head? Try tossing or bouncing a ball.
Not sure what to do? When in doubt take a walk outside, if possible around trees.
These are merely ideas and an invitation to pause, turn your attention inward and experiment.
Your health and well-being is of the utmost importance. And that doesn’t mean everything we do needs to be super serious. Things are different right now and this may just be the time for you to try something a little different too. Have fun with it. Perhaps your journey leads you to a primal scream session.
Not sure what to do try? Call me, we can figure it out together.