21st Century “always on” living
We seem to live life in the fast lane in the 21st century. With the advent of a phone which acts as a mini computer, most of us don’t ever completely wind down. Even when we are away on holiday, we still check our emails, messages, social media and so on.
I have been in relatively good physical health lately. As someone suffering from a chronic pain condition due to a hereditary connective tissue disorder (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome), I celebrate these moments and embrace them as a state that I would like to find myself in more permanently.
Recently, I have been away from work for several weeks and although I wasn’t totally on holiday for all that time, I made a conscious decision not to engage in the everyday running of my business, tending only to the most urgent matters. Having limited access to the internet really does wonders for one’s addiction to constantly checking what’s going on in the world!
Back to reality
However, being self-employed, I cannot afford to remain in this blissful bubble forever and therefore had to plunge myself into the frenzy of activity before my first day back at work. This kickstarted all the old habits of classic tension and stress which resulted in the all too familiar aches and pains and headaches which had been so mercifully absent in the last few weeks of my life.
So, what happened? How can such wellbeing gained over a period of time disappear in one fell swoop? Could the mere thought of work trigger off some mechanism in my brain that made me revert back to my old habits of being? Is there anything I can do to prevent or allay this state of being?
Managing stressful thoughts with the Feldenkrais Method®
To answer these questions, let’s talk about some of the physiological responses of stress or even stressful thoughts. Your body’s centre of gravity rises – you can hear it in the tightening of the voice, and the breathing becomes more rapid and shallow. The support moves from the feet to the chest and everything is being held upright from a rather high position. This way of being and holding ourselves isn’t sustainable – it leads to excess work in the musculature and that is where problems could arise. So, I thought to myself, what if I could alter those physiological responses? If I move my centre of gravity lower and ground myself from my feet, could I change my response to my stress?
Using my knowledge as a Feldenkrais® practitioner, I began to bring the principles and strategies of the method into practice. Five minutes of sitting with my feet firmly planted on the ground, quietly observing my breathing and tuning into my skeleton whilst being aware of the contact of my feet on the ground, brought me back to a different state of reality, one which was more calming and beneficial to my state of being. It was as though I took myself out of my head and brought myself back into my body – from there, it is much easier to regulate the involuntary processes such as breathing, centering and grounding.
We cannot avoid stress in our lives – we all have different reactions to it and we all need tools to help us manage our responses to it.
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