People who are tense suffer more pain and are more prone to injury. This takes a toll physically and psychologically! Stuntmen, gymnasts, firefighters and even the elderly are taught to soften the body, tuck and roll when they fall. Skydivers are masters of softening their bodies to land without bruising or breaking a bone. They’re taught the “banana method”.
You may not be a skydiver but all of us occasionally trip. Softening your body into a curve makes your deceleration last as long as possible to minimize injury. Even when you’re just tripping over a curb, if you land stiff-armed you’ll likely break something. Tuck and roll to your side if possible, or if you’re falling face first let your elbows bend in a push up motion allows your pecs to take the force of the fall.
We carry so much tension and stress from daily life in our muscles and tissue and so it’s not surprising that we often suffer from aches and pains. Plus as we age, we lose flexibility, becoming more prone to losing our balance and falling. While learning to safely fall takes months of practice under the direction of a skilled trainer, there’s a lot you can do on your own to learn how to soften your body on a daily basis. You’ll find yourself becoming more flexible and at the same time relieve stress and tension.
It’s no mistake that a ball is round. Rounder objects handle stress better. When you learn not to be rigid but to soften the body you’ll stand up under stress better. This is well-illustrated by what engineers have learned about designing airplane windows.
Airplanes at first used square windows since that was the norm for homes and autos. However, when jets began flying faster and at higher altitudes, two planes fell apart in midair. Why? The sharp corners of the square windows were natural weak spots where stress concentrates. When subjected to repeated pressurization, the corners cracked and gave way.
Curved windows, on the other hand, have no focal point so it distributes the stress. Circular shapes are stronger and resist deformation, and can thus survive the extreme differences in pressure between the inside and outside of the plane.
What does that mean for you? Instead of letting everyday stressors make you rigid in your thinking and physiology, learn to soften the body and roll with the punches both literally and figuratively.
Here are three simple ways to soften your body…
- Slow down your frenetic brain by practicing deep breathing exercises. The brain mimics what the body is doing, so if you slow down, your chaotic thoughts will start to cool down too.
- Actively soften the body. Pay attention to what your body is saying and move it until it relaxes. Stretching exercises, yoga, and improving your posture will help. Daily practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation Techniques to stretch and soften your body will help you increase your awareness.
- Practice mindfulness in daily tasks. Quiet your mind by learning to be present in each moment instead of multi-tasking. Whether you’re walking or washing dishes, or eating, be mindful of that one simple thing.
Somatic coaching is a superior way of creating a greater self-awareness. I invite you to contact me to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype, so we can talk more about it.
And if you’re curious on how to enhance your overall health and wellness don’t forget to download my free 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment. It will help you identify the areas that most need your attention right now and what you can do to bring balance to your life.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” ~ Anne Lamott
Every day we’re bombarded with advice to become more organized, to get more done, to write endless to-do lists as we break big projects into smaller portions. So the idea of daily taking a break from work may sound strange to you. And while I wholehearted support the concepts of being organized and prioritizing to get things done, there has to be a balance in life.
If you feel as if you have to be busy every moment of every day, and you don’t think you’re successful unless you have a lot of accomplishments – and you’re in an endless cycle of “Check! Done that! Move on! Check! Done that! Move on!” – perhaps it’s time to reassess what you’re really accomplishing.
Actually, scheduling some downtime and taking a break from work on a daily basis will increase your ability to come up with innovative ideas and creative solutions. However, a more important reason to take a break is that if you don’t, it’s only a matter of time before you experience burnout, which could damage your body and spirit so badly that they’re not able to fully recover.
So as a friend, let me ask you: When was the last time you really disconnected from your business and responsibilities? When you didn’t listen to anything but the buzzing of the bees? When you didn’t watch anything but the clouds floating by? When you didn’t plan anything except…well, you didn’t plan anything at all! How often do you get to experience total creative silence as you simply practice being in and enjoying the moment? If you can’t remember, you’re way overdue. You are, no doubt, already on cognitive overload.
Think about it: You know you need to eat every day, right? You do it, not only because it’s enjoyable, but you expend the calories in your output of energy. And your body automatically knows to breathe in after exhaling. Why? Because you use up your supply of oxygen and your body demands more. As children, we knew how to play…when did that change? When did people forget to take breaks and enjoy life?
You constantly give all day long. You push to do things for your family, your friends, and your job. Yet if you aren’t regularly taking a break from work, you’ll run out of resources. Your body and brain needs downtime to repair itself. Not only is a good night’s sleep essential for refreshing yourself, but taking a little bit of time off during the day is necessary too.
The benefits of taking a break from work are countless. Your mood will improve. Your stress level will go down. Your energy will return. Your heart will be healthier. Your creativity and productivity will skyrocket. Your relationships will flourish. You’ll do your most excellent work if you’re regularly taking a break from work.
Isn’t it time to give your body and brain the space and time it needs to process all that you’re taking in every day? Your body may already be telling you it needs a break…are you listening? Unfortunately most of us have learned to ignore these messages from our bodies. Please, download my free 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment. Go to a quiet place and give yourself the gift of reconnecting with yourself this month. You owe it to yourself.
Have you ever tried to suppress the excitement of a group of little children as they wait for a treat they really want? It’s not easy is it? The more you shush them, the more they wiggle, giggle, and chatter. You have more success if you channel their energy toward another activity until the treat arrives.
Similarly, trying to suppress your own feelings of anxiety, stress, and frustration is like trying to put a lid on the excitement of a group of children. Suppression doesn’t work. Yet that’s how many people try to force themselves to be calm under pressure. And, as a result, they feel like a powder keg ready to blow.
A more effective approach combines channeling your physiological responses, thoughts, feelings and attitudes into productive activities. Rather than telling yourself all the things that can go wrong, you’ll be able to think about how things can go right. No longer will crises push you into a panic or state of paralysis, instead you’ll see that overcoming challenges starts to excite you, which actually gives you an inner peace and calm.
Here are some tips on how to stay calm as you channel your physical and mental responses into more productive activities:
- Understand what’s going on in your body. Stress and anxiety trigger the “fight or flight” response. Your brain perceives a threat and starts to produce hormones that tell your nervous system it’s time to get ready for action. Yet in many life and business situations, you can’t start fighting or fleeing. Consequently, your body doesn’t get to release these feelings. As a result, you end up with your brain and body in a feedback loop, freaking out. That’s when you say and do things you regret.
- Breathe deeply and slowly. Break the body part of the feedback loop by consciously breathe slowly and deeply. This increases the oxygen in your system, which calms the fight or flight reaction.
- Label the emotions. Break the mind part of the feedback loop by assigning labels to the emotions you feel. This moves you out of the “fight or flight” mode accessing the neocortex which allows you to think more clearly and productively about the issue at hand.
- Re-label your emotions. Next, eliminate the emotional triggers that caused the “fight or flight” response. For every emotion you identified in step 3, re-label it with a positive emotion. For example: fear becomes anticipation; frustration becomes desire; worry becomes concern; dread becomes caution; alarm becomes curiosity and so forth. By re-labeling your emotions, you’re convincing your brain that this isn’t really a dangerous situation but rather a situation you can learn from and enjoy.
- Put things into perspective. Stop over thinking and overreacting by asking yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen? Will this matter in five years?”
- Recognize that people are less focused on you than you think. You may see yourself as the center of attention. However, everyone else is focused on improving the situation not on you. The more you feel judged by others, the more intense your anxiety. Re-direct your mind from yourself onto becoming part of the solution to the problem at hand.
- Magnify your logic. When you bring logic to the forefront, you can maintain the right frame of mind. It forestalls the panic and anxiety as you dispassionately observe what’s really happening. This increases your awareness of the big picture view, seeing all the moving parts of the situation and their possible consequences.
- Take action. Procrastination is the enemy of calm, because it feeds the negative thoughts. Instead, empower yourself by turning anxiety into excitement. You’ll rise above the challenge and see your performance improve dramatically.
It takes time and effort, but you can develop the ability to positively look at each situation as an opportunity to turn anxiety into energy and excitement. I’ve found that there are a number of life pillars or core beliefs that will assist you in staying calm under pressure.
- Have an understanding and practice of mindfulness.
- Practice daily instead of waiting for a crisis to happen. It’s like getting ready for the Olympics – it would be silly to start training the week before.
- Increase awareness through deliberate practice. Practice needs to be specific in order to be effective. For example, when you’re practicing slow, deep breathing, notice your heartbeat, identify your emotions, and so forth.
- Become really good at predicting. Acknowledge that there are situations that make you feel pressure. Identify when, where and how it will show up (know yourself!) and make it part of your life cycle instead of avoiding it.
- Keep your energy focused on the things you can change.
An effective way of learning these life skills is through Neuro-Linguistic Programming. My colleague, Nando Raynolds, and I are starting our fall classes September 15th, so there’s still time to enroll. Learn more about the benefits of NLP trainings and what we’ll be teaching by clicking here. Or contact me with any questions you might have.
“Our sensations are the original language of the body.” ~ Amanda Blake
Is your body talking to you?
Are you listening to its whispers?
Or do you wait until it screams?
Learning to slow down and listen to your body isn’t just about feeling the aches and pains of over exertion. It involves discovering how you actually feel emotionally about something.
Your emotional health and physical health are intertwined and inseparable. Your emotions are experienced and stored in your body. And they are manifested through body sensations. Breathless, clammy, fuzzy, hot, heavy, dizzy, queasy, or shaky are a few body sensations you may experience when you’re angry or stressed. Energized, full, expansive, smooth, and radiating are a few body sensations you may experience when you’re joyful and confident.
It’s within your body that you’ll discover the key to unlocking your emotional intelligence. In other words, emotions live inside your body, changing your physical experience and causing you to believe and act in particular ways. One moment you’re happy (emotion) on top of the world, so you’re feeling spacious and light in the chest (body sensations). Then someone says something that makes you feel anxious (emotion). It feels like your world is caving in, your shoulders slump and you feel deflated and dull (body sensations).
Conversely, by changing your posturing, you can alleviate these body sensations and alter your emotional experience. If you’re feeling shy and uncertain, you can breathe deeply, soften and straighten your spine, lift your head and look people in they eyes. The more you practice this, the more it will be your natural response and your emotions will change to feeling more confident and self-assured.
The concept, embodied cognition, says every thought/ideal is connected with an emotion which, in turn, has a physiological response in your body. Reflect on how the energy of shyness makes you feel small and act withdrawn. Sadness feels heavy, like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Anger feels hot and stormy. Excitement feels energizing.
Tune into your emotions and identify each sensation as you experience it. Honor the messages that your body is sending you about your feelings. Don’t try to over ride them. Suspend any judgment of them. Simply observe them for what they are.
Do you want to become more balanced and centered? Here are some simple ways to get better acquainted with how your body responds to emotions. Observe what body sensations and emotions manifest as you do each of the following:
Regular exercise. It’s been proven to reduce stress, boost your “feel good” endorphins, enhance your self-confidence, sharpen your thinking ability, ground you, and inspire creativity.
Now add another dimension to your exercise sessions – an emotional one. Are you feeling anxious? Channel your anxiety into the physical act of exercise and release it. Invite all of your feelings, whether you view them as positive or negative, to come through your movement.
Improve your posture. Sitting in a slumped, helpless position invites thoughts and memories to manifest. Sitting in an upright, powerful position invites empowerment thoughts and memories.
Eating healthfully for your body type. Everyone has a unique biochemistry which greatly influences brain chemistry and emotional state. What you choose to fuel this system will be determined by your metabolism, blood type, genetic history, and activity level. Of course, we all have basic needs for fresh, nutrient-rich, whole foods.
Deep breathing. It improves your physical health and helps you remain calm under stressful situations. Also Alternate Nostril Breathing can help you achieve balance and harmony.
The key to controlling your emotions is developing an awareness of exactly WHERE you feel them, HOW they feel in your body, and in WHAT healthy ways you can process them. Somatic Coaching can help you become between attuned to what your body is telling you. Contact me and let’s schedule a session that will transform you life.
And if you need help listening to your body, make sure to click here to download your free copy of The 7-Point Wellness Assessment – Create Change Through Awareness.
Did you know that how you breathe reveals how you’re living your life? The ebb and flow of life consists of taking in and giving out or controlling and letting go. Isn’t that what breathing is like too?
How would you describe your quality of life? Smooth, balanced and rhythmic? Or is it a wild up and down rollercoaster ride? Perhaps you fall somewhere in between? Science has proven that there’s a definite link between tension or relaxation and the rate and depth of your breathing.
Do you carry an excessive amount of tension without even realizing it? Do you commonly have cold hands and feet even when you’re in a room-temperature environment? Do you have clammy hands because of an adrenaline release? Are you stiff in the morning and do you have excess wrinkles on your face because you’re always tense? Do you chronically feel tired? Have headaches, stomachaches and backaches? Do you always strive for perfection? Are you accident-prone? All of these are indicators that your body is too stressed.
Your body is not designed to always be uptight, to be out of balance. This excess tension will, in time, break down your health and spirit. Consciously using breathing techniques can break this pattern of stress. When you feel foggy and tired, use the following breathing exercises to clear your head, until you feel energetic yet calm.
Breathing Exercise 1
- Stand up. Relax your knees.
- Place your hands on your upper thighs.
- Bend from the crease between your legs and torso.
- Inhale deeply through your nose.
- Exhale forcefully through your mouth while pulling your navel back toward your spine.
- Push all the air out of your lungs.
Breathing Exercise 2
- Stand up with your arms above your head.
- Rhythmically jump up and down like you’re jumping rope.
- As you jump up, inhale quickly.
- As you land, expel your breath with a “huh.”
- Start with a half-minute session.
- Gradually increase the duration for each session until you achieve five minutes.
- Stop and return to breathing normally.
Breathing Exercise 3
- Stand up.
- Inhale through your mouth as you raise your arms above your head, stretching for the ceiling.
- Go up on your tiptoes.
- Reach even higher, inhaling all the way.
- Go limp, bend from the waist and let your head and arms dangle at your side as you exhale vigorously.
- Stop and return to normal breathing.
Breathing Exercise 4
- Take three long deep breaths.
- Keep your focus by saying, “breathe in slowly, deeply”.
- Exhale thoroughly.
- Keep your focus by saying, “Breathe out fully, smile, feel peace”.
Breathing Exercise 5
Do the yoga alternate nostril breathing exercise.
- Exhale completely, using both nostrils.
- Press your finger against your right nostril, closing it completely.
- Inhale slowly and smoothly through the left nostril only.
- Hold that inhaled breath for a few comfortable seconds.
- Then close the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril.
- Hold while comfortable.
- Inhale through the right nostril only.
- Release your left nostril and close off the right.
- Exhale through the left nostril. Hold.
- Keep switching between left and right nostrils as you inhale and exhale rhythmically for a total of 10 to 15 sets.
- Go back to breathing through both nostrils.
Do you feel like you’ve created a new awareness by increasing your ability to breathe mindfully? I’d love it if you’d come to my Facebook Page and tell us your wins so we can encourage each other to keep going.
As a heads up, there are still other wellness indicators that we’ll discuss in the future. But why wait? Take the 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment today and get a jumpstart on making the coming New Year the best one yet. Click here to download your free copy.