Trees are blooming, birds are singing, and streams are flowing. Instinctively, you want to do a little spring cleaning- sweep away the old and bring the new. Why not use this opportunity to freshen up your body home as well?
It always takes some effort to reverse the inertia of winter. But, this year, the resistance may be more emotional than physical. Living with months & months of disturbing news and political uncertainty makes it challenging to get out of the funk and on with your life. This isn’t just about your attitude. When your body’s carrying a load of angst, worry, and discord, even the momentum of springtime can’t budge the logjam.
Scientists have shown how stress influences your body-mind. You’ve felt this in times of duress. Your body moves as if it were made of lead; your eyes glaze over and vision blurs; your mood is dull, despondent, or distracted. A steady diet of negative thoughts and feelings is as counter-productive as stale air and spoiled food. Now is the perfect time to invite your wise body to get it moving and bring in some fresh air.
Let’s survey the task at hand. Take a few minutes right now to close your eyes and focus on your body home. If the muscles of your forehead, jaw, shoulders, or gut are scrunched, squeezed, or pinched, they may be holding on to worry, anger, or sorrow. If you add one of your negative self-talk favorites, such as: “why bother”, “no one listens to me”, or, even, “the world is a mess”, this just compounds the situation. All of this influences the way you feel about the day ahead. If you’re weighted down or held back or anything less than curious and energized, you need to tidy up a bit.
Here are two practices that will clear out the rubbish and give you a fresh start anytime you need it:
Get it moving and blow it away.
When your body hears your worries, concerns, and negative thoughts, it armors up for self-preservation…way past any threat or functional need. If the past few months have kindled fear, uncertainty, or any other emotion, you’ll want to get it out of your body. Tune in right now and identify where you feel tight and stuck. Now, let your basic anatomy help you get it moving. Gently slide your shoulders up & down, back and forth, and around in circles. Let your jaw open and shut, move side-to-side, forward and back. Let your spine curl and uncurl, bend and twist from side to side. You get the drift. As you’re reclaiming the full range of movement, exhale forcibly and blow away any emotional residue.
Bring in the fresh air.
Your body listens to and believes what you tell it. If you think the world is
going to hell in a hand basket, your body will prepare for the journey. If
you’re critical of your appearance, ability, health or intelligence, your body
assumes the worst. Even if you’re just berating a TV commentator, your
body gets ready for a fight. This is hard-wired. Knowing this, you’ll
want to be mindful of the words and word thoughts your body hears.
Observe your self-talk over the next few days and intentionally reconstruct
every single negative to a positive. While you’re at it, why not develop a
few reliable, affirmative phrases to freshen the air?
To reinforce these good housekeeping practices, close your eyes and move around a bit right now to dislodge any tension. Think about something positive and endearing and notice how your body feels. Re-evaluate your relative comfort and enthusiasm for the day ahead. Has there been a noticeable shift…do you feel more hopeful, less overwhelmed; more supported, less burdened; and more motivated for a little “joie du printemps”?
Getting your aware body-mind on board will help you prune the dead wood and make way for new growth. If you get this deep cleaning done first, a commitment to healthy food & exercise is likely to follow. Remember the principle of inertia: once you get it moving, it’s easier to keep it moving!