Updated: Oct 1, 2021
Do you remember what it feels like to feel fantastic in your body?
When our bodies are well-rested and moving well, they feel like flowing water.
I remember as an adult being reminded of this when I held my newborn son. He felt like a wiggly, fluid-filled sack--a lot like a water balloon. As adults, we are no different. We just get fuzzy bits of stuck stress that interfere with the gliding flow state.
Creating more stress in the body does not promote returning to this flow state. Flow, healing, and transformation begins with honoring where you actually are, not where you think you are, or where you’d like to be.
If you are not sleeping you need rest, not intense exercise.
If you are lethargic from sitting at a desk job for hours, you need movement and focused exercise not more screen time on the sofa.
If you are injured, you need gentle, mindful movement that allows you to sense what you are doing while you are moving.
Sometimes this means what you need is not going to be in alignment with others needs. That’s ok. It’s your job to look after yourself and protect your boundaries in the area of your physical needs.
Just before I started working on this episode, I was in a water aerobics class for the first time in ages. I have also been recovering from a pinched nerve in my neck. The woman next to me kept offering me floating dumbbells and pool noodles like they were drugs even though I politely declined and said the resistance of the water alone was plenty for me right now. I wasn’t sure if she was just trying to make me feel included or was confused about me not doing what everyone else was doing. It reminded me of the amount of presence it takes to stick up for yourself, especially when you are in a new setting and feeling vulnerable. Luckily, I have very high body awareness and have become skilled over the years about sticking up for what I need, whether it’s a rest, a walk, a snack, or something else. If you are in an environment where it’s not the cultural norm to look after yourself, start by recognizing this unsafe disconnect and try setting a new example of self-care.
Now let’s look at REST, MOVEMENT, and EXERCISE three areas on a continuum.
REST includes sleep, meditation, and mindfulness
How much is enough?
The exact amount of sleep you need is unique to you and your current circumstances
Only you know if you wake feeling rested and have enough energy for the day ahead
If you’re struggling try...
A consistent wind down routine
No stimulus close to bedtime
A consistent bedtime
Refreshing your bedding
Focusing on quality over quantity
Black out drapes
Stop clock watching
Involves just you
Can be done sitting or lying in a comfortable position as long as you aren't at risk of falling asleep
Can focus on your breath or a mantra
10-15 minutes 2x/day, but anything is better than nothing
The point is not to stop your thoughts, but to notice when you are overly identified with them vs. watching them
When you notice, gently and with kindness return your attention to your breath or mantra
For the purpose of rest, can be anything that has a primary focus of being deeply present in the moment.
Guided relaxation, breathing exercises, colouring, drawing, journaling, gentle movement on the floor, listening to music, basically anything that recharges you
10,000 steps/day is the goal
Daily activities that are not formal exercise
Walking the dog
Walking to the train
Specific Health or Fitness Focus
Add in if feeling rested
Goal to feel better not worse during session
Fatigue, disconnect, difficulty focusing are signs it’s now working right now
Becoming increasingly intuitive about the physical needs of your body is an ongoing process. Everyday is different, yet there are underlying patterns. It may help to ask yourself...
Do I force myself to exercise when I’m not getting quality sleep?
Do I avoid movement when I’ve been at a desk all day?
Do I discount daily movement as nothing?
Only you know what you need. You understand yourself better than anyone else, but it requires taking the time to truly listen, then take appropriate action. Over time you get better at listening and responding and even imposing your own boundaries to care for yourself.
The reward is less burnout, better movement experiences, and feeling empowered.
Resources used for this episode:
Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Busy Minds by Emily Fletcher
Yours In Health,