What are the four things that fuel you ???

As Covid continues to force many countries into various forms of ‘lockdown’, the lack of social contact and confines of movement takes its toll, not only on the economy but also our mental health and general well-being.

Here are a few top tips for recognition of someone not coping and a few simple exercises to help boost a weary nervous system and turn down the tension.

1. Talk. Check your language or the language of others. Ask for help!!!


It's been shown that in many western countries we're not great at talking about how we feel. In fact, many of us have lost the art of feeling both physically and emotionally. We internalise, we have that stiff upper lip attitude and we're not great at asking for help.

Our words are potent and choice of language is crucial in dealing with stress and recognising stress in others, so stop and listen.

Listen to your use of words and those of others. If you find you're repeatedly using negative language or damaging words, this does have a physiological impact on our bodies, attitude or energy, and coping ability. So, if you are aware this is happening, mentally ‘stop’ or ‘delete’.

  • Send the negative image /wording packing by replacing it with a kinder one. 
  • Chances are, the negative thought arrived on an upper chest in breath. So, as it leaves – breath o u t  … pause, ground your feet, and reset …

Talk about how this has affected you. Don’t just say I'm stressed. Use your words e.g. my shoulders are stiff, I'm not sleeping, I feel fragile, exhausted - label it. WORD EXPRESSION IS POWERFUL.

It might be: angry, anxious, tired, weepy, tense, frustrated, cornered, desperate, grief-stricken, murderous, fearful, helpless, sleepless, betrayed, inadequate, guilty, jealous, envious, lonely, and isolated, out of control, depressed, hopeless, and shy.

It helps to examine the language of feelings in detail, to feel where they attach themselves physically as you express them –- in the center of the chest, back of the neck, shoulders, jaw, or small of the back for instance.

2. Physical awareness

Tune into your body and ask are your shoulders tense? Is your jaw clenched? Are your legs tense all the time? If yes, then this sends a message to your body to put it on full alert. This is exhausting, both physically and mentally. STOP, pause, breathe, reset and loosen body tension.

3. Please LISTEN to your bodies. Tune into your breathing. Feel the tension.

It takes a nanosecond to stop and follow your breath. Stop: breathe out, try to breathe nose, low and slow this will calm the nervous system …or at least start the process.

During a crisis or perceived crisis.

It's true we can become frozen and rigid and physically we can lose awareness, spinning into chaos, reaching crisis point and close to burnout. Once the event is over the body can stay locked up, breathing disordered, this in and of it, is stress generating. An important step is to undo this physical tension. The most effective way: loosen up on the outside as well.

Watch out for tight belts, skirts, jeans, neckties, corsets, high shoes, bras, these all can restrict good breathing and movement patterns. Watch out for held postures – device use we know increases tension and breath-holding.

Why do we need to move and stretch?
Static, inert, repetitive positions lead to a host of problems. 

Static work

  • Sustained muscle contraction
  • Decreased blood flow 
  • Reduction in available oxygen
  • Lactate build up in muscle
  • With time achy painful
  • Stiff muscles/trigger points

Movement

  • Contraction-relaxation of muscle
  • Maintained blood flow
  • Oxygen continuously available
  • Removal of lactate/bicarbonate buffer
  • Healthy active muscle
  • Full range of movement maintained

NB Static work in a muscle can be maintained only up to a couple of minutes before the demand exceeds the energy supplied. Hence stopping and moving every couple of minutes is recommended.

  • Stretching and breathing maintain range of movement
  • provides good nutrition via reoxygenation to the brain and body hence
  • improve clarity of thought, focus, and energy levels. Movement dissipates toxin buildup.
  • Good movement postures allow good breathing –
  • breathing well sends a signal to the brain that everything is O.K and chemicals are released in response to this signal.

This allows us to maintain good energy levels and feel ok rather than have detrimental effects.

Breathe - Stretch and Move

4. Find four things that fuel you, bring you joy, and weave them into your daily life.

For example , a cup of tea or coffee in the morning, talking with a friend, walking with a friend, dancing, moving, doing the crossword, listening to music, helping your neighbor, charity work, watching your favorite sitcom, or latest influencer, following fashion, cooking, tending to pot plants, reading or even cleaning. 

Whatever it is that fuels you, make a list of at least four or more if you can, and practice these regularly.