Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Linda Helm-Manley MBACP (Accred) UKCP
18th June, 2013
We all take our bodies for granted. They physically support us and care for every organ: heart, lungs, nervous system, etc. We tend to forget that our body is a perfect working system every moment of the day 24/7, for the rest of our lives, mostly at an autonomous level.
You are welcome to try these ideas but please ensure you check with a GP if you have any medical conditions as no responsibility can be taken for the practice of these by individuals.
Your stamina is improved, if you control your breathing. Short, sharp breaths mean you are not fully breathing into your body. If you breathe through your mouth, then you are wasting breath. Try breathing in and out through your nose. If you are tense, nervous or anxious it is worsened when you shallow breathe through your mouth. To really breathe in through your body, you will see your torso expand. Retain some of your breath for about 3 seconds and then when you exhale, don’t exhale completely, and don’t pant your breath outwards, retain a little and then repeat. Practice 5 times, every day – which is only going to be less than 5 minutes of your day. As you practise, you will help your heart too as it will not be under so much pressure and you may feel more relaxed overall.
When you are breathing better you can start adding some:
Your body needs help to stay supple. While you listen to the radio, ipod, iplayer, watch TV or even read a book, you can spend 10 minutes of your day stretching. Most importantly don’t bounce or force your body just go as far as you can. If you need help with balance, rest a hand against the wall to do these exercises.
This is a gentle one to start with. Stand upright. Cross right leg over left. Bend forward. Do this with left over right and repeat. Practice and see how much further you can bend as time goes on.
Sit on a chair (hardback). Feet flat on floor. Keeping feet as flat as possible, rotate them left then right. Notice whether you are moving just your feet or if your buttocks or hips are moving too; the idea is to use the muscles around your legs and feet.
Are you a leg crosser? Give your posture a break because you are unevenly pushing down on one part of your body. If you have back problems you may not realise you are sitting lopsided and putting extra strain on your back. Keep your feet flat on the ground, if you can. Balance your frame and bring better stability to your physique. Another 5 minutes is all your need to bring some equilibrium to your outer experience, which in turn may support your inner experience.
Without realising it our body is protecting us from fear and danger. However, this can sometimes be through holding unconscious tension within. For example:
What about your shoulders – if you use your fingers to press gently along from ear to outer shoulder bone what do you feel? Nothing – not uncomfortable? Then you have tautness because if it was loose, you would feel your fingers! So now use your fingers again to do this exercise. This time, take longer and repeat about 3 times and you’ll begin to feel the tightness. Doing this in the morning takes up less than 3 minutes of your time.
Finally, try to sit down when eating rather than rushing through. Drink water every day. Tap water is fine. If you are resistant to drinking it then keep a bottle in the car or office and you can get used to sipping it automatically.
If you are having trouble sleeping at night, try to change the routine. Think about the purpose of sleep; for instance, you use a chair to sit on - treat the bedroom the same way, i.e. you go to bed to sleep. Make it comfortable to do so – lights, smells, sound. You might want to think about why sleeping is an issue. When did it come about? Do you dream? Do you get tired during the day? Do you become more alert when you know it’s bedtime? You may want to talk to a therapist if you want support in any of these areas. As well as psychological needs, therapy can help with physical difficulties too.
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