I have been going through some very stressful times recently. I have worked pretty much none stop for the last six weeks, and have had some pretty big practical, mental, and emotional challenges to face within that time.
Last weekend I decided to allow myself a day off. I met a friend for coffee in the morning, and I whinged and moaned, and generally verbalised a lot of stuff that I have been carrying round with me. You would think that might have helped, but no, I came away from the meeting feeling miserable and angry about all the stuff that has been happening. Although I had spent a good couple of hours setting the world to rights, I did not feel any better for it. I’m pretty sure my poor friend didn’t feel great either (I have sent her an apology).
I went home, and was enthusiastically greeted by my lovely family. They haven’t seen very much of me recently, other than the figure that sits at her laptop all day long and grunts generally in their direction when asked a question. I am sure they were thinking, great, here we have some quality time, let’s make the most of it. But unfortunately that did not lift my mood either, all I wanted was to be left alone.
Later in the afternoon I gave myself a bit of a kick up the bum. My youngest daughter was clearly bored so I decided to take her out to a local community art festival. “Come on,” I thought to myself “you can’t just sit around being miserable all day long, at least get the little one out so she can have some fun”.
We arrived to find people were meandering round in a leisurely way and just enjoying themselves so we went with the flow. We followed our walk of art maps around various places along the route. We headed to a lovely place where they had a play with clay workshop happening. At first I said I wasn’t interested in taking part, but the lady running the workshop seemed to think I might be more up for it if she presented me with a ball of clay anyway, so I obliged. I picked up the clay and began to squeeze, and mould and shape. I made various items, each time squeezing them back into a ball, and as the minutes went on, I began to feel an internal shift. Hmm, using my body seemed to be giving me an outlet to express some of the internal goings on that I had been brewing over recent weeks.
We left the shop, and I felt lighter. Next we headed to a friend’s house, they were hosting a pop-up gallery for a local photographer, and an African Drumming group were arriving to do a set in their garden.
“Great,” I thought “a moment of loveliness sitting in the sunshine and enjoying some good music”. The group started to play, and I soon found myself tapping along and starting to move my body. The music was getting inside me and loosening up what was there. I needed to move my body in order to set it free so I found myself what I thought was a little corner of the garden where no-one would notice and I began to let the music move my body. In no time at all I was stamping my feet, and waving my arms, and twirling around in time to the music. Little did I know that my daughter (little angel), aided and abetted by a friend, had decided she would capture some of it on camera.
When I realised though, I didn’t care. The free movement that the music had brought out in my body felt so unbinding, I felt like I was wringing all the stress out of my soul and discharging it into the earth. I felt happy again, light, free, playful, joyous even, and that’s how I stayed for at least a few days afterwards.
Did it get rid of the horrible situations that I’ve been dealing with? No! My little session of unwinding did however give my body the break it needed to discharge some of the stress it had been carrying and recharge my batteries so I felt more able to cope going forwards.
Now dancing may not be your thing, but the point of me telling you all of this is so that you realise just how much of our thoughts and emotions get stored as tension in our bodies when we are under pressure. It is hugely important that you recognise your stress holding patterns and get some tools in your toolkit to help you unwind. There will be more to come in future blogs about things you can do to help yourself.
In the meantime if you would like to find out more about how you can manage your stress levels and ensure your body gets the break it needs, get in touch.