In my experience, focusing on gentle movement naturally shifts attention away from stressful thoughts and gives a person a chance to relax and restore. It is a more effective way to feel better physically and emotionally, than “trying to relax” or “trying not to worry”. There are no special skills to master. All that is needed is a few minutes of your time and a little bit of patience.
I am sharing a few simple ideas below and you probably have your own favorite movements to explore. Whatever you choose to do, pick a level of intensity that is just enough to keep you focused. What I am suggesting is not a workout, but a conscious movement exploration designed to help you feel better naturally.
Exploration 1: Lie down on a firm-ish, but comfortable surface (soft carpet, a blanket or quilt) and follow your breathing for a few inhales and exhales. Then slowly sense and feel how you make contact with the floor. Starting from your feet and moving gradually towards your head, feel which parts of you press more into the floor, which parts press less and which are not touching the floor.
Exploration 2: Lie on your back and start slowly rolling to one side and back and then to the other side. Pause between movements so that you can notice how each one starts. Find a few different ways to roll to the side and back.
Exploration 3: If you are in the mood for something more active, shift between lying and sitting and back to lying down for a little while. If you want to challenge yourself more, come all the way to standing and back to lying down. If you want a little less of a challenge, move between sitting in a chair and standing.
For explorations 2 & 3, pick a movement that you can do for 1-2 minutes without straining and losing track of what you are doing. Then take a break and decide if you want to continue or stop.
Hint: It is often tempting to skip breaks, in order to have a “more productive self-care experience”, but breaks are integral part of the process. If you continue moving while uncomfortable or simply tired of paying attention, it gets harder and harder to notice subtle nuances. You slip into the “exercise mode” (doing the same thing over and over again), which is less likely to result in a qualitative shift in the way you feel. Exercise can be a great way to energize yourself, build endurance or test your limits, but you are less likely to learning something new, because it is harder to make distinctions.
I hope you enjoy these mini self-care routines. If you try it, please drop me a line about your experience. Questions and suggestions for future self-care topics are welcome and appreciated.