How many times as a kid did you do this? When there is something you really, really don’t want to do, particularly when it happened on a regular basis, like visiting a great aunt or violin lessons, you conveniently had a stomach ache. It was your method of trying to get out of it. How many times in your life when you’ve felt stressed or under pressure have you had headaches, or your back is suddenly twingey.
Now there’s a couple of good reasons for this. Stress, and particularly a prolonged exposure to stress, suppresses our immune system – like teachers on half term, a crazy number of them end up spending it feeling under the weather, as their body catches up with the non stop-ness of the weeks previously.
Like we talked about on day one, our stress response focuses a huge portion of our bodies resources on our ability to fight or flee. We’re not interested in good digestion or fighting germs if it’s going to lessen our ability to survive in the immediate future. Remember the brain can’t tell the difference between the feelings thrown up by a deadline or a tiger attack!
The next good reason is subconscious too. It’s like the body is saying “I hate this task, I hate this job, I don’t want to do it. How can I get out of it without looking flakey?” Our lives now are so full of stressors and the relentless nature of social comparison and competition, it’s exhausting. Indeed, if it continues long term and we’re looking at fatigue, anxiety and depression. It’s hard to bow out from the pressure, if your ego is subconsciously telling you that you’ll be judged, or you’re letting the team down, or you’re not good enough.
If you think about your daily habits, how many of them are sedentary? Run a quick assessment in your head, of the numbers you spend in a day that are: sat down; staring at a screen; driving; eating in a hurry or solitary. Versus the number of hours you spend: walking; standing; socialising with friends and family.
When was the last time you had an impromptu dance break at work?
What’s that? Your colleagues would think you’ve gone fruit loop? You’d think you’ve gone fruit loop?? Okay, so let’s try, when was the last time you stood up and had a good stretch, or taken a quick walk around the block? Or even just stood outside in the fresh air (to be honest, this is the only positive I can see for smoking – that you actually have to move your ass and step outside for a few minutes, admittedly to poison yourself but…each to their own)
Somehow, the earnestness with which we treat our ‘work’ has become more culturally approved than our own self care and sanity. And you know, really if you’re self employed, if you run your own business, then YOU are your biggest asset. If you’re a solopreneur, then the business is literally nothing without you. So can we please pledge right now to place ourselves at the top of our priority list. Enough of looking after everyone else first.
Here’s today’s joyous nugget of wisdom for you and also your action step. It’s a fun one. But it makes a serious point. How you feel and think, whether that’s about your business or anything else in your life, is mirrored by your body. Stress makes us tighten up and shift into a defensive posture, this is amplified by using devices and sitting too much. Hello head jut! Hello round shoulders! Goodbye ability to use your butt muscles and Hello back pain! Seriously.
This is the body barometer rotation test. Let’s check where you are right now. Stand up, feet hip width apart. Lift one arm up in front of you. Now keeping your hips forward, turn from your waist in the direction that matches the arm you’ve raised. So turn right if you raised your right arm and turn left if it’s your left arm. See how far you can rotate your upper body before you’re just swinging your arm back. Be honest, no point kidding yourself that you can twist your body round further than you truly can. Okay. Come back to the middle and do it the other way. Try and get a picture in your mind of how it feels and how far you can turn. Is it different from side to side?
This time, I’d like you to take a moment to conjure up in your mind your darkest, saddest memory. Take a moment to find it and absorb the feeling of it. Let yourself be really present to how it felt. Got it? We’ll repeat the test. Remember, feet hip width apart. Lift one arm up in front of you. Keep your hips forward, turn from your waist in the direction that matches the arm you’ve raised. Turn right if you raised your right arm and turn left if it’s your left arm. Now swap and rotate the other way, with the other arm raised.
How did that feel? Did you go as far? Did you go further? Make a little mental note of the difference from the first test to the negative test.
Ready to repeat? Cool. So give yourself a little wiggle to shake off the negative energy.
This time I’d like you to immerse yourself it the best memory you have. The happiest, brightest, sparkliest moment of your life. You know, the one where you realised just how wonderful it was possible to feel. Got it? Great! Let’s test again. So, feet hip width apart. Lift one arm up in front of you. Now keeping your hips forward, turn from your waist in the direction that matches the arm you’ve raised. So turn right if you raised your right arm and turn left if it’s your left arm. Again don’t let the shoulder swing wildly, the twist comes from your waist. Now swap arms and twist in the other direction.
How was that? How did it feel? How far did you travel?
To finish up, compare the three tests: Neutral; Negative and Positive. What did you find? Was anything surprising?
As you hopefully saw, how you feel affects your body. This is happening all the time. every day. Every. Day. How you feel changes not just how bendy and flexi you are, it changes how you respond to the challenges in the world, because it changes how switched on and grounded in your body you are. Knowing that you have the key to this kind of magic can be a real game changer. It was for me.
Tomorrow on day four of Unicorn You, we’ll be exploring why You should do You and step away from comparisons.