There is no ignoring the fact that how you feel is reflected in your body language, the way you hold yourself and how you interact. And there’s no doubt that how you feel physically impacts on your state of mind. Think about a time when you suffered an injury or experienced pain. How hard it was to stay positive or be happy? It’s likely that you struggled for some time at least.
Now, consider the everyday postures which you dwell in for more than 20mins at a time. Slumping at your desk, driving in your car, waiting, hunched over chin down texting, responding to an email or social media post on your phone. Likely less painful but overtime these habits can cause chronic conditions, which could impact on both your physical and mental health.
Do you choose productivity over health and do you ignore your innate, in-built instinct to move?
One of our most common daily postures is sitting. It’s likely you’re doing it now! Prolonged sitting can impact on your mobility, making your hips tight, your legs stiff and your postural muscles working overtime. Your chest muscles shorten and become tight, so you instinctively adapt and hunch forward, whilst increasing the strain on your neck.
Your mobility is impacted by your everyday habits, and over time, without you maybe realising it, you are repeatedly reinforcing these patterns by going about your daily activities in a mindless way.
Think about it – imagine, purposefully slumping over for 30mins. If I instructed you to do it, you wouldn’t be keen to comply. You’ve restricted your abdomen, so immediately your breathing is affected and there’s less oxygen is getting into your lungs. You’re having to work harder to breathe in, so this may cause your heart rate to increase, making you feel less relaxed and more tired – even anxious over time.
Likely that if you were to become aware of your lower back in the chair, you may notice that you’re really not all that comfortable and you may be more inclined to move. But day to day you accept the ‘social norm’ and continue to operate in this way.
These changes and adjustments are very subtle, but like all habits, over time they become the norm. You may have heard the quote, “You are a sum of your everyday habits.” So, it’s important to consider,
How are your habits supporting your health?
Do you go about your day with an awareness of the movements that your body is making? Or are you frequently distracted, or multitasking?
For many, the demands of life and the environments that we exist in dictate our daily habits, many of which are unhelpful in terms of promoting our physical health and wellbeing. When we become mindful of them and start to pay attention, we can take control and break habits which no longer serve us.
The great thing is that you can chose to change a habit at any time. The purpose of this article has been to raise your awareness and motivate you to take the initial steps to create positive changes.
Becoming more mindful – Change can be slow and painful, and it can also be quick and easy. When you adjust your perception and commit to doing things differently it can be surprising how comfortable you can become with your new behaviours.
In my experience, one of the best ways to break sedentary patterns and increase mobility is to use meditation and mindful movement.
Start the day with a short mediation or a mindful walk. This way you are training the brain to be present and you can stay more aware throughout the day. This will enable you to make better decisions, you will be able to notice and respond to how you think and feel. You can combine this with physical exercises in the form of yoga, stretching or any exercise that feels good to you and this coordinated with breathing exercises will increase your body awareness, so you will feel more in tune with your feelings.
This article was featured in the Winter issue of Thrive Magazine 2019