05 May Change
I help people to have better posture, stand taller or move in different ways. Simple huh?
But this can lead to deep change, which helps peoples’ stress, pain, energy levels, confidence, I could go on……. Why on earth would that be?
How you do simple everyday things is related to your every day way of being and thinking.
You have developed your ways of moving and doing things over your whole life. Some of them will have come from imitating your parents as a child. You might have noticed how family members have similar mannerisms. These learnt movement patterns extend to all sorts of everyday habits.
So why do I need to change my postural and movement habits?
If all is going well for you, maybe you don’t! But for lots of us, we have some issue we are dealing with. Pain or tension. Anxiety, stress or constant tiredness. We might not be as balanced or coordinated as we would like. For that to change, you have to change.
As Einstein said: “doing the same thing repeatedly, and expecting different results is the definition of insanity”
Taking the example of pain – if you are dealing with pain day to day, and it’s affecting your quality of life, then something will have to change in order for the pain to change. Many of us recognise what might be the big contributor to our stress or pain (or anxiety, or tiredness: these things are often related). It might be something external – like your stressful job, or a long commute, or you have young children and not enough help.
For most of us, we can’t make the changes in our lives like changing jobs that will make a big difference to our wellbeing, at least not straight away. So, the only thing we have to work with is our bodies and our reactions and make behaviour changes to take care of ourselves in the situation we are in. Even if we could wave a magic wand, or win the lottery, and make all the big changes, we often have learnt ways of being in our body that we would still need to unpick to start to feel better.
You can’t change everything all at once. But changing little things can really add up!
- If you can manage a 10 minute lie down a day to take some time out, that’s a great start (see here)
- But maybe all you can do for now is to think about letting go of tension when you are sitting a couple of times a day (see video here).
- Do you sit for hours at work, and then suddenly notice you are feeling stiff and painful? Take a little break and walk around every 30min or so.
- Have you given up a fun thing you used to do because life seems too busy; dancing, meeting up with your mates, weekend rambles? Can you prioritise some fun time, especially if it’s active? (see why this can help both pain and stress here)
The beauty of picking one little thing to change and committing to it (poststick notes and phone reminders if necessary), is that it will become a new good habit. You will soon start to notice without external prompting that you are holding your shoulders up, and let them go. It then becomes more normal for you to have a relaxed neck and shoulders than tense ones.
As each little new habit is established it allows you ‘brain space’ to tackle another little change, such as taking a moment when stopped at traffic lights to notice you are gripping the steering wheel hard, and letting your hands relax. The effect of all these little changes is cumulative:
So, one day, you notice that you have just done that long drive that always gave you a headache and you have arrived fresh and comfortable. All because you have made lots of little changes to how you hold yourself and react to stress.
Or you are running and suddenly realise that you are moving freely and effortlessly.
Or you have been digging in the garden, and you realise that it hasn’t triggered back pain like it used to.
This is Alexander Technique: bringing your habits up from the unconscious into your awareness, so you can then decide which ones aren’t helpful, and change them. You probably have a few habits you are aware of already, like hunching over the computer for long periods. You can start changing these straight away. More subtle things, such as holding your breath when doing stressful things, or not resting the arms fully when you sit down, or standing with your back pulled in and your knees locked, or whatever your habits may be, are harder to notice for yourself. These small things can contribute to your stress or pain and affect your coordination and balance. Because our movement and posture habits have been with us a long time, and have become part of us, it can be difficult to recognise and become aware of them.
This is where an Alexander Technique teacher can help. We are here to help you recognise how you are using your body (and mind) and show you how to undo unhelpful habits (just telling yourself to relax rarely works unfortunately!)
AT deals with our ingrained habits. Which is why it is not a quick fix and takes some commitment to learn. But this is why it is effective when ‘quick fix’ methods have failed. And because you will have changed you, you then have this skill of looking after yourself for life.
Want to change? I’d be happy to help. Contact me here