- Patrice Shumate
Connecting Your Body and Business
Where are you right now? At work? At home? Somewhere in between? Both?
What is your posture as you read this? Are you sitting hunched and crumpled? Is your jaw tense? Do you feel hungry or tired? Are your thoughts circling? Do your actions seem disjointed and distracted? Have you been staring into blue light for hours?
Have you asked yourself any of these questions today…or ever? Have you ever paid attention to the way your body feels throughout your work day? Have you ever made intentional choices to feel good while you work and put effort toward listening and responding to your body? Do you bring self-awareness to your workspace? Has anyone ever shown you how?
Sometimes, our bodies communicate our emotional and physical state before our brains do, but we don’t really live in a society that encourages a stronger mind-body connection, and we don’t usually develop these self-awareness skills as we grow into adulthood. Take breathing, for example. We master breathing right at birth because we can not survive without each inhale and exhale. Because it is instinctual and ingrained in our survival, we rarely consider ways to maximize its benefits in our daily lives. According to an article by Scientific American,
“In fact, every relaxation, calming or meditation technique relies on breathing, which may be the lowest common denominator in all the approaches to calming the body and mind. Research into basic physiology and into the effects of applying breath-control methods lends credence to the value of monitoring and regulating our inhalations and exhalations.”
Over the course of our work day, our thoughts are likely hijacked by tasks, deadlines, expectations, relationships, etc. Our job responsibilities don’t leave time to focus on much else, and our physical and mental health can undoubtedly take a backseat. For us in nonprofits and helping professions, we tend to ignore our own body signals and stress indicators because we are working with folks experiencing circumstances much worse than our own. Absorbing others’ trauma can lead to vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue which is an important topic to discuss in our field…and a topic for another blog.
Stress, fear, and anxiety can accumulate in our bodies and manifest in pretty nasty ways if left unchecked. BUT! We have tools to bring calm and balance to our minds and bodies! Our own bodies are the tools! It is amazing! We can utilize these tools whenever we want, as many times as we want, and certainly in our workspaces.
You deserve to feel good today, and tomorrow, and the next day. You are worthy of time and attention even though the urgency and scarcity mindsets built into our society make us forget. Who you are and how you work really can complement one another. If connecting and listening to yourself isn’t a practice you know well, here are some articles to help you get familiar.
Maintaining Focus in Stressful Situations
Before you click or scroll to something else...
*close your eyes
*lower your shoulders and lift your chin until your spine feels long
*focus your attention on your toes, then your knees, then your hips, then your belly, then your chest, then your shoulders and neck, then your jaw, then your ears, then your eyes
*then, think only about your breath
*keep your mouth closed and inhale through your nose
*sit, breathing for a little while
*Let your body just exist without being required to do
*pause the movement and just breathe*
*When you are ready, go back to your day and repeat as often as necessary