“My brain is still going. I’ve completed my day and now I’m worrying about the next…the calls, the errands, the people…and my body can’t quite get comfortable either.”
In many ways we are thankful for the motor inside of us that never shuts down. It’s one of the many things that allows us to be successful…or at least keep working towards that success. New Yorkers are busy. Our lives are non-stop. Our work is non-stop and to keep up with that we are in GO mode all the time. But we also face the reality that sometimes we wish we could have a moment or two of genuine peace and quiet.
So we get in bed, turn off the phone (because let’s be honest it happens in that order…and when I say turn off the phone I mean the light because phone off is something that would then require the extra 3 seconds it would take to actually turn back on and then I couldn’t check the time when I wake up in the middle of the night…etc.) and then this amazing thing happens…we don’t turn off.
Newsflash, your body doesn’t distinguish between mental and physical stress. When you’re stressing out mentally, 9 times out of 10 that stress is manifesting itself physically. Your breathing has become shallow so even trying to take a deep breath feels difficult, unachievable, or not quite satisfying. The muscles around the area of your lungs…everything from your neck, to your back, to your chest (and even your hips right near by) are tense from the protective holding that your body is doing to react to that stress.
That’s right, your body is tensing to protect itself. Why?! What from?! Your body doesn’t distinguish between physical and mental stress so when your mind in preparing for attack (be it an email at 3am or a call the next morning) your body is preparing to get let’s say ‘socked in the stomach.’
So what are some ways that you can reduce this stress and mind chatter to get a better nights sleep? I like to use a foam roller. You can gently self-massage just about any area of your body on the roller.
My favorite way to relax my body and my mind before bed is to use this really simple and gentle foam roller technique –
Lie on your side with the roller under your arm pit (but slightly more on the ribs) and gently roll yourself forward (belly button towards floor) and backward (belly button towards ceiling) about 10x. (Let your head be heavy). Repeat on opposite side.
This will gently open up your chest and soothe upper back pain. If your neck is tight you may want a small pillow between your ear and bottom shoulder.
Watch the video here:
While I haven’t cured the stress of your entire life with this brief exercise, it is a step in the right direction of getting a better night’s sleep and reducing some pain inducing stress.
*Not all exercises are appropriate for every body. If you have questions or concerns about whether these exercises are appropriate and helpful for you please contact me at [email protected].
For more on this topic click here for part two of the conversation.