Just Breathe Manual Therapy helps wellness-focused active adults feel more powerful & resilient by relieving pain and restoring harmony between their mind & body.
Hi <<First Name>>!
In just a few weeks in the new location, the practice has really gotten its feet under it. If you haven’t been to the new spot, what are you waiting for? 🙂
In today’s newsletter, I’ll share an extension of what I’ve been putting out on my Instagram page. The past few weeks have been all about how we can use our attention, breath, and subtle movement to relieve stress in our body. Today, I’m extending that to how we can use these same principles to help us affect how stress shows up in our mind.
I also want to make it really clear that stress is something to be thankful for, to manage and embrace, and to grow with. Without stress, there is no progress. What we can do is manage our association with the stress we experience. That’s the magic.
I’ve only got TWO slots left for new client kickstarts in the month of March!
That’s three sessions of 1-on-1 work designed around understanding where you are, where you want to go, and getting the ball rolling on the trip.
Last, as you may or may not know, I donate 10% of Just Breathe Manual Therapy’s revenues to direct aid causes. I am currently working with GiveDirectly, and am donating to their COVID-19 US Response fund. I’ve chosen them in particular because studies show that the best outcomes and the most efficient charitable donations are in direct cash payments to people who need money. Organizations like GiveDirectly trust people to use money for what they need. Means-testing is inefficient and puts unhelpful barriers between people in need and relief. Consider supporting direct aid causes when you can.
If there’s anything you’d like to see in this newsletter, please let me know!
Stress in your body and your mind.
If you’ve paid attention to my social media over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking a lot about how stress shows up in our bodies. It doesn’t have to be catastrophic like the story I told in last month’s newsletter where my body was so completely overcome that it just gave out. It can be the little things – a tension in your neck that makes sleeping uncomfortable, a tightness in your belly that might affect your shoulder, it can be a nagging headache that just puts you in a bad mood on top of what you’re already feeling.
In the videos I posted over the past few weeks, I gave a few simple practices that can help you relieve that tension on your own. Each of those practices started with bringing your attention to a feeling in your body. That’s always the first step and managing your attention is the point of focus for today.
At the outset, I want to make one thing really, really clear: I’m not talking about avoiding stress. Stress is an incredibly useful experience. In the gym, we only get better when we put our body under stress. We only get smarter when we put our brain under stress to learn. Stress is necessary for our amazing minds and bodies to adapt. Maybe you remember the concept of homeostasis from when you were in high school biology: it’s an organism’s drive to maintain balance. There’s a similar word that can help us understand how stress makes us better: allostasis. Allostasis is your brain predicting what is going to be required for you to maintain safety in the future. For example, when you start a lifting routine your brain says, “this is a new thing, I am being subjected to external loads.” Your brain’s allostatic reaction is that your body needs to be resilient in this new reality. In order for your body to be resilient to those loads, your brain turns on the internal mechanisms to create more muscle mass so the body will be safe in this new environment. Muscle growth (#gainz) because your brain wants to maintain homeostasis.
This is all to say that stress is a key ingredient in growth (here’s the formula, shamelessly taken from Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness: stress + rest = growth). Meanwhile, a key component in our management of stress is how we perceive it, aiming to build a positive association to the feeling of stress. There’s a lot of guides that can help you in this, and I’ll share my cornerstones.
The very first thing is paying attention. I sometimes gloss over or even forget to mention this! This is where our body comes in really handy. Noticing a new or surprise tension in your body is a great starting point to relieving that tension. The same is true of our mind, we can get great relief simply by noticing when we’re feeling irritable, rushed, or tense. Just by pausing to notice, we can start to shift our association with stress.
The second tool in this toolbox is a feeling of control. I’m not a religious guy, but nothing sums it up better than the serenity prayer. “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” If you realize that the stress is something you can control or see an end to, you can work in it because it’s not infinite. Accepting that you have no control over a situation and that you’re doing your best can also be really effective because acceptance is an act of agency. All you can control is yourself. That’s the story of 2020!
The third and last tool I’ll talk about today is creating boundaries. In order for the stress to be a positive, we need to have a sense of duration. We need to see an end to it. Frankly, this is the place where I find the biggest gap between my friends, peers, and clients who are wildly successful and those who burn themselves out. The most successful people I know (and it’s not coincidence) are the ones who know how to shut off their phone, close their computer, and unplug. Remember the growth equation from before? Stress + REST = Growth. The most successful and most fulfilled of us don’t skimp on the stress, and they also don’t skimp on the rest.
At the end of the day, stress isn’t something to avoid. It’s something to acknowledge, manage, embrace, and be grateful for. It’s only through stress that we learn what we can become. I’m no guru, but I have developed a very specific expertise in helping people’s stress as it shows up in their bodies. By integrating the same principles and applying the same methodology that I use in my body-based practice to the mind we experience profound improvements. Not only do sensations of pain, tightness, and soreness in our bodies become a lot more bearable, but we can see more possibilities in front of us and make better decisions, we can be kinder, more understanding, more compassionate and empathetic, and we can reach the heights of success and fulfillment of our dreams. I hope this gives you some food for thought and I’d love to hear if any of these tips resonate with you.
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