Do you ever get that feeling? You know, where you feel kind of tight and contracted, like the littlest thing can have you springing up (or lashing out) for no real reason at all? Or that you are overreacting to things that should be no big deal, and even as you're reacting, you know you're being a drama queen (or king) about it?
Why am I even asking? We've all done it before, and likely, we'll probably do it again.
It was my meditation teacher who told me that we can meditate our hearts out, do yoga under a full moon by the ocean and drink all the green smoothies in the world -- but it's only when we get pressed, tightened, and wound up that we can truly test whether we are taking those calm-making practices out into the world.
We are like springs. Our goal should be to be like a slinky spring, a loosey-goosey one that can move and shake and wiggle, adapt and bend as needed. Most of us, however, end up winding ourselves up even more. If we don't find a way to unwind, we instead wind tighter and tighter until we spring forth like a Jack-In-The-Box.
When I see this happening in others (because it's sooooo much easier to see in others, right?) all I can think is how uncomfortable they must be feeling. Lashing out like a Jack-In-The-Box never makes anyone feel good. Here's the awesome bit -- when you start bringing attention to this tightening, you can catch it, undo it, and unwind it before you bust out like a crazy-train.
Jack wouldn't jump out of the box too fast, if he weren't so wound up!
Best UnDiet Strategies To Effectively Unwind
1. Shimmy and Shake
Get up from your desk, your chair, your bed, wherever you may be, turn on your favourite song of the moment and just bust it out! Dance, dance, dance for a whole three, four or five minutes. You'll change up the blood flow in your body, you'll spark your cells awake, you'll get your lungs pumping a little and most importantly, you will be a little bit silly. Silly goes a long, long way to unwinding.
When we sit with our shoulders slouched forward, as most of us do when working on a computer or driving, we are limited to only being able to take quick, shallow breaths. When we do this, we switch our nervous system into fight or flight mode, making us feel more fatigued, stressed and at the ready to fly off the handle. Make a point frequently to stand up, or at least sit straight, take a deep, deep, deep inhale filling your chest and your belly. As you exhale, drop those shoulders down and back, keeping your chest open. This will feel so good that you might just want to do it again and again and again.
This slumped posture drains our energy and has been associated with increased feelings of depression and anxiety. Remember -- stand and sit tall, and breathe deep!
3. Get In Coherence
What? What's this coherence I speak of? Well, it has to do with your breathing and your heart rate. The heart and brain maintain a continuous two-way dialogue, each influencing the other’s functioning. The signals the heart sends to the brain can influence perception, emotional processing and higher cognitive functions. Heart rate variability is the measure of the naturally occurring beat-to-beat changes in heart rate. When we feel stressed or anxious, this beat-to-beat measure is more erratic and we experience cognitive impairment. When we have a steady beat-to-beat ratio, different from an irregular heartbeat, it is called being in coherence. We are better able to problem solve, feel joy and love and think clearly and calmly in that state.
We describe positive emotions such as love or appreciation as coherent states because they generate coherence in the heart-rhythm pattern. Negative feelings such as anger, anxiety or frustration are examples of emotions that lead to incoherent states and reflect incoherence in the heart’s rhythmic patterns. By taking anywhere from five to 20 minutes or more every day to focus on inhaling and exhaling calmly and steadily, you can move into a coherent state. This can have lasting effects throughout your day and positively impact sleep patterns as well.
4. Make A Date To Have The Time Of Your Life
Doing the laundry, washing dishes, commuting to work -- these are typically not the time-of-your-life-moments that you will look back on fondly one day. But time-of-your-life-moments can actually happen everyday if you decide to make it so. And when we are having the time of our lives, we are also allowing ourselves to unwind from stress and refuel on vibrancy. Try and make a date every day to do something, read something, watch something, be with someone, hug a tree, jump on your bed, blast some music... Something that invites you to have micro moments that make you feel blessed, cherished and most awesome.
These intentional moments will unwind you, while simultaneously fuelling you up.
5. Eat To Support Emotional Wellbeing
When we're stressed, we are more inclined to indulge in contractive foods like salty snacks, alcohol, sugar and other processed crappola that fuels the winding up. Try and bring a little awareness to this habit and instead choose warming, grounding, nourishing foods that are home cooked, slow cooked, made from scratch with loads of nervous system supportive fats that will give you the reserves you need to truly feel the unwinding happen.
This is a stressful time of year. We all feel the shift in seasons, the quickening pace of busy schedules and new routines. The best thing you can do to manage the Jack-In-The-Box syndrome of the wind-up is to catch it before you hit your breaking point, to pay attention today. Right now, shake your tail feather, drop your shoulders back and breathe deep, get in coherence, have the time of your life and eat well. Taking on these little habits everyday will rock your soul, guaranteed, and happiness will flourish if you're ready to receive it.