Like other bodyworkers and movement explorers, I’m constantly asking questions and trying to learn more about how the body works—in the context of living in a body of my own with a life of my own. Pursuing knowledge in the healthcare field is always deeply personal because we all have a stake in the game. We all have a body that either does or does not do what we want it to. At the time of writing this, I’m 31 weeks pregnant. I am valuing this time to discover more about what it is like to be pregnant so I can better relate to future clients who are or have been pregnant, and know more about what I have to offer the pregnant body as a bodyworker. My biggest concern in learning about my pregnant body, however, is so that I can be as comfortable and able as possible.
These days, I’m learning about balance. More than ever, my body is feeling the effects of imbalance.
I’m playing a game every day, trying to keep moving the right amount without doing too much. This is hard because, perhaps like you, when I am focused on a task, I like to do it until it’s done. That means if I’m working on a project in the garden, I want to keep at it, even when my body starts aching and fatiguing. Alternatively, when I’m working on the computer, I want to complete that activity before allowing myself to get distracted out of my sedentary position.
To help myself keep to a good balance of movement throughout the day, I keep in mind that “rest” can be as simple as “moving differently,” and “moving more” can be as simple as changing position.
Many times, the reason we get injured from a particular activity is because we are moving in only one way. For example, when I’m shoveling dirt (are you gardening as much as I am these days?) I always angle my shovel to the right, with my left hand on top. If I were to switch the shovel to my left side, my body would feel awkward. However, my muscles would be working differently, so although I’d still be actively moving some parts of my body, other parts would be able to rest. This could also be as simple as carrying something in your right arm and then switching your load to your left arm. Your right arm gets to rest while you are still accomplishing the carrying you need to do. When you’re being physically active while trying to avoid creating or exacerbating an injury, it can be worthwhile to take frequent “breaks” simply by switching hand position on your shovel, or alternating activities (go water the plants, then get back to shoveling) rather than doing the same movements over and over until your body complains.
Being stationary can create some similar repetitive overuse injuries because your body is still doing the same thing over and over. If you need to do something like sit in front of a computer, frequent movement breaks are crucial to keeping your body functioning happily. However, some of these “breaks” can look like simply changing the position in which you are being sedentary. For example, when you switch from having your feet on the ground to sitting cross-legged, you’ve just altered the angles of your hips, knees, and ankles. Maybe you can get off your butt and into a crouch or a squat. It may not seem like much, but you’re changing the way your muscles are holding you up and the way blood is flowing through your body. That’s helpful!
Another factor that has been big help for me has been the constant company of my 2-year-old child. As any parent knows, having her around means I cannot get sucked into any endeavor for long without taking a break to take her to the bathroom, get her a snack, give hugs, and just spend time with her. Yes, it takes a lot more time to accomplish any given task. However, I’m finally taking all those movement breaks I had always intended on, and my body is happier on the whole. Perhaps this is one positive outcome happening for all those parents newly homeschooling their kids right now.
Self care is an activity often left for the bottom of to-do lists. Usually something more urgent demands our attention. However, while we’re accomplishing all our accomplishments, our bodies are still existing, doing all the functions we hopefully can take for granted. What if self care were a continuous pursuit all day long? What if accomplishing your tasks and taking care of your body happened at the same time? That is my ultimate goal, for myself and for you.
(top image credit: @laurenhowlandphoto)