How do you recuperate after a long day?
Sometimes life is hard.
Sometimes it even feels life-sucking—like some sort of genetically modified computer monster has tapped into our energy reserves. I’m amazed at how even the “healthiest” of individuals can feel so tired so often. I am definitely a firm believer in the power of food, but I’m also aware that our movement patterns can play a huge role in our quality of life.
The end of the day collapse
For many, countless hours are spent in front of some sort of screen. The eyes are focused straight ahead. The hands are kept close and the movement is repetitive. The legs remain at a fixed angle. And let’s be honest, most people are probably in a less-than-ideal posture most of the time.
Even the “greenest” of people can get locked into repetitive actions that can be draining on the body. Whether it’s prepping/cooking food, farming/gardening, or protesting GMOs, it’s far too easy to get stuck in a movement rut and then seek out your comfy chair or sofa and then collapse.
Unfortunately our culture has trained us to think of recuperation in terms of ‘collapse,’ rather than an active rebound to different movement for replenishing ourselves. – Certified Movement Analyst Peggy Hackney in Making Connections
Let’s be honest, how often do we actively think of replenishing our movement? It’s hard when so much of our lives are spent focusing on objects or tasks right in front of us. We are constantly focused on what needs to be done now. And when it finally gets done (or we are done for the day) we drop into a passive puddle of dead weight, waiting for the next day to start all over. No wonder we are so tired!
What does it mean to recuperate?
As a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist I work with clients to help them learn how to better recuperate. Our bodies are designed to move—and to do a variety of movement at that. My clients are always amazed at how much more energy they have when they actively replenish their movement with proper recuperation techniques. It’s a great feeling to get to the end of your day and not feel completely drained.
First you need to listen to your body. Try to find small ways to recuperate throughout the day. Then you need to know the best movement tactics that will replenish your body. Just like junk food doesn’t really nourish you, staring off into a computer for the entire day doesn’t either (even if you are taking a “break” to check facebook).
So, the next time you find yourself needing a little “recharge” here are three easy tools to help you better recuperate:
Three ways to recuperate better:
Do the opposite
Take a moment to analyze your own movement. Are you always leaning forward? Are the eyes always fixed two feet in front of you? Is your movement small? Try the opposite. Stretch backwards. Gaze your eyes far out the window or look all around you. Make big sweeping gestures. If you feel silly, put some music on and dance. I know people who vacuum to recuperate. Others finger paint, clean, or play tennis. Mix it up and do something different even if it’s just for a minute or two every hour.
Breath really is an answer for everything, if you ask me. But there are different ways to breathe: If you had a pretty calm and quiet day, try a good hearty laugh or watch a good comedy. If your day was full of deadlines or screaming kids, spend a few minutes meditating. The key is deep, full breaths—you know, the kind that we don’t always get to experience while in the middle of “work.”
Know when to (and when not to) collapse
There is definitely a time for collapse, like at bed time. One of the best things you can do is give your weight up to your bed. The image of a rag doll can be an effective sleep aid. But if you find yourself often “giving up” your weight throughout the day you may find it takes a lot more energy to re-activate your weight when it’s time to “get going.” Check out your posture. Is your torso heavy, sunken, or collapsed? Release down through your pelvic floor and allow the earth (whether through your feet or the seat of your chair) to send energy up and out through the top of your head. Keeping an active (not tense) aliveness in the torso can be an energy-saving trick that is free and easy.
Being aware of how we recuperate can help us better serve (and thank) our bodies. You may find that by switching things up, breathing deeply, and activating your weight will provide you with more energy and more satisfying recuperation. Even a couple of minutes each hour can make a world of difference. What do you have to lose?