Monthly Archives: August 2014

19 Our American Sickness

Picture1I have once heard it called our American Sickness—our seeming need to fill every waking minute with activity.

In my last post I talked about the relationship of stress to excess muscular tension to poor posture.

One way you create stress is how you habitually think about time. Always lacking enough time is typically more of a thought or a mindset than reality.

Another way many of us in our US culture create stress for ourselves is choosing to be busy all the time. The operative word here is choose.

Never having downtime, time to just be and not do, is stressful.

And stress leads to excessive muscular tension which contributes to poor posture.

Why is it that we always need to be doing something? This has fascinated me for a long time.

And often doing one thing at a time is not enough! Driving is not enough. We must be catch up on voice mails while speeding down the freeway. Eating is not enough. We must catch up on the latest news feeds or Facebook posts while we down our lunches.

We could blame our culture. I do, to some extent. If everyone around you is busy all the time it’s easy to get caught up in it and subsequently almost feel guilty if you are not busy yourself. Or feel that you are not important, if you are not busy. In our culture productivity and hard work are lauded. Being busy is equated with being important. But 24/7?

It is probably easier to not create such a busy life for yourself if you are living in an environment where life is slower paced—a tropical island perhaps (in my dreams…) But no matter where you are, if it is important to you, you can make a decision to exercise your ability to choose how you want your life to be.

Just as you can choose to do many extra things at work and activities outside of work, volunteer and otherwise, you can choose not to.

If you want to work on your posture, work on decreasing the stress in your life by choosing not to fill every waking moment with activity.

You are after all a human BE-ing not a human DO-ing.

Give yourself permission to just BE and not DO some of the time. Your body and your posture will thank you for it.


18 Posture, Pain and Time

What is your relationship with time? Do you have enough or are you always short of time?

time headTime itself is not stressful. How you choose to relate to time is what can be stressful. And how does your body typically respond to stress? By tightening and tensing.

Excessive muscular tension is a contributing factor to poor posture and musculoskeletal pain.

You can blame the stress in your life on many things but a lot of it is simply created by how you think. And in particular how you think about time.

The Vacation Effect

Ever wonder why your persistent backache feels better while on vacation only to have the discomfort return the first day back at work? There are likely multiple factors at play here, including simply getting more exercise while on vacation. However, one important factor is how you relate to time while on vacation vs. while at work.

In your day to day life you often spend a lot of time thinking or worrying that you don’t have enough time to get everything done or have to hurry up and get whatever you are currently doing done so that you can get onto the next task. Stressful thinking.

When you are truly on vacation you typically enjoy whatever it is you are doing without the overriding thought that you need to complete it soon in order to get on to the next task. Easeful thinking.

Then when you return back to work you also return to your habitual thought patterns that you don’t have enough time, you must hurry up and get onto to the next task and so on. Stressful thinking.

Mind and Muscle

Thinking you have too little time is stressful and your musculature will react with strain and excess tension. Thinking thoughts such as “I have plenty of time to do what I need to do right now” and “I can enjoy what I am doing in this moment” will cause your musculature to be more at ease. These examples are two ends of a continuum, sometimes referred to as the mind-muscle continuum. Where you tend to hang out habitually along the continuum over time will have a great impact on how you look and feel.

Your mindset affects your muscles (and your posture)--no doubt this man is in a rush!

Your mindset affects your muscles (and your posture)–no doubt this man is in a rush!

“I Have Time”

Always lacking enough time is typically more of a mindset than reality.

But since you create the stress of rushing by how you think…you can change it.

If you want to improve your posture, pay some attention to what you are thinking. Periodically check in to see how you are thinking about what you are doing. Are you focused on the task at hand? Or are you thinking you need to get this current task done so you can get on to the next one? If you find you are thinking the later, consciously refocus your thoughts on the task at hand and tell yourself “I have time”.

This is a simple suggestion but not necessarily easy to implement—especially if you have a lifelong habit of rushing. But it’s worth trying. Your body and your posture will thank you for it.

Picture credits: cartoon used under permission from DIRECTION Journal