I had a great conversation with a client recently that’s really stuck with me.I’ve thought about it a lot as the dog days of summer come upon us sooner than many of us would like and I thought it was worth sharing!
At this time of year, one of the things physiotherapists and health care providers hear most often is:
“I’m sorry! I didn’t get to my exercises nearly as much as I should have! I was just out having fun!”
My typical response seems to catch them off guard.
“Awesome! What have you been up to!”
I’ve come to realize, it’s unrealistic for me to expect the average person to get to their exercises every day this time of year. Amidst camping, fishing, boating, hiking, swimming, gardening and visiting if mobility and strength are not part of your normal routine, sometimes it’s the first thing to go out the window. I usually advise to get to the exercises when they can and maintain a small dose of body and movement awareness as they go about their activities. I encourage them to see that part of healing an injury still means living life. My job is to help develop an understanding of how to incorporate healthy movement into your life in a way that will lead to appropriate strength and improved function with decreased pain levels. Stressing and shaming about not getting to the exercises usually doesn’t help out so I’ve worked to give that up and encourage my clients to do the same.
In this case, my client was coming in with left hip tightness. We’ve worked on her left hip before and have identified it’s not uncommon for her to hold tension there when she’s stressed about something. While I worked on the muscle tissues, we talked about what was on her mind.
“I’m worried I’m too busy in the evenings this week. I have a family dinner tomorrow night, a walk with a friend the night after and on Thursday I want to go dancing in Spirit Square! There’s only a few weeks left before Thursday night dancing outside in Spirit Square will be over so I don’t want to miss that but I also want to connect with these friends and be out in nature. What should I give up?”
She then talked about how a friend told her she was too busy. She needed to “Just BE more”. Yet this friend, she describes, spends a chunk of her time at home “BEING” fluttering around in a tizzy, with her head in the clouds.
My client remembers what it was like when she was that way and we both agree, she a calmer and more grounded presence than she was a year ago. Her body is less tense, she is in much less pain, she regulates emotion better and is generally more connected to her body and the world around her.
I offered her something.
“Consider that you could give up that what BEING should look like. What if what you are up to right now is actually you BEING you in the world. You are connecting with friends and doing the things you love. I would consider that “being” you. Can you see that if you take the context, that being looks like hanging around at home all the time, resting out of the equation, you are just being you this week as you do the things you love to do that bring you life. Why suck the joy out when you think you SHOULD be at home, having more alone time journaling or meditating. If you find you do need alone time, take it in the mornings, or on your lunch break perhaps?”
I could see the stress melt out of her body as she considered this idea.
She said: “I went for a hike this past weekend. At the end of the trail, I sat quietly next to my friend. We didn’t speak and suddenly I realized, I could hear all the birds around me. I could hear the sound of the wind through the trees and my own breathing. I used to think that meditation meant you had to sit and not hear anything. Now I think that meditation for me can be “being” present in the world and really enjoying it. From that place, I can just BE in the world this week and have fun!”
We both left the session a little lighter and her with a strong and balanced left hip. It will be her work to maintain a mindfulness of it in the weeks to come, taking a breath or two when she starts to feel tight to consider what she needs and what it looks like just be present and enjoy the moment she’s currently in. I am confident she can do it.
I was so inspired to consider it in my own life. When I get stressed about how much I want to be up to this time of year, can I take the stress out by discovering a way to BE in the midst of it?
This time of year is an incredible time to connect with nature and nurture your bodies. It can also be busy and stressful for some and I invite you today, to make sure you take a moment to breath and enjoy it!