Mental Health & Movement – Spring
Ever heard of a Resurrection plant? Hailing from the desert, it’s a botanical wonder that comes to life over and over when you water it. When it’s dry, the little tumbleweed curls up into a ball and turns brown. Also known as the Rose of Jericho, when exposed to a little bit of moisture, it slowly unfurls and can turn a brilliant hue of green.
My sister gave me one for my birthday, and I keep it on a windowsill I frequently look at, a casual reminder of resilience (and why I should drink more water). The other night I opted to not bring it back to life because I thought “it’s still too cold; winter is lingering, so stay sleeping, little babe”.
A couple of days later the temps ramped up, the spring frogs were calling, and it felt like a seasonal shift was rolling through. With that gust of warmth and my longing to listen to all the spring birdsongs, I saw it was time to get the energy for longer & sunnier days moving – and maybe time to wake up the Resurrection plant, too.
Spring into Movement
The upcoming seasonal shift is asking for you to get the energy flowing again, to shake off the sleepy winter vibes and get a move on with your seeds. If you’ve been suffering from the winter blues, don’t worry; you’ll bounce back like the Resurrection plant.
Did you know that energy can get trapped in your tissues? Negative self-talk, rumination, and even nightmares manifest energetically in your body. When we start getting things circulating, sweating it out & clearing our minds – we can push out stagnation and restore balance.
Your mental health NEEDS movement – and you’ll feel so much better when you get a dose of it! Even the slightest amount can have a profound positive impact. It’s the ultimate profitable return on investment!
Combining meditative focus with physical movement calms the mind and reduces the stress it causes on our body as a result. Mindful movement can relieve tension, ease stress, enhance your mood, and work as an exceptional natural anti-anxiety treatment.
Here are a few movement options that might be worth exploring – and maybe even fun…
You can get your heart rate up, work up a sweat, maybe find some mental comfort or have an emotional release – all by dancing to a tune in your living room. For the more outgoing, perhaps there’s a local dance class you can join or an evening spot with salsa. Dance can be a great way to meet other people, learn about other cultures, and let your body feel free. Check out live music in the area and go shake away the day!
In a professional setting, Dance Movement Therapy, or DMT, can help with cognitive function, help with unconscious processing, enhance creativity, and also help with confidence & body image. Click here to learn more about Dance Movement Therapy.
I’m a little biased here, but yoga is a great way to calm the mind and unite it with your body. You can opt for more intense flavors of yoga, such as hot yoga or power flows, but you can also sink into stretches and find more of a melting comfort in yin or restorative classes. While yoga classes are a great place to meet other people in your community and enjoy some social connections, the internet is a great resource for those who want to experience the benefits from home.
Tai Chi is a Chinese art that involves a series of slow movements practiced in combination with deep breathing and focused intention. This is a great practice for those who want something less strenuous, but also builds balance & muscular strength. With mental focus, the series of movements can push you into relaxation while maintaining your presence and mindfulness.
1. Start your day with movement
Making movement a priority in the morning can make it feel like an easier commitment and will also start your day on the right foot. I personally enjoy a few sun salutations and deep stretches in the mornings, after which I always seem to stand a little taller, and feel a little looser & more energized when moving on to my next task.
2. Turn screen time into movement time
I began to notice that I was scrolling through online news publications first thing in the morning while waiting for my coffee – and then I’d scroll and scroll – and scroll a little longer. Eventually I would find myself at the depths of various curiosities, like wanting to know who is who in the extended British monarchy or how a human design map works.
Sure, it’s great to read the news, but upon switching to stretching or meditating before coffee or touching technology, I found myself with more focus & intention on how my day was going to pan out.
3. Find accountability
While some folks use Fit Bits and other technology that help them map their heart rate, sleep cycles, and steps; a good old fashioned way to follow through with something is with the support of a friend. Make dates to go for walks on a regular basis or join a local sports group. Ever heard of Pickleball?
By having someone alongside you, you’re more likely to show up. If you’re not someone who flakes on workouts but wants to commit to them – make plans for after that can feel like a reward. Aside from humans, dogs are also solid accountability partners when it comes to getting exercise.
4. Go Gently
If you have trouble shaking off the hibernation, start with something small, like getting outside for 30 minutes each day, committing to stretching for twenty minutes every morning, or to find a short exercise to complete. Maybe you want to get up a little earlier and add a ten minute meditation over tea to your routine (a great time to get your daily adaptogen in, too!)
5. Hack Your Hobby
If you don’t already have a hobby that has you moving, give something new a try. Bowling, roller skating, hiking, trail running, swimming – any of them strike your fancy? Axe throwing? Think outside the box a little bit and fill some of your more hermit tendencies with something that will get your mind & body moving.
6. Start a Garden
You get what you put into a garden, and it’s pretty amazing to watch a little beet seed grow for sixty days until it’s a plump and scrumptious baseball. You’ll find yourself squatting a lot, and using different muscles with all of the various tasks required to get from seed to harvest.
The garden is a place where you can drift into a meditative movement, but also reinforce a grateful attitude. As Galieo pointed out, “The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do”.