If you’re like a lot of us, you live inside your mind—a habit that tends to worsen during difficult times. This surreal pandemic is a prime example: You’re busy ruminating, problem solving, and strategically planning (not easy to do when so many things are up in the air!). And you’re likely distracted and disconnected from your body (and very worn out).
So, today, let’s reconnect.
Start by doing something physical, such as practicing a 10-minute yin yoga video, riding your bike, taking a walk around the block, doing a high-intensity workout, or logging into a Zoom Pilates class—whatever you find enjoyable.
Next, do a body scan from head to heel. Ask yourself how each body part is feeling. For example, how is my head feeling? How is my chest? How is my right arm? My left arm? What about my left hip? My right hip?
You might experience tightness in certain areas, which you can ease. You might massage your hands, roll your neck, and stretch your legs.
Then sit down and explore a journal prompt or two to help you further refocus your mind onto your body. Here are some examples:
- What memories is my body holding onto?
- What are my body’s favorite scents?
- What are my body’s favorite tastes?
- What feels comfortable and soothing to my skin?
- What physical sensations arise when I’m feeling sad? Angry? Anxious? Overwhelmed?
- What physical sensations arise when I’m feeling happy? Excited? Hopeful? Inspired?
- Look at your hands. What do you see?
- What does my body need today? This week? This month?
Here’s a bonus step, if you’re feeling up to it: Thank your body. Acknowledge what it’s done for you on that particular day.
Thank you, body, for helping me take that refreshing walk. Thank you for the super fun spin class! Thank you, arms, for helping me to hold my little one. Thank you, hands, for helping me jot down my to-do lists, so I can tackle those important tasks (and thank you, body, for helping me tackle those important tasks).
You can try these steps any time you need to reconnect to your body. Or make them part of your daily or weekly routine (and adapt, as needed). Experiment with different rituals to see which option works best for you, your needs, and your schedule.
I know that many of us have a contentious relationship with our bodies, so tuning in may not be so straightforward. It might not be a lovely or relaxing experience.
So ease in. Start with what feels comfortable or accessible, such as taking a walk and scanning your body for tension. (Or maybe just taking a walk.) Skip the journal prompts and gratitude. Then slowly begin to introduce those parts (or a similar step) as the weeks pass.
Some days will also feel easier and more natural than others (depending on a variety of reasons, including your mood and stress level). The key is to be gentle and patient with yourself regardless of what happens, regardless of how you feel.
It might not feel like you deserve it. But the more you practice kindness, the more you begin to understand, to realize, that maybe, just maybe, you really do.