Today’s blog post on stress was inspired by the Bay City Roller’s hit ‘Shang-A-Lang’. Top tune bearing no relation to stress I hear you say. Hear me out on this one…
Stress is a fundamental part of our human lives and throughout our evolution we’ve used stress to guide us towards growth and to keep us safe in times of danger. Regular exercise puts stress on our joints and muscles, bringing about a regeneration and repair of pre-existing soft tissue fibres that keeps us strong.
And Just this morning your body will have produced an increase in the hormone cortisol prior to awakening to spur you upright, out of bed and ready to begin a new day.
We need stress to survive. That’s nothing new. But how to we view stress and what can we do when we become consumed by overbearing stress on a daily basis?
Yin Yang Theory
In traditional Chinese medicine there’s a concept known as the Yin-Yang theory (Shang-A-Lang? Yang? See what I did there? I told you there was a link!). The Yin-Yang theory explores the idea that contrary or opposite forces may actually be interconnected and complement one another in both the natural world and in our bodies. One cannot expect to exist without the presence of the other.
And whilst relative levels of Yin and Yang are continuously fluctuating, an excess of one will eventually consume the other.
In our modern-day setting, Yang activity is the active, fiery energy; Yin on the other hand is our passive, calming energy. Yang is alert, whilst Yin is soothing. Yang is our weightlifting sessions at the gym, a morning coffee, our time spent at work and our social time with friends. Checking Facebook 80 times a day produces brain activity that sets our Yang activity alight. Yang isn’t an evil but it’s predominant within our environment and easily overdone.
Partying hard and late weekend nights, a constant state of lethargy, using caffeine to fuel your days, hitting it hard everyday at the gym and feeling unable to sleep despite a long, hard day at work are all tell-tale signs of excessive Yang. I’m sure everyone reading this blog can relate to at least one of the above.
So what can we do when our bodies crave a break from the fast lane?
It’s time to be more Yin.
Yin activities are the calming, soothing and restorative actions we can take part in. Think a gentle walk, a relaxing bath, a quiet meditation session or a slow Yin Yoga or Yoga Nidra class. Slowing things down a notch is equally as important as providing our body with activity and growth.
But what happens when Yin activity is unattainable? This is a relatively common complaint amongst people, especially if you experience excessive physical and/or psychological stress for months and years on end. What if you just can’t allow yourself that valuable downtime?
You need the superhero of Yin practices…
The most deliciously wonderful Yin practice of all has to be a soothing, deep tissue massage. Lights dimmed, tunes on and no phone for incessant checking of social media, it’s an hour (or two) of time solely dedicated to your wellbeing. It doesn’t take long for your muscles to melt into the comfort of the table as your mind catches a breather and switches off for a much-needed rest. And if you doze off, welcome that feeling. Falling asleep during a massage is more common than you think!
Creating a Balance
As you go forth this week, be both Yin and Yang. Think of the activities you take part in routinely and ask yourself, are you in need of more Yin? Challenge yourself but respect the importance of downtime. Stress is not something to be feared, but it is something we have to be aware of. Listen to your body, it’s a great little detective.
When was the last time you truly switched off and gave yourself the time to do nothing, guilt-free to supercharge your health? If your answer is ‘ages ago’ or ‘never,’ then I urge you to invest an hour of your time in experiencing a wonderfully relaxing massage. You deserve it!
Straightforward, hassle-free, Yin-inspired online booking for your convenience: https://www.supersaas.co.uk/schedule/JaneBlack/Massage?lang=en