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A Year of Well-being: Movement

Spring in the northern hemisphere is in full bloom, or at least partial bloom! For many spring cleaning is similar to the rituals we see among our wild brethren, who begin to come out of a scarcity mindset through winter – shedding their pelts, coming out of hibernation, and coming into a time of renewal. As a time of abundance and renewal we also see far greater movement – people taking out bikes again, going for longer walks, running, and not dreading taking out the dog.

In such circumstances it’s easy to commit to movement, but we’ve just come out of an intense winter, that I’m sure sidelined some of the best laid plans for movement. In spite of that, I’ve seen many folks talking about their new found yoga practices, the sale of adjustable dumbbells is through the roof, and I suspect the reason some of the videos I use for workouts are so well-commented on now is because their viewership has gone up substantially. Largely due to the pandemic, more people are taking walks to break up their day, finding short workouts for their lunch break and more.

In addition to these larger movements, we hear consistently about small movements to keep the blood flowing. For we, the intrepid travelers, there are hundreds of articles regarding movement on planes and how often to go for a walk or exercises you can do to stretch your muscles. Corporations are joining the bandwagon and talking about ankle circles and wrist movements while at meetings. I’ve even seen organizations start off talks with a neck and shoulder roll! Last year, we discussed a lot of these short bites to drop into mindfulness (you can find them here), but this year, we’re discussing movement both big and small as foundational for our energy.

Movement is the last in our physical health for energy section. We gain energy through sleep, food, and movement. This might seem counterintuitive, but have you ever been exhausted and convinced yourself to get up and go for a walk? Or convinced yourself to do that workout you are dreading? How did you feel after?

I know that it generally wakes me up and makes me feel more alive – gets the blood moving again. Most of us, when sedentary, become apathetic not to mention feel physically stiff. Movement is critical to having the energy to unpack the boxes, or pack luggage, or explore a new home.

So, how, as we transition, can we ensure we continue to physically move maintaining our energy to pursue all the things we want to do? A few ideas, and I’d love to hear yours!

1. Move Frequently. It can be easy to become enraptured by what we’re doing or feel that we must commit fully to finish what we’re doing; but, moving can help us stay on our toes mentally and ensure that we have the energy to see our work through. One way to stay moving is by using the Pomodoro timer. By giving ourselves an “alarm” to remind us to move we can “schedule” times to move, this can be a short walk or even just some neck and shoulder rolls.

2. Small Movements. Small movements such as rolling your joints – neck, shoulders, wrists, and ankles. You can even do medium sized movements such as lunges or arm stretches. These types of movement can keep your blood flowing. They ensure that we stay awake and aware. Perhaps even more importantly they keep us mindful – especially as we take notice of what sensations it brings to these various parts of our body. These movements can also be done in small spaces – including a plane seat, and therefore can help you be more alert when you arrive at your destination.

3. Be Accountable. I realize not everyone is as regimented as I am, however holding yourself accountable to a daily stretch, workout, or walk can help you develop the reminder to keep moving. This doesn’t have to be a set time to do this, but rather you could mark what workout or stretching you want to do or what route you want to take or what destination you want to arrive at. I have found that this helps me stay accountable when traveling. I don’t always work out at the same time, but by scheduling out the workouts I plan to do on my calendar I’m more likely to make time for them.

Another great way to be accountable is to have an accountability partner. For the last five years, I have done Yoga with Adriene’s 30-day Journey each January. I always do it with one or two friends or family, who are never anywhere near me. We don’t even check in daily! But knowing that someone else is also doing it and checking in occasionally to reflect on that day’s practice has been helpful to ensure that even when I feel stretched for time, I show up for my commitment to someone else. What is eye-opening is that it ends up being far more valuable for me.

4. Listen to your body. This feels intuitive, we should do what our bodies want. But, our bodies are primed for a different world, so we have to think about when to listen and when to urge. Our bodies can tell us when we’ve pushed too far or we need rest, this is critical to maintaining healthy energy. Our bodies regrettably are primed to conserve energy, at all costs, including not using it! This means that when we feel apathetic, but not injured, our bodies will still urge us to sit still. These are great opportunities to push it further – again, try taking a walk or instead of sitting and watching TV doing so while stretching. I’ve also found that when I tune in when doing basic movements – walking to the car, bringing the groceries up the stairs – my body actually starts functioning more mechanically and by acknowledging that I actually feel that I get in more movement.

5. Throw Yourself a Dance Party. I always start with “I’m Dancing by Myself” and it has never failed me. Not all of us are comfortable dancing with others, but when you dance by yourself it doesn’t matter – no one is looking at your two left feet or cares if you are on beat. Dancing is a great way to boost your energy through both music and movement and who doesn’t use music to boost their energy while working out or getting ready for something? Harnessing that power to give yourself energy seems like a no-brainer. Create a playlist of your dance party songs and go to town! Need more inspiration? Start here.

Moving our fingers as we type at knowledge or digital nomad jobs is not enough. We have transient lives where we use transport to get us from one place to another, but in most of the world we see people walking or biking. Perhaps that is something for us to add to our cultural norms – moving consistently (even small movements) helps us stay alert, awake, and engaged. Perhaps, most importantly it helps us develop the energy to pursue our passions and contribute to the world we wish to make.

What movement do you do? How do you hold yourself accountable? What’s your favorite dance party song?

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