RACHEL COULSON FROM THE GROOVE SPOT SHARES HER WISDOM TO EMBRACE THE NEW NORMAL
Rach! You share a lot of helpful advice on The Groove Spot’s Instagram about mental health & movement. It’s a really wonderful and important resource and I always feel so happy when one of your posts pops up in my feed – a break from all of the comparative and consumerist nonsense. So I wanted to ask you to shed some light on how moving our bodies can help us in the current global emergency we’re currently facing?
The incessant need to “move” right now is REAL. And whatever the reason, more of us are actually getting up and well, moving! Never have I seen so many people exercising.
During ISO, it’s been cool to see individuals taking the licence to dance in their lounge room, on their tables, whilst making coffee, surrounded by kids, plants, cats and dogs. People are moving ‘just because’ or maybe because they feel that stress sitting in their bodies. Because we are dancing, we are seeing our living environments as new. We are shedding light on our ways our normal habitat can become a space that is abstract and non-linear. I think it allows us to be open to fresh ideas and possibilities.
Reuniting people with their bodies through dance allows us to feel JOY, which is quite different to exercise. Breath and circulation is more beneficial when coupled with laughter and deep, bubbly emotion. That kind of awareness and inquiry is contagious. It’s the most effective way to move through this time unscathed.
I think in our current situation, many of us are finding ourselves stuck in an endless scrolling loop, adrenals on overdrive, waiting for news and updates on what’s going on around us. How do we break this?
I am no expert but what I’ve found is that instead of surrendering to your device (and the news) we need to practice discipline by becoming aware of our scrolling habits and setting boundaries around what we are consuming. Set a timer. Choose your sources wisely.
I think for me it’s about staying informed but not over-doing it. And always shaking the stress and anxiety out with some movement. Literally, lean into the anxiety for a moment by throwing and flicking your arms and legs, shimmying your shoulders, sighing it out. Loudly! Don’t be afraid of expelling some of that stuff. Then find spaces to rest in reclined, supported stillness. Turning off the screens, the podcasts, everything, and just practice your exhale whilst closing down the eyes.
You posted a question on The Groove Spot’s Instagram recently, ‘what keeps you alive?’ I feel like it’s more relevant than ever to address this point. Can you tell us about that post and what you meant by that?
I want to begin this answer by acknowledging the people out there right now who are finding themselves stuck. I see you. It’s an incredibly tough time for all of us and for some individuals, moving/exercising/dancing just doesn’t seem like an option. Even the thought of it is overwhelming.
Community. Healthy relationships. Physical movement. Balanced lifestyle. Talking to and connecting with strangers. Reading good books. Watching good tv. A full nights sleep.
Can you tell us a little bit about what equilibrium means and how we can address it?
Equilibrium is about balance. For me, it is about finding a place of FLOW at the very middle of everything. Embracing both the Yin and Yang and understanding that life is full of fluctuations, yet knowing that we can calm those peaks and drops by aiming for a place closer to the centre. We are never still, even in stillness.
I think more than anything, Equilibrium is addressed by noticing ourselves in the present and then finding a way to move in the direction that is needed at that particular moment. It’s an active process.
What are the benefits of moving our body in times of intense anxiety and stress?
Bessel Van Der Kolk talks about it best through his research. Stress is there to help us. It’s there to get us up in the morning, it helps us run away from a wave as it crashes around our feet, it helps women birth babies and so on. He speaks about stress becoming stuck in the body if we don’t move with it. So right now, I feel it is imperative to be listening and going with your own experience of this time. When you feel stuck, by getting up off the couch and dedicating some time to joyful movement you can help that stress state. Even if there is a glass of wine in your hand. “Freeze” is stress state, just like Fight or Flight. When we don’t move, it could be because we are in a Parasympathetic Nervous System response and that needs attention.
As newborns, we had ways of communicating that we were stressed without actually using words. Arching our backs, scrunching our faces, reaching our arms open, kicking and so on. Our body is our first language. As adults, I think we should listen to it. If something is not quite right and we don’t listen, our body will find another way of telling us. Whether through stress, injury or sickness, it will let us know.
What other things are you doing to manage the way you’re feeling right now?
It’s taken a few weeks to settle into Isolation with my partner and our two year-old. We are both working from home and I especially need physical and mental space to work, so creating a schedule that we stick to has been really helpful. I also have some rituals that have organically manifested I think out of necessity, like a morning walk outdoors, reading a good book that is non-work related, phone/zoom chats with dear friends, and taking time each day to play with Mara (our daughter). We have always played but to get onto her level and colour in our brick home with chalk, or make playdough spaghetti for her dolls, or build cubby houses has been really nourishing. Escapism at it’s finest.
We haven’t got it perfect but I think we are doing well to navigate this time by communicating and well yes, compromising. I’m a pretty optimistic person (except around day 25 of my cycle haha) and we are privileged to be able to work right now.
How do you get your little one moving?
She loves music, so that’s an easy one. More than anything though, they copy what they see. If you as the parent or carer are moving then they are sure to see at as normal and will follow suit.
Can you recommend some ways to get moving for those who don’t already have a rhythm/routine?
If you don’t have a rhythm or routine, then the first step is starting and most importantly – sticking to it. It is in the practice where the magic happens. I think it’s good to start small. Even if it’s 5 mins/day or 1x 60 minute session/week, and have it as something you look forward to be sure to choose a mode of movement that serves you in some form.
Any final notes for Mamas out there who are struggling with what’s happening in the world?
You’ve got this. We are resilient to isolation and staying home. Physical socialising may be off the cards at the moment, but there are other ways around it. Technology is here to bring us together at times like this so call someone each day. Instead of scrolling mindlessly, send some voicemails with a friend or plan a breakfast catchup via video call. Keep reaching out to those people who support you best.
We can do this.
Thank you for the widsom, Rach. I highly recommend signing up for The Groove Spot’s classes online at thegroovespot.com.au/