These days, who isn’t attempting to live a healthier lifestyle? Not only do we want to live longer, but we also want a more vibrant and active life. To this end, we are incorporating exercise into every facet of our day. Amazingly, with all the benefits we gain from a more active physical body, we are still behind in doing the same for our emotional state. Change isn’t always fun, but it can be beneficial. A great way begin leading a healthier emotional lifestyle is to learn the art of emotional stretching.
Most physical therapists caution that stretching prior to and directly after strenuous activity is a vital key to avoiding injury. I personally have suffered from leg injuries, in part, for a lack of stretching. Several years ago, I suffered a muscle tear that kept me away from work and off my feet for weeks. I had to learn the hard way that our muscles lay dormant and need time to both warm up and adjust to the task at hand. With this in mind, imagine how our “emotional muscles” feel when we jump from job to job, or relationship to relationship without allowing any warm up or cool down. The pain we feel is possibly just an internal warning we are not stretching our emotions properly.
What can stretching teach us about growing emotionally? Here are a few tips that will help:
• Stretching is a great way to become more flexible: What do you do when life is resistant to your plans? You have to adapt and adjust. This means you have to be flexible enough not to break under the pressure. Think of the luxurious palm trees of South Florida; they endure the storms and bounce right back.
• Stretching improves blood circulation: When you think of circulation, think of your “emotional flow.” Without proper blood flow, limbs become stiff and eventually can be amputated. That’s why flow is vital. You need an emotional flow of energy, positivity and love through your whole life.
• Stretching will improve your balance and coordination: People that routinely stretch are able to stand taller and exhibit better posture. As you stretch emotionally, you are better positioned to handle life’s issues. It won’t be so easy to knock you down because you have increased your coordination.
Believe it or not, stretching does make you stronger. It is the indirect pulling of your muscles that imitate real life situations and increases muscle mass. At times, we are so ready to engage in the “heavy lifting” life has for us that we choose to skip the process of stretching. It is necessary for success. The awesome thing about stretching is that it also releases the toxins locked in our muscles and helps us recover faster. Your stretching may be meditating or prayer; someone else may emotionally stretch by going for a long, relaxing walk. For another, it may be a quiet word puzzle. However you choose to do it, make sure you set aside regular times of emotional stretching. It really makes a difference.