Stay Aligned to Stay Calm
Stress doesn’t stop at the mind. Over time, it affects our physical health, making it even harder to cope with life’s ups and downs. Lauren Roxburgh, a personal trainer and Pilates instructor who wrote the book Taller, Slimmer, Younger: 21 Days to a Foam Roller Physique, sees this interplay at work on a daily basis.
Roxburgh believes we can de-stress, and become happier and healthier, by focusing on postural improvements. In other words, when the body becomes better aligned, our lives fall into better balance. We recently asked Roxburgh a few questions about how the mind-body connection works and what we can do to stay calm in the face of stress.
Calmful Living: How does emotional stress impact our physical health?
Lauren Roxburgh: When we hold on to emotional stress, it slows our naturally robust systems, making our bodies sluggish and toxic. We become physically, mentally and emotionally stagnated, which can result in excess weight, anxiety, pain, premature aging and illness. It’s important to understand that feeling emotional stress is actually a reaction, and that we have the power to choose how we react to stressful situations.
The ultra-connected digital world we live in today has a lot of benefits, but it also only exacerbates stress levels. There’s a tendency to feel like we need to be in three places at once, doing three things all at the time. Our fight-or-flight response is constantly switched on, but these systems were never designed to be permanently on! Since technology is not going away anytime soon, it’s critical that we take the time to unplug and prioritize self-care. It’s the only way to prevent the hunched-over, shorter, wider and thicker body that the modern world is breeding.
CL: What do you mean when you talk about alignment?
LR: My whole philosophy is about empowerment, and connecting with our true strength and authentic selves. The key to this is finding alignment. Finding alignment in your physical body is the first step to aligning your life. By that I mean connecting to your gifts, attracting your deepest desires, feeling like you are on your true path—and at the most basic level, being happy.
When I trained in structural integration, which focuses on getting the body into correct alignment and posture, I had an epiphany: As the body comes into correct physical alignment, many other aspects of life come into alignment. It happened for me, and I’ve seen it with hundreds of my clients too. People who have struggled with weight, stress, toxic relationships, addictions or other issues often find that the issues resolve once their body is correctly aligned. They feel more connected and empowered, and in charge of their destiny. When we take time to be in our bodies and out of our heads, magic happens. Hence, my motto: Aligned body, aligned life!
CL: What are some self-care practices to help alleviate stress?
LR: We all respond to stress differently. I refer to the area where you hold stress as your stress container. There are some container-specific ways to address your unique brand of stress, as well as some more general practices for alleviating tension. Here are some things we can all do to bring our bodies and minds into greater alignment:
Use a foam roller
This foam-roller video sequence will help you unwind and breathe better, which will help release tension and calm your mind. The combination of movements and mindful breathing will help regulate your nervous system to reduce stress, release tension, and help you be more present in body and mind.
Increasingly, research is substantiating what meditators have known for years—it works for stress reduction. There are many forms of meditation, from chanting a mantra to simply focusing on your breath. Find whatever works for you and don’t overthink it. Here’s a video to help get you started.
Find some self-care rituals that help you unwind and de-stress. One of my favorites is taking a hot bath with magnesium salts. It feels like it literally melts away the stress. This can be a great pre-bedtime ritual that calms your body’s nervous system, naturally relaxes your muscles, and helps you get some deep, quality sleep.
Choose a specific time of day when you don’t check your phone or computer. Get out in nature or do something else that fills you up. It is especially important to unplug at night, because the artificial blue light from illuminated devices activates the brain and makes it harder to sleep. So, shut them down early and keep devices out of your bedroom to ensure a good night of rest.
Drink Natural Calm
Natural Calm is my go-to for nourishing and calming my body, nervous system and spirit. I put the powder in a drink (hot or cold) before bed, and I feel the effects right away. It helps me fall into a deep sleep. My whole family has made it part of our nightly routine, including my four-year-old daughter, who sleeps like a rock since she’s been taking it. So many people are magnesium deficient. This drink is an easy and tasty way to get magnesium levels up.