It’s that time of year again – which means you’re either sharing the excitement that comes around this time of year, you’re indifferent, or you despise it. As for me, I like Christmas music and the smell of a fresh Christmas tree much more than most young Jewish males. No matter your feelings on the holidays, this can be a stressful time of year with traveling to relatives, planning meals, and buying gifts. Without making it too complicated, prolonged stress can take a toll on our bodies.
According to the work of Seyle and Thomas Hanna of “Somatics: Awakening the mind’s control over the body”, we have a main distress response he calls “The Red Light Reflex”. Let’s use an extreme example:
You can see why my 8 year old aspirations to become the next Stephen King did not work out. Either way, think about yourself scared. What does your body do? Your teeth clench. Your shoulders shrug. Your breathing gets shallow. Your body prepares to protect you from whatever it is that is a threat to your well-being. Our scared response is a form of stress – and stress is a continuum. One end is care-free. The other end is paralyzed with fear. Generally to perform best, we want to be somewhere in the middle.
Why are most people sore when you rub their shoulders? Hanna of Somatics believes that we constantly perceive stress – chronically activating the Red Light Reflex. What can you do this holiday season to be good to your body?