Shake It Out
Shaking is a stress management technique that involves shaking the body to release tension and trauma, helping to regulate the nervous system. In this episode, I’ll show you how to “shake” to calm the body back down in times of stress and anxiety.
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Today I want to talk about stress which is probably one of my favourite topics because we all experience stress at some point in our lives. Stress is a fear-based response that may flare up in response to what’s going on around us, like when our sacred to-do lists are too long and we feel overwhelmed. Other times, stress comes from trauma.
It’s a natural reaction when we feel threatened, but chronic stress can lead to irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, digestive issues, a weakened immune system and even trauma after a prolonged period. That was the case for me personally.
Healing can happen though; it did with me, although at times it feels like an ongoing process. Which is okay. And I’m willing to let the healing process take all the time it needs.
That’s why I’m so passionate about nurturing the body and nervous system on a daily basis.
So, in today’s episode, I want to introduce you to “shaking”.
What is “Shaking”?
Shaking is a stress management technique that involves shaking the body to release tension and trauma, helping to regulate the nervous system. Animals often do this!
The shaking or vibrating helps to release physical tension, melt away excess adrenaline and calm the nervous system to its home state, balancing stress levels in the body.
Try this with me for a moment. Take a deep breath and start to shake your hands as though you were flicking water off your fingers. Now stop and notice the tingly sensations and vibrations in your body. How has your energy shifted?
Calming the Nervous System
When the body experiences stress, the autonomic nervous system (ANS) elevates and affects involuntary bodily functions such as breathing, heart beat and metabolic processes. This is known as upregulation. It invites in more energy, like stepping on the gas pedal, and we find ourselves in fight/flight mode as the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), a branch of the ANS is activated. Helpful for survival and if we’re in danger, like running from a bear for example, but not for a long period of time.
Downregulation is then needed to lower our energy levels and shift us into a rest/digest state as we switch on the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), another branch of the ANS.
Shaking helps ease an overstimulated nervous system and calms the body back down.
It’s a practice that can support our emotional wellbeing, both in the short and long term. Soothing stress can also present it from building up and shapeshifting into other physical and emotional challenges.
Shaking acts like a release valve for the body and nervous system. You’re literally shaking out the stress, unwanted energies, anxiousness, depression, trauma and anything else your soul no longer wants to hold on to.
How to Do It
You can do this seated or stand and shake single parts, or your body as a whole. Start small, with your hands, for a short amount of time if this is new to you. Just 10-30 seconds is enough to feel a shift and affect stress hormone production. It might seem silly at first, but go with it. Most importantly, honour how you feel. Respect your body and its injuries or limitations. Breathe deeply and visualise yourself shaking the stress out. You could even say a simple mantra such as: I release all stress as I shake it out. Eventually, you can build up to a couple of minutes, or even the length of a song. I love to put on ‘Shake It Out’ by Florence and the Machine which always gets me moving and breathing oh-so-deep.
This could become a part of your daily self-care ritual, an AM/PM practice, or like I do, shake whenever you feel stressed, or just feel like it.
And check in with yourself:
- How does it feel to be in your mind-body-soul before?
- If you’re stressed or anxious, where do those emotions live in your body?
- How does it feel to be your mind-body-soul after?
This will help you become intentional about your energy and emotions, and observe the effects of shaking in your body.
As you move through the rest of your week, take this practice with you and remind yourself of its power, whenever you feel stressed, anxious or triggered, by repeating this mantra:
I release all stress as I shake it out.
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