Proprioception – A Sense of Balance
My favourite sense in terms of what I do on the therapy side of things is “proprioception,” which refers essentially to a kinesthetic sense of self. This sense allows our brains to be aware of where we are in relation to different parts of our bodies. So, for example, if you close your eyes and wiggle your fingers up over your head, your brain can pick up on where your hand is located without actually seeing it. Proprioception also allows us to do things like walk around in the dark and not fall over – a very good skill to have if you ever find yourself dining in Dans le Noir in London. So, generally, proprioception keeps us feeling balanced and aligned in mind and body
While there are some illnesses and injuries which cause a more serious proprioceptive dysfunction in the body, it is possible to change just a few bad habits and get into a better and more adaptive way of holding your body that will ensure that your sense of well-being is maintained or improved:
1. Do not slouch over. Sitting in this way will send a message to your brain that something is wrong, and can cause you to be in a low mood. Try sitting up straight and notice how much better that feels.
2. Keep your shoulders loose and limp. We, as humans, often carry a lot of tension in our neck and shoulders, so be aware of that and let your shoulders drop down a bit. You can try breathing into your shoulder muscles and breathing out the tension in your out-breath if there is a lot of tension there.
3. Keep your head held high. Not only will this make you feel and appear more confident, but casting your head and eyes downwards can also lead to a feeling of low mood or a hyper vigilance of constantly checking out how our bodies feel, which can keep us stuck in pain or negative emotions.
4. Breathe from the abdomen. We take for granted sometimes how important our breathing is, but drawing short, shallow breaths from the top of the chest, rather than the abdomen, can lead us to feel stressed or overwhelmed.
5. Keep an open body language. Instead of crossing your arms in front of you, keep them to your sides and maintain an open stance. This will not only send a balanced message to your brain, but it will make you appear to be open and friendly and will attract more positive people into your life.