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Improving Your Mood with Movement!

Holidays and life stressors can add to anxiety, tension, restlessness. Not to mention pain. All of these things can effect our moods. Sometimes not in the way we wish to feel.

Giving yourself self-care time and exploring gentle movements with attention can shift not only your body organization, but done in a systematic way it can also calm your brain and nervous system and boost your mood!

When we are in anxiety, high stress or pain (or a combo of those) we are in the more heightened state of our nervous system. This is NOT good when that goes on for long periods of time. We want our bodies to fly into high gear when needed, like if an emergency arises, and we want to have our nervous systems calm down after the event.

Getting our bodies to shift back to the calm state (we call this the parasympathetic state) can effect our moods in a positive way. That is true especially if we have been stuck in the heightened state (that's called sympathetic) and can't get out.

Signs of living in the sympathetic state too long: easily irritable, poor digestion, muscle aches and tension, poor sleep, chronic pain, fatigue, brain fog, getting sick easily and the list goes on!

These things for sure can effect your overall mood!

Want to learn my favorite way of getting out of that bad mood (and probably heightened state of your nervous system) and back to a better mood?

Awareness Through Movement (ATM) Lessons are gentle movement explorations using your attention to shift the state of your nervous system to the parasympathetic state (that's the calm state). It not only helps to release muscle tension, but because it shifts your nervous system it can help to undo those above sympathetic effects. You might even find yourself falling asleep in a lesson, thinking clearer, having better digestion (we're talking vagus nerve here!) Another wonderful benefit from doing ATMs is that I always feel more relaxed and in a better mood afterwards!

Let's try an easy lesson together with some key points:

  • Do not push into greater pain if you are experiencing pain

  • If you have pain increasing make the movement smaller until it feels good

  • Keep your breathing going

  • Rest often (this allows time for your brain to process and create the shifts in your nervous system)

Our ATM Lesson

Take two bath towels stacked upon one another (or a blanket) and roll long wise

Place rolled towels/blanket on floor or your mattress if you can not easily get on the floor

With your legs bent, get down on the roll you made so your whole spine is resting on it. Your tailbone is at the bottom and your head at the other end. If that is a strain for your neck you may place a thin pillow or a folded towel under your head.

Tilt your tailbone up so your back flattens.

Tilt your tailbone down so your back arches.

Go back and forth.

Rest. Notice where you are moving in your spine.

Breathing as you move and making the movements smaller as you need to.

Try to imagine something peaceful like you're on a beach, or a grassy meadow...whatever images appeal to you and attempt to do less. That's right. Do less. Breathing!

Now roll (turn) your head side to side. Notice where you go to easy.

Then tilt your pelvis side to side so that one side moves up toward the ceiling and the other down towards the floor. Go in an easy range that feels comfy! Try several times, but most important is breathing and not pushing into anything that is uncomfortable.

Now try turning your head in the same direction as your pelvis. Go slowly and easily and at a comfortable pace. How does it feel to do these movements together?


Now take your head and your pelvis in the opposite directions. Breathing. Going easy, Trying to find what feels easy and comfortable. Notice how it feels to go in opposing directions. How's your breath?

Rest and observe how you are lying on the roller. How is your breath moving through you? What places do you notice moving? How are you feeling?

Check in again with rolling your head side to side. What changed?

Check in with moving your tailbone up and down. How does it feel now? Did anything get easier?

Roll to one side slightly so that you can move the towel roll out of the way. Roll directly onto your back again and observe the sensations. What feels different in your spine? Observe what's different in your breath too.

Slowly take your time, keeping watch on the movement of your breath as you move from your back to your side again and then up to standing. Keeping the breath flowing! (breathholding is one of the things that moves you back into the fight or flight state of the nervous system) so noticing this habit can be so powerful if you breath hold. Hint: most of us do this when we are efforting!

Once you're standing observe how you feel. What's your mood right now? What's different with how you sense yourself. Keep aware of your breathing now that you are upright and take a walk around, continuing to notice what is new.

If you feel some big changes, great! If not, pay attention in the coming hours or day or two and changes might be drawn into your awareness. Simply noticing how your spine is moving and how you feel your breath moving in your body can shift things. So it's actually great when you catch yourself holding your breath! You can't change anything until you are first aware of it!

I invite you to check out another mini ATM of mine on YouTube called tantrum to release tension Kid's are actually rebalancing their emotions when they have tantrums and it can be balancing for us every now and then in the privacy of our own homes . Yet please warn anyone who might live with your first!

if you hold tension in your neck try this one

Note with ATM's:

BE GENTLE with yourself if emotions come up and let them pass. That can be healing and mood enhancing to let stuck emotions go. Wherever you hold tension you might find that some emotions come up when moving or relating to that area in a different way.

If you enjoyed this and want to explore further please check out one of my classes. Go to

Thank you for your time and please leave me a comment about how this was for you! I'd love to hear from you!

To your wellness!

Love, Lisa Ponichter Stanley


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