I like to view the Alexander Technique as exploring how we respond to stimuli and the quality we bring to our awareness in movement. And if the stimulus is too big for us, learning how to reduce it. That may be from finding a more mechanically advantageous way of performing a physical task to learning to mentally stop and and reassess how you are going to respond. A far cry from the Posture Police that I'm usually labelled with, not that your posture wont benefit from this way of thinking.
Now, that's all well and good, but does that mean you should try and "Alexander" your way through every waking moment? Thankfully no, that would be unrealistic and frankly unappealing. Yes your awareness of yourself will improve with Alexander Technique lessons so that you naturally choose, and have the ability, to take better care of yourself, but there are also some common sense ways to reduce the challenges (stimuli) you face at work.
Image used with permission from Depositphotos
Thankfully you're not literally chained to your desk.
The office environment presents all sorts of physical and mental challenges, the main one being having to sit at your computer all day with the associated problems that brings. Thankfully it is possible to reduce the amount of time you sit at your desk and keep you more mobile with a few changes to how you approach your working day, and in my previous career working in IT, this is what I did myself (except for the last point, or at least I'm not admitting to it):
- Get a hands free set for your desk phone. Obviously this helps when you are talking on the phone and need to use your computer, but in addition, it's great to stand up and pace whenever you talk on the phone. You'll even find your conversations more engaging and that you communicate better.
- Get the teas/coffees in for your team. Not only does this get you away from your desk, it'll make you popular too.
- Go for a smokeless cigarette break. Seriously. Smoking may be health scourge no.1, but at least smokers get a regular break. And for as long as cigarettes are legal I recommend that you join them, albeit upwind, and amaze yourself with the insider information that comes out in smoke breaks.
- Get up and talk to a colleague in person instead of using instant messengering or email, especially if they are in another room or on another floor.
- And finally, we have my friend Sarah Warman to thank for this, and I'm going to quote her exactly as she posted it on her Twitter feed: "If ur feeling achey sitting at a desk all day, take a break & GO DANCE IN THE LOO! Ur body will be so happy!! (As will u!) #GODANCEINTHELOO" - and why not, if your colleagues are getting the teas and coffees in too you should get plenty of opportunities to dance!
If ur feeling achey sitting at a desk all day, take a break & GO DANCE IN THE LOO! Ur body will be so happy!! (As will u!) #GODANCEINTHELOO— Sarah Warman (@EmbodiedLife) August 15, 2015
I gave a presentation of the Alexander Technique to a Human Resources manager from a major chain of hotels not long ago, and it was these simple ideas (minus Sarah's wonderful contribution) that had him writing furiously in his notepad. What hadn't escaped his notice was that they also helped to build better communication and relationships within and between departments. Bonus.
And for the times you can't get away from your desk? Have a read through my previous blog on sitting well to help you make the most of the situation and I'll continue to write some more tips for you in future blogs, so do check back in.
So hows about setting yourself a 5 day challenge to incorporate as many of the above points as possible and then report back here and tell me how it is all going?
Hopefully these ideas will help to bring some ease to your working day, but if it's been "one of those" days, and we all have them, there's a little Alexander Technique exercise you can do for yourself when you get home called constructive rest, and I'll write more on that soon.
P.S. extra thought, take the stairs instead of the elevator! If you work in a very tall building at least take them when you are going down, it's invariably quicker than waiting for the lift to turn up!
This blog was originally posted here.
The Alexander Technique has been clinically proven for back pain via an NHS funded, gold standard randomised trial. It was performed by Southampton University and their results were published in the British Medical Journal.
It is also endorsed by Backcare.org.uk, a lottery funded organisation.
World wide resource for the Society of Teachers of The Alexander Technique: www.stat.org.uk