Loosen your grip

wheelWhen I drive in snow (or really bad rain for that matter), I find myself clenching the steering wheel so tight my knuckles turn white. That really accomplishes nothing except make my hands cramp.

When I run, especially long distances, I clench my neck and shoulders. I discovered this after I ran a half marathon a few weeks ago, and my back and shoulders were as sore the next day as my legs! That doesn’t help me run better or faster – in fact, it probably limits my endurance because I’m spending energy tightening those muscles that have absolutely nothing to do with running.

Do you do the same thing when you worry? I bet you clench a part of your brain that has no control over whatever you are worrying about and therefore makes the situation worse by limiting your ability to think clearly about other things.

I plan to unclench now that I’m aware of what I’m doing. Instead of worrying about things I have no control over, I will focus on the things I do influence.

We are launching a new initiative at work soon, but I don’t have the details yet. Instead of worrying about the potential problems or issues or that I don’t have details – I am catching up on the other things I can work on. That will free me up to focus on the new initiative when the time is right.

Whether it is anxiety about a friend who is sick, or fretting about the future, I will release my fears and do what I can do now. No more wasting precious energy on things I cannot change or anticipate. I will direct my energy to those things in front of me and deal with the other if and when it comes about.

Being mindful when I start to clench up is half the battle. When I run now, I make a conscious effort to shake out my arms and stretch my shoulders periodically. At the computer, same thing. Really, whenever I feel myself tense, I stop and take a deep breath to release the tension. Doesn’t solve any problems, but sure does help me make sure I’m focused on the right things that I can do something about.

Let’s make a pact to unclench. Are you with me?