Stress is a physiological response to a perceived threat. Three of the most obvious physical responses are commonly known as Freeze, Fight, and Flight.
- Freeze: We become hyper alert to threat indicators, lifting our heads up to look and listen, which involves tightening neck and shoulder muscles.
- Fight: We tighten our hands in preparation for battle.
- Flight: We tighten our feet in preparation for running away.
These stress responses are really important to surviving muggers and bears, etc., and cause no long term damage when the stress is relieved in short order.
This is not true when they become chronic responses to problems that cannot be resolved quickly or through Freezing, Fighting, or Fleeing.
This summer, I’ve been having a lot of trouble with pain and stiffness in my feet. A couple of weeks ago, I remembered that a pain therapist had me roll a golf ball under my bare feet to relieve stress. It undoes the Flight tension.
Making “fists with your toes” also undoes the tension in the feet caused by fear, in this case, of flying. It’s bio-feedback on the cheap.
Since I’ve been processing a lot of old fear memories this summer, I ordered a box of used golf balls from Amazon. Now I’ve got one each in two fabric-lined box lids, one here by my office chair and the other out by my spot on the couch. I figure it couldn’t hurt to roll my feet on them a little bit, several times a day, while reciting the surrender prayer.
O Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything. Amen.
Yesterday, the idea of worry balls came into my head and I realized they are relaxing, because they relieve Fight tension in the hands. So I added two more golf balls to my little prayer regimen. They don’t jingle like Chinese meditation balls, but they roll just fine. Good thing I bought a box of a dozen balls! 🙂
Finally, during the night, when my shoulders and neck were hurting, I thought about Freeze stress. Today, I started also pressing a golf ball into the two hot spots I have on each side of my neck and shoulders.
This stuff actually seems to help and it’s dirt cheap, so I thought I’d share in case you, too, are looking for ways to help yourself …