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The Art of Relaxing

Does anyone else suffer from ET (Extreme Tension) while writing? I'm going to assume the answer is YES, otherwise it might mean I'm freakish.

Mine tends to travel around my body. Sometimes it's in my neck, others my back and at the moment it's all in my tummy. I'm not aware of it as I'm writing, it's only afterwards when I realise I can barely move/breathe/nod my head when somebody offers me cake.

Once it's got a grip of a particular area it stays for a while before moving on, like a grubby student on a gap-year. No matter how many stretches and deep breathing exercises I do before or after - or in between - those pesky muscles tense up the second I begin writing.

It can even get quite painful, but it's such a sub-conscious (unconscious?) thing I can't control it. So what to do?

Well, put up with it I suppose and keep doing the stretches. On the other hand someone's suggested a rather vigorous form of yoga - see above - that's supposed to keep the muscles loose and relaxed no matter what. Thing is I'm a tiny bit worried about snapping my arms or spraining my waist - which would be even more painful, obviously.

Plus I don't have time to learn how to wrap my knees round my throat. I'm too busy writing, see?

What do you do to relax?


Debs Carr said…
Crikey! No matter how many years I practices yoga (none, to date) I could never imagine being able to strike that particular pose.
I use a basic ($10 bargain bin) yoga dvd to stretch - takes only 20mins when I'm feeling stiff :) And I get extreme tension while sewing, not writing (but then I HATE unpicking so always making sure I don't have to)

The Arrival, only .99c on Amazon
Karen said…
debs - She's probably been doing it since she was 3!

nicole - That's a great idea, thanks for the recommendation :o)
Yoga is great but the absolute best to invest in a mini-trampoline. Honestly it is great fun and releases so much tension even after ten mintutes as well an providing an aerobic workout! A few ten minute bounces throughout the day will make you feel wonderful. Congrats on the book deal - no wonder you are stressed!
KarenG said…
I have anxiety everywhere when I'm starting a new draft. My solution is to plow through and take frequent internet breaks.
Alison Stevens said…
Yoga. But the other thing is trigger point therapy. It releases the tight muscles (quickly, once you've learned how to do it). I highly recommend it! :D
Christine said…
If you ever attain a yoga pose like that then I hope you'll post a picture! :-)

Have you tried shaking? Take a break and shimmy like a belly dancer. Great for loosening the knots.
I took up yoga once. Think it lasted about 3 days.
Kari Marie said…
I've decided Yoga is only for bendy people. I am not bendy. I do get up and stretch my low back and neck a couple of times a day at work. Keeps me from gripping the mouse too tightly (for too long)!
Ann said…
Wrapping ones knees around ones throat might prove catastrophe rather than a cure. I would be wary of tangling limbs up in knots. How about a rather large glass of wine.
joanne fox said…
I used to enjoy yoga, but was nowhere near as supple as that lady above. Gosh - she looks so graceful in that pose! I find I can only write for limited amounts of time, then mentally and physically I have to do something else, even if it's only washing my hair - or hoovering up the dog's.
Anna May said…
I couldn't do that pose because I wouldn't be able to see the telly. I relax with The Good Wife and a Duchy Originals lemon biscuit (or two) with a cup of tea.

Anna May x
Talli Roland said…
Mine settles in my shoulders and neck! I try to go for a run, but usually if I'm tense, it's because I'm short of time, so I talk myself out of the run! Catch 22!
Suzanne Jones said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzanne Jones said…
Sorry, that last one was me.

It's very hard to believe a pose like that's possible. I bought a yoga dvd once - decided to watch it before getting started so I'd have an idea of what was expected, and fell asleep ten minutes in. But I did wake up feeling great.

Amanda said…
I really wish I could get into a routine of doing yoga daily. But I'm afraid it's never gonna happen!
Dumdad said…
Dictate: get someone else to type your novel while you dictate and eat cake. I'm training the cat to do just this but with little success so far.....
Cait O'Connor said…
I have done yoga for over 30 years (I am getting quite tired now)

Seriously though I do get tense at the computer/writing and know just what you mean about not quite realising it till afterwards. Frequent breaks help.
Madeleine said…
could never get on with yoga, though I try to remember to do Pilates to strengthen the lower back muscles. I have a Salter timer that I set for 30 mins so that when it beeps I must stop writing and stretch and move around. I also have a JML 'sit right' on my chair to help my back/posture. :O)
Karen said…
tommo - I have no idea what that spells :o))

mob - I used to have one of those, but fell off the first time I used it and sprained my ankle!

kareng - I do get up and stretch when I remember - I guess that's the best I can do really :o)

alison - I like the sound of point therapy. Wonder if I can get someone to come round to my house and do it?!

christine - I do put loud music on sometimes, if there's no one at home, and have a boogie. Not a pretty sight mind you!

colette - That's my trouble; I start these things then don't keep them up!

kari marie - I'm not very bendy either, but I'm hopin that raising a mug of tea to my mouth on a frequent basis must count!

ann - Sadly I'm even less use on wine than I would be at complicated yoga poses - barely a whiff and I'm nodding off!

joanne - Luckily the dog needs lots of exercise, so I guess charging round the woods and fields every day must help a bit - even if I don't always notice!

anna may - Ah, The Good Wife. Now you're talking. Have to be a ginger biscuit for me though :o)

talli - I also spend quite some time thinking about the exercises I OUGHT to be doing, rather than actually doing them! I guess that doesn't count.

suzanne - A relaxing sleep in front of a yoga DVD sounds like a brilliant idea to me!

dumdad - What an excellent idea - rather Barbara Cartland-esque!

cait o'connor - Wow, you must be very good at it :o) I keep meaning to take it up long-term but never stick to it!

amanda - I know what you mean - I start with good intentions then lose the urge. Writing's the only thing I've ever stuck at!

madeleine - Pilates is something else I keep meaning to try - and a very good idea to have a proper chair for the back :o)
Susie Vereker said…
Belated comment. Yess, very tense. Esp when going badly.
Suppose walking and ironing are the best cures, but I almost never iron.

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