The Dragon's Head Blog: Managing stress and anxiety with daily practise
Before the pandemic, Taoist Tai Chi® arts was something I only practised when attending a weekly class on a Friday night. In between classes, I rarely gave it a thought.
Having been suffering with anxiety and stress, I attended a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy course in February which gave me some tools to use. This became invaluable when the ‘Lock down’ arrived. Tai Chi became an additional tool I could use and I built this into a support system to enable me to cope with all the difficulties we were all facing.
Having the “Dan Yu” challenge was the start of my practice at the very beginning. I started off quite slowly, then gradually built up my numbers. Having to record how many I did and hand them in was a big incentive to keep at it. This became a part of my daily routine. When the challenge came to an end, I then had to adjust my approach and find a new way forward. Another factor that made this difficult was returning to work. Finding a time in the day to practice and work was very different and I came home exhausted. When I am tired I find it harder to motivate myself.
At one class zoom meeting I mentioned I was finding it difficult to fit my practice into my day. It was suggested to me that, to begin with, I just find a few minutes a day to do a few foundation exercises. The suggestion continued that maybe I could do this while the kettle boiled and I took this on board. The routine has become very important to me.
Lighter ‘Lock down’ restrictions brought permission to go out for daily exercise. This I began and it was something I cherished. I then tied in my Tai Chi practice into the routine of my daily walks.
During the ‘Lock down’ I could carry this out whenever I wanted but, once I returned to work, I needed to come up with a new routine I could stick with. I knew that after work I would feel too tired, so I developed a routine of walking and Tai Chi before I went to work.
At first, I would do my walk, return home and then practice the beginning of the set outside my flat in the courtyard. I would go through the beginning part of the set several times and then go indoors. Once indoors I would put my toast on and the kettle and go through the foundation exercises while the kettle boiled. In the beginning I only did a few repetitions but this has developed to more – I don’t just stop once the kettle has boiled!
More recently I have made a very small change to this routine. To help warm up my body before my walk, I now practice the beginning moves of the set several times and then go on my walk. Then I continue as before with the foundation exercises inside. This routine has been invaluable to set me up for the day ahead. My routine runs Monday to Friday generally, my working week, but I continue to do the foundation exercises every day.
If the pandemic had never happened I don’t know what my Tai Chi practice would have been. Probably just the weekly classes and the odd demo or workshop. So, although a very difficult year for us all, it has benefited my Tai Chi practice a great deal and made it a part of my life. The weekly zoom meetings have been great, to hear how everyone else is doing and to share news with others.
I look forward to the day when we can finally return to our classes and I hope all of my practice has paid off.