“Just shake it off!” | The actual way to ‘shake-off’ stress and boost energy in the workday.

Ever notice how good it feels to stretch, move, and yawn after a deep sleep or after sitting for long hours? You might notice this more often in children and animals.

This is a necessary physiological response called pandiculation: “the medical term for the stretching and stiffening of the trunk and extremities, often accompanied by yawning, to arouse the body when fatigued or drowsy.” – Marriam-Webster’s Dictionary.

Moreover, pandiculation is our nervous system’s natural response to sensing lack of movement and tension in our muscles and acts as a ‘reset’ for muscle tone and elevates our preparedness for movement. The less we do this (particularly in adulthood) the more tension builds in muscles and physical mobility deteriorates.

Ever wonder why animals like dogs tend to shake their body even when they are dry and healthy, particularly after periods of stillness, during play or stressful situations?

This is a dog’s natural way to shake off stress, relieve tension, or calm their anxiety.

At the human level, shaking out limbs is also a way to relieve tension, boost energy, or calm anxiety before a stressful situation or athletic performance.

At the therapeutic level, voluntary shaking and tremoring throughout the body is being proven to ease stress, trauma, muscle tension, and improves overall quality of life when done regularly.

If you have moments where you wish you weren’t so stiff, sluggish, or unmotivated, and you are regularly sedentary during the workday, short bouts of movement such as exploring your range of motion (pandiculating) or shaking it out can be a way to melt stress and snap yourself into a more alert and refreshed state of readiness. 

You might be thinking, “That’s nice Tim, but I exercise and stretch outside of work hours”

While exercise and sports have obvious positive benefits, they don’t usually fit into an already stressful and busy workday and research shows that even if you exercise regularly, sitting for long periods still poses significant health risks.

The truth is that by infusing your workday with activities like pandiculation or shaking you can break up your sedentary risk while gaining some of the cognitive and rehabilitative benefits of a good workout.

Benefits of short bouts of movement:

  • “One review of 19 studies involving 1,080 participants found no differences between accumulated (multiple short bouts of exercise) and continuous exercise  (1 standard workout) for blood pressure or cardiorespiratory outcomes.” – Healthline.com

Benefits of voluntary shaking/tremoring:

  • “…shaking or vibrating helps to release muscular tension, burn excess adrenaline, and calm the nervous system to its neutral state, thereby managing stress levels in the body.” – Healthline.com
  • Self-induced Unclassified Therapeutic Tremors (SUTT) equated to 14% overall increase in overall quality of life.  “Participants experienced more life satisfaction after incorporating SUTT into their routines on a regular basis, with more frequent positive emotions toward themselves and greater confidence in their ability to deal with adversity.”

Even a few minutes of standing in a confident “power pose” can improve mood and cognition; a.k.a Fake it until you become it. See the famous TED talk “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”.

In my experience, you can benefit from some or all of the above within little to no extra time. It literally can look like you sitting or standing back for 10-20 seconds of unstructured movement to start to feel the effects. 

The point is to get your body doing something that loosens joints and muscle, elevates the heart rate, and or exerts you in some way; even if it means you are pretending to pump yourself up or shaking like a dog.

And it’s not required to completely interrupt your work flow either; in fact, most of the movement I do in my workday is done while I work… but more on that later. 

Keep it movin’
Tim Kessler
Workday Performance Coach, Founder
inHabit Wellness
The Workovery Method™

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