My dog has spring fever. And she’s got it bad. For the past couple of weeks, our walks have consisted of loooong sniffing studies at a tree, a flower or what must be some magical shrub, followed by a full-speed burst to the next enthralling tree, flower or shrub. Sometimes, 20 minutes will only take us a few blocks away from home.
I work in an office on the days I’m not doing massage; I understand very well what it’s like to be cooped up inside all day while outside the world is cracking open with new life. So yes, I indulge my dog when she wants to take those long sniffs.
But, I’ve also been frustrated. We both need the exercise of a vigorous walk and I cannot spend hours walking a couple of miles.
A few days ago, for several minutes I watched my dog circling a tree, her nose never leaving the bark, I felt impatience spreading into my shoulders, my neck, my jaw. Instinctively, I started rolling my shoulders and deepening my breath.
Then, I remembered a conversation I had with my physical therapist a while back, when she was trying to help me figure out how I could fit the exercises she prescribed into my routine.
“Do you microwave food?” she asked.
“We don’t have a microwave.”
“Well, I asked because that would be 1 or 2 minutes where you could stretch your calves.”
Her advice was to find small intervals throughout the day to fill with stretches, exercises or movement, eventually getting up to at least 10 minutes total of calf stretching, etc. each day. Doing this has made a difference for me.
With her sniff breaks, my dog has been gifting me many more of those intervals. And I’ve been using these small moments to make a big difference in how I feel in the moment and beyond.
(Related tangent: Here is a link to Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk about body language. Her research has shown that changing our body language for just 2 minutes can have a profound effect on body chemistry and how we feel about ourselves.)