The Alexander Technique and Managing Stress
People often say that they feel stressed by work, people, traffic, loud sounds . . . the list goes on. People feel stressed because they strain in response to such stimuli. A traffic jam doesn't stress out a driver. The driver stresses him/herself out in response to the traffic jam. Humans have made huge advances in civilization and technology in a relatively short period of time, often to the detriment of how we use ourselves. One solution to stress is to avoid stressful situations and stimuli, which is often nearly impossible and undesirable. After all, gravity is a form of stress! If we use ourselves well we, are connected to the ground and spring up from it. If we use ourselves poorly, we pull ourselves down into it. Instead of avoiding stressful situations altogether, we could learn to use ourselves better and avoid straining ourselves in response to them.
A typical response to a stressful situation is pulling the head back and down. To experience this, poke your chin forward and tilt your head back. You would probably expect to pull your head back and down in this way if you were startled by a loud sound or feared that you were in danger. Most people are pulling their heads back and down habitually and have become so accustomed to the sensation that they don't realize that they are doing it to some degree at all times. This startle response has become a way of life. The head is heavy and pulling it back and down puts pressure on the spine and sets off a chain reaction of compensatory distortions throughout the body. Other examples things people do in response to stress are clenching the hands, feet, or jaw, pulling the shoulders in or raising them up and gripping the legs.
By studying the Alexander Technique, you can learn to avoid responding to stress by straining. If you don't strain in the face of stress, you may find that you're not so "stressed out" anymore. During a lesson you will learn how not to strain against the stress of gravity. You'll learn to allow the proper amount of muscle tone to keep you up at your full hight without excess muscle tension. You may be surprised at how this skill translates to avoiding straining in response to other stresses you may encounter.