Bust a move and attack anxiety at its core

November 2, 2022

It was back in the elementary school woodwork class that I discovered the bench vice. It's like a hydraulic press except you operate it manually by rotating a lever that pushes a metal block towards another.

You put anything between this metal crab, grab the long handle, screw it tighter by spinning handle the and whatever you had between the pincers caves in.

Metal pipes, plastic sheets, blocks of wood, you name it. The bench vice mangles them all leaving behind deformed obscurities.

Sure some things can handle more pressure before they break and others crack at the slightest punch by the two iron fists.

Later in life, I found myself facing these metal twins and more than once they’ve cracked me open like a can of tuna. Liquids and pinkish meat bleeding out of the metal cut. 

It’s not a pretty sight and putting yourself back together requires more than a welding torch and a handful of sittings in the woodwork class.

But I haven’t come out empty-handed from the pressure cooker.

There are two things I do when I start tasting the iron in my mouth, notice the tightness in my chest, gasp air like a fish on dry land and hear my wails echo on the walls.

1. Bust a Move

Stress and anxiety get stored in your body as muscle tightness like too many pickles in a glass jar. Stiff muscles move slow, limit your breathing and the range of motion of your limbs and spine.

Who knew the ribcage is actually very elastic and there are muscles between each rib that tighten up under pressure?

To combat this I stretch, do yoga, or do some light fitness training with a lot of movements that open up my chest and get a lot of motion and a full range of motions for my arms, scapulas, legs and spine.

Actually I'm going to go ahead and do this Yoga with Adriene after I finish writing this post.

2. Walk and Talk

Just like pressure jacks up your body it can also screw with your mind. 

My mental marbles start lacking the range of motion to roll toward the positives and instead things turn so murky it’s hard to see where I’m going. 

Then my imagination kicks in overdrive and starts whipping up catastrophe scenarios left and right. And before I know it I’m so deep down in a tiny lightless rabbit hole that it’s hard to get out without a torch and a helping hand.

So I call up a friend and ask them for a trot along the seaside. And while we walk the thoughts out of my head into the open, use some lively crayons to splash some color on them and soon things don’t look so bleak as they did when I was hiding alone in the darkest, deepest corners of my noggin.

If you don't have a friend at hand please search online for the national mental health help line or a therapist. Consider these mental health professionals as your personal trainers for your most valuable asset. Your mind.

What’s your one-two punch for escaping the bench vice’s grip when there’s more pressure than you can bare?

A black and white photo of the author Jussi's smiling face with shortcut hair and a short beardJussi Tarvainen

Former pro snowboarder. Author at night. Multi(failed)-entrepreneur. And mostly an awesome designer (said, my five-year-old son).

plenty more loot in the vault

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