Key to Wellness in a time like this

We are in a stew. We are all knowingly or unknowingly suffering from a collective trauma, a pandemic panic. We may be one of the lucky ones who have found a way through this mess and even in some cases have positively thrived. But the majority of us are feeling the overwhelm, the anxiety of more uncertainty, the loss of our customary lifestyle and social life.    Whatever you are feeling, thinking, being, right now, your body clocks it. It knows if you are fleeing, fighting or freezing. Your physiological systems, particularly your stress response is probably working really hard right now to help you stay balanced. This is a normal reaction to threat. And this virus and all of the unwelcome consequences are threatening, in a very real way. Being an invisible enemy, at that, brings its own challenges. Subconsciously we are trying to work out what it is and when it will strike.   There are various ways in which we negatively act and respond when under attack. Some of us freeze: closing down, isolating, being unable to communicate feelings, becoming self-centred. Some of us fight: voicing our opinions, judging others, complaining and expressing anger. Some of us flee: taking substances to numb the feelings, denying what's happening, avoiding with 'busy-ness'; over-doing. All of course, generalisations and we may rock between all three. These strategies seem to work in the short-term and are designed to enable us (animals) to survive.   But the body knows and holds on, taking a while to process. You may have already noticed more tension, less sleep, anxiety, palpitations, headaches, niggling aches and pains.... The list goes on..  So rather than trying to 'solve', 'fix', this threat response through our usual mental responses, we can really help ourselves by listening and taking note of our body. By noticing and helping our physical self to relax, we trigger the entire relaxation response (the parasympathetic nervous system). This has enormous benefits and calms the whole system. This is so vital when we are threatened. So vital, if we are to stay balanced, healthy and resilient in the long term.  And when I say 'relax' I don't just mean flopping out in front of the telly or taking a leisurely walk (which are both good in their own way), I mean consciously resting, consciously noticing, consciously being aware. This is the only way that we truly connect with our inner self. The self that is wise and knowing. The healing part of ourselves.  Consciously resting can take many forms - yoga, gong baths, massage, meditation and somatic bodywork to name a few. Here are a few of the ways you may consider in the coming months.    A mindfulness massage can help to re-set the body by triggering the opposite to the stress response. Proactively stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system through massage can help restore the right balance and strengthen the parasympathetic nervous system. With the parasympathetic nervous system functioning better, we find it easier to feel relaxed and calm, which in turn helps reduce stress and anxiety levels. Training in Mindfulness in a structured programme is also of great benefit. It has already been researched and proven that people with a sustained mindfulness practice have faired better during lockdown. The mind is trained to focus on the present moment and through this we realize that there is more right with 'the now' than wrong. Amongst other profoundly transformative methods, it also involves practicing somatic techniques to register what is happening in the body, meditation and breathwork to help consciously tap into our innate capacity to rest. This in turn weakens the sense of threat, strengthens our resilience and we begin to appreciate, practice self-kindness and focus on the good in our lives. It's not easy, it takes commitment and practice but it could (in the words of Jon Kabat Zinn) just 'save your life'.  For more information on courses, online classes and treatment sessions, click below. Wishing you a restful and fulfilling Autumn in all it's colourful glory.    Namaste

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