How many are under duress and struggling? Squashing thoughts, feelings, and emotions to one side and ignoring our own health and wellness? It's becoming the norm to be 'busy'. Like it's a badge to be proud of. I certainly am not proud to say I was working 100-plus hours a week doing 3 jobs to survive and pay the bills I had. I reflect back and wonder how the hell I managed. But I did!
The human body is resilient and adapts to what we feed it and responds to the environment we put ourselves in. What we forget, is that sometimes, it's not good food or healthy practices that we are consuming.
So many have been there and yet, so many more are still there or have not reached this point yet.
How many times do we have the universe deal us a hand or give us a huge shove in the right direction, only to not see it or ignore it? Signs, Symptoms, and Triggers are also ignored.
Eventually, we have to listen or take notice as something breaks or we fall ill, forcing us to stop.
This may be a physical or mental breakdown, saturation point reached, and where you have literally no room left to absorb or take on anything else. This may be in the form of workload, juggling tasks, or family and people.
Hey, the final piece could be the simplest and smallest things.
Remember, it takes only one block of Genga to topple a stack.
The greater the stack, the great the tumble.
How easily do we dismiss a signal to slow down, breathe, or pause? I know I didn't have time to be ill, eat or sleep at times, which is not only ridiculous but dangerous too. I fully appreciate many can't just stop right now, I totally understand, I was there too and I genuinely sympathize. But the decision to leave the Fire Service as soon as I could was a good one for me. My mental state and well being and physical health sighed a huge sigh of relief. Whilst on duty, my life was not my own, and I had no control over how hard or many hours I would work, let alone know the work conditions I would be in. Add tired, hungry, and carrying injuries to the mix and the risk factor grows rapidly.
The first thing to change is our thought process.
How do I know? Because I've been here and done it. I do practice what I preach so to speak.
People under stress or in trauma, sometimes cannot or will not speak about it. They may want to talk but literally cannot find how to articulate it from their body and mind. Sometimes talking about it can place you back in the situation, making it feel very real and you are experiencing it all over again. It may work for some, but it may not for others.
We are all different, therefore we all deal with things our own way.
Trauma comes back as a reaction to a stimulus. This is where gentle movements can assist.
It's stuck energy within the body. We have become conditioned to not see or feel it. Almost being desensitized.
Acknowledging our intuition and gut instincts can feel scary. We aren't practiced at it.
When the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, it's the primal instinct of fear of being attacked or hunted. A primal response to keep you alive. Fortunately, we don't have too many these days, but sadly this also means we have forgotten to listen to this too.
How and where would we start?
You may be thinking that's impossible. Ok, let's start with a simple achievable act.
Start with taking just 5 minutes out to drink your morning coffee or tea. Or it may be just hot water. Do what you need and what you enjoy. What you are doing is allowing yourself to have that downtime.
I started to gently stretch whilst the kettle boiled, allowing my body to move and let go of tension, to follow and move to what felt natural. To then notice the changes in my body. Whether tension had been released, moved on, or gone. Then as the coffee was being stirred, allowing it to settle and give off its aroma. Smelling it for what it is and tasting it, rather than 'drinking it on the hoof'. Allowing it to hit my senses and feeling the difference it was making.
It was maybe only 5 to 10 minutes, but it was my 5 - 10 minutes.
Okay, this is an example of making a coffee, but it's a start.
I now practice yoga and karate every morning, stretching and moving. 30 minutes without fail after a big glass of water. Then I allow myself to sit and enjoy a coffee. This I have continued without fail for over 1 year.
You are raising awareness within yourself.
We have to re-educate ourselves that being busy and filling every second, darting around, and planning ahead, actually is not a healthy habit.
Once you become aware of pausing and awareness of its effects on your body, you now have awareness of your being. Your health and wellness.
What we are now in this modern world become detached from is the pleasure of 'just being.'
I can already see many not having read this far, or having thoughts of, 'I can't take time out to just sit still, I have to get on, ' well this just reinforces our dilemma to keep punishing our body and mind into overload and exhaustion. We have forgotten how to tune into our bodies' needs. Learning to recognise the need to rest and stretch. To be comfortable with sitting still. Recovering. Who can honestly say they are a good patient when forced off sick? This is the ideal time to sit with your thoughts and be aware of your needs.
If your best thoughts and ideas were likened to a tiny flute, how can they be heard when the orchestra is blasting away? We easily dismiss meditation as something whacky.
But it's simply sitting and allowing thoughts to come and go.
Concentrating on your breathing and importantly, not holding onto the thoughts.
Why do we start with breathing? It's something we do naturally, but to breathe with intention is different. Noticing where into the body we breathe? The belly or the chest. Is it deep or shallow, slow or rapid? I invite you to maybe try it. Start by sitting comfortably in a place that feels safe to you. Sit with your feet flat on the floor, or if you prefer, lay down placing a hand on your belly, then your chest, and then place both hands to notice further.
You are now awakening your awareness of your body.
Coming back to the coffee scenario. Have you noticed the difference between before you began making the drink and after you actually finished it? Not allowing thoughts of work or anything else to take over and move in.
We train our brains to multitask. Conditioning our bodies to be in overload and heightened alert mode. So many people wonder why they struggle to sleep at night. The habit of glancing at the phone screen just before lights out. A stimulus the brain doesn't need.
What I have learned over the last 4 years whilst dealing with my own issues that arose, is that energy is very real. We store it in our bodies, holding onto people's words and comments, sights, and sounds, smells, and absorb all kinds of stresses and traumas.
We play scenarios or comments over and over, even coming up with results that haven't or even won't happen. We have become concerned, even scared of our own company. We need a distraction or stimulus because that's what we have become used to and trained ourselves to do.
So here's the best part, like most things we are completely in control of our responses, reactions, and thoughts.
We cannot control things outside of our control, this is true, but we can control when we have control and trust in our abilities and faith in our outlook.
So reclaiming this has to start somewhere.
Gentle movement and exercise help release trapped energy and allow the body to feel free and move.
It may feel awkward, we haven't done it for a while. Like sitting and meditating, it feels different, scary, and awkward. But conditioning the body allows it to adapt and change.
When we have more control and an inner calm we are far better at dealing with daily life and coping.
Mental health and physical health complement each other.
We all start at the beginning and it's difficult.
Conditioning takes time, but daily habits become lifestyles.
When you feel like giving up, this is precisely when to keep showing up.
Progress is still progress, whatever the speed.
Let me know if this resonates and helps.
Your journey, your race, so it's your pace.
Trust your instincts. Gut reaction, intuition. call it what you want. But listen to it and act on it.