The State of Overwhelm. Our body is our most trusted healer.
Headlines: Inflation, job loss, children struggling, marriage woes, post-pandemic let down, gas prices, elections, social injustice, and the increasing pace in the workplace. You name it, the circumstances of our landscape can create an unsustainable life. As we navigate the felt sense of overwhelm, anxiety and fear, we find ourselves in a perpetual state of physical and emotional pain. Our nervous systems are literally and figuratively on fire. Do you find yourself physically ill? Diagnoses of GERD, IBS, joint and muscle pain, migraines, PCOS, weight gain, heart disease, hair loss, an onset of diabetes; just to name a few? You may want to consider exploring your body’s inflammatory response to the overwhelm and consider a holistic mind, body, and spirit approach. As a therapist who strives toward embodied and somatic connection with my patients, I find that starting with a bottom up approach is a game changer when it comes to understanding our overwhelm and finding relief. The first challenge is to establish an awareness of our pain and fear. We want to condition ourselves to notice the sensation of stress and allow time (a moment to pause) to consider a response. We find this awareness through a connection to our 1) Body 2) our Environment and 3) our Breath. These intentional connections allow us to become attuned and more readily available to navigate the overwhelm.
Using our body and our breath: Emotions have energy and they are tunnels within our body. You must completely get through them to ensure that we are not exhausted by them. Let’s face it, while we all would love a weeklong vacation, a massage, yoga class, or a hike in the woods; those are not always feasible or readily available. Those are grander gestures toward wellness. Practicing micro-moments of wellness throughout the day is a more reasonable method of ensuring that every 24 hours we metabolize all that we ingest, witness and soak into our nervous systems. Engaging your own breath for moments throughout the day is a tremendously effective tool. It can be every time you use the restroom and wash your hands, when you grab a drink, when you answer a phone call, sitting or standing in lines etc. Take one moment to close your eyes, find your breath, and notice the expansion and contraction of your belly and chest. Notice the dropping of your shoulders, your feet on the ground, move your jaw and notice the release of the tension you are holding. Say to yourself, In this moment, I am ___. (drop in your favorite mantra or prayer). My favorite is, In this moment I am healthy, I am strong, I am worthy of love and praise. On particularly tough days my fall back is the Serenity prayer of acceptance, wisdom, and courage.
Setting a daily intention and practice of gratitude: I encourage my patients to set an intention for the day, spending one to five minutes of mindfulness and meditation practice each morning. Determine how you want to honor yourself and your boundaries. Being selective in how you use your energy each day, is a genuine act of prescriptive selfishness. Before saying yes to a request of your time. Take a moment to pause and consider the request and notice what your body is telling you. If you get a pang of anxiety or a pit in your stomach or your heart flutters, your body is sharing a message with you. LISTEN. Examine your values and do less of what doesn’t align within those core values. My motto is, if it’s not a heck-yes, it’s a no, at least for now.
Caring for your WHOLE health: As a society, we are conditioned to take our vitamins, eat healthier foods, exercise, get vaccinated, drink lots of water and attend regular checkupsas effective strategies for preventive physical wellness. Most of us do not wait to have a crisis such as a heart attack to implore these tactics. I ask you this: Imagine how the world and you, may function if we sought therapy and connection BEFORE a crisis occurs. Imagine a balanced understanding of your mind, your body, and your spirit. Imagine a felt sense of the capacityto balance and to heal all within your own self, despite the worldly challenges you face each day. May you be healthy, may you find moments of peace and joy and ease from suffering. If you’d like to connect with a counselor click here: https://creativenwa.com/contact-us-mental-health-services-bentonville-arkansas/
~Alyson Wysong-Harder, LCSW