Mental health struggles do not show. PTSD, chronic anxiety, depression or grief all can hide behind the seemingly "I'm fine" exterior. At the very core of life, nothing is more important than our physical and mental health. Especially now, the global crisis that we are living through, which is taking its toll on both. When we reach the moment of "when this is over", there is going to be lasting repercussions of its effects, especially in our nervous systems. We have an unseen threat (Covid-19), and our nervous systems are trying to make sense of the fight, flight and possibly collapse (freeze) energy in our bodies. We cannot see the threat, but feel the danger of it and the nervous system stays activated or "on". This leads to ongoing stress, and adrenal fatigue, which can show up in the body as chronic fatigue, anxiety, irritable bowel or leaky gut syndrome.
There are a few exercises that can be practiced at any time when you feel disconnected from your body and/or some parts of it lack sensation.
- Making a “Voo” sound. It is a low vibratory sound (think foghorn), centered in the abdomen. This gentle vibration slightly mobilizes the digestive tract, providing feedback to the vagus nerve system to begin to "unlock" that frozen/disconnected feeling. Take a deep slow easy breath filling up the belly, and as you breathe out make the “Voo” sound, letting it come from the abdomen. Repeat this 3 times. Notice the sensations that arise in the body with curiosity. You can do this by yourself or practice this with a partner.
- Notice one of your hands. Attend to the sensations and awareness of the skin, muscles and the bones of one hand and then compare it to the other. It is a simple way to demonstrate how creating awareness of a body part leads to more awareness of what is occurring in the body as a whole.
- Body awareness in the shower. When you are having a shower, do a body scan focusing on which part of the body the water is flowing onto. Noticing the temperature, pressure, and weight of the water on your head, shoulders, and each arm/hand. Allow the sensations or lack of sensations to be felt in any way they are occurring. This is where curiosity instead of judgement is helpful. We do not need to judge anything that is experienced, or categorize it as "good" or "bad".
Have you ever had the experience, in the rush to get ready for going away, only to get sick when you finally arrive at your holiday destination? This is the body's signal that we were pushing too hard and not paying attention to our physical and emotional health. Practicing compassionate awareness of the feelings in your body, is essential for wellness on the other side of this global pandemic. Be kind and curious, allow your feelings and emotions to be in the body and ask them, "what do you need right now?" , "what do you need me to know?" I know it might feel a little strange at first, but often there are parts of us that just need to be acknowledged and not pushed away. By attending to what needs to be seen/felt with compassionate awareness, you will create more resilience in your nervous system, leaving more energy for the business of living. Listen, be curious and nurture you, there will be a life after the pandemic is over and you will want to be ready to live it with vitality!
Yours in healing,
Caroldean, Somatic Experience Informed Practitioner,
500 RYT, Trauma-Informed Yoga Teacher