“Only by being in harmony with our inner nature,
and the Nature all around us,
can we truly experience wellbeing and flow”
It almost seems that ‘busy’ is the new black! In our culture it appears that this is the way we measure success, or value, but when we put pressure on ourselves to maintain an unnatural level of busy-ness it can lead to overwhelm, burnout and dis-ease. So what can we do to look after ourselves and keep ourselves healthy, happy and productive?
The first step, I believe, is awareness. Often we are so focused on just getting through our busy days that we don’t take the time to tune in to how we’re feeling and what’s really going on in our bodies. We’ve become used to ignoring the little niggles in order to keep going and get through our list of daily tasks. Unfortunately this will probably only be a temporary solution, because these gentle alerts from your body that something isn’t working could just increase in volume until you have no choice but to listen. This is when we find ourselves suffering from conditions such as adrenal burnout, fibromyalgia or chronic back pain. If, however, we could pay attention to the earlier signals, then we could take action before things reach a crisis point.
One way to develop this awareness is to do a regular body scan. You can do this while standing, sitting or lying down. Close your eyes and take a deep breath, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take a few moments to fully tune in to your body. Feel the parts of you that are in contact with the floor, chair or bed and imagine roots growing from here into the earth, grounding you.
Gently feel your attention sinking down, from your headspace, into your body. And just check in with how you’re feeling. What emotions are you experiencing? They generally fall under one of six broad categories as shown in the centre of this diagram:
Try not to judge the feelings, but just to notice them. They are not right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. They are there to give you information which can then help you to find ways to move closer to how you want to feel.
You might also notice that your emotions can be multi-layered and even, apparently, contradictory, in that it is possible to feel both happy and sad, or angry at someone, and yet at the same time be proud of them. Emotions can be complex and this can mean that, if we’re not aware of how we’re feeling, we can tend to react to situations rather than taking the time to choose how to respond. This is why ‘Emotional Intelligence’ is such an important tool in helping us to keep balanced and conscious in our actions.
Now, slowly working down from the top of your head to the tips of your toes notice the physical sensations that you can feel in your body.
Doing this exercise helps you to become more aware of what being stressed feels like for you. For example you might feel tense, closed, anxious, uptight, overwhelmed, unable to cope, drained, or on edge. You might also experience pain somewhere in your body. When you check in regularly and notice these sensations, you can become aware of what makes you feel this way. If you do this several times throughout the day, you will be able to catch these signs at an early stage so that you can then take steps before the stress builds any further.
Scanning can also help you to identify what being relaxed feels like for you. For example you might feel open, chilled, happy, content, expansive, empowered, in the zone, or in control. In contrast to stress, you might also notice a lightness or a lessening of pain. Again by increasing your awareness you can notice what helps you to feel this way, so that you can then find ways to bring more of this into your life in order to reduce stress.
Next week I’ll look at emotions and what is happening when we feel pushed into overwhelm.
(You can read the full article here)