6 practices for when life feels like a roller coaster!

Last week I talked about some of the challenges that I’ve been facing after taking on the care of ‘Dakota Horse’.  If you’ve read some of my other recent posts you might remember that we’re currently also in the middle of selling up and moving house!  This is not only about our home, but also about my business and my vision of how it might develop in the future – so no pressure there then!!  All of this has meant that life is feeling a bit crazy at the moment.

At times like this it’s all too easy to slip into old patterns of overwhelm and the consequent unhelpful behaviours and thought cycles.  I am therefore doing my best to remember to practice good self-care.  I’m far from perfect, and still very much a work-in-progress, but they say that practice-makes-perfect, and it’s certainly giving me insight and a lot of food for thought.

I promised to share some of the things that I’ve found helpful in the hope that it will be of use to others to:

  1. The first and most important thing is remembering to breathe!  Yes, perhaps a rather obvious one, but when I feel stressed I know that my muscles tighten and my breathing becomes more shallow.  This means that my body feels more tense, and gets less oxygen, which becomes a negative spiral, feeding my anxiety.  On the other hand, when I remember to pay attention to my breath, and to breathing deeply and evenly, it helps me to relax.
    To help with this I recommend doing a body scan several times throughout the day.  This enables you to spot areas of tension in the body, and to see when breathing is shallow, allowing you to then breathe into the tight areas, inviting them to release and relax.
  2. This in turn helps me to take a step back and to have better objectivity, which allows me to see more clearly and rationally.  It helps me to keep a greater sense of proportion and not to spiral into overwhelm and feeling out of control.
  3. Breathing properly and being objective also help me in evaluating the reality of the situation and carefully considering my options.  If I slip into panic this is much more difficult to do – if not impossible.  It’s known as ‘blind panic’ for good reason!  Being able to think things through like this, usually allows me to see that there are lots of things I can try, and people I can ask for advice and / or support.
  4. Another thing that helps me in this is to get moving.  Going for a walk helps to break the sensation of being ‘stuck’ and powerless and helps my brain to function more effectively.
  5. I also find being outside in Nature very soothing.  I love the energy of being surrounded by trees and wildlife and find it very grounding.  It helps to restore my sense of perspective too.

  6. Mindfulness, meditation and journaling have helped me to develop more emotional intelligence and self-awareness.  This has allowed me to let go of some of the things that were no longer serving me, and to reconnect with my inner stillness, allowing me to relax more effectively.  This is so important for moving out of ‘fight or flight’ and into ‘rest and repair’ which is essential for our wellbeing.

 

Next week I’ll share some further techniques and insights that I’ve learnt along my journey.

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Feeling Your Way from Stress into ‘Flow’ – part 5 of 5

Another way to support this is through ‘play’.  I’m taking this in its broadest terms, to refer to something that you enjoy doing, that lights you up inside and that ‘makes your heart sing’ – the things that, when you are engaged in them, time ceases to exist and you’re just enjoying the moment.  This releases endorphins and boosts our immune system, helping the body to deal with stress and repair from injury or illness.  It also helps to keep us looking and feeling young!

Another passion of mine is nutrition.  As someone who’s experienced food intolerances in the past I’ve become very interested in knowing what’s in the food that I eat.  Also, stress, medication and toxic chemicals can take their toll, upsetting the healthy balance of our gut bacteria, leading to dis-ease.

Many of us lead busy lives and so have come to rely on ready made and microwaveable meals, however these often contain high levels of sugar and salt and the processing that is done in their preparation destroys much of their goodness.  In addition, our fruits and vegetables are produced through intensive farming methods using chemical sprays, which result in fewer nutrients and a variety of toxins that overload the liver.

I believe it is very important to source ingredients that are as healthy and natural as possible.  Buy organic where you can or, even better, grow your own.  Cook from scratch (if you’re short on time perhaps you can do this in advance and freeze portions for later meals) adding herbs and spices for extra flavour rather than salt or sugar.  Include a wide range of foods and colours to ensure that you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals.  If you eat meat, fish, eggs and/or dairy I would again recommend buying organic and unprocessed options where possible, to avoid the hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals that can often be found in these foods.

It’s also important to keep well hydrated, particularly during times of stress or illness, as this helps to flush out toxins and to keep our cells functioning at their best.

Running my own company, I know how important it is for business owners to stay healthy.  We want to give our clients the best possible service and this means maintaining our productivity and creativity while also keeping fit and avoiding sickness and burnout.  This is where I can help.  I can support you, and any members of staff you may have, in finding ways to look after your health so that you enjoy your work and thrive on the challenges that it brings.

Here are some of the things that previous clients have said about working with me:

Robyn … provided a warm and welcoming space and I quickly relaxed. I found the session very intriguing as it brought up some interesting things that I was very happy to release. Robyn has a very gentle approach and at the same time gets right to the heart of the matter.

I felt very relaxed and energised.
I continued to flow with a very gentle ease…

It was a really enjoyable experience and allowed me time to reconnect with myself,

It’s now two months on and I’m realising the benefits of the session. Thank you Robyn

Rosie Withey

 

I have been going through a really tough time for the last 5 weeks and have been struggling to pull out of it. Today I had a therapy session with Robyn who is not only lovely but also very talented. My sorrow has lifted and for the first time in ages I can look back and smile. I also have new clarity and direction for the future. Thank you so much

Victoria Denning

 

Robyn is such a lovely person to work with. Her calm and friendly manner immediately put you at ease and her Reiki skills are just incredible. Her knowledge is vast and you know you’re in expert hands when you spend time with her. Thoroughly recommended

Becky Barnes

 

I went to see Robyn as I found myself ‘running around in circles’, feeling stressed and like I was going to ‘hit a brick wall’. I had a session of Reiki, and Robyn also helped me focus on being positive and relaxing, giving me extra activities to do at home. I followed these, and instead of ‘crashing and burning’ I got through it. Thank you Robyn for your support and help.

Clare Davis

 

If you have any questions or comments on anything that I’ve mentioned here, or if you would like to book in for a tailor-made wellbeing session with me, then please get in touch:

email:              robyn@equenergy.com

phone:             07980 6699303

website:          www.equenergy.com

Feeling Your Way from Stress into ‘Flow’ – part 4 of 5

When we’re in stress our bodies are effectively in Fight or Flight mode.  This can be necessary, for example if we need to escape from a dangerous situation, however our bodies were not designed to stay in this state for longer than about 10-15 minutes at a time.  When we remain in stress for long periods it affects our immune system leaving us more susceptible to illness.  We can also suffer from dis-eases such as adrenal burnout and chronic fatigue.  In addition, being in this state means that it is more difficult for our bodies to recover from injury or illness.

When we are relaxed it allows our bodies to enter into the parasympathetic nervous system of Rest and Repair.  Here our breathing, heart rate and blood pressure return to a healthier level and our gut is able to digest more effectively, meaning that we can better absorb the nutrients that we need from our food.  Also, it is only in this state that our cells can shift their focus away from preparing for attack or escape and towards work on maintenance and repair.  Being in this state therefore helps us to recover from illness and injury and to remain in a state of balance and wellbeing.

Each body has a blueprint of how it should be in order to be functioning at its optimum.  It is an intelligent system with a variety of processes that are always aiming to return to this healthy model.  Taking time to be still, enables our cells to reconnect with this inner wisdom, allowing the body’s processes to work as they were designed to do, and bringing us back to balance and wellbeing.

In part 5 I’ll look at another couple of great ways to support our wellbeing and alleviate the effects of stress.

 

(You can read the full article here)

Feeling Your Way from Stress into ‘Flow’ – part 3 of 5

Another way to look at stress is to imagine that we have a ‘stress bucket’.  The capacity of the bucket can vary from person to person depending on the experiences we’ve had in our lives and how these have shaped our beliefs and mindset.

 

Stress comes in to the bucket from a variety of different sources.  (Doing a regular body scan as described above can help you to become aware of the things that add to the level of stress in your bucket.)  We can start some days with a high level of stress, meaning that our bucket is already nearly full, and it only takes another small amount to make it overflow!

However we can take steps to help us deal with the stress.  This has an effect similar to turning on the tap and allowing some of the contents in the bucket to drain away.  Again this can vary from person to person but here are a few examples:

  • journaling
  • mindfulness and meditation
  • practicing saying No
  • recognising and honouring our own needs, eg for sleep, rest, nutrition and hydration
  • gentle exercise, such as swimming, walking, yoga, gardening
  • spending time outdoors in natural light and fresh air
  • doing things that you enjoy – reading, singing, dancing or other hobbies
  • self care: booking in a session of aromatherapy, reflexology, massage or Reiki, for example

One very simple technique that can be used anywhere is simply to become aware of your breath.  There are a variety of breathing exercises available so it’s worth trying a few to find out what works for you.  One of my personal favourites is to place your hand over your heart, then breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 6.  Visualise the breath coming directly in to, and going out from, your heart.  This helps to calm your heartbeat into a smooth rhythm which in turn ‘entrains’ your brain to a more relaxed wavelength.  Just taking a moment to be still and taking a deep breath  in this way, can help to give you that second to pause and choose how to respond in a situation rather than just reacting out of fear or anger.

Next week I’ll look at what’s happening in the body when we’re in stress and why it’s important to make time for rest.

 

(You can read the full article here)

Feeling Your Way from Stress into ‘Flow’ – part 1 of 5

“Only by being in harmony with our inner nature,

 and the Nature all around us, 

can we truly experience wellbeing and flow”

Robyn Harris

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)

Bereavement and Loss – Part 3 of 7

In this section I will look at how the work of Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross changed how we look at the grieving process.

Dr Kübler-Ross, who pioneered methods in the support and counselling of personal trauma, grief and grieving, proposed a model of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance).  This is actually a model for change generally and as such can help people to understand and deal with personal reaction to trauma.  It is not limited to death and dying.

Her book, On Death and Dying (1969) was quite revolutionary at the time and was a catalyst towards changing previously held beliefs that bereavement should not be discussed and that death is a taboo subject.  This was very gratefully received by carers and by people who were dying or who had been bereaved, perhaps indicating the level of denial and suppression that had existed previously.  Dr Kübler-Ross gave people ‘permission’ to feel their feelings and to talk about them openly, perhaps for the first time.

The ‘Grief Cycle’ was never intended to be a rigid series of sequential or uniformly timed steps. It’s a model or a framework rather than a process.  A model is less specific – more of a shape or guide. People do not always experience all of the five ‘grief cycle’ stages.  Some stages might be revisited. Some stages might not be experienced at all.  Transition between stages can be more of an ebb and flow, rather than a progression.  The five stages are not linear; neither are they equal in their experience.  People’s grief, and other reactions to emotional trauma, are as individual as a fingerprint.

This model is useful because it recognises that people have to pass through their own individual journey of coming to terms with death and bereavement (and other kinds of loss), after which they usually reach an acceptance of reality, which then enables them to cope.  When we know more about what is happening and why we are experiencing these sometimes strange and frightening sensations, it often makes life easier.

Next week we will look at each stage of this cycle in a little more depth.

If you are currently experiencing any of these issues and would like to talk, please feel free to get in touch.  There will be no obligation to make a booking, it’s just an opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have and to see if what I offer might be a good fit for you.  My contact details are:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

If you would like to take a look at my website, you can find it at:

www.equenergy.com/

 

You can read the whole of this article here

Bereavement and Loss – Part 2 of 7

 

 In this section I will explore the feelings that we can experience following the loss of a person or thing that is close to us.  It often results in a sense of grief or bereavement.  This is a very natural response when something to which we are attached, disappears from our lives.  We often associate this feeling with the death of a loved one but it can also be experienced at other times, for example divorce, the loss of a job, or having to move away from a place that is familiar to you.   Some types of loss can be particularly difficult to cope with as they are often seen as less important in our society, for example miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of a beloved animal.  People might not understand the depth of feeling that the sufferer is experiencing and will sometimes tell them to ‘pull themselves together’ and ‘move on’.

Loss can also be felt about an event which is anticipated but has not yet happened, for example children growing up and leaving home, the ageing process, or when a person or animal is given a terminal diagnosis and they and their family try to come to terms with the fact that they will probably die sooner than they had expected to.

Everyone’s experience of grief is highly personal and is based upon their unique perception of the situation (Shapiro, 1993).  Events trigger different reactions in different people and our responses to trauma and emotional shock can vary hugely.  They can also depend on our past experiences, beliefs and values.  In addition they can be influenced by the other things going on in our lives at the time which can result in us feeling particularly vulnerable or sensitive.  However there are a range of common emotions that people experience.  These include feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, loneliness, fatigue, helplessness, shock, yearning, emancipation, relief and numbness.

People can also experience a range of physical sensations such as tightness in the chest and throat, hollowness in the stomach and breathlessness.  Thought patterns can be affected too, resulting in disbelief, confusion, preoccupation, hallucinations and a sense of the presence of the lost person or object.  These might then lead to a range of behaviours including lack of sleeping, appetite disturbances, absentmindedness, social withdrawal, dreams of the deceased, avoiding reminders of the deceased, searching, calling out, sighing, restless overactivity, crying, visiting places or carrying objects that remind the survivor of the deceased and treasuring objects that belonged to the deceased (Worden, 2005; Geldard & Geldard, 2001; Bowlby 1980).

If you are currently experiencing any of these issues and would like to talk, please feel free to get in touch.  There will be no obligation to make a booking, it’s just an opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have and to see if what I offer might be a good fit for you.  My contact details are:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

If you would like to take a look at my website, you can find it at:

www.equenergy.com/

 

You can read the whole of this article here