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Phase 1 in the Journey - Emotions (A Journey Into A Holistic Approach to Disc0vering Balance During Covid19 - 4)
I think that one of the downsides to people feeling safe to share their journey towards holistic balance is Toxic Positivity. Ourselves or others can often feel uncomfortable with emotion, and so will downplay it in others, or we stuff it down in ourselves. Neither are healthy and that is not what this journey will be about. It's time to get honest with how you're feeling.
Allowing your feelings is healthy. Emotions are energy and in order to eventually be released, energy has to be allowed to move. Same thing with emotions, and yes, it can be super uncomfortable to allow our own emotions and to witness those of others.
Radical Self-Care during Phase 1 of Your Holistic Journey
Some of the following suggestions may seem like band-aid solutions to the emotions you're feeling about the changes you're experiencing due to Covid19. They are band-aid solutions for now. During this first phase in creating holistic balance your creating space for emotions and looking after yourself through that phase. (You're also teaching your loved ones that it's ok to have the emotions and to explore self-care techniques that work for them)
Ways to Safely Express Emotion
Don't suppress them or tamp them down! Allow the energy of the emotions to move through you and if they get too much go ahead and scream in the car, cry, stamp your feet. Journaling through writing or art, breath work, laughter and physical movement are all great ways to safely express emotions.
My favourite way is to put on the music and dance with abandon. As I move the emotional energy moves as well. I encourage you to explore and discover new ways that feel good to you.
Nurturing Yourself Through the Tough Days
This can be a really interesting way to find out just what radical self-care looks like for you as you explore different methods.
I'ts ok to sit in this phase of discovering Holistic Balance for a period of time as you explore what works for you. But we're not going to wallow or set up camp in this phase for too long. That being said, there is no timeline. As I said in a previous post, you will work through this journey as it works for you and there is no right or wrong way. Get comfortable with self-care and emotional expression as best you can. Perhaps the weekly calendar guide below can help with that.
What Does It Mean to Take A Holistic Approach (Journey Into A Holistic Approach to Disc0vering Balance During Covid19 - 2)
What Does It Mean to Take A Holistic Approach (Journey Into A Holistic Approach to Disc0vering Balance During Covid19 - 2)
A holistic approach means taking care of something in all aspects. When we talk about holistic living, it means a complete and whole approach to the well-being of our body, mind and spirit. We are not just our bodies nor just our minds or spirit, if one is off balance the others are likely affected … and both should be addressed as we journey towards maintaining wellness.
In our normal busy states of being, people often tend to be very much in their "heads". The mind is busy thinking, planning, remembering, engaging. For most occupations we have to be, however, what is going on with the body during this busy time?
Two things that I notice when clients are in for a session, especially Massage Therapy; They often don't realize just how many sore muscles the have in their body until I begin to work on them, and I can often feel the muscles begin to relax as people talk on the table about the issues keeping them busy. It's as though air is finally being released from an overfilled air mattress, the muscles become softer and more fluid.
This is often my reasoning to asking questions before a session starts. How are you doing, on all levels, that day? Your answers give me some insight into how you're connecting with all aspects of your holistic well-being.
When you plan an activity is it purely physical? Or do you also account for how it will feel on a mental/emotional level and how it feeds (or not) you on a spiritual level?
An example of what I mean by the question above. Some years ago when looking for a workout I needed to find something that I would stick to. While I played a lot of team sports and did competitive swimming in high school, my life just didn't have a space of time for that as a business owner and single mother.
I thought back through the things I had tried during my growing up and pre-mum years for what I had really enjoyed doing. Here was the list I came up with:
My workouts became: Taking Belly Dance classes and moving on to also teach (moving the body freely with music is so energizing!), yoga because I loved it and it really goes hand in hand with taking care of dance muscles and joints and walking or hiking in nature. This holistic approach to my well-being fed me on all levels, mind, body and spirit.
I take this same approach to other activities, and to my work. I love the work I do and the interactions that I have with clients. My work doesn't feel like a job but instead is a passion that I get to take part in every day. While I've been a secretary and interior designer in past careers and did find some satisfaction in that, they don't feed my soul in the same way as providing Massage and Holistic Therapies does.
The holistic approach to well-being is not just about the body. It also takes into account your mental state, how you're feeling about your day to day activities, and if they feed you on a spiritual level as well.
With the changes life has brought us during the Covid19 pandemic I encourage you to take some time to take a look at your daily activities and ask yourself if they bring a holistic balance to your well-being or do they need to be tuned-up, changed or dropped completely. Once you begin to take a holistic approach to one or two activities, you'll find it begins to change your approach to others.
Note: This is not a space for you to be self-judgemental or look for blame, it's simply having an honest look at ways to make positive changes for your whole healthy being.
I hope that you'll share your experiences.
Join me during the month of April for A Journey into Taking a Holistic Approach to Covid19
Let's explore together some ideas to improve our holistic well-being through 2020. The calendar below is filled with suggestions to help with that. Take one a day (you may need longer than a day for each step and that's totally ok...take all the time you need), pull out a journal and explore what the theme for the day means for you, your life, your well-being.
You may find that some questions, suggestions, ideas resonate to stay as they are, or need to be changed up. The idea is to take a look at your life from a holistic point of view, and make some changes where you feel the need.
Each day you can follow along with the day's theme on my Facebook page. I welcome your comments, suggestions, stories, ideas, questions, etc. with each post.
Challenge yourself, challenge others...the results will make a positive difference.
I plan to take the challenge, I hope that you will join me!
During 2019 I saw a number of clients in both Calgary and the Fraser Valley for a number of reasons. They brought some similiar issues to the treatment room for us to address.
The main problem being tackled (which displayed itself through symptoms) was a feeling of life being too much, too busy, too much to do, too much to take care of, too many places to get to... Too much was a common theme.
Here are the top 5, plus how we worked together to resolve them:
#5 Holistic Maintenance Sessions
I have to admit that I was really excited to see Maintenance as a priority with many clients this year. Not really an "issue" but a really positive step. Many were taking the view that Massage Therapy and Holistic sessions are not just a luxury, but instead an essential regular part of maintaining mind/body wellness.
In the past, so many clients wait to book in when they are at an overwhelmed breaking point or the ongoing pain has become intolerable. More and more though, are realizing the benefits of regular sessions, to ensure their body is feeling good the majority of the time, and they are more able to deal with life's stressors as they come up.
Maintenance appointments were across the board for therapies including Massage Therapy, Reiki Treatments, Craniosacral Therapy, Indian Head Massage and Reflexology.
#4 Back, Neck and Shoulder Pain
Technology is wonderful BUT it is really hard on the body. For those sitting at desk jobs working on computer all day, students studying, or those with more physical daily tasks, the upper body muscles seem to suffer the most through the past year.
Many mentioned their posture at work as well as repetitive strain issues with daily tasks. Massage Therapy was the number one choice for dealing with pain through the back, neck and shoulders. Included with those sessions was passive stretching to encourage muscle flexibility. Plus we often had discussions about stretching at home along with ideas for better posture so that muscles are not over strained.
I did notice that those coming for regular Massage Therapy sessions through the year mentioned that they experienced less pain and fewer issues with headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms and enjoyed better sleep.
#3 Anxiety, Depression, Overwhelm, and feeling Disconnected
While a number of clients would end their list of what is bringing discord into their lives with a statement of "well others have it worse, so I shouldn't complain", I was quietly thinking "Wow, you are really dealing with A LOT!"
So many have so much on their plates that it's not surprising that the mind just can not keep up, and in it's attempts to do so, becomes overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety and depression. Honestly, I don't think many people are realistic about just how much the body and mind can take. As a society we are pushing ourselves way beyond our elastic limits.
For too long we've pushed those feelings aside, jumped up after trauma to "soldier on", lived in our whirling minds of getting "it" done and feeling disconnected from our body, and trying to pretend that everything is fine, while we're actually falling apart. It can be scary to allow yourself to fall apart, but it can actually create space for things to fall into place.
I witnessed a greater increase in those asking about and experiencing Reiki and Craniosacral Therapy. During those sessions clients experienced a full 60 minutes of peace, loving energy and unwinding.
Taking that time to get quiet left many saying that they felt clearer, stronger and were heading home to think more on what they needed to let go of and the steps they were going to take to put their well-being first... It was amazing to be a part of those journeys through the year.
Whether tension or migraine there seems to be more and more people dealing with regular headaches. Caused by stress, weather changes, computer screen posture, hormonal imbalances with menstrual cycles and menopause...headaches were causing pain through the day, sleepless nights and feelings of fatigue and nausea.
Treatment choices included Massage Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy and Indian Head Massage. All wonderful for creating relaxation and releasing muscle tension, these therapies also increase blood flow to the brain, encourage the release of "feel good" hormones and ease pain.
The most frequent reason clients booked in for sessions was Stress. Stress that was chronic, overwhelming and causing considerable issues, both physical and emotional. Life has just become too much! To much to do, to take care of, to deal with... Deadlines, bill payments, exams, school activities...
Clients booked for Massage Therapy to help release the tension in the muscles that were holding tight and to get the natural space back between the ears and the shoulders (no, they shouldn't be attached to each other). Encouraging overall relaxation so that your stomach will release some of the knots was another reason for Massage.
Reiki sessions were popular to help ease the insomnia that was a symptom of stress. A session to help with deep relaxation in a quiet space. Where the thoughts stop whirling, the breath comes more deeply and evenly, and life feels more in balance.
Craniosacral Therapy to help the fascia that has become tightly bound and to begin an unwinding process, allowing the whole body to just open up and breathe.
Reflexology because many found it encouraged the entire body to completely relax. Relaxation to the point of falling asleep on the table!
So what would be your reason for booking a Massage Therapy or Holistic session in 2019 and moving forward into the New Year?
The signage has gone up in the window and the space is all set up for you!
Clients are really enjoying this comfortable and welcoming space. Come by and see us!
A holistic health colleague and I were discussing ways to promote our businesses last week and how to get our messages of wellbeing out to the general public.
What we couldn't decide was whether approaching potential clients from the viewpoint of emotional wellbeing was the best way to share, or if physical wellbeing was better. Why was this a dilemma for us? I think it lies in the fact that we, as therapists, look at wellbeing from a holistic point of view, while mainstream media presents to the public a very "physical symptoms and dis-ease picture" viewpoint.
In researching what the public is searching the internet for, the focus is very much on disease and symptoms labels such as Fibromyalgia, Plantar Faciitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, PTSD, Stress, Back Pain, Menopause symptoms, Cancer, Anxiety Disorder....
While there is no disagreement with the labels, a holistic therapist looks at each client as an individual and how those symptoms are specifically affecting them. How they are feeling, that day, on an emotional and physical level.
When a client comes to see me for a Massage Therapy session and lists their problem as Back pain. I'm assessing, as they move, how the pain is affecting their movement, is their spine appearing to be out of alignment, any signs of swelling or inflammation in the muscles, are they in emotional distress from the pain, what is it keeping them from doing, is it affecting their sleep, are they clenching their jaw or sweating from pain, how are they describing it, what words are they using...
Why so much in the way of assessment? I've probably already seen 3 other clients that day with Back pain and I guess I could treat them each the same way BUT is that really going to be beneficial for each? It might be but likely not. I assess because I want to know how this is affecting their overall holistic wellness and I want to treat them in such a way that all levels of wellbeing are addressed
I may find as I'm workingwith them that the pain began after an emotionally upsetting day. As they talk about this during their session the muscles will often open up and let my hands work out the pain and tension of the emotion. They may cry, laugh, get angry as the loosening muscles allow the emotion to be released...which is wonderful.
While they are likely of the mind that it was the massage that loosened the muscle, I'm more likely to believe that releasing the emotion was much more beneficial.
That was only one of the 3 clients that day with Back pain. What about the other two coming in with completely different circumstances but the same symptoms. Perhaps baby gaining weight is putting excess strain on the pregnant woman's back muscles, or they slept in an awkward position, or the busy teacher is stressed out and clenching their muscles.
That is why so much assessment happens.
So in getting back to the original dilemma around promotion, we wondered how to best get that message across as holistic therapists. I think what we decided was to go for the symptoms and use the language that potential clients understand, and then begin to plant seeds, educate and present the ideas that encompass holistic health and wellness.
That isn't to say we would try to change people. Each person has their own beliefs around health and wellness and what is best for them in the way of therapies. Each individual knows their body far better than I, and their beliefs bring them the holistic wellness they feel comfortable with.
As a therapist, it is up to me to honour and understand, learn from each client and adapt my therapy session to best meet their needs, and at the same time share knowledge about how the body works and it's amazing abilities to heal through holistic wellness.
Starting off the New Year with the loving, ancient healing art of Reiki. I will be offering 2 Reiki classes in Calgary this January; a level 1 and a level 2. For more information please click here
What is considered healthy, or not, seems to be linked to fads that come and go. I've watched clients as they have embraced different ideas and diets based on what is current, only to spiral when they haven't worked. Alternatively, I have seen those clients who take the time to tune in to and listen to their bodies, and what "feels best FOR THEM", experience the most success with lifestyle changes. They are also the happiest and most content people that I know.
Taking the time to get to know your body and working with it rather than pushing it is essential to holistic wellbeing. Get quiet for a moment and ask yourself the following:
1. When in the past have I felt my very best?
What was going on for you at the times that you felt your best?
2. What currently makes me feel my best?
Think about the clothes you feel best in, the foods that give you energy, the activities that feel good and the people in your circle that light you up.
When you create this list be sure to leave off the things that are done, worn or eaten because you "should". Only list what "feels" really good
3. When you visualize or daydream about events of things you would like to draw into your life, what are they?
We often picture ourselves or wish for things we'll do or have someday when we have more time or money, or fewer commitments. List these things.
Now, compare your 3 lists. Is there a theme that you can pick out as to what things, activites, foods, people, etc. make you feel great? Can you incorporate one or two of them into your life now?
So what does this have to do with Holistic Health? Holistic health includes how you feel physically, spiritually and emotionally. If for example you love to dance but run instead because you feel you should, is running the optimal work out for a good foundation in your health? If to go out running you find yourself thinking of all the reasons you don't want to, you find you are not enjoying the experience and you're feeling unhappy doing it, is it really the best for you?
If instead, as soon as you hear music your body begins to move and your mood lightens, and you smile...doesn't dancing fit your holistic wellbeing in a more positive way?
Think about the "shoulds" in your life and how they make you feel. What can you change to shift the feeling for a more holistically healthy you?
I'm not sure why it took this long for the penny to drop, after all I've been both a single mother and Reiki practitioner for years. However, today it dawned on me just how energy scattering it is to raise kids. Often during a Reiki session for a new parent I intuit their need for Chakra balancing during the session, today I had an "ah ha" moment.
A single parent when my son turned 16 months, my experience comes from the mother role, however I suspect the same diffusion of energy happens to every parent.
As mothers we wear many different hats. The one who steps up to discipline and at the same time will be the nurturing cuddler who kisses the boo boo before the bandaid goes on. I found myself setting household chores and rules, sitting on the benches at hockey games cheering myself hoarse, being ready to listen and learn when a problem came up, helping with homework, cooking nutritious meals, making sure the house wasn't a complete wreck, that school and sports schedules were met, and that hopefully, I was also managing to instill values that are important...and on and on the list goes... I know that I'm mentioning those parts of the job that all parents take on.
And please, don't read this as a list of complaints. I love being a mum and was ready to take on whatever needed to be done for my son through all his stages of growth.
Is it any wonder that when a parent lies down on the table for a Reiki session that their energy is often frenetic and scattered. Their energy feels like it's zipping in many different directions at once and feels somewhat fragmented. While their Chakras often feel out of balance, the Male/Female energies feel distorted as well. I can only assume it is because of the multiple roles that are part and parcel of parenting.
A number of clients that are also parents often mention feelings of complete overwhelm, anxiety and fatigue. Really, it's no wonder. If your energy is scattered in many directions you end up trying to manage life from a level of physical and mental depletion. If your energy is out of balance then you're more easily knocked back by life events, both large and small.
When my child was 9 I began to experience Reiki sessions and in the year that followed began my Reiki training. I would return home from a session with feelings of inner serenity and a sense of balance. What I noticed was that home was also calmer, harmonious and more peaceful. I was still juggling full time work, hockey practice, school and all the other activities, but somehow they just didn't feel as frenetic and crazy. I also recall people making mention of how serene our home felt when they entered it, that it wrapped them like a hug.
From an energetic viewpoint this change in my home environment was likely due to my taking time, on a fairly regular basis, to lie back on a treatment table, allowing my breath to slow, my mind to still and my energy to centre. From that space my being had collected the fragments of my scattered energy into my centre, from which it could emanate outwards to the people and environment that I was in contact with. It's pretty amazing what an hour can do to help us heal.
I guess my only wish would be to have discovered Reiki right at the start of parenting. With shifting hormones, postpartum issues, sleepless nights, teething, terrible twos, trips to the principal's office,... my suspicion is that those years would have been a little less draining.