March is the month we celebrate Mother’s Day for UK Mums and it’s also International Woman’s Day. So, this month the Wellbeing theme is geared towards women and in particular women’s mental health, although in reality guys, it probably rings some bells for you too, so read on.
As American singer songwriter Naomi Judd wrote “Your body hears everything your mind says”. This is true for all of us on this planet, male or female. As a clinical hypnotherapist and psychotherapist, I work with people to reach the deepest part of their subconscious minds, to enable them to overcome mental, often very deep rooted, blocks that affect their whole being.
So what has your mind been saying about you lately? Are you in a cycle of self-criticism, self-judgement and often without realizing, self-sabotage?
How many of you look in the mirror and judge yourself? How many of you think I am too fat; I don’t look good or just generally think I am not good enough? How many times do you think to yourself, “I can’t do that”; “I shouldn’t do that”; what would someone think? All these negative thoughts create anxiety.
Is your mind creating your symptoms?
Anxiety not only affects your mind it also affects your body creating not only short-term illness, it can create long term debilitating illnesses too. When the stresses of life become too much, your body will react and stress locks itself into your physicality and those tensions can cause headache, posture problems that lead to back pain, dizziness, weakness, digestive problems and general feelings of fatigue.
These symptoms of built-up anxiety are very real, not merely figments of your imagination. Our bodies and minds are geared to deal with “fight or flight”, our body’s auto response to danger. It’s part of our bult in survival system where we “fight” or “flee” from dangerous situations.
If you imagine being out for a run and a vicious dog jumps out in front of you and starts growling and barking at you, what will happen? Your blood pressure will increase and heart rate too. Without you even realising, your pupils will dilate – it’s the body’s natural system to let in more light so you can see more clearly. Your senses will be heightened as your body tries to prioritize and maintain the higher-level responses geared to keep you safe. However, on the contrary, as part of that prioritization, the body is halting anything it doesn’t feel is necessary for your survival at that time including, but not limited to, your digestive, tissue repair and reproductive hormones.
Your stress response can quickly calm down and return to a normal state in around half an hour although this various for each person. However, for some people they have faced many stressful situations and remain in fight or flight mode even when it isn’t necessary.
This then activates psychological or mental stress which in turn becomes detrimental not only to your mental state but your physical state too. Most recently and for many still ongoing, has been the panic caused by the Covid pandemic, making many people fearful of going out, touching things, mixing with people and the fear of their own death.
The fight or flight response to dangerous situations does have a purpose but not when it is activated daily and especially not to everyday stresses like the kids messing up their room, the person in the car in front of you driving too slowly or a pile of emails or bills that must be dealt with.
It’s important to stress that just because your illness and pain is caused by anxiety, that doesn’t make it any less valid. Our mind and body are one and the same, and the distress is very real and can easily become self-perpetuating.
The more we worry, the worse the physical symptoms get. We become so convinced that we are sick, that we end up seeking out the wrong kind of help. And so the cycle continues.
5 steps to help your mental health
- Disconnect from social media and take a break from watching, reading, or listening to negative news stories
- Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, exercise, get plenty of sleep and give yourself a break if you feel stressed out.
- Talk to someone you trust and share your problems about how you are feeling.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. These may seem to help, but they can create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling.
- Recognize when you need more help and seek out a qualified therapist, counsellor or contact your doctor.
DIFFICULT ROADS LEAD TO BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS
Be vigilant, keep an eye on your emotions and be grateful for everything that is good in your life.
Think positive. Think happy. Moira