Re-set, relax, unwind
I was working with a client recently and we came up with a metaphor of living with a kind of ‘tinnitus worry,’ - like having a continual background ‘noise’ of anxiety or worries that don't necessarily prevent daily functioning, but over a long period of time have a detrimental impact.
I suspect that many of us can relate to this. Living through this pandemic we've had to make many adjustments at many levels. Perhaps coping with bereavements, ill health, work stresses, lack of emotional or physical contact with loved ones. It feels poignant that as I write today the UK comes out of lockdown. A relief as this might be, it doesn't mean the coast is clear: life is still full of unknowns, anything could change at any minute, and taking good care of ourselves is so important.
I've noticed that sometimes I reach the end of a working day, I may be preparing supper or spending time with family, yet I’m feeling tightly wound. I can’t fully relax and only a part of me is available for contact. I find it hard to unwind. I share this in the spirit we're all human - there's no shame in acknowledging that these times have been really really tough.
Doctor Chris Johnstone[i], an author and researcher on resilience and wellbeing, sometimes uses the metaphor of our resilience levels being like the body of water underneath our imaginary boats – as we row through life it’s what keeps us afloat. But life’s stressors gradually deplete our water levels, and because we're not aware of them (we’re too busy rowing!), sometimes we don't realize until it's too late - we literally run aground. It's not a hopeless metaphor though, there are practical and positive habits that replenish our water levels and our resilience.
I’d like to share 2 techniques to help relax, unwind and slow yourself down. They’re not rocket science, and they're the simplest to take on board.
1) Time out in nature:
Often people talk about nature as if it's something ‘out there’, as if we are separate from it. I think we are an intrinsic part of nature, it’s a vital source of nourishment to us as human beings.
- Find moments in your day when you can be in nature, sit in a garden or take a walk, especially if you're spending a lot of time on screens. 15 minutes break, makes a difference
- If you have a tendency to be a fast-paced walker, deliberately slow down as if you're walking on a sandy beach - imagine your feet leaving an imprint in the sand
- Take in the buzzing sound of insects, the amazing colour of a flower, the wind gently blowing in the trees - ageless, deeply nourishing experiences.
- What’s it like to gaze with childlike wonder? Imagine seeing a tree as if for the first time, touch its bark, its incredible canopy, allow all your senses to experience it.
- Walk in a woodland: there's research[ii] that being amongst trees helps with positive physiological effects, it can reduce blood pressure, improve our immune functions, as well as psychological effects like alleviating depression and improving our general mental health
2) Take a mindful cuppa
I'm a great believer in doing something that will disrupt a particular mood or pattern that isn't serving you. In some ways it’s the simplest thing to do, the challenge is that when we most need to do it, we’re least likely to. Our busy minds say ‘there’s no time!’
Take your cuppa somewhere different, say to yourself ‘I'm going to take this time to really appreciate this drink’. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks eloquently with Oprah Winfrey about his Tea Meditation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNiwOI0u9AI&ab_channel=OWN
Whatever works for you, I think the key is to consciously choose to relax and slow yourself down. If you spot yourself in that space of ‘tinnitus worry,’ change tack and give yourself some time to breathe in life in all its colour.
If you’d like to find out more about my work as a holistic constellations counsellor, there are blogs and articles on our webpages here.
Wishing you a gentle, restorative and happy summer!
[ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6589172/ “forest bathing” (Shinrin-yoku) has positive physiological effects, such as blood pressure reduction, improvement of autonomic and immune functions, as well as psychological effects of alleviating depression and improving mental health