Movement to improve your Physical and Mental HealthHeidi Hadley
In recent years we have noticed how health professionals are encouraging people to create “lifestyle changes” rather than just focusing on diet and exercise. People are becoming more enlightened and educated in the area of health and wellness to a greater level.
In today’s blog we are going to consider how movement has such a powerful effect on our physical and mental health.
As a Somatics educator, I teach my clients the link between our emotional/mental and physical health. Whatever happens to us mentally or emotionally will have a profound effect on our body. For instance, if you have been suffering with stress, it is not uncommon to suffer with digestive discomfort or irritable bowel syndrome. Emotional and mental health stress can affect your hormones and cause sleep disturbance or mood changes which create an exhausted, overwhelmed feeling inside. Your mind and body or whole person which we refer to in somatics as the “soma” are so closely intertwined, that you can also find that whatever happens in your body can impact on your emotional and mental health too.
Movement has a huge impact on your emotional and mental health. Think of times when you have felt lethargic, despondent and lacked motivation. Then someone encourages you to take a walk around the block and enjoy the fresh air. You may do so reluctantly and maybe slowly, but afterwards you feel refreshed and glad you made the effort.
It is good for us to care and listen to our soma, but when I describe some basic neuroscience to you, I would like you to start using this knowledge to empower and enlighten you in the area of health and wellness.
Did you know that when you feel anxious, depressed, despondent, in pain and overwhelmed, your central nervous shifts into a “fight or flight” mode? This is the subconscious reflex action designed to help us deal with oncoming dangers. Many years ago this reflex was fantastic as a cave man to either fight or flee from a sabertooth tiger for instance. But fast forward to 2018 and we don’t encounter sabertooth tigers anymore. But we encounter scenarios and situations which can cause us to feel paralysed with fear. Sometimes we may find our personality reacts to stress differently though. We may have a nervous anxiety and rush around filling our day with a million activities and jobs. Why would this be the case? Because if we keep busy, we numb the pain and also have no time to relax and think about the issues.
A person may have had a stressful event happen decades ago, but has continued to “push it down” and not deal or process the issue or event. ‘Internalising’ or pushing stress to the back of their mind will create detrimental effects to their mental, emotional and physical health. This type of stress or nervous anxiety will in the long term cause a person to ‘crash and burn.’ At sometime, they have to acknowledge and deal with their stress, otherwise the stress will manifest itself in various health conditions.
So if you think you sound like the person I have described, don’t be disheartened. We actually all fall into these categories, because nobody is perfect. But what we can appreciate and acknowledge is Neuroplasticity and Bioplasticity can help us make changes to our health and well being! We live at a very exciting time in science. We should embrace this exciting era of neuroscience as we discover more about Neuroplasticity and begin to understand that research is showing the connection between our brain and body is a “two way street.” The research is showing that “Bioplasticity” is being referred to in areas of pain science too. Bioplasticity covers various processes and regions of our body which has the ability to adapt and change. As a Somatics educator, I encourage clients to use Bioplasticity to its advantage by creating healthy habits, Somatic movement, mindset principles plus much more outlined in The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online program (www.TotalSomatics.com).
By acknowledging that our brain and body are both adaptable and malleable to change and improvements, we know that movement can have a profound effect on changing the brain.
The Benefits of Movement
Studies have shown that when aerobic exercise becomes part of a person’s lifestyle, they are less reactive to the “fight or flight” mechanism. We will always have the “fight or flight” reflex action to protect us from danger, but it is HOW we deal with the situation and whether we are resilient to scenarios which impact on our health and well being. If an anxious person has encountered a stressful event, the physiological effects will kick in. These responses could be a rapid heart beat or a change in breath rate. But interestingly enough, it has been noted that if an anxious person dedicates themself to a regular aerobic routine, they develop a tolerance to the physiological responses to stress. They don’t push the stress down, rather they become less reactive or hyper sensitive to physiological shifts in heart and breath rate. Instead they build an physical and emotional resilience.
Movement and exercise has also been shown to have a effective response to medication and psychotherapies. Regular exercise boosts mood by increasing a brain protein called BDNF that helps nerve fibres grow, allow us to learn and absorb information. For more on BDNF and brain chemistry, check out my blog entitled “Is sugar controlling you?” https://totalsomatics.com/is-sugar-controlling-you/
Mindful Somatic Movement has a profound effect on a person’s emotional, mental and physical health. Somatics involves paying close attention to your bodily sensations, how you move, subtle changes in heart rate, breathing, the smoothness and speed of your movements. By developing a Somatic awareness to how you move, sit, stand, breathe, eat, think, speak and so on, you begin changing your mindset. Somatics helps change your brain’s old habits of living in a cycle of stress to slowing down these reactions and living in a more mindful, focused and centered ‘head space.’
Developing a daily Somatics practise with Mindfulness will improve your overall health and well being. I find that many of my clients enjoy practising Somatics when they feel stressed or overwhelmed. The reason for this is because they have informed me that sometimes they don’t want to talk to somebody, rather they want to relax their mind and body with slow, deliberate, mindful movements which will immediately start to create relaxation in both their mind and body. They find that this approach helps them access the “back door” to the emotional and mental changes that they desire without having to “psyche themself” into feeling better. Mindful Somatic movement is very gentle and kind to your mind and body.
Other clients have informed me that they enjoy their aerobic exercise, but make time afterwards to practise their Somatic movements. Somatic movements will reset your muscle length and relax the belly of your muscle after exercising. It is much more effective than stretching. Many of my clients have educated and enlightened themselves in the area of neuromuscular health with the help of Total Somatics (www.TotalSomatics.com) and have switched from stretching to Somatic movements once they have finished their chosen sport or exercise.
Considering what I have discussed with you today, I would like to ask you the following questions?
How often do you move freely and without pain?
Can you move freely and without pain?
Are you restricted with pain and limited mobility to enjoy activities you once loved to do?
Do you aim to exercise and move daily, only to find that you suffer during or after movement?
Would you like to learn how to release muscle tension, improve posture, increase mobility and return to the activities you love to do?
Have you tried stretching or Yoga and found that you still have back stiffness and pain, neck pain and headaches?
Did you know that stretching will not relax your muscles fully?
Would you like to know scientifically why stretching doesn’t release chronically tight muscles?
The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online program explains why the process used in Somatics, known as PANDICULATION is far superior to stretching. You will learn how to work smarter not harder with your body. I will guide your through a structured program over a 6 month period. The online program is self paced and performed in the comfort of your own home. I am available to support you all the way through the program. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime during the 6 month program.
The Online program will teach you Mindful Somatic movements, mindset tutorials, mindfulness programs and other support materials and audios to educate and empower you in your own health and well being.
I look forward to teaching you this amazing life skills.
Heidi Hadley xx