By Anastasia Gilliam, RYT and Wellness Consultant
Heal thyself. Easier said than done. But it CAN be done. Sometimes it can be a slow and arduous process, but knowing you’re a work in progress may just be a blessing in disguise.
It can take awhile to recover physically and even financially from a traumatic event. But healing the emotional and psychological wounds can take even longer. Some never fully “heal” but that doesn’t have to be a tragedy. There’s a solace inside knowing you’re still alive. That you survived. There is growth in not being the same as you used to be. Take these steps to begin your journey to Self Transformation.
Step 1: BREATHE
Take a moment for yourself. Close the eyes and deepen the breath. Breathing deeply oxygenates the entire system, relaxing tension in the body. It also flushes the brain with fresh oxygen giving you a sense of being alert, yet calm. Find your center of gravity and relax into that balanced sensation. Becoming aware of the breath helps lower the heart rate, blood pressure and stress.
Step 2: SMILE
Unlocking the doors of your healing process can begin with a simple smile. Even if you don’t feel like smiling. Go ahead…try it. It really does work. Previous studies have concluded that smiling actually does affect brain chemistry and the emotions. Emotions effect stress levels. Stress levels effect your health. Being able to control your emotional reaction every time life throws you a curve ball can change your life. In another study done by scientists Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman from the University of Kansas, they found that smiling during brief periods of stress can help reduce the body’s “fight or flight” stress response and can lower heart rates after recovering from a stressful activity. This is a simple way to begin. Just smile.
Step 3: BE STILL
Finding a moment for stillness may be difficult, but so worth the effort. As the body begins to relax, you may hear the chatter of the mind amp up. Just let those thoughts bubble up to the surface and allow them to rise from the mind like steam. Create a still pool in your mind, not letting thoughts disturb the surface.
Becoming aware of your thoughts then consciously, with deliberation, letting them float away from your mind can have a calming effect.
Step 4: REMEMBER
Sit still for a moment and search your mind. You’re looking for 3 things that always give you a strong and beautiful emotional response. Find 3 memories of something or an event that made you deeply feel (1) joyous (2) loved and (3) safe. These thoughts will be your “go to” in times of stress. You can trade them out with other memories or choose the same top 3 as your “go to” picks.
Don’t have a particular memory or memories? Choose a movie scene or a song. It doesn’t matter so much what you choose, it has more to do with how it makes you feel. When something comes up, take a moment to recall one of these “go to” moments. Choose one that best resembles how you WANT to feel instead of this moment of crisis. Example: If you are feeling sad, pick a memory when you felt utter JOY or watch something that will make you laugh out loud. Keep these moments handy and ready to go when a stressful event happens. I know, “go to your happy place”. But its very easy and it does work wonders. This exercise immediately effects the brain’s chemistry. Remember that the body follows what the mind is thinking.
Step 5: IMAGINE
Imagine in detail the outcome you’d like from the event that is causing stress and anxiety. What would it be like if this worked out like you’d hoped? What would it feel like? What would you have to change to achieve that? Questions like these engage the frontal lobe of the brain to re-wire the circuitry.
Taking a moment for yourself and allowing time to Breathe, Smile, Be Still, Remember and Imagine are 5 very simple steps that have life changing benefits. Any one of them can help get you through a rough spot, but the 5 combined can pull you through moments when life challenges you the most. They give you a moment to de-escalate or decompress plus ground you emotionally making it easier to make better decisions in the heat of the moment. These exercises are great for stress but also for managing anger, depression, anxiety and chronic pain.
I urge you to try them out before a stressful event so you’re even better prepared. Remember, this is a skill and takes practice. The next time you’re buttons get pushed, try this and be grateful for the opportunity to put your tools to practice. You’ll be amazed at the outcome.
Anastasia Gilliam is a certified Integral Yoga Instructor with over 13 years experience as a group fitness instructor and 5 years experience as a Holistic Lifestyle and Wellness Consultant. Specializing in teaching a wide range of age groups and fitness levels and those suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, PTSD, Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia, chronic pain and illness or those dealing with the effects of aging through a variety of restorative techniques including Integral Yoga, dance, Reiki/energy work, singing and music as healing modalities.
To learn more contact: www.anastasigilliam.com