In our last Living Stillness blog “Stressed? Do you have this essential ingredient in your treatment plan?” Sara Harris founder & co-owner of Living Stillness brought to our awareness that connection is a very needed antidote to address the modern-day plague of stress that is having an effect on our mental & physical health.
So how do we build connection? Sometimes when life gets very intense, our mind can get a bit foggy and even the simplest tools of how to connect can slip from our awareness. So, to make connection really simple remember the acronym BFF – Breathe, Feel your Feet, Freedom to Feel…
Breathe – Did you know an adult breathes an average of 23,040 breaths a day? The body is amazing and will keep this vital function going every moment of the day but how often do we come off autopilot and consciously be aware of how we are breathing? When we check in with our breathe it gives us great insight into how we are feeling. Is the breath short and shallow indicating we have gone into a fight or flight response? Or is there an ease to the breath, a steadiness and flow which supports the body to be balanced?
Bringing focus to the cycle of your breathe can be a great way to re-connect. Taking a moment to stop and breath through your nose, feel the air filling your lungs and then exhaling in full at a pace that feels natural for you, can be a very simple and supportive way to come back to yourself and feel a steadiness within you. Bringing focus to the breath can also support us to observe situations rather than loose ourselves in what is happening around us. When we allow this observation, we give ourselves permission to breath our own breath. This simply means you are breathing with conscious awareness of yourbreath and a connection to your own body, as opposed to what we normally do when we forget our breath which is to breath in response to situations that are playing out around us, leaving us feeling even more stressed, anxious and overwhelmed.
Why not explore consciously being aware of your breath as you go about your day, taking a moment to stop, breathe through your nose, feel the air filling your lungs and then exhaling without force at a pace that feels natural and supports you to slow down. You may find that consciously breathing is a simple yet profound way to re-connect that supports in the management of stress.
Feel your Feet – When we get stressed, we often get caught up in our thoughts and forget about our body. It is like we become a walking head with no sense of the body that carries our head and all the thoughts swirling around it in, from place to place. Being in this state of flux adds to feelings of stress and anxiety which further disconnects us from our body. So, the next time you are feeling stressed Stop and Feel your Feet. I don’t mean take off your shoes and give yourself a foot massage, although that would be nice JFeel your feet means to bring conscious awareness to your feet and how they are placed on the ground. What do they feel like? Is there a numbness, a hardness, a tension in the balls of the feet? Are your toes scrunched up? Or do the feet feel relaxed and steady, like they are firmly planted on the ground?
If your feet feel stressed and tense, it’s an indication that this level of tension is all the way through your body we just haven’t been aware of it. So, bring conscious awareness to your feet and try relaxing them, uncurl your toes and bring focus to stretching the foot. You might like to try transferring your weight from theball of your foot to the heel or circling your ankle, one at a time. Let yourself feel your feet begin to relax as you stretch it out, circle the ankle, feel the crunchy tension in this area be released from the body.
When we bring conscious awareness to our feet, we then begin to take notice that we have ankles, knees, hips, a pelvis, a torso, we return to feeling the whole of our body. Feeling the body is a great way, to get us away from being caught up in our thoughts and supports us to feel connected and in our body.
Freedom to Feel – now that you have used your breath and feeling your feet to support you to connect, the next step is to unshackle yourself from another behaviour that can contribute to disconnection and give yourself the Freedom to Feel. As adults we often become so caught up in the busyness of the day, pushing ourselves and overriding how we feel to make it through our to-do-list. In this push, we do not take moments to stop and register how we feel. Instead we bury, ignore or dismiss our feelings leading to a disconnection from how we feel both emotionally and within our body. This disconnection means there is a numbness and we are closed down to the awareness that feeling brings that can stop us from accumulating stress. Giving yourself permission to feel brings an honesty to your life and a connection to the body that helps you to be very real about what support you need.
Acknowledging how you feel can take practice, especially if you are used to going through the motions of your day and avoiding feeling to get through. It can help to have Stop moments that you use as a reminder to check in with how your body feels and how you feel within yourself. Choose something that you do regularly throughout the day for example when you are at the photocopier at work, when you have a drink of water throughout the day or whenever you pick up your phone. Use your chosen moment to ask yourself “How do I feel?” and give yourself the freedom to truly acknowledge the feelings that are there. Why not explore the Freedom to Feel throughout your day? In my experience when I do this regularly, I feel very connected and aware of what choices I can make to support myself.
The next time you are feeling stressed and disconnected, remember Connection is the key, so don’t forget your BFF - Breathe, Feel your Feet & Freedom to Feel to help you return to a connected way of being.