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Dawn’s Wellbeing Tips

The Back Takes the Strain

Back pain is awful. It’s very difficult to ignore – not that you should ignore it, because it’s there for a reason; it’s the body’s way of sending you messages: ‘something’s not right’; ‘I can’t carry on like this’; ‘change what you’re doing’. If your body could talk to you today, what would it want to tell you?

Listening to your body’s messages is one of the ways you can discover what you need for your own wellbeing. There is no doubt the back takes the strain, and when that strains becomes too much then our backs start to tell us.

Cause vs Symptom

When it comes to anything that makes us suffer, the most important thing I’ve learned is to look for the cause. Treat the cause, not the symptom if you really want lasting results.

When you take the example of back pain, which is a very common complaint, there are many reasons why people have this problem and those reasons are specific to the person. When you look at the cause, or causes, of your own pain, perhaps then you can see if you can help yourself at the level of that cause. So, knowing the specific cause is important if you’re going to apply an effective remedy.

How to find the cause

Listen to what your body is telling you. For your own physical comfort, and mental wellbeing, this is best done at the stage when your back is whispering subtle little hints: ‘I’m not comfortable’; ‘I need to relax’; ‘don’t rush me’. Trust your body to give tell you, and then trust yourself to hear the messages. You’ll notice you’re repeating the message in your speech: ‘I’m not comfortable’, ‘I need to relax’ etc. It’s best not to carry on to the stage where your body is screaming at you, because that’s an awful situation.

Be holistic in your approach. Holistic medicine is concerned with treating the causes. In medical terms the holistic approach is treating the whole body, as well as the whole person, and taking into account mental and social influences.

Physical causes

  • Carrying too much load, leading to strain
  • Repeated movements that irritate muscles or inflame discs
  • Wrong or inconsiderate use
  • Trauma

Psychological causes

  • Mental stress and emotional stress lead to tension, causing muscles to tighten and become painful
  • Feeling burdened. Carrying a heavy load again
  • Circle of worry. You have back pain and you become anxious about your back pain.

A question: What makes you tense? Or who?

Finding the Remedy

The remedy is usually to do with improving your self-care: doing something helpful that’s nourishing, nurturing, kind, considerate, loving.

As a guide, when you can be specific on the cause, you can tweak things to change your whole life. This is part of your remedy. For example, your back is painful because:

  • You’re doing too much. Remedy: do a bit less
  • You’re rushing yourself, or feeling rushed by others.  Your remedy might just be to slow down, and go at your pace
  • You feel as if you’re stuck. So, start to move again.
  • You care, all the time, for others. Do you care as much for yourself?

I know it also goes deeper than this. Sometimes it takes time to realise what you need for your own wellbeing. You might feel it’s difficult to give yourself what you need. Making a small change makes a difference. I’m a believer in the right action at the right time: it might be difficult to change now, but the time will come. And anything can get better.

I also want to say that there is a place for the medical drug approach; you might need to take a painkiller or anti-inflammatories. Or, you might want to use the holistic approach and include medications. Guidance is available from health professionals, and it’s good to talk to with your doctor about your options. But, don’t let taking medications stop you from helping yourself, or listening to your body and finding your own answers.

Your back and self-care

Self-care requires a level of self-worth; and you’re definitely worth that. The body would always prefer you paid attention to your wellbeing and that you look after yourself. Your back’s not trying to annoy you when it moans or shouts at you; it’s sending you messages for the sake of your wellbeing. It has a vested interest in your wellbeing, so please don’t moan or shout back at it.

At the heart of wellbeing is the determination to take care of yourself. When your back takes the strain, it’s telling you to take care. The best thing you can do is to take care of yourself.

4th June 2020

Well-being in Unfamiliar Times

This article is about three principles of well-being. Ideas to help us at a time when we can’t be sure what’s going on, we don’t know what to do, and we don’t know what will happen. The current situation is spreading anxiety and feelings of being ungrounded, but this is the very opportunity for reflecting on what’s important to us. We can’t go out, but we can take this time to venture a little deeper inside.

I would like to recommend that you start by valuing yourself. Value all the time and effort you’ve put in to your work, your family, and all that is important to you. Value whatever it is that makes you truly happy.

Happiness

The secret to happiness? Appreciation; feeling grateful for what we have; seeing the silver lining and generally looking on the bright side. We know we have thousands of thoughts every day, so we have plenty of opportunities to practice appreciative thinking. There is even a World Gratitude Day on the 21st of September, which started in Hawaii in 1965. Living in Hawaii would be a reason to be happy.

You could start a daily practice, that would be unique to you, of reasons to be happy: Great, a new day; I’m grateful I have this person to share my life with; I’m glad I’m single, because I can do what I like. Whatever it is.  I’ve met people who keep a ‘gratitude diary’; once you start one you tend to keep thinking of things you want to add. For one example, thinking of the mentors who have helped and encouraged you. Make yourself feel happy by visualising the faces of those very people who applauded your uniqueness, built you up to be bigger, and made you feel special; people who have celebrated you, giving you a strong sense of who you are.  

Three ways to feel happy:

  • Start your day with a smile
  • Note reasons to be grateful
  • Be comfortable with yourself and celebrate who you are

Comfort

Contentment can be found in activities like gardening, baking, reading, painting, talking with loved ones, or enjoying time with your pets – who teach you how to be present.

Spring cleaning is good for the spirit.  A distraction from acute anxiety is to tidy out a drawer.  You’re getting rid of everything you don’t need: any clutter and old dreams that are no longer relevant. Especially, letting go of past annoyances and old hurts that you’ve been hoarding but that no longer offer you any benefit. Making decisions about what you don’t want any longer is a step to clearing your home, your life and your head. After all that hard work, you can enjoy  the comfort of  relaxing  in a favourite saggy armchair, in those cosy old slippers to warm your feet. Include a good book or your favourite music; anything that adds to your own feeling of well-being.  Little things mean a lot.

3 practical ideas:

  • Reeelaaxxx your shoulders
  • Relax your breathing
  • Lift up your heart

One of the nicest things you can do for yourself is to look after yourself.

Health

The things that bring happiness and comfort contribute to good holistic health and a healthy immune system. We know that we need vitamins and minerals to help the body to heal itself and stay strong, and that we benefit from the wellness effects of fresh air, exercise and good company. Creating your own good health involves the right food, breathing well, a good environment, relaxation, and exercise. Eating fruit and vegetables from all the colours of the rainbow will provide you with a lot of the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

Exercise can be something to help you to stay flexible. You can be kind to yourself about this. I love the releasing feeling of hatha yoga. Other people love to run, ride horses, swim. So, know what suits your body, and do what makes you feel good.

A healthy sense of self is also something that encourages a healthy immune system. This can include making good choices: choices that are good for you as well as for others, and having a healthy respect for yourself. Try viewing your body as your very own planet, and see parallels with having a healthy respect for our home planet.

For good health:

  • Eat good food
  • Listen to your body
  • Take care of yourself

What does well-being mean to you?  Find out what you value in your life. Consider what you value in yourself. Share those thoughts with others.

14th May 2020

Settle your body

Breathe in. Ease your heart. Stillness.

Breathe out. Silence, no thoughts. Going within. 

Breathe in gently and generously. Open your heart.

Breathe out with a sigh, contentment. Be in the stillness between thoughts.

If my soul could speak to me today, it would say ‘we’re in this together and we’re doing well’.

27th April 2020.

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