We continue with our ‘Say it with Wellness’ campaign this festive season and the ways in which we can provide ourselves with compassionate self care.
At the core of what Christmas is all about is a sentiment of kindness and connection. More often than not however, that is given outwardly to the people in our lives, whether that be through gifting, sharing meals or spending quality time together. It is a beautiful sentiment but how can we extend that same kindness and connection inwards to ourselves? How can we find ways to counteract and perhaps even dissipate the stress we are feeling in our endeavours to manage the demands and strain that we often feel at this time of year?
‘Saying it with Wellness’ is about taking mindful moments. It’s about kindness, compassion and connection. This rings true in our care for ourselves just as much as it does in our care for others. Tuning in to our body and our needs is no simple task though, particularly when we are accustomed to catering to the needs of others first and foremost. It is a concept that is much easier said than done, so let's start with the foundations. Turning inwards with kindness and creating connection within ourselves will emanate from the simple things; breathwork and self-talk as we mentioned recently but also from regular movement and physical touch.
Saying it with Wellness Part 1 can be found here.
Often we forget just how physical stress is, until we realise we are restless or racing and can’t seem to shake it. With this in mind we must find ways to do just that; shake it off. In other words, we complete the stress cycle so that we can move into the rest & digest state. Dancing around the kitchen to our favourite song is a great place to start! As is jumping, skipping, running, and swimming. By moving our body in this manner we can proactively learn how to shake off the physical stressed state we find ourselves in and in doing so reassure our body that we are safe and ready to relax.
Consistent, mindful movement in the form of yoga, tai chi, dance, or walking in nature will have a long term positive impact on our overall well being in helping to prevent an overwhelming build up of stress. Start with small movements that make you smile as these will assist in the release of the happy hormones encouraging a sense of calm, helping you to relax and feel content.
We cannot simply tell our body to ‘calm down’ and expect it to follow suit. We must converse using the body’s language. In this instance we are referring specifically to touch and the positive impact it can have on our physical and mental health. Research suggests that hugging or embracing a loved one for about 20 seconds releases the hormone oxytocin which is often referred to as the 'love hormone' or 'cuddle chemical'. Quality time snuggling with our pet has the same effect. Soothing physical touch can come in many forms; holding hands, https://groundwellbeing.com/blogs/notes-from-ground/saying-it-with-wellness-mindful-momentshugging and even massage are all ways that we can boost oxytocin release. This was at the forefront of our minds when creating the GROUND Wellbeing massage rituals, all of which were designed specifically to guide the body into the rest & digest state.
Physical touch works in many ways to boost our wellbeing, it also increases levels of dopamine and serotonin. These hormones assist in regulating our mood and relieving stress and anxiety. In fact, one study found that hugs from our loved ones may even lower heart rate and blood pressure levels too. Essentially, physical touch is a human need. It is vitally important that we each find a way that feels comfortable to make the most of the benefits it offers.
Completing the stress cycle is the kindest, most compassionate thing we can do for ourselves and perhaps in doing so regularly we may even shake the belief that we must remain in a stressed state to begin with, whether that be at Christmas or any time of the year.