Has anyone else ever watched a movie they loved as a kid and caught a whole new meaning to different aspects of the script? The kids’ movies that keep children engaged but have profound lessons for the adults watching also?
I remember watching Lion King after reading The Power of Now and it taking on a completely new meaning. As a child, I was always so perplexed when Rafiki kept hitting Simba on the head with his stick. It never made sense and I couldn’t work out the purpose. I had seen a similar thing in movies where monks would be meditating and be swung at with sticks catching them before making contact and still no clue.
It wasn’t until reading The Power of Now, climbing out of my own thoughts and mind that I realised, all this life I’d been missing. I was ‘in da past’ as Rafiki would say. Simply lost in my thoughts. Obviously very glad I didn’t have to be swung at with a stick at unpredictable times to learn this but how crazy. Unbeknownst to be I was introduced to the first pillar of escaping anxiety, Presence, when I was just 5years old.
You see the point is when we allow ourself to get distracted by our thoughts of the past or the future we completely miss the present. We might not hear the prelude to the stick swinging at us.
The one thing I noticed when I understood this concept and really committed to increased mindfulness was how I seemed to have more time. All those situations where I’d be ‘running late’ and think I didn’t have time to check my hair in the mirror before leaving the house or sit down to eat my breakfast were all a ruse. You see when I slowed down and actually did those things despite ‘running late’ I always seemed to end up on time.
I found if I was better able to be fully present in each moment I had way more brain space. Rather than thinking of a thousand things at once and giving each 10% of my attention, I saved time getting things right the first time. How many times have you burnt toast after popping it down for a second time only to be distracted by your phone? Then resulting in making toast twice as long. Or is this just me?
You see slowing life down so I can be more in tune with my senses means I’ll smell the toast before it burns. I’ll hear the footsteps of the person holding the stick. I’ll hear it whip through the air long before it hits me in the side of the head. So why don’t you try it? Be like Simba and learn to be more present. See how many sticks you dodge and how much time you have to gain.
Want to learn more about my pillars to exit anxiety? Well keep an eye out my new online course Ease Anxiety is launching later this month!!
Alternatively if you can’t wait, reach out and book a one on one.
Slow down and be kind ✌️
When I was at the height of my persistent pain condition and anxiety the key piece of the puzzle was having health practitioners explain and teach me about comfort. At the time my nervous system was so wired, everything hurt and health care revolved around pain. (Even putting my arms above my head to do my hair was excruciating.)
I was sent to an incredible GP who introduced me to mindfulness. I read the book ‘Mindfulness for Health by Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman’ and listened to the accompanying recordings. He was one of the first practitioners to educate me on the relationship between anxiety, my nervous system and my pain without advising “You just need to relax”. (Let’s be real all that does is make anxiety worse and leave you asking how?!?!?)
I found this GP through one of my lecturers at uni who I had started seeing for physio. She educated me on the importance of pain free movement. At that point, I was in constant, unrelenting pain. She taught me to tune into micro movements which for me started with breath.
By giving myself permission not to push into pain and stay within the comfort of my micro movement, my nervous system slowly learnt how to be comfortable in a larger range and variation of movement. (Now look at what my body can do five years in the making ->)
When you’re in a stress or pain state pushing only moves you further into a sympathetic state reinforcing neurochemical pathways leading to discomfort. If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that, life is unpredictable af and so long as we are living we will have to calibrate for comfort. The scale slides with stress, trauma, pain, grief/loss, celebration, happiness and joy. Comfort is not a level in a game you unlock, achieve and stay within because well, life.
Learning how to calibrate comfort therefore is such an important life skill. Focusing on where the comfort lies and tools to augment comfort (not necessarily just focusing on decreasing pain) can assist with choosing more helpful coping strategies. The end goal is the same but the journey feels different.
So if you are up-regulated and would like to see if breathing re-training and hypnotherapy are pathways to more sustained comfort for you and your nervous system please reach out!
Enjoy your day and always be kind :)
The World Health Organisation defines burnout as, "syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed". It is characterised by the following three symptoms:
It is a syndrome particularly rife in the healthcare setting and given current events is no doubt on the rise. On top of that with more and more people working from home it becomes more difficult to separate work from home life and achieve balance.
This is something I struggled with when working in the public hospital system full time and was a big driver in directing me towards starting Zephyr Movement. I have had a lot of practitioners that tell me they struggle to 'switch off' after work or simply struggle to relax. The following tips aren't revolutionary but a great reminder or push in the right direction.
1. When cooking/eating dinner practice mindfulness to leave work at work!
I'm assuming everyone is in need of a good feed after a long day at work. So whilst cooking/eating dinner utilise your 5 senses. What can you hear? Eg) The boiling water, sound of the knife as you cut the veggies, music or tv in the background. What can you smell? Eg) Different herbs/spices, scented candle in the room etc. Repeat for sight, taste and touch. This is an easy way to maintain focus on the present moment instead of what you may have left on your to do list or a patient you are concerned about etc.
2. Practice good sleep hygiene to facilitate relaxation!
Think about how you can make your environment more relaxing an hour or two before you plan on wanting to sleep. I'm not going to tell you not to watch tv before bed because I also do it. It helps you enter a theta wave brain state which is relaxing. However, turn the blue light off on your laptop/phone. Most models give you the option to set it up a timer automatically from sunset to sunrise. This assists regulating melanin production, a chemical that assists with circadian rhythm. Furthermore, find what is relaxing for you using all your senses. I use scented candles and warm fairy lights instead of the bright overhead lights and always listen to a hypnosis track as I fall asleep.
3. Listen to your intuition when you want to say NO.
We all know the sinking feeling in our gut that is a hard no. Sometimes it is hard to honour that feeling and say no to the extra shift or task your employer has set for you. I encourage you to sit down and work out what your personal boundaries are. How much time off do you need in a week? (A typical weekend is 48hours) What does my time off need to include in order to feel rested? (I.e. not just chores/ cooking for the week and exercise) These become little promises you can keep with yourself. Best way to start building boundaries with other people is to practice with yourself first. This way when you get asked to work that extra shift, you can think of it as saying yes to your wellbeing instead of no to your employer.
Hope this helps! If you are interested in breathing better for your wellbeing or want to try clinical hypnotherapy. Reach out and enquire here.
Stay safe and be kind :)
Working in wellness and as a physio in the area of acute respiratory, I was all about the 'deep' breathing...or taking 'big' breaths. Recently I underwent some professional development courses in breathing re-training and let me tell you what I learnt changed the way I will live and treat from now on!
First up, what is breathing re-training? It is based in physiology. Basically, it is the process of training the respiratory centre in the brain to 'normalise' the rate and volume of breaths taken. In doing this it will effect your blood chemistry because breathing is closely associated with the pH of blood. It has everything to do with the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen and the way the body compensates for keeping this balance. (Note: I put ' ' around 'normalise' because everyone is different with different medical histories/lifestyle factors that can affect the end result. However, the process will still move you closer to 'normal'. **It is for this reason that you shouldn't adjust your breathing without the guidance of a breath educator who knows your whole medical picture.
Secondly, what is normal physiological breathing? When I went to university we got taught a normal breathing rate for an adult was between 12-20 breaths per minute with a volume of air per breath dependent upon your body size. For example, someone my size would have a tidal volume of 500mls per breath. This volume would also change depending on whether you are sneezing, coughing, sighing, yawning etc.
What I learned through Tess Graham's courses was that 40years ago normal was 8-12 breaths per minute. A comparison of the difference could be depicted in what breathing looks like during a panic attack with the paper bag vs when the person has calmed themselves down. Think about the symptoms associated with breathing that fast and big.
If humans have been around for 100s of 1000s of years why would the physiology (the chemical and physical makeup have changed so much?) Ms Graham hypothesised that it was the change in lifestyle. We live more fast paced lives and stress is at an all time high, juggling all the different areas of modern life. Plus, our diets. Yes food has an impact on breathing. Now I am not a dietician or nutritionist, just a physio and breath educator, so all I will say is that complex carbohydrates can increase your breathing rate too.
So what does correct breathing look like? --->
Breathing re-training is intrinsically safe when performed without ANY discomfort. However, because breathing is so closely linked with this inherent balance in our bodies. Changing your breathing without supervision or too quickly can result in a healing response whereby you may feel more emotional, have changes in your gastro-intestinal function among other symptoms.
Think you may be over breathing?
(**Think about the following question during exercise and/or sleeping not just during resting breathing...)
Curious to start your own breath re-training? Well to celebrate a year since Zephyr Movement opened its doors! You can receive 10% off any breath re-training initial consult for the week starting Thursday 23rd July (because Thursdays are my favourite day!) ending Thursday 30th July!! Enquire here to claim :)
Enjoy your day and nurture your lungs by simply breathing a little more gently from now on.
Let's talk mindfulness...before I had a persistent pain condition, studied hypnotherapy and struggled with my anxiety I had no idea what this word meant! I knew it was kind of in the meditation realm (which I found incredibly intimidating) but that was about it.
Mindfulness simply means directing your attention toward the present moment. Now why would you want to do this? In practicing bringing your mind back to the now no matter how many times the mind tries to distract you. This can be with what you're going to cook for dinner or what time what meeting is on. This teaches you emotion regulation. I often describe this as creating space between the situation and your reaction to it. Meaning, instead of yelling at the person who took the last toilet roll from a place of lack and fear (couldn't help myself #soznotsoz) having another couple of seconds to realise that person is wearing a nurses' uniform and it may have been the only chance she had to get supplies before another string of shift work. Perhaps that person would have been able to observe the uniform in that moment if their thoughts weren't on trying to remember what meals they needed to prep, how much the shopping was going to cost or whether they'd run out of toothpaste? In other words focused their attention on the present moment. Wait wasn't that mindfulness? :) I can hear you asking but how?!? Where do I start? Ok ok ok here are some great ways to start.
1. Breathing!! Try focusing on how you are breathing in this moment. Is it slightly difficult or effortless? What body parts move on the in and/or the out breath? How could you alter your breathing in this moment to relax the most muscles? Would it help if you breathed into the areas of tension? Breath is a great anchor because if you are alive you will continue to breath and each breath will be different moment to moment keeping you PRESENT!!
2. The Senses!! Pick a sense; sight, sound, scent, taste, touch. Now take a minute...how many orange objects can you see right now? What are the background sounds you have been zoning out? (For me it's this pesky fly!!!) What smells can you detect...perhaps a tree or candle or flower? What does this inside of your mouth taste like and is it different between each swallow of saliva? What do the different textures of your clothes, the chair beneath you feel like? The pattern embedded on the back of my legs says I should definitely get up from this chair soon.
3. Get curious with how you move! Even getting up out of a chair will be different each time you do it. Notice if there is equal weight between both legs, do you use your arms to push up, do you make a sound as you get up? Tune into the movement and get present with how you perform it. This is often why I love pole. When hanging upside down by the skin of the back of your knee you have to pay very close attention to what all of your limbs are doing, what is actually gripping the pole and exactly how close your head is to the ground. You are forced to be present.
If that doesn't sound like your idea of fun. I challenge you to stay present through the whole or part of cooking dinner tonight by noticing your breath, taking in all the senses and noticing in great detail how you move. To think that one small shift in self-awareness during an every day activity could result in lowered heart rate, decreased anxiety and increased ability to focus, just to name a few!
Have fun with it and let me know how you go!
Hope you enjoyed this little intro to mindfulness. Remember to be kind ✌️
If you missed part one maybe go back and read that first. Otherwise here is part two!
4. Order spaces while you’re learning to order your mind:
5. Cooking can be enjoyable and bring routine to your day:
6. Incidentally learning mindfulness
7. Being forced into deep connection and vulnerability:
This little glimpse at the slow and simple life showed me a little about why mental health is such a problem? Social media means we can distract we don’t necessarily have to confront, it also encourages comparisons, blows expectations up and blocks seeing human vulnerability and suffering. It can make us feel like we’re not doing enough, don’t have enough and just aren’t enough in general. Back in the day if you were the best in your town at something you were the best in the world as you knew it. Know that I’m right there with you figuring it out as I go but hope this helps or entertains who ever has read all the way to the end 😊
PS: You are more than enough right this second! Be kind ✌
Before I launch in just thought I’d do a little recap. Back in 2016 I was in a high-pressure job working in children’s critical care as a fairly new physio. Essentially, I burnt out and ‘quit’ life. Literally quit my job and four weeks later I was on a plane overseas with no plan and very little saved. I found my way onto the sailing yacht, Indigo, ‘piggy backing’ off someone else’s qualifications and signing up to cross an ocean. I hadn’t been on a boat for longer than 4hours at a time let alone know how to sail. So, there I was on the other side of the world in an industry where I was a complete novice. How do you think my anxiety was? Well here I am sharing some incidentals I learnt about anxiety so you don’t have to do something crazy, like living out at sea for 25 days to learn!
1. Identity plays a large role in keeping anxiety at bay:
2. Technology is both a help and a hindrance when it comes to anxiety:
3. Routine is the antidote to anxiety:
To be continued...
Memories are one of the most fascinating and important functions of the brain when you really think about it. Memory is more than just recalling facts and events it’s also a large component of learning of skills, habits and individual conditioning. Understand that what we do, how we react and who we think we are, is a sum total of experiences in a specific order that evoked specific emotions.
They say there is my side, your side and the truth, meaning we filter and store memories through our own lenses. Lenses include gender, sexual preference, values, beliefs, interests, past experiences etc. It is the lenses that create the emotional experience and create variance in how an event is re-told.
The more intense an emotional experience the better long-term memory is able to solidify and store it. It's important to mention that memories are stored as sensory information and is why a specific scent can call to mind a certain person or place.
Long term memory is a function that lives in the subconscious mind and is why some people are often unable to recall childhood memories in a conscious state but can remember various things in a trance state. We can't change the actual event. However, utilising hypnotherapy to explore the feelings associated with a memory can be efficient and effective.
By changing the way it appears in your mind you can influence the emotion associated with it. For example, if you have a particular experience that brings forwards a lot of anger by changing the way the memory appears in your mind you can alter the amount of anger it evokes in your body. Furthermore, if the anger associated with this event shows up as a less than helpful dynamic in your present relationships, processing and releasing the emotion in hypnotic trance is profound.
“Last time I saw you, you had your legs wrapped around a pole.”
One sentence you never want to hear from your uncle and yet this is my life. I thought I’d write about why it is worth braving the stigma to be part of the incredible pole community and how it relates to my health being a physio/hypno/human.
I read a book called Dear Lover by David Deida. In it contained mystical wisdom and insight into me defining and understanding what being a woman means to me. This along with Brene Brown’s wisdom; the worst insult for a woman is she is less than beautiful and unable to attract, led me to one realisation.
Women yearn to be seen. I yearn to be seen. “So why do I hide my beauty and my talents?”
With the rise in the ‘me too’ movement I think most women can relate to being seen when they wished they weren’t and in my experience, this leads to women associating being seen with danger.
In the pole studio, the more skin you bare the safer you will be as you can grip the pole more easily. In the pole studio, women of all shapes, sizes, colours and cultural backgrounds are all running around in the equivalent of undies and bras doing the same epic things. In this environment, we are seen lumps, bumps, hairs and all. In this community, we are celebrated for the incredible things our bodies can do and supported in revealing as much or as little as we like. We are seen safely and celebrated!!
Not only are we seen by others safely, we learn to see ourselves with more love and compassion. How can you hate the incredible body that allows you to literally hang from the skin of your elbow/knee/inner thigh/hand etc? We are finally able to see ourselves beyond skin deep.
Strength becomes far more important than cellulite. Feelings of accomplishment and freedom of expression become far more important than tummy rolls (that every-body has!!). As much as our instructors’ yell, “point your toes!” it is understood the bigger goal is admiring your body for how you can feel in it not necessarily doing a move perfectly.
How on earth can you possibly not gain self-confidence when you get a dose of that every time you go to class?
If that weren’t enough, growing up we hear stories of superheros who become alter egos and, in a way, ‘perform’ their super powers on the world’s stage. Well, hello showcase! Hello stage name! Hello self-expression and authentic self we think society won’t embrace. Whilst I still haven’t competed or performed pole at a showcase (my time is coming), social media has provided a platform where I can celebrate this facet of my authentic self and connect to so many of my pole sisters worldwide.
Now to a more serious side of things…
Hanging upside down by the skin of the back of your knee is painful and a little adrenaline inducing because you could fall, hit your head and injure yourself pretty badly.
Now polers will know the first time you do a move it kills, you get a big bruise and you feel every ounce of it. Your system wants to protect you, it sends pain signals to alert you there is a potential threat to your safety. Pain=protection!
But it was so much fun you do it again next class and it hurts a little less until the move doesn’t hurt at all…why?
No, the nerves aren’t dying, they are just being conditioned this ‘threat’ is not actually dangerous so your nervous system, calms the eff down and doesn’t perceive it as pain because you don’t need protecting. This analogy is also related to how unprocessed trauma can lead to persistent pain.
I was seen by someone I didn’t want to be seen by when I was very small. This ‘trauma’ was too much for my little brain to process and so instead it decided not to. In a way I dissociated from the experience and my nervous system shut down to protect me. I felt numb and empty and didn’t understand why. In order to finally feel, I compulsively exercised and loved the feeling of pain from training as much as the endorphine high. I also tortured myself emotionally by telling myself I wasn’t good enough.
Whilst feeling pain was assurance I could feel. Without processing the trauma, my system could only ignore it for so long. I had a similar triggering event after which I experienced central sensitization (pretty much my nervous system was on high alert, highly sensitive and gave me sharp nerve pain, numbness and pins/needles in my limbs. Even lifting my arms to do my hair was painful!) I went for numerous scans and was told by medical professionals it was ‘just my anxiety’. Unbeknownst to me at the time, hell yeah it was my ‘anxiety’.
My mind could only escape the pain for so long until my body made me hear it. I suffered for four years went on heavy duty meds and went to so much physio that didn’t really work. It wasn’t until I found a physio who focused on de-sensitising my system through pain-FREE movement and started to process this trauma through mindfulness and hypnotherapy, the physical pain fell away. It wasn’t until I treated myself with more kindness and compassion my physical pain stayed away.
Pole is painful in the best way. It allows me to both feel and release. It teaches my nervous system to distinguish between perceived danger and perceived safety. It makes me hella strong. It encourages me to embrace every inch of my incredible body. It gives me the freedom to be seen in a safe way. It unites me with a powerful community of supportive women and it’s FUN!!!
I share this so perhaps next time a stranger asks me “What do you do for training?” They will act with the same enthusiasm given to any other physically impressive task and understand pole dancing goes so far beyond the stereotype for me.
Breathing, as long as we are living we will be doing it all day, erry day, one way or another!
As a physiotherapist you need a wide range of knowledge on different body systems. Thankfully uni break it down for us into regions. So I learnt about the physiology of the lungs and circulatory systems. I learnt the anatomy of the trunk muscles and biomechanics on getting air/mucus in and out but it wasn't until practicing physio, my interest in breath became a whole lot more holistic.
Basically our nervous system drives breath at the most organic source. Lots of things can change the speed at which we breath, the size of the breaths and the muscles we use to do it including dis-ease, pain, activity, input from the senses, skeletal structure or even emotions.
Most people know about fight or flight it supports us when we are in states of stress whether that be physical, emotional or mental. For sympathetic think surprised? What happens...? I take a big breath in usually hold it, my shoulders lift as a way of protecting my chest, my heart races and my overall level of arousal lifts to prepare me to fight or flight. (I also think this is a good example of not being able to compartmentalise physical, emotional responses).
Rest and digest though, is the lesser known soothing sister (parasympathetic). This system is what you want to heal, relax, support your digestive system and nourish your mind, body and soul. Breathing is an easy and effective way of activating more of the soothing sister into your life. Think of your restorative yoga class and how they ask you to 'belly breathe'?
But what if you're so stressed out and work on a computer all day long so your chest/shoulders don't know how to take a break from breathing?
Use your nervous system to decrease stress:
There are manual techniques to stimulate the diaphragm to make it work more effectively which I can help you with as well. If you're interested to know more, contact me for a 1-on-1 session or attend October's workshop called Just Breathe at Recover Wellbeing.
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