FROM THE BURDEN OF PRESSURE TO A SENSE OF WELLBEING

Are you familiar with the inner critic or perfectionist? The urge to push toward an achievement no matter the cost?
Read Satyo Sullivan’s insight into how she as a Counsellor & Psychotherapist at Red Orchid Wellness Clinic, recognises these tendencies in herself and approaches them in her daily life with mindfulness.

FROM THE BURDEN OF PRESSURE TO A SENSE OF WELLBEING

This is a personal tale to inspire …

As I sit down to write this post I am aware of an array of inner aspects of myself clustering in my mind and body, somewhat uncomfortably, around this next task of writing a post for Red Orchid!

To name a few aspects, there is the ‘Pusher’ part of me… “You must get this done!” That is true, it is due! But right up close to my dear old Pusher, adding to the sense of pressure, is the ‘Perfectionist’… “You must do something that really excels!” And looking over the shoulders of those two is the ‘Critic’… “You will never get this right!” Any of these familiar to you too? No wonder my mind feels tired and my body tense!
Something in me that is aware of these various aspects, or parts of myself, (or inner ‘selves,’ or “characters’…whatever you want to call them…) smiles and decides that this, yes, is actually the thing to write about here in this post.

From my experience of working with many people in counselling and psychotherapy, a combination of aspects, or inner energies, like this can exist in various forms in so many of us. Left with full rein, they can contribute to a sense of pressure and stress, often pulling us into anxiety and depression. We can get all tangled up in their demands and lose a more wholistic sense of who we are and how we want to live.
I take a big breath as I write that.

Something more spacious is here with me now, my awareness is becoming SO much bigger than when at the mercy of this powerful trio. Even naming them up can help! I can also sense that there is room now for a playful aspect, or playful ‘self’, who is enjoying the creativity of writing this post, seeing what unfolds. And there is a more mindful me too, sitting here, connecting to the present moment, aware of the chair and my fingers typing, of the sounds of my husband putting things away in the kitchen and of little bells on the patio, tinkling. I am experiencing a much more relaxed aspect of my being, integrated into who I am, and the Pusher/Perfectionist/Critic trio are no longer in the foreground. Before this sense of letting go happened, the urge to be more relaxed was experienced in me desperately as… “When will there be time for me? When can I get some time off and have space?” But, ah, here is my relaxed self now, quietly with me as I address this next task on my list. A sense of ease filters through, just as the evening sun reaches me through the blinds.

So how do we step back from some of these more powerful pushy aspects of ourselves, so that we are not running around frazzled by their demands?

How do we bring more awareness into ourselves in the hurly burly of daily life?

It is too big a subject to write on in full here, and I don’t wish to write something prescriptive. However, I hope that from my sharing of my own experience, some of the process I went through just now, to find more awareness, and then more choice, in how I was living this present moment, comes through to you. Perhaps you resonate with some of it? Perhaps you have similar stories of how you brought more awareness into your present “way of being”…especially when it was a “way of being” that could be detrimental to your overall wellbeing.

When clients share their own stories of all the expectations they put upon themselves and the burden they feel, we explore where it all comes from, find how entrenched these patterns of being are, how to unravel more about them, and how to step back from them more. Together we can bring in the lights of awareness and understanding… and often healing….especially when a strong ‘inner critic’ is involved, for this can hurt and hold us back from much that is good in life. New possibilities of being begin to arise as my client and I work together like this. Lesser known aspects of who the person is may want to come more into the limelight of their lives. We look at how to make room for these, while acknowledging the presence of these other parts that have been prone to dominate. Together we grow in more wisdom about pressures, living a meaningful life, our own inner dynamics, and what it is to have a compassionate stance towards ourselves around the struggles we go through as human beings.
The personal tale I have told here, of my moving from a pressured state to more of a sense of wellbeing, is only one small story of bringing in enough awareness to find a more workable and wellbeing way of responding to “pressure.” There are many ‘feeling pressured’ scenarios in our lives and many possible meaningful ways through. In my counselling and psychotherapy practice there are often intensely complex stories of a sense of pressure to unravel…from without as well as from within that person’s own being.

What seems important here, to complete this particular reflection, is that we do attend to the effect of these pressures upon us, that we do what we can to find some way through, so that we can live with enough care and respect to ourselves, even amidst our often immense life challenges. When it feels too hard to do this on our own we can reach out to the companionship of counselling, or to other therapies, to support us in finding our way. Staying trapped in a tangled knot of demands and stressful expectations, our bodies, minds…and our more spirited response to life…suffers. And, inevitably, those around us suffer too! When I am really bound up in a knot of pressure, I can be tight, distracted, overwhelmed, unavailable for relationship or even pushing it far, far away, leaving my partner and myself cut off, isolated from one another.

After the rise in wellbeing that accompanied my writing this post I was able to return to the living room and sit down next to my husband with a feeling of buoyancy and delight. This didn’t come from having “got another thing done.” It was from a far richer and more whole place than that. Something fundamental had shifted. I shared my writing with my husband and we could relate and laugh together, reach out and hold hands. And with that added bonus of “connection” my sense of wellbeing was able to increase even more!

THE PERILS OF ANXIETY

One in four people – over 2 million Australians – experience anxiety each year. This blog post shares a toolkit for dealing with this common mental health issue.

THE PERILS OF ANXIETY

Everyone feels anxious sometimes. Those gripping moments of nervousness in the pit of your stomach, sweaty palms, shortness of breath, feeling like we want to either fight against a situation or flee from it, as it feels just too overwhelming to face.

These anxious moments help to make us aware, ready to act, perform and protect but when it becomes all pervasive and seeps into every corner of your life and starts affecting our overall health and wellbeing it has become a problem that needs attention.
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia and the alarming statistics show that 1 in 4 people will experience anxiety at some stage in life. In a 12-month period, over 2 million Australians experience anxiety.

The following tips can be added to your mental health toolbox along with anything else that you find helpful to manage your anxiety.

I hope it helps! Best in Health, Leah x

Tips for your mental health toolbox

EAT WELL – Food is medicine. There is a link between gut health, inflammation and anxiety and research suggests that the microbiome – the whole community of bacteria in the digestive tract – may have an influence on emotional behavior, pain perception and how we respond to stress. Those who eat more fermented foods (with gut healing probiotics) have shown to have fewer symptoms of social anxiety. Magnesium helps to relax muscle tissue so increase magnesium rich foods in your diet – leafy greens, wholegrains, beans, legumes, vegetables, seaweeds, seeds and nuts. Steer away from caffeine as it reduces magnesium absorption, sugar as it elevates mood and avoid greasy foods which may block Qi circulation;

GET MOVING – Studies show that physical exercise operates as an anti-inflammatory and anti-O&NS (oxygen & nitrogen stress) agent and among other benefits it also releases endorphins and endo-cannabinoids (self-produced chemicals) which may have a positive impact on those with anxiety. New studies also suggest that exercise also helps the microbiome of the gut!

BREATHE – Mind follows breath. Slow your breathing. When your breathing slows down your mind
slows down too. Find a breathing technique that suits you. Meditate. Research by Herbert Benson showed that meditation shuts down the fight or flight – fear response and it stimulates the parasympathetic, or relaxing nervous system of the body and this helps to relieve stress. Guided visualizations and exercises where the breath follows movement such as Tai Chi and yoga are also great ways to support mental wellbeing.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE – Get back in the garden, go for a walk in the bush, spend time with friends and family and schedule holidays away. These activities are stress busters and help improve wellbeing.

TECHNO DETOX – Go device free when possible. Don’t allow technology to take over your life and replace the healthy communication that you have with family and friends. Our health and wellbeing relies on connection and communication with friends, family and the community around us. Using devices before bed can impact on precious sleep so limit its use before your bed time.

FIND A PSYCHOTHERAPIST OR PSYCHOLOGIST – The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry says that Cognitive and behavioural therapy is the most effective intervention for generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder, It’s important to find someone that you can connect with and be supported by to unravel suppressed emotion and learn skills to manage anxiety.

HAVE AN ACUPUNCTURE SESSION – Scientific research suggests that acupuncture may cause a reduction in cortisol levels (raised by chronic stress) and balances serotonin and endorphins to encourage mental health. Treating reflex points in the ear has been shown to have a calming effect on the central nervous system.

SPEAK WITH YOUR HERBALIST – Over the recent decades, the exploration in the area of herbal psychopharmacology has received much attention with literature showing a variety of herbal mechanisms of action used for the treatment of anxiety. Also check with your naturopath if you require mineral or vitamin supplementation which may benefit your symptoms.

SPEAK TO YOUR GP – Your GP will decide if a mental health treatment plan is required and refer you to a psychologist if it is right for you.

GET ONLINE – Search www.beyondblue.org.au for further information, guidance and support.

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