We are experiencing unusual times: a global pandemic followed by a war in Europe, a cost of living on top of a climate crisis, much busier workloads due to the Great Resignation … the list goes on. It’s no surprise that stress levels have shot up and many people are close to burnout.
If you are currently struggling, you are certainly not alone.
You know you are stressed, you know you need to de-stress, you just don’t have the energy to do so or have tried a range of relaxation methods that simply weren’t for you – does that sound familiar?
Up to 90% of all medical complaints are stress-related, experiencing stress is really just the beginning. So let’s make sure to avoid the knock-on health effects of it: Typical psychosomatic complaints such as tension headaches, migraines, back or shoulder pain, teeth-grinding, gastrointestinal issues, anxiety, irritability and so on.
But how can we tackle the situation – especially if you’ve already tried ‘everything’ or feel you are so stuck in a rut that you can’t find a way out?
Easy – if you know how to do it!
My big recommendation is to trust your body wisdom as your body really is the expert here. It definitely knows what to do, the challenge is that your mind is probably stopping your body from doing so.
Let me explain.
When we are stressed, our bodies would like to – literally – shake off that stress in order to burn off the stress hormones, e.g. cortisol and adrenaline.
Of course, we don’t do that. That would be odd and over the centuries we’ve been socialised out of it. Shaking is a sign of weakness, helplessness or illness, right?
What we can learn from our dogs
Shaking, in order to tackle the stress hormones in the body, is a very innate reaction of every mammal. Really. We humans still do it, but only in quite extreme situations such as after an accident, often after childbirth.
Dogs, on the other hand, do it regularly and after this active stress release get on happily with life.
You’ve probably heard it before – be more like a dog: Living in the moment, being active, loyal, loving etc. Shaking is one aspect that’s probably never mentioned, though.
Of course, we don’t want to tremor in public, but we can do so in the privacy of our own homes, both preventatively and retrospectively.
For a change, don’t listen to what your mind is telling you
Do you want to give it a try? Your mind might say, “no way, that’s weird”, but don’t listen to it, listen to your body instead and give your body a chance.
We are in our heads most of the time – and quite often we totally neglect our bodies. So I encourage you to give your busy mind a rest and let the body do the work. You don’t need to talk, you don’t need to analyse any past situation, you simply rely on your body wisdom.
Explore the range of somatic modalities that can support you to reboot your nervous system, find equilibrium and resilience and effectively release the stress your body has stored and accumulated over time, quite often over decades.
Trust your body as – you might have heard of Bessel van der Kolk’s amazing best-seller – The Body Keeps the Score.
Admittedly, that’s quite the opposite of our default mode where our cognitive intelligence seems to be much more appreciated than our body intelligence – but it might be time to challenge that.
Has the ‘from-the-neck-up’ approach worked for you so far or is it time to try a new concept?