Body Sense

SUMMER | 2016

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physiology has changed. Often, our heartbeat and breathing changes; we can feel heat in our body or sweaty palms. Eating and drinking patterns can change when we are stressed. We may feel the fight-or-flight response. Our body is our best ally. Learning to listen is a practice. An easy way to start is simply to slow down. Meditation is one great way to slow down. But if that's not your thing, no worries. There are plenty of other ways to slow down, reset, and recharge your body and nervous system. Here are a few ideas: a saltwater bath, journaling, a peaceful walk engaging the five senses, gardening, a heartfelt talk with a friend who is a good listener, listening deeply to your favorite music, playing music or singing, hiking somewhere beautiful, or taking time to prepare a special meal. We can slow down just about anything we do so we are doing it more mindfully, with deliberate focus. Take eating as an example. Many times we rush a meal or multitask while we eat. What if we slowed down and noticed, savored, and appreciated our meal, smelled the aroma, and noted the colors on the plate before even taking a bite? Explore simple ways to incorporate mindfulness and a sense of ease into your day. By practicing embodied awareness when we are not stressed, we become better at detecting when stress arrives. When we acknowledge what is happening in our body, we can stop those stress hormones sooner. Movement, exercise, and drinking plenty of water are critical when we are stressed. Shake it off, literally. Shift the state in your body by interrupting the stress pattern so the chemicals stop being produced. Find a way to stop thinking about the stressful event; even thinking about it once it's over can continue the stream of stress hormones. Amy Andrews McMaster offers integrated mindfulness programs through Conscious Time ( She is dedicated to helping people reduce stress, improve relationships, and live empowered lives.—your resource for all things bodywork 11 Movement, like dance, yoga, or tai chi, can help. Running or biking, as long as you can clear your mind while you do it, are beneficial. Play Frisbee, soccer, tennis, or basketball. If you have a family, get them moving with you. It will be great for everyone. Of course, another helpful way to manage stress is with massage and bodywork. I have a massage therapist, a chiropractor, and an acupuncturist to help support my wellness. These bodyworkers are healers, as they support my body's natural ability to recover from the stress of being human. There are so many benefits. Bodywork helps me manage headaches, reduce muscle tension, and relieve stress. It is easy to feel the difference in my body and mind after a session of bodywork. I think of it as a wise investment in my health. CHECKING IN TO WELLNESS Some people are good at treating their body like a temple, but most of us need practice. We only receive one body in this lifetime. We don't need to wait until we are stressed or in pain to take care of it. Instead, we can learn to check in with, rather than check out of, our bodies. Increase the body's awareness by slowing down, moving, exercising, and including bodywork in your health- care plan. Cheers to wellness! B S Note 1. Sarah Klein, "Adrenaline, Cortisol, Norepinephrine: The Three Major Stress Hormones, Explained," accessed June 2016, www.huffingtonpost. com/2013/04/19/adrenaline-cortisol-stress- hormones_n_3112800.html.

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