Your Health in 2016: Where to start

So we might like to think we start every new year completely fresh, rejuvenated, and having pressed the metaphorical ‘reset’ button…. but how realistic is that, really? Rebuilding your health, and coming back from stress, setbacks and self-help overload, needn’t be difficult, but finding the way that works for you might take some time, focus and dedication. Remember that you’re worth it! In this blog our Craniosacral therapist Sara tackles the issue so many of us face at this time… WHERE TO START!

How do you go about rebuilding your health, or coming back from times of stress, loss, or setback? With so many choices when it comes to diet, exercise, supplements, superfoods, self-help books, therapies… where do you even start? From my experience, it’s less about strategy, and more about principles. Here are 6 Guiding Principles to Lasting Wellness, and within them the keys to discovering what YOU need.

1. Sidestep the Gurus

You are the expert of your life experience. There are a lot of people out there wanting to give you the answers to a healthier, happier life – often with good intentions. But healing physically and emotionally goes hand-in-hand with listening to your intuition.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a therapist over a decade: There is no one thing that’s right for everyone all the time. ‘Letting Go’ might not be the best next step if what you first need is to honour your resistance. Anger isn’t ‘negative’ if it’s a healthy response to your boundaries being trampled. The kinds of foods you need will depend on your constitution but also on your current state of health – and this changes! Understanding both of these means you can make sense of cravings, and get to the heart of what you need most now.

Following your intuition goes for your health but also for your relationships, your boundaries, your work, and pretty much anything that matters to you. Being confused at times about what we need is human, but trusting yourself is a skill you can build. It’s your body. It’s your wisdom. Choose the kinds of support that empower you, rather than the ones that set out to fix you.

2. Begin with the body

Your body tells the story of your life – your aches, pains, and patterns of tension are just some of the ways that story is being told. And because of this, your body is a barometer – you’re continually receiving information about what’s working for and what’s not. In the same way, sometimes the way through depletion/pain/fear/anxiety comes by learning ways to be ‘embodied’ – even if we’d rather stay in our heads or get out of our bodies!

There is so much to ‘think through’ in our lives, and our minds are mighty tools. You don’t have to switch your brain off in order to feel better or to access your inner wisdom – but give movement/exercise, therapeutic touch, stretching or breathing a chance. You might be amazed at what falls into place.

3. Choose habit over hype

Don’t be swept along by our culture of quick fixes. Starting the year with small steps, powerful intentions and long-view of the process is WAY more likely to help you get your health on track than trying to ‘get things sorted’ in the short term. It takes time to build resilience, balance, or fitness into your life – no matter what approach you take. So why not focus on building in one small, daily habit at a time?

Ironically, by taking this approach, the course of your health can indeed change direction overnight. January is a powerful time of year for starting fresh, so if you want to take big leaps in new ways, that’s brilliant 🙂 Just remember to think in terms of habit-building. Hype fizzles out over time, but habits stay with you.

4. Find your practice

Possibly the single most effective and empowering thing you can incorporate into your life is a daily practice. You don’t have to do yoga or meditation – but they’re worth trying if you haven’t! Stretch. Dance. Write a morning journal. Garden. Walk. Run. Paint. Breathe. Carve out time to do something you love.

Above all, make time to connect with who you are and how you are, and do this every day. Make this time regularly, for no other reason than it’s important. Don’t assume that something has to work for you – find out through trying what lifts your heart, calms your mind and helps you move. And watch what happens…

5. What you notice, changes

Let’s say you’re lying on a yoga mat at the end of a class, and the teacher’s taking you through a guided exercise. You bring your awareness to different parts of yourself – your breath, your shoulders, your eyes…and as if by magic, they start to change and soften. Except, it’s not magic. Just by taking your attention to something, you offer the possibility of change.

Awareness has the most extraordinary impact on the challenging parts of your health and your life – when you use it with gentleness, compassion and curiosity. Experimenting with the kinds of practices or therapies that help you develop awareness can lead to deeper change and healing than a whole load of other tactics put together!

6. Survival isn’t the same as self-care

Self-care still feels like an indulgence for many of us. We feel guilty for taking time for ourselves regularly when we have other people to take care of (children, partners, parents) and a long list of things to finish that ‘ought’ to come first. We forget that the more resourced we are and the more we show ourselves kindness, the more we can accomplish and the better an example we set for those around us. One of the keys to lasting wellness is to nourish more than you deplete. And nourishment goes way beyond the foods we eat – it’s the time and creative effort we give to taking care of ourselves.

To find out more about Sara and her work, click here.