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"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease." The World Health Organisation
With our fast paced, digitally-induced lives leaving us little time to breathe, let alone think straight, it’s little wonder that stress is are becoming a modern day pandemic.
When we experience stress or anxiety, our sympathetic nervous systems are automatically triggered; our heart beats harder, our brow and palms perspire and adrenaline pumps around our bodies as we enter fight or flight mode – an innate, primal response to aid our survival.
The issue is that for many of us, our nervous systems are being over stimulated on a regular if not daily basis, thus wreaking havoc not just with our mental wellbeing but our physical health too.
And research is showing more and more a link between stress and a range of health issues, from aches and pains to more acute disorders such as insomnia, depression and problematic skin.
With anxiety at an all time high, medication such as anti-depressants and sleeping pills are being more widely prescribed than ever before. But is a pill really the only answer to fixing our woes long term? And IF there were a way we could help ourselves without the need for drugs to help us through our day, would it be worth a look?
The good news is that alongside this spiraling pandemic is a simultaneously booming demand for holistic wellness disciplines, treatments and products that offer a more natural approach to achieving health and happiness.
These days, in major cities you’ll find more yoga studios than Starbucks; spa days are holding their own as ‘the new going out’; with treatments such as holistic facials designed to calm our psyches as well as our skin and remedial massages that pummel knots of tension accumulated from our relentlessly fast-paced lives; and the trend for wellness retreats is growing exponentially (well, who doesn’t love a bit of yoga on a sun dappled beach before breakfast, I ask you?).
Now everyone, from stressed out parents to CEOs are seeking solace in places where smart phones are left at the door and there is an opportunity to step off the track, even for an hour, to rest, recalibrate and restore.
Discover our 10 Essential Tips for Healthy Travel.
Wellness events are attracting thousands rather than hundreds of attendees - a very different picture to just a few years ago. And niche yet effective skin and body-care products infused with natural organic ingredients are replacing the big cosmetic brands on the health and beauty pages of our glossy media – a significant reflection of this growing demand. Afterall, why would you put a chemical on your skin if you can use a gentle, plant-based skin cream that gets the same results?
As scientific research has shown, stress, tension and emotional trauma (both past and present) are held physically in our bodies as well as our minds and therefore require a more holistic approach in order to release and heal. As some health experts say, ‘the issues are in the tissues’ or ‘our bodies speak our minds’. So, this means addressing all levels of our being - our minds, our bodies and yes, our souls too.
And while methods such as prescription medication, retail therapy or a few glasses of wine may provide a temporary fix, the real truth is that often we are responding to the symptoms and not actually addressing the root cause. Thus, our ‘bodymind’ continues out of sync and our health ailments continue unresolved.
So, what is the answer?
Rather than just seeking that illusive sense of peace and happiness through a beauty treatment or popping pills, it may serve us well to take time out for that Pilates or yoga class we never get around to that will help earth us, strengthen us and make us feel a whole lot better about ourselves.
Explore our Top 10 Yoga Holidays to de-stress and relax.
Or maybe we could consider embarking on a deeper exploration of what may be standing in our way, with the aid of a professional coach who can help us navigate the minefield of our minds; and subsequently unlock negative patterns of thinking or behaviour that dim what could be a far rosier view of our world.
Afterall, our reality is different for each of us, shaped by our own individual life experiences and ultimately, our perceptions of our own selves. And sometimes, just a bit of enquiry or simply ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ will help unravel the layers as we reconnect with our inner worlds and open our hearts, leading us to truth and self-love, forgiveness and acceptance – a true step forward in our pursuit of optimal health and wellness.
Just giving ourselves the permission to take time out for ourselves to relax, release, check in to the present moment and actually feel, rather than continue like machines in our day-to-day, frenetic lives, will allow true healing to begin.
By Kate Goodfellow – Yoga teacher & co-founder of Seed Wellness
Seed Wellness is a local network of carefully selected holistic teachers and practitioners based in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. Seed offers a wide range of classes, treatments and therapies across the wellness spectrum. For more information, visit www.seedwellness.co.uk.