Self-care for Sensitive Souls
Reconnect with your inner resources
Or back pain, tight shoulders, or a flare-up?
However much we may love the season of goodwill, many of us find the stress and demands of Christmas set off physical tensions, aches and tightness.
These physical tensions are our body’s response to stress.
It may be an old, familiar pattern for you.
But it is possible to ease the pressure, settle your emotions, and recharge your batteries, so you can enjoy the celebrations (and be your best chilled-out cherub self).
Starting with the basics: me-time
It’s hard to do at such a busy time, when you’re being cook, chief organiser and peacemaker, and everybody expects the smiley version.
But that’s all the more reason to take time out.
Giving yourself me-time is the first step to easing yourself out of the stress-pain-stress loop.
So what to do with your few precious moments to yourself?
You may already have your favourite ways - taking breaks and going outside for some lovely crisp air and a change of scenery, going for a walk in nature, calling a friend for a chat, indulging in a lavender bath, getting an early night. Lighting a scented candle. Taking time off if you’re not feeling well and snuggling under the duvet in your fluffy socks with your iPod and a comforting hot drink.
All these excellent strategies come under the heading of relieving stress by doing enjoyable and calming things. And if you can do them with a spirit of genuine kindness towards yourself, they are wonderfully restorative.
And if you want to go further, you can make this time even more effective with your meditation practice.
Take a quiet few moments to consciously give your body some ‘breathing space’, bringing your soothing attention to any tension or discomfort that’s arising.
Going deeper: the breathing space meditation
It’s a good idea to practise this simple skill a few times between now and Christmas so you can recall it when you need it. The more you practise it, the more quickly you’ll feel the effects. Don’t wait for the ‘perfect’ time. Just give it a try right now, and see how it goes.
The aim of this meditation is to move your awareness around your body, paying special attention where you feel tension and discomfort, and then to gently breathe ‘into’ those places.
Sit comfortably, upright yet relaxed, or if you’re lying down, let your legs gently fall away from each other, arms at your sides.
Close your eyes. Allow your shoulders, neck, back and face to soften. Feel the points of contact between your body and the floor or chair.
Gather your awareness around the sensations of your breathing. Can you feel it in your chest, your stomach, your back? Feel your whole body expand and relax as you breathe.
Guide your awareness to a place in your body that feels tight or uncomfortable. Allow your breath to soothe and massage this part of you for a few minutes. Imagine your breath is suffused with kindness. If it feels too intense, open out your awareness to include your whole body.
Now let your awareness settle on the next area of tension. Follow your breath into it for a few minutes as before. Do the same for any other areas that need your attention.
Continue for as long as you wish. Then open your eyes and gently move your body.
So there you are, hopefully more relaxed and connected to yourself, and ready to return to the joys of the season.
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If you're living with chronic or recurring pain, especially if you suspect it’s related to emotional stress, then craniosacral therapy could help you. Get in touch and let's have a chat.