I went to visit my osteopath yesterday for a slight adjustment. Poor posture, age and an underlying weakness in the muscles around my neck mean that every so often I become aware that things are not operating quite as they should. The tension in my shoulders begins to build up, my range of movement becomes restricted and eventually a dull ache will give me the push that I need to go and get some professional help. It was not until expert hands manipulated, soothed and coaxed those taught muscles back into alignment that I realised just how far I had let things deteriorate before seeking help. When I left that treatment room I could look over my right shoulder for the first time in months. I vowed there and then that ‘next time’ I wouldn’t wait until things got really painful before I asked for help. The problem is of course, that we all get very adept at ignoring those little warning signs that tell us that things aren’t right, and that happens on an emotional as well as a physical level.
A lot of the clients that I see have been ignoring the warning signs that something isn’t right in their lives for years! In fact, they have lived with symptoms of problems such as anxiety, depression and low self esteem for so long, that they think they are normal and just a part of modern life. Let me tell you now that it is not normal to feel tired, irritable and exhausted day after day. It is not normal to struggle to fall asleep every night or to wake frequently and find you are unable to get back to sleep because your mind is occupied with worries and images of future disasters and worst possible case scenarios. It is not normal to need alcohol, nicotine or drugs to get through the day!
We can all recognise the signs of a healthy body, but what about a healthy mind? The natural human condition is one of happiness, confidence and inner peace. When our minds are healthy we approach each day with enthusiasm and positivity. We rise to life’s challenges and actively enjoy being stretched intellectually. We are resilient, coping with loss and disappointment because we trust that life will go on and we can manage change. We have a sense of perspective, recognising what is important and what can safely be ignored. We problem solve, innovate, learn, cultivate relationships that nourish us. We care for our bodies and respect our needs for fun, relaxation, solitude and autonomy and a sense of purpose. As the mind and body are so intrinsically connected, a healthy mind tends to generate a healthy body.
So why do we accept anything less than this from ourselves and our lives? Often my clients seem almost apologetic to be asking for help in tackling problems related to they way they think or feel; because caring for our mental health is not something we are used to. I think it’s strange that most of us consider it good practice to attend a six monthly check up at the dentist because our teeth are important and we know decay can set in long before a toothache is felt. Yet, anxiety can eat away at us day after day, causing a rot that contaminates every part of our lives and we just accept it as the norm. We have our eyes tested to preserve our vision and yet we are blind to our own emotional needs.
Even our cars get an annual MOT to make sure they are running safely.
So why not give your emotional self a quick health? Don’t ignore those minor niggles and problems because they are a sign that something isn’t right in your life. It’s so much easier to deal with a bit of tension now that when until life really has become a pain in the neck.