Around my thirtieth birthday, I became very ill. My energy and wellbeing took a very sharp downward turn. It was as if my immune system simply gave up, raised its hands and surrendered to any and all sickness that came my way. The months to follow were unrelenting with illness after illness. As a result I became very depressed and started to spend less time outside engaging with the world. It was like a cloud had descended over my soul and my body. About eight months later, after discovering a rather dramatic swelling in my neck, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto-immune disease. My immune system had begun attacking my thyroid rather than any viruses or infections. Somehow, despite discovering I had an incurable disease, I was incredibly relieved with this diagnosis. I was immediately given a prescription for tablets, which I will be taking for the rest of my life. Over the past few months my energy levels have been slowly returning to normal, and it has started a strange and wonderful time of recovery and reconnection with the world around me. I’ve begun to step back out into the world.
As a result of my 8 months of constant illness, I have discovered that connecting with your body is very important. Had I been more aware of my physical being I may have noticed the swelling in my neck sooner. However, throughout all of this, and especially as part of my recover I have discovered the key to happiness comes through a greater awareness of my physical body and my spiritual self.
No matter how healthy you are today, these are some practices that can be incredibly helpful for staying connected to your body and spirit…
- Stretch: When I became ill, I began to shrink into myself – this showed up physically. My shoulders were hunched. I would keep my head down and my arms crossed. As my energy has begun to return, slowly, I have found that even just a few basic stretches helps me immensely on a daily basis. Stretching feels good and it aids in flexibility and overall wellbeing. Even if you’re very healthy and never get ill, stretching is highly recommended as a daily practice.
- Wander: This is something I used to do often but couldn’t when my energy levels dropped so severely. Go for a walk by yourself, not for exercise. Don’t time it or organise it. Just… wander. Meander and keep your eyes wide open. Let yourself notice details about your surroundings: the pavement, the plants by the side of the road, the trees, houses, buildings. Listen to the sound of wind or rain… if at night, look up and stare at the stars. Take it all in, every beautiful detail. This can be truly enlivening.
- Journal: When I was at my healthiest, I would take time every day to write every day, just for myself. Journaling with a pen and paper/notebook was a great way to connect with my thoughts free from media distractions or my own personal filters. Sometimes it is only when I journal that I find out what I really feel and think. Journaling can be highly cathartic and healing. It can be a fantastic processing and relaxation tool.
- Unplug: Turn off the laptop and the TV, even the radio. Allow yourself to be present. In the moment. Take deep breathes in and out… pause between each bite of your meal. Take time to enjoy the day. I find this generally helps me to clear my head and find peace more easily than anything else.
- Visit the Spa: Let someone else take care of you for once! A spa treatment is one of the best ways to do just this. Face and body treatments help you to truly relax and let go. Also, spending time to treat yourself and indulge your body and senses is highly centering and can be incredibly healing as well. Whether it’s a trip to the spa for one treatment, or a special pamper day experience with your friend, mum, or sibling, spa treatments a great way to reconnecting with yourself as a woman, and a physical being.
All of these practices are great on occasion; they are even better when practiced routinely. The first few in particular are highly beneficial on a day to day basis. Unplugging from music, media, sounds, and technology should be done at least for an hour a day along with journaling and stretching. I’ve been grateful for the walk home from work, which has now become unplugged. It’s not the same as a wander just for the sake of it, but simply taking the time to notice trees and details and to be music and phone free for even just 15 minutes of walking a day is incredibly centering.
Regardless of health or wellbeing, whether you are lacking or in abundance, these practices are great ways to reconnect with your body and your soul and a perfect rest from the onslaught of life, busyness and work. If you have other suggestions for ways to reconnect, please share them! Or if you put some of these into practice and have a story about how they helped you, I’d love to hear your story.
K Newey is a copywriter and script writer who contributes to various blogs and creative projects. She hopes you will enjoy reconnecting with your body and soul as much as she has, and maybe even take part in one of many fabulous London spa days.