Energy fluctuations, mood changes, a frantic mind, and anxiety; feelings I know all too well. I was diagnosed with different mental health disorders over the span of my teenage years and early twenties. Some of the disorders are also lifelong with the potential to be very debilitating. They can take a huge toll, not just on my mental well-being, but also on my physiological well-being. In the journey of navigating through mental health recovery, I have had many trials and errors. Once my condition was stabilized, I realized I needed to find a way to maintain my recovery beyond therapy and medications. I had to find a wellness plan that worked for Me in order to maintain balance: a vital ingredient in maintaining my mental health and management of symptoms. Bodywork plays an integral role in that wellness plan.
When I’m having a flare-up or struggling with symptoms, they often manifest physiologically. I might experience chronic headaches and migraines; neck and shoulder pain; or stiffness and pain throughout my body. When I started receiving bodywork regularly, specifically Craniosacral Therapy and Therapeutic Massage, I started noticing a change. My headaches were better; my energy was more balanced; the side effects of medications weren’t as disruptive, and I was able to sleep better. Overall, my pain and discomfort were starting to subside both physiologically and mentally.
In addition to the relief I felt, regularly receiving bodywork taught me important lessons: I need to tune in to my body, listen to it, and take care of myself. Not ignore signals and push through the pain as then the tension and stiffness would only get worse. Really, just don’t allow my body to get as “angry”.
Practicing self-care in the form of bodywork, and the self-care reminder that bodywork provides, does more than just help me on a physiological level. It also provides me a time and space where I can slow down, take a deep breath, and just be present in the moment or simply zone out. No checking my phone, no checking my email, no tasks to be attended to, just a time to be present, breathe, and allow my body to heal.
Sometimes right after an appointment, I’d even feel like my mind and body took a breath of fresh air, or like my mind had the most cleansing of showers. I’d feel more like myself again. I’d also be accepting of whatever it was that I was feeling. If I was feeling relaxed, I wouldn’t try to fight it with caffeine like I normally do. Even after the appointment, the bodywork would continue to allow me to heal and grow. It would remind me to ground myself, stay in the present, and practice mindfulness. Something that can be a challenge when I’m struggling, but a lifesaver when it’s working. Most importantly, receiving bodywork reminds me of the importance of self-care. It’s okay to slow down and to take care of myself. We all deserve that!