By Miranda Massie on December 2, 2015
It is no secret that we have faced challenges as a community over the past few months. From conversations with colleagues, I have a sense that staff and faculty are confused and struggling to find ways to deal with their emotions.
Individuals within our community are dealing with personal pain, and I find myself trying to reconcile conflicting emotions related to serious allegations made against the University while knowing personally, how passionately my colleagues care about their work, their peers and their students.
Human beings can be hurt in many ways. Our wounds can be physical, social, emotional, societal and historical. Experiencing such pain or injury can leave us feelings of angry, frustrated, isolated and guilty. Living with these emotions can make it difficult to heal.
So, how do we pick ourselves up after we have fallen down? How do we heal our minds, bodies, and spirits?
Five ways to promote personal healing:
Prescribe yourself more time in nature
Not only does exposure to nature regulate the body’s stress response, but it boosts our natural killer-cell activity allowing our immune system to function faster, promoting overall health and healing. Nature also provides more opportunity for physical activity, which can serve as an emotional-release.
Sleep protects our bodies by providing time for cell recovery from damage, stress, injury or toxins. It promotes the restoration of tissues and immune memory and allows our minds to process information.
Relax and refocus your mind
Psychological stress increases the level of cortisol in the body (our fight or flight stress hormone). High cortisol levels slow down the immune system, which in turn slows the healing process. Mindfulness can be used as a method of reducing mental stress and improves mental flexibility allowing us to to let go of negative thoughts more easily.
Serve up healing foods
Taking a renewed interest in the foods we eat can help restore a sense of control, as it reinforces individual intuition and personal values. As a bonus, some foods can actually promote physical and mental healing. Spices such as ginger and turmeric can reduce inflammation, and good fats such as omega-3 have been found to improve memory and prevent cognitive decline.
Higher levels of emotional distress have also been linked to increased carbohydrate consumption and cravings. Balanced eating can help stabilize mood and keep our bodies and minds healthy.
Give your leisure time a boost
Participating in a range of leisure activities or hobbies is a great way to build new skills. These skills help to reinforce and restore feelings of empowerment, recognition and stronger sense of self.
As we approach the busy holiday season this year, I invite you to think of ways that you can promote healing within yourselves and for those around you.
Wishing everyone a healthy and happy holiday season!
All my best,
Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Born, J. (2012). Sleep and immune function. Pflügers Archiv : European Journal of Physiology, 463(1), 121–37. http://doi.org/10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0
Broadbent, E., Kahokehr, A., Booth, R. J., Thomas, J., Windsor, J. A., Buchanan, C. M., … Hill, A. G. (2012). A brief relaxation intervention reduces stress and improves surgical wound healing response: a randomised trial. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 26(2), 212–7. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2011.06.014
Christensen, L. (2001). The effect of food intake on mood. Clinical Nutrition, 20, 161–166. http://doi.org/10.1054/clnu.2001.0420
Frewen, P. A., Evans, E. M., Maraj, N., Dozois, D. J. A., & Partridge, K. (2007). Letting Go: Mindfulness and Negative Automatic Thinking. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 32(6), 758–774. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-007-9142-1
Hutchinson, S. L., Bland, A. D., & Kleiber, D. A. (2008). Leisure and Stress-Coping : Implications for Therapeutic Recreation Practice. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 42(1), 9–23. http://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.101.3.393
Kyriakopoulos, A. (2011). How individuals with self-reported anxiety and depression experienced a combination of individual counselling with an adventurous outdoor experience: A qualitative evaluation. Counselling & Psychotherapy Research, 11(2), 120-128 9p. doi:10.1080/14733145.2010.485696
Myklebust, M. (2006). The healing foods pyramid: an integrative nutrition tool. Explore (New York, N.Y.), 2(4), 352–6. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2006.05.013
Nisbet, E., & Lem, M. (2015). Prescribing a Dose of Nature. Alternatives Journal, 41(2), 36-39
VanHook, A. M. (2014). The Healing Power of Sleep. Science Signaling, 7(349), ec299–ec299. http://doi.org/10.1126/scisignal.aaa1491