Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy, and keep choosing it every day.” -Henri Nouwen
Life is beautiful. It is also messy. Emotional wellness is not always discovered in our circumstances; even when life is going great. As we all know, life is often stressful and the challenge is learning how to choose to stay peaceful, calm, and centered, through the messiest of times. Emotional wellness doesn’t just happen when you have enough money, or you’re in a great relationship, or all of your kids are healthy and safe. Emotional wellness is something that we create, regardless of our circumstances, using our “muscles” of choice and intention. These muscles require our focus and attention in order to strengthen-- just like any other muscle! Today we are talking about some of the self-care habits I've put into practice to stay, not only physically, but emotionally healthy.
Pilates for Emotional Wellness (no surprise here! - this is a Pilates studio blog)
The role of exercise in improving emotional wellness has been thoroughly established in the research, and Pilates is especially well positioned because it is a true mind/body exercise. Pilates is mindfulness: its movements are intricate and controlled, with a heightened focus on tensing some muscles while relaxing others, and incorporating your breathing. Because of the many different components working together at once, your mind has no choice but to live in the present, focused on your body and the soft, encouraging guidance of your instructor. In this way, Pilates enhances your body and your mind.
Exercising through the practice of Pilates three or more times a week has been shown to:
- Reduce stress and depression
- Improve memory, thinking, and reasoning abilities
- Reduce normal rates of cognitive decline as we age
- Delay the start of Alzheimer's for people at risk of developing the disease or slow the progress of the disease
- Slow the rate of brain tissue loss as we age
For more in depth information on the role of exercise in mental health, check out my blog post “The Anti-Aging Fitness Regime: Pilates to Protect Against Dementia.”
I know it’s not easy to commit to a regular Pilates practice: life has a habit of “getting in the way,” and if you’re anything like me, you are always feeling pulled in a million different directions. But our physical and mental health is foundational to everything else we do! When you prioritize showing up for yourself and carving out that exercise time, you’ll find it’s that much easier for you to show up for everything and everyone else.
Rounding Out Your Practice: Essential Oils for Emotional Wellness
I know what you’re thinking- “Heather’s going to get all ‘woo woo’ on me while we burn incense and sing folk songs.” I was skeptical at first, too, but then I learned the the science behind this stuff, witnessed its power in my own personal circle- and guys- this is for real! The olfactory system is the ONLY sensory system (smell, touch, taste, hear) that involves the amygdala and the limbic system in its primary processing pathway. This explains why smells can bring back strong memories and how scent can affect our emotions. For example, when I smell cinnamon I immediately think of my grandmother who always made us cinnamon toast and feel nostalgic. If you're so inclined for a little biology lesson, here's a high level view of how it works:
When you smell an oil, some of the molecules dissolve in the mucus lining of the olfactory epithelium on the roof of the nasal cavity. There, the molecules stimulate the olfactory receptors, and neurons carry the receptor signals to the olfactory bulb, which filters, processes, and sends the information to the brain’s limbic system. The different parts of our limbic system then release neuro messengers like serotonin, endorphins, and other hormones to provide feelings of relaxation, calm, or stimulation (depending on the oil).
- I am strong, I am beautiful, I am enough
- This too shall pass
- This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.
- I will get through this
Oils from Young Living that I really love to help with my mood and emotional wellness are:
Joy essential oil blend
A blend of oils to promote positivity-- Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Jasmine, Palmarosa, Rose, Bergamot, Lemon, and Tangerine
Shown in studies to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, promote sleep, and improve feelings of well being. Promising results in the treatment of painful periods.
Helps with anxiety, depression, inflammation, and stress
Peace and Calming II blend
Includes Tangerine, Orange, Ylang Ylang, Patchouli, German Chamomile, Vetiver, Cistus, Bergamot, Cassia, Davana, and Young Living’s exclusive Northern Lights Black Spruce essential oil. Contains the naturally occurring constituents germacrene D, linalool (promotes relaxation), alpha-pinene (reduces inflammation), and bisabolol (skin healing and anti aging properties)
Uplifting and invigorating, this oil can refresh us from fatigue, help clear our minds, and promote mental and emotional clarity
Helps with depression, improves mood, promotes energy and positive feelings, encourages a sense of calm
Understanding that we can choose what we want to feel, and for how long we want to feel it, is the start of a more meaningful, intentional and healthy emotional state. At The Pilates Center, we are committed to partnering with our clients to discover our best self, both physically and mentally. To learn more about our Pilates offerings and/or our Essential Oils offerings, contact the studio today at 817.737.2673.