After journaling, your nervous system may have taken a beating, you may be wound up full of emotion from your practice, and feeling overwhelmed with negative stuff you’ve dragged up and let rip in your journal writing.
Self-soothing whilst working through all of this is really important - both after a practice like journaling, but also in general as you navigate this new world of having to feel the shit you’ve never wanted to feel. Soothing yourself is a great way to not only balance and ground yourself after the emotional work, but it's just as important to soothe the fear in your mind and turn down the anxiety to allow your brain to let go of the over practiced fear focus and flare response that comes with having chronic stress illness issues.
There are many ways to self-soothe. Take a walk, do some yoga, listen to music, watch a funny show, cuddle your pets, sit in silence, meditate, practice breathwork etc.
My medicines of choice are yoga, meditation and breathwork.
Yoga is my preferred movement of choice which I usually practice after meditating if I have time that day. I particularly love yoga because it can be as gentle or as hardcore as you like, and it works the body, mind and breath at once and has been massively beneficial in my journey for this reason.
I now offer gentle beginner-level Yoga classes for the TMS community, focusing on calming the nervous system and getting back to movement without fear. Find out more about this by clicking here.
Meditation has become quite an addiction for me. Another one of those things I used to be quite sceptical about. Meditation is NOT hippie nonsense. The idea of quietening my monkey brain seemed impossible. Meditation soothes like nothing else ever has for me. I usually prefer guided meditations so that I have less chance of my chattering mind to distract me - it still does, but I’ve come to learn that those distractions are normal.
I grab the headphones, turn my phone notifications off and get comfy. Lying on my back, knees propped up by a couple of pillows (or whatever rocks your boat) and just listen. Bliss-out, surrender to the voice and music in your ears it's so freaking amazing.
It took me a couple of tries to properly get into it, but now, oh my good god! I feel like I’m teleported to another dimension. I see psychedelic patterns and all sorts, my body feels paralysed (in a good way) and nothing can get in to distract me. I crave this feeling now, and do it EVERY DAY, always after JournalSpeak, but often before bed too, and usually after yoga. Two or three in a row sometimes, if I’m not already knackered from the first one. It is truly life-changing.
Meditation has made me calmer overall, it's like a sweet sedative with NO bad side effects. The power of visualisation and imagination are really astounding. Being able to imagine your eyes melting like molasses into the bed beneath you, can put you in an incredibly relaxed frame of mind that has MANY MANY benefits to your overall wellbeing.
Meditation teaches you how to cultivate equanimity, which basically means you stay calm and centred amid any kind of chaos, which is really beneficial for TMS recovery as a mindset of indifference to your symptoms is really key.
Meditation slows down your monkey mind, reduces overthinking and massively impacted my tendency to procrastinate and ruminate over everything, hugely beneficial to everyday life, whether you're journaling or not.
Studies have proven that meditation changes the physiological structure of the brain, affecting emotional regulation, fear, anxiety and self-perception. Meditation training improves a wide range of willpower skills, including attention, focus, stress management, impulse control and self-awareness. It dramatically affects the all-important "hypervigilance" mode of all TMS suffering by activating the parasympathetic nervous system and quietening the sympathetic nervous system. Which basically means it allows the nervous system to recover by switching from ‘fight or flight’ mode into ‘rest and repair’ mode...which is where we want to be.
Research even shows that meditation regulates our body's vibrational frequency, bringing it back into balance with that of the earth, which when out of sync can cause distress, anxiety, insomnia and a suppressed immune system - literally invading our ability to heal. I find it both a fascinating subject and a truly addictive practice. I’m slumping in my beanbag typing this just thinking about it...it’s utter bliss.
One of my favourite things about all of this work is that it takes very little external influence to work, once you've learnt the basics...
Find out more about the benefits of yoga, meditation and mindfulness here.
THE POWER IS ALL INSIDE OF YOU, AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN. It can feel like you are literally coming back from the dead, to save yourself!
Self-soothing also comes in the form of soothing your thought patterns. The more you can calm the chaotic thoughts you’re having about your symptoms, the more they will relax. I used to be quite a catastrophiser, I overreacted to everything and was always thinking the worst. I obsessed over how rubbish my life had become. Over time I started to understand that my thoughts were everything.
By turning fear, symptoms, anxiety and the ongoing stress of my situation around, I started to see real results.
Right now, take an ENORMOUS deep breath, deep into your belly and fill your ribs right up to your neck, and decide with your whole heart NOT TO FEAR IT, because with TMS there is NOTHING to fear. More on mindset in the following section...keep going. I’m sorry this story is long, but it's really important stuff!
Possibly the most important overall element to this process. Having the right mindset can give you the tools necessary to banish TMS for good.