Combining somatic elements or mindfulness with psychotherapeutic approaches has become more popular in recent years, but can sometimes seem a little mysterious. I am going to take a tour of some of the neuroscience at work here, and give some insights into the world of physical sensations, including how to move with and through them to change our emotional responses. Bodies can seem like strange, unfamiliar places at times. They can be sources of long-term pain and discomfort, or just cumbersome things that we lump
You feel that stress again, seeping into a mounting restlessness, a background frustration, a drive to keep going as if the days were a race. You have so much to do; you’re not sure you can manage. You’re exhausted, but you’re not sleeping well. You feel that irritating tension in your shoulders and neck again, creeping up into a headache, a foggy cloud in which you can't think clearly. You don’t need this now. Your lower back is blocked and uncomfortable again, draining your energy.
I love taking a scientific approach to how the body and mind are interconnected. If you've read any of my recent articles, it's probably obvious that I love physiology, neurobiology, and biochemistry. Yes, molecules just rock my boat. Nerve and hormone pathways make me bristle with excitement. The intersection of mind states and psychology with this biological perspective is mind-blowingly fascinating to me. But this approach has it's limitations. More and more people seem to be jumping on the science-of-mind-body bandwagon. There have been a lot of
The biology of high intensity interval training (HIIT): why it’s better than aerobic or cardio exercise for health and fitness
So many people are interested in doing exercise or changing their fitness, and there seem to be so many different ideas around. It can be tricky to know which one to believe. At the same time, the scientific studies might be a bit much to attempt to dig into. This article aims to provide the middle ground: a summary of, and introduction to the biological process that happen during exercise, which are responsible for altering your health and fitness. I focus on high intensity
This is the third in a series of three articles that use a physiological and neurobiological approach to explain why relaxation is so amazing, and how it allows someone to let go of old fears and be more present. In the first article, which you can find here, I looked at how to understand rest in terms of various body systems, and I described what happens to those systems during the stress and fear responses. The second article, which is here, talked about how people stay
This is the second in a series of three articles, which use a physiological and neurobiological approach to explain why relaxation is so amazing, and how it allows someone to let go of old fears and be more present. In the first article, which you can find here, I looked at how to understand rest in terms of various body systems, and I described what happens to those systems during the stress and fear responses. Now we'll turn to how people end up staying stuck in
Relaxation is so much more fascinating and powerful than many people think. It doesn't mean floating in a half-conscious state with your mind somewhere else. It means becoming more alive, more present, and more able to react to what is happening around you. It is a physical as well as mental state, and both of those elements - body and mind - need to be involved in order to achieve this presence, or what some people call mindfulness (or bodyfulness!). This article is the
The “Second Brain” in your Belly: Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Part II.
Gut feelings are part of a complex system of interactions between the gut and the brain. Imbalances in this system create both physical conditions like IBS, and psychological ones like stress, anxiety and depression. This is the second of two articles focusing on this system. The first article, which you can read here, looked at how to think about digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, and started to explain the 'second brain' in the belly. Stress, Anxiety and the HPA Axis In the first article, we
Gut feelings are part of a complex system of interactions between the gut and the brain. Imbalances in this system create both physical conditions like IBS, and psychological ones like stress, anxiety and depression. Stomachs are strange places, home to the butterfly feelings, the tightness or nausea of anxiety, inexplicable pains and bloating, the sinking feeling of having done something wrong or the emptiness of being sad. Often we’re not so keen on them. But our guts are also amazing places, which actually contain their own
This article is the second of two parts, looking at the special role of the psoas muscle in recovering from pain, stress and trauma. You can read the first part here, which looks at the structural role of the psoas in our bodies, as well as its role in our stress and fear responses. I describe there how the psoas gets stuck and shortened through sitting for many hours, and what kind of physical effects this can have on a body. I also looked at how being locked