It’s good to zero right on in our mind health and overall mental well-being a little bit every day. As much as we are told to look after our physical or body health it’s the same call for looking after our minds. Reaffirming that our mental health does really matter involves making a choice to care for our minds daily for better living overall. In this article we take a deep dive into our mind health and the strong response we can have in our bodies as a result to build awareness about the things we can do to help ourselves with stress and mind body love.
When life and stuff happen
We’ve all been through a lot over the last few years. Global issues with Covid-19, war in Ukraine and more still affect us all in varying levels and ways. We all faced and continue to face challenges in these new ‘normal’ times. This includes fighting a little insecurity, remaining connected and embracing change that has been quite dramatic for a lot of us.
We all have our own unique stories to tell with our own circumstances and experiences as life happens. Hard stuff has happened which may have caused quite a bit of angst and anxiety that’s sometimes hard to navigate. It might be something quite new for many of us and not so for others. Stuff around school, uni or our job, income (even losing our job), how and where you live as well as family dynamics and your friendship circles. Many things have been impacted. Adjusting to these changes has not always been easy.
Mind and Body relationship
So, life does happen. It’s good to be reminded that any level of stress, fear or anxiety we encounter in this journey can also affect our physical health in ways that are similar and different for everyone. As well as the experience of fear, worry or a racing mind, our body’s physical reactions to these responses are tangible. A pounding heart, butterflies in the stomach, rapid breathing and even causing our muscles to reflexively tighten or grip. Our body and mind connection is strong!
Our stress response
Everyone can experience these feelings from time to time. It’s our bodies’ response to a threat or what we may believe to be a threat or danger to us.
So, our physical response just as much as our mental/mind response to any level of stress is legit. Our psychology buddies refer to this as our fight or flight response to stress. We reckon we’ll leave it to them to give a more detailed explanation of what that means. But as a simple explanation to help us understand this for now it’s about fighting what we’re dealing with as well as trying to escape it.
It’s when our anxious and fearful feelings, responses and reactions linger and don’t go away when we might need to consider reaching out for some further support and help.
Our Pelvic Floor and stress
Like any other muscle in the body our pelvic floor muscles can also be affected by stress, anxiety and fear. Our pelvic floor muscles can reflexively tighten and grip as a response. Just picture how a puppy, or any grown up dog behaves when they are afraid. You may see it run away or withdraw with its tail between its legs. In a similar way, our own tailbone (check out this visual) can tuck under and cause our pelvic floor muscles attached to this bone to shorten and grip in response to stress. If this happens a lot and is left unchecked, then our muscles can tighten and lead to an overactive pelvic floor. Overactive pelvic floor muscles can affect all people including young women and men.
Signs to look out for if you might have this ongoing pelvic floor response are:
- You have pain during and after sex
- You experience pain in the pelvic area
- You’ve experienced a traumatic injury in the pelvic area
- You leak a little pee (or a lot)
- You are constipated
- Going to the loo is tricky – either for a poo and a wee or both
These signs don’t include everything! Its important to recognise that everyone has a unique story and experiences to match.
Strategies to help
Wanting some ‘good call’ vibes all round? So, this body mind connection most of us know is a real and powerful thing. We make choices every day that affect us in either good or not so good ways. Sometimes, if we have anxious feelings that don’t go away and we have trouble dealing with how we cope and manage, then we can develop responses or habits (mental and physical) that are not good for us. This can be different for everyone, as we each have our own unique experiences and circumstances that life presents to us. This even includes the stuff that can be really traumatic!
This is where doing things recognised to help us are so important.
Here’s some simple tips:
Just stopping and taking time out to pause and tune out from the day. Focus on your breathing or doing something you love that really relaxes you!
Acknowledging your feelings with someone you trust can help get things out and help you process
We know that research indicates our mental health is helped when we have good routines and habits in place. So have a routine in your day. We are sticklers for things that are regular and consistent. They are healthy for us. Not just school or work, but all those things we enjoy too, including important sleep and exercise!
Keep your eyes fixed on what can be controlled and keep grounded in the now of life to build your resilience if it’s hard. Holding onto hope for your future and seeing hard times as an opportunity to learn is a really healthy call.
Meaningful connection. Keep it real by staying in touch with friends and family is so important. Feeling love or care and giving back the same…..it’s what makes us thrive and be human!
If things are getting extra hard to deal with then it’s a good sign that more help with coping and managing is needed! This is totally ok! Go to the links at the bottom of the page for some reputable organisations here in Australia that can help!
Say it again?! Relaaaaaax!!! Switch off! Take a break! When you stop and take a deep breath or listen to music that you love, you’re beginning to engage your amazing senses that can be involved in managing stress and anxiety. A warm bath, laughing (a lot) can cause amazing changes to our brain chemistry and gives us a natural high!
If these things don’t seem to be helping, specifically if you’re experiencing those signs or symptoms we mentioned above, and you feel like you’re not able to switch off and relax your pelvic floor muscles
You’re have trouble sensing what’s actually going on with your pelvic floor muscles or area, then it’s time to reach out for more help!
Where to get help
We have some further resources that are helpful in getting you more aware and familiar. If you’re needing that help and actually wanting to speak with a Health Professional that knows all about it, then reach out!
Pelvic floor health physiotherapists can help you with tailored help that gets right down to targeting what you exactly need – because everyone is unique in their experience!
Sessions can involve:
- Pelvic floor muscle relaxation techniques
- Breathing techniques
- Pelvic floor and abdominal massage
- Advice on tools and equipment that help stretch and make your pelvic floor muscles responsive
- Advice on below the belt habits and more
To find out where the best Health Pro is in your area take the plunge and call the National Continence Helpline! A Nurse Continence Specialist will answer your call and can help advise or direct you on to further help near to where you live if you want it!
Don’t stop that deep dive right on in to tackling the things in life that need attention! Make that choice to love your mind and body like you never have before! You have the power to make good choices for you!
Here are more of those important organisations that can help and their details:
- 1800RESPECT National sexual assault, domestic family violence counselling service
- LifeLine lifeline.org.au
- Headspace headspace.org.au
- R U OK? ruok.org.au
- ReachOut reachout.com
- Embrace Multicultural Mental Health embracementalhealth.org.au