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The Mind-Body Connection

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Physical ailments can be rooted in mental, spiritual health

Laura Nicole Garbers has a master’s degree in counseling. She has worked with a range of clients with mental, emotional, behavioral, spiritual and physical wellness concerns, promoting health through counseling and creative therapies, including sensing, expression and movement.

Laura,
I’ve always had problems with stiffness in my body. It bothers me that I can’t move around as easily as other people, and I often have pain in my muscles. I’ve gone to doctors and have been taking medication, but nothing has really helped long term. Do you have any advice?

Thanks,
Peter K.

Dear Peter,
Stiffness in the body can be more of a physical concern than emotional, so seeing a physician is paramount. There are also wonderful nutritionists and herbalists who may be able to help you figure out if you are consuming the right kinds and amounts of nutrients. However, there are other wellness options for you to consider as well. Stiffness can actually be related to rigidity of the mind and spirit, and holistic considerations for your entire self may be something to ponder. Try taking some personal time and focusing on self care and spiritually nurturing techniques such as simple rest and breathing, positive visual experiences (envisioning trees and birds in a park, flowing water, playing children or glowing candles), positive somatic experiences (a warm bath, a hug from a friend, massage or aromatherapy) or authentic expression. Speaking with a friend or counselor about your concerns can be therapeutic, because the expression of thoughts and feelings through words in a receptive, safe and caring environment can release pent-up tensions and help develop life solutions. Also consider how movement of and expression through the body may help you. Seeking out a trained therapist familiar with kinesthetic and expressive body work may be a path to try. The engagement of wellness through relaxation, self care, sensing, expression and movement can be a rejuvenating and life-giving source of help. Remember that you yourself are the best gauge of knowing what is best for you, so consider the suggestions of others, but go with your gut instinct in taking the next step.
Best wishes,
Laura

Dear Laura,
I normally would not write into a magazine for help, but I don’t know what to do about my boyfriend. He swore to give up drinking, but he’s been drinking just as much as ever. He parties at least weekly and seems to always have a hangover. I think I’ve tried my best, and I just don’t know if I can help him. I’m at my wit’s end and really need some advice.

Sincerely,
Shanai

Dear Shanai,
The more I work with couples, the more I see that problems are typically two-sided. Your boyfriend needs to consider what he’s doing to himself by drinking so often, but you can’t force him to change if he doesn’t want to. If you’ve explained your concerns to him and he still isn’t listening or making a move to change, then, for your sake, you may have to be the one to make a change. While his behavior is damaging and unhealthy, it is also unfair to you. Your boyfriend needs to learn that he is hurting himself and his relationship, but you are not necessarily his teacher. Do the acceptable amount of communicating—really let him know your concerns and how his actions affect you—but if he’s not receptive, then you need to move on. There is no reason for you to waste your life waiting on someone to change into the person you want him or her to be. If you can really help him and he’s open to communicating and making changes, then that’s great, plug away at it and don’t give up. But if he’s a closed shell or dismissive of your needs, then you shouldn’t stick around. Taking care of yourself needs to be your number one concern, because if you are cared for, then you’ll have the energy to care for others. If he’s not making his own health and wellness a top priority, then you must realize that you will not be able to receive the kind of care that you deserve. I wish you the best of luck in your life and with your romantic pursuits!

Best wishes,
Laura

I love hearing from all of you out there! Please feel free to write in with personal questions or concerns and your letter may be selected for the next issue. Please e-mail questions to laurag@livingneworleans.com.