Why We Can't Ignore the Way Emotions Affect Scoliosis
Google the word “scoliosis” and you will see the internet is flooded with information regarding the physical aspects of scoliosis. The degree of your curve, the brace you may be wearing, the number of screws attached to your spine, the symptoms, treatments, and causes. But trying to find information about the emotional effects of scoliosis, such as your thoughts and feelings, is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
Why is this crucial factor so overlooked?
Our bodies respond to the health of these four states: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.
If you find yourself out of balance (stressed) in any of these areas, you will experience negative feelings. When you are balanced (relaxed) in any of these areas, you will experience positive feelings.
“So how does this affect my scoliosis?” I hear you asking. Well, being out of balance depletes your body and your mind, leaving you with little to no chance of coping with the day-to-day effects of your scoliosis. This may be in the form of physical pain or mental and emotional feelings such as stress or worry.
Let’s look at each of these states in more detail.
Our emotional side is made up of feelings and desires. Emotion is energy in motion. When you are “emotionally” relaxed you can be:
- More sensitive
- More loving
Now on the flip side of this, let’s look at someone who is “emotionally” stressed. They may feel:
Our spiritual side can be described as our connection to our higher self, or our inner knowing. I think we have all experienced moments in life where we felt things were flowing really easily. You might have found yourself in the right place at the right time. Or have you ever been thinking of a friend and right at that moment your phone rings and it is that exact friend on the other end? When you are “spiritually” relaxed you can experience any of the following;
- Inner strength
- Clear direction
- Connection with life
- Strong intuition
What about the contrast of this – someone who is “spiritually” stressed may feel:
- Like you have no purpose
- No goals or vision
- No faith
- Separated from the world
- Like a boat with no rudder
Our mental state is determined by our thoughts. This influences our self-esteem, confidence, stress levels and ultimately our productivity. When you are “mentally” relaxed you can experience any of the following:
- Better concentration
- Better memory
- Strong intuition
- Increased creativity
- Clear-minded thinking
What about the contrast of this – someone who is “mentally” stressed may feel:
- Judgmental of other people
- Bad memory
- Highly critical
- No control
- Your mind wanders all over the place
Our physical state is how our body functions. Therefore, the foods you eat, your sleep patterns and your physical activity levels all affect this important state. Stress and anxiety are detrimental to your overall health. When you are “physically” relaxed you can experience any of the following:
- Greater energy levels
- Excellent digestion
- Shiny eyes, hair, and clearer skin
- Breathing and heart rate are more rhythmic
- Your muscles are supple
- Lower blood pressure
- Stronger immune system
What about the contrast of this – someone who is “physically” stressed may feel:
- Always tired
- High blood pressure
- Poor digestion
- No energy – feeling lethargic
- Tense muscles
- Dull eyes
- Poor organ function
- Prone to getting sick
So how does this tie into your life? Scoliosis patients are constantly told by medical practitioners that it is important for us to remain physically active. Now while this is absolutely correct, I believe it is just as, if not more important, for us to look after our mental state.
As I said earlier, the emotional effects of scoliosis are so often forgotten. I have found that using relaxation techniques has helped me to cope with the day to day challenges scoliosis throws at me. To be clear, relaxation is not a cure for scoliosis, but more of a coping mechanism. Furthermore, you may feel stronger and more positive as a result. It’s almost like you are wearing a suit of mental armor that can shield you from the negative spears scoliosis throws — the pain, anxiety, stress etc.
There are so many simple ways to start practicing relaxation. Begin with a five or 10 minute morning meditation or by getting out in nature. You can start to feel the benefits almost immediately.
Here are my beginner’s tips for relaxation:
Turn off any distractions and find a comfortable position to sit or lay.
Close your eyes and begin focusing on your breath.
Count to 3 as you inhale long slow deep breathes and count to 6 as you exhale slowly (mentally counting the numbers can stop your mind wandering).
Continue this pattern for up to 10 minutes (setting a timer is useful).
Other relaxation techniques include:
- Soak in a relaxing bath
- Go for a gentle walk in nature (beach, forest, park etc.)
- Escape into a fiction book
- Indulge in a massage
- Try Yoga or Pilates (depending upon your physical capabilities)
- Write in a journal
- Put on some calming music and stretch your body
Do you practice any relaxation techniques? If so, how have they impacted your scoliosis?
This story originally appeared on Beyond Scoliosis.