As I reflect on the past year I realise what a journey I have been on.
A year ago I was in a very different place, I had just been diagnosed with work related stress, my levels of anxiety were so high my GP wanted to medicate me and I was too ill to work in a role that I had loved and was very competent at.
I had been attending Pauline’s Pilates courses for quite some time and almost instinctively contacted Pauline the day after I became unwell at work, looking for something that may help the situation I found myself in.
Pauline invited me to attend the Thursday lunchtime yoga class and from the moment I walked into the hall I felt a real sense of support and care. Everyone welcomed me, giving a cheery hello and telling me their names, “how nice” I remember thinking as I settled down to participate in my first yoga class.
At the end of the class Pauline took time to talk with me, listening to my tale of woe and how I was feeling. “Come to any class” she said, “come to the morning class next week at Ardleigh House, they are a lovely group too”
And so, started what is now known in my family as “Well being Thursday”
The following week I joined the Thursday morning class, and Pauline was right, they were lovely. I would pop home for some lunch and go onto the 1.30pm yoga class.
Gradually I started to attend more classes and build some structure to the difficult days and weeks I was encountering.
During those first months, I showed all the classic signs of work related stress, I didn’t sleep and if I did, I had nightmares, I was extremely anxious, I suffered from daily headaches, I could not switch off from work, I had panic attacks and could not speak about work without becoming tearful and distressed.
But as the weeks and months went by, I was establishing a “wellness routine”. I was attending Pilates and yoga classes, focusing on bringing structure to each day through getting out and doing something that I loved.
The results have been amazing, my mental health and wellbeing slowly began to improve and after several long months the nightmares and headaches began to subside. I was finally able to switch off from work during the relaxation section of my precious Thursday lunchtime yoga class.
It was a start, I was on the long road to recovery, which was supported every step of the way through participating in Pauline’s classes.
So where am I now? Well, I’m much fitter physically, but most importantly mentally. I would say that Pilates and yoga saved me at a time when I was most in need and Pauline and her classes were instrumental in my recovery. Her kind words and time for me in those early days helped me find a path to recovery and opened the door to my new life.
I have a totally different outlook on life and now prioritise my mental health and wellbeing. I attended my first Yoga and Pilates retreat on the beautiful Greek island of Poros in September 2017. This allowed me to take time and reflect on the past year as well as experience yoga and Pilates in the best location I have ever been to.
I’ve moved on from my previous role and my love for Pilates has grown so much, I am now a qualified instructor and enjoying teaching my first courses.
So, as I sit here writing this, I am reflecting on the benefits of yoga and Pilates and would wholeheartedly recommend that taking just a little time for yourself to practice something you love will have benefits ten-fold. My research into stress, particularly work related stress, has led me to understand the importance of looking after ones self and being aware of the signs and symptoms that could affect mental health wellbeing.
And in the words of Joseph Pilates:
“The acquirement and enjoyment of physical well-being, mental calm and spiritual peace are priceless to their possessors..."
So next time you are feeling a little stressed or anxious try Pilates, you won’t regret it. You will sleep better, make new friends and discover the enjoyment and mastery of “rolling like a ball”
Published by Pauline Ward
Business Owner and Fitness Professional
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