Healthcare is going through a period of change. The NHS turned 70 years old on 5th July 2018. It was originally set up to deal with infections and acute injuries. However our lifestyles have changed and chronic stress is now a major issue in society. These days healthcare practices are full of people with chronic diseases and social and lifestyle issues. In England, an estimated 15 million people suffer from a chronic disease.
There are pioneers in certain areas across the UK for integrated healthcare and social prescribing. A leading example is the Bromley by Bow Centre in East London, run by Sir Sam Everington. So far these projects have proved to be incredibly successful in lowering hospital admissions and repeat GP visits.
Studies, such as the ACE (adverse childhood experiences) studies, carried out by Dr Vincent Felitti and Kaiser Permanente in the 1990s, showed astoundingly high correlations between adverse experiences during childhood and adult chronic disease.
We have a lot to learn from animals in the wild. Why is this? Despite lacking the sophisticated prefrontal cortex and higher brain functions that humans do, animals in the wild do not suffer from chronic diseases. The response of a mammal to stress, such as being chased by a lion, is for the sympathetic nervous system to become activated (fight or flight). This is a response of the autonomic (automatic) nervous system, over which we have no conscious control. If the animal is unable to fight back or to run away, then it will “freeze”. In evolutionary terms, this response protects the mammal from a painful situation. Once the threat has gone, an animal in the wild will discharge the energy of the sympathetic activation from its body by shaking involuntarily.
However, we humans, have been socially conditioned out of this. Our higher logical thinking brain kicks in and suppresses the discharge of energy. Thus the trauma of the event gets lodged in the cells of our body, leading to ill health.
Human beings do not exist in a bubble. We are affected by the environments in which we live. A bio-psycho-social model of healthcare is emerging. Feeling is Healing recognises that our healthcare and our emotional, psychological and social states cannot be separated. They are interdependent. Feeling is Healing was set up to empower those whose lives have been affected by chronic ill health. In particular it supports those who have experienced toxic stress as a result of living in an environment of domestic abuse, including narcissistic abuse.
The good news is that the natural state of our bodies is one of health and wellbeing. Our bodies are constantly working FOR us to give us signals to help us to get back to this state. Our course we need to be able to FEEL these sensations and impulses in order to be able to take onboard the wisdom that they are showing us. Once we are able to acknowledge, accept and process our feelings and bodily sensations, rather than resisting or suppressing them, we become free to live the fulfilled lives that we were born to live.