I am writing this post today in response to a having just lost a very close and loved friend. Every single one of us struggles with some form of mental health, anxiety or depression in varying degrees and in different forms. Life isn’t supposed to be simply bliss but we can learn very simple natural ways to change body chemistry and ‘body’ energy that have very real effects on our health and well being which can help us to better cope with life’s tough and darker aspects.
THE main tool for this starts with breathing, breathing in the ”right” way has such a massive impact on our physical, mental, emotional health, it will literally change you. Physically, When we breathe in to the lower abdomen, more commonly known as your belly, we increase oxygen intake. The lungs fill down as well as out when we breathe in to the belly. A common trait in anxiety sufferers is that they breathe shallowly from the chest actually creating tension and stress in the body. Breathing from the belly relaxes the body, alleviates tension, lowering the stress hormone cortisol, it oxygenates the blood, increasing blood flow to the organs and brain, reduces heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It is even detoxifying as it helps shift toxins out of the body through the lymphatic system. It helps aid in good restful sleep and perhaps most importantly it rebalances the autonomic nervous system.
You can practice abdominal breathing anywhere at anytime. It can be done as a stand alone exercise to help reduce stress and anxiety or you can retrain yourself to breathe this way constantly. It will take time and will feel strange at first yet it has long lasting health effects and is our optimal natural way of breathing, if you watch animals or babies they breath from their gut. I believe its due to the build up of various trauma’s, shocks and stress throughout life that we begin breathing from the upper chest which only adds to tension and anxiety.
The answers lay in nature…
We evolved with a nervous system to keep us alive in the wild. It geared us up for running, fighting or some other adrenalised action or for resting and rejuvenating and sensing. Our nervous system comprises of two parts, The sympathetic and the para sympathetic. The sympathetic is our flight or fight response and para sympathetic is the rest and digest mode. Today we live far more often than perhaps we should do in the para sympathetic state, hard wired, constantly on the move, direct focus, push, push, push, our nervous systems are strung out. Without a need to run away from a Bear we get triggered by an anxious situation of some sort and then we don’t switch back in to the resting place of the para sympathetic. This is compounded by our urban environments, our fast paced lifestyle of screens, work and over consumption of inflammatory foods, caffeine, drugs and alcohol. Simple body awareness and breathing techniques which mirror that of our hunter gatherer ancestors help create an inner environment that is still, calm, receptive, peaceful and content, yet fully aware and alert. This is what the work with the labyrinth can help with as we entrain our bodies and minds to slow down by simply being rather than doing. Allowing the body to calibrate in to a state of balance, being in nature naturally helps restore our bodies in to balance.
Another aspect that needs to be addressed is talking to someone. This is particularly true of men, apparently suicide is the biggest cause of death in men under the age of 45. If you are struggling then talk to someone. We don’t realise how open and ready friends, family and people are to listening and helping. Though my friend wore his heart on his sleeve and would talk openly to some people about his problems, no one knew the extent to which he was suffering. The one thing that everyone wishes he had done was to have just spoken to somebody before making the choice he made. Though it may not feel like it, things can be worked through, everything is in consistent change.
I am now offering one to one’s which you can follow the link to for more information. In light of this topic the one to ones offer a space with which you can talk, they can be done via skype, phone or soon from the land at Earth Heart, in the middle of the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire where nature therapy will also be undertaken. Another element to the one to one is coaching or mentoring, that can be mentoring through your issue by learning the techniques and ways of being in nature that I am trained in. These techniques build resilience, purpose, relationship to nature and above all a greater understanding of yourself in order to better equip you with the tools to not only cope but flourish in life.