How to Help Mental Health (naturally).
Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week and it made me consider this subject.
To some degree or another, ALL of us suffer from some amount of mental health challenges.
Whilst many people need support far beyond the remit of a yoga teacher & health coach, some of us suffer from less severe mental health challenges which can be eased by practicing certain lifestyle habits.
I want to share with you 3 powerful lifestyle tools that can help you if you are like many of my clients and have moments of low mood, anxious thoughts, low self-esteem, and mood swings. ***
*** This is not to take the place of medical support. I am not a Doctor and am not diagnosing or treating.
3 Tips to Manage Mental Health (naturally).
1 Breathing Exercises
Breath is one of the most powerful ways you can affect your physiology, and we ALWAYS have the breath with us so we can use it at any given moment.
By changing your breath, you change your energy.
I always start with a new client by teaching them how to belly breathe. It’s amazing how many people breathe the wrong way around.
Our breath connects us to our nervous system. The longer, slower, deeper breaths we take the more relaxed and calm we become. Did your mum ever tell you to take a deep breath when you were mid hysteria (or do you tell your kids to do it)? There’s a good reason for it. It almost instantly calms us.
HOW TO BELLY BREATHE
- Lie on your back.
- Place one or both hands on your belly.
- Breathe in through your nose and let the belly gently rise.
- Breathe out through your nose or mouth and softly draw the belly back to the spine.
- See if you can lengthen the breath so that the breath comes in for a count of 4, and out for a count of 4.
- Once that is comfortable add a pause of a count of 2-4 between the inhale and the exhale and the exhale and the inhale.
- Practice 2-10 minutes of this breath when you find yourself stressed, highly emotional, irritated, tense, or having difficulties concentrating or sleeping.
2 Essential Oils
The power of plant aroma is massively undervalued.
The sense of smell is our most primal, and it exerts a powerful influence over our thoughts, emotions, moods, memories, and behaviours.
The aromatic compounds (made purely from plants if you’re using a therapeutic grade essential oil) go up to your nose, enter into the brain and go straight to the limbic system. This is the brain’s emotional control center, as well as where memories are created. Here you can create powerful ‘aromatic anchors‘ so that every time you inhale an essential oil, it takes you back to a particular moment in time. For example, I recommend for babies, children, or adults that are having difficulty sleeping to diffuse the same essential oil every night to anchor the brain to understanding that this is time to prepare for sleep.
Watch this video on aromatic anchoring (which I originally made for my essential oil customer Facebook group).
Inhaling essential oils can have an amazing and rapid impact on the body. Depending on the plant chemistry the essential oil chosen will have a different effect on your mood and emotions. Here are some examples:
- Tree oils such as frankincense are grounding.
- Floral oils such as lavender are calming.
- Root oils such as vetiver are great for sleep.
- Citrus oils such as wild orange are uplifting.
Rather than feeling the victim of our emotions what if we used our own apothecary of essential oils in the home? We can select and generate mood with the use of essential oils. So cool!
“As natural exogenous ligands, essential oils can powerfully influence our emotions, much like mood-altering drugs like morphine, but with healthful results. Unlike synthetic medications or drugs that ar designed to alter behaviour, their complex molecular structure allows them to intelligently bind to the receptor sites of cells in our body and support a desired effect to restore balance and healthy function.” The Essential LIfe.
Learn more about how essential oils can support your mood and emotions as well as aid your physical wellbeing in my Beginners Guide to essential oils.
Meditation teaches us that we are not our thoughts.
We are the observer, the one who sees our thoughts. When we are aware of that it can help make our thoughts less powerful. We do not need to believe them, or at least we can question their validity.
Our beliefs are thoughts that we have most often. If we can change our thoughts, which we can, we can change our beliefs and when we change our beliefs we behave and act differently.
Meditation helps us to be less reactive to the thought. It gives us a chance to pause and choose how to respond. This is powerful because thoughts proceed our feelings. If we dwell on an unhappy thought it will inevitably make us feel low or sad, but if we can notice that we have become stuck in a thought that isn’t helping us, we can choose to change the thought, to think of something else and therefore to feel differently.
Gabby Bernstein advocates this practice:
- Notice any negative thought out of alignment with joy.
- Forgive yourself for having the thought.
- Thank the negative thought for revealing what you don’t want, so you can clarify what you do want.
- Choose again.
Starting a daily meditation has been transformational for so many of my clients as well as scientific studies backing what yogis have known for thousands of years.
You can try a simple meditation with me here:
I hope you find these tips helpful. For more healthy lifestyle support and habits come and join me on Instagram.
With Love, Miranda xx