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Today’s world is often referred to as fast paced, busy and chaotic. We are overfed stress and worry and we are undernourished in areas that truly matter. This concept of being ‘overfed and undernourished’ goes far beyond any food we put on our plate. 

 

I would go as far as saying, that our country is becoming a nation of human beings that are over worked, tired and are operating continuously at maximum capacity. What happens our minds, our bodies and our souls when we get tired, bombarded or run down? We become sick. We become fatigued. We become anxious. We become ill. 

Having worked as a Pharmacist for almost a decade – I could see first hand the frantic, stress ridden, pill popping nation that we have become. I witnessed the rising scale in antidepressants being prescribed. I saw the rise in sleeping tablets, anti-anxiety medication and stress related diseases, ranging from auto immune diseases, inflammatory disorders, skin problems, stomach disease and cancer to name a few. From behind the dispensary – I could see with my own two eyes our society crumbling into sickness and disease. 

Dis – ease, the very word meaning “a lack of ease”. 

I could see both young and old becoming a nation where the concept of “ease” in our lives was merely non existent. A nation where our norm was to be “busy” and “stressed” and if you weren’t busy or stressed, then you weren’t successful. 

But this doesn’t have to be the way. We, as human beings have an infinite inner well of consciousness that wants to be healthy. We inherently want to be happy. We want to have inner peace. We crave to live a life that is healthy, and prosperous and rich in creativity and exhilaration. 

But we tend to get caught up in the rat race, we can often get stuck in a job that doesn’t fulfil us, or a relationship that doesn’t ignite us. We somehow can find ourselves living a life that is not full of “ease”. We can find ourselves feeling “stuck” or stale, and our life can lack meaning or inspiration. When this happens we can turn to food, or alcohol or some external source to try and bring some light or life back into our lives, only to find that, this too falls short and leaves us feeling worse off than ever before. 

So what’s the solution? How can we go about finding some “ease” in our lives? How can we begin to find some meaning in our world? How can we reduce the anxiety, the stress, the overwhelming emotions that surge us on a day to day basis? One way that helped me immensely was Yoga. 

If you read my earlier article on ‘Why yoga really can be for everyone’ and the benefits behind yoga, you will know that Yoga goes far beyond just the physical. One of the main benefits that I find, and that many of my clients experience, is the escaping healing feeling that yoga brings to ones life.

 

Yoga – meaning union, unites mind with the body, and body with the soul. 

In today’s world – this connection is vital. We don’t need more noise, or more busyness, or more loud music, or more adrenaline. What the world needs is more stillness. More silence. More space. More time out. More recovery. More rest. More breathing. More connection. Yoga delivers all of the above and more. 

When you get on the mat, you centre yourself. You ground yourself. You connect. To find more ease in our lives and in our world, it’s important that we first find some balance and stability within ourselves. 

Yoga empowers connection back to our inner world. It enables you to actually stop for a second and scan your body. Scan your emotions. Scan your thoughts. Check in with yourself and listen to your intuition. One of the best ways to reduce stress in your life, is to give yourself a break. In order to find some ease and relaxation in our lives we need to first stop, listen and feel. To take some time out from the busyness and connect to a space of stillness. 

Yoga Breathing or Pranayama: 

When you get on your yoga mat – you connect your mind and body through the breath. The breath – which is our life force energy – our Prana. Once we engage with deep mindful breathing we reduce the anxiety by activating our para sympathetic nervous system. This is our rest and recovery system – the opposite to our fight or flight system where we operate most of our lives from.

When we engage in yogic breathing (see the simple excerise below) we reduce anxiety and nervous tension in our central nervous system. When we are anxious – our nerve endings can become irritated and excited. They become heightened and activated, and we thus, become “on edge” and anxious and develop nervous tension and irritability. 

Doing this breathing along with certain yoga poses (asanas) we can calm down our entire nervous system. We activate this para sympathetic nervous system and as a result reduces our stress hormone cortisol. This reduces heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety. 

Yoga breathing (pranayama) is the foundation of your yoga practice. It begins with deepening your breathing and engaging is a 3-part breath technique.

Try this simple breathing technique at least once a day for a week and observe how it affects your body, breath, and mind. This mindful excercise can be done at just about any time of day, though preferably not immediately following a large meal.

How to:

  1. Lie comfortably on your back (with your knees slightly bent and your feet flat on the floor) about hip-distance apart or lie in savasana (corpse pose), whichever is most comfortable for you.

  2. Place one palm on your abdomen and just breathe comfortably for a few moments. Notice the quality of your breath. Does the breath feel tense? shallow? rapid? strained? Simply observe the breath without trying to adjust it or change it, or without any judgment.

  3. Then gradually begin to relax your breathing. Slow your breath down, deepen the inhalation and try make the breath as smooth as possible.

  4. Begin to draw the breathe in for a count of 4.

  5. Slowly introduce a slight PAUSE after each inbreath.

  6. Then gracefully release your breath through a nice slow relaxed exhalation to the count of 8.

  7. So the breathing goes something like this;  inhale – count 1,2,3,4… Pause and hold for 1,2,3,4…. Exhale count 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8… Pause and hold 1,2,3,4 and repeat.

  8. Once the breath feels comfortable, relaxed, smooth and rhythmical, notice the movement of the body. As you inhale, the abdomen naturally expands; as you exhale, feel the slight contraction of the abdomen. To experience the pleasure of giving yourself a full, relaxed breath, gently try to actively expand the abdomen on the inhale and contract the abdomen on the exhale to support the natural movement of the diaphragm.

  9. Continue this breathing practice for 6 to 12 breaths.

  10. Check in with your body, mind, thoughts and emotions afterwards. (Have a pen and paper near by as you may get some moments of insights or clarity afterwards).

 

Benefits: 

  • Quietens the mind
  • Calms the entire nervous system
  • Reduces stress and anxiety 
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Improves self-awareness
  • Promotes focus and clarity 
  • Develops inner peace 
  • Reduces blood pressure and can ease bodily aches and pains 
  • Promotes overall EASE in the mind, body and soul 
  • Promotes a sense of wellbeing and relaxation 

Examples of some Yoga poses (asanas) that can really help with reducing anxiety and stress are the following:

  • Cat/Cow pose (Marjaryasana/Bitikasana) 
  • Child’s pose (balasana)
  • Trees pose (Vrikasana)
  • Headstand or supported headstand (sirsasana)
  • Corpse Pose (savasana) 
  • Abdominal twists 
  • Legs up the Wall pose (Viparita Karani)

The trinity of Yoga, meditation and mindful breathing, is just one way that can help alleviate stress and anxiety in our modern world. It has helped me and so many of my clients. I really hope it can also help you. 

 

There is a radically different way to think about health. You may have heard about it, but are you clear on what it truly means, and the transformations it can yield in your mind, body and spirit?

You can fight or you can trust.

It’s really that simple.

In conventional medicine, the body is a faulty machine that needs to be monitored, tinkered with, and saved from itself through chemical and surgical interventions, the avoidance of which could spell disaster. Through the conventional lens, for example, it’s us versus the germs and if we get exposed to one, they get in and try to get us. Our only responsibility is to take antibiotics and symptom-managing over-the-counter drugs while we continue to punch the clock. If we choose not to take antibiotics, well then, infections can spread and even kill! It’s all about FEAR. The unexpected, the devastating, the fatal.

But there’s another story that you can ease into (or snap into in my case).

meme_Transformational

From this perspective, the body responds purposefully to it’s internal and external environment. Acute infectious illness – think coughing, diarrhea, sneezing, runny nose, night sweats – mobilizes cellular debris and can be seen as an effective and sophisticated method of detox when needed. In fact, based on our growing knowledge of the microbiome, some theorize that illness is simply a resonant activation of internal microorganisms when detox and recalibration are needed. We grow from the experience of acute illness in important ways – even if this means simply forcing you to pause and get into bed! In fact, you wouldn’t want to interfere with this, but rather support the body through it.

It’s a frame shift but a profound one.

It’s the difference between using a warring mentality and a peacekeeping one. I have progressed through a type of alternative medicine that in many ways, continues to see the body as a series of cogs and wheels with problems to be fixed by using supplements rather than with meds.

There’s something even more powerful that is possible and it involves honoring the body’s vast realms of unquantified wisdom, the power of belief, and the incredible potential for quantum leaps in self-healing when spirituality is included in the assessment.

Here’s what I had to say on the subject at the Functional Forum in Utah – 2016. Let me know what you think!

 

BREATHING, MEDITATION, MINDFULNESS, CONNECTION, BREATHWORK, PEACE, INNERWORLD,

BREATHING MEDITATION:

For this meditation we are going to use the breath as a support.

I find it helpful to take 3-5 really deep breaths as I start to help calm my system down (as most of us are always rushing around)

So

 

  • Chose a quiet place and sit in a comfortable position either on a chair or on the floor
  • Keep your back straight
  • Close your eyes gently and relax the face, jaw and shoulders
  • Place your palms face up or down on your lap, whichever is more comfortable
  • Take 3 deep inhalations and exhalations through your nostrils
  • Then settle and start to notice the natural flow of your breath. You don’t have to breathe in any particular way here just breathe as you always do
  • As you breathe in and out it can be helpful to focus on one point like the tip of your nose where the breath enters and leaves again
  • It’s completely natural for your mind to wander so don’t get frustrated when this happens just gently say to yourself “whoops there I go again wandering off” and come back to the breath again.
  • Continue with this breathing meditation for 5-10 minutes each day and build from there

MY TOP 3 TIPS:

START YOUR DAY THE RIGHT WAY

I meditate in the morning as I find it helps start my day in a positive and intentional way. It’s a great way to settle yourself before the madness begins and I find if you give yourself 5-10 minutes in the morning your ability to cope with stress and any obstacles you encounter during the day is much better. Focusing on our breathing is a very powerful tool to help with anxiety and depression.

 

SMALL STEPS EACH DAY

Real change happens when we are consistent with our habits. 5-10 minutes each day is far better and more beneficial than 2 hours once a week. Even though small changes might not feel like a lot, trust me they make a big difference and the kind of difference you are really looking for = REAL CHANGE.

 

BE EASY WITH YOURSELF

As you begin your journey into meditation be kind and compassionate with yourself. It’s too easy to beat yourself up for wandering thoughts or unwanted emotions arising but this is not the time for that, we do that too much anyway. Instead, this is your time to focus on the present in a non-judgmental way to increase awareness, which in turn helps to calm the body and mind.

Join me on Facebook in my Minding Mum Group for live weekly meditations

Shine Bright

Ali xxx

Meditation for anxiety and depression, alison canavan, mindfulness for anxiety and depression, Mindful monday, prescriptions, why pills don't work, health and wellness, positive mental health

Is breathing good for you? Well of course it is we need to it to keep us alive but have you ever noticed in situations that are stressful our rates of breathing change and some of us even hold our breath without even realising it!

Down through the years I have struggled to find something that really works for my depression and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong I have found lots of things that have worked temporarily, but I was sick of being on a roller coaster and simply craved consistency in my moods and my ability to cope with everyday life.

Regular meditation practice has given me the just that! Through meditation I have received the most precious and priceless gift of peace both in myself and also in the world I live in. It helps me to cope with stress, depression, anxiety and the everyday challenges that come with daily life.

In a study called: The effects of Mindfulness based therapy on anxiety and depression, Published by The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, they found that mindfulness based therapy was moderately effective for anxiety and mood disorders and the results suggest that mindfulness-based therapy is a promising intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems in clinical populations. Their meta-analysis was based on 39 studies totaling 1,140 participants who received mindfulness-based therapy for a range of conditions, including cancer, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and other psychiatric or medical conditions.

But too be honest the clinical evidence backing meditation and mindfulness now is plentiful and hard to argue with. The reason I actually chose this study was because the results said moderately effective. Sometimes people expect miracles but in my opinion the miracle is the ability to cope with life a bit better.

If we do a lot of little things that are moderately effective imagine how powerful they would all be when they work together?

I really wish I had been given the kind of prescription in this picture when I was a teenager rather the usual pill filled kind we have become so used to today.

Meditation for anxiety and depression, alison canavan, mindfulness for anxiety and depression, Mindful monday, prescriptions, why pills don't work, health and wellness, positive mental healthDon’t get me wrong I know that there’s a place for medication but there is no way we need the amount of medication being prescribed today. I have swallowed or drank my emotions for well over half my life and making changes is hard, in fact it is very hard at times, but the thing is those changes are so worth it in the long run even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

It costs nothing to try meditation and if you are struggling to sit still and focus on your breathing try some guided meditations from websites like Zen 12 or Omharmonics I find these great if I’m very hectic and stressed or in an airport, on a plane, bus or train.

But try my simple “first steps” approach and see how you get on:

Meditation can be done anytime and anywhere and the busier you are the more you need it.

quotes, mindful monday, meditation gives peace, meditation can help depression and anxiety, alison canavan quotes, health and wellness, how to prevent depression

START BY:

Sitting in a comfortable position with your back straight

Start to notice the natural flow of your breath

Inhale and exhale slowly and keep repeating

Don’t try and stop your thoughts, instead just observe them and let them go by almost like watching a motorway and if your favourite car drives past, let it go and don’t follow it!!

Start small and build – so even a couple of minutes a day building in more time each week. This way you will be able to incorporate it into your routine without you even noticing.

Finally Enjoy it!!!

#MindfulMonday

AC_days_tastythursday_Matcha1

Matcha tea is becoming more and more popular and rightly so because it has so many of its many health benefits it’s actually kind of hard to ignore! I first discovered it when I was recovering from PND (post natal depression) and my anxiety was quite bad. I found it incredibly calming and it didn’t give me that awful nervousness that coffee can.

As I began to research matcha more I realized through Kevin from Koyu Matcha that the reason it works so well for anxiety is because of its L-Theanine it contains. L-Theanine is an amino acid (a building block for proteins) that’s found in green tea. More and more studies are being done on L-Theanine these days and one study from The Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that L-Theanine not only reduces anxiety but also attenuates the blood-pressure increase in high-stress-response adults.

RESEARCH STUDY

In another STUDY, the combination of L-Theanine and caffeine was found to improve cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness. I find it really great for my concentration especially when I spend long hours in the office and it’s fast becoming a popular stress reliever too.

We need to start finding natural alternatives to everyday problems and with stress being one of the biggest killers of our time why not try and switch up your coffee for a matcha latte?

Here’s a really simple way to make a nice matcha latte!

Use you nutribullet or blender and put in ½ teaspoon of good quality matcha from Koyu Matcha tea (put in the code ‘ali’ at the checkout for a discount)

Then add half boiling water and some almond milk and whiss it up in the blender for a frothy anti stress calming latte. What’s not to love? You can use any milk of your choice: regular, rice, almond..

Then simply sit back, relax and enjoy

 

Stress or Anxiety crop

Modern living can be chaotic at times and technology, social media and the feeling we need to be constantly available or ‘plugged in’ can raise anxiety levels and leave us feeling emotionally stressed out. A recent study from the University of Glasgow found that social media & the need to be constantly available online can cause depression, anxiety and decrease sleep quality for teenagers.

Nourishing the body with the right foods, taking time away from technology and meditation are just some of the ways we can combat raised anxiety levels. To help experience healthy moods, natural plant remedies can also prove really beneficial as our sense of smell has a strong influence on our emotions. Inhaling essential oils provides the fastest route into the body where they can then have a significant benefit on our mood. Diffusing essential oils (small device that disperses essential oils into the air) is an effective way to inhale them and it is also a chemical free alternative to air using fresheners.

There are so many oils to choose from to help manage mood. The following are a few of the top oils to help with anxiety:

 

Wild Orange

Uplifting and invigorating, wild orange is commonly used for emotional balance. Applying wild orange to pulse points or simply smelling this fresh oil can help with anxiety and nervousness. It also contains powerful antioxidants to support overall health and is an ideal oil to use for energising the mind and body.

Bergamot

Bergamot is delicate citrus oil used to reduce tension and stress. One of the top uses for Bergamot is insomnia and using it topically or aromatically can help to balance emotions. Diffusing this elevating oil is ideal way to help the body when feeling anxious or when stress levels are high

Frankincense

Frankincense is often referred to as the ‘King’ of oils and has been used for thousands of years by nearly all ancient cultures. It is renowned for its healing properties and is commonly used to reduce inflammation and to relieve anxiety and chronic stress. Frankincense oil helps to promote feelings of peace which makes it an ideal oil to inhale or diffuse when feeling anxious. Applying some oil topically under the nose and on the back of the neck can help ease tension and bring wonderful focus to meditation.

Lavender

Lavender essential oil is hugely popular and known to help with all things calming. Rubbing lavender over the heart and inhaling it can help with anxiety. It is an ideal oil to use when stress or anxiety are causing sleep problems.

Essential oils can offer practical, effective and powerful benefits for our emotional wellbeing. Using the power of plants to reduce stress, anxiety and tension is a safe and effective way to help safeguard our mental health.

 

When selecting essential oils it’s important to choose 100% pure essential oils for the safest and most effective health benefits. Only certified pure therapeutic grade oils should be taken internally or used neat on the skin. Essential oils can be used aromatically to affect mood and open airways; topically for quick absorption into the body through the skin, and internally for immune & digestive support.

Essential oils are a great way to improve your health easily and quickly. Drop me a line if you’d like to learn more about using essential oils or where to purchase 100% pure oils.…

CONTACT CAROLINE:

Honest About Health

caroline@honestabouthealth.com