Today we talk about mental health

Hello my lovelies,

Firstly, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to all of you who called, messaged or even just read my previous blog Today we write a letter.

Now what you might not know is that I wrote that letter on the train to work one Saturday morning. I didn’t proof read it or edit it in any way. In actual truth, it just flowed out of me with little-to-no hesitation. It was as if those words had just been sitting there waiting for me to open up. I first shared it with my husband and my closest friends… But it took me about 2 hours of hesitation before I felt comfortable enough to press send to even them… and even then I think that it was just adrenaline fuelled. I never intended to share that letter on the blog until my friends pointed out that others may want to read it too.

It dawned on me that this is what I wanted to do! I wanted to be the one person who is able to talk about, not shy away and be there for others. Sometimes all it takes is just one person who extends a hand for you to get the help you’ve needed.

So here I am writing a follow up blog. This time seated at home, on my laptop during Mental Health Awareness week. It’s amazing to see so many work places now acknowledging this and offering meditation sessions this week or opening doors for staff to talk. But this needs to extend beyond this week. Let’s always keep our doors open… when speaking to friends or families really take the time to check in with how they are… no more brushing off the “Yeah OK” replies. Let’s talk, take time and support each other.

It’s taken me a good few years to get here but I just wanted to share a few helpful pointers for anyone who is need of it (even if you’re having a stressful day)…

  • Drink plenty of water and try to get some fresh air. There were days when I just didn’t have the energy to leave the house but getting outside, walking, connecting to nature or just breathing in some fresh air can bring you back to your body and the current moment.

 

  • Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk… don’t be ashamed! So often our society tells us what we should be doing, how we should be feeling, how busy we should be… but let’s not let society rule everything! Don’t be afraid to open up and talk to your friends, a counsellor or a professional. There is no shame in this at all! The healing all starts when you start talking. It takes it out of your head. So often when I end up talking about an anxious thought, I can hear how far from the truth it is but it isn’t until I talk about it do I realise that.

 

  • Meditate. It’s no coincident that World Meditation Day falls in Mental Health Awareness week!! I mean the two couldn’t be closer linked if you tried. So often I teach meditation and my yogis turn to me and say “I can’t meditate” or “meditation isn’t my thing”. I ask them “why??” and their response is “I just can’t switch off my mind”! Ok, so let me just clarify meditation isn’t turning off all thoughts and sitting there in a blank space.

Meditation is being able to sit there, see the thoughts come in but then being able to let them go, not hold onto them…. bringing your attention back to your body. It’s like training an overly excited puppy (your mind)- it sees something appear in the corner (a thought)… is intrigued (goes closer and thinks about it)… ends up chasing it (thinking thinking thinking)… after a while it’s so exhausted it collapses on the floor (feel stressed in the body, panic attacks, muscle ache, stomach problems the list goes on). Now instead we need to train our puppy to stay seated no matter how badly it wants to chase those thoughts. Instead allowing the thought to go past, acknowledge it then come back to the breath.

The more you practise it the more familiar you will become with your internal chatter, your internal dialogue and the thoughts your mind loves to think over and over! Once you’ve recognised you’re able to realise that those thoughts don’t dictate who you actually are and what the facts are. You’re able to give yourself a bit of space. It’s that small space that can make all the difference.

 

  • Schedule time for things you enjoy.  Last week I felt myself becoming so anxious, those thoughts I’m all to familiar with started popping into my head again. I was actually physically exhausted by Friday evening… unable to move off the sofa. Then it dawned on me that I hadn’t taken time out for myself in two weeks. It might not seem like long but my body needed it! So I cleared my diary, turned off my phone and spent Sunday doing yoga, eating yummy food and walking around London with my husband. Monday came around and I felt brand new! Scheduling time for the things you love, giving yourself some of your own time. Remembering that you can’t pour from an empty cup.

 

  • Find a way to move your body. I’m not going to suggest that there’s one perfect exercise for everyone (even though everyone should try a yoga class! ha!) but find whatever activity works for you. Whether it’s running, cycling, boxing, yoga or even just walking. Find something that gets your body moving. When you move the body, you use your breath consciously, you bring our awareness to your body or to the parts of your body that you are using. Therefore, sneakily bringing your attention back to the current moment.

 

  • Turn off your phone. Yes yes yes!! Try it! I’m the first to admit I’m addicted to my phone. I’m always on it, I’m always the first to reply… so much so that if I don’t respond to my parents straight away then they begin to panic! I use my phone for work and it’s how I can connect to so many yogi’s and students but so so often we get sucked into the digital world.

Hats off to the clever people behind those apps on our phones, designed at getting us glued to the screen for hours! Literally hours of my day goes to scrolling through Instagram. An app I love dearly as a photographer but also loath! So often we spend time on these apps looking at beaches, then wishing we were on holiday instead of at work or looking at handstands and wondering why it’s so hard for you! Or you see people travelling and end up wishing you had the money or freedom to do the same. Do you see where I’m going here? So often we see these images and subconsciously we end up comparing ourselves to it. We compare ourselves to this tiny snapshot story, this highlight picture. I assure you that it’s not that glamorous! I have about 50 hilarious out-takes for every one “good” picture. So if you find yourself getting sucked into your phone, emails or social media…take a step back. Think, breathe, switch off your phone.

 

  • And lastly, the thing that saved me… if you’re not happy, Change! It takes courage to know exactly where or what is bringing down your vibe. And it takes even more courage to change it. I just want to be here to tell you that you can do it! You are strong! Taking a step in a new direction doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy but it doesn’t have to be scary either. Accept life for all the beautiful lessons it has in store for you. Eventually they guide you to the path you need to be on.

Deciding to quit my job, give up a stable source of income and go to India to do my yoga teacher training was no easy decision, but one I was very lucky to be able to make. I lost the “stability” that society says we need but I learnt so much about myself. I haven’t figured it all out and I don’t know if I ever will but I’ve learnt to enjoy the process at least!

 

And finally, please do know there are so many incredible organisations offering professional help and guidance too!

But I want you to know I’m always here to chat, yoga with, breathe with, sit with and of course eat ice cream with.

Love Avni x

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