World mental health day

Autumn well wishes to you all.  Tomorrow is World mental health day and the focus this year is on mental health in the workplace.  The latest statistics are really quite sobering:

“At least 1 in 4 of us will experience some kind of mental health problem each year, with anxiety and depression being the most common.”

“It is estimated that some 70 million working days are lost each year due to mental health illness, costing businesses around  £70-£100bn per annum.”
We can see from the figures that a large number of people suffer with a mental health issue each year, it’s fairly common and having worked with anxiety myself, I know firsthand how awful and difficult it can be to go about daily life, with the fear of having a panic attack lurking in your mind.  One of the things I’ve found helpful in dealing with anxiety is pranayama, or yoga breathing techniques.  This is because pranayama helps to light up the parasympathetic nervous system or the rest and digest response.  When your brain perceives something real or imagined to be a threat, adrenaline gets released by the adrenal glands stimulating the sypathetic nervous system response which means the message that your nerves are getting are to fight, flight or freeze, i.e anxious feelings, racing heart and lots of thoughts.  When we calm the nervous system we stem or reduce the flow of adrenaline, therefore stopping the sypathetic nervous system from lighting up which means anxiety reduces.   The nervous system is like a seasaw, when one end lights up, the other end goes down. To calm the nervous system I’ve found that the breath ratio of 1:2 is most helpful. The 1:2 breath ratio means that you count your breath as you inhale and you make your exhale twice the length.  If this feels too difficult in the beginning, particularly if you’re feeling very anxious or panicky, then start with 1:1 ratio, the inhale and exhale being the same length.  Are you sitting comfortably?  Here’s the technique:
Start to inhale through your nose for a count of 4 counts, at the end of the inhale pause for 1 count to equalize the breath, then exhale slowly through the nose for a count of 8.  At the end of the exhale pause for a count of 1 before continuing with the next breath cycle.  You can continue with the technique for a few minutes or until you feel that your anxiety spike has passed.  For best results I recommend practicing this technique daily.  If it’s too difficult to breathe in for 4 out for 8, change it to in for 3 and out for 6 or in for 2 and out for 4.  Make the breath count work for you so that it feels relaxing and inside of your comfort zone.  It shouldn’t feel like there’s any strain or force.
For this or any other private or one-to-one yoga lessons in Muswell Hill and the surrounding areas please contact Claire at info@clairesmithyoga.com
Statistics at the beginning of the article from Francessca Lopez – Associate Kingsley Napley.
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