Our brand is about balance and wellbeing, and we embrace the united goal to provide support, education and fight the associated stigma to ensure wellness and self-care is at the heart of everything we do. Earlier this month we hosted a LIVE conversation on our Instagram with registered Psychotherapist Lee Pycroft who specialises in advocating practical tools and coping mechanisms to support and optimise mental health. Lee has kindly written this blog which we hope you find both helpful and thought-provoking.
Many people strive to achieve rhythm and harmony in life - particularly with regards to emotional balance.
We are living in uncertain times and prolonged uncertainty can play havoc with many psychological needs, particularly safety, control and connection. Strong emotional arousal can block clear thinking. Then, the emotional brain runs the show. Logic and perspective are now backstage. This renders us viewing a challenge, for example, in all or nothing terms - in a black and white thinking style, where either conclusion limits perspective and possibility.
When we learn the different automatic states that we experience within our nervous system, we will be better equipped to respond to challenges with more emotional flexibility. The combination of awareness and action can be the balm that helps smooth the way to equilibrium and balance.
These next 4 insights will help get you started.
Know Where You Are.
Think of your nervous system as a ladder. At the top of the ladder is where you feel at your best. Secure, safe and engaged in life. There is a feeling of being connected to the world and the people in it. Here, you are joyful and empowered to handle life’s challenges. You feel seen, heard and valued. It feels like home.
In the middle of the ladder is where you feel stressed and your fight or flight response has been triggered. Here, fear is whispering to you. You feel anxious and overwhelmed. There could be a feeling of irritation and life feels unfriendly and chaotic.
At the bottom of the ladder is where an immobilised response kicks in. This results in a full shut down 'collapse response', where life feels hopeless and bleak or, on a subtler level, you might not be able to find your words, might go blank, or be unable to access your emotions as easily.
Ideally there is a gentle collaboration between these states and a pathway back to the top of the ladder. Intentionally recognising where you are residing at different times will help create awareness and this, along with having a plan to get you back ‘home’, will help make this achievable.
Notice What Triggers You.
Start to notice what your emotional triggers are, what you are doing and who you are with when you find yourself on a downward emotional spiral. When you start to notice those times then you can create some awareness around how you can interrupt the pattern with some helpful and nourishing actions that move you up the ladder. Creating awareness is the key to unlocking change.
Map Out the Home Run.
If a trigger is a cue to go into a survival state, then knowing what will bring you back ‘home’ to a window of tolerance is key. Ask yourself what helps you stay calm, joyful and feeling connected? Maybe it’s a relaxing bath or beauty ritual, a session of yoga or spending time with people you love. Make a note of those times so you know what they are. Learn some new coping skills that help you calm down. 7/11 breathing, for example, is highly effective and easy to do. Simply breathe in using your diaphragm for the count of seven, and breathe out for the count of 11. The longer outbreath commands your parasympathetic nervous system to relax, and will help you think more clearly.
Create A Jar of Joy
When triggered it can be difficult to remember what actions to take that will support you. Having a plan written down will enable you to remember what helps.
Try filling up a jar with all the actions you can take that help you feel soothed, empowered and engaged in your life. You can have fun creating it and each time you put the actions to use will help you achieve more emotional flexibility and the capacity to spend more time at the top of the ladder.
Here's to joy, connection, calm and enjoying the view.