During this current bushfire and climate emergency, it’s important to look after the holistic health of yourself and loved ones. The images, stories and devastating effects of the bushfires may leave you feeling heavy with emotions ranging from distress to grief to helplessness. All emotions are valid.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by these emotions, please seek mental health and counselling services if required, especially volunteers and communities directly affected by the bushfires.
WHO TO CONTACT (Australia)
⋆ Black Dog Institute | www.mycompass.org.au: The Black Dog Institute provides a 24-hour free mobile phone/computer-based programme to assist those with mild to moderate depression, anxiety and stress (myCompass)
⋆ Beyond Blue | www.beyondblue.org.au | 1300 22 4636: The Support Service runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are one-on-one with a trained mental health professional and completely confidential.
If you’d like some extra holistic support, here are a few of my favourite remedies for nervous system support and emotional healing:
o Ashwagandha is one of the most potent adaptogen herbs. Adaptogens are substances (a combination of amino acids, vitamins, and herbs) that modulate your response to stress or a changing environment. Adaptogens help the body cope with stresses on all levels – be it physical, mental or emotional.
o When anxious, your body actively eliminates magnesium, which is a catch 22, as a magnesium deficiency leads to releasing more stress hormones. Ensuring healthy levels of magnesium inhibits the stress response and increases the activity of your calming neurotransmitter gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), working brilliantly to reduce anxiety.
– B vitamins:
o B vitamins are also needed for your brain to produce several key anxiolytic neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin and GABA. The neurotransmitter adrenaline, and the adrenal hormone cortisol, are the primary drivers of stress in the body. B vitamins are required to synthesise both of these, with anxiety, therefore, increasing the body’s demands for these vitamins.
– Pranayama: Connect to the breath and take moments of mindfulness throughout the day:
o When you’re feeling stressed throughout the day, take a few minutes to focus on your breath. The thing is, you can’t negotiate with your stress. When you are in a heightened stress response (fight-or-flight mode), the amygdala takes over. The amygdala is part of the old brain whose purpose is survival. This part of the brain doesn’t understand language – we can’t tell ourselves to relax. What we need to do is shift the physiology to create a peaceful present, and the breath is a powerful way to do that. The breath is the link between the mind and the body. When you feel the stress building try taking long, slow, deep breaths for 2-3 minutes. This calms the mind quite quickly and stops the stress response in its tracks.
o Take time out each day, twice a day, to meditate. This provides a chance for the nervous system to self-regulate and allows for moments of peace and calm in the chaos. This is one of the most important things you can do to stay centred, present and balanced.