for world mental health day we speak to kyle gray
Recent studies show, there is a direct link between the gut and mental health, as well as looking after your gut bacteria to help stress and anxiety, we wanted to find some other tips and tools to help cope with mental health problems. We have been following Kyle and his work for a while and knew he'd be the perfect person to ask.
Kyle Gray is an international five times best selling author who is a rising star of the mind, body, spirit books boom. Sell out inspirational speaker, Kyle Gray is at the helm of the mindfulness mega-trend. This Lululemon ambassador is a trained yoga and meditation expert. He runs his business, The Zen Den on UK shores, but brings his knowledge to an international audience via his newest book. Published by Hay House, Light Warrior is out in October and available for pre-ordering on Amazon today.
HOW TO BE A MIND WARRIOR
In an always-on world of increasing pressure – it can be very easy to become overwhelmed by stress. Right now, more and more people find themselves battling stress and depression and many are too embarrassed to even talk about it. Wellbeing figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that overall satisfaction with health - including mental health - is on the decline. Between 2013 and 2014, 44.6% of people said they were mostly or completely satisfied with it, down from 46.4% the year before.
In honour of World Mental Health Day – here are some essential tips and tools that will help to equip you when the going gets tough. It’s important to share that when things get overwhelming and you are feeling mental and emotional pressure – you are not alone and you are not weird, you are human.
A Mind Warrior – is anyone who is willing to overcome the challenges they face mentally and emotionally. It doesn’t mean you’ve completely healed or ‘fixed’ what may feel like the problem or issue – it’s more you are daily doing the internal work to help you feel strong and because it takes a lot of courage – you are a warrior.
With yoga, meditation, mindfulness and spirituality on the rise often we’ll feel drawn to these classes to help us overcome our challenges but often the biggest constraint is time. Here are easy and accessible ideas that you can try out to support and nurture your wellbeing – you can choose the ones that feel best appropriate for you.
FEEL THE FEELINGS
In many spiritual traditions and within yoga – our emotions are known as messengers. They are not YOU, but more an expression of how you feel. Often when we feel an emotion we often want to run from it and essentially we suppress it (lock it in) and this is when further problems can arise.
Taking time to acknowledge how you feel – good or bad, high or low – can help you to be more in tune with yourself, so when there’s a change coming or you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed by something, you’ll be able to nip it in the bud much sooner.
Exercise: Set a timer on your phone for 5 minutes and either sit up or lay down – just take 5 mins to acknowledge how you feel and what’s going on. This is essentially mindfulness meditation – plain and simple.
SAY “NO” WHEN YOU NEED TO
Often the biggest cause of stress at home and in work is when we’re feeling that we need to do more than we thought. The pressure of someone needing us or needing something from us can be just too much to take. The biggest challenge with this is most of the time we are feeling the need to prove ourselves (at work) or feel obliged to say “yes” (at home) and this can send us into a downward spiral.
If you are feeling the pressure and you know that this favour or request could possibly send you over the edge – SAY “NO”. You can say it in a loving / supportive / professional way and if you’re honest right from the start of how you feel or the workload you have it’s probably going to make things so much easier for you all along the way.
Here’s a suggested response from one of my corporate coaching sessions:
“Thank you for this request to help with this project but right now I can’t help you with that. I am currently overwhelmed by the pressure of my own deadlines and this could contribute to a pressure that could be damaging to my mental health. So right now I am going to have to say no to you so I can step up with the best of my ability with my current focuses. Thank you for understanding.”
When my project manager client used this recently – the response they received was sincere and supportive. Use a positive approach and you’ll be understood.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR BIGGEST FEAR
FEAR is a big word. Most of us are terrified of our innermost fears materialising. One powerful way to overcome a fear or a concern is just taking time to acknowledge it. In my new book, Light Warrior, I retell the following story, which illustrates my point perfectly:
One day the Buddha was meditating in a hillside cave. He was going deep.
Outside the cave, one of his devotees was keeping watch. Everything was fine until he saw a demon called Mara coming up the hill.
‘Uh-oh,’ he said.
He began to figure out how he could keep Mara from the Buddha. ‘Maybe I’ll tell him he’s out for lunch,’ he thought. ‘Or he’s away shopping.’
Soon he was so lost in his thoughts that he was surprised when he felt something breathing down on him. He looked up.
There was Mara in all of his demonic glory.
Now Mara, as you might imagine, wasn’t exactly a handsome looker. He was a demon and his tongue was out, he had blue skin and to be honest he was quite frightening.
‘C-c-c-can I help you?’ the guard asked.
‘I’m here to see the “Buddha”,’ Mara replied, rolling his eyes and making inverted commas with his hands.
The guard didn’t know what to say. Then he was interrupted.
‘Let him in,’ came a strong voice from within the cave. It was the Buddha.
Mara entered the cave and stood before the Buddha, who was sitting in the lotus position.
‘I see you, Mara. I see you,’ he said.
He looked at Mara right in the eye. Right down the barrel. He wasn’t scared. He acknowledged him. He conversed with him. He accepted him. He allowed him to be there and found comfort in his presence.
You can write about your concerns in a journal or even better communicate your concern to a friend, colleague or loved one. Just taking time to share how you feel about something or sharing your fear at this time can begin to open up the conversation that can lead you to a resolution. It’s not outrageous to be open – you’ll probably find you have more concerns and fears in common than you think.
MOVE YOUR BODY
There are studies to show that having a regular exercise regime can have a positive mental impact on our lives. Taking the opportunity to go to a class or the gym gives us an ability to ‘get away’ and ‘take space’ from whatever is going on that could be stressful and often the time we take away allows us to have more clarity when we return.
Even if you’re stuck for time or haven’t got a gym membership there are a bunch of dance, yoga and movement classes available online. Even taking time to go for a walk in nature or around the park will give you some breathing space so that you don’t have to be stuck right in the middle of something.
ACKNOWLEDGE A HIGHER POWER
You don’t have to be religious to have a higher power and the higher power doesn’t have to be connected to a religion – it’s just an opportunity to remember you are not on your own. In the 12-step program including Emotions Anonymous – step number 2 is acknowledging a higher power. For many the higher power can be God, The Universe or even a deceased loved one that we can send a thought or prayer up to. For me the higher power I reach out to most is a Guardian Angel. I love the idea that there is this intelligent being that comes with me every step of the way and just taking a moment to acknowledge that I am never alone can make me feel so loved and supported.
Maybe you like the idea of speaking to a higher power – maybe you don’t – if not consider the higher power being the strongest most intelligent aspect of yourself. It doesn’t have to be up in the stars – it can be the courageous you within the centre of your heart.
Here’s a suggested prayer:
“Thank you (higher power name you feel comfortable using) for reminding me of my strength and that I am never alone!”