Shelly Berry explores ways to help de-stress in the new year
Life can be pretty stressful. Work, family and relationships are demanding at the best of times but when things go wrong even the smallest setback sends us into a spin. We really need to start taking care of ourselves – and January is the perfect time to do it.
I’m not talking about the usual new years’ resolutions to lose weight or quit smoking, but taking care of our mental wellbeing – something I realised I wasn’t doing about two years ago. Since then, I’ve deployed a range of tactics to keep my emotional health ticking over.
I discovered yoga years ago but, after some time away, dug out my yoga mat shortly after moving to Walthamstow last year. These days I swear by it.
“You have to find what works for you,” my local yoga teacher Hayley explains. “However, if we don’t address the body’s mental and physical patterning, it doesn’t really have a hope of changing.”
Hayley counters my frustration at my body with understanding and humour. And she asks her students to pay only what they can afford.
“The accessibility of yoga is something I am really passionate about. I want everyone to feel able to access it, because it’s magic.”
While my weekly yoga class leaves my body looser, my mental wellbeing sometimes needs a more in-depth intervention. By chance I met Jim, who is qualifying as a ‘human givens’ counsellor. He needed a few guinea pigs to try his techniques on.
“It’s as the name implies – what we can say for certain about being human,” he explains. “We have physical and emotional needs as well as innate resources to get those needs met. We help people identify what needs are lacking and find ways to meet them.”
While I found the school’s explanation of emotional problems enlightening, it was the visualisations that were most reassuring. Along with techniques to relieve tension, I left our last session believing I could manage my emotional health.
“People often think something must be really wrong with them. Explaining their reactions are very normal can give hope for recovery,” Jim assures.
“We aim to make people feel better from the beginning and a majority significantly improve in only four sessions. People can get on with their lives sooner – an amazingly wonderful thing to contribute to.”
When I learned my friend Vicky trained as a reiki healer, I wasn’t surprised – we regularly had conversations about her spiritual journey.
“‘Reiki’ is Japanese for ‘universal life energy’,” Vicky tells me. “It refers to energy that nourishes all living things. Sometimes it is disrupted, causing imbalance.”
When she offered to check out my chakras – “the body’s energy centres” – I couldn’t resist. I was astonished she picked up on blockages where I too had felt resistance. Even more intriguing, these chakras related to areas of my life that were causing me difficulty.
“You might feel less stressed or that you sleep more deeply,” Vicky advises. “Lots of people feel an emotional weight has been lifted from their shoulders as their body rebalances.”
If it all goes wrong again, I know who I’ll be calling. However, with my weekly yoga fix with Hayley, a toolbox of techniques from Jim, and Vicky just a tube stop away, I don’t think it will.
For more information on yoga:
For more information on human givens:
For more information on reiki: