I’m sure we’ve all at some point or other felt under pressure or experienced stress, and have faced unique experiences we haven’t previously had to deal with. On top of the already challenging and busy modern lives we live, this year has thrown additional uncertainty at us.
Many of us are guilty of being on autopilot, not thinking twice about what we’re doing. The pressure put on us as a result of factors such as work, looking after family or socialising can put an enormous strain on our bodies and minds. This is on top of the pressure we put on ourselves to live a certain way.
This is why this time of year is important for me, and encourages me more than any other time to concentrate on how I’m feeling, and to appreciate the smaller things in life like reading a book in front of the fire, cooking a tasty, nutritious meal, taking a walk around my local area, as well as practicing a little yoga.
Wake up and smell the coffee
I feel lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world, and taking a walk around my home in Dyffryn Nantlle, towards Nantlle lake and down to the slate quarries always reminds me how amazing nature and its seasons is.
Since moving to the area recently, one of the things I most enjoy is swimming in the lake. Wild or open swimming is amazing for the soul and immediately makes you feel more positive. It’s crucial of course to take special care when swimming outdoors – open or wild swimming is very different to swimming in a pool. Undercurrent, water temperature, waves and an array of other factors makes it much more challenging. It’s certainly worth joining a local club or going with an expert, or at least going in a group before venturing into wild, natural water.
After swimming, when the weather is fair I like to practice a little yoga in front of the lake, taking advantage of what, in my opinion, is the most breath-taking view in the world.
Walking around the slate quarries is just as therapeutic, and from the top of Pen-yr-Orsedd quarry stunning views of the valley and Nantlle Ridge can be enjoyed. I love the amazing coffee smell coming from nearby Poblado Coffi, one of Wales’ best-known Artisan Coffee Roasters – and a treat for anyone who goes walking first thing in the morning in the area.
From seed to fork
It’s a good idea to eat as much healthy, vitamin-filled food as possible this time of the year. It’s also a good time to introduce quite heavy meals made of root vegetables, and drinks containing vegetables and spices such as ginger and turmeric, to help your immune system respond to the change in seasons.
Adapting my eating habits according to the seasons and buying organic produce locally is very important to me. Eating in this way enables me to connect with nature, and the earth’s natural patterns. The food that grows naturally during the different seasons reminds us that nature provides us with what we need, when we need it. In the winter, it’s vegetables that absorbs a lot of water from the ground, such as carrots, leeks and cabbages, which helps the earth by absorbing excess water during the wet months. They’re also perfect ingredients for meals to keep us warm during the cold weather.
Taking a break
My favourite way to help me adapt to the change in seasons and deal with mental health or stress issues is to practice yoga. I established SAIB, which is now an online yoga studio, to encourage people to take a break from their busy schedules and to do something which helps them feel stronger, physically, mentally and emotionally.
As well as the physical side of yoga, I’ve also learned a lot about the importance of breathing techniques, and the need to concentrate on your breathing as a way to control emotions. Regular practicing of yoga and concentrating on breathing, following Pranayama techniques, has given my health and confidence a significant boost, and has been a crucial tool to control my emotions and find the peace and harmony needed to respond to a busy, fast-paced life.
This is a taster session from the studio for you to complete in your own time. This session is suitable for all abilities and offers a mixture of physical exercise and breathing.