Strike a Pose – A Look at Yogic Philosophy

Strike a Pose – A Look at Yogic Philosophy

Reading Time: 9 minutes

 

Millions of people around the world practice Yoga every day, and in the West (and increasingly in the East) this largely means they are following a regime of exercise, stretching and relaxation. This is great of course – physical health is very important. However, champions of “traditional” Yoga would say that Yoga can offer much more than flexibility and a figure for Spandex – they talk of the Big notions of liberation and enlightenment. Say what??!

It may come as a surprise, but Yoga is actually a spiritual tradition, which seeks to bestow happiness and inner freedom rather than health and flexibility on its practitioners. When most people speak about “Yoga” these days they are really referring to “asana” (yoga postures), which is only one component of a true Yoga practice. Perhaps disappointingly, the asanas may be considered the easy part of Yoga – but then again, the benefits bestowed by asana of health and fitness (while pretty good in themselves) are eclipsed by the benefits that can be gained by delving deeper into the practice of Yoga.

If tackling the Big notions appeals to you, read on….

The word Yoga in Sanskrit is often translated as “union”. This refers to the union of the human soul with the Supreme Spirit (or God, or Goddess or the Universe – whatever appeals to you and your personal belief system), to attain enlightenment. Enlightenment is the capacity to experience reality directly without the intervention and distortion of mental constructs.

Around 2000 years ago an Indian scholar named Patanjali wrote a text called the Yoga Sutras, which is widely considered to be the foundation of classical Yoga theory and practice. In this work, Patanjali investigates the mind, the way we normally use it, and the way we experience ourselves and the world. He explains that our minds do not see reality as it really is; instead we see reality through the projection of personal preference. This means that our thoughts fall into two main categories – “I like it” and “I don’t like it”. We filter every perception through our own polarity of attraction or avoidance.

The problem with this way of using our minds, is that it is the root cause of a great deal of suffering. It prevents us from seeing our true nature, as one with the universe. It takes a great deal of self-discipline to put this way of thinking aside and see reality objectively. Life becomes simpler, richer, and more “in the moment” when we opt for reality instead of projection.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras give us the tools to free ourselves from the compulsions of an ordinary mind, in the form of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. The Eight Limbs are set out in a numbered list because they are steps in a sequential path to elevated growth, like climbing a ladder. These Eight Limbs are:

  1. Yama (ethics)
  2. Niyama (clear mental state)
  3. Asana (postures – the one we know and love)
  4. Pranayama (conscious breathing)
  5. Pratyahara (mindful sense experience)
  6. Dharana (concentration – contemplation)
  7. Dhyana (still-mind meditation)
  8. Samadhi (understanding enlightenment)

 

Yamas are ethical principles that should be followed if we intend to connect with ourselves, the Universe and the Spirit. The five universal moral principles mentioned by Patanjali are non-violence, truth, non-stealing, self-control and non-coveting.

Niyamas are observances that help us move towards our goal of liberation. The aim is self-purification through discipline, but it is not about making oneself more virtuous than other people.

Asanas are postures to create physical wellness and eliminate restlessness, to help facilitate an undisturbed meditation. They are also used as a tool of self-discovery, in that they challenge you to confront yourself. Mastery of form is not the ultimate goal – don’t approach your mat with the aim of “getting” that difficult pose. Instead, during each pose try to find a place inside yourself where your whole being is awakened, where you allow and accept all feelings and emotions. The challenge is to avoid disempowering yourself by interacting with the mental noise in your head – those thoughts that you aren’t doing it right or aren’t strong enough to hold the pose. Allow the fears and feelings to arise and let them go, rather than resisting them. Accept totally what is and what is not. Drop all judgement, just simply acknowledge what is.

Pranayama is the rhythmic control of breathing. It is a meditative discipline, in that the aim is to achieve a stronger and more stable sense of self. It’s just an added bonus that it also strengthens the muscles of the respiratory system and reduces stress.

Pratyahara is sometimes described as a withdrawal of the mind from the senses, but it is more about not projecting our preferences onto the world, and not creating a world in our head that doesn’t exist in reality.  It creates a sense of inner tranquillity, which is an appropriate base for a meditation practice.

Dharana is training the mind in complete attention. It is also a recognition that objects are empty of the significance and structure that we think defines them.

Dhyana is still-mind meditation, which is not about visualisation or a pleasant relaxation. Rather, it is attempting to slow the thought waves of the mind to a stop – it is a very disciplined practice of “no thought”. With no thought, there is no notion of “me”. The constant activity of the mind must stop, for enlightenment to start.

Samadhi is a state of altered awareness that comes from the effort made in the previous seven areas. It is a state of unutterable peace and joy (sounds good, doesn’t it?) that is experienced when one’s individual consciousness is reunited with the One consciousness.

The Yoga Sutras are not religious doctrines and Yoga itself is not a religion. Although Yoga has long been associated with the three great religious-cultural traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, it is not necessary for a Yoga practitioner to believe in anything other than their own potential to transform themselves and transcend the ego. Yoga can put us in touch with our spiritual core and be used to deepen whatever personal faith we have, if we so wish.

I hope that next time you are on your mat, you might approach your practice with some of this information in mind. If this is all new for you and it has sparked an interest in the traditional moorings of Yoga, I highly recommend reading any of the vast number of translations and commentaries that are available on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. I great one that I can recommend is “True Yoga” by Jennie Lee, which I picked up from Watkins Books in London last time I was there, or anything by Georg Feuerstein, a huge proponent of traditional Yoga.

Namaste!

 

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Teach Your Child – There Is A Wealth in Languages

Teach Your Child – There Is A Wealth in Languages

Reading Time: 18 minutes

 

It is beneficial to teach your child multiple languages from the moment they are born, even if you aren’t fluent in the other languages you’re instilling in them. As I have lived in multiple countries and travel regularly, I’ve often said that in today’s world, true power comes not from position, but in the ability to communicate. Why wouldn’t we give our kids a leg up to be able to wield that power?


As the world grows smaller thanks to the Internet, satellite offices, shared work spaces, multi-culturalism, people marrying across racial, religious and geographical lines, etc., this issue of languages spoken (or not spoken, as the case may be) is at the forefront of how we navigate the world we live in now more than ever before.

We understand that work, life and love opportunities are not limited to our home soil. Rather, we are aware that those opportunities are spread throughout the globe – as far and wide, in fact, as the Internet (and low cost airlines) can take us.

 

 

Equipping our children with the tools to communicate in more than one language gives them a boost in life, and opens up entirely new places for them to explore – not just for personal enrichment, cultural exploration and sampling great new cuisines – but for job opportunities as well. In fact, even the businesses in your very own hometown often now require multiple languages to be spoken by employees, because partnerships with companies outside of our bubble are more and more common.

Language is the currency of the world, and the more you speak, the richer you are.

Some countries require their children to study more than one language in school for this very reason, but often that curriculum kicks in later than is ideal for a developing mind. The conclusion one can draw is that the best way to do this is at home from day one. Growing up bilingual used to only happen to children of that rare couple who spoke more than one language at the home, or if you grew up in a place where a minor dialect was spoken. Due to family units increasingly coming from a variety of backgrounds, this is happening more frequently, but surprisingly not as much as you might expect.

 

 

At this point, few people dispute that speaking multiple languages is an asset, which means that instead of asking “should we do this,” the question really becomes “how should we do this?” As someone who is only fluent in English, yet is part of a family (my husband, my daughter and myself) in which we regularly and consistently speak three different languages, I had to ask this question myself. There are many opinions as to what the right approach is to teaching your child multiple languages. Through research, conversation, interviews and my own observation over the last 21 months of raising my little girl, I can now definitively say that the only right way is to simply commit to doing it, without excuses. Everything else is just rhetoric.

A bit of background, so you understand where I’m coming from. I grew up in America only speaking English, even though my mother is from Taiwan and English is her third language (Taiwanese is her first and Mandarin Chinese is her second). I regretted being unable to communicate with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, let alone the rest of the Taiwanese people, every time I went to Taiwan as a child, which we did quite often. I decided to move to Taiwan and learn Chinese when I finished university, which I did. Unfortunately I never quite became fluent, and having been gone from Taiwan for 13 years prior to having my own child (and rarely speaking it with my mother even after learning it), my Chinese got worse and worse. Even so, I vowed to teach Chinese to my baby, to give her that part of her culture that was never given to me. Plus, what a useful language to know!

 

 

But how was I supposed to do this? When Xena was born, I started speaking Chinese with her immediately. It was fairly easy, and helped me refresh my Chinese, which at this point was barely above a beginner level. One word at a time, we learned together. Since she wasn’t communicating back, my limited Chinese skills were plenty sufficient. I pointed to a dog and said “gou” with as convincing a Chinese accent as I could muster, and she nodded and smiled. I was a genius.

As she’s gotten older, and has started speaking herself, it’s become more difficult for me. More and more, I’ve been coming across vocabulary I don’t have (thank you, Google Translate!), realizing I don’t know the correct grammar for a sentence, etc. Realizing I had to stay one step ahead of the baby at every turn, I downloaded multiple Chinese language apps and practiced daily. Once she had the attention span to watch videos, I only let her watch them in Chinese (or Hebrew, my husband’s language). We got books in Chinese and I re-learned with her.

 

My husband’s Hebrew is fluent though not native, as his native Hebrew-speaking Israeli mother also chose to favor English at home with him as a baby (it was a common thing in 1980s America). He lived on and off in Israel throughout his life, and served in the Israeli Army, so now he’s able to communicate fairly flawlessly. He speaks Hebrew to our baby and has since birth.

Conventional wisdom states that a baby needs to be exposed to a language 30% of the time in order to learn it, thus allowing for 3 or 4 languages to be learned (30+30+30+10). I primarily speak Chinese with her, my husband speaks Hebrew with her, and my husband and I speak English to each other. The baby is 21 months, understands each language and speaks all three. It really is fascinating to watch her soak up each word and retain them all, while recognizing that multiple words mean the same thing in different languages.

We spend a good portion of the year traveling around Europe for work, so she’s heard a variety of other languages since she was two months old, including Bulgarian, Hungarian, French, Spanish and German. She definitely prefers Spanish (her eyes light up when she hears it spoken and she’ll stop whatever she’s doing to look around and find the source), so we have decided to introduce that as language number 4, the language that uses the last 10% of the language learning capacity. Who knows if this current information is true, but it seems to make sense to us, and – not at all shockingly – she now peppers in the occasional Spanish word or phrase alongside her trio of languages, while not replacing any of the words she already knows. We want to continue to focus on four languages as a baby/toddler, with the idea that this exposure will help bolster her brain to be able to pick up an endless number of languages as she grows up and continues to develop.

 

 

We’ve been met with a surprising amount of criticism along the way, however, but we are undeterred and sticking to our guns. The progress we’re seeing is simply undeniable, and – frankly, even if there was no proof – sometimes you have to trust your gut.

Interestingly, the criticism comes mostly from family members, and the occasional know-it-all. We’ve heard a plethora of comments, such as:

“You shouldn’t speak a language with your baby unless you’re a native speaker.”

“You’ll give them bad habits and a bad accent.”

“Why are you speaking Chinese/Hebrew with her? That’s odd.”

“You’ll confuse the child.”

“That’s too many languages.”

“You’re not consistent enough.”

“They will start to speak later.”

“They’ll have difficulty communicating in preschool when they don’t speak the same language as others.”

“It’ll make her life more difficult.”

“They don’t need (insert language here). English is enough.”

 

Sadly, I could go on.

We’ve also been given this well-meaning piece of advice often: “The most important thing is that you be consistent in which language each parent speaks, so that they only associate one language with one parent, and make sure you consistently speak only that language.”

 

 

To be clear, I don’t claim to be an expert in linguistics, nor in child development. I know what I know, what I research and what I see myself. Thus far, as I said, the results speak for themselves, and we’re pleased. She said her first word at seven months (“Duck!” in English), and has been a little chatterbox ever since, really grasping the individual languages at around 11 months when she started saying handfuls of new words each day. I stopped counting new words once she hit about a hundred in each of her three primary languages. Yes, I said each. At around 18 months, she started saying the same word in multiple languages (sometimes saying “doggie” in English, sometimes “kelev” in Hebrew, and other times “gou” in Chinese). She recognizes that they all mean the same thing. She picks and chooses which language she wants to use and when she wants to use it, but she understands all three. It’s hard to argue with that.

In response to any criticism, I say that if a child has no problem communicating his or her needs and wants, then it seems to be working, despite us not doing it the way you would have done it.

 

 

Yes, there can be ramifications to the decision to introduce multiple languages early on, but said ramifications are neither positive nor negative. For instance, it can happen that a multilingually raised child can begin speaking later than normal (whatever “normal” means). Others can confuse the various languages towards the beginning of their learning cycle until they sort them out. In both of these cases, we’re talking about things that happen when they are still young and meant to be developing. Normally, even in severe cases, by the time they pass toddler age, they’re over it. And let’s be real – while we love listening to our children talk, they haven’t developed enough to the point where what they’re saying is going to be deep and profound. The things kids say in the first couple years of their life mostly serve as cute memories, videos and stories for us… not for them. Even if they do fall into the small percentage of children who experience one of the above situations (or any other), the benefits that come with the skills they’ve acquired once they finish going through that period are tremendous. Bluntly, trading the long-term benefits of language skills, cultural connectivity and brain development for us being able to hear some cute phrases we can laugh about later on is selfish, and nothing but. And most of the time, you still get the cute phrases… now you just get them in multiple languages!

 

As for the advice I get regarding consistency, or of having the child associate one language consistently with one parent, both my husband and I do our best, but – beyond not being native speakers – I can’t help but learn Hebrew as my husband is spouting it all day, and he, vice versa, is learning Chinese, so we slip into each other’s language occasionally, without even thinking about it. We jokingly say that our family speaks Chebrish, because sometimes one sentence will include all three languages. And lately, four! Xena doesn’t seem to mind.

I readily admit that it’s been challenging for me to keep speaking Chinese with her, but I won’t stop, and neither will my husband with his Hebrew. We won’t, because we believe we’re doing our child a service, not a disservice. Even if my grammar has flaws, or my accent isn’t perfect, and that gets passed down to her initially, she will have a foundation in the language, which is better than not speaking the language at all. Once she gets a little older and we enroll her in a Chinese “school” and a Hebrew “school” (at that age, they will be more like playgroups), she will start to evolve that foundation into something more organic. This should naturally help mitigate the accent, grammar and vocabulary issues that I unintentionally instilled in her early on.

 

 

As for worrying about confusing Xena, I’m not at all worried. I see her grasp each language and say more words every day. I watch as she plays with children who don’t speak any of her languages and they get along just fine. I know when she goes to school, she’ll be able to figure out which language to use with her peers, just like she’s figured out to say “dobre den” when we’re in Bulgaria, “shalom” when we’re in Israel and “adios” when we’re in Spain.

I’m just not stressing about it. I think that the “consistency” that we give her at home will be enough to help her figure things out in her little, but powerful, brain. Remember, babies are born with the maximum number of neurons they ever have throughout their life. At three years old, babies’ brains more than double in size, but they go through what’s called a synaptic pruning, which means that even though their brains are now bigger, they have less neurons firing. This is why early development matters, and why it’s recommended to introduce multiple languages early. In fact, the fastest rate of human brain development occurs between the ages of zero and three, so hurry!

 

 

Of course, research and science are ever-changing, and each human is different. Being a parent means knowing your child and assessing what they’re capable of. It also means being able to really pay attention and observe in order to see what does and does not work for your specific offspring. Babies and toddlers are capable of so much – far more than people give them credit for. Let’s give them a chance, and they will learn as many languages as we possibly can teach them.

 

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The Wedding Breakfast – A Unique Celebration Turned on it’s Head

The Wedding Breakfast – A Unique Celebration Turned on it’s Head

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

As I flew to the other side of the World to attend the Wedding of Gerry and Andrea Anderson last week, I enjoyed the celebration of their big day, as they turned convention on its head and shared the beauty of their uniqueness with their family and friends.

Both high profile professionals in the medical profession, Andrea and Gerry have met in their thirties and forties respectively and apart from the parallels of their work, are compatible in so many ways and share so many strengths.

Both embrace Buddhist values, and so decided to recite their carefully chosen vows together, which touched upon sensitive subjects of sexuality and substance abuse – they are both T total by choice, and perhaps at having witnessed the effects of alcohol and drugs in their work this also came into play.

Andrea and Gerry unashamedly selected to keep the Wedding Celebration an alcohol free occasion, which seemed perfect as an early morning event, and the guests mingled beautifully, reflecting the magic of the day, and respecting the couple’s strength in remaining true to themselves and their beliefs.

After the heartfelt ceremony which was conducted on the mouth of the Mersey River, and just after The Spirit of Tasmania made its gloriously majestic swerve toward Melbourne, the Wedding Party were directed to just a few yards away towards the skilfully laid Breakfast table where we were served the most sumptuous Wedding Breakfast.   Pancakes with fresh fruit and smoothies, followed by sunny side eggs and smashed avocado on toast and copious amounts of coffee and a variety of tea and soft drinks.

The choice of riverside Harbourmaster Café was as a result of their confidence in Leigh Murphy the owner, who they knew would deliver a great banquet with personality, and he did not disappoint.  Andrea and Gerry had both enjoyed previous visits to the café and knew that the venue would provide the pure ambiance of the location that they envisioned for their celebration.

Many of the guests commented on the brilliance of the occasion, and nobody questioned the unorthodox detail as it seemed perfect for the couple whose honesty reflected a purity of spirit that rippled through the gathering and shone a light upon the day.

I am hoping that upon reading this article it will certainly give you food for thought when planning a Wedding for yourself or a friend or offspring, to overlook the norm, and explore the individuality of the couple in question, as did Andrea and Gerry.

I don’t mean that you should fly to the other side of the World to get married, or even go further than your own back yard, but to stay true to yourself or the couple in question takes courage.

It is true that you may have to make brave choices, as there are so many social and family pressures involved, but if you have the confidence and maturity to stick to your guns, there is no doubt that your guests will admire your resolve and respect your decision not to be rocked by convention.

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Power Dressing – Show ’em Who’s Boss

Power Dressing – Show ’em Who’s Boss

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

What image does Power Dressing conjure up for you?  For many it says Joan Collins with massive shoulder pads in Dynasty, or smart black business suits coupled with an expensive Designer hand bag or briefcase.

But Power Dressing really began thousands of years ago when females lead countries and commanded armies.  Think Boudicca and Cleopatra in their splendid metallic regalia – pure power dressing, and letting everyone know who is boss.

We are also seeing a lot of less obvious power dressing with females, who have abandoned their suits and stilettos for more comfortable attire, even donning a pair of designer jeans and converses with a white T and leather biker jacket, to present the image of ‘cool’ and ‘in control’.

milivanily / Pixabay

But it gets more complicated than that as we are now examining our own individual ‘brand’ to see how we can spell it out with what we wear.  The acceptance of the Selfie has given us narcissistic freedom to proceed.

A recent meeting with a head honcho at a global organisation said it all as she sported her new high shoulder tattoo, exclaiming that if anyone dared question her (and they hadn’t), then they were attacking the very essence of what she was about, her soul essence, and she was not going to accept any internal interference on her own concept.

Another meeting was attended with a top PR Executive with blue and purple highlights and colour co-ordinated earrings in her many ear piercings.  Perhaps this is more acceptable as the Public Relations industry is more artistic, but more and more women in powerful corporate jobs are bucking the trend and creating their own imagery, and wearing what makes them tick.

This brings up the question of social background, where bright colours are often frowned upon in certain circles, and will determine the colour or design of the outfit you wear for the job.  I always believe anything ending in ‘ology’ have set rules, and ethically sourced raw materials and basic colours are ‘uniform’ and separate the highly trained and paid professionals from the minions.  So they have their own code of ‘power dressing’, where the receptionist may want to oppose the ‘dowdy’ main players with a sexy short skirt and thigh high boots, their own kick back at convention, and a sharp reminder that their power resides in their feminine attributes, which they chose not hide under bland blankets of billowing beige.

We are talking about the snobbery that goes with the territory, and we are certainly more prone to it in this country, where the rules have been set in stone, but we still have a long way to go to break them down completely.

Take the colours of Mexico for instance, where the National Dress is multi-coloured.  Imagine walking into a board room with a dazzling dress all colours of the rainbow.  We just wouldn’t be taken seriously, as this look has always been saved for holidays in hotter climes.   But why not flaunt our inner flamenco dancer to get us through the tedious ramblings of the board room – it has certainly become the ‘bored’ room as it is attended by far too many males with their relentless banter of premiership.

prunkova / Pixabay

It will be interesting to observe the development of the self-branding process that already exists and how that will be adapted to all professions as we progress over the next decade, after all fashions change, so why hold back on Power Dressing which is one of our best weapons.

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Have an Adventure and Follow Your Dream

Have an Adventure and Follow Your Dream

Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

As January confirms the new year and Christmas is a distant memory, a lot of us will be planning our holiday for either ourselves or with the family.

You may feel restricted by pets or children, but that should not be an excuse for something a little bit ‘outside the box’, even if in this country.  Have an adventure, not just a holiday.

mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

So let’s start with kids and pets – how about hiring a Campervan and driving to some of the more rural parts of Scotland the Cornish coast, there are some exciting places to discover,  – fabulous dog walks and brilliant kids activities and prevent them from being bored.   You can also check into one of the child and pet friendly cottages across the country which are geared to give you everything you need for a family break.

peagreenbean / Pixabay

Check out Waterside Breaks www.watersidebreaks.co.uk – a family run business – and speak with owner Tim Wells who will give you personal advice on where to go and what to do when you are there.  They really do some excellent ‘bespoke’ packages, with no time spared in talking you through your options.

If you have teenagers and have trouble in keeping them entertained then consider a teenager friendly vacation in Croatia with Responsible Travel, www.responsibletravel.co.uk. This is the perfect Family multi activity holiday. Set on the Adriatic sea, sits the stunning Croatia. A hugely varied country with isolated islands, sweeping meadows, vineyards & crystal clear rivers.

Based along the Split Riviera, 30 minutes from Split Airport, you’ll have access to many wonderful pristine areas from gushing rivers & canyons to stunning beaches and old towns. Your adventure base has swimming pool, sun terrace, wifi throughout, rattan loungers and is minutes walk to the beach.

KatarzynaTyl / Pixabay

It’s the perfect family active holiday location, to enjoy a wide selection of land & water activities. Try: sea kayaking, white water rafting, cycling, easy panoramic walks, and canyoning! They are extremely good at age/gender matching – just ask the travel manager. They will always try to bring like minded families together.

Experience nature up close, both enjoying the tranquillity of the area and enjoying the rush of adventure activities.

If you like the idea of an authentic holiday experience, where each day offers exciting adventures, great Croatian cuisine and stunning scenery – then you’ve found your dream trip! Just read the reviews of returning guests.

If you want to go further afield, and really want to ‘travel adult only’, then why don’t you fulfil that lifelong ambition and go on one of the adventure holidays from www.exodus.co.uk.

We spotted a great one in Botswana, a country very close to the hearts of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who reportedly fell in love in this romantic country.  Check these out and see if it ticks any boxes for you.

Botswana is a vast, sparsely populated country, mostly desert but with the most prolific wetlands in Africa. Holidays in Botswana are thrilling, and it’s well worth the effort required to reach some of its more remote places. The reserves of Chobe, Savuti, the prolific Moremi and the unique Okavango Delta are sensational, both in the summer, for birds especially, and in the dry autumn, winter and spring months, for bigger game. It is the largest elephant corridor in the world and the herds along the Chobe River can number in their thousands. The Okavango is the biggest inland delta anywhere; paddling through its reed-lined channels in a Mokoro (dugout canoe), watching the pristine wilderness slip by, is a most memorable experience.

jeanvdmeulen / Pixabay

Or why not try a Tailormade Adventure?

They can tailor almost any holiday to suit you, perfect if you’d like to change the dates, itinerary, or simply want a private adventure with a group of friends, family or fellow enthusiasts. All Tailormade Adventures still get a local guide where appropriate and all the other Exodus benefits. So if you’d like to celebrate your birthday at the top of a mountain, or visit a particular beach, let them know your dates, and they will do the rest.

To find out more visit Exodus to arrange your own Tailormade Experience or call: 0203 733 4849

rawpixel / Pixabay

 

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ANTIDEPRESSANTS – A BITTER PILL TO SWALLOW

ANTIDEPRESSANTS – A BITTER PILL TO SWALLOW

Reading Time: 1 minute
Last year saw a significant increase in the number of women being prescribed antidepressants – with more than a one hundred percent increase in the past decade. Women have historically been known to multi-task far better than men, and the juggling act of work/lifestyle balance is always a challenge and can lead us into feeling inadequate and not being good at either.  But are the pressures imposed by Society really a reason or even an excuse for the increase in this type of drug dependency? I could give you more facts and figures, but if it helps will give you two contrasting case studies that may throw some light on it for you.   The first case study is a woman of 40 called Gemma who has had a successful career, but suddenly loses her husband to cancer, she then has a freak accident on a walking holiday, and breaks her ankle – two months later she is made redundant from her job of twenty years.  She is immediately prescribed anti-depressants by her Doctor and refuses them, realising that they will only deaden the pain and demotivate her.  Gemma makes the choice to re-evaluate her life and start out on a new path, which she has done successfully without the help of anti-depressants. The second case is a younger woman called Sarah who has had a highly pressured six months running her new business, and still has huge potential but cannot cope with the demands that are thrown at her.  She immediately requests anti-depressants to reduce her stress and is now emotionally dependent on them.   Sarah has tried to come off them, and has been recommended to do so gradually by her GP, but as she reduces the dose she became uncontrollably anxious, and cannot cope without them.  Her appetite has disappeared and her weight loss is worrying. You really cannot compare the problems of the two women, but the personalities differ in that Gemma who has the bigger issues is more prepared to cope, and does not take the easy option, whereas Sarah feels she can’t deal with the inevitable stresses of running a new business. Perhaps it is all too easy these days to succumb to the more available remedy of numbing the pain, but without the bigger picture of how it will ultimately lead to a dependency which is far more damaging. In both cases there is an absence of serious mental health issues, and yet these remedies are still prescribed and recommended. Some practitioners say that the good outweighs the bad with these prescriptive remedies, but it is a debate worth having, even just for the sake of the next generation.  After all support groups and drug free counselling are better ways of overcoming stress than increasing the problem even more. As always at Glotime we are recommending that you take control of your life if possible, and again as the New Year kicks in you can consider the route of either Gemma or Sarah – the choice is yours.

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