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INTERVIEWED BY SHANI KAPLAN
Lisa Horgan is a certified health coach and has been teaching yoga for over 10 years! She's extremely passionate about health and wellness and how each unique individual can incorporate daily practices into their lives to live it to the fullest. So, we thought it was a particularly great time to have a chat with her about the importance of self-care. Alright, let's get stuck in...
It is the most important job of all! The most effective way to take care of others and really contribute to this life in the most positive and impactful way possible is to take care of yourself first. If we’re depleted we have no capacity to contribute fully and if we’re sick we’re no good to anyone.
Awareness! The arrival of the internet has allowed for us to have all this knowledge about health and wellness. We read stories and get to see other people living in a way that’s really appealing and we naturally want a piece of that. At the tip of our fingers we can discover self-care strategies and alternative therapies that have the ability to radically change our lives, very cool when you think about it and really empowering.
Also we tend to complain a lot about the negative impact social media has on our mental health but we shouldn't ignore that the introduction of social media has also increased understanding of mental health and helped to decrease the stigma.
Themselves! I always encourage my clients to spend some quality time getting to know themselves intimately. Especially when going through a healing crisis, it’s natural to want to find the answers, so it’s common to become quite obsessed with consuming content online, books, podcasts, diet plans, anything that promises to make us feel better. However, in my experience, true healing and transformation comes from going inward. We need to relearn how to listen to ourselves.
A lot of the time we don’t have to do anything in order to heal but simply surrender to what is, to make the decision to take one day at a time, one moment at a time, and be truly present to what the body is trying to tell us. We are all our own best teachers and healers.
Yoga. Discovering a yoga practice that I loved had the biggest impact on my mental and physical health. Pre yoga I didn't have the right tools to help myself. What I did have was lots of negative coping mechanisms for my emotions - overeating, over-drinking, overthinking - to name a few! Initially, yoga enabled me to get out of my head and more into my body. From a physical stance, I became stronger and over time, my mind also became stronger and more balanced. I was able to handle external stressors with more clarity & ease and became way less triggered in general.
Yes and no. I believe that eating junky crappy food all the time would most certainly lead to health issues and doesn't lend itself well to an energised body. But food has become so demonized - especially in the yoga world, and with this wave of wellness we’re on, we give food way too much power. It’s okay to eat the odd chocolate bar and have a few beers, or eat that pizza if you really fancy it - and don't feel guilty, enjoy it! I’m not a fan of this whole clean-eating movement that's happening; food is food, it shouldn't be labelled dirty. I believe that those types of labels could be even more damaging than any physical impact those foods could possibly have.
Whole foods - foods that are the least processed; home-cooked food; food that doesn't come in a package or hasn’t been made in a factory; balanced out with the occasional indulgence. I do have a sweet tooth so in an attempt to keep that under control, I try to bake my own sweet treats like cake or cookies; at least that way I know what’s in it and will try to add a more nutritional element such as hemp seeds or CBD to my cookies. So, still a treat but also taking care of my body by giving it a little extra boost!
I also like to follow the 80% rule of whole foods then leave 20% for treats. I actually think what we’re not eating is the bigger problem. Pre-packaged and processed foods that are nutritionally void have become the norm and we’re missing essential everyday nutrients and all that lovely fibre that we get from consuming food eaten in their most natural form.
I believe that we all need to be consuming less of everything. In developed countries, we’ve become complete consumer machines, whilst the rest of the world live in pretty extreme poverty. We’ve lost sight of how good we have it and we’re always in search of more. This is taking its toll on our mental health and the health of our planet.
The drive to consume is a reflection of deep lacking within. Yoga teaches us the practice of non-attachment. It invites us to recognise that an accumulation of external stuff will never lead to lasting happiness. Bringing mindfulness to everything we consume from food to tech is an important practice and helps us to understand that we actually don't need much to be happy - in fact, too much has the opposite effect leading to dissatisfaction and the desire for more.
An awareness of mind-body connection is so important for mental health. Even calling it mental health is misleading as our minds are so intrinsically linked to our bodies. Our bodies are always communicating with us, and in fact, when we perceive an external threat we feel it in our body as a physical sensation first, the mind will process after. So the regular practice of getting in touch with our body and connecting with the breath is super important when it comes to personal wellbeing.
I try to stay off of tech as long as possible, at least take a moment and drink my coffee before reaching for my phone in the morning. I always make sure I have a big glass of water before I drink my coffee. Then I will move my body, even if it’s just a simple few yoga stretches to get things moving.
In the evening, same with tech - super important for me to come off any screen at least 2 hours before bed, otherwise I really struggle to sleep. Most evenings I will make myself a herbal tea and take my CBD then read until my eyes feel heavy. (I’m also prone to working very late on my laptop when work is busy, but I do pay for it the next day - I’m still learning!)
Compassion is built into us as human beings. I believe that it’s our natural state to feel compassion towards other beings. What happens is that sometimes we get caught up in our own fear and misunderstanding, which can lead to feelings of separation and anxiety. I’m noticing a lot of this play out as the world navigates COVID. Compassion comes from recognising ourselves in others - the more we can reach out to help others the more we come together, and the more we can come together the more fear will dissipate. Coming together will be the way we get through.
I love this quote, when this really sunk in it created so much freedom in my thinking - “I stopped explaining myself when I realised that people only understand things from their level of perception." It helps me to practice compassion and take conversations way less personally. We all come to the table with our own unique life experiences and we all have the right to our own opinions. If we all spent more time focused on our own wellbeing and less time trying to convince the world that we’re right, then we’d have a much more enjoyable experience in the relatively short time we have left on this beautiful planet.