Time to Unwind
Even in a tropical paradise, stress can be an issue. However idyllic the setting, there are still the demands of work and family, financial pressures and relationship responsibilities to contend with. REAL LIFE consulted David Keighley, director of Therapy Retreats Ltd, on the causes and strategies to combat stress on a Caribbean island.
Words by Natasha Were and David Keightley.
From childhood, people’s sense of ‘self’ has often been constrained by external factors, David explains. Between the demands of parents, the challenges of schooling and the desire to be accepted by our peers, we lose sight of who we really are and what we are really doing. Make time and space to focus on the ‘you’ you were meant to be, not the one others tried to make you.
BREATHING AND MEDITATION
Breathing exercises and meditation are a powerful way to calm the mind. When we experience stress our pulse accelerates and our breathing becomes faster and shallower. By consciously breathing slowly and deeply we can reverse these physiological reactions and induce a state of greater relaxation.
Yoga classes are a good way to combine physical activity with deep breathing and there is no shortage of options including rooftop or paddle board classes. Better still, regular meditation trains the mind to slow down, allowing us space to sort out what is causing anxiety and how we can deal with it.
Life is often lived in the fast lane, our thoughts dominated by future anxieties of what we need to do, or past regrets about what we have or have not done. Mindfulness, awareness, living in the ‘now’ – whatever you call it, if you can live fully in the present, past and future worries fade into the background.
One of the best ways to live in the now is to practice an activity or sport that demands your full physical and mental focus – think surfing, dancing, diving, even rock climbing - so that there is no room for other thoughts.
CONTACT WITH NATURE
The therapeutic effects of spending time in nature are well documented and accessing the great outdoors is never hard in Cayman. Numerous studies have found that proximity to the ocean induces feelings of calm.
It’s not only the soothing colour and the sound of waves lapping at the shore that relax us, but also the negative ions in sea air that reduce anxiety and depression. So take a beach walk, or even just sit and watch the sea, for an easy and immediate mental boost.
Many of the great thinkers and philosophers of the world have proclaimed the value of giving. Helping others doesn’t only make a difference to the recipients, it also benefits the giver: it creates a sense of purpose, puts one’s own troubles into perspective, shifts the focus away from the self to something greater than oneself, and gives one a sense of fulfilment.
Countless excellent charities and service organisations do sterling work throughout the islands, so whether it’s walking dogs, visiting the elderly or helping children in need, there are plenty of opportunities to touch, or change, a life for the better.
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