Last week I posted a rave about the book Mad Girl and mentioned in passing Sane New World by Ruby Wax. Well this Sunday just gone I was fortunate enough to find out about Ruby touring her new release, Frazzled and so blagged tickets for her Buxton show and took my Ma along with me to see what it was all about. Now I’d already watched odd videos of Ruby on YouTube talking all things mental health and it made my adoration of her grow even deeper. She is a funny, charming but honest and unabashed person who isn’t afraid to make light and yet be truthful of the mental health she has suffered in the past and even recently.
Frazzled is the follow up to Sane New World and whilst I’d seen it a few times on shelves, I’d held off until I treated myself to a signed copy this past weekend, but I am yet to open the pages for a good read. However, her show was an introduction to what she has to say on how we can cope with not necessarily mental illness, but how we can all reduce our stress levels and fight back at negative thoughts that tend to painfully swallow us alive.
I’m sure by now we’ve all seen the furor around mindfulness? The single word has been attached to coloring books, magazines, self-help books, meditation, yoga and exercise, holiday retreats… at some point it’s probably shown up on your social media feed or has confronted you in shops and stores. But I personally never really knew what it was. I just took the words for gospel. Mindfulness is to be mindful. Mindful of what I didn’t quite know but I assumed it related to being present and taking time to just, well, to be. But how best to practice mindfulness or what it actually entailed was still a rather distant process to me.
Ruby however, did a great job in not only entertaining the audience on memories of her mother and even interviewing Donald Trump on a jet plane. She also did a great job at giving us examples on how best we can practice mindfulness, but she was honest and unafraid to tell us that it isn’t an overnight trick. It takes time and it takes patience which for some can be a struggle. By becoming aware of our senses around us we can distract from the parts of our brain (amygdala) from becoming stressed and releasing too much chemical (cortisol) to make us wound up and panicked. Over time as we use these distractions we increase our mind power to cope better with negativity and as Ruby even counseled, can give us early warning triggers if our overall mental health is deteriorating.
We had opportunity to practice, to clap and feel the vibration in our hands, to feel our feet against the floor and to concentrate on our breathing. When our mind would become distracted Ruby would encourage us to pull back and to focus on these senses, and not to beat ourselves up for letting our mind wander. The more we practice to take these moments of peace and solitude, to tune out our own mental commentary and to allow the world to just exist in quiet is to drown out the negativity that can build and break us down. And before you roll your eyes, it isn’t hippy gooey trivia, it’s scientific fact that mindfulness practiced properly in this way can bring huge improvement to the beholder.
We’d be lying if we haven’t felt down because of deadlines, because of work or the pressure to keep up with others and that’s before we even mention how much we become our own worst critic and number one enemy. As Ruby quite rightly pointed out, stress is a global epidemic that is spiraling and causes almost eighty-percent of hospital and medical admissions. Heart diseases, cancers, lung diseases, obesity, mental illness and many more can be closely related to increased stress intake. The chemical (cortisol) which creates stress quite literally breaks our immune system so we become susceptible to anything and everything that can harm us. And what quality of life do we have if we continue to beat ourselves up mentally for it turn into physical illness?
Ruby is only at the beginning of her tour so do check our her website, sign yourself up for the Frazzled cafe and maybe treat yourself to the Frazzled Mindfulness book as it will give you tricks and tips on you can train yourself to mentally cope better with the stresses and toils of life. And most importantly, don’t beat yourself up for failing. We all have to start somewhere. So why not do it now and lets do it together as one big collective?