Filling your cup: Secrets to take you from striving to thriving

Rachel Bauer of Kamala gives her top tips to mental health success

As part of August’s month-long Hei Oranga Mōu activities, Wintec invited mental health advocate Rachel Bauer of Kamala to give a short presentation on resilience and coping strategies. Rachel has been living with anxiety since she was 20 and has spent over a decade discovering more about what works for her and what doesn’t.  We asked Rachel for her tried and tested techniques that may help Wintec students juggle the mountain of demands on their time.

Choosing your values
The term ‘resilience’ is often used to describe the adaption necessary to face adversity, trauma and other threats that can cause us stress. Some may call this bouncing back or, in Rachel’s words, “riding the waves”.  Resilience is built either as a learned, adaptive or inherent behaviour and we can strengthen our resilience by understanding what is important to us – in other words the things that we value.  Taking the time to think about and choose what your values can help you to identify common themes – the answers may surprise you!

The importance of self-care
Rachel describes self-care as anything that helps us go with the waves rather than resist or fight against them. This may be some form of physical movement such as yoga or walking on the beach, or it may be little things that give us some time out such as reading a book or taking off our shoes and grounding ourselves with the feeling of the earth. Rachel swears by mindfullness, whether that be for just a few minutes every day or a longer session to help you detox underlying issues. “I recommend trying the many different minfulness techniques to see what fits best for you, there are body scans, breathing, mantra and other types of mindfulness.”

Plenty of sleep
When we don’t get enough sleep we potentially set ourselves up for feelings of tiredness, worry and/or stress. Ensuring that you get plenty of sleep is therefore crucial to help break this cycle so that you can bound through the day feeling more alert and also more resilient.

Filling up your cup
Although we may not like it, sometimes we have to recognise that not everyone in our lives helps us to feel strong.  Rachel uses the analogy of “filling up our cup”.  We want to put in what makes us feel good inside and lifts our energy, not what makes us feel tense and drained. Sometimes we might have people that can go inside and outside our cup so Rachel recommends thinking about the situations and contexts that trigger our anxieties.

Human beings innately want to connect with each other but with our current lifestyles this is often a lost art. Nowadays, many of us spend a lot of time on our own and don’t even really know our neighbours – we’ve lost our connections and this can lead to feelings of lonliness and isolation, which negatively affect our mental health. Rachel recommends the book ‘Lost Connections’ by Johann Hari to learn more about the link between connections and our mental well-being.

Remembering to be grateful
“Where your attention goes, your energy flows” Rachel says and because of this she recommends taking time out of every day to give thanks for what we are grateful for. In doing so, you move away from sentences like “I wish” and “I don’t have”, both of which can lead us to depletion. Learning to see the good in your life, even when times are hard is a powerful coping strategy, and feelings like anger, bitterness and resentment are incompatible with gratitude. Expressing gratitude to whatever you believe in shows faith, love, and hope, and will keep you connected to who you really are. “Gratitude give us feelings of joy”, she says.

Hei Oranga Mōu is based on the Te Whare Tapa Whā model first proposed by Professor Mason Durie which highlights the physical, mental, spiritual and whānau aspects to good health. This is the sixth year that Wintec has celebrated Hei Oranga Mōu, literally translating to “for the sake of your wellbeing”. The final events take place on Wednesday 28 August, with a Health Expo (featuring community support groups and giveaways) and a Kemetic Yoga session that follows principles first established in ancient Egypt. 

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For more of Rachel’s tips and tricks, read here

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