A Special Report is content that is edited and produced by the Special Reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report, but who do not have editorial control.

Top tips for living well

Yoga, life coaching and a good diet are some of the ways to stay healthy in mind and body

A healthy diet is essential to keep illness at bay.

A healthy diet is essential to keep illness at bay.

 

During the recession, we self-medicated our anxieties with cheap vino, trashy TV and mindless social media blogs. Cash-strapped and stuck indoors, our options were fairly limited.

However, as the national mood lightens and we emerge from the carnage with more money and better prospects, we are exploring innovative wellness trends.

Mandala art therapy, meditative yoga, multi-sensory mentoring and personalised nutrition are attracting followers who want to feel better inside.

Mandala art therapy

Patricia Fitzgerald of Healing Creations is a prolific mandala artist based in the Craft Courtyard at Marlay Park, Dublin. She combines her colourful mandalas with mindfulness practices with her classes.

“Mandalas are a very ancient and powerful tool of self-expansion, not just adult colouring books. Creating or meditating on a mandala can be a transformative experience,” says Fitzgerald. “From the outset, you are balancing both sides of your brain, allowing your thoughts to flow with ease and clarity. You immediately feel calmer and blood pressure is lowered.”

Mandalas create the room for introspection, adds Fitzgerald. “Are you being critical of yourself? Would you talk to a friend this way? Can I change my tone?” are some of the questions we should ask ourselves.

 “Instead of seeing the negative elements you can re-wire your brain so that it defaults to the positive outlook.”

Ana Dorado, a busy mum and photographer recently attended one of Fitzgerald’s retreats at Lisnavagh House in Co Carlow. “I was fascinated to learn more about mandalas and how they are instruments for meditation. By the end of the weekend I felt I was tuned in with myself again, more connected, rested, and above all, I had clarity about how I wanted to continue my journey and what I wanted to do. As I drove back, I felt emotional, grateful and privileged and happy.”

The next workshops is in Sligo on August 25th, Limerick on September 29th and Dublin on October 27th. www.healingcreations.ie

Multi-sensory wellness

Multi-sensory wellness, as the name suggests, involves exploring ourselves and our goals by using the five senses to find answers.

Emer Doyle (36) trained as a life coach facilitator with the International Coach Federation and won the award for Mentoring Coach of the Year twice.

“A lot of my clients may be looking for success and may have even found it but sometimes when you reach the top of the ladder you realise it was against the wrong wall from the start,” says Doyle.

“My multi-sensory style of coaching invites you to tap into all the parts of you and your senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, feel and intuition.

“It facilitates you having a conversation with each of your senses simultaneously in order to identify what it is you are feeling and what you wish to experience.

“The first step in self-awareness and allowing change is being willing to explore what is going on inside your own head. Living in the present moment and staying focused on what is going on right now prevents your mind going down the rabbit hole of endless to-do lists,” she explains.

“Many of my clients are struggling with transition – from student to workplace; from active business success to retirement; or moving on from a traumatic relationship. They have reached a stage where they feel uncomfortable with themselves. To accurately and honestly identify what it is you desire to experience, you have to travel inwards through your senses.”

Doyle advocates drawing on our emotions, feelings and hearing until we become aware of our inner desires using a seven-step technique called ‘Present’ to facilitate that analysis: pause, reflect, exhale, space, explore and nurture. www.emerdoyle.ie 

Nutrition

Gaye Godkin is health nutritionist who analyses all areas of her patients’ lives to get an accurate assessment of their body issues. “Stress and haphazard dieting can lead to a number of debilitating illnesses that detract from our happiness,” says Godkin, who also gives corporate seminars and creates in-house nutritional programmes.

“Currently in Ireland we have an epidemic of nutritionally triggered chronic illness,” she explains.

“I see lots of people with diverticulitis, colitis, gut issues, IBS, gastritis, bloating and by revising their nutritional intake we can achieve superb results in this area.

“I also devise diets for men and women with fertility issues as many consultants refer their patients to me before embarking on fertility treatments.

“I’ve had many success stories – I recently advised Mick Spillane, a well-known physiotherapist who works with the FAI, who wanted to lower his cholesterol.  He didn’t want to take statins so with the right foods and diet analysis it dropped from 7.9 to 4.9 in three months. A cardiac scan also showed that his arteries were clear.”

At a first meeting, Godkin goes through an extensive questionnaire that details a client’s lifestyle and food consumption. Then the client does their homework by filling out a daily food diary with symptoms. Finally, she devises a personalised nutritional list and a food plan that suits the budget. She likes to avoid supplements as there is plenty of good fuel available in the food already.

So what are Godkin’s favourite superfoods?

“Bananas, beetroot, cherries, aubergine, red cabbage,” she says. “People are obsessing about foods these days though . . . You hear so and so is ketonic, or vegan or a pescetarian . . . There is nothing wrong with potatoes and turnip either,” she laughs.

“I think a lot of damage is done to the flora in our stomachs from broad spectrum antibiotics and the sanitisation of food processes is causing an imbalance too.” www.gayegodkin.ie

Yoga

Sybille Dahlman is a certified yoga coach, qualified meditation teacher, massage therapist. Her workshops and retreats are ideal for business executives and clients. www.sibylledallmann.com

Adult classes

A healthy brain can lessen cognitive decline as you age and prevent the onset of health conditions such as dementia. It broadens our horizons to see other points of view; Make connections with new people and increase confidence levels. www.solas.ie

Financial check-up 

Review how you’ve done financially over the past 12 months and make sure you’re still going in the right direction. You may need to make adjustments to repayment plans, credit card bills or increased medical procedures. www.mabs.ie