Conversations with holistic psychologist Bridget McNamara
Here in Aotearoa, this week is dedicated to creating awareness around mental health, with the focus on fostering reconnection. Let's be real, the past few years have been challenging for a lot of people (including us), so it's no wonder that some things can feel a little disconnected. We chatted with holistic psychologist Bridget McNamara on how to reconnect with ourselves, loved ones and our environment.
What is your definition of connection?
For me, connection is a deep bond formed between people. It is when we feel seen, heard and valued. I also think of the connection we have to ourselves, with a higher power or divine being, with others living or dead, and with nature.
Why is connection so important?
As human beings, we are biologically wired toward connection. You may have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Essentially, besides food, water and safety, love and belonging are the most important needs we need to fulfil. This includes a desire for interpersonal relationships, intimacy, to connect with others, and feeling a sense of belonging to a group. When such needs are met, our overall well-being can improve, and we may feel more fulfilled in life. In contrast, our well-being might be negatively impacted if we feeling lonely and isolated.
What are some ways people can build connections with others?
- Reconnect with an old friend
- Volunteer in a cause you believe in
- Surround yourself with people who have shared interests as you e.g. join a local book club.
What are some ways people can connect to nature?
- Use all of your senses – notice what you can hear, see, smell, taste and touch when you are in nature.
- Get out in nature. If you can, try to spend time visiting natural places - green spaces like parks, gardens or forests – or blue spaces like the beach, rivers and wetlands.
- Bring nature to you. Grow flowers, plants or vegetables at home. Have house plants that you can nurture!
- Exercise in nature
What are some ways people can connect to themselves more?
- Begin each day by checking in with yourself. Some sentences you could finish are:
- In my body I am noticing (as you scan from head to toe) …
- Emotionally I am feeling …
- My mind is …
- I would describe my mood as …
- My energy today seems …
- Sit and just ‘be’. Sitting quietly with yourself for just five minutes a day with no agenda or goal can be a great way to drop in and feel a few moments of deep connection with yourself. We spend so much of our time busying ourselves, having our attention externally, and being up in our heads. Take time to check in with your body, heart and soul!
What are three ways people can cultivate more joy in their life?
- Keep a gratitude journal and write three things you are grateful for each day
- Get creative with a new recipe, painting, or a new craft project
- Sit outside in the sun for 15 minutes
How can yoga help with connection?
As a yogi and a yoga teacher, the word connection gives my yoga practice, work and life huge meaning and significance. My connection to the mat, to my breath, and my mind-body supports a deeper connection off the mat with friends, whanau, my partner, my daughter, the environment, and all beings.
What do you do to support your mental health and wellbeing?
Spend time with my family and friends. Spending time in nature and carving out time for my hobbies. Daily I try to nourish my body, exercise or move my body, meditate, and get enough zzz’s (although this is currently very difficult with a young baby)!
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