Posted in 2019

Helping You – 6

I thank you for your patience – I needed to lay the background down for you over the last few posts so that you know that digging yourself out of that dark hole of depression, anxiety and stress is not only about what is going on in your head – it’s also about what is going on in your body!

Last issue I let you into a little bit of my life – which has been filled with stress, anxiety and depression issues.  I got out of that dark hole.  There’s still a lot of stress in my life but now I can deal with it without getting overwhelmed.  And this is what I want to show you. 

For me I had to start from a very dark place.  In chronic pain, unable to walk more than 4-5 steps, depressed, a whole heap of physical problems ranging from severe food intolerances, migraine, chronic fatigue.  I was popping pills by the bucket-load.  That was what first changed.  With the guidance of my doctor (yes, I had a lot of arguments with her about this, and I would NEVER advocate stopping prescribed meds – there are very good reasons why some medication shouldn’t be stopped) I slowly cut down on meds.  It took me two years but eventually I was medication free.  I was controlling my pain through meditation.  I didn’t realise I was meditating – I was simply breathing through the pain. 

I started pushing my physical activity. I started walking to the door and back.  A few days later I made it to the lift and back.  In small increments over a 4 month period I eventually was able to walk about 1km.  Belly dancing was next on my list of activities.  Yes – using belly dance as a therapy is how I ended up teaching it here in Cardwell!  Eventually I was running a small holiday apartment complex, cleaning, making beds and the mum of two very huge Newfoundland dogs.  Dancing, working, cycling, walking the dogs – it seemed I lived an active life.  I’ll never been in that top 5% of fittest people again and I still live my life in chronic pain – but you know what?  I can walk.  How cool is that!!!

So what can you do to start this journey.  The first and the hardest step is to decide that you are going to get your life back.  You need to decide that you are in charge of your physical and your emotional well being. 

I’m an Holistic Counsellor.  That means that I don’t get you to dig into the painful past unless you want to go there.  I am far more concerned with how you feel RIGHT NOW – and how we can work together to make it better.  So if you have problems with stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain – you now have a choice.  This is your first step toward either recovering or remaining as you are. 

WARNING – this is where I get tough. 

It’s a hard choice and you need to be super clear and honest with yourself.  You have to work out if you are actually comfortable where you are.  I know that on the face of it, it sounds silly, but lots of people are actually happy being unhappy!  It’s what they know; it’s what they are comfortable with.  Some part of your body doesn’t work or you feel depressed – you go give those problems to the doctor and if you are lucky you’ll get some pills to pop. 

Is this you?  Or do you want to take charge of your own health – physical and emotional?  Are you prepared to do the work needed to turn things around?  It’s not hard work and it doesn’t required lots of sweat!  But it does require your determination to succeed.

So that is your homework this week.  Make a decision.  The first, and I believe, the hardest step to your recovery is making this decision and to decide you have the determination to carry it through.  The rewards are huge!

In the next post I’ll start to give you some of the tools that will help you once you have made that so important decision that you ARE going to get back your zest; that you DO want to live a fuller and happier and more fulfilled life.



Did you miss the previous posts in this series? Here’s the links….

Helping You – 1

Helping You – 2

Helping You – 3

Helping You – 4

Helping You – 5



Posted in 2019

Helping You – 5

Over the last 4 posts, we’ve had a good look at what happens in your body when you go into overwhelm.  You know that feeling, it’s when everything gets on top of you and you just want to burst into tears and hibernate somewhere until it all goes away.  Doesn’t matter if its work, kids, school, finances, partner issues, illness, chronic pain or a sabre toothed tiger popping up in the supermarket.  Your body reacts exactly the same – it hops into the Fight or Flight Response at warp speed plus.

If you want to know more about the Fight or Flight Response (FFR) follow the links below to my previous articles on this topic

Last issue we touched upon some of the ways we actually keep ourselves in that Fight or Flight Response (FFR) situation and in this issue I want to look at how that constant low-grade FFR affects your health.

Actually it’s easy.  Pretty much every thing you have a health issue with can be directed back to your lifestyle with a big emphasis on the amount of stress you deal with.

I know someone who has been in that Stress Response (FFR) pretty much all her life.  It has badly affected her health, and I am going to give you the short version of those problems – and the way she climbed out of that cycle.  I know this person very well indeed.  It’s me.  I tell you this not for sympathy, but rather to show you that you can be in the lowest place and still climb out if you are prepared to put in the work. 

I was emotionally abused as a child, but it was so insidious I didn’t even realise it was abuse until a few years ago.

I lived in a town on the Cold War strike list.  The threat of a nuclear bomb landing on my home town was very real.  We lived in the shadow of nuclear power stations; built nuclear submarines.  The IRA and Greenpeace activists were a constant worry. 

I was a classical ballet dancer – with all the demands and stresses of that profession.

In 1980 I found myself on the floor of a shopping mall in the UK in the middle of racial riots.  Noise, shrieks, glass windows crashing to the floor, youths trying to kill each other, missiles being thrown.  It took another 20 years before I was diagnosed with PTSD.  I had full-scale panic attacks almost every day as I pushed myself to live as close to a normal life as possible. 

I’m an Empath and the world news of that era – war, famine, torture were constant on the news – I couldn’t handle it and had a breakdown.

My husband was diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer.  I nursed him at home.  During this time there was also problems with money, threats to have our house taken off us and so much more.

I collapsed, paralysed for several hours on the bathroom floor.  I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  I had been an elite athlete; I trained with Olympic athletes and ranked in the top 5% fittest people on Earth.  Now I couldn’t walk across the room. 

Recently, there’s been really tough financial situations; another breakdown; relationship issues…..  the list is ongoing.

I say that I have lived my life in constant fear.  To a certain extent this is true, but there were also joys and love and laughter.

One day my doctor told me I needed to stop working and start using a wheelchair.  That is when I turned my life around.  A wheelchair was not for me.

This seems long winded, but believe me it is the short version! 

So what did I do to get myself out of this stressful, anxiety-laden life?  That first step is the hardest – I recognised that I needed to stop living in fear and do something about where I’d ended up.  I had to work it out myself as I had no help.  It’s absolutely not a quick fix. This work takes strength and determination.  And it starts with the breathing exercise I gave you in the very first post in this series!  But MAN it is worth the effort.

More next time – I’ve run out of space!

Did you miss the previous posts in this series? Here’s the links….

Helping You – 1

Helping You – 2

Helping You – 3

Helping You – 4



Posted in 2019

Helping You – 4

In the last edition I talked about the cascade of events that happens when the Sympathetic Nervous System kicks in with Fight or Flight Response – how it’s like stomping on the accelerator of your car.  I also mentioned how the Parasympathetic Nervous System cuts in to help calm everything down once the danger, or perceived danger, has passed.

What I want to talk about today is what happens when we keep getting triggered and the parasympathetic nervous system doesn’t get a chance to apply the brake!

Basically, the sh*^ hits the fan!  If, for whatever reason, we don’t realise that there really isn’t anything dangerous going on, something called the HPA Axis kicks in.  The Hypothalamus get back into the picture and notifies the Pituitary gland which lets the Adrenals know they need to release cortisol into our system.  That means we keep our foot on the gas pedal and our body stays ramped up for action.  And it pretty much stays that way until we can work out that the danger is passed.  When the all-clear happens, the adrenals stop producing cortisol and as that fades away we can relax again.

In modern day society, we are not likely to meet a sabre-toothed tiger.  Our FFR is far more likely to be the result of someone’s dodgy driving and even that can be fairly short term.  If FFR is something that happens every now and then and only lasts about 15 minutes – there’s no real problem, but we LIVE in FFR.  We rarely, if ever, allow that cortisol to fade away and fully relax.  Our FFR triggers are so commonplace that we accept them as a way of life – money worries, kids, spouse, the electricity bill, the boss getting on our case, being unemployed, menopause, empty nest, retiring, chronic pain.  The list is on-going.  I’m sure you can think up some more.  And, even more disturbing we voluntarily put ourselves in FFR through the things we watch on TV – movies, news – and the bun-fights we get into on social media.  Then, when you include the pressure we put on each other and ourselves to conform to a certain ideal….  Too tall / too short; too thin / too fat;  growing older, struggling with diets and disliking the view in the mirror.  We have been programmed to live in the FFR.  For sure, it’s a mild version but it is still scary in it’s implications for our health.

And that my friends is the next topic before we really look at what we can do about it.

Are you still breathing?  Three deep breaths remember ❤



Did you miss the previous posts in this series? Here’s the links….

Helping You – 1

Helping You – 2

Helping You – 3



Posted in 2019

Helping You – 3

NOTE: My local paper (for which these articles were first written) started off very small just a few months ago and is growing beautifully. Unfortunately that means that I no longer get a full page for my column! All is good though – a link will be provided to this blog so all my readers can carry on following…..
Downside though is that I have to flood this blog site will all the catch-up articles!!! Happy reading!

We’ve spoken about the Fight or Flight Response and briefly discussed how your body’s defence systems by-pass your brain, scooting into action before your logical brain has time to wake up and notice what is happening.  In this post I’d like to dig a bit deeper into how this works.

The Fight or Flight Response (FFR) has a very serious job to do.  It is our first line of defence when something potentially bad is happening or about to happen.  It puts our body into ‘high alert’ by flooding our system with adrenaline and a whole cocktail of other hormones and making sure that blood is diverted away from your gut and other non-essential parts such as your brain,  Yep – your body knows that your brain is useless if your head has been chomped by that sabre-toothed tiger.  In such dangerous conditions your legs are the most important parts of your body!  The problem, though, is that we no longer know how to switch that response off.

Think of a dog.  These guys are masters of dealing with FFR.  Pooch is lying in the sun, snoring, twitching feet, legs every which way and seemingly without a care in the world when something triggers him.  He shoots up, looking totally confused for about half-a-second and stands on high alert – tail fluffed up, hair sticking out so he looks bigger; maybe even barking.  And then he realises that it was just a dream, or that there’s no danger and with a very sheepish look he settles back down and two minutes later he’s snoring again.

What’s happened is that FFR response was triggered, but as soon as his mind caught up and worked out that all was safe in his world, his body reacted by relaxing.

The jargon stuff is that the Sympathetic Nervous System jumped into action letting the Amygdala know something was up.  The Amygdala notified the Command Centre (the Hypothalamus) which sends in the solders to wake up the Adrenals who flood the body with epinephrine (also known as adrenalin).  Epinephrine flooding your body is a bit like stamping down on the accelerator of your car – nought to sixty in no time!   In my mind, this is probably the most efficient system we have in our body!  There is a whole cascade of stuff that happens, almost instantaneously,  without us being in the least bit aware of it.  Then, when the cerebral cortex (the logical part of your brain) catches up and realises there isn’t really any danger, the Parasympathetic Nervous System kicks in and allows the body to settle back down to it’s normal state.

But what happens when the body doesn’t settle back down?  When we keep triggering the FFR?  This is what our modern society is constantly doing – and we will look at that in the next edition.

Did you miss the previous posts in this series? Here’s the links….

Helping You – 1

Helping You – 2

Posted in 2019

Helping You – 2

In Helping You – 1, I spoke about a very simple breathing exercise you can do when things threaten to overwhelm you.  Breathing is so easy – we are all masters at it but we tend to forget all about it when faced with stuff getting too much for us.

The reason that stuff gets too much is something you’ve probably heard of – The Fight or Flight Response, but if you are not too sure what it is, here’s the speedy version…

Millions of years ago, when sabre-toothed tigers roamed the world, having a bit of a day-dream whilst you were going about the chore of staying alive was rather dangerous.  Then (and now in some situations) the FFR was, literally, a life-saver.  The problem is that if we just relied on our eyes to tell us that a tiger is hiding behind a tree and then factored in the time it took for our brains to process that info and get us moving out of the way, we’d be kitty dinner.

Our bodies constantly take in information at a rapid rate – through our eyes, our skin, sound, smell and taste.  Although we can process this information without really even thinking about it, it still takes a micro-second too long to get us to physically respond fast enough to that possible danger.

Did you note that I said possible danger?  That’s because the FFR actually gathers all that information, totally by-passes most of your brain functions and whacks the body into high-gear, flooding it with a cocktail of enzymes, dragging blood away from your gut and pushing it all into your arms and legs ready so you can get the heck out of there; thump the tiger on the nose or maybe freeze solid in the hope it won’t spot you. 

And THEN your logical brain picks up that something is wrong and gets into the game by studying all that information and deciding that it’s not a sabre-toothed tiger, it’s just someone in the supermarket wearing a leopard-skin onesy!  (Yep – still scary!).  What is supposed to happen next is that your body relaxes, more enzymes are released neutralising that first rush of adrenalin and you, feeling rather silly and maybe a bit nauseous, go back to choosing which lettuce to buy. 

Those deep breaths I spoke of in the last edition?  They are designed to give your logical brain time to catch up and realise that all the stuff that is happening isn’t life-threatening,  just really frustrating.  It gives your body time to allow those FFR enzymes time to calm down and for you to not blow your top.

I’m going to talk a bit more about this in the next post in this series because, in our modern world, those FFR enzymes are running almost constantly for many of us and are affecting our health. 

(This Helping You series was written for my local town newspaper – Coral Sea Sun, but as I thought it may help readers here too…. here it is!!!)

Posted in 2019

Helping You – 1

This is the first in a series that Auri’An is writing for her local newspaper – “Coral Sea Sun”

Maybe today was a bad day.  Maybe the kids wouldn’t stop fighting, the dog threw up on the couch, and the washing machine flooded the kitchen.  Maybe today was a day you really just wanted to go back to bed and wish it would all go away.  Maybe today you just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. 

We all have those days.  I’m sure you recognise that, even if your bad stuff is different.  That feeling of being overwhelmed, of everyone looking to you to sort it out but seeming to not care that you just don’t want to do it any more.  That you need a break.

There are many ways that help you deal with it, get through it, and actually come out the other end still sane, and over the next few issues I’ll start to help you through some of these ways.  There’s nothing really hard, or flash or fancy about it. You don’t need to buy heaps of self-help books; you just need to know that you need some help and be determined to once again find your happy self.

One of the very easiest ways to get through this type of day – those days where everything seems to go wrong – is something that you have been doing most of your life, well, all your life actually – breathe.

But not just simply breathing in air and letting it escape again, you need to do this consciously: 

You stop whatever you are doing. 

You let your shoulders relax.

Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath in and then just sort of huff it out in one big, noisy swoosh.

Then, take another breath.  This time suck in as much air as you can.  Feel your chest expanding, your shoulders lifting and when you think you can’t take in any more – do just that….  Another little bit of air.  You can do it….

Then, as slowly as you can let it out. And when you think you’ve fully breathed out – go some more!  You’ll feel your shoulders pressing down, your tummy pushing upwards to squish your lungs.

You’ll automatically take another deep breath – let this one out with a swoosh again and then you just get on with whatever you had to do.

There’s many things that happen in the body when you take a couple of deep breaths, but there’s not really enough room to go through them here, but basically you are giving your body time to adjust and settle down from the Fight or Flight response all those overwhelming things put you into. 

I’ll tell you more about Fight or Flight next week.

Auri’An Lay lives in Cardwell, Queensland and is the Founder of Ki’An Healing and Helping You.  She is a Meditation Therapist and Holistic Counsellor, Spiritual Teacher/Healer, Energy Healer, Belly Dance teacher…….  

Contact Auri’An by email: kianhealing@gmail.com  Face Book https://www.facebook.com/KiAnHealing or phone: 0466 443 871 to book a private consultation.