As autumn brings a rosy glow to our suburban landscape, we are about to launch the first of our free workbooks! All twenty-four pages of the Grounding Workbook, which are packed with grounding techniques and suggestions to help manage anxiety, will be downloadable from the Thortify website from October 10th to coincide with World Mental Health Day. A collaboration between the Thortify team with Tracey Meek Artist, beautifully illustrated by Evie Warren Illustration and with photography by Sam Adams we are proud of how it all came together.
In other news, we have recently been talking to artists about how their art practice supports their mental health over on the Thortify blog. Art comes in many forms; a painting hung in gallery might be the first thing that comes to mind, or perhaps that Friday afternoon respite from writing and tricky sums when we were in primary school. But any expression of creative skill and imagination appreciated for its beauty or emotional power can be considered an art form –the most common genres being painting, music, literature and dance.
I recently met a woman who has been incorporating laughter into one of these genres and is hoping to help people unlock the power of positivity, one belly laugh at a time. Amy Gill believes that we are what we attract. If you put on a sad song, you are more likely to feel depressed, “if you create a dark atmosphere around you, you will feel bad.” By the same token if you lay ‘positive foundations’ you are much more likely to have a day full of positivity. If you try hard to smile and laugh more, you’ll feel better immediately. And if you can manage to find something to laugh about, you will put yourself in a really good mood.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you,
Weep, and you weep alone,
For the brave old earth must borrow its mirth ;
It has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer,
Sigh, it is lost on the air ;
The echoes redound to a joyful sound
And shrink from voicing care.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
As I sit in her bright inviting café space we talk about how as we get older we become more inhibited and indulge less and less in those glorious moments of spontaneous laughter. Amy took over the old Tastie Bites Café in December 2021 and is carefully crafting a community café space that invites lively conversation over coffee Global Village Café is a totally inclusive place that participates in the Chatty Café Scheme, addressing the social issue of isolation in our communities, and has free WiFi for those looking for a quiet space to work. Originally from Singapore she initially found adjusting to life in the UK difficult and became aware of a dark cloud following her around after a while. Recognising this as depression she looked for solutions. This is when she came across the work of Indian doctor, Dr. Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Yoga; Amy has been enjoying the benefits ever since.
So how does it work? Well scientific research shows that the positive effects of smiling and laughter are plentiful. Stresses become more manageable as cortisol levels lower and serotonin (happy hormone) levels rise, blood pressure is lowered which is healthier for the heart plus it improves breathing and promotes good sleep, which is amazing for our general wellbeing!
A former lecturer in law, Amy has applied her acquired research, problem solving and communication skills to her passion for coaching and supporting others with their wellbeing. Couple this with her passion for learning and you can see how she has equipped herself with the wealth of knowledge that she is now able to share. This started with training as a Master NLP Practitioner, something she became interested in from a personal perspective, changing her own mindset and casting off the mental weight that she felt she was carrying around with her.
Under the banner of Circle of Power Academy, Amy can offer a range of personalised workshops including Goal Setting, Vision Boards and Time Management as well as the Laughter Yoga sessions which are growing in popularity.
She smiles broadly as she describes a typical Saturday morning gathering of laughing ladies, and tells me men are welcome too but none have shown up for a session yet.Laughing is infectious, and combined with yoga breathing techniques, can help lower anxiety levels as well as chasing away those gloomy depression clouds.
She explains how it’s necessary to break the ice and convince people that they can force themselves to laugh, filling their emotional emptiness with heaps of happy hormones! Combined with music and dancing this can have very powerful effects. Before they leave the session Amy explains that it’s important to bring participants gently back down again from this incredible natural high. She helps them to rebalance the endorphins with grounding exercises and affirmations.
Amy genuinely believes if she can “come back out of that dark place” then anyone can, and everyone deserves to be happy. The Laughter Yoga session she has planned for the Halloween weekend will be extra fun! It should also be a truly bonding and empowering experience – community building stuff!
“Happiness is a choice; smile and choose to be happy!”