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Teaching Girls to Follow Their Heart – Ease Anxiety and Increase Well-being

Updated: Oct 25, 2019

By Olivia Trussell (Girl Power Guide, Adelaide)

Focusing on activities that spark joy and 'following your heart' can increase well-being and reduce anxiety and depression.

One can be excused for wondering why many people are anxious and depressed in a first world country, one that offers a plethora of opportunities. Some reports suggest wealthier countries have higher rates of depression and anxiety, however also noted, developing countries experience these mental health issues too. In contrast, they focus on immediate needs such as food, water, love plus shelter and are possibly just grateful for the basics in life. Whereas in wealthier countries, attention is more on materialism and often less so on what matters most.

The research is varied and complex, however, in 2006 I discovered the Institute of HeartMath, and became fascinated by their findings about the heart reflecting our emotional state more than our brain. Then, I discovered Baptist de Pape has strengthened these findings in his research, demonstrated throughout ‘The Power of the Heart’ – a book and film. Baptist graduated from law school, received an amazing offer from a renowned firm and decided not to sign the lucrative contract. He felt deeply anxious, for in his heart he knew his life purpose awaited him on a different path. His persistent heart continued to nudge him until he followed its calling to explore the power of the heart.

In ‘The Power of the Heart’ it notes, heart coherence is a pattern of your heart and when your heart rhythm is coherent, your body and mind are balanced and in the present. You are physically and mentally at your best, in the now. Heart coherence is achieved when you experience love, feel appreciated, or are absorbed in creating something. When you consider the opposite - when you experience hate, feel unappreciated and have no life purpose, the heart will be incoherent and ultimately may become anxious and depressed over time. This is not to assume that all anxious and depressed people experience the above, although it is certainly worth considering and if it can help at all, it is worth trying. ‘The Power of the Heart’s’ research suggests, a coherent rhythm causes all the other systems in our body – the brain and nervous systems – the immune and endocrine systems, the digestive and circulatory systems – to function better.

The idea is to connect with and listen to your heart! Will this solve all yours and your daughter’s problems? Probably not, but maybe. Children naturally follow their hearts and it is worth encouraging and maintaining this natural ability - and by connecting to your inner child, following your heart will become more possible too. As you model this approach as a parent, your daughter will copy your behaviour well into her adulthood and hopefully, she too will stay connected to her heart and enjoy optimal well-being and have a greater chance of preventing or reducing anxiety and depression. In ‘The Power of the Heart’ it recommends considering what you loved to do as a child, what filled you with joy.

An activity you and your daughter can do together:

1. Write a list of those activities and experiences you most loved as a child and your daughter currently loves – any activities that create elation within (your name on one side of the list and hers on the other) i.e. writing, singing, dancing, carpentry, building sandcastles, puzzles?

2. Choose 2 of the activities from each of your lists and include them in your week – even if just on the weekend. Commit to encouraging each other to do the activities together or independently.

This is an activity that both connects you and instils positive mental habits for the future. I have learned, by starting with one or two things I loved as a child, it becomes addictive and I get into the habit of mainly choosing from my heart. Recently I joined a choir and as a child, I loved singing!

I ask myself, ‘is this something I love, will it serve myself and others and is my heart happy with my choice’? Remember, what you love may attract the disapproval of others and this can be confronting. In my experience, people who genuinely love you will ultimately want what is best for you and they will eventually accept and embrace your choices. The great Eckhart Tolle recommends, if you wish to connect to your heart, you need to investigate your now moment. How do I feel now? What do I need now? What do I love now? How does my heart feel now? What does life want from me now? Create silent now moments often and ask your heart what it wants you to hear. In silence, you will hear what is most important – the gentle whispers of your heart.

How can we connect with the heart? The starting point is: all you ever have is this moment. So you look more deeply into this moment – Eckhart Tolle

Love Olivia Trussell, Girl Power Coach xx

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