We hear from Dr Morwenna Opie at Duchy Hospital about the importance of meditation and mindfulness.
Dr Morwenna Opie is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, formerly practising in Harley Street and recently returning to her native Cornwall, now with practising rights at Duchy Hospital. Dr Opie works with all manner of health difficulties, including mood, anxiety, trauma and OCD, with a particular passion for supporting patients struggling with physical health challenges. We catch up with her to ask about her experience working in this field.
Do physical health issues affect mental health?
“Yes, absolutely. The strange thing is we see it as common sense that people will struggle emotionally when unwell, suffering, and unable to do the things they usually do to feel good. We also intuitively understand that being burnt-out makes us more susceptible to being unwell, and that we can internalise stress. However we sometimes forget all this in highly-specialised medicine, or in times of crisis.”
Morwenna continues: “Luckily, I am part of a very forward-thinking team at Duchy Hospital, who are highly attuned to their patients’ well being and recognise optimising mental health can positively affect outcomes. We know our mental health affects our blood pressure, our immune systems and even how our genes are expressed. It is such a privilege to collaborate with my highly skilled colleagues at Duchy, and also to collaborate with patients. Together we can support lifestyle changes, helping people to feel more in control of managing their health, their life direction, and to live a fulfilled and joyful life.”
So what are Dr Morwenna Opie’s top five tips for looking after your mental health? “I enjoy finding easy ‘life-hacks’ to suit an individual’s skills and interests, including: mindfulness meditation practise or yoga; exercise and other healthy lifestyle changes; getting better at noticing and responding to our needs; getting outside and interacting with people; working our core values and passions, and living by them.”
We’ve heard a lot about mindfulness. Can you tell us more?
“My take-home message would be to give mindfulness a go,” Morwenna tells us.
“Essentially, mindfulness means being aware in the present moment, with acceptance. Meditation is one form of mindfulness and it’s something I love and try to practise even if it’s just for a few minutes every day. It is like the gym for the mind, to help you be flexible and resilient emotionally. It helps tone up the nerves which help us get calm and optimise healing and health. Do not be put off if you don’t like the first type of meditation you try, there will be a technique that suits you, and there is honestly no such thing as being ‘bad’
What could somebody expect from a session with you?
“My main priority in a first session is getting to know you well enough, as an individual, to put you at ease, and understand you well enough to ensure you feel hopeful, heard, understood and in the right place. I aim by the end of the first session to have identified your goals and agreed together on what type of therapy will suit you best.”
Finally, how are you enjoying being home?
“The pull to come home was personally very strong. I was so keen for my children to grow up free-range, barefoot and grounded! And, I genuinely feel so fortunate to have worked and trained with exceptional practitioners from around the world, and wanted to bring that back to benefit my county!
“Having been away for 20 years,” Dr Opie continues, “I had actually underestimated how therapeutic and restorative this part of the world can be, with a healthier pace, the benefits of raw nature and the sea.
“There are a wealth of inspirational practitioners and projects to connect with here. I admit freely to feeling healthier myself, and able to practise what I preach! In its widespread recognition of importance of
caring for mind, body and planet, the Cornwall I have returned to is a progressively open-minded place to live and work (including an expanding service led by an inspirational and committed NHS health psychology workforce), and it has great coffee and cafés to travel for these days, too!”
Morwenna enjoys having patients from London and overseas come and stay for a week or more, to explore Cornwall and benefit from transformational intensive therapy as part of a wellness retreat package. A more common format for locals is a series of six to eight weekly sessions at Duchy hospital, working towards positive changes that last.
Did you know?
Dr Opie holds a regular weekly clinic at Duchy Hospital. If you would like to arrange an appointment, please call 01872 302805 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a complimentary discovery call.