Matthew Bagwell is a fully qualified and practicing Advanced Oxygen Advantage® Breathwork instructor, coaching across elite sports to people in need of specific support addressing physical and psychological conditions including depression and anxiety. He is also an endurance athlete, currently focused on ultra-distance running events.
Matt teaches people all over the world how to use their breath to improve physical and mental resilience, induce deep relaxation, overcome challenges including pandemic anxiety and unlock creative energy. His work is grounded in pragmatic scientific research and personal experience. As he says himself, “It’s not woo woo, it’s all science.”
1. What trends have you seen in peoples mental health over 2020?
The headline is increased anxiety. My classes have grown and grown as well as requests for one-to-one tuition – very often, it’s relieving stress that is foremost in their minds. Sadly, I have also had more conversations with people developing early signs of both depression and fatalistic thinking. While this should come as no surprise – we are all under extraordinary circumstances – we need to pay attention to long-term wellbeing in LD2.
2. What are the most important and emerging skills to work in the new normal?
From my perspective, it’s about maintaining a balance and not developing new, less positive habits. We don’t need to move to work or around the office. We can sit for hours and oftentimes, will be on our computers for hours longer than we would have been pre-pandemic. So we have to develop new healthy habits; take a regular screen break, don’t eat and work, see the horizon every day, start work on time (not earlier) and end on time (not later) and spend time on exercise. The new skill here? Obsess about your wellbeing.
3. If you could change one thing in peoples behaviour, in the new normal, to benefit their health and keep them on track professionally – what would it be?
To breathe consciously, inhaling and exhaling through the nose only, for ten minutes a day. People can join my free classes on @lovetolearnto to learn how to do this to optimise how they breathe. Changing breathing can help manage anxiety, improve sleep and positively affect how we think.
4. What has been your biggest key learning and how will this prepare you for the future?
That I had taken personal contact with loved ones and travel for granted. As soon as I can do either (in a way that’s sustainable for the planet), I’m hugging everyone, everywhere!
5. What has been the biggest surprise to you?
Great question. For me, just how resilient nature is. With Lockdown One, I was able to closely observe it and celebrate it ‘bouncing back’. I think so many people said the same thing, bird song, insects, boundless blackberries, clear skies. There’s something to remember and take forward in this. I really hope we do.