If you’re anxious, stressed out and overwhelmed and you’re ready to feel calm and confident, this is for you.
Anxiety played a major role in my life from childhood until my late 20’s. Don’t get me wrong, I still deal with anxiety now as I navigate my mid 30’s and all the challenges that come with growing up, but it doesn’t run my world anymore.
That didn’t happen overnight. I had countless panic attacks, quit several jobs, ran away from love and self-medicated with drugs, alcohol and any other substance I could consume in excess, for many, many years. I did everything I could to run away from my anxiety and pain.
It wasn’t until I found myself in a mental health emergency ward, ready to end it all, that I finally decided to turn toward it. Because…I had nowhere else to go but in.
I’m nowhere near perfect today – I’m far from it. I’m human, just like you. But I’ve learned some really simple and powerful tools for managing my mind and coming back to my body in safe and loving ways.
I wouldn’t be here right now, writing this post, or doing the work I do as an Anxiety Coach, Mental Health Speaker and Yoga Teacher, if I didn’t set out on the healing path I chose to follow almost a decade ago.
The tools and practices we’re going to dive into in a moment allowed me to not just survive but thrive. I went from contemplating suicide, feeling hopeless and lost on a daily basis, to feeling excited about my life, empowered to take care of myself and inspired to help others do the same.
It hasn’t been easy, but mindfulness practices – along with much needed medications, therapy and group support – really brought me back to the core of who I am: someone who’s brave, loving and bright. So, let’s look at some of those life-altering practices now.
Movement is medicine. When we get stuck in our heads, there’s nothing more powerful than connecting with our bodies. It’s that simple. For me, yoga was and still is key for my mental health. The practice encourages us to stretch, strengthen and breathe into our bodies in a way that requires mindfulness and intention.
Yoga has powerful physiological impacts, too. The ancient practice helps us to move out of the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight mode, where we experience stress, burnout and anxiety, and into the parasympathetic nervous system’s rest-and-digest response, where ease, calm and peace live.
If you need more convincing of yoga’s healing powers, this study found that the practice is significantly more effective for treating anxiety than any other type of stress management.
It’s estimated that up to 500 million people meditate worldwide. That number is growing every day, and for good reason. Meditation is a natural and simple way to cultivate self-awareness, manage stress, feel more present, reduce heavy emotions and increase patience and tolerance.
It helps us move from being reactive to responsive. This was one of the biggest shifts I first noticed in myself, when I began meditating regularly several years ago. Situations and stressors that would normally have me grinding my teeth, biting my nails and furrowing my brow, didn’t affect me the same way any more.
I started to meet my anxiety, anger and pain with awareness, deep breaths and self-compassion. I became the rock in my own life’s storms – no longer needing to cling to other people, places and things to feel safe and grounded.
Meditation gave me back the ability to take care of myself, by teaching me how to notice when I’m moving away from my centre and what to do to bring myself back.
Have you ever noticed how much lighter you feel after you’ve told someone about a heavy feeling, thought or circumstance you’re dealing with? Just by sharing it with another person, you’re able to find some relief.
The same is true for writing, or more specifically, journaling. We can consider that the journal or latpop is a neutral, non-judgmental friend, who’ll let you talk and talk and talk until you feel better. No worrying about dumping on another person or being judged by them in some way.
The piece of paper or laptop is a safe space to get out what we need to, in order to make space for all the ease, joy and peace we deserve. Journaling helps us to clear our minds, release pent-up feelings and stress, explore our relationship with anxiety and acknowledge wins and successes.
Need some help getting started? Check out these simple journaling prompts for anxiety.
Doing yoga, meditation or journaling might not be your thing and that’s okay! The key to living a more mindful life is to just move, breathe and reflect as often as we can.
If you’re struggling with anxiety or stress right now, I see you. I’ve been you. I am you.
The mindfulness practices I described above have worked wonders for my mental health, but you might need to explore other tools that will suit your unique needs.
It’s also important to note that many of us who struggle with our mental health – myself included – need medication, therapy and lifestyle changes along with these mindfulness practices to find long-lasting and sustainable peace.
So, do what you can. Explore. Get curious. Ask questions. Reach out for help. You’re not alone. Take it one step and one breath at a time.
For extra support on your healing journey, sign-up for my 1:1 Peace of Mind Coaching Sessions, Mindfulness Programs for Anxiety and Yoga Classes. Learn more HERE.