Mental health is just as important as physical health, the state of your mind can greatly impact how the rest of your body functions. Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in Australia affecting 1 in 4 people, highlighting the need for further understanding and open communication on how to manage such conditions. From personal experience I have learnt how to recognise and control these feelings, which by sharing may hopefully help others in some way.
I moved to London in 2012 and lived there for 3.5 years. Toward the end of my third year I began to experience severe anxiety. I would wake up to an overwhelming sense of angst, my heart constricted and thumping a million miles an hour; this feeling would stay with me throughout majority of the day. I got used to waking up like this, being on edge constantly and having panic attacks every so often.
I tried breathing techniques, herbs, acupuncture and massages to relieve the anxiety; these helped temporarily but the feeling continued. I spoke to my best friends in Australia and they suggested that maybe it was time to come home, I shrugged it off and told myself It wasn’t that. This relentless feeling continued for 6 months, until I hoped on a plane back to Sydney.
I met up with my best friends for dinner when I got home and we began talking about London, all of a sudden the flood gates opened and uncontrollable tears came cascading into my salmon vermicelli salad, turning it into a salty pho. My mind had surrended, everything I had been holding onto for the last 6 months was being released.
The mind is exposed to all, whether it’s fear, joy, irrational or logical thoughts. It confuses itself, challenges its own intellect, persuades, and creates deals with itself. We are adaptable beings, and our incredible minds are impacted by everything and everyone we encounter. For this reason we need to understand the importance of taping into the intelligence of our hearts, the essence of love, compassion, and creativity, for the inner truth that isn’t persuaded by external influences.
Clearly I was not listening to my heart, and I was scared. I was scared of where I lived, being alone, not good enough, failing, change, making incorrect decisions and not knowing the answers to what came next… I was scared to listen to my body and tune in to what it was trying so desperately to get across to me; ‘your situation right now is not serving you, what will make you really happy?’
When I finally let go of fear and the need to control and created a unified bond between my head and heart, my relentless anxiety stopped. Something that sounds so simple, can be quite hard, and it’s still a work in progress.
Anxiety should not be your default feeling, so I have put a little list together of some things that helped me. Please let me know if you have any others to add, something you would like to share, or someone to just talk to, I would love to hear from you.
1. Get in touch with your heart, listen to it, what is your mind saying that your heart is not agreeing with?
2. Practice diaphoretic breathing – breathing from your stomach, long, slow breaths.
3.Move your body – Physical exercise is an outlet for releasing adrenalin; which accumulates when you are stressed and contributes to your anxious feeling. When you exercise serotonin is formed which is responsible for mainting mood balance, contributing to wellbeing and happiness.
4. There are some amazing herbs that help relieve anxiety; Kava, Passionflower, Skullcap, St Johns Wart, and Valerian. Visit your natural practioner to talk about these further.
5. Create space for yourself to read a book, relax, watch the ocean, watch a movie, do absolutely nothing at all…. whatever it is allow yourself to have time to do something you enjoy.
6. If it is really impacting your life, reach out, Beyond Blue professionals are there to help you.