Coping with anxiety is particularly difficult at the moment, and a lot more people than ever, may be feeling it. Daily life has undergone a big change and there’s a lot of uncertainty around, which exacerbates feelings of anxiety and stress. I experienced some anxiety and symptoms of post natal depression when Honor was about a year old and deciding to talk to friends about it hugely helped, not only because so many of them identified similar feelings, but because they lead me to some impactful, practical tips. For me, anxiety wasn’t just mental, I felt it physically too – a racing heart, a tight chest, a feeling akin to drinking 12 cups of coffee, and over a period of a couple of months, it became more intense every day. I was worrying about big things, small things, and totally ridiculous things. It felt irrational, and began to annoy me, that I couldn’t just relax and enjoy the little things, without thinking ahead and worrying about nothing in particular. I would often wake in the night with my face scrunched up, my hands in fists, and I realised I needed to do something about it. I read and researched in abundance, and found out some very helpful things. Being in lockdown has made me so aware that many people who previously haven’t experienced anxiety, might well be now feeling it. So I’ve collated the most helpful, scientifically-based information, as well as some anecdotal advice, that has helped me beat it (most days!). Coping with anxiety isn’t easy but hopefully one, or some of these ideas and resources will be able to help anyone in need of it. As with any advice, especially pertaining to the two natural supplements I’m recommending below, please be sure to check with your doctor or health advisor before trying anything. I am – as you guys know (!) not a doctor, nor am I a therapist, but I do want to share what’s helped me.
This article I read in the New York Times talks about how humans have, over a very long time, developed the pre-frontal cortex which is where anxiety comes from. It’s a part of our brain that basically plans for what might happen and we often jump to the worst case scenario, which is how panic manifests itself. Really interesting stuff, it also continues to discuss how you are able to train your brain to overcome this.
I’ve also been delving into the world of Sophrology (with the help of Dominique Antiglio) which was developed by a neuropsychiatrist in the 1960s. It’s similar to meditation in many ways but for me, was easier to stick to. It combines breathing techniques and visualisation, and helps you reach a deep state of relaxation, calming the nervous and sympathetic nervous systems. When I learned more, what I found very validating, was that professional athletes use it before events, to focus and manifest their victory. Pregnant women use it to prepare for labour and birth. And what I found really fascinating, is that French and Swiss medical insurance actually pays for Sophrology treatment. I did a first session with Dominique, during which I instantly felt different: lighter, and as if I understood what was going on int my brain and body, much better. Sophrology encourages a switch to alpha brain waves in the brain, and has a physical effect on your nervous system. There’s a link to her video explaining more, below:
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Over the years so many people have asked me what is Sophrology? Is it like meditation or yoga? The answer is neither although there are influences of both, but Sophrology is itself a very unique practice which combines breathing, movement and positive visualisation. . I hope this video helps to explain the practice and inspire you all to join my LIVE Sophrology sessions on Tuesday evenings to give it a go and see for yourselves how simple but deeply transformational it is. With thanks to the wonderful team @ds_films_uk for these beautiful films.
The following small, practical changes to my daily life might seem trivial, but they’ve made a gigantic difference. Caffeine: I love my morning latte, but I can’t have two in a day anymore. The difference goes from alert and energetic, to jittery and crazy. Listening to classical music: especially while working. It sets a very calming atmosphere, and music without lyrics is proven to help you stay focused. Plus if you don’t listen to it on the radio, you have the added bonus of skipping the news. A hot bath in the evening: wow these are like medicine. The warm water around your body makes you release oxytocin, which is the calming hormone that we also get from a good hug, which makes you feel secure. Even better if you can lower the lights and add a relaxing essential oil. In terms of supplements, I’ve been talking Magnesium and Ashwagandha. Magnesium is a mineral that helps relax the nervous system – as well as your muscles. You can get it as bath salts and creams as well. Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb that also supports the nervous system, with grounding, calming and restorative properties. It helps with sleep too, something a lot of people are struggling with at the moment. As always guys, I love to hear your thoughts, so please do let me know anything you’ve tried to cope with anxiety too.
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One of the most personal videos I’ve done, but if it helps just one of you feeling shitty right now, then amazing. Here are the very practical ways I impacted my anxiety, and most of them worked within 24 hours (some were even quicker), which is why I’m sharing them. I’ve mentioned it before, but last year my feelings of anxiety got more intense and became physical. It sucked and it began to take over everything. I decided to read and research as much as possible on the subject, and speak to certain key people about it. What I found out has made such an impact, I wanted to collate every detail and list them for you here. I’ve also written a post with links to every article, video and book I mention, on my blog.