Having anxiety when you are a mum can be challenging because we often put everyone else first, meaning focus on our own wellbeing can be lacking. However, I’d like you to see this blog as a message of hope because my recovery began when I became a mum. Having Eden gave me all the reason in the world to recover and was the beginning of my becoming positively selfish (you can learn more about this in my podcast, here).
However, if I have learnt anything from my 10 year long relationship with anxiety, it’s that recovery is not straightforward. It transcends our physical, mental and spiritual state. I’ve learned to think of it like an onion and I’d like to help you unpeel its layers.
So if you are feeling anxious right now, or have been diagnosed with anxiety, or are navigating the complex recovery process, or are supporting somebody else to do so, this blog is for you.
I am not a doctor, I am not diagnosing you and I’m not even really making any recommendations, I am just sharing what happened and what worked for me in the hopes it helps you.
The external layer of your onion – your anxiety’s cause
A cause of anxiety is something that caused your anxiety disorder to be a part of you in the first place.
For some people there is no obvious cause, but for others there is a clear link to your situation and your anxiety starting. For me it was a pressured work environment. Don’t get me wrong, other things contributed in the lead up to it, which broke down my resilience, but the long-term, persistent stress was the tipping point for me and was the catalyst to my long-term anxiety issues. I have had friends and family members who have developed anxiety after living with cancer, and others who have developed anxiety after troubled relationships or loss. My first step in recovering from my anxiety was to get away from its cause. Obviously this is not possible for everyone, but if you can move away from the cause of your anxiety, I really recommend that you should, to open up the space to heal, which for me started in my physical state, rather than my mental state.
The next layer of my onion – my physical state
I am sharing this as a really important layer of everyone’s anxiety onion (should I hashtag that? #anxietyonion?) because it wasn’t until I had become physically more healthy that I realised that my physical health had played such a significant part in breaking down my mental resilience to cope with life. Of course, the persistent stress was also damaging my physical health, so it was a revolving cycle; a mess. My recommendation is that if you are having anxious feelings right now, make an extra effort to do the following things:
- Clean up your diet
- Kick out the processed stuff and replace with clean, homemade food that is low in sugar and other rubbish like preservatives
- Add in a probiotic to your day
- And start taking a good multivitamin. (I take these.) B Vitamins, magnesium, vitamin d and other vitamins, minerals and even amino acids like Tryptophan can all have a positive impact on your anxious feelings.
The third layer of my onion – Counseling/Coaching
Counseling is one of the first things a doctor will offer somebody who is suffering with anxiety (alongside medication), and for some it works really well. For me I felt it was a load off to talk about the the things that were bothering me, but that was all it was, a load off.
Then in 2016 I was offered a sponsorship to train to become a life coach. As part of this I received a lot of coaching and it was transformational. Read more here.
And if coaching or counseling is something you haven’t tried yet, give it a go. Talk to me about the difference between the two and what might serve you best.
The fourth layer of my onion – are my daily actions nourishing or draining?
How we spend our time can massively impact our anxious feelings. If we spend all of our time around noxious people, sit in front of a screen all day, never get outside, listen to bad news and lie awake all night fretting, we are going to feel low and drained, which is like swinging the door open for the anxious feelings to come in.
If we instead try to do things that lift us and make us feel good, it gives us the resilience to keep those anxious feelings out. I didn’t know any of this in the early days of my recovery. It was in my personal development that I learned about our personal energy and how everything we are is energy and about how we can either vibrate high or low. And it’s the nourishing things that keep our vibration high, which keeps anxiety out (mostly).
I started to learn about Gratitude Walking and Earthing and the power of nature and sunlight. I started to look critically at the people I was spending most time with, the things I was reading and listening to and paying attention to what made me feel good so I could do more of it.
Kickboxing has always been something that has made me feel better. Exercise gets our heart beating and increases our good hormones, and helps us sleep (which is also important to how we feel.)
Prior to my life coaching I’d started kickboxing because someone had recommended exercise to ease how I was feeling and I literally tried the first class I saw a sign for on the way home from work! I was instantly hooked. I never intended it to be anything more than a hobby, but after Eden was born I ended up saying yes to a fight! Turned out to be transformative in how I looked at my anxiety disorder. For all this time I had been experiencing this irrational fight or flight feeling and then suddenly, there I was heading into real combat with a real reason to feel my cortisol burn. And yet, by focusing on the trust in my training and the end goal I was able to control the feeling and function. It wasn’t until my life coaching that I understood the power of this perspective and how to use it in my daily life to face the fears that didn’t exist outside of my mind.
The final part of my onion – the core
I refer to this as the core of my onion because it took a state of real self-awareness to understand it, and that self awareness mainly came from all the other work I did on myself, as I peeled away the other layers. However, the other reason it is a core issue, is that without getting a handle on this, however many times you think you have a handle on your anxiety it will always trip you up again. It’s the panic attack that takes you by surprise, the sudden fall from Zen to chaos and the middle of the night when you suddenly can’t sleep and it feels like the hands are closing round your throat. This sudden return to anxious even if you have had months of being OK is caused by triggers. This is different to the cause of your anxiety, you may long have moved on from that, but it is like your body remembers how it feels to be in certain situations and puts you in the state of fight or flight all over again. For me it was the multitasking that juggling motherhood with a business brought, the chaos that unfolds with small people and the pressure of success. It was crazy because I’d be under pressure on the Monday and feel nothing, then multitasking on the Tuesday and feel nothing, then do nothing on Wednesday and be hit with a panic attack! It wasn’t until I started wearing my Helo that I started to identify the triggers that were causing my heart rate to rise and my breathing to hasten way before I spiralled into a panic attack. To figure things out I started to journal what I was doing each day then I would reference that with my Helo data that gets stored in a Lifelog, so you can see exactly what every single one of your bioparameters is doing at every moment through the day; even down to your mood and energy levels. I saw very quickly that there was a clear pattern between trying to work from home when the kids were there and my spiral into an anxious state, so I was able to make simple changes to my day that had a big impact on how I felt! I also used my Helo to stay on track because if I slipped back into bad habits, my bioparameters reminded me to take a look again at what I was doing. I don’t think I could have progressed as quickly as I did without this sort of accountability!
What if our experiences are exactly what we need?
I ask this question because my anxiety disorder changed my life, in a good way. It got me to question certain things and make changes and ultimately get to a better place of health, mental calm, spiritual awareness and now I am helping others to do the same. If we can alter our energy about the things that are happening to us we immediately change our vibration and this helps us to feel hope. It helps us to find the motivation to move forward and helps us set the intention to make positive change.
Much Love x x
Has this blog been helpful to you? I would love you to reach out in the comments. And please contact me directly if you would like to discuss any of the information above.