Struggling with Anxiety? Try this Meditation Exercise

Join the Wellbeing Tribe! Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more free content on Psychology, Food, Fitness, Work Design & Spirituality!

We become anxious whenever we feel triggered, and the reason why we get triggered depends on our life experiences and on the way we were raised. While some of us learned how to deal with difficulties and problems in a more balanced way (e.g. seeking and receiving support), others might not have had the chance of growing up with good role models in that matter or might have even faced specific traumatic situations in life that conditioned them into a “fight or flight” response.

The truth is that each person has his or her own triggers. The more conscious or aware we become of our triggers though, the better equipped we become in the future to respond and manage our anxiety or tendency for panic attacks.

Here are some of the feelings we go through during an anxiety/panic crisis:

  • a deep and sudden fear
  • helplessness
  • a sense of being ‘frozen’
  • a struggle to breathe

When we notice that we are struggling to breathe, we start thinking that we are not in control of our body and mind – that’s when we panic for real. In this Meditation Class I will guide you through an exercise that I find helpful to learn on how to deal with anxiety or panic attacks in the future by using the breathe and visualisation.

Are you on Instagram? Follow me on @thewellbeingblogger for psychology & well-being daily updates!

How To Put Your Life Together

I’m in the aftermath of some terrible months which have essentially been marked by overwhelming feelings and a deep frustration because most things in my life seem to be stuck and unchangeable. And even though this seems very familiar when thinking about the past few years (to the point that it even became the ‘new normal’), it is certainly not the best way to live for me. So last week I sat down with my laptop and I started typing in a blank page under the title:

“Put Your Life Together”

Even though I’m no longer finishing my PhD in September (had a review meeting last week…), I decided that I can’t keep delaying the changes that I need for myself right now. I have been trying to focus on getting things done as much as I humanly can but the pressure has been so much that I found myself sacrificing my wellbeing again. That in turn makes me feel incredibly miserable and unhappy.

If you follow me on instagram, you might know that I that I have a tattoo on my back which says:

Love yourself. Love your day. Love your life.

And being fuelled by several cups of coffee during the day, working non-stop in front of a computer, and having no sort of positive human interactions are totally incompatible with those three sentences whose purpose was in the first place to remind me of how I should actually live! Instead I have been leading such a terrible lifestyle that I am even ashamed of saying out loud my blog’s URL.

I miss my yoga in the morning, my warm water with lemon, my smoothies and juices, my healthy food, and most of all I miss the overall feeling of being fit (I haven’t done any workout besides walking… and I’m now three sizes bigger because I keep eating to numb my feelings and thoughts!). And it’s because I miss all these good things that I decided it is time to stop letting my current situation (being stuck in this PhD process) overdrive my mood and my wellbeing goals. So while listening to one of D. Carnegie’s audiobooks (“How To Stop Worrying and Start Living”), I decided to put a four-step approach to change in practise on my Google Drive’s blank page:

  1. What needs to change?
  2. What can I do about it?
  3. What is my decision?
  4. What is the next action?

It wasn’t long until I a list of 12 items emerged. From finding a new house and applying for a different job in the local area to buying a gym membership and creating a saving account, the list revealed itself to be quite diverse. Under each item I then started to write a couple of actions that could contribute to the achievement of my overarching goals. I’m not going to share my detailed list, but here are my 12 items:

Put Your Life Together: #TheList

  1. Move house
  2. Change job
  3. Complete PhD thesis
  4. Buy a gym membership
  5. Book a massage
  6. Get a proper bike
  7. Invite JJ, W. and wife to have dinner in the new house
  8. Build-up a nice romantic relationship (forget this item!)
  9. Revamp my blog
  10. Work on my social business plan
  11. Create a saving account
  12. Visit family on a weekend asap

I can tell you that I already started to take action on some of these items. I showed interest in a house back in town, I applied for two jobs that I would sincerely love having, I have been writing up a lot in the last few days, and I also decided to only enjoy my friend’s love-life stories and stop thinking about mine. And… I also got a Thai massage taster today from my friend: actually I spent most of the time laughing because I realised that I’m really in a big physical trouble!

3 Reasons Why I Have Been Binging & I Was Not Aware Of

Right. Once again I was doing good, wasn’t I? I even wrote about going beyond the critical day 3 just a few days ago, and today I messed up for real: one litre of ice cream and an entire package of paprika crisps. Afterwards, of course, and as I always do, I desperately looked out for answers, for the trillionth time. 31956129_2086866341593273_4026763119693922304_n (1)

Seriously, I’m becoming sick of myself. I have been on this rollercoaster for decades and every attempt becomes a total fail. I have tried to buy new gym clothes, a sports watch, I downloaded different weight loss apps, I did counselling, I tried anxiety pills, weight loss pills, protein shakes… I already did raw food, vegetarian, protein only… I tried smoothies and immunological diets… I tried to stay accountable through a lifestyle instagram account, I started out an online group… why the hell am I still failing?

Well, apparently I have been dismissing three important things that I never consciously linked back to my binge eating. I am sure these three reasons are the ‘why’ behind my eating compulsion and they all have been secretly mining my recovery since I can remember. These are:

  • anxiety a.k.a. excess of future,
  • too many commitments, activities, and responsibilities,
  • no time to relax and do stuff that energises me (e.g. go to the beach on a Saturday instead of going to work)

All these relate to my earlier post on high performers. I was managing so well my work-life balance earlier this year, but as soon as my mid-year review deadline kicked-in, things went crazy. And now that I passed it with flying colours, my workload hasn’t reduced at all. In fact, it has been increasing exponentially, with 2 conferences to attend, 2 public speaking events, and 2 different workshops I’m co-organising between June and July, plus a thesis to be written and ready to submit by September. How the hell do I always put myself into such a big mess of things?

No wonder I use food to stop and relax; actually it seems to be the only moment in time that I literally stop! While I’m eating, I’m not trying to manage everything on my plate. While I’m eating, I force myself into a temporary state of pleasure and relaxation, just right before guilt and shame come in, and my body feels overwhelmed with the amount of food I ate in seconds.

This is all pathetic and ridiculous. I feel angry at myself and a big impostor. I feel like I should know better and at the same time I think I should stop torturing myself, accept my vulnerability, that I’m not bullet proof, and that no one is going to die if I fail at something that needs to be done. And in the meantime I need to allow myself to not do anything at all for a while – but God dammit, I have a presentation to deliver next Tuesday before my flight to Lisboa, reason why I spend the weekend in the office!

Oddly enough, the guy living in the room next to mine just muttered the following words “Relax your mind”… The question that now needs to be explored further is why do I overwhelm myself with so many ‘to-do things’?

Finding and Giving Space to Your Own Voice

I have done a lot of work on myself to express my inner voice over the years. It has been a long way, from a super shy and introverted teenager to a young adult who is now brave enough to teach in a cinema room or reach out to people who are often perceived by others as “VIP” or powerful.

Earlier on, I knew I had to find my voice and speak up no matter what, if I really wanted my ideas and passions to fly away from my writer’s desk. I think I can say I have done a reasonable good job on putting myself out there whenever there’s the need to. With baby steps, I have overcame the fear of failure and social rejection. I go out there and I just allow myself to be whoever I am, with all the good, bad and ugly things that are part of me. Maybe that’s why some clients are signing up to work with me on the same problem I used to have. They want to find and give space to their own voice in the world and within themselves.

And maybe you face the same struggle. Maybe you are also afraid of looking silly, of doing mistakes or saying all the wrong things you can imagine when talking to someone you barely know. You know you have to overcome these barriers if you want to feel confident and safe out there, just as my clients and I did. So what’s stopping you?

I can’t say I know exactly what’s stopping you, but I can share with you what was stopping me at the time. Here is a short list of reasons I can recall from the top of my head:

  • I thought I was not an interesting person
  • I thought I had nothing to say that people would like to hear
  • I thought people would find me weird as soon as I started talking to them

Of course I don’t feel expansive and confident all the time – no one is! -, but I find myself much more at ease whenever I need to speak to 200 students, express my opinion in public or attend a business party. The acute anxiety and stress peaks are no longer as harsh as they used to be, and believe me I would be paralysed. So what helped me in those scenarios? Three particular thoughts that refute the thoughts I wrote above:

  • Everyone is interesting and therefore so am I
  • I’m not the one deciding whether people are or are not interested in what I say, that’s up to them
  • Everyone is weird and everyone is great, so why fear?

We spend much time in our heads, that’s our biggest problem. And we tend to think the whole world gravitates around us. Does it? The freckle you think someone will spot on you will probably go unnoticed, because just like you everyone else is too much in their own heads to acknowledge that maybe, maybe that one person in front of them is actually feeling the same way they are – anxious, awkward, stupid. So why prolong the suffering?

My final pieces of advice:

  • find your voice and give it space
  • be open, be yourself, be brave
  • focus on the process, be in the moment, forget about the outcomes

Healing Tiredness With The Four Elements

More often than not, whenever I sit on a bus I grab my smartphone and I go on Pinterest. So after reading this article here on screen time, I plead guilty. Nonetheless, I found something very interesting while I was searching for “tired” – and yes, lately I have been constantly tired and experiencing “brain fog” a lot.

What I found was one those images with a bunch of words in it which altogether make us have an ‘a-Ha!’ moment. It basically mentioned how the soil, water, air, and heat could “heal” and empower us. From there, I associated the saying with the four elements and I realised how it actually looked like a very clever way or system to reboot ourselves – especially when we are feeling tired.

The image said the following:

“Place your hands into soil to feel grounded. Wade in water to feel emotionally healed. Fill your lungs with fresh air to feel mentally clear. Raise your face to the heat of the sun and connect with that fire to heal your own immense power.” (Victoria Erickson)

Wasn’t this lady intelligent?

The soil is the Earth. Water is water and air is air, of course. Heat is the Fire. The four elements, right there. And the most interesting thing – or at least I find it so – is that I have noticed each of these benefits in myself. Let me offer you a couple of examples:

Earth

One of the best memories I have when I was a kid is being at my grandfather’s garden and sitting directly on the ground next to my cousin. We would play with the reddish soil around us and contemplate the big world from that lovely seat that nature provided us with. The feelings I recall from that experience are safety and security.

Water

In the last 9 months I spent in Portugal, I started to realise the great impact that diving in the sea had on my mood and energy. Since then, I am always waiting for summertime and the chance to immerse myself in the sea (plus, I love the salty taste afterwards).

Air

Another thing that deeply changes my mood and disposition is seeing myself in an open space – the greener, the better. Last week I went for a walk in the fields around our university and afterwards I felt so much at ease with myself and my whole life!

Fire

Ok, I’m a suspicious person to talk about this one, because I come from the land of the sun (Portugal) and I’m pretty much like a lizard – whenever the sun is out, I love being outside feeling it on my skin. And I love being tanned (who doesn’t, right?). But the great thing about being exposed to sunlight is the feeling of being somehow “recharged” or “reenergised”.

 

 

What about you? Have you experienced any of these “healing” properties of the four elements? I would love to hear your thoughts!