In keeping with my promise to myself to live as Authentically as I can, I thought I would kick things off by becoming a bit personal with you all and telling you about some recent experiences I have had of my own which taught me a lot and made me eat some Humble Pie.

I have had my fair share of crap moments and things to work through over the years as much as the next person, however the last few months or so of my life has been an interesting ride. Whilst I am normally a very positive, open and go-with-the-flow type of gal, I have had a few life bumps that involved closing some chapters personally, saying goodbye to a lost loved one (who had the most incredible healing hugs), worrying excessively and not sleeping. First and foremost, I am a living breathing person just like everyone else, and whilst I want to acknowledge that there are some people out there who have some really serious problems in their lives, I will be speaking from my own experience. I have the same fears, worries and life problems as everyone else and being medically trained helps me understand the body so I am not usually too phased by the “bumps”. After all, I coach my amazing clients through these all the time! But for the past few months I had been stuck in a heightened state of fear and nausea. Many of you have been here before too – heart palpitations, butterfly’s in the stomach, feeling hot and sweaty, mind racing.

But this time was different.

It was unrelenting. Weeks passed and it was still there. There is nothing scarier than feeling like there may be no end to an awful feeling. I would take hours to fall asleep only to wake at 2am, feeling relatively calm but wired, heart pounding, ready to watch the ceiling and think about stupid stuff. Yay. Then I would wake in the morning bleary eyed and feeling hungover (but without the fabulous night before) with what I can only explain as feeling as if two bricks had decided to move in – one on my chest and one in my stomach.

“What if you will never be the same again?” my silly brain raced.

The panic only made it worse (which of course I knew but by this stage, lack of sleep had made my ego-brain run totally off into the future searching for all the possible horrible outcomes that were almost certainly going to happen!)  I could NOT get myself to re-balance. No matter what I did, what supplements I took, no matter how many deep breaths I took or how much I gave myself a talking to. And it scared me. 

This is Anxiety. And it is exhausting.

And whilst it is all well and good to give it a name, it is REALLY just boils down as a red flag from your body to say that you are over-doing it. On all levels.

We have all usually had feelings of anxiety in our lives from time to time. But those who have experienced these deep feelings of fear and anxiousness will resonate with what I am talking about. This isn’t just a rational worry about work or a situation. This is an irrational overreaction to standard life stuff. And you feel like an idiot for reacting this way because our Ego needs to rationalise and understand things. And when you can’t find a logical explanation for why you are awake at 2am thinking about something that doesn’t even bloody exist, your Ego-Brain decides that you are in fact, Nuts. And so the panic about being Nuts begins!

Feeling like there is nothing you can do to help yourself is the most distressing part about anxiety. You feel helpless when you are in the grips of fear. If it is a loved one that experiences this, then it is important to understand that what they are feeling feels so real to them because their heart is thumping, they feel hot inside, their stomach is in knots and they are likely sweating like crazy. It all feels like something is very, very wrong and it is awful BUT it isn’t permanent (like nothing in life is).

FEAR. False Evidence Appearing Real. That’s all it is but knowing that may not be enough to pull you out of the grips when things go too far as they did for me when I didn’t catch it in time.

There are 3 different types of Stress

  • Emotional – What we think, feel and how much perceived stress we are under.

  • Biochemical –Are you deficient in anything? What’s your hormones like?

  • Structural / Physical –Are you getting enough Sleep? Drinking enough water? Are you overweight or underweight? Are you exercising enough or too much? Are you getting sunshine daily?

We need each side of this triangle to be supported and monitored in order to feel balanced and OK. When we neglect ourselves, as we can so often do, you can end up feeling burnt out, tired, like I did or worse. But at the end of the day, life doesn’t throw us curve balls we can’t handle. There are things you can do to pull yourself out of this that don’t include medication or suppressants like alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. Here are some tips that I learnt worked for me to get me back online. Once I started committing to these things consistently (and that is the key here) I felt amazingly better within 2 weeks.

Here are a few tricks that I learnt that really helped pull me through

  • Walk walk walk! And no I am not saying the usual exercise is good for you speal. I am talking about just a really light easy walk outside around other people. This saved me. I went to the park and just walked. No time goals and no intensity. It helped seeing other people out walking their animals or their non-furry animals (otherwise known as kids). That feeling of being connected to something bigger than yourself helps to take the focus from inside your mind to the external

  • Let go of the desire to sleep.Initially when the insomnia started I was terribly annoyed at myself and the world for making me awake at 2am. But after a few weeks of this I found myself in a fatigue-induced state of relaxation at night. I was so tired that I didn’t care I was awake – it was the new normal. Plus I didn’t have the energy the be annoyed with the situation so when I woke up I didn’t punish myself or think about how tired i would be. And this made all the difference. Waking in the night no longer became a scary thing – I still did it but I no longer lay awake thinking about how I should be asleep. I just accepted that I was awake and that it was ok. As soon as I did this I started feeling really relaxed at night. I found that waking at 2am felt like a really calm time of the day for me and then I eventually found myself getting back to sleep easily. Lesson: Holding on to how you think things should be only brings you more of what you already don’t want. Let go.

  • Guided Meditations.When I would wake up in the night I found popping in headphones and listening to a Guided Meditation helped settle my overactive thoughts that I was struggling to calm. A guided meditation is a recording where you listen to someone speak with relaxing music and it help gives your mind something to focus on. Great for those whose minds wander off with just music alone. Plenty of free ones out there – just YouTube “Guided Meditation for Sleep”, pop in headphones and away you go!
    Here are some that might be useful!

    Detachment from Overthinking
    Surrender Meditation
    Guided Meditation for Sleep

  • Go on a Caffeine Ban!No caffeine in any form until things settle down. No matter how tired you feel. It is only making things worse as it increases stress chemicals in the body and you already have enough floating around!

  • Abandon the Phone. These little rectangles come with us everywhere these days and we don’t ever stop the think about how strange it is that we now feel naked leaving the house without a little computer. Whilst they are amazingly handy, they actually give off a fair amount of stress. Leaving my phone at home when I went out and turning it off when I didn’t need it on was really refreshing.

  • Change your State. When things would get really shaky and the horrible internal feelings would start ramping up again, I would go have a shower. Sometimes in the middle of the night. Changing your state is a quick way to get yourself to re-focus on something else and having a shower – going from dry to wet – worked well for me to hit the reset button. Yours could be a run or to dance it out or start doing star jumps or push ups or yelling loudly at yourself in the car (haha that’s a fun one). Whatever it is just change whatever you are doing immediately.

  • Don’t hide. I know that the first reaction for people with anxiety is to withdraw and not talk to people. I did at first. Maybe it is so we can pretend that we aren’t feeling as crap as we are. But being really open with my close friends and family – admitting that I was in a crap place and I explained the feelings I was having really helped not only THEM understand how to help me, but it meant I felt less isolated. A random text from a mate with a funny picture or them explaining what they had for lunch can make the world of difference to someone with anxiety. Talk to a counselor if you don’t wish to talk to your friends or family but crack it open to someone – that’s how the light get’s in!

  • Stress Support Supps. Taking care of your physical health (on that Biochemical level) is vital to bouncing back. Going through a chronically stressed or anxious state takes a lot out of you and making sure you replace your nutrients and support your body is so important to re-balancing it. I continued to take my Magnesium, B vitamins, Adrenal herbs and Fish oils (even though at the time they didn’t feel like they were “fixing me” like they normally do) I still swear by them 100%. You can not expect a car to run well on an empty tank and I attribute my balance to keeping consistent with this.

  • Last but not least – Be the Ocean. Let me explain. Think of yourself as a big ocean. All emotions are only ever waves on the surface. They change the look of the ocean, can be unrelenting at times but always changing. Now think about if you dive under those waves and get close to the bottom – it is always very still, quiet and peaceful. Just like currents, swimming against a flow of thoughts will only exhaust you and create panic. You have 2 choices – either swim sideways and slowly edge your way out, or lie on your back and let the current take you until it loses strength (as it always does) and then swim. But don’t forget that underneath all of your waves, if you dive deep and drop away from the constant mind chatter you will find your stillness.

I am happy to report that I am back to sleeping through the night again and have learnt the very valuable lesson of how much we have power over our health – particularly our Mental Health. Whilst it has always been something I thought I knew, I am in awe of how much can be solved by going with the flow, letting go of resistance and accepting what is. Of course I keep up my usual Nutritional and Herbal supports – I know that I would not bounce back as fast and feel as amazing if I didn’t!

Too many of us are in a constant state of resistance and feel stressed everyday. Maybe it’s time to check in with what you are resisting in your life and see where you too can let go.

Monique Kelly Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist