There is an old saying that you should ‘Never Judge a book by its Cover’ and it is a saying that I am very found of. You truly never know what someone is going through in their life despite how they may act or seem. I have always been a confident lady, outgoing, bubbly and try to be positive. Working in hospitality you meet and interact with so many people daily that conversation and relationships become your way of life. No one would have ever thought that I had anxiety or even suspected unless I told them.
When my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I remember I started to feel anxious. Naturally, I was worried for her and my family. Without me being aware this was the start of my anxiety and my body was reacting to her diagnoses. I found it hard to sleep at night and my thoughts would be filled with her next appointments, what I could do or how could I help her. My main priority at that time was my mother and family so I knew I had to do something regarding my sleeping patterns and emotions. This is how I got into kickboxing.
Exercise is a great way to release the energy in your body and helps make you feel good. Kickboxing helped me in so many ways and I am forever grateful to my trainer Sean who always pushed me hard but took the time to teach me about nutrition. There is no better feeling than hitting that punch bag. Any negative emotion I had was released during that session. Kickboxing teaches you not only about fitness but respect for your team members too. I have so much admiration for any athlete, the level of patience, commitment and dedication to achieve a black belt totally blew my mind. Not everyone is into Kickboxing and I understand that, but you do not need to be. On the days that I cannot go to the gym I simply go for a walk, even for 30 minutes. It helps relax my body and the fresh air is also good for your mind.
As I became more aware of my anxiety, I was able to recognise the triggers and what brought them on. Stress was the main factor which lead to worry and my body was reacting to this worry. I made changes to my lifestyle that would help combat the anxiety and change my thought process too. After my mother died, I cut certain things out of my life that made me feel sad or bad about myself. I stopped watching the news, horror movies and only watched comedies for nearly a year. Laughter really is good for the soul. When I listen to music, I play anything that is upbeat, that I can sing awfully too but makes me smile inwardly. I found that I could keep myself positive by changing these small details of my life.
“Changing your mind is a strength” Gary Vaynerchuk
I reduced my caffeine intake to one cup of coffee a day as I found If I exceeded this it would trigger my anxiety. I also stopped drinking as much alcohol as this also gave me horrendous anxiety the next day. Do not get me wrong I still like to enjoy myself, but everything is now in moderation. Every night before I go to bed, I read my gratitude book. It is a journal of 10 things that I am grateful for in my life and why I am grateful for them, my last thoughts at night are happy thoughts. Having good friends who are positive and you can talk to about how you are feeling helps and I feel very blessed I have amazing people in my life. Sometimes you must step away from negative people too for your own happiness. Taking time for yourself is essential and something I am learning I must do more of as I can confess, I have always been a workaholic but in order to heal you need to love yourself too.
Everyone has different symptoms when it comes to anxiety so I can only tell you how it affects me. When it is bad it is awful, it takes over my whole body. I cannot eat properly as my stomach is cramping, my heart races and I literally feel like it is coming out of my chest. I have so much energy racing through my body but at the same time everything is difficult to do. There is no motivation. It paralyses you. What I have learned over time though is that you can utilise that energy, positively.
During Covid 19 I have discovered other ways to help keep my mind positive, writing, drawing and even social media. Tik Tok is one platform I would have never used prior and now really enjoy watching and making videos. There are genuine users who simply make me laugh out loud when I watch them. I cry happy tears. Like with any social media platform there will always be a small majority who leave inappropriate comments. How do you handle them? With kindness, they must be hurting to want to do that in the first place. The most important thing I have learnt is that there will be days that my anxiety will be good and days that it will not, but It will not stop me from being me.
Be yourself – be unique, be funny and be kind.