Jade Lizzie

Sharing the yoga love

Category: Writing

Coping with post-lockdown anxiety

Is anyone else struggling with post-lockdown anxiety? Life without restaurants and yoga studios and holidays was hard, but it was also simpler. Now that the world has opened up again, I’ve found myself torn between so many competing demands. How am I going to fit everything in? Who haven’t I remembered to get in touch with? Am I doing any of this right? Ugh.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

However, as someone who has struggled with anxiety since childhood, I have at least built up a decent range of strategies for dealing with it. When I start to notice anxious thoughts taking over, these are the things I find most helpful.

Disclaimer: It’s important I point out that I am not a mental health professional and I am just sharing what works for me in the hope that it may help someone else too. Anxiety is far more talked about than it used to be, and I’m glad about that, but it is still a medical condition. If you are struggling, please seek professional help. There is lots of practical advice and guidance about anxiety, fear and panic on the NHS website.

My personal strategies for dealing with anxiety

  • Journalling. This is my go-to for when my head is too full of thoughts and I know I need to spend some time untangling them before I expect the rest of the world to have to deal with me. Often I like to free write, which is writing as a stream of consciousness without any regard for structure, form or content, and see what unfurls. Sometimes I use a journal prompt to kickstart some more creative reflections and sometimes I write about what’s wrong and I keeping going until I’ve figured out a way to feel better.
  • Yoga. You may have guessed this one already. I write about yoga, I do yoga, I teach yoga – it’s clearly a big part of my life. But in many ways it was anxiety that drew me to yoga. If like me you are an over-thinker, getting out of your head and into your body is essential. Uniting breath with movement helps to keep your attention on the present and away from your racing thoughts. What kind of yoga is best for anxiety is probably a post for another time, but the main thing is to take the pressure off. You don’t need to do an intense 2 hour vinyasa flow practice, unless you want to. Just get yourself onto your yoga mat for 10 minutes, breathe and move.
  • Self acupressure. Ok, this one is a little out there, but bear with me. Last week, I had a nasty cold. I was feeling too ill for yoga, too tired for journalling, but I knew I needed to do something. I tried the acupressure techniques in this video for stimulating the vagus nerve, and within minutes, I felt calmer. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Stand up paddle boarding on St Mary’s Loch, Scotland.
  • Getting outside in nature. This is my favourite way to tackle anxiety – getting outside, whatever the weather. Especially if you spend long days working inside, this is the pefect antidote. It matters less what you do – walking, running, paddleboarding (I’m a big fan!), cycling – all can be great. The key thing is:
    • See the sky
    • Breathe the air
    • Move around
    • Remind yourself that there is a natural world which is both bigger than you and connected to you.
  • Meditation. I’ve put this further down the list, because when I’m in a state of acute anxiety, it’s actually not something I find helpful – I need to try the other things on the list first. However, as once I’ve done my journalling or my yoga or whatever else I need to move the immediate anxiety along a stage, then sitting down to meditate is wonderful. It’s also a great longer term strategy for dealing with stress and anxiety before it arises. I try to make at least five minutes for meditation as part of my morning routine before I start work. If silent meditation feels overwhelming, try this beautiful, short guided meditation from Mooji. You might also like to check out the guided meditation script which is part of the free Mini Yoga Teachign Toolkit I’ve created.

Creating your own anxiety toolkit

As a final bonus point, one thing I’ve found it useful is to create for myself a little anxiety toolkit. It’s essentially a list of all the things I can try that help me to work through anxiety and ultimately feel better. I keep these on my phone, so that when I have a low moment, I can check in with it and feel inspired to try at least one of the things to move myself out of the funk.

The transition into winter can be tough, especially this year with post-lockdown anxiety and ongoing pandemic uncertainty, so be kind to yourself. Let me know if you find any of these useful and if you have other strategies for dealing with anxiety that work for you, please share them in the comments below. I’d love to hear them.

Five Reasons To Start Writing Today

Start writingIt’s no secret that along with yoga, writing is my passion. I believe that everyone has it in them to be a writer. Especially you.

Here are five great reasons to start writing today:

  1. Writing is cheaper than a therapist. There’s nothing quite like writing for getting to the bottom of how you’re feeling. Whether you’re confused, sad or angry, one of the most empowering things to do is to sit down and write everything that comes into your head. Keep writing until you’ve worked through what’s troubling you, typed your way out of stuck thought patterns or come up with a plan of action. Some people even find it helpful to burn what they’ve written at the end, as a way of symbolically letting go of the “story” they’ve been telling themselves.
  2. Writing is the ultimate creative act. When you write, you have the power to create worlds that can be whatever you want them to be. Unconstrained by finances, resources or practical limitations, your imagination is free to construct scenarios that bear as much or as little relation to your actual world as you like. Ever wonder what would have happened if you’d married your childhood sweetheart, succumbed to a gambling addiction or discovered you have a superpower? Write it and see. Through your writing, you can live out other lives, explore crazy possibilities, and bring life to ideas that you might shy away from in the actual world.
  3. Writing helps you to manifest your dreams. Along similar lines to the idea of creating dream worlds, start writing about your dream life, as if it’s already here, and already true. For instance, “I am so happy to live in a gorgeous penthouse apartment by the sea,” etc. As well as helping you to clarify what you want (which many people forget to take the time to do), it lets you begin to create the feelings and experience of being in your ideal future. This brings you a huge step closer to creating it.
  4. Writing is a tool to connect with others. Conversation is great, but as a tool for connecting with other people, writing has very special qualities. For a start, your reader can choose the time they read your words, and they can take them in at their own pace, engaging with them exactly when they are ready to. They can read, re-read, backtrack and skim the text at their leisure. Writing also gives you the opportunity to construct your message carefully, really considering and crafting your communication so that you make sure that its impact matches your intention. How often are we able achieve that precision when we speak?
  5. Writing lets you express yourself. No one else on this planet has had the exact life experiences you have had. As such, just by existing, you already have unique insights and ideas that are worth expressing. No one out there will put it exactly like you, and once you start writing, who knows what value your unique take on the world will have for someone else? You might reassure, challenge, encourage, provoke or inspire people.

So many people want to write, but they put it off, because they don’t think they have anything to say. But particularly when you’re new to writing, you don’t know what you have to say until you start. Try free writing – sitting for 10 minutes each day with a timer and writing whatever comes into your head, without stopping, censoring or editing yourself at all. I challenge you to do this every day for a week and see what comes up.

Even better, come and join us at my Yoga and Writing Retreat at Suryalila Retreat Centre in Spain, 2nd to 9th July 2016. You’ll have the opportunity to explore all five of these reasons through writing workshops, with daily yoga sessions to help unlock your creativity and awaken your inner writer. Coupled with delicious food, stunning surroundings and Spanish sunshine, it’s going to be a magical week, and I’d love you to come join us.

Have a great week, and let me know how you find the writing challenge!

Jade xxx

 

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