Mental Health Report All about anxiety, journalling, loneliness and time out
We’re shining a light on common mental health issues to help spread awareness. First up, motivational coach KATIE DEAN shares her tips
One in four people will experience anxiety at some stage in their life – that’s one in three women and one in five men.
Whether you or someone you love deals with the disorder, there’s no doubt that despite its prevalence there’s still damaging stigmas attached.
But author of Becoming Brave and anxiety sufferer herself, Katie Dean, wants us to stop being so darn harsh on ourselves and others when all there really needs to be is compassion and support.
Here are her tips on understanding anxiety and ridding harmful stereotypes…
How it feels
Anxiety isn’t a “one size fits all” condition. In fact, it can come in many forms of varying degrees according to Katie, who explains some of those she’s experienced personally.
“At [its] heaviest and most debilitating, [you feel] complete and utter terror manifested and flooding through your body,” she says. “Within a full-fledged panic attack, the feeling within your body can be as though your life in that moment is on the line.” As for a more mild experience? “This feels like a low-level panic, like trying to keep an eye on three children at once at a busy playground, who are hell-bent on running in different directions,” she says.
But you can also find yourself in-between.
“It is completely possible to thrive alongside your anxiety when you choose to embrace and accept it,” Katie says. “I wouldn’t be me without it and now see it as the messenger it is.”
If you are suffering with anxiety, you need to first and foremost show yourself some love.
“Please know that you are in no way damaged, hard work or crazy,” says Katie. “You’re a super-feely person in a world that’s getting used to it. Showing up every day to a war that no one else can see is incredibly brave.”
Self-care is also important, so try things like exercise, reading, meditation, art, writing, time with friends or whatever it is that helps you be the best you. And ask yourself questions! “Ask yourself why these emotions are coming up for you? Why is this bothering you so much?” says Katie. “The answer is your golden ticket, and a lot of the time what’s required is a little self-compassion and a whole lot of belief in your ability.”
Trying to explain to people who don’t have anxiety how it actually feels can be difficult, not to mention tricky for them to even comprehend in the first place. It’s those missing links of communication that can cause misconceptions.
“One thing I don’t think people understand about anxiety is that it’s not the actual worries that we fear so much, it’s the full body takeover that everyone wants to avoid and strives to stop,” says Katie. “The problem is not the problem, the problem is the way our body responds to the problem that freaks us out.”
It can’t be stressed enough – to remove stigma we need to talk!
“Share your experience,” says Katie. “Talk about it, own it. We are not broken. There is nothing wrong with us. Our minds just like to get a little ‘extra’ and over-prepared. That isn’t anything to be ashamed of especially when you understand your fear is just a chance to be brave. When we change the way we see our anxiety, we change the way we experience it. When we change the way we talk about anxiety, the conversations we have around it become so much more uplifting and positive.”
Tackle stigma by talking Katie Dean