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

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

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.”

Cop­ing tech­niques

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.”

The mis­con­cep­tion

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.”

Ditch­ing stigma

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

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