For many years of my life, I was suffocated with worry. I thought it was in my DNA to be a worrier. It was just a piece of the jigsaw. As I got older into my twenties I started to realise that this wasn’t the case. That being so exhausted from it couldn’t be “normal”.

There were a few key incidents in my life that I believe really impacted on my anxiety. The first was a bad experience with a school teacher. I was petrified of her, and not just in a typical I don’t like my school teacher way. This particular teacher literally made me nauseous.

I was four or five. Although I had no idea at the time, I believe it to be the seed that led to my anxiety. The next incident was the sudden death of my father. I was age 12. Without question the most terrifying and confusing night of my life to date.

The impact losing him has had on my mental health has been immeasurable. But coming to terms with his death has been and will continue to be an experience of immense growth and self-awareness. In life and in death he has taught me real values.

Getting it all under control has been a complicated, messy process with more crossroads, wrong turns, and roundabouts than I care to remember. The two key things though which stand out to me in learning to manage my anxiety have been yoga and counselling.

Not so much one in isolation but the marriage of the two together. Counselling has taught me so many things about myself, how I function, my patterns and most importantly, it has taught me inner self-awareness. Yoga has taught me physical awareness of my body and surroundings in a way that I hadn’t taken much notice of before.

Getting it all under control has been a complicated, messy process with more crossroads, wrong turns, and roundabouts than I care to remember. The two key things though which stand out to me in learning to manage my anxiety have been yoga and counselling. 

The next three years I was busy graduating from college, working and traveling so it wasn’t until shortly after my twenty-fourth birthday when I allowed myself to stop and rest for a minute to try and figure out why I felt so unhappy.

I wasn’t long home from spending six months teaching in Thailand which ended on a low note. A number of factors contributed to this and the loneliness and isolation of being so far away from my family was too much and so I returned. It had been an incredibly tough time for me. I distracted myself with going out whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Midweek, weekends, it didn’t really matter. My concern was to continue the charade that I was fine. Sure I had been telling myself that I was for over a decade. How was I supposed to know that I really wasn’t? Sitting at home one February evening on the couch I felt incredibly empty.

I knew I was unhappy but didn’t really know why but was making my own assumptions. I made the decision in that moment to return to counselling. Truth be told I just did an online search and picked a counsellor at random. To date, it has been one of the best steps I have ever taken.

I went weekly for six months before taking off on another adventure to teach for a year in Prague. Although I was away I ensured that I kept in touch with the counsellor and arranged appointments for when I was home at Christmas and returned again when I had completed the year abroad.

I got on well with this counsellor from the first session. Over time it has enabled me to become conscious of the decisions I’m making, the people I choose to surround myself with, my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. All aspects of myself.

I’ve always been quite open about the fact that I’ve attended counselling. I still go now every few weeks because I’ve learned anxiety is about management as opposed to cure. As people can still be quite put off by the thought of counselling I think it’s important to normalise it as much as possible and take out the shame or embarrassment that some may feel about it.

One really important aspect I think is that you need to find a counsellor you feel comfortable with. I’ve been lucky that the second counsellor I visited was one who I got on well with and trusted. Don’t be afraid to try different counsellors. It’s no reflection on them or you, sometimes you just don’t gel.

It’s important because sometimes people can be put off by one experience and automatically think every session with all counsellors would be the same, which isn’t the case.My relationship with yoga is somewhat comparable to the on again off again relationship of Ross and Rachel. If I think back my first class was a Bikram yoga class with a friend when I was about nineteen or twenty. She wanted to try it and I thought why not.

For anyone who isn’t familiar Bikram yoga is done in extreme heat and is quite challenging. It was the first and last Bikram yoga class I went to. After that, I attended one or two regular yoga classes but didn’t stick to it. While living in Prague I dipped into it again and went another five or six times but It wasn’t until around 2015 that I started to actually get into the routine of going regularly.

There was an outdoor yoga class on Saturday mornings that I tried. Following that, in 2016 I started to attend classes more frequently in a yoga studio and really started to enjoy and feel the benefits of regular practice. I continue to go at least once a week but there are times when I still fall out of that routine. I can feel it both mentally and physically when I stop practicing now.

Yoga is an incredibly empowering form of exercise. It takes patience and consistency to see the benefits but is worth it. For me if I’m feeling challenged in another area of life or with a situation I’m not sure how to manage I find yoga an excellent boost of confidence.

The first time you find yourself achieving a new pose that you couldn’t do before, one you thought you wouldn’t ever be able to do, that’s a fantastic feeling. When I leave that class there is a renewed sense of self-belief that if I can achieve that once unattainable pose, I can manage what other challenges I face be that in work or in my personal life.

First you do the modified version and gradually build to the full expression. It’s similar with new experiences or challenges. Break it down to one step at a time and gradually you’ll find yourself doing what you thought you couldn’t.

It would be misleading to say that because I’ve challenged my anxiety that I’ve completely overcome it. I can assure you I still face times when I’m drowning in it. The difference is I recognise it a lot more quickly now.

I’m more aware of who or what triggers it. I’m better at making time for the things that are important to me and knowing when I need time off. I’ve learned to listen to and identify emotions. I’ve learned that the connection between our physical and mental health is intangible. I appreciate how far I’ve come. I appreciate my vulnerabilities as much as my strengths.

I cannot stress enough the positives that have come from the last few years. I’ve accidentally found myself addicted to self-study and the combination of yoga along with counselling have been strong factors in that.

More confidence, self-compassion, awareness, knowledge, ability to see patterns and break them more quickly, ability to recognise my own flaws and take responsibility for my actions, contentment in making sense of all the years of torturous anxiety.

Knowing where it came from, how it works and continuing the rollercoaster of managing it, increasing strength (physical and mental), flexibility, calmness, focus, and concentration. The list is endless and that is what I want people to take from this piece. The positives.

If you suffer from anxiety there are a number of resources available.Click on the following links for more information.

www.aware.ie/anxiety+treatment‎

www.irish-counselling.ie

www.yogaireland.com

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For many years of my life, I was suffocated with worry. I thought it was in my DNA to be a worrier. It was just a piece of the jigsaw. As I got older into my twenties I started to realise that this wasn’t the case. That being so exhausted from it couldn’t be “normal”.

There were a few key incidents in my life that I believe really impacted on my anxiety. The first was a bad experience with a school teacher. I was petrified of her, and not just in a typical I don’t like my school teacher way. This particular teacher literally made me nauseous.

I was four or five. Although I had no idea at the time, I believe it to be the seed that led to my anxiety. The next incident was the sudden death of my father. I was age 12. Without question the most terrifying and confusing night of my life to date.

The impact losing him has had on my mental health has been immeasurable. But coming to terms with his death has been and will continue to be an experience of immense growth and self-awareness. In life and in death he has taught me real values.

Getting it all under control has been a complicated, messy process with more crossroads, wrong turns, and roundabouts than I care to remember. The two key things though which stand out to me in learning to manage my anxiety have been yoga and counselling.

Not so much one in isolation but the marriage of the two together. Counselling has taught me so many things about myself, how I function, my patterns and most importantly, it has taught me inner self-awareness. Yoga has taught me physical awareness of my body and surroundings in a way that I hadn’t taken much notice of before.

Within yoga mental concentration is crucial to maintaining poses and I found techniques from both practices marrying together perfectly and giving me a much more thorough understanding of being present.It also gave me an ability to separate the present from the past and the future and the fears associated with them.

My first experience of counselling was when I was about fourteen. I don’t recall much of what was discussed at those sessions but I think I attended for a few months. I remember going for another spell of time around age seventeen and a one-off session when I was twenty-one.

The next three years I was busy graduating from college, working and traveling so it wasn’t until shortly after my twenty-fourth birthday when I allowed myself to stop and rest for a minute to try and figure out why I felt so unhappy.

I wasn’t long home from spending six months teaching in Thailand which ended on a low note. A number of factors contributed to this and the loneliness and isolation of being so far away from my family was too much and so I returned. It had been an incredibly tough time for me. I distracted myself with going out whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Midweek, weekends, it didn’t really matter. My concern was to continue the charade that I was fine. Sure I had been telling myself that I was for over a decade. How was I supposed to know that I really wasn’t? Sitting at home one February evening on the couch I felt incredibly empty.

I knew I was unhappy but didn’t really know why but was making my own assumptions. I made the decision in that moment to return to counselling. Truth be told I just did an online search and picked a counsellor at random. To date, it has been one of the best steps I have ever taken.

I went weekly for six months before taking off on another adventure to teach for a year in Prague. Although I was away I ensured that I kept in touch with the counsellor and arranged appointments for when I was home at Christmas and returned again when I had completed the year abroad.

I got on well with this counsellor from the first session. Over time it has enabled me to become conscious of the decisions I’m making, the people I choose to surround myself with, my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. All aspects of myself.

I’ve always been quite open about the fact that I’ve attended counselling. I still go now every few weeks because I’ve learned anxiety is about management as opposed to cure. As people can still be quite put off by the thought of counselling I think it’s important to normalise it as much as possible and take out the shame or embarrassment that some may feel about it.

One really important aspect I think is that you need to find a counsellor you feel comfortable with. I’ve been lucky that the second counsellor I visited was one who I got on well with and trusted. Don’t be afraid to try different counsellors. It’s no reflection on them or you, sometimes you just don’t gel.

It’s important because sometimes people can be put off by one experience and automatically think every session with all counsellors would be the same, which isn’t the case.

My relationship with yoga is somewhat comparable to the on again off again relationship of Ross and Rachel. If I think back my first class was a Bikram yoga class with a friend when I was about nineteen or twenty. She wanted to try it and I thought why not.

For anyone who isn’t familiar Bikram yoga is done in extreme heat and is quite challenging. It was the first and last Bikram yoga class I went to. After that, I attended one or two regular yoga classes but didn’t stick to it. While living in Prague I dipped into it again and went another five or six times but It wasn’t until around 2015 that I started to actually get into the routine of going regularly.

There was an outdoor yoga class on Saturday mornings that I tried. Following that, in 2016 I started to attend classes more frequently in a yoga studio and really started to enjoy and feel the benefits of regular practice. I continue to go at least once a week but there are times when I still fall out of that routine. I can feel it both mentally and physically when I stop practicing now.

Yoga is an incredibly empowering form of exercise. It takes patience and consistency to see the benefits but is worth it. For me if I’m feeling challenged in another area of life or with a situation I’m not sure how to manage I find yoga an excellent boost of confidence.