Moving for Mind: How my anxiety doesn't define who I am
For Emily, her anxiety really became challenging when we entered a national lockdown this year. She decided to take on our exercise and fundraising challenge Move for Mind to improve her own wellbeing whilst raising money to support others. She talks about her journey with anxiety, what types of activity have helped her along the way and why Move for Mind worked for her.
I joined in with the #MoveforMind autumn challenge because I've struggled with anxiety my whole life and it really flared up during lockdown. I felt it was a great way to raise money that would help others and improve my own mental health. My anxiety is something I'm learning how to manage better every day. I have anxiety but it doesn’t define who I am.
Anxiety manifests in many ways for me: catastrophising, making negative assumptions and racing thoughts. I have anxiety about my health, while travelling and sometimes in social situations. For years I’ve suffered with IBS and stomach issues, and while there is still a bit of uncertainty about the cause, I know the gut problems are linked to my mental health. At my worst, I was having severe panic attacks where my body would be convulsing and shaking so hard I thought it would never stop, especially my legs. I wasn’t able to catch my breath no matter how hard I tried to or how much anyone reminded me to. I just wanted to be outside of my body so badly.
I’ve accepted that my anxiety will always be there but now I know it doesn’t have to have such power.
The last few years I’ve been on a journey to discover the things that help me to manage and make peace with my anxiety. I went to therapy for two years, I worked through so many issues and it really taught me that my feelings are valid and the power of talking about how you are feeling. I do yoga, meditation, and journal and take medication. I learn as much as I can from others who have had a similar journey. One of the most important lessons I have learned is the true power of being here in this present moment. I always take a deep breath when I need the reminder to be present. I’ve accepted that my anxiety will always be there but now I know it doesn’t have to have such power. Mind has some great suggestions on their website and sometimes it’s all about trial and error to find the right tools for you.
Time spent in beautiful scenery with the ones I love always helps to give me peace and bring me into the present.
Another thing that works for me is getting out into nature, it is truly healing and helps to centre me. Time spent in beautiful scenery with the ones I love always helps to give me peace and bring me into the present. I try to find beauty in the ordinary and stop to notice things on a walk and engage all of my senses. That’s why my husband and I walked 70 miles in 30 days to raise awareness and money for Mind to help others who might also be struggling during this challenging time.
Find a friend or family member you can take part with even if it’s virtually. It’s a great way to keep connected and you can motivate each other.
I’ll be joining in with the Move for Mind challenge again this winter and I’d encourage others to give it a go. My main bit of advice would be it doesn’t matter how big or small your activity is, find something that gives you a mindful moment. For us setting an overall goal instead of a daily goal was really helpful as some days we would have less time to walk or the weather would be bad and then we would make up that time on a different day. Find a friend or family member you can take part with even if it’s virtually. It’s a great way to keep connected and you can motivate each other.
I’m taking each day as it comes and trying to ride the wave. With each crest and trough I learn something new, as I try to be kind with myself while I navigate a more peaceful life. I know this winter will be more tough that usual for many of us. I hope that you can find something that brings you peace and thank you in advance if you join me in moving for Mind!
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Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.