Written by Jen McKenzie from Lunar Spirit Wellbeing

Hi! Let me introduce myself my name is Jen, I have been in the wellbeing industry for 18 years, I am a qualified reflexologist, holistic therapist, skin care consultant, reiki master/ teacher, life coach specialising in anxiety, mindset and resilience, I also recently completed my gravity yoga instructor training. I have also suffered with my own mental health and anxiety.

So what anxiety really is….

Anxiety is our body’s natural response to stress; it is a fear or apprehension about what is to come. Anxiety is a normal and sometimes healthy emotion as it triggers our fight, flight or freeze response, this lets us know we are in danger and releases adrenalin and triggers a chemical messenger in the brain so we can act accordingly for survival. This can be seen or felt in the physical body as raised blood pressure, increased heart rate, nausea, shallow breathing, sweating and sensitivity to surroundings.

There are varying degrees of anxiety from mild, moderate to severe. Mild anxiety might be a little unsettling whereas severe anxiety can have a serious impact on daily life, I know this from first-hand experience with my own battle with anxiety a few years ago. Physical symptoms of anxiety in more severe cases can include but are not limited to restlessness, uncontrollable feelings of worry, increased irritability, trouble sleeping, concentration difficulties, body tension and chest pains.

When we are exposed to long periods of high anxiety or stress, we have high levels of cortisol (a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to stress) in our bodies. If we are in this high alert state for long periods of time, we do not get the chance to recover which can then lead to widespread inflammation, adrenal fatigue and other health conditions. It is vital for our emotional and physical health that we rest, recover and heal. I have treated many people over the years including myself who have experienced anxiety in many forms and varying degrees using holistic methods. It is not my personal belief or experience that anxiety needs to be medicated.

I have been through some tough life experiences in my teenage years, I’m not sure if it was a build-up of events or 1 particular event that pushed me over the edge but I found myself having symptoms of anxiety that escalated to severe anxiety disorder, well that was the diagnosis given by the doctor, personally I’m not keen on the terminology disorder. There were times where I was housebound, my daily routines disrupted, social events cancelled, relationships under strain it really did affect all areas of my life. I had good days and bad days I remember this one particular morning a few years ago, I was getting ready for work as normal I started to feel unwell, I thought I was having a stroke, I felt dizzy, I couldn’t talk properly, my arms went numb and I felt I couldn’t breathe, it was pretty scary I must admit, I went straight to an emergency doctor’s appointment and they said you’re having an anxiety attack! I thought why is this happening to me, I was feeling fine, happy and confident , I have my sh** together I’m a holistic therapist, I’m on a spiritual path, I didn’t get it..!! The point is anxiety can affect anyone from any walk of life, it can come out of nowhere when you least expect it but it doesn’t make us any less worthy or amazing human beings, usually it means we have been trying to be strong for too long and neglecting our own needs.

I had spent years trying to fix myself with various prescribed medications that gave me more side effects some worse than anxiety itself, so I ditched the pills started to research anxiety, I was introduced to mindfulness and DBT, from there I decided to become a meditation/mindfulness teacher and train as a life coach. Changing my mindset, using my knowledge of holistic therapy, spiritual teachings and then training my brain using DBT ( Dialectical behaviour therapy) techniques, I made a full recovery, don’t get me wrong I still get anxious from time to time but I have the knowledge and the tools to deal with it. I am now a specialist anxiety and mindset coach and help others overcome anxiety focusing on holistic wellbeing; so, treating the whole person, mind, body and spirit.

My top 5 ways to help anxiety:

1: Master your mind- It is best to do this with a coach, therapist or mentor, but can find lots of free help online also. Learn how to create a positive mindset.

2: Look at your lifestyle- Are you eating a balanced nutritious diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, spending time in nature, balancing work, family and time for yourself. Have a look at your alcohol and caffeine intake, they are not friends with anxiety!! Gut health is important too as an unhealthy gut has been linked to anxiety.

3: Meditation practice- Start with 10 mins a day, there are many apps available and YouTube recordings you can explore. Breathing exercises are highly effective, you can also find live workshop on my Facebook page.

4: Holistic therapy- Therapies such as reflexology, massage and reiki can help to relieve tension and aid relaxation. Essential oils can help balance emotions and hormones.

5: Yoga- Yoga is fantastic for stress reduction, it also helps to ease the physical discomfort caused by anxiety as well as anxious thoughts

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