This blog is a combination of my work as a holistic therapist, my passion to help others and my experience of managing anxiety & recovering from depression.
Having recently recovered from my worst bout of depression to date, I discovered a crippling anxiety had been left in its wake. Although I’ve had a long term relationship with both, I’ve never experienced either as intensely as this. The last 12 months has been an ongoing rollercoaster of emotions, therapy, acceptance, research & education.
I’m aware it’s different for everyone, but in my personal experience I discovered I had a very long & dynamic cycle of stress, denial, anxiety & depression in play – each providing momentum to the other, round and round in circles and eventually spiralling out of control. I was either denying that I was feeling stressed & under pressure, or not able to fully recognise it in myself at all.
Ironically, as a holistic therapist, I was trained to see the signals of stress & tension in others. At my disposal, I had an arsenal of relaxation techniques available to me but unfortunately, on a very deep level perhaps subconsciously, I just didn’t give myself permission to use them.
Thinking back, people close to me were questioning the warning signals – the physical & emotional symptoms I was beginning to display – but I managed to convince them as much as I had convinced myself that everything was okay.
Self-work, aided by therapy, made me realise that throughout my life I had learned ‘lessons‘ from loved ones, and society in general, that an admission of stress was often perceived as ‘attention seeking‘, ‘complaining about nothing‘, being ‘ungrateful‘ or showing ‘weakness‘ and a whole load of other beliefs that were just untrue.
As a result, asking for help or even just talking about my problems became an extremely frustrating task for me. I could recall numerous times that I had witnessed behaviour that served to continually reaffirm these beliefs and many times been at the receiving end of someone telling me ‘just get over it’, ‘ignore it’, ‘be strong’, ‘people are worse off than you’, ‘be grateful…’ etc. I recognise these may have been said with good intentions but sadly, all these so called ‘lessons‘ became the very solid foundation on which I had built my denial.
As part of my therapy sessions, I took part in a 7-week Applied Relaxation program that taught evidence-based techniques to directly help manage the anxiety I was experiencing. It’s common to think of relaxation as an end destination – a desired outcome or feeling. But in fact, it’s a very subtle but powerful tool that, although seemingly simple, is actually quite challenging to master without practice.
The program rekindled my interest in all things relaxation but more profoundly, it uncovered deep connections within myself that had become severed. I realised that in the thick of all the stress, tension & anxiety, I had forgotten how to breathe properly & fully relax. The act of breathing… life force itself. I had spent so long surviving that essentially, I had forgotten how to live!
My intention with this blog is to explore relaxation further and to commit to putting into practice the things I’ve learned and I hope that by sharing my experiences, it may help anyone else that truly needs it.
‘Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.’