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Experiencing Anxiety? So do Yogi's


Let’s talk Anxiety with Ashleigh the woman behind Freeliving, the boutique wellness studio in Palm Beach, Queensland. 

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About anxiety

 Anxiety is an extremely overlooked experience that affects the majority of humans at some stage in their lives. For some of us, anxiety hangs around daily and can be extremely uncomfortable. 

But what exactly is anxiety? Anxiety is the body’s physical response to a threat or perceived threat that can cause a racing heart, rapid breathing, butterflies in the stomach and a burst of energy as well as a mental response like excessive fears, worries and/or obsessive thinking (this is the most common). 

Anxiety helps us to avoid danger by giving us energy and alertness to escape. But for some people (like myself), anxious feelings don’t go away. They can see situations as much worse than they really are, and their anxiety affects their ability to concentrate, sleep and carry out ordinary tasks. These feelings can be caused by anxiety disorders.

So, how do we overcome anxiety? 

Anxiety is not something we have to just settle with; however, we do need to bring awareness and acceptance that anxiety is a part of life. Firstly, if we can shift our perspective from “I have anxiety” to “I am experiencing anxiety right now” this gives us the permission to overcome and ease anxiety in that moment. It doesn’t mean we won’t ever experience anxiety again but it helps us build up our toolbox for overcoming anxiety in those moments and lessening the trigger points in our life.  

For meovercoming anxiety is not pinpointed down to one particular thing. I have slowly been building a little anxiety toolbox that supports me to move through moments of anxiety. So what’s in my anxiety toolbox? 

  1. Awareness + Acceptance: Place your hands on your body, scan your body and identify where the anxiety is located. Repeat to yourself “I am safe, I am supported and this too shall pass” as many times as you need as a reminder that you are safe and you will move through this.
  2. Breath + Presence: We cannot be consumed in the past or future if we are fully immersed in the present moment. Place one hand on the heart and one hand on the body, close down your eyes, take 4-8 slow breaths in and 4-8 slow breaths out finding a circular breath where there is no beginning and no end. Repeat for 4-8 rounds or until you feel yourself beginning to ground. ** There are several breathwork techniques out there however I find a simple breathing technique the most effective. Try to avoid any breath techniques with long pauses and hold in a moment of intense anxiety as this can work us up even more. 
  3. Movement: Emotion is simply energy in motion. Run, jump, throw weights around, flow through a yoga practice, go to a pilates class, walk along the beach, or do whatever floats your boat. Movement is ESSENTIAL for me to keep a sane mind and overcome anxiety. Movement allows me to boost endorphins, shift stuck energy and gives my mind a place to pour all of that overactive energy into. Yes, your entire body may resist it so start slow and stop if it gets too much. Become aware of how your energy, mood and anxiety start to shift when we physically move our body. It works wonders - trust me. 
  4. Essential Oils: A drop of lavender oil, a grounding tree oil such as vetiver or cedarwood or simply a scent that reminds me of something I joy can shift me out of a deep anxiety spiral so quickly. A simple tool like this is so powerful because you can keep it in your bag and any time you feel anxiety creeping in just place a drop in your hands and take 4 deep long breaths to bring your focus back or place a couple of drops on the back of your neck.

 There are so many tools that you can use to overcome anxiety, these are my favourites and most accessible tools that you can use anywhere and anytime. 

How has yoga & breath work assisted with your anxiety long term? 

Ahh, yoga and breath work. The OG tools that have helped me become a more grounded and semi-sane human being haha. I turned to yoga at a time where I was really struggling with my mental health and experiencing intense anxiety most days. Yoga has allowed me a space to let go of judgment and expectation. My journey with yoga and breath work has supported me to find deep presence and stillness within my mind. The practise of linking breath and movement allows me to clear my mind of all the clutter and get down to the root of the issue or trigger that may be in my body. In the sense of anxiety and a long term approach to overcoming anxiety; yoga has given me the tools to use both on and off the mat. It has shown me a safe space where I can go free of judgment and expectation where I feel deeply held, it has shown and taught me practical life lessons to use within my day and it has allowed me a space to open my mind to new perspectives rather than getting stuck in a narrow-minded way of thinking which can be detrimental to our mental health. 

Ashleigh wears our Virgo Symbol Choker

As a Virgo, who is a perfectionist, how do you overcome this while running your business? 

A Virgo perfectionist with high standards and a no chill button has definitely provided a challenge in the anxiety department haha. Especially when I have so many ideas racing through my mind at one given time (entrepreneurs and business owners I know you know what I’m talking about). So how do I overcome this? Well, I like to think of life in seasons and give myself the permission to drop into that season. There will be seasons where all systems are on and it’s go, go, go and everything needs to be actioned at once and then there will be slower seasons where it’s more for introspection and maintenance. Once I realised this is the way I work best I gave myself the permission slip that it’s okay to not be ON all the time. However, the biggest thing I have learned is reaching out and asking for help is not weak. Anxiety can be triggered when we have way too much on our plate and the fear of letting someone down has us running circles and not prioritising ourselves. So DELEGATE, I’m learning to give away the tasks that I have no interest in or am just simply not good at because my energy is better used in my areas of genius. Oh and don’t forget to take time for yourself first. My day needs to start with something for me first whether that’s my walk and workout routine or even just enjoying breakfast before I get started.

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