Treating mental health as equally as physical health
Quite recently, I had one of my worst episodes of anxiety to date. It was terrifying and eye opening all in one moment and unfortunately for me it became quite messy.
I’m sure fellow anxiety sufferer’s have experienced similar via their own anxiety/panic attacks — it’s an awful experience and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy (not that I have any).
I always thought that I’d never have another such extreme episode of anxiety as I’d put in a lot of work to put numerous anchors in place to help soothe the madness of my mind. These anchors (a term I borrowed from the Rock, who is always inspirational) are tools that I use to keep my anxious thoughts at low levels. They are built around the following:
Physical movement practice — workout, stretching, Yoga or just going for a walk
Good nutrition — keeping away from those unhealthy foods, making sure I get a lot of whole natural foods such as greens, lean meats and fruit. This keeps inflammation away too and I use a small host of natural supplements to support with this too.
Meditation, relaxation, time to myself or what ever label you’d like to use — I discovered that having a 10–20 min morning practice of focusing on time to myself was very beneficial in a variety of aspects in my life.
As I performed a detailed analysis of what led to and caused one of my worst episodes to date, it became clear that one of the biggest factors is that I had let my practice of these core anchors slip dramatically over the last 6 months.
The simple practices I had put in place to help my overly stimulated mind had been neglected and I needed to take ownership of that and do something about it.
Now the most obvious output from this learning, is that yes, I have now fully re-installed the anchors that helped me once more and carved them out as the central points of my day. Like with anything in life, failure to keep practising will result in loss of skills and this is where my article title comes in.
During my first initial weeks of recovery and getting my mind back on track (a process I’m still going through now), I listened to an interesting epsiode of the Joe Rogan experience podcast with Sam Harris and Dan Harris.
Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and advocate of meditation, Dan Harris is a journalist of the author of the book 10% happier plus hes also a big fan of meditation. A 20 minute segment of the podcast covered both of their experiences, efforts and knowledge in the field of meditation — it was at this that Dan Harris said a line that resonated with me immediately and has stuck with me since.
Meditation is bicep curls for your mind
It felt in that moment, that one line had basically aligned everything for me and I understood more deeply, why my anxiety has elevated — I hadn’t kept putting in the work.
It’s exactly the same as our physical health, if you want big strong arms you need to do your curls as the gym and if you don’t you’ll have drainpipes for arms like me. But the key learning and message here is do your repetitions, just as in the gym where not getting you reps in produces no results, the same goes for your mind — you must the repeat the habit for it work.
By not performing repetitions of my anchors daily, especially in my eyes, my meditative practice, I had stopped engaging my mind and making it stronger, more prepared for the challenges of life. Meditation was and still is one of my biggest anchors and my failure to practice formed part of my anxiety relapse.
So just as we take care of our physical health and the perform the repetitions for a strong, healthy body, so we must do the same for the mind too.
Originally published at medium.com