The anxiety of time – 15 ways I navigated my way through

Time is a funny thing. The past is distorted. The future unknown.

Yet my natural habit is to compare myself to past versions of myself and future versions I hope to be. And all that creates is an overwhelming sense of anxiety.

Anxiety is also a funny thing. It’s creeps on me slowly just like time. The dictionary defines anxiety as:

“a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.”

But for me, it’s something really debilitating and so difficult to explain. I had my first anxiety attack about 15 months ago. My doctor called it reactive anxiety. Anxiety as a response to something that happened externally.

It doesn’t actually matter what you call it. I found myself going to bed crying non-stop for 5 days. That’s when I decided I need to see the doctor.

The only way I can describe it as an overwhelming sense of physical, mental and emotional helplessness that just doesn’t make sense and therefore, you really don’t feel like you can talk to anyone about it.

Generally speaking, I don’t see myself as a weak person. Emotional, yes. Over-sensitive, sometimes. But weak? Unable to deal with stress? Mentally questioning myself? Questioning my intuition? Unable to stop crying? Who was this person I had become?

Life gave me a serious curve ball. Anxiety. A serious indication I needed to stop. Now.

And when life wants to teach you something. It can be pretty damn persistent and annoying.

What followed my first anxiety attack was a year of uncertainty. My need to grasp and control every aspect of my life, meant life was determined to teach me the opposite. I spent the majority of 2013 in-between jobs, in-between homes, in-between countries, in-between lives (or that’s what it felt like).

Why am I sharing this now? I received this message on facebook …

“Hey Thao hope your good? Sorry lost numbers so couldn’t call/ message. Wanted to ask your advice please. Somehow you appear to be one of the most grounded people I know of. I am sure 99% of it is just you. But are there simple tools/ things that have helped you over time? So wanted to ask your advice as I feel lost. Not sure anymore what purpose of all this business stuff is as much as I love it. My health, mind, focus and spirit all seem shot/ misaligned. Yet I never invested in them. I took them for granted. Now I need to try and find my path back. Would appreciate it if any thoughts.”

I’m not saying this wonderful friend of mine is suffering from anxiety. Not at all. But I could totally relate to the energy of her message and how she was feeling. During my year of uncertainty, I seriously started to question everything I believed in: who I am, my worth, my purpose and the value I add to the world. I felt like my spirit was totally misaligned and I felt helpless and inadequate in my ability to get it back on track.

But I’ve also learnt, that life doesn’t throw you challenges without giving you the resources you need (often angels disguised as humans) to help you move through it. So I’m going to list all the resources that worked for me during my time of meeting my anxiety and who I connected with that helped me move through it. And as the big hearted Shaa Wasmund has taught me, it’s all about your support network! And I’m incredibly grateful to mine!

So in no particular order, here are 15 resources I used to help me navigate my way through anxiety. If any resonate, give them a try:

1. See a holistic doctor
The key word here is holistic. I’m not into prescription drugs at all and what I love about my doctor, is that his first option was to give me natural remedies. He was assessing my whole life and lifestyle, not just my symptoms. For me, it was really important for me to get some tests done and make sure I was physically ok. If you’re based in London and want to know who’s my doctor, just email me – happy to share his details.

2. Take some time out alone
I was a workaholic and not very good at nurturing myself, so this was a difficult but vital part in my journey. When everything ‘went to shit’ (excuse the language) I spent a few days on my own at Agape Cottage. I arrived and told Sharon Agates (who runs Agape Cottage) to take my phone and laptop away from me. I spent 3 days in nature and Sharon totally gave me the nurturing support and space I needed. She fed me nurturing healthy meals, gave the most amazing healing massages and I spent most of my time sleeping and recovering from burn out.

3. Go on a ‘pausing’ retreat
If taking time out in solitude feels a bit too much, try going to a ‘pausing’ retreat. I attended Danielle Marchant’s Pause Retreat in March of last year and spent 3 days deeply immersed in nature. Although Danielle facilitates the retreat (max 10 ppl) it’s really designed for you to slow down, rest and stop the inner noise and chaos so you can tune into your intuition again. This retreat has become my annual pit-stop and if I could, I would do it quarterly! (note: Danielle is currently updating her website).

4. Meditate with mindfulness
There are a gazillion different ways to meditate and God knows I’ve tried about a dozen of them. However, when I was suffering from anxiety, I went to see a cognitive behavioural therapist (based on my doctors advice). I didn’t resonate with the therapist but she introduced me to mindfulness meditation which I love.

Whenever I’m feeling weak or low or can’t sleep, I turn to Mark William’s Mindfulness Meditation album. The body scan is my favourite meditation and I use it as a reset button. There’s loads of websites out there on mindfulness so google and follow what resonates.

5. See a coach / therapist
Ok I know I said the cognitive behavioural therapist didn’t work for me but I believe anxiety or not, if you’re going through a difficult time in your life, it’s a good idea to see someone regularly. They can help you navigate through your thoughts and emotions which are usually running wild.

Without wanting to sound like an advert for Danielle Marchant, she’s helped and coached me a lot over the last 12 months and she’s also the coach I recommend when anyone is going through a difficult transition or burn out. Basically, if you feel like a part of you is in crisis (no matter how big or small), get in touch with Danielle. If she doesn’t resonate, ask someone you trust for a personal recommendation.

Practical body stuff
When I’m going through an anxious moment, I totally get that my mind is the last thing I can trust. So I spent a lot of time working to reconnect and feel my body.

6. Dance your heart out at 5 rhythms
I hated 5 rhythms when I first started but over the last 15 months it’s become an essential practise in my life and I really miss it when I don’t do it. It’s basically 2 hours of dancing and moving your body in whatever way that makes you feel good (ok that’s my own personal definition and experience). I love going to the Women’s full moon one in Vauxhall, London. But one of my favourite teachers is Kate Iwi who runs the Sunday night session in Elephant and Castle, London. No matter what city you are in, google 5 rhythms and check it out.

7. Get in touch with your body through yoga
I’m currently going through a hot yoga phase. I like the intensity because it forces my mind to shut up and focus on my breath. I will say however, when I was going through the anxiety chaos, restorative yoga was the only one I could do (recommended by my osteopath friend Avni). It was gentle, healing and very nurturing. But it really doesn’t matter what form of yoga you do, pick one and try it. I find focusing on my breath and body really changes the energy flow in my body and my mind.

8. Start your day with a juice
When things were tough I got into a really good routine of juicing every single day. It sounds so simple but starting my day with something healthy and nutritious meant I was sending a clear message to my mind and body, that I care about myself and my health. This alone changed so much for me.

9. Get a healing massage
I love massages and try to treat myself to a healing massage every couple of months. I go for the healing massages because I want to clear my energy blocks as much as want to clear my physical knots. My favourite person is Prue from The Orange Grove because she has a really holistic approach to the treatment. If you don’t have a favourite person, ask someone you trust and go with a recommendation.

10. Have a bath weekly
A weekly bath helps keep me sane and something I try to do regularly. I put in luxury oils, light a candle, play some music and turn off all the lights. I find it soothing and it reconnects me to my body. The reason why I try and use oil is that it makes my skin soft and I feel really nurtured and feminine afterwards. My favourite album at the moment is by Anugama.

Spiritual check in and guidance
I would be totally lying if I didn’t include this section which might sound a bit woo-hoo. But whenever life throws me a massive curveball, I seek spiritual guidance. I do this in many forms but below is a list of people that I’ve connected with over the last 12 months that have helped me.

11. Gahl Sasson – understanding the planets
When I was really struggling, a few people that I really trust recommended an astrology reading session with Gahl Sasson. He did a chart reading for me over skype and really helped me make sense of what was going on (Saturn return) and he really helped me navigate my way through most of of last year. If you are seeking guidance, he’s worth connecting with (he also speaks at Triyoga London twice a year and his face to face sessions are usually fully booked).

12. Richard Beaumont – understand yourself better
When I was really lost and confused, a really good friend of mine booked me into a session with Richard Beaumont for a Human Design reading / session. The Human Design system combines genetic science with the I Ching, Astrology, Kabbalah and Hindu-Brahmin chakra model. What I got was really complex reading that highlighted my strengths and weaknesses. It also helped me understand some of the problems I was experiencing and the life challenges I keep facing. Definitely worth checking out if you want to know and understand yourself better. I firmly believe the more you understand yourself and your patterns, the more choices you have in your life.

13. Jessica Taylor – a bit of quantum physics to help you heal
A mentor of mine introduced me to Jessica Taylor who created the Millennium Method and I had phone session with her last year. Don’t ask me what she does – some form of quantum physics healing. I will say that her session was really amazing and helped shift quite a bit of energy. Her website is going through a serious upgrade so ignore the really bad layout.

If you’re interested, contact Jessica directly or email me if you want more information. Word of caution though: If you want to explore the Millennium Method, please have a session with Jessica and Jessica only. There are others who like to advertise they do the Millennium Method, but why go to someone else, when you can go the person that created it?

14. Nikki Slade – find a form a prayer
I know this might sound really crazy to some people, but I really believe that what we attract in our lives is based on the vibration and frequency we hold. And sound is one of the quickest ways to change our frequency – hence I love chanting. Chanting to me is just another form of prayer and when I do it, I feel amazing. Nikki Slade runs workshops, private sessions and holds Kirtan (group chanting sessions) at Triyoga. Definitely worth going if you want to nurture your soul.

15. Surround yourself with people that love you …
When I was going through the difficult time, I really wanted to stay in bed and hide away from the world. I didn’t want to be perceived as weak. I didn’t want to show I was a failure because that’s how I was feeling at the time. I felt like I must have made so many bad decisions to be in the situation that I was in. But I was really lucky in that, despite feeling that way, I was surrounded by the most amazing women, who held, carried, supported and nurtured me through the rough emotional seas and mental chaos. So I recommend being really picky with who you chose to spend your time with when you are feeling down. Only spend time with those that love you when you are feeling weak and low. You’ll know who they are.

And the last thing I want to end this post on is something that really shocked me. I really feel like the last 15 months have been the most difficult time of my adult life. There was a stage where I truly broke down and thought I would never find myself again. It makes me teary (not in a bad way) when I look back. But last month, I had to get in front of the camera because I was doing a test shoot with a new photographer friend, and the image below is what she captured.

She captured a soft, radiant, feminine side to me I have never seen before. I can’t believe, after going through so much crap, I’ve managed to come out of the other side looking better than I have ever in my life.

So it’s true, the phoenix does rise from the ashes. No matter what you are going through, just know it will pass. And I hope some of the resources I have shared above are in some way useful.

One last disclaimer: don’t be overwhelmed by this list. I did the above in different stages of my journey depending on how strong or weak I was. If I was feeling low, I would pick the easiest task. It’s not necessary to do all the above, it’s just nice to know you have some options – pick what resonates : )

ps. If you have any resources you want to share that have helped you with anxiety or stress, please feel free to comment below and share the love.

pps. Huge thank you to the following people for being in my life and helping me over the last 15 months. You may have only been with me for a coffee, and you may not have known about the anxiety … but you were there for me in some way, shape or form. And when I was with you, I was able to me myself. Thank you: Shaa, Leigh, Danielle, Viv, Avni, Sharon, Kristie, Prue, Fi, Sharon, Kristin, Penny, Kathy, Gina, Holly & Alex, Joy, Marianne, Miti, Mike and Sue, Anna, Fee and Margreeth and I’m really hoping I haven’t forgotten anyone!

Photographer: Amanda Clarke

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18 Responses to “The anxiety of time – 15 ways I navigated my way through”
  1. prue says:

    Thao – what a beautiful blog – so connecting. Thank you for shining a path and being a guide for when its difficult to see the light. I love giving you massages – please come and see me (and Amelie) soon. She wants to show you her new teeth. Lots of love xxxxx

    • thaoski says:

      Aww I would love to Prue. Over the last 15 months, you never asked me what I was going through but I knew you could read my energy and therefore, no words were needed. Sending you and Amelie a big hug and will definitely come up for my massage soon X

  2. Marie says:

    Anxiety, depression are alas very common in the world of creatives-as a creative, we give so much out, expose ourselves and have to be really multi-tasking re credibility, money, etc…whilst aiming to remain authentic to our core values.
    I am sorry to hear you went through this-yet, it seems that you indeed have come out of it, radiant and fulfilled. Sometimes, the universe forces us to stop suddenly on our tracks to face..ourselves. It is violent and terribly abrupt…but with the right tools, faith and courage, one rises up from the ashes indeed…and as a much stronger person too.
    Thank you for sharing this. We are spiritual beings-not machines- and our journeys are often paved with the most unexpected challenges….Be gentle with yourself.
    xox, Marie

    • thaoski says:

      Thanks Marie. I know we’ve never met but really appreciate you work with and meet lots of creatives. The internal battle of choosing to be honest and real in every moment, is easier said than done. Especially when our awareness is often blinded by fear and pain. Thanks for popping by and reading. Your comment means a lot to me. X

  3. Thao, Congratulations for sharing something so personal. It will be so helpful to many. Big love to you xx Charlotte xx

  4. Miti Ampoma says:

    Thao – an inspirational blog. Thank you for sharing. I salute you. You inspire me and many others. It’s all coming together. Much love Miti xx

  5. Humaira says:

    Thao. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I finally feel like I am not alone. Using some of your wonderful resources and finally i.a. getting some help for my own anxiety issues.

  6. Donna says:

    Thank you for sharing. Beautiful. For me, i knew I was heading towards breaking point so I did a month at Obsidian retreat in Spain – juicing, yoga, exercise, massage, plus the coaching to leave the emotional baggage behind. And lots of me time. And hugs, hugs are the best. Am at another transition point now of change and growth so thanks for the reminder to nurture myself, am getting back to juice, massage and baths with candles. Xxx

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