Get active to beat anxiety

You’re not the odd one out stay positive

I was speaking to a work friend today who split up with his partner and the thing that struck me was he thought his girlfriend was cool about the split. This adds stress to the situation. However, as a friend on the outside looking in, I said, “I bet she’s hurting just as bad, but better at hiding it.” This got me thinking in many areas of our lives we imagine it is only ourselves who suffer. This is a common theme, but totally irrational, as stress, anxiety and depression are universal. Understanding this can help us. Let’s face it no one wants to be the odd one out!

Why do we feel this way?

Different people express their emotions in different ways. People’s stress and anxiety comes in many forms. Some people show stress which can be seen in body language e.g. nervous energy, faster breathing and aggression (which is normally fear). However, many people are great actors, hiding stress and anxiety. Sometimes pride or not wanting to be different makes people hide their emotions. Most high achieving people I have spoken to readily admit to getting anxious and stressed. This has often surprised me as many people appear to be cool and calm on the outside. It’s how you view it that counts.

What makes people thrive under pressure?

There is not one answer, however realising that you aren’t the only one who has these inner battles can motivate us to develop the skills, tactics and mind-set to conquer whatever fear we may face. You can do this.

Think outside the box

We need to learn from adversity. Knowing we are the same as the vast majority of people, that we are no different to others going through similar personal battles should give us the motivation to change for the better. Why is this true? It’s true because people cope.  People get through hard times. The more I think about anxiety the more I think it’s a problem to be systematically solved. Think of it as a challenge. Change the way you view it. As in meditation step outside it, observe it, separate yourself from anxiety. Take the power away. Think outside the box. Take action.

Accentuate the positive to reduce the negative 

Flood your mind with positive thoughts and actions. How do you do this? If you enjoy running and can’t wait to go for a run after work, there’s less space for anxious thoughts to be present. You can’t think about a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. Think about the good active things in your day.

Get active

Go for a run, lift weights, learn MMA, hike, climb a mountain,  ride a bike, play football, the list is endless. There will always be something you can do to lift your mood, improve yourself and chip away at the anxiety. You don’t lose fat by thinking, “Please fat go away” but by training and having a better diet. Good habits develop good positive thoughts.

Use your head!

On a more intellectual level learn something new.  This could be writing, playing chess, reading, photography, coding, or painting. Again, the list is endless.


Another thing to do is meditate. Start now. There’s no excuse. The resources are literally at your fingertips. You know the smart phone you’re reading this on! There is an abundance of YouTube videos and free podcasts to learn all you need to know about mediation. Keep trying different forms until you find one that suits you. I have tried Audio Dharma, Gil Frondsal is a favourite, Tara Brach is another great teacher and Sam Harris. Also apps like Headspace are very popular today. Start with a couple of minutes. If you can do 10 minutes just do 5 minutes that way you won’t get bored.

Positive changes require positive actions

The three areas above – fitness, learning something new and mediation have no downside. If you put these into your life great improvements will be made. Positive changes require positive actions.

Play the long game

Taking the above actions won’t magically make anxiety disappear. However it will start to flood your mind with positive thoughts which will diminish anxiety over time. Don’t rush, play the long game. After all your anxiety probably took months or years to embed as a habit, and I truly believe it is a bad habit. So don’t try to change a habit by thinking, “I wish this would go away”, but change it by creating a new positive habit.  Be patient, as good things will come. Remember hope comes in many forms. Also remember to not take action is means no change will be made to improve your anxiety levels. Take a minute to let that sink in.

Do you want to get better? If you do, do something about it.

We win or we learn

Never forget you are not the only one who goes through life with problems, stress and worry. Use the realisation that others have the same stresses but still cope as fuel to better yourself. Use the above tactics. Work out the tactics that suit you, that give you the best advantage, play to your strengths. Look inside yourself and see what makes you happy. Make a commitment, make the first step, you won’t regret it. You may not win all the time. However, learn the lesson and take something from the experience. You’ll be surprised but there is nearly always something positive to take from adversity. As Conor Macgregor said, “We win or we learn.”

What are the positives you have taken from a bad time in your life?

The athlete with anxiety is a rare sight!

Anxiety and the athlete

Sometimes we don’t see what is right before our eyes. How many times have we watched the New York, London or Berlin marathon but missed something more than outstanding physical endurance? How many times have we watched the World Cup and only admired the beautiful game and great goals? Or watched world championship boxing, only noticing great technique and tremendous heart? We watch, but miss something that can change lives. Sport helps fight anxiety and this far outweighs winning or losing. This applies from amateur level to the highest professional level in sport.

The power of sport

The beauty and power of sport to transform an anxious mind and body is for all to see. Whether in team sports like football and rugby or solo pursuits like running and martial arts. Like many challenges in life, the pleasure comes after the pain. The effort you put in is equal to the gains you take out. I doubt many people love their first run, the first time in the gym or getting jabbed in the mouth in a boxing ring! Taking positive action and not giving in to the pain brings great rewards.

Sport transforms an anxious mind and body. Action is the key. Action is the only way to overcome mental and physical pain.

You never know how great the food is by looking at the menu. Obvious I know.  However the point is worth making and applies to all areas of life. Small steps build momentum. I love a small step, a small step means you have started. A small step means you’re on your way.

The shy athlete 

Look at the confidence of Conor McGregor, Floyd Mayweather , or Christiano Ronaldo. These may be extreme examples of confidence but sport develops confidence at all levels. If you have ever witnessed an amateur 10 km race, before during and after, you will see confidence, energy and passion in abundance. This is the antithesis of the person living with anxiety.

Body and the mind as one 

The connection between body and mind is well established in eastern philosophy. Anyone who trains the body knows this connection. Meditation is an amazing tool for quieting the anxious mind. Exercise can be a form of meditation. For example I believe the runner’s high is a form of meditation and demonstrates the connection between body and mind. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger described lifting weights to meditation –  the body and mind as one.

Hope comes in many forms

To conclude sport and exercise are vital tools to fight anxiety. I would go further and say it should be integrated in our lives on a daily basis. It relaxes muscles, which in turn relaxes the mind and keeps us living in the moment. After a workout I feel like the future is going to be bright. Positive goals and plans come to mind. Anxiety is a habit ingrained in the body that repeats for no good reason and exercise breaks the cycle of nervous energy. Exercise chips away at the anxiety and builds a subtle confidence in us. We often don’t realise the benefits of exercise until we stop doing it.

Tony Soprano once said “Hope comes in many forms”. Momentum can be built. If you can’t run, walk, if you can’t lift weights, target one press up. Break it down in to manageable chunks. Don’t take my word for it, just do it, see for yourself.






For a happy life choose habits not resolutions

I’ve never been one for New Years resolutions.

If it’s something you couldn’t change in August or October what makes you think you can do it in January?

On reflection I do think January is a good time to start adding or subtracting good and bad habits for life and not only this coming year.

Some of the habits I want to stop are –


Most of the complaints we make don’t help us in any way. I’m not talking about a bad service in a restaurant, it’s when we complain about traffic lights or complain about your job when only you can change the situation (basically complaining about yourself).  If we can change the situation for example we’re unfit or overweight complaining doesn’t help. Just take action. If we can’t change the situation like bad weather all the complaining in the world won’t change it.

All in all complaining is a habit I need to get rid of and I think the benefits will be great for my anxiety as it will leave space for a positive outlook to form based on dealing with issues rather than always looking to the negative. I’m getting there slowly but surely.


Don’t try to be perfect

This is not practical and slows progress. No decision is worse than a bad decision! You may not be the best runner, footballer, writer or chef in the world but waiting for the perfect circumstances won’t help you get there. Trying will, taking action will. Making mistakes leads to progress, making mistakes leads to feedback.

The question to ask is did you try your best in the circumstances.

I’ll leave it as the above three for now I’m not perfect.




First steps

Blogging about anxiety

As I begin this journey I am pondering these quotes –

“A journey of 1000 miles begins with one step”

and the title of this blog –

“We win or learn”.

Win or learn

The first quote speaks for its self.

The need to appreciate that knowledge and guidance will come to me as and when I need it. This can’t be rushed – rushing leads to frustration and ultimately slows you down. Whereas patience helps you get where you want to go without the added stress, pressure and anxiety we put on ourselves.

The second quote relates to changing your mindset to a constructive positive one. Too often in life we see things as win or lose. The job we didn’t get, the exam mark we didn’t like, the relationship that “failed”.

And on and on…

After events of “failure”, we very often view them in a different light. The job we didn’t get was one we didn’t want anyway. The exam mark didn’t taught us to work harder or smarter and the relationship ending was the best thing that happened.

So how does this relate to anxiety?


The first part is simple – rushing around leads to anxiety as we don’t live in the moment. Having patience is vital.

The second part relates to developing a mindset that sees the bright side, to find the positive in challenges of life.

It is hard to do, but possible with practice.

Taking action is the only way.[/read]