I went to university in Cardiff around 2009. It was a challenging time, for a lot of reasons, but one time in particular stands out: the time I thought I was going to die.

I had just moved into Talybont North—the bedbug-ridden halls at Cardiff University. And it turned out fairly quickly that, aside from a couple, I had pretty rubbish housemates, one of whom asked me how to work the toaster.

Let me repeat that incase you’re skimming.

She asked me how to work the fucking toaster.

And she was a law student. There’s no hope, is there.

So anyway, there I was, hating university, basically no friends in the entire city, and I had the sharp realisation that university-level classes were properly hard and I actually had to, y’know, study.

And suddenly, one night while I was lying in my poor excuse for a single bed, I realised I couldn’t quite catch my breath.

Not the way it feels after sprinting for a class you’re late for, but it was like I couldn’t breathe deep enough. My lungs didn’t seem to be able to fill up properly.

And I distinctly remember calling my mum in a panic. I was immediately thinking, along with hating my lodgings and housemates and struggling with the workload, that I’d suddenly developed a weird strain of asthma or I was having a heart attack.

“I MIGHT BE DYING, MUM!” I remember despairing at her. And I’m sure she said something lovely and reassuring, but I reckoned I was basically a goner. I could die in my sleep or something. I didn’t know. I wasn’t given any tools, there was no information available to me, not really.

But now, plenty of years, panic-attacks, yoga classes, and teaching hours later, I know exactly what that breathing thing was:

My first experience of anxiety.

My chest tightens, I get heart palpitations, and I can’t breathe big, satisfying breaths. I still feel it sometimes today.

It got worse for me until, after moving into three other halls of residence, I was able to find a place to live on my own (and I lived on my own for the rest of my university years. Yes, I was massively privileged and a massive weirdo). Then my yoga practice kicked off in a more serious way and I started to learn about my own mental health.

Restorative yoga
Restorative yoga – exactly the wind-down us anxious heads need

More recently I actually had the opportunity to go to one of TYR teacher Kat’s Big Calm classes—a restorative class designed to help you down-regulate. I was feeling fine when I flopped onto my mat and followed Kat’s instructions to make a pillow nest and snuggle down for a bit. But after a few minutes, I felt it. That tightness in my chest that I didn’t even know was there until I had the opportunity to look. But I wish I knew then what I know now. I wish I had the tools and the knowledge I now have to help me understand, not freak out, not panic, not make it worse.

So I labelled it. “This is anxiety”, I said to myself. I let it be there. I really felt where it was. I gave it permission, leaned into it instead of pushing it away. And you know what? It didn’t even take Kat’s full class to get me to a better place. My anxiety just slowly burned out about half-way through. So thanks for that, Kat. It’s an awesome session I’m grateful to always have on-hand

Do you get anxious? Maybe it looks totally different for you. Maybe you’ve got your own tricks and techniques to help you feel better. 

But I implore you, if you’re not already, to find ways to manage it, to notice it, to feel it and let it work itself out before it implodes. This stuff is real. Chronic stress or anxiety, even low-level, can really mess things up for this epic machine we call our body AND our mind.

And it sure can feel like nothing will help, when you’re in the midst of a panic attack, or when your mind is doing somersaults.

But can you trust me when I tell you that, honestly and scientifically, breathing and slowing down will help (read my last blog with some of my favourite breaths to control anxiety).

If you’re feeling like I did, like you’re unsure how to deal with it, like you need some help, join our membership. Or join our free inner circle for classes, resources, and inspiration for your most joyful life.

You are enough.

Even if you’re anxious.

Just remember that.

Chloe - TYR Founder & Joyful Living Coach

POSTED: 21/10/2021

Chloe is a yoga teacher, mindfulness guide, and joyful living coach, and she thinks the meaning of life is probably to be as happy as possible.

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