In his late 20’s, Clive Fogelman lost both his parents within six months. He was then diagnosed with bowel cancer a few years later.
Clive credits both yoga and meditation as significant tools for dealing with his anxiety through this challenging time and says that by using these things as a ‘toolkit’, everyone can benefit.
Whether it’s focusing on your breathing while waiting for the kettle to boil, or paying more attention to your surroundings when walking to work, everybody can put a little more mindfulness into their day.
We spoke about:
The importance of ‘inviting yourself’ to connect with your body and how you feel.
Breathing techniques to deal with anxiety and stress instantly.
Bringing yourself back to the present.
How becoming more self-aware can help you deal with everyday emotions.
Taking all experiences (good and bad) and seeing them as something to observe – without judgment or feeling like they’re going against you.
The power of the mind and belief.
How to use a mindfulness pause.
Letting the journey present itself, and dealing with whatever is part of it without fear dictating how you feel.
Clive has been a yoga and meditation teacher for nearly a decade. You can find out more about what Clive does at www.helloyoga.co.uk
While on my three-month rebalancing routine, I stuck to these tips. I found that they helped me so much that I now follow them daily.
1. Eat breakfast
Anxiety will deplete already low levels of energy, so you want to make sure you start your day off right. Breakfast helps fuel you from the get-go, making it the most important meal of the day. Choose something high in energy like granola or porridge, and include a banana.
2. Cut out caffeine
If you think caffeine helps to wake you up, you’re wrong. All caffeine does is bring you back to the state you should already be in. Yes, it’s a stimulant, but you don’t need it. All caffeine is good for is fuelling anxious thoughts. Be aware that tea, like coffee, contains high levels of caffeine. Ideally, seek alternatives like decaffeinated drinks and herbal teas.
If you can’t imagine a life without caffeine (and I’m including this section because there are plenty of people who think this), the theory of BALANCE means you should be able to do what you like, including drinking caffeine. My advice is to do your best to cut out caffeine in the rebalancing period (around three months), because it’s highly likely, in your anxious state of mind, that caffeine will have a negative effect on you. Like anything else, if you choose not to change your habit and continue to drink caffeine, please don’t waste your time wondering why your anxiety isn’t improving. Change often means sacrifice. All sacrifices are harder to make at the start, but get easier with time.
3. Drink lots of water
Drink lots and lots of water throughout the day. It flushes the toxins out of your body and gives you energy – which compensates for the fact you might visit the toilet a little more frequently!
4. Snack at regular intervals
Keep your energy levels consistent throughout the day by snacking at regular intervals. Snack on nuts, vegetables, fruit or any food that is high in energy.
5. Eat bananas
Potassium in bananas helps to balance the sugar levels in your blood, and the carbohydrates in bananas help keep energy levels consistent, so try to eat two or three spread across the day. I appreciate that eating lots of bananas isn’t easy, but make an effort to eat at least one (in the morning). You can also vary it a little by eating other foods that are high in potassium, such as deep-sea fish, yogurt and avocados.
I struggle to fit the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day into my diet, so I came up with a solution – juicing. I have a set vegetable juice I drink every day that includes:
a handful of kale a handful of spinach two medium carrots an apple.
It takes me fifteen minutes to make, and seconds to drink. My big tip is to get a decent juicer. Cheaper juicing machines tend to make a mess and don’t do a great job. Try not to juice too much fruit, because it’s not good for you (I’m told it has something to do with the high sugar content). If you find an all-veg juice not sweet enough, add an apple. Experiment and see what you prefer!
7. Cut out junk food
Eating too much unhealthy junk food will slow you down, reduce your energy levels and make you feel sluggish – the perfect breeding ground for anxiety. It’s also worth noting that spicy food can increase anxiety. (Like caffeine, it can produce symptoms associated with panic.) I’ve never fully trusted fast food for a number of reasons, including animal welfare and what actually goes in the food, so it’s easy for me to avoid it. I can appreciate its convenience, but it can be just as quick and easy to prepare healthy, nutritious meals at home.
If you do decide to treat the kids at the weekend, or avoiding fast-food outlets is impossible for you, most chains have picked up on the fact that people want a healthy alternative to their triple decker, double- bacon-and-blue-cheese special burger. For example, you can buy a salad bowl at Subway. These can be just as fulfilling as one of their foot-longs. They fill you up, they’re a lot healthier, and they don’t make you feel as bloated – all perfect for reducing anxiety, increasing your energy and achieving BALANCE.
8. Chew your food and eat more slowly
Make your food easier to digest by chewing it more and eating more slowly. By chewing more you also trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more than you actually are – which is great for losing a few pounds.
9. Get a good night’s sleep
Your body needs sleep for effective digestion. Poor sleeping patterns (or no sleep) will disrupt the process and aid the fear cycle. The average amount of sleep an adult needs is eight hours, although we’re all different, so you should gauge what you need based on how you feel when you wake up. Sleeping too much, or too little, will not only affect your digestion, but also cause other anxiety-related symptoms. If you choose to prioritise any of these tips, it should be this one – without it, none of the other tips are useful.