Minding your own self

by Helen Walsh (health and life coach)

I recently went to give a self-care talk to a group of young girls and boys in a sports club, they were 9 to 12 years old. I spoke to the girls first and asked if they knew what anxiety meant? I was very surprised to hear this little voice in the back row say “Oh, I know anxiety”. She was nine!

So, is the anxiety hers? Or is it coming from somewhere or someone in her environment?

It is so important to be very careful when we are around children, they absorb all our moods and words, and they deserve to be protected from this. It is their job as children to learn, play, be protected and loved.

They have enough exposure to things that will drive mental health issues with social media.

We also set the example of self-care for them by looking after ourselves but we don’t always know how to do that, and with anxiety on the rise for all age groups it is good to have some practical things to try…so what can we do for anxiety?

Anxiety is triggered by thoughts; we tend to play the same thoughts over and over in our heads everyday especially when we are stressed.

Exercise to control your thoughts

When you find that you are very stressed, stop and pay attention to the story:

  • What is the story you are telling yourself right now?
  • Has the thing you have anxiety about actually happened?
  • Is it 100% going to happen?

Even asking those questions will help you start to reduce the panic and emotional state by bringing you into the reality of what you are worrying about in that moment. Most things we worry about are in the future, they have not happened and there is a big possibility that they won’t happen at all.

We have just allowed ourselves to get sucked into the story even if it’s not real and also, we may have had
a trauma or bad experience in the past that is acting like a trigger for us and bringing up fear.

FEAR FEELS AWFUL. Even physically we will be holding it somewhere in our body. The good news is that there are things that really help and can change how bad you feel pretty quickly, these are some of the things I have found from years of working with clients and research that really help.

Changing your mental state can be helped by changing your physical state so these suggestions can really help.


  • A walk, a run or any exercise especially if you have a nice nature spot around you will give you a chemical
  • If you can’t get out, put some music on, turn it up and dance or sing for 3 mins. The neighbours will get over it!
  • Something else that can really help is a hot/cold shower where you change the temperature a couple of times in a 3-min shower. It will shock your body into changing state.
  • Breathe, trying to control your breathing can be difficult when we are dealing with anxiety but here is a really simple breathing tool that will help:
    BREATHE IN FOR COUNT OF 3…HOLD FOR COUNT OF 3…BLOW OUT FOR COUNT OF 3, AND THEN HOLD THAT SPACE AND START AGAIN. This will bring your heart rate into a more relaxed state.


  • Immerse yourself in something, if you are too wound up to read you could just watch a few episodes of something on Netflflix, try Pinterest for some new ideas.
  • Set yourself a little goal for that day, week and month, it will give you a sense of hope and moving forward.
  • Talk to someone…If you don’t want to worry a friend or family member all the helpline services are available and they will be very happy to take your call.

The most important thing to remember is YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Always speak to your doctor if you are suffering from anxiety or overwhelming stress.