Last week, bestselling author of Own Your Anxiety and certified health coach Julian Brass led a game-changing Master Class, Anxiety is Your Life Alarm. Julian shared his own personal experiences–from realizing his dream of moving abroad and getting married to having the life he built fall apart. After founding his own company at the age of 24, Julian found himself experiencing unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety in a world where “strong men” didn’t acknowledge mental health issues or discuss their struggles openly. For years he self-medicated with alcohol, drugs, relationships, and food. Of course, none of these solutions truly addressed the problems at their core.
One fateful day, Julian gathered the courage to ask his crush out on a date. After she explained she was a picky eater and didn’t drink caffeine or alcohol, she suggested a yoga class for the date instead of the typical dinner, cocktail, or coffee. The date proved to be life-changing.
Despite having been out late partying the night before, Julian went to the yoga class–a Bikram (hot) yoga class early in the morning. Through the pain and sweat of doing hot yoga on minimal sleep, Julian noticed that everyone around him seemed happier and healthier than he did, despite all the “fun” he could afford to have. At the conclusion of class, during savasana (final resting), it all became clear to him for the first time: We are born with everything we need already inside of us. In that moment, he experienced inner peace for the first time. (He also went on to become a yoga instructor!)
As Julian shared his story, his vulnerability and openness about anxiety resonated with the group. He gave attendees some great tools and resources for dealing with anxiety in their daily lives. Here are some great takeaways:
1. Anxiety feels like a lot of negative energy all at once, but you can harness it for good.
As a former hockey player, Julian was all too familiar with the feeling of “locker room” nerves–the nervous energy he’d get before a game. But he also remembered how to channel that energy into good athletic performance. Owning the feeling of anxiety and transforming it into a positive force rather than trying to fight it can turn a challenge into a superpower. As one attendee in the chat said, “I try to reframe anxiety for exciety.”
2. Anxiety can stem from physiology.
While it’s true that anxiety disorders account for some forms of anxiety, the overwhelming majority of cases can be attributed to either physiology (what a person is or isn’t putting into their body), or metaphysical (outside the body) factors. This means that for many people, simply working with a nutritionist or coach can help them identify what might be going wrong with their physical self. Diet and lifestyle changes can often alleviate anxiety.
3. Anxiety can also stem from metaphysical challenges.
Shame is a significant contributor to anxious feelings. Most of us have an ideal image of what we want our lives to be like, but few of us are actually living in that reality. When we take stock of our ideal life and what it looks like, then really think about how we’re truly living in the present, we can see a clear picture of what steps we need to take to close that gap. The gap is a source of anxiety, and we have the power to close it ourselves.
4. Try nose-to-belly (NTB) breathing to ease anxiety in the moment.
Julian led the Master Class through a breathing exercise that had the whole group relaxing together. By simply placing a hand on your belly and breathing deeply through the nose all the way into the belly where you can feel the expansion with your hand, one can ease anxiety that arises throughout the day.
Finally, if you’re feeling anxious, try joining a group or Master Class on the Circles app. You can chat with others who truly understand. As Julian guided the class through anxiety management techniques, several attendees chimed in:
“This app saved my life.”
“I have a great therapist, but I’m happy I’m here too.”
Download the Circles app to join a class today!