There’s an anxiety epidemic happening right now. Sometimes it’s loud. Sometimes it’s silent. But no matter who’s experiencing it, it’s always uncomfortable.
And it doesn’t have to be.
As someone who has experienced debilitating anxiety take over my mind and body, I’ve felt both — the loud and the silent anxiety. I’ve heard anxiety tell me that there’s something wrong with me. I’ve had it set off a shame spiral in my mind that convinced me I’d never be enough, and that I was weak, which then lead to physical discomforts in my body so palpable that I became self-conscious and didn’t want to go outside.
In the grip of anxiety, I’ve experienced shortness of breath and way too many trips to the men’s room.
I share this with you not to tell you about all of the times that anxiety controlled my life, but instead to let you know how anxiety changed my life for the better.
Years back, when my anxiety was sky-high, I did everything to avoid it. I tried to run from it, to drown it out and to mask it. I never paused to ask myself, where is this actually coming from? What is the root of this symptom I’m feeling?
Thankfully, during this rocky and confused chapter in my life, I stumbled into a yoga studio. It was a 90-minute Bikram practice, my first yoga class, ever. I'd been out partying the night before — and I had said yes to the after-party (even though I knew I was supposed to go to that yoga-thing a few hours later on Sunday morning). It hadn’t seemed like an illogical decision because, like many men in 2009, I thought that yoga was just for women and wimpy guys, and therefore, it must be SO easy.
In the 90-minute practice, I experienced 89 minutes of death-by-weird-poses-and-extreme-heat and exactly 1 minute of euphoric bliss.
That moment of bliss, I’ve never forgotten. 11 years later, it stays with me. I believed there must be a natural way to ease out of my anxious states, and that blissful feeling that I’d tapped into inspired me to write a book called Own Your Anxiety: 99 Simple Ways to Channel Your Secret Edge.
The Brilliant Messenger
What I discovered was that anxiety had existed all this time because it was trying to tell me something.
It was telling me that the life I was living was vastly different from the life I wanted to live.
Anxiety is the brilliant messenger that tells us if we are living out of alignment.
If we are doing something that deep down we know we shouldn’t be doing, or if we aren’t doing something that deep down we know we should be doing, anxiety speaks up. When we listen we learn. When we listen we grow. This is when life gets so much more inspired.
When I started to listen to my anxiety, my life truly changed for the better. My anxiety had been so bad because it was telling me that I needed to make more time for self-care, positive influences, and healthier habits and I just wasn’t listening.
What is your anxiety telling you?
Is it asking you to slow down?
To stop putting something in your body?
To give your phone a rest?
To break from social media?
To quit your job?
To start your dream business?
To end a toxic relationship?
To forgive that person?
To forgive yourself?
Anxiety exists to tell us something, so when we listen and explore like a detective, we not only transform our relationship with anxiety, but we learn about our fears and desires, and ultimately, we get closer to our higher self.— Julian Brass is the founder and former CEO of award-winning Canadian media company Notable.ca (Notable Life), a front-running online brand dedicated to inspiring driven Millennials to live a notable life. On an ever-expanding journey of exploring natural lifestyles such as holistic health and wellness, spirituality, yoga, and positive psychology, Julian has trained and collaborated with yogis from India, rabbis and priests in Jerusalem, top medical doctors in NYC, and some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. As an international keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, coach, teacher, and healer, Julian aims to leave every person he connects with ready to own not just anxiety, but to truly own their lives. Follow him on Instagram at @julianbrass.