When my balance rehabilitation consultant said to me in 2013 that I had to do mindfulness, I thought to myself what a load of baloney! She said it would help me, help my anxiety, help with my balance issues etc! Being someone who tries to help myself I thought I would give it a go, she advised that I go on mindfulness training to learn the art, but soon discovered that my local ones were rather expensive!

So I decided to do my own research and go on the internet and get mindfulness books, buy some essential oils and candles and sit in a cross legged position with my fingers in a pinched position – zing! I thought it would magically work, but nothing happened! Where was the magic calm feeling? All I could think of is how much washing I had to do at home and what food I needed to put on my online Tesco delivery. So needless to say I soon gave up that type of mindfulness as I simply just did not know how to do it!

I started with my CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapist) in 2014 for my GAD (General Anxiety Disorder), one of the main things that came out of it was mindfulness and that I really needed to get into it, properly this time! So once again I did some research but came up with numerous sites and offerings, I was so confused as to which one to go for! Then a friend of mine recommended a APP on your phone called Headspace. Again, like always, I was a bit dubious about this APP, how can an APP on my phone help me!!? Surely I need a proper training course or book or something!

I signed up and did the first few sessions and it was amazing from the word go. It helped instantly to clear my mind down, which I find incredibly hard to do, as I have a very busy life. Andy who is the guy who started the APP, is amazing, his voice is calming, he explains things in simple language and the animations they use to described things are genius.

I used headspace for a few years, then I found I knew enough to be able to do my own thing, I then went on to explore another APP called Insight Timer. Over the last few years I have just come to create my own type of meditation, however I do still dabble in the APPs and online youtube guided meditations. One of thing major things I have learned over the years is even if you feel ok in yourself,  you should still practice mindfulness weekly, I do it about 3 times a week. I now use also my mindfulness Pilates as a wonderful tool. I would highly recommend meditation/mindfulness to anyone who suffers from any form of mental illness or invisible condition, such as anxiety, stress, depression etc

I have used other mindfulness tools that have helped me through my vestibular migraine disorder and mental illness. EFT Tapping is a very effective way to alleviate anxiety, depression and stress. You can find lots of youtube videos on how to do it, my CBT therapist showed me back in 2014 and I have been using it ever since. The other tools I use is Nature and my hobbies. I love walking and this is one thing that has got me through the last 9 years. Walking in nature or even just sitting outside on a park bench or in my garden is wonderful for the mindset. I also hug trees, a joke to some friends and family but I love it and I think the trees do too! I feel that I have a big connection with nature and I try and walk bare foot on the grass or soil so that I feel more grounded which helps with my balance issues.

I also have hobbies to distract me away from my symptoms as much as possible. Drawing/painting is one of my main hobbies, I am an illustrator by trade and when I am feeling particularly bad in a day, I will sit down and do a painting. I have other hobbies which distract me, exercise, cooking and I also do work from home for a graphics/print company so that keeps me busy. Having hobbies, I think, is very important and if you do not currently have a hobby, maybe find one which will help divert your mind away from your symptoms.

Lara x