We interviewed Author of Simply Anxious - Notes on Anxiety Recovery & Anxiety and Mindset Coach, Lisa Towers! She was recognized in the Queens New Year Honours and awarded a British Empire Medal for her contributions. Learn about her take on mental health!
Question: What is the main focus of your career?
Answer: To help, inspire and motivate people to recover from anxiety. I suffered with anxiety for decades because I didn’t have the knowledge or understanding I have today. I don’t want others to go through the same and wait decades to find freedom from anxiety. So, my focus (it’s my passion) is to share all I know in the hope that if it helps just one person get their freedom back it will be worth it.
Question: What does mental health mean to you?
Answer: Everything, without good mental health and peace of mind you feel like you have nothing. It robs all enjoyment of life and negatively impacts everything in your life.
Question: What is the most important lesson you learned through your own mental health journey?
Answer: That anxiety is not the illness, it is the symptom. An emotion (message) telling you that something in your life is threatening your well-being. It could be: negative thought patterns, beliefs, relationships, lifestyle, environments all these things can take their toll on your emotional well-being if they are toxic or self-limiting. The illness is the stories we tell ourselves about anxiety being an illness and harmful. As it is that which develops the disorder. A fear of anxiety and the stories like ‘I can’t cope, I’m damaged’ etc cause the disorder. Oh and never label yourself with a diagnosis ‘Anxious person’ as this can cause all sorts of unnecessary false beliefs and limitations for yourself. You are not anxiety. Anxiety is something you experience. Don’t focus on the symptoms, soothe them but focus on the cause of the anxiety and resolve that. Once you do the symptoms will disappear.
Question: What inspired you to pursue mental health advocacy?
Answer: My own recovery but also because I suffered way before the internet or any kind of mental health awareness. No one spoke about it and the stigma rife. It felt so isolating and scary, and I don’t want others to have to experience that. I wanted to shout from the rooftops the facts I have learned throughout my recovery. There are so many myths and derogatory statements around mental health that need to be changed. I want to do my bit to bring mental health in parity with physical health. I did it in real life for a while in the UK and got awarded a Queens Honour’s medal for my voluntary work in raising awareness which was a nice surprise. But I wanted to reach more people and share my story and so I created Simply Anxious and that’s where we are today.
Question: What do you think is the most effective way to spread mental health awareness?
Answer: I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea but talking openly about it. The more we do this more normalised it will become. It’s the lack of openness that breeds the stigma. Let’s be open and reduce the risk of others suffering in silence. I remember being off work sick with anxiety and no one contacted me or sent a get-well card etc. Stigma caused that. Yet when I was off with the flu my phone didn’t stop ringing. It’s just not right.
Question: What do you think is the most important component of maintaining positive wellness growth?
Answer: Self-care, self-love, and emotional awareness. Learning about yourself, your needs, and nurturing them is key to positive growth. Letting go of society’s expectations and standing in your truth.
Question: Is there any advice you would give to someone who is struggling with their mental health?
Answer: Talk to someone (I do get annoyed with all the adverts ‘get therapy’- unfortunately therapy is becoming something that only the privilege can access. We need to be mindful not everyone has the money, waitlists for funded therapy are way too long. More needs to be done to support people) whether it’s a friend or a group of like-minded people. Look into self-help too as there’s so much you can do to improve how you’re feeling. Spend time in nature, this played a huge role in my own recovery. And put your healing and mental health first. And know this is temporary.
Question: What is your favourite Anxiety-grounding technique?
Answer: It has to be the 5,4,3,2,1 technique – especially when outdoors. It’s designed to soothe your mind so that you can get through challenging moments. The goal with this exercise is to use the five senses to shift your focus away from those anxious thoughts that can fuel the anxiety. Look for FIVE things you see around you, FOUR things you can touch, THREE things you hear, TWO things you can smell and ONE thing you can taste. It works so well.
Question: Is there anything else you like to include?
Answer: Yes, just a few reminders about anxiety. It will always pass and cannot hurt you. You can ‘feel’ unsafe and be safe. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Remind yourself that you are stronger than you know, and you will get through this. You’re not alone and recovery is obtainable. Don’t forget that!