Take a Deep Breath

by Jonathan Reed 3 months ago in anxiety

Against the maelstrom of anxiety, here are some escapes to calm the waters and find your footing again.

Take a Deep Breath
La Corbiere Lighthouse, Jersey - © Reed Gallery

It can be overpowering sometimes – the constant tormented loop of anxiety. When it feels like it never stops spinning, instead growing faster and faster until the outside world becomes a composition of blended colours and shapes blurred into obscurity. To be anxious has for far too long be deemed unnatural. And if you are, you’re weak, unbalanced, unable to cope – a disastrous construct of a millennial world who needs to buckle up and “get on with it.”

It's a toxic worldview, though one anxiety relishes in, because it stops you from seeking help; narrowing the pathways that relinquish the tormented loops hold. But allow me to broaden those paths, paint a new horizon where you can clear your mind and feel the weight of the world ease away.

La Corbiere Lighthouse, Jersey - © Reed Gallery

First, La Corbiere Lighthouse.

Silence. That is the memory which rushes back to be from this photograph. With the topaz and purple skies; the calm, still waters; there is a serenity which washes over me. It was taken at La Corbiere Lighthouse in Jersey – an island off the coast of the UK, and a place which has always felt like home.

But when amid anxiety, this place ceases to exist. The silence becomes a white noise bellowing endlessly. What once feels familiar mutates into a stranger. In these moments, this photo helps. It realigns my outlook and centres my mental balance, reminding me that your brain is tricking you into overthinking, analysing every detail until the white noise becomes too much. La Corbiere brings back the silence.

Photography provides escape, allowing me to focus my mind onto something positive which I enjoy and revel in – and La Corbiere is easy to capture. Against the rush of the world, pressing the shutter on a camera, aligning a composition, testing which angle works best, reminds you how beautiful the world is and how a photo – like your mind – doesn’t have to be contained within a frame.

Secondly, Shane Dawson.

Humour is a freeing tool. To laugh is a better tonic than any drug, and it is the deadliest antidote to anxiety. Shane Dawson’s YouTube channel is just that.

I discovered Shane’s channel by accident. As most experience, the path of discovery on YouTube is a unique one. From cat videos, to a compilation of people falling over, there is anything and everything. But Shane – someone who has been open himself on dealing with depression and anxiety – brought humour to a situation which many do not like to laugh over. Watching his self-deprecating analysis of his own issues bizarrely made me feel more normal. The anxiety didn’t feel so claustrophobic anymore. I realised that I was not my own punchline, but in control of the joke.

Shane is a popular YouTuber, his channel receives millions of views, but his most recent series – featuring Jeffree Star – was perhaps his most powerful. In taking the makeup world by storm, the stress and strain which comes with launching a new product showcased the honesty of anxiety. How the mind forms the worst-case scenario and injects it with steroids. The reality is never as frightening as the fantasy, and Shane reminded me of this.

Finally, Ross Edgley.

Resilience is hard to achieve. Anxiety is its biggest enemy. Overthinking, constricting who you are, what you do, and closing your world shatters any resilience you have. Ross Edgley can help defeat this. He did for me. Whether its through his book, or even the incredible physical feats of achievement in his life, Ross is a one-man positivity machine.

I first watched him on the news as he swam the entire length of Britain. Exhausted, bruised and battered he wasn’t defeated, he was triumphant. The constant walls, which the human mind builds to either keep you safe or remind you of your limits, become distorted with anxiety. It’s harder to socialise, tougher to achieve, and the vicious maelstrom swirling in your head replays your failures on a loop. Ross is the man to break that loop, and more importantly control it if it should ever return.

To attain physical success, mental strength is vital. Anxiety cripple’s strength, it saps it from the body. Ross never believes in the “can’t” – always “can”. It may seem cliché, but it’s true. Turning your outlook away from the fear of failure, to the excitement of attaining success is an antidote to the anxiety which stops your focus. Ross is a prime example of that.

In the end...

Many believe that anxiety is a silent enemy. It isn’t – it’s loud, outspoken, cruel, unfair and worst of all, inside the sanctuary of your own mind. You can’t see it and therefore you think you can’t control it, mould it and defeat it. But you can. Trust me. You just need to take a moment – photograph a place which inspires you, watch your favourite show, listen to the optimistic people and drown out the naysayers. Anxiety thrives off the negative and dies by the positive. Take a leap of faith, take a moment. Take a deep breath.

Jonathan Reed
Jonathan Reed
Read next: Never In the Cover of Night
Jonathan Reed

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