Hey, I’m back with another self-development article (the room empties haha)…wait! This you need to hear. Last time I discussed the secret ingredients to achieving your dreams. Well to consistently do this you need to make sure you are taking care of both your body and your mind.
Everyone has heard the old saying healthy body, healthy mind. Most of us Including myself not so long ago probably smirked, sniggered ‘whatever’ in our thoughts and chugged down a Redbull or cold ale! Whilst thinking we are the epitome of health, and not even the wrath of God could slow us down. Especially in our industry where most people think we live a life of luxury, sitting at a desk or casually pressing a little button on a camera, or even playing around in Photoshop for a few hours. Why do we need to live by this code, our lives are easy….or so it seems. Well, let me regale you a little story. Are you sitting comfortably, ok, well let’s drift away back to 2017….
I sat on the edge of my bed sweating, the air in my lungs shallow, as pins and needles crept down my arms and into the tips of my fingers. I clenched my fist, but my grip seemed weak. Standing up, my vision blurred as I moved towards the window. I fumbled the lock open and felt the cold air on my face. My mind was racing! Jesus, I think I’m dying, am I having a heart attack? I tried to breathe slowly but the thoughts in my head overpowered any logic, and my body just wanted out. I rang my mother, relaying that I think my time is up, as my head turned light and I fell to the floor!
This was the start of the darkest period of my life I can remember. I had been ill 3 times since Christmas, with 2 chest infections, and a strong flu virus. Then in February, the biggest influence in my life, my Grandad passed away. Being the stubborn, strong-minded person I am, I dealt with it in my usual Yorkshire way, I blocked it out and tried to carry on as normal. But sometimes your body has a way of letting you know, “Hey buddy, you can’t get away from this one, you need to deal with it”. And then all hell broke loose!
The panic attacks started. Although at the time I didn’t know that is what they were. First one a day, then two, then every few hours. I literally thought I had some kind of undiscovered terminal illness that was taking over. My mind was constantly in panic mode 24/7. The slightest little change in my body and it spiraled out of control! Multiple times I had to leave work and drive to the hospital. It was a vicious circle my mind would stress the body, and my body would react to my mind in the most random ways. Lumps appeared up my arms. And one day the glands in my neck swelled up so much I thought I was going to choke to death. My body and mind were broken! My thoughts were caught in a negative loop of self-despair, self-hate, and fear…..of everything! Which then influenced the reactions in my body.
Eventually, the doctor diagnosed me with panic disorder, probably brought on by multiple elements, bad diet (junk food, no greens, energy drinks), lack of sleep (5 hours a day), and the stress of my grandad passing. And as doctors do in their traditional ways, he quickly passed me some tablets to fix me. Sertraline. Or as I like to call them, ‘Hol f***ing s**t I’m an alien from another dimension tablets’! There was no way I could live my life, become the creative I wanted to be or be a good father whilst taking these zombie pills which felt like they sent you to separate parallel universe! So what to do?
There was no quick solution, but one thing photography had taught me was you don’t get anywhere without being pro-active and hardworking. So I decided to do it on my own, without the pills. First thing first was to try to tackle the panic attacks, to eradicate or at least lessen them. I did this by researching breathing techniques, which I had to implement when I felt an attack coming on (tightening of the chest, pins, and needles, fast breaths). For this who want to know it was breathing in slowly (5 seconds), hold for 6 seconds, and breathe out slowly (7 seconds) and repeat until your heart rate slowed down and the panic began to recede. Believe me, this works but it takes maximum effort. I went to the Photography show in 2017 in my darkest period, had multiple panic attacks, but did the breathing technique to bring me around and no ever knew how much of a terrible state I was in at the time. I would be working away on a night, start having a panic attack……stop, do my breathing techniques then get back to work. It wasn’t easy, but again you have to be all in with things like this. Eventually, I began to get a grasp on the attacks and they slowly over 6 months declined and got weaker in strength.
Now breathing techniques on their own are no good without hitting the body and mind from all angles with the nutrients and supplements it needs. The first thing I had to change was my diet. I was never a big fan of fruit or veg, but this would have to change. And I would have to start eating fresh foods instead of processed crap and foods full of sugar. I’ve got to say, this wasn’t as easy it sounds. We are all addicted to sugary foods these days and even still I might fall off the wagon for 3-4 days sugar wise once a month, but I make back up for it in cardio hahaha. Slowly over time I cut out the bad stuff and started adding fruit and veg into my diet. It took a little time to get used to, but I can safely eat broccoli without wrenching over the sink! WIN!!!! As my eating habits got better, my fitness got better. As my fitness got better, my mind felt better. One thing that has helped me shift the weight was switching from eating low-fat everything to having a high-fat diet. Don’t listen to what most people say. The correct fats are good and the body needs them. By eating low fat you are just pumping your body full of sugars and that is the worst thing you can do! Seriously I changed to high-fat and the weight literally fell off. I could write a whole post on this, but alas I don’t have time, so do some research.
Eating nutritious food is a good way to fuel the body, but now we have the fuel, we need to put that fuel to good use! Exercise! To some, this word is an apocalyptic word. It reeks of pain, steel and the huge guy on the machine next to you’s sweat (barf). But without strengthening our body, keeping all the pieces in top condition and loose, we are missing out on a vital piece of the puzzle. Now exercise doesn’t have to be the fear-inducing, heart pounding circuit training (although that is better for you), it can be just a long walk up a hill, 20 mins jogging….just any kind of exercise to get the body moving and the heart rate up is better than none! Start small and grow big. I started doing 20 mins twice a week. Then 5 times a week. Then moved into circuit training an hour 5 times a week. Now I do weights in the morning 4 times a week and circuit training in the evening 4 times a week.
So we got our good foods down, we are nailing our exercise, what next! We want to optimize on the changes we are already creating in ourselves. How do we do this? Supplements! We live in a sterile world, full of processed foods and chemicals. The way we used to get out nutrients back in the old days has gone. To counter-act this we need to supplement a few nutrients to correct this disadvantage. The main ones I take are pro-biotic drinks, vitamin D, B-complex, magnesium and omega 3. Pro-biotic drinks help and feed the gut good bacteria. Recent studies have found the gut to be a huge part of how our body works, in fact, they have called it the 2nd brain. It controls our immune systems, hormones and much more! So bad gut, bad body, bad brain! All these supplements on this list helped me to overcome and conquer the panic attacks and are all essential to optimize your body and mind. Again I could do a whole article just on supplements but I’m guessing you will already be nodding off to sleep HA.
One quick controversial side note….I have also started taking CBD oil, and the benefits mentally of this oil are pretty amazing. Research up on it.
We have a powerful trifecta now of Nutrition, exercise, and supplements. Compounded together these three elements will give you the clarity of mind and health you need to survive not in just this industry but in this world. We already have so many challenges to face why make it harder by tackling them at 50% power. If you can lift that brain fog, not only will you feel better but you will start to see the results that you want in your life and in your work. It will change your mindset, instead of thinking negative your brain will start to think positive and with a little training your whole outlook on life will completely change for the better.
So many of us creatives regularly burn out, suffer from anxiety or depression and we wonder why. Look deeper, are you looking after your body, are you eating right, is your body getting the nutrition and minerals that are needed to perform on a daily basis? If the answer is no, then make the changes, starting today! The reason I told you the long and potentially boring story of my dark times, is becuase I’ve been there, I’ve experienced it first hand. I understand. I want to show you how these little changes every day make a difference! Without any medical help, and determination I eradicated the panic disorder. I can’t even remember the last time I had a panic attack. It can be done!
If you want to follow the secret ingredients to achieving your dreams, Hard work, Persistence and patience you will need to be n the correct mind frame! Your body and mind have to be aligned. Healthy body = healthy mind=success.