Lily Jo lives is a solo artist and vocalist in a band called LZ7. She is also a qualified counsellor who earlier this year launched The Lily-Jo Project, an online mental health resource.
The website covers Low Mood, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Low Self-Esteem, Childhood Trauma, and Grief, and has a whole load of information, advice, top tips and interviews with people who have suffered from mental health issues but are OK now.
We got a moment with Lily-Jo and asked her all of our questions about ANXIETY!
A lot of people speak about anxiety these days. The Kardashian’s always say ‘it’s giving me anxiety’ or I may feel nervous about an exam coming up…. but what actually is anxiety?
Anxiety is a perfectly normal part of life. Each of us experience anxiety at some point. Whether it is starting a new school year, or attending a new dance class where you don’t know anyone, going on a plane, or more recently anxiety about terrorism. Symptoms can include a racing heart, sweaty palms, shortness of breath, irritability, and feeling like you are ‘on the edge’.
Anxiety can become a problem when it stops you from living a relatively normal life and we stop or avoid things that we used to enjoy. Its proper name is Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and can include agoraphobia which is a fear of going out, claustrophobia, which is a fear of tight spaces, post traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder which is a fear of social situations. It is so important if you feel any of the above that you are professionally diagnosed by a doctor.
People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. As soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue.
Where does anxiety come from?
There are many different reasons why anxiety starts. Some believe it is learned behaviour from childhood, or anxiety can become part of your life because you have been or are being bullied, or because of something negative someone has said to you repeatedly, or maybe because something bad happened to you.
There are so many reasons why anxiety can take hold. each person is different. Whats important to know is that there are so many ways to manage your anxiety.
Are there any ways to avoid anxiety?
I’m not sure we can ‘avoid’ anxiety in this culture we live in. There seems to be so much to be anxious about! If you have anxiety the best thing that I recommend (without sitting with you face to face to discuss your personal reasons for your anxiety) is the acronym R.E.D:
It’s a wonderful way to combat stress of all kinds. Why not write a list of ways in which you best relax, my relaxation list includes; Pilates, reading, long bubble baths, swimming, journaling, listening to music, drinking a big mug of hot chocolate in my PJ’s.
I find running is my favourite way to combat anxiety and stress, for me its about getting out my gym clothes the night before and pounding the streets the next morning! You may prefer a swim (I’m not very good at swimming) or gymnastics, or dog walking! Whatever it is that gets your heart racing and your breathing more rapid.
I think distraction is a really important tool in the management of anxiety levels. Write a list of things you can do to distract yourself when anxiety seems to be overwhelming. Stick it somewhere that you can see it.
Building the above into your lifestyle on a weekly basis can really help manage your anxious feelings.
The bible tells us not to worry about anything, but controlling out thoughts is really hard! Do you have any tips for being in control of your mind?
I find writing down the anxious thought into the notes in my phone helpful. When my parents were in the middle of their divorce, one of my anxious thoughts were; ‘maybe its my fault, maybe I wasn’t a good enough daughter.’ So for example, I would write that thought into my phone, then underneath it I would write all the more ‘fair’ and ‘realistic’ thoughts about this situation such as:
This is about them and their relationship, not me
No matter how good or not good a daughter I was, ultimately this is their decision
They tell me all the time how proud they are of me
The bible says in Psalms 139 that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Therefore, I must be good enough.
If I suffer with anxiety, where can I get help and is there a cure?
If you do the above R.E.D this should significantly reduce mild anxiety. I also suggest talking to a professional counsellor this could help you get to the root cause of where the anxiety originated.
On my site there is a page dedicated to anxiety and on there I have done a guided relaxation which you are welcome to listen to once a day, maybe just before bed in order to help find some calm.
Your GP can also prescribe some anti-anxiety medication which can help in the short term while you learn management techniques.
Some people believe anxiety is something that you cant actually cure, but its something you can learn to manage using all the things I’ve mentioned above. If you also have faith, then asking someone to pray with you, and putting your trust in God is something that has massively helped me personally. I love 1 Peter 5:7 – ‘Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you’.
We hope this has been helpful, and look out for our next interview with Lily Jo where we ask her our toughest questions on grief.