Overthinking every minute detail… Worrying needlessly about the future… Sleepness nights of tossing and turning…
For someone living with anxiety, that is what they call everyday life! Living with anxiety is a tough, and at times exhausting road to go down. And it’s a road that 40 million people in America deal with everyday.
However, living with anxiety is not a road you have to go down alone.
That is why Leigha Benson (@anxietycoachleigha), who herself has been living with anxiety her whole life has decided to fight back against the condition. We were introduced to Leigha via our new Instagram account, @tranquilitylabs. We hope to connect with you all via Instagram too!
Leigha has over 14,000 Instagram followers (and counting) was kind enough to share her journey with us about how she has managed living with anxiety. Here is our talk with her:
How long have you worked with people suffering from anxiety?
I officially started January 2017 so it has not been very long at all.
How long have you been sharing on Instagram?
Since December 2016. That is when I first created this account.
Tell us about the program you offer your clients.
I offer clients one on one coaching either in the form of a one-time session, 1 month, 3 months and 6 months. I focus on getting to the root cause of their anxiety, whether it is emotional anxiety, situational, or health anxiety. Once we get to the bottom of what the cause is we formulate how to heal their unique situation mind, body and soul.
Do you find any common root causes?
I have found that everyone’s anxiety is incredibly unique. Although, they have general similarities the root causes are very different.
Tell us about your personal journey with anxiety.
I have had anxiety all of my life and my first memories of it were when I was 4 years-old and could not handle social events or any social activities. I constantly felt interior or like I did not fit in. Throughout elementary school, my anxiety got worse where I would miss so much school. I actually was so nervous at the thought of being around other kids and I would get physically ill and bad headaches. This went on through high school as well.
My anxiety and constant feelings of being inferior to everyone made me have an incredibly low self- esteem. This low self- esteem is what caused me to get into abusive relationships with people who treated me the way I treated myself. It was a cycle of abuse in relationships. Abusing myself with negative thoughts and constantly feeling like I was not enough. I was not able to be myself because I did not even know who “myself” was. I was also people- pleasing and trying to make everyone else comfortable while masking my own struggles and denying my true self.
In 2012, at 26 years old, I hit an all-time low with my anxiety and depression and it made me completely seclude myself from everyone. I was so sick of never being enough of never feeling like I fit in and never have a safe place to land. I was overwhelmed and suppressing my emotions was finally catching up to me. When I would travel to work on the bus or subway, my eyes would fill with tears because I was so exhausted from the pain and having to pretend I’m ok. At work, I would have to hide in the back filing room and pretend I was filing just so I could let my tears fall. It was becoming impossible to hold it all in. I knew I needed help so I wrote on my phone a helpline number in case I needed it.
Finally, I reached the night where I needed it after having enough and wanting to end my life completely. When I was 7 months pregnant, I was so sick of being so alone. When I started planning my suicide it hit me. I wouldn’t be just taking my life I would be taking my child’s and that was when I called the helpline. I spoke to a woman for 3 hours and she genuinely saved my life. Gosh, this is so long I’m sorry.
The woman then set me up with a therapist. I was hopeful. When I went to the therapist, she really did not connect with me. I truly felt like she lacked the empathy and understanding of the pain I was going through. Yes, she was educated and nice but the compassion and care in her words were not present. Back then I needed who I am now. I didn’t know life coaches existed and didn’t know that I could have someone who went through what I went through walking me out of the darkness. I needed that comforting “me too” and I needed to know I will get better.
Finally, I realized I needed to build a new foundation and I had to discover who I was, what I liked, what I was passionate about and what lights me up. Building a loving relationship with myself, it changed my life so much that it has enabled me to completely change my career from a successful job in the largest financial corporation in North America to my true passion and purpose of healing others who suffer like I once did.
Has being a mom helped with your anxiety?
Being a mom made me see that I needed to be stronger for my daughter’s (I have 2 now). They need to see that they can achieve anything. They need to know they deserve everything that they could ever want in their life and that they have what it takes to go for it. I make sure they know I love them unconditionally. More importantly, I am teaching them to love and value themselves and discover who they individually are.
A lot of women develop anxiety when they become moms. What strategies do you recommend to deal with anxiety as a mother?
I can totally relate to the anxiety that motherhood can bring. I recommend that they arrange weekly to have a few hours to themselves. Whether it’s having their partner or someone they trust to watch their kids for a few hours just so that they can unwind and self-care. The mind needs time to recharge and relax and it is so important for their mental health and overall well being. I deprived myself of ever taking breaks and it caused me to get severely anxious and overwhelmed. I learned I have to speak up about my needs. Being a mother is so rewarding but it also can be very hard at times. Ensuring each week you have some alone time is really important.
What do you think the biggest misconceptions are about anxiety?
That it’s all in our heads and that we can just snap out of it. Just don’t think about it or just get over it. It is so much more complex than that.
What are the symptoms people should watch out for if they think they might be suffering from anxiety?
Feeling overly nervous and fearful every day. High stress and overwhelm, feeling incapable of being able to perform or function well at social gatherings.
What are the advantages of working with a holistic practitioner like yourself over more traditional routes?
I believe in my heart that treating all pillars of your life are necessary in order to truly heal mind body and soul. I assess all areas and take action healing or helping you to work through any area of your life that isn’t lighting you up and bringing you fulfillment.
Healing with the use of healthy superfoods and supplements, meditation, and exercise. Also, building a deep and loving relationship with yourself gives miraculous results. Doing these small but significant changes result in becoming the best version of yourself possible.
Should we think of it as therapy?
“It is a form of therapy, but also I really like to refer to it as releasing what isn’t serving you and making space in your life for what does.”
We all are so different with what we want and need to feel fulfilled and HAPPY. I learned about each client and hear what they desire for their life. Also, what they are willing to do to get it. I make sure the client feels comfortable and enjoys these new life skills and habits. Or else they will not stick to them.
It is a collaborative effort and one so worth making.