Today, on day three of Mental Health Awareness week 2019, we are delighted to have Nick Elston, inspirational speaker on the topic of anxiety, share his wisdom with us.
Nick is a true example of how people with a history of mental health challenges can both recover and live truly meaningful lives and how often our greatest challenges in life also bring with them our greatest opportunities.
Over to you Nick!
Hey everyone, for those who already know me – you’ll know that I LOVE Country Music!
So very often – I will give a Country Music quote or song title as a blog title or even a place in one of my talks!
It’s personal. It’s emotional. It’s what I relate to.
This one – ‘Every Storm Runs Out of Rain’ is an amazing track by Gary Allen – check it out!
Aside from being an amazing song – for me it highlights the one thing that EVERYONE needs in their lives – both personally & professionally – & that is HOPE.
If we have hope – then anything is possible
If we lose hope – then our belief becomes one of ‘I am done’ – that feeling of resignation.
For the longest time in my life – I have struggled with childhood OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) which then morphed into GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) & generally heightened Anxiety.
What they don’t tell you about Anxiety – especially in your career, professional life or workplace – it can make you extremely high performing.
In Primary School – I was Captain of the School, well liked, popular & successful – although oddly labelled as ‘sensitive’ or a ‘worrier’ – but conditioning is a whole different blog altogether!
An Secondary School – I was Head Prefect, successful, hardworking, liked by every ‘group’, achieved great grades – but also struggling with social situations.
Then in my employed career – I was top salesman, threw everything into work – as I found that easier to manage than emotional roles.
At networking events – I was happy, confident & ultra-positive to all who I met – because that was my ‘Mask’ that I chose to wear.
Until my breakdown – around 6 years ago now.
You see, the thing with Anxiety – if held back – it can build a tidal wave of Stress, Frustration & increased Mental Health challenges – until the dam bursts…
You can only wear the Mask for so long.
I had a Mask for every situation in Life or Business – but none of them were me
We try to be what people want to see in us – we try to be what situations demand of us – but ultimately feel afraid of showing who we really are – or saying what we want to say.
Why? Because we are scared of being judged, of not being liked – of being shunned.
My breakdown happened after a networking event – outside of a Premier Inn in North Somerset – classy guy eh!
If I knew I’d be sharing my story as a job nowadays – I would have chosen a Hilton!
And Lenny Henry was nowhere to be seen!!!
It’s funny – when you feel you have nothing to lose – you will try anything – & I chose Public Speaking!
For the Harry Potter fans reading this – it’s the Boggart in the cupboard – the thing that I had kept in for so long – I wanted to let it out to tell the truth – no filter!
Not that I would recommend it – but it’s actually hugely liberating to feel like you have nothing to lose – it gives you courage. Without getting too dark, it was either going to consume me – or I had to let it out.
So – 2 weeks later – I shared my story…
Those assumptions I made – about not being liked, being shunned, being dismissed – all faded away because as soon as I stopped – EVERYONE stood to clap, queued up to share their insights, experiences & kind words or even just to give me a hug!
I love hugs 🙂
It was a very selfish thing to do. I encourage everyone in that situation to do the same!
The dynamic soon changes when you realise that not only are you helping yourself, but you are reaching & inspiring others – it still remains my therapy space – I will gladly share WHATEVER is on my mind there & then with my audience. Truly liberating.
Speaking was & is my therapy
There is so much power in sharing your challenges, your story & your experiences.
Fast forward to today – it’s what I do.
My biggest adversity in life has forged something truly exciting for me.
Plus, if you are not showing people your true self – on what terms are people dealing with you?
When I think back to that moment now – 6 years ago – what was the one thing that I would have wanted that I didn’t feel I had?
Because when we are in that ‘storm’ – we lose hope, we feel that we are ‘done’ – when actually what could be happening around you is forging something beautiful.
Every storm DOES run out of rain.
My 3 top tips on managing stress:
- Don’t look at yourself in a ‘personal’ or ‘professional’ capacity – to be happy & strong in business you have to be happy & strong as an individual.
- Diarise time for recovery & doing the things that YOU love to do. Burnout happens when we don’t give ourselves recovery time on a regular basis.
- Never assume – most of our stress & anxiety comes from the assumption of a negative outcome. So our fears lie in beginning to do something – not actually doing the thing. I still get anxious before I go on stage – but once I am 3 lines in – I am flying!
About Nick Elston – International Inspirational Speaker on Anxiety
Nick Elston is an International Inspirational Speaker on Anxiety.
NOT what Anxiety IS – but what Anxiety DOES:
How it affects the decisions you take (and the ones you don’t), the opportunities you reach for (and the ones you don’t) and the relationships you choose (and choose to stay in).
Nick engages his audiences from a lived experience perspective following his own Mental Health challenges & subsequent breakdown, and provides inspiration for those who are struggling in Life & Business.
Nick delivers to Stages, Boardrooms & Organisations globally.
IS YOUR ORGANISATION DOING ENOUGH
To Promote Positive Mental Health At Work?
Find out by taking our quick Mental Health At Work Quiz
This short quiz will take you through the six areas of ‘work design’ that highlight the primary sources of stress at work that, when not managed well, are associated with poor mental health and can lead to increased absenteeism and presenteeism, resulting in reduced creativity, productivity and results.