Students, Mental Health, Meditation, Anxiety 3 minute read

Student's story of using meditation for anxiety

Our students mental health is more important than ever.

1 in 4 secondary aged children are experiencing mental health problems. 

Society is experiencing major and rapid changes, resulting in more pressure for students to perform. This is having an impact on the wellbeing of students globally whilst affecting their learning ability. 

Often times these new pressures result in anxious feelings and thoughts. Sometimes resulting in a diagnosis of anxiety - such is the case for Hayley. 

students-anxiety-coping-with-meditation

Here Hayley bravely shares her story of how meditation has become one of her vital tools in coping with anxiety.

***

 

Hello! My name is Hayley Witmore. I am a recent alumni of the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, in Melbourne.

At this school I studied the Double bass, with the hopes of becoming a highly regarded professional musician.

Recognising my anxiety

My journey with anxiety began in September of 2013. I was mid-way through my 15th birthday party, surrounded by all of my friends.

As I began to cut my birthday cake I felt a certain heaviness consume my body. I couldn’t tell if I had suddenly become ill, or if I was feeling extremely nervous. I began to panic as these feelings began to intensify, I felt a cold sweat on my skin, and adrenaline pumping its way through my body.

I worriedly thought, ‘How embarrassing would it be for the birthday girl to leave her own party?’ ‘I can’t leave… what would everyone think of me if I got up and said I was ill??’ The feelings intensified and I found myself running out of the restaurant in panic.

My best friend followed me outside. When I had finally stopped running, she told me “Stop being ridiculous Hayley! Come back to the restaurant, what is wrong with you??” This just made me feel even more anxious. 

A month later, these scenarios and anxious feelings had become a daily occurrence. I suddenly could not participate in school assembly’s, as I felt panicked at the thought of running out and people wondering what was wrong with me.

In my weekly performances at school I struggled to focus on my music, as I was mentally battling the anxiety that threatened to overcome me. 

It was after experiencing one day with 20 consecutive “panic attacks” caused by anxiety (although I did not know this at the time) that I decided I could not cope any longer.

I had my parents drive me to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. We waited for what seemed like hours to talk to a psychologist who diagnosed me with an Anxiety disorder. He explained that I had encountered many panic attacks where my body had to act in favour of my survival, initiating the “fight or flight” response. After talking to him I felt more aware and ready to initiate the recovery process. 

Coping plan with meditation

Following the end of the Semester, I devised a plan with my school councillor. I would write a list of the situations in which I had experienced panic attacks, or was afraid to experience panic attacks, and over the course of the holidays I would tackle every one, proving to myself with “good evidence” that I could overcome each situation without having a bad response to it.

I decided to take the “Just say yes” approach that Zoella Sugg used whilst detailing her journey with anxiety, otherwise I would miss out on crucial opportunities because I was afraid of experiencing anxiety.

In the meantime my councillor also introduced me to the Smiling Mind App. He told me that this free guided meditation program could act as a “safety back up” during the situations I felt anxious but was powerless to escape.

I could just plug my earphones in and look like I was listening to music, whilst I focused on meditation for anxiety to help me regain control over my thoughts. It was great.

Before performances I found meditation for my anxiety allowed me to focus clearly on my music and this greatly improved my progress upon my Double bass, and within situations at school I had previously had to miss.

2-1

Using meditation for anxiety 

The first situation I needed to tackle during my holidays was to catch a bus from the nearest station to the city without having a panic attack. My parents supported me by providing a “safety net” driving behind the bus to help me feel more comfortable if I got the urge to get off.

With the Smiling Mind meditation app loaded on my phone I boarded and began listening to my guided meditations for anxiety.

After I had reached the destination without panicking by finding relief through mindfulness and meditation using the Smiling Mind app I felt extremely accomplished.

As the holidays went on I continued using meditation for anxiety triggering situations. Sometimes it took more than one meditation attempt to get through each scenario positively, but each time I did my confidence grew and I experienced much less anxiety every day.

By the end of the holidays I felt I had grown as a person and had managed to use all of the tools given to me including meditation to overcome my anxiety

That said, I know throughout my life I will experience anxiety again, as I have since 2013 until now. Just this time I am better prepared with the tools to cope with it. I am a true believer that “things happen for a reason”. Using meditation for anxiety has been one of the best tools I could have given myself. 

If you are struggling with any mental health illness, remember; just like on the darkest and coldest days of winter it is hard to imagine it being sunny and bright, however, you can rest assured knowing summer will come eventually. Any hardships you are facing right now will equip you with the strength and confidence to live life to the fullest extent in pursuit of mindfulness. 

***

Our goal is to reach 5 million young people by 2021 through free guided meditations offered on our mindfulness app.

Get started on your journey in using meditation for anxiety here. 

 
Smiling Mind

Written by Smiling Mind

Latest

Meet our new look app!

This week we launch a completely updated platform for the mobile apps of Smiling Mind. Here's what our Product Team had ...

Meditation 3 minute read

Mindfulness, Traumatic Stress & Best Practice Guidelines

In the words of David Treleaven, an educator and psychotherapist whose work focuses on the intersection of trauma and mi...

Mindfulness 6 minute read

Better sleep plays a major role in workplace success

Sleep, along with diet and exercise, is one of our major health pillars. However, despite its importance, sleep tends to...

Workplace, Tips & Tricks 3 minute read

Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System is a game changer for mental health prevention

Smiling Mind has supported findings released today from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, speci...

Media release 1 minute read
Quote of the week
“You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.”
Pema Chödrön

At home

5 simple ways to get your kids into mindfulness

Mindfulness has many benefits for your mental health, which is equally as important as your physical health. 

Children, Family 4 minute read

How mindfulness can help during Coronavirus

We are living through an unprecedented and uncertain time, requiring each of us to navigate our way, as best we can, thr...

Children, Family, Parents, Anxiety 6 minute read

Dealing with the bushfire crisis at home

With images of distraught families fleeing bushfires, blackened homes, dead animals and smoke-filled skies, it's hard no...

Children, Family, Parents, Anxiety 2 minute read

At Work

Better sleep plays a major role in workplace success

Sleep, along with diet and exercise, is one of our major health pillars. However, despite its importance, sleep tends to...

Workplace, Tips & Tricks 3 minute read

5 minutes with small business owner, Tom Bosna

Meet Tom, Tom is a trained Physiotherapist and owns a small business, Pinnacle Health Group. Tom was kind enough to give...

Workplace, Business 5 minute read

How to incorporate mindfulness into your work day

As we enter the blank slate of 2021 the question to ask ourselves is: how do we find space in our workday for mindfulnes...

Workplace, Business, Mindfulness 3 minute read

At school

How Smiling Mind’s Schools Program integrates with Be You

Are you looking for a new Personal Development program to boost your skills in the classroom? Check out Smiling Mind’s S...

Schools 2 minute read

5 minutes with teacher, Lucy Barrat

Meet Lucy, Lucy is a teacher at Methodist Ladies College in Mallacoota and spoke to us about how she uses mindfulness in...

Teachers, Students, Schools 5 minute read

Why mindfulness is a journey, not a destination

Mindfulness can be a rewarding journey for both teachers and students. But like most journeys, the benefits are greater ...

Teachers, Schools 3 minute read

News

Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System is a game changer for mental health prevention

Smiling Mind has supported findings released today from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, speci...

Media release 1 minute read

New mental health program to support 600 schools across regional and rural Australia

As students settle into classrooms for the new school year, leading mental health not-for-profit Smiling Mind has opened...

Media release 2 minute read

Productivity Commission call for mental health prevention focus

Leading mental health not-for-profit Smiling Mind has welcomed the release of the Productivity Commission Report into Me...

Media release 1 minute read
Recent initiatives
Screen Shot 2020-11-16 at 3.30.05 pm

NAIDOC Week with Jack Charles