Nurturing Yourself to Combat Anxiety (and a little bit about my Women’s Holistic Coaching Experience coming to – By Nicola O’Hanlon


With the ever increasing demands on us to function in our high pressure world, many of us find we live in a constant state of high alert and anxiety. I myself, spent over a decade in sustained high stress situations (probably longer than that if the truth be told) and having to deal with the reality of my shattered life in recovery, without anything to numb the pain was tough. I was constantly physically ill and having type 1 diabetes for 30 years didn’t help.

If I had used the knowledge I possessed from my training as a Reflexologist and Therapeutic Masseuse some 15 years earlier, I would have found the recovery process easier. However, having presence of mind to do anything in a logical and calm manner was impossible. I wasn’t sleeping. I was in a constant state of anxiety. There was conflict within family relationships and caring for my children alone while recovering my mental and emotional health pushed me to my limits. I crashed over and over again, unable to sustain my life under the constant pressure.

Sound familiar?

The effects of stress on our bodies generally cannot be avoided. Designed to help us survive under threatening situations, the fight or flight response releases hormones into our system. Oxytocin from the pituitary gland, adrenaline from the adrenal glands and Insulin and glucagon from the pancreas affect our blood sugar, blood pressure and energy levels. When in danger, these hormones secrete into our system to give us the required energy and heightened sensory ability to fight or run. The entire endocrine system, (pituitary, Adrenals, Parathyroids, Thyroid, Pancreas, Gonads, Pineal, Thymus, Hypothalamus) affect the function of our entire body. If the endocrine system is over exerted, the rest of our body will be under performing.

Thankfully there are many things we can do to combat this. We cannot solve problems within the same frequency as the problem. We must adopt a new approach. It took work, awareness and dedication to reconstruct my life and my health to some degree of normality. The old cliché goes “we cannot give what we haven’t got”. I had to realise that if I continued to deplete myself, I wouldn’t have anything to give to anyone else. I had to start taking care of me first!

My advice for decreasing stress is start simple – start first thing in the morning – and make the little things count.  I have learned that to combat feelings of loneliness, isolation and overwhelm, being my own best friend works like nothing else. It might sound a bit fluffy, but it really does work. If you’re waiting for someone else to come along and take care of you, you will be sadly disappointed. Morning rituals that put me on the right track are the bedrock of my life. Becoming aware and grateful – something I learned from my energy healing modality and 12 step recovery – immediately energizes me. Waking and instantly being grateful for my warm bed and restful sleep sets my thinking patters to positive.

Who checks their phones immediately when they wake up? Stop doing that. I don’t care how busy you are or what you need to get done. You need to nurture yourself before anything else. Try not checking your phone first thing, for one week and see how you feel. Get up a half hour earlier, before your other responsibilities need your attention. After a short time your personal morning routine will be your vitality. I will admit to feeding my three cats and dog when I go downstairs, just so they won’t be barking and meowing for breakfast and disturbing my peace.

My morning ritual looks like this. I make myself fresh coffee and sit in my favourite spot in the house, meditate, contemplate and read something uplifting and empowering. I savour the aroma and taste of my coffee, I enjoy the silence, I light candles and incense and make that half hour a sacred one that focuses entirely on myself. You can create your own morning ritual to help prepare your body and mind for the busy day ahead. Choose whatever you want – whatever feels right and makes you feel good. Constant practice will create a feeling of self-respect, love and nurturing which will become a natural way of being for you.

Nature – I could talk for hours about the benefits of being outside, experiencing and soaking up the energy nature provides. Believe me, there is nothing more powerful than just being in nature and being present to the sights, sounds and smells to revive and re-energise you in the healthiest possible manner. Go outside!

reflexology-chart_highA professional reflexology sessions work wonders for a worn out endocrine system and general exhaustion. It rebalances everything and gets the flow of hormones regulated. You can see on the chart attached, the area of the feet to massage to help the endocrine system, if you’d like to try it yourself. I’d also suggest treating the solar plexus and diaphragm to relax the entire body.

De-Stress-MassageNeedless to say, during stressful times, headaches and muscle tension can manifest. A good massage, especially with essential oils, help to relieve those symptoms. It’s a perfect New Years gift to yourself. It’s also a great way to connect with your partner intimately if you want to try it at home. Nothing like soft lighting, music and delicious scents to bring something special to a neglected relationship hindered by a stressful life. There are great books available on simple massage techniques that anyone can do – perhaps another great gift idea.

Like I said, it’s starting with the small things that count when dealing with stress that make the biggest difference. By doing something nurturing every day for yourself, you will regain strength, peace of mind and life in general will become a whole lot more enjoyable.

This coming January, in association with, I will be offering a new Holistic Coaching Experience for women, completely free, which brings us right back to the very basics of self-care. It’s a little different in that we will be focusing on our Mental, Emotional and Physical Health through direct interaction with Nature and Creative pursuits. This is for any woman who feels like she needs to reconnect with herself and learn to nurture herself in a natural and meaningful way.

You are invited to join our group every week through live, interactive video where we can fully interact in real-time and create a community through holistic health and healing. It will be fun, informative and enlightening. Watch this space for more information coming soon.

Nicola O'Hanlon

About Nicola O'Hanlon

Meet our Editor-In-Chief, Nicola O'Hanlon. She created this website, along with the help of the InTheRooms team in September 2015. Her work has been published in several recovery magazines, including Recovery Today, In Recovery Magazine,, Psychology Today and Reach Out Recovery to name but a few. She has also had her work published in two Feminist anthologies and a book of personal recovery stories. Born and raised in Wexford, Ireland she still lives there with her two children, Christopher and Jessica. Her background is in healing through Massage Therapy, Reflexology and Sechiem Energy Healer. She has combined her professional and life experience and now coaches women on how to empower themselves. She runs the Womens Wisdom Healing Circle meeting, on every Sunday (Noon est 5pm UK & Ireland), which is a non program specific gathering of women seeking support, encouragement and healing. Already an expert on how not to live life she is a constant seeker of new and better ways of being. Nature is her Higher Power and she believes in magic, crystals and blames the phases of the moon for her multiple personalities.
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One Comment

  1. Wonderful. I began a morning routine in my early sobriety similar to your’s and it is still the highlight of my day. I wake up an hour earlier which not only gives me time and space but early morning quiet. It is so important to me to be nurtured and balanced before facing the day.

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