When people talk about Mental Health, which is now ‘on trend’ you usually hear the extreme examples and stats of poor mental health such as Suicide which is now the biggest killer of men under 50, and we conjure up images of extreme depression and anxiety. 13 years ago, my best friend killed herself, a month before her 25 birthday (next week she would have been 38) and my gran suffered from manic depression for 50 years. Mental health is something sadly, I’ve grown up with and come to learn a little about.
Despite the fact that I had these extreme in-direct experiences, I never even considered my mental health. I thought I was a very positive person, and that mental health was something I never needed to worry about myself. Most of us write off stress and work frustrations as normal. We all struggle with our own self-pressure, and time-management – everyone is so busy! But how bad does it have to get before we take our mental health seriously? Usually, it’s a complete mental break-down before we recognise there might have been a problem. And we all think it will never happen to us - It was just a bad day, I’ll be better tomorrow.
Thankfully, I found Transcendental Meditation before it got that bad, and looking back I actually had no idea just how unhappy I was because I was still functioning as I always had. I was in a professional situation where on the face of it I had a great position, and to everyone else was at the top of my game, but I was extremely frustrated and no matter how hard I worked, there were things beyond my control – and I hated feeling like that. I was losing my ‘mojo’ and I was angry and emotional at home. Like many high performers, control and performance is a big factor in our mental health.
I came across a TV programme that discussed Meditation and so I started researching online. I found articles on Transcendental Meditation (TM) and was fascinated by what I was reading. I took myself along to a TM school, which coincidentally was the day after I resigned from my job and launched my own business. It was a very uncertain time but unbeknown to me, the decision to learn TM meant my life seriously started to change beyond all recognition from that moment.
Like David Lynch, Hugh Jackman, Cameron Diaz, Ellen DeGeneres and most celebrities you can name as well as Business Pioneers such as Steve Jobs, and many CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies, I’m in the TM club. I’ve not missed a day since I started in February 2016 and 70% of the time I do 2 mediations a day. Literally, overnight I became calmer, the anger left me, and the anxiety and pressure left me. At a time when I should have been in panic overdrive, I was unbelievably calm and happy. Content with myself. I used to joke that it was like I had taken an overdose of happy pills. I was high on life and appreciating everything around me, like I was seeing things for the first time. As crazy as that sounds! And I still feel like that 3 years on!
My business took off at an alarming rate. I found myself more considered, more intuitive – I said the and did things at precisely the right time, in fact my timing was impeccable – it was like time slowed down and I became really present. Which meant I was listening better and making better choices. I was changing as a person and so everything around me was also changing. I released control too and I became much more relaxed. Even when things didn’t go to plan, I could see the bigger picture which meant there was never a panic or sense of frustration. Of course, I’ve had moments where I have felt anxious or fearful – as any new entrepreneur does – but those moments have been seriously few and fleeting, and I’ve had the clarity to be able to make the right decisions effortlessly and without fear, which has then led to results I couldn’t have even dreamed of, and my journey continues!
The last 3 years have seen me give up alcohol, become vegan and set up a start-up that is at it’s most exciting stage. I also work with a charity mentoring 3 teenage girls who struggle with confidence and anxiety. My friends and family almost don’t recognise me and many of them have now started doing TM because they saw the changes in me, and how it’s helped me become a better version of myself with more energy and ideas than ever before and being completely comfortable in my own skin.
Just like exercise keeps us physically fit, meditation helps us keep mentally sound. It’s a preventative tool that, when asked about, I champion… sadly I know all too well where poor mental health can lead if we don’t take care of ourselves. It does not have to be like that.
By Aimee Anderson, Director as Aimee Anderson Associates