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calming the internal storm

Interview with James Abbott


What is your personal definition of wellness?

Wellness is a constant in my internal world. It is there even when I forget. I see it as a system that works to heal me and clear my mind. It’s a real-time system working in the moment to provide me with what is needed to return me back to a space of clarity. It’s a state of calm and contentment where I get all my great ideas and next steps to take in life.

How do you foster a supportive environment for yourself that promotes your individual health and wellbeing? 

I listen to my own internal wellbeing system rather than heading straight into adopting other ideas, routines and habits from external sources or other people. I’ve found from experience that, when we do listen to other advice without checking in with ourselves, we miss a super helpful message from within that points us in a much more helpful direction. By pausing and taking a moment I find  that I get that next step that always helps me when I’m feeling stuck. When my mind is racing or I’m jumping from one thing to another and getting very little done, I sometimes say out loud to myself “right, stop…. Just stop for a moment… what do I need right now?”

Just having that pause gives me chance to see what the next step to take really is. It naturally slows me down to a pace that then allows me to follow that step and the one after that and so on. That next step can then point me at times towards someone or something that ends up being really helpful, but that only comes when I listen to myself first instead of racing off in search of anyone or anything that can help me.

Share the catalyst behind your captivating journey into wellness and mindfulness. What inspired you to embrace these practices, and how have they sparked positive changes in your mental wellbeing? 

In 2016, I suffered and was labelled with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and noise sensitivity after moving into a new house. It lasted for 12 months and during that time I went through a phase of jumping through lot of self help, counselling and anxiety management technique hoops to try and get rid of it. Some didn’t work, and some worked for a time and then didn’t anymore. Every time they stopped working I’d keep asking myself “why don’t they work anymore?”, and “why am I having to manage my anxiety now when I’ve never had this before?” My quest for an answer, luckily, led me to learn about where my anxious experience was coming from and that’s what became the catalyst that projected me into healing from anxiety instead of having to manage or fix it. I learnt that my experience had nothing to do with the outside experience, which is why other people weren’t experiencing it, and everything to do with the experience that was being created internally and projected out like it was real. After discovering this, I then continued to explore and uncover how my own internal systems were always working to rebalance me without any intervention from me. In fact, the less involved I got, the easier it was for the panic to settle and the anxiety to subside because it was being taken care of for me. These positive changes have allowed me to move through anxiety with ease, despite the discomfort, and let them pass much quicker.

Can you share specific benefits you’ve experienced in your emotional wellbeing since incorporating wellness practices into your life? How has your emotional wellbeing improved your life and the lives of those around you?

I am more resilient to what life throws at me and I make clearer decisions more of the time. I know when my head is full of noise and chatter, it is best to let it settle before taking action to solve problems. I’ve become much more of the person I was before anxiety – funny, relaxed, keen to build relationships with new people, and enjoying life as it unfolds.

In what ways have your life experiences shaped your perspective on mental health? How have you diverted any biases or stigmas?

I never realized that mental health and mental illness were two completely separate things. Now, I know that mental health is a constant in my world, it never stops working to keep my mind healthy. And even when it becomes clouded over by unhelpful thinking, it is still there in the background working to settle me back down again. It really is the foundation we all have within us to help us through every aspect of our lives and knowing that allows me to let it do its job. I have found a new passion to help others uncover their mental health and see what I’ve see for myself, which helps old beliefs and stigmas to disappear. The stigma and confusion around mental health is still a big thing in the world and it’s been helpful for me to see how it has become such a stigma, so that I can point others in a much more helpful direction that’s tailor-made for them.

Each person’s approach to wellness is unique and tailored to their specific needs. Can you describe some of the personalized self-care or routines that you have found helpful in your journey?

I will plan my days to include some form of movement. I absolutely love being outside and nature and so my plan will involve being out with the dogs for a set amount of time, whether that is in the garden or out on a walk. For days when I have more time, I like to get out on my bike for a few hours, taking in the world at a steady pace.


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