We caught up with wellness expert, life coach and content creator Angelika Alana to talk about handling fears, overcoming stress and kicking ass in life.
Do you ever second guess why you became freelance and how do you move past that fear when it comes up?
All the time, ha! I know sometimes all the uncertainty of freelance life can build up but I think it’s about managing the fear. Motivated people aren’t necessarily super motivated, they just minimise de-motivating factors in their life, so that it’s easy to be productive.
To me, bravery is the same. Brave people aren’t necessarily ‘fearless’, they’re just really good at minimising the things in their lives that create unnecessary fear. Like, for example, not thinking they have to make a living off their passion straight away, but instead maybe keeping up their side hustle to avoid unnecessary money stress. This leaves you with more bravery juice for when it really counts.
I also use a journaling method where I follow my fear through each worst-case scenario and retort with “and so what?” and a series of other questions. It helps me put the truth into perspective. I’ve survived 100% of my worst days and whatever life throws my way, I can bounce back. It isn’t the end of the world (as my fear would sometimes have me think) because, as Marie Forleo, says “everything is figure-out-able”.
You’re a life coach and wellness content creator by trade. If someone came to you and wanted to kick ass in life what would be your top 3 pieces of advice?
- Know what drives you. I’m sure you know what your dreams are or what the most aspirational part of you wants… probably, right? But what does your fear want, what do your greed and your ego want? Knowing yourself well means you’ll know when the wrong aspect has taken the wheel, so you can pull the car over and have a time-out.
- Have a mental health strategy. If we don’t have a goal, it’s hard to score. So? Get a strategy. Meditate daily, learn breathwork for when anxiety comes up, discover journaling techniques for understanding why something is upsetting you. Get a strategy and be invested in its continual refinement and progress. Your mental health is worthy of that. Need help getting started? Check out my Healthy Habits Kit.
- Build meaningful relationships. Of course, this includes the one with yourself. The longest standing happiness study in the world (still being conducted by Harvard) found that the most defining factor for not only the quality but even the length of someone’s life was the quality of their relationships. Note: I say quality, not quantity. So? Surround yourself with people who inspire you, who believe in you and who you can be yourself with. Invest in those relationships because you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Are you making wise long term investments?
As you’re a well-known advocate of morning mindfulness routines, what does yours entail?
It varies, but at the moment I start by writing in a gratitude journal. This is such a buzzword right now but the science is clear: it works when it comes to feeling happier and cultivating emotional resilience…don’t take my word for it though, try it out!
Then, I have an energy cleansing ritual I move through, that involves visualisations, repeating mantras and using the smoke of palo santo wood or sage. This could be a little different for most folk but it works for me. It’s said that ‘feeling is understanding’ and this gives me a clear head and a sense of grounding. I then do a couple of rounds of breathwork and move into a silent 15-minute meditation.
Lastly, I drink ½ a litre of water with good quality sea salt to start the day hydrated.
Like any relationship, the one with ourselves has to be kept varied, so I like to switch it up. The most important thing is that I start the day with some kind of mindfulness ritual. It’s something simple and immediately actionable, that every single person can do to safeguard their mental health and skyrocket their productivity.
When you find yourself feeling really stressed, what do you do that helps you feel better?
It depends on the kind of stress I’m feeling. Like if I feel frustrated, first I’ll shift my state by doing something uber physical like lifting weights or going to a vinyasa yoga class.
If I’m worried about something, I’ll take a really long walk outside in nature with no phone or music and just let my mind run.
If I’m anxious, I’ll use breathwork. The common theme here is: I’ll start by doing something to shift my state from panicked or acute stress to calmness.
Then once I’m a little clearer, if something is still bothering me I’ll usually journal. I think it’s important to give your inner world a voice. Plus, it helps to organise the thoughts that could be creating a lot of the stress and determine if they really deserve to be taking up that valuable inner state. Some of my favourite journaling questions are…
“Is this really true, can I know with absolute certainty that this is true?”
“If not, does it serve me in any feel-good way to keep this thought?” (an ode to Byron Katie)
“What is subjective about this situation and what is just a story I’m telling myself?”
“What would that story look like if it was empowering?”
“What would this situation look like if it was fun and easy?”
How do you balance work life and personal life? For instance, do you have set hours and days when you do freelance work or are you always in work mode?
One of the first things I get every person who works with me to do is: start getting serious about scheduling – because it works! Every Sunday I schedule for my week: social and work commitments, workouts, clients and content projects I’m working on.
When I have space for my own personal workflow I don’t just schedule ‘work’, I schedule the specific task based on its priority. I don’t always hit 100% of my targets for how I plan my week, but even hitting 80% puts me way ahead of where I’d be if I didn’t plan.
I also never skip a morning mindfulness routine. In the morning, I make time for myself before I make time for the world and this is a commitment I’ve made to myself to balance my priorities.
At night, my partner and I have a ‘no electronics in the bedroom’ policy. We leave our phones at the door and light candles to read with. 1. Because it feels super luxurious and calming and 2. Because if we don’t set a time to be ‘off’ then we’d always find something else to be working on.
The quality of your power comes from the quality of your rest, so as, Arianna Huffington would say, I’m sleeping my way to the top. No shame in my 9-hour-a-night-game!