Defiance, Vulnerability and Living with Anxiety: Top Tips from Stella Live

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Last week I attending an amazing event run by Stella Magazine with some incredible speakers.

First up was Davina McCall whose life has been a series of ups and downs lived out loud in front of the great British public since she burst onto the small screen 20 years ago. My favourite thing she said was the word she’d like written on her tombstone: Defiant. “If someone tells me I can’t do something, I’ll do it twice and take photos of myself doing it.” Davina, I salute you, some of the best things I’ve done in my life have been as a reaction to someone saying “No!”

She also talked about our ongoing fascination with happiness and that what we should be teaching is not ‘finding happiness’ – which sometimes feels like that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – but instead “detaching the things that make us unhappy.”

Having come out of a low patch recently, I can really relate to ‘putting down’ the thoughts and behaviours that aren’t serving me and eliminating situations I find toxic. At one point she looked up and, spying the only man in the room said: “You’re a man, welcome!” and went over and gave him and his wife a huge hug. Priceless.

Next up was a panel discuss with Fearne Cotton, Bryony Gordon, Diana Henry and the Midults: Emilie McCMeekan and Annabel Rivkin, all of whom were refreshingly honest about their struggles with anxiety and depression. Fearne, who described exactly what goes on when she has a panic attack said: “We’re all living with low-level anxiety because we’re all trying to do too much.” Sound familiar?

Picking up a theme from Davina, Bryony said: “Our quest to be happy all the time has made us unhappy,” and Annabel added that, rather than doing all form of things to numb or dull the pain: “I want to feel the texture of everything,” which echoes a piece of advice my daughter gave to me the other day which is, sometimes it’s OK not to be OK. (I love that it was my teenager who gave me the best advice that day, especially as a coach and grown up I’m ‘supposed’ to be the one with the answers!).

Although there was a packed audience, these women’s honesty, vulnerability and mutual support felt like we were all just sitting on the sofa having a chat. And their courage to share how they were feeling in that very moment undoubtedly gave everyone in the audience permission to feel the same.

Thank you Stella for a brilliant day.

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