How to Overcome Feelings of Anxiety - with Expert Kay Young

At Present Pal, we have become increasingly aware that although public speaking fears are common for individuals with learning differences, they are also prevalent amongst people experiencing feelings of anxiety. Feelings of stress, nervousness and uneasiness are a reality for the majority of people, but there remains a lack of awareness around simple and free coping skills for anxiety.

We spoke to Mindfulness Expert Kay Young, to discuss simple mindfulness exercises and activities which teach our brains to be ‘mindful’, rather than stressed and anxious. Kay began her mindfulness journey in Vietnam, and since then has been engaging with daily meditation and mindfulness practices.

Although we may assume that mindfulness and meditation requires sitting cross-legged on the floor with our eyes closed ‘hmmming’, this certainly isn’t the case.

The practice of ‘mindfulness’ is an everyday mentality, whereby we are “paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you” (NHS). Being ‘mindful’ is not a fix for anxiety, but it can improve your mental wellbeing and your ability to respond calmly to feelings of stress and panic.

Kay told us that when she was younger, she would be terrified if she had to speak to a group with more than 3 people. Now, Kay teaches mindfulness workshops to 14 or more people, publicly speaks to numbers between 15 and 100 people, and has learned to manage her anxieties through mindfulness activities.

Kay has been using Present Pal to test out the anxiety-friendly features.

I think Present Pal is a fantastic app to use to help reduce anxiety and build confidence when giving presentations and talks. Whilst reading your speech, the App magnifies the bullet point you’re currently on, assisting you to ensure you don’t get lost, and with the different background colours and fonts available, you can personalise the App to suit your own needs. Incredible use of technology to help you when you need it most.
— Kay Young

Overcoming Anxiety: Mindfulness

We asked Kay if she had any simple mindfulness exercises that would be easy and free for people to practice when experiencing feelings of stress and anxiety.

How to Practice Mindfulness

It is important to remember that these exercises will not get rid of anxiety overnight. A shocking 82% of students at UK universities suffer from stress and anxiety (The National Student) and over 520,000 UK workers are suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (Health and Safety Executive 2017). So, we want to raise awareness of coping mechanisms by discussing free mental health support that you can experience in your own home. Being ‘mindful’ is a skill, which will help you to overcome and manage feelings of anxiety as you practice mindfulness regularly. Kay advises that mindfulness is a skill that you build up, which helps you to recognise your own emotions, feelings, and physical sensations, gaining a better understanding of yourself. Kay says that mindfulness is about “knowing that emotions are there, and that it’s okay”.

Kay began her mindfulness journey in Vietnam, and since then has been engaging with daily meditation and mindfulness practices, attends Buddhist study sessions each week, partakes in a variety of diverse mindfulness retreats and also regularly engages with movement mindfulness (Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong). Read more about Kay’s expertise.