Neil Hughes: How to Overcome the Traps of Anxiety

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Awhile back, comedian, author, and physicist (that’s right, physicist) Neil Hughes reached out to me on Twitter. He came across some things I wrote about anxiety and thought his recent TED Talk might be worth a look.

After watching a few minutes, I immediately shared it with followers on Twitter and made a note to circle back and write a bit more because it sums up much of what Sad Runner is all about.

Neil lives with anxiety, and he has for years. As an adult, he started to notice that worrying about everything wasn’t normal and that he may have something else going on.

“It became obvious that worrying was my main way of relating to the world.”

Sadly it got worse for Neil and he, like many who struggle, considered ending his life.

“I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t enjoy life at all.”

Determined not to let anxiety beat him, Neil went to work studying himself and observing his behavior. At Sad Runner, we know self-awareness is the first step toward rebuilding your life. You have to be aware of the things that make your condition better and worse. Neil put himself under the microscope and made his life better as a result.

“The number one reason I didn’t do anything about my anxiety for so long was that I wasn’t aware of the habits I was doing internally that fed it.”

Neil Hughes Anxiety Illustration

We’ve wired our brains to live a certain way. Through our habits and the lies we tell ourselves, we reinforce those crossed wires, and we screw things up for ourselves. After watching this video, you’ll understand that we all have the power to re-wire our brains too. Ultimately, we have a choice; we can make things better for ourselves.

“Pay attention and then choose how to react to it.”

Pay attention to the things that set you off, that trigger episodes within you. You don’t have to let it get worse; you can choose the next action step to take.

Knowing that I have control is crucial in my life. When I feel something happening inside me, I often feel out of control, like the roller coaster is already going, and I just have to strap in. But I have to remember that, at that moment, I can choose what happens next.

Neil’s talk not only explains what anxiety it like for those who don’t have it, he beautifully explains how we can take control back in our lives and thrive despite our mental illness.

Before you hit play, I want to reinforce, what I think is Neil’s most important point in the talk:

Neil Hughes Anxiety Quote

I started this site to break down the image of perfection we all think we need. I started this website so that others didn’t have to struggle alone anymore. Neil said it perfectly, and I hope we all learn from his example.

Alright, let’s watch Neil’s talk.

If you want to learn more about Neil Hughes, please follow him on twitter or stop by his website, Walking on Custard.

Adam Weitz
Adam Weitz

Adam Weitz is a multi-discipline designer, business owner, and founder of Sad Runner. He is passionate about encouraging people with depression and works through Sad Runner to positively impact their lives.