It doesn’t matter whether you are a Jedi Master, a Sith Lord engaging in an intergalactic battle or sitting behind an office desk or checkout till in work, nobody is immune to mental health issues.

Some of my all-time favourite films come from the original Star Wars trilogy and I am now getting to relive my childhood all over again through my children as they have been introduced to the magic of Star Wars.

Let’s face it there is probably nothing better having a light saber fight with your kids while making the noises pretending to be Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker or Kylo Ren and Rey.

I know when I have faced tough times with my own struggles there have been some quotes from the movies that have helped guide me through those times.

So, to celebrate Star Wars Day I thought I would share with you what Star Wars teaches us about managing mental health and anxiety.

These lessons are ones which I hope you will not only find helpful but that you can pass onto your children to help them learn to manage stressful or anxious times that they will face in school and when they are older.

“You must unlearn what you have learned.”  Anxiety has caused your mind to think in a negative way that is not beneficial. The paradox of this is that your mind believes it is actually keeping you safe making you behave and feel the way you do. The beauty of this is that because your mind has learnt to think this way on its own, it can unlearn it and learn a more beneficial and positive way.

Much like Yoda teaches Luke how to do this, going to see a professional counsellor will help you look at your long-held beliefs that have been holding you back to look at those beliefs from a different point of view to enable you to make the changes you want.

“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” Anxiety can have such a crippling effect on us that taking those first steps to begin the journey of overcoming it can seem very scary.

However, by setting small goals and focusing on improving 1% at a time it allows you to gain momentum and focus in the journey. Always remember, forward is forward is doesn’t matter about the speed.

“Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda is giving Luke a little bit of healthy tough love when he feels he is not able to lift the X-Wing out of the swamp to help Luke to believe in himself more. When facing anxiety there will be times where you are not sure if you can overcome it.

What this quote teaches us is that to overcome anxiety nobody else can do it for you and to gain that control you either give it a go or you don’t there are no half measures.

“In my experience there is no such thing as luck.” Luck plays no part in overcoming anxiety. When clients get to the stage that their anxiety is a lot quieter it is natural for them to worry about “what if it comes back”

I teach clients that the reason their anxiety has become quitter is not because of luck, it is because of all the effort they have out in consistently over a period of time and facing their anxieties.

“You can’t stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting” None of us enjoy change, we all have our routines and we don’t like it when it has to change. Change is something that is outside of our control yet we waste so much energy on trying to control it and fighting it.

I teach clients to look at what is inside their control and what is not, then take back that energy we are wasting on things we have no control over and using it on the things we do have control over to help regain that balance we are looking for in our lives

“The greatest teacher, failure is.” Jedi Knights much like ourselves are not perfect, they have flaws just the same as you and I.  We live in an age of social media where the impression people give is that they are living their perfect life and have no worries or struggles. That’s not real life.

We are going to make mistakes; we are going to not get that job or have that person say yes to a date with us. But instead of criticising ourselves I show clients how to use those moments as learnings, almost as a gift that we can learn from because failure helps us to grow. It is ok to fail as long as we learn from it.

“Don’t centre on your anxieties … keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs…. Be mindful of the future, but not at the expense of the moment.”  The two words most common with anxiety sufferers are “WHAT IF” and it means that they are living in the future worried and anticipating things that may happen in a negative way.

Learning how to live more in the present, to be mindful is a great tool to learn to be able to manage your anxiety as more often than not anxiety does not exist in the present. Rey uses mindfulness to calm her anxieties when she is facing Kylo Ren in a light saber fight at the end of The Force Awakens.

There are many different ways to learn and practice mindfulness, my advice is find what works for you best and work on it daily.

“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” This one is great for kids just as much for adults. The force in real life is the power we get from any emotion should it come from the light side or the dark side.

Light side would be love, joy, happiness and the dark side would be anger, hate, worry. These emotions are messengers and the lesson is to not give into the dark side of the force – those feelings that are caused by worried thoughts, fear etc but to figure out their meaning by talking to those we trust

“Breathe. Just breathe.” Anxiety/panic attack sufferers will get this better than most because an attack causes you to breath more sharply and quickly which adds to the anxiety as a panic attack can feel sometimes as if you are about to have a heart attack.

Learning deep breathing exercises such as box breathing and making it part of you daily routine instead of when an attack has hit you will help train you to focus on your breath, alter how you breath so that you have much better control of your breathe and can help reduce the chances of an attack starting. Just breathe

“I know it’s hard, but you have to be patient.” When anxiety hits it is not easy. The key here is to remember that you have got this, you’re record of getting through these situations is 100%. Try to remember to be patient as the anxiety will pass, you just have to take it one step, one breath at a time.

“Your insight serves you well” How many times have you not listened to your gut feeling about a person or a situation and the outcome was a negative one? Chances are most of the time it has been a negative outcome.

Learning to listen and trust your gut feelings is an important tool to help manage your anxiety because it is very rarely wrong. Trust yourself and your instincts the next time you sense a disturbance in the force.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, if you feel you would benefit from more help with anxiety and stress pop over to our website www.etherapyni.co.uk or drop me a private message on Instagram or Facebook with your email address and I will add you to our weekly mailing list.

If you need to talk we are here to listen.