171: What The Surf Has Taught Me About My Anxiety


In this episode Gina talks with Coach Rachel about an insightful piece one of Rachel's clients wrote about her anxiety. The surf is commonly used when we discuss anxiety join us as we read and discuss one client's perspective.

Here is the piece, written by Rachel's client, that was read in this episode:

What the surf has taught me about my anxiety

When I’m asked what anxiety feels like I reel off a list of words that are associated with anxiety but can’t capture it. Words can’t describe the relentless energy swirling around within. They can’t remain relevant long enough to keep up with the ever-changing energy that comes with anxiety. It wasn’t until I swam in the surf that I understood my anxiety. The ocean is constantly moving, sets of waves rolling into the shore, waves crashing on the beach and then the water recedes back into the ocean to start the cycle all over again. Just like anxiety.


When you get in the water and swim through the whitewash, you realise the surf is bigger than you, it’s more powerful than you and it’s relentless. Being out in the surf as a wave rises up creates a surge that pulls you towards the wave. When the wave rises and you’re looking into the face of it, the first thing that springs to mind isn’t to go forward. Sometimes you see swimmers turn towards the beach and assess if they can outrun it but it’s not the option you want to take because physically, unless you can run on water, you won’t escape it.


The best option is to let what is happening, happen. When the wave builds up and you feel the water pulling up underneath, go with it. You see swimmers do this, we walk towards the wave and as we get closer we start rushing towards to it. Moving towards the wave puts you in a better position to dive into the face of wave as it breaks. At this point you become the greatest force. The wave will still crash but you’re on the other side of it, not tumbling and getting sucked under in the whitewash.


This is what I’ve learned. I can either resist my anxiety it and get caught up in the whitewash or I can walk towards it and dive into it. Taking this step towards the surf doesn’t mean I won’t get knocked off my feet into the whitewash or a wave won’t crash on top of me. It still happens, it will happen and what I’ve learnt in those moments is to let go. When I’m tumbling and getting sucked under in the whitewash not knowing which way is up, I don’t fight it. Instead I just listen to the sounds of the surf swirling around me, the sound of being under water. None of this occurs without fear or doubt, but I know there’s a way through.

Many thanks to Rachel's client!

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Gina Ryan is an Anxiety Coach and Nutritionist who  struggled with general anxiety, panic and agoraphobia for over 20 years. On her own, prior to the internet, she was able to climb out of her anxiety to peace and well-being by trial and error.

Using her professional knowledge of nutrition and personal understanding of prayer and meditation she was able to string together one anxiety free day after another until she couldn’t even remember her last panic attack. With new-found energy and relief from clearing her anxiety she was able to handle major life challenges with much more ease -eventually moving 6,000 miles away to Hawaii over 10 years ago.

On Maui Gina worked as the nutritionist for an Eating Disorder Intensive Outpatient Center for 8 years using her knowledge and wisdom of the mind-body and spirit to help clients clear their food related anxiety, obsessions and compulsions. Gina currently works as an Anxiety Coach and also teaches Mindful Eating and Nutrition to clients around the world. She considers her work her calling and is fully immersed in living a healthy, mindful and compassionate life. Living on an island Gina lives a quiet life and enjoys traveling to visit family on other islands and on the mainland -something that is fun and joyful now that she is panic free.


Rachel Coleman is a anxiety coach with a history of anxiety, PTSD, and agoraphobia. Rachel suffered for years with anxiety before utilizing tools such as meditation, deep breathing, and using tips from the readings of the Claire Weekes.  Rachel went from being afraid to leave her couch to overcoming the fear to go on to complete school and work a high stressed fast paced job thanks to techniques learned. Rachel  has a Bachelor Degree in Psychology from Western Kentucky University with a minor in criminology and sociology. Rachel has 5 years of experience in the Social Work field helping individuals and families reach their greatest potential through encouragement and case management giving those in need of tools for success the ability to overcome great hurdles in their lives. As a person who suffered for years in the fear circle of anxiety Rachel is excited to be able to help anxiety sufferers to be given to tools, encouragement, and understanding to overcome anxiety and live a life without constant fear.



Remember that this information is for self-help and is not intended to be used as or in place of medical advice. Be sure to consult your health care practitioner for individual help. Also, information given are those of the individual guests and hosts and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Anxiety Coaches Podcast, the hosts, or sponsors.