We’re all more anxious than we used to be.
We worry about keeping our families safe. We worry about our health. We worry about finances.
And sometimes, that anxiety ratchets up to such a high level that it debilitates us.
For Montse Azaguirre, stress was something she sailed through. Nothing could hold her down for long.
Until she exchanged a high-pressure career in television for motherhood…
And her life changed forever.
Today, Montse teaches the mindfulness principles that helped her manage her postpartum anxiety and get her life back.
Even if you don’t struggle with anxiety, you’ve probably experienced the stress of living up to high expectations, juggling multiple roles, or losing yourself in service to others. Mindfulness reminds you that you don’t have to be perfect; it’s okay to be good enough.
In this week’s YBTV interview, you’ll learn the 3 mindfulness principles that can help you feel more confident, avoid comparison, and live your best life. You’ll discover a powerful exercise to reconnect with yourself and step into a more mindful future. The good life awaits!
What You’ll Learn
Anxiety doesn’t come out of nowhere, but it felt that way for Montse Azaguirre.
She’d been working in television since she was 19. It was what she loved to do. It fit her to a T. She worked on the biggest shows—The Voice, The Biggest Loser, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here—and never felt a twinge of anxiety.
She felt high levels of stress, certainly. She found herself working with a crew of 300 in the jungle at 3am, surrounded by snakes, spiders, leeches, and other venomous creepy-crawlies, going live to air. Of course she felt nervous. But she dealt with it.
It never occurred to her anything would change.
But in her forties, it did.
She met the man she would marry, and she left single life behind. She had her first child and threw herself into motherhood with the same 110% intensity she’d brought to her career. She was going to be the perfect wife with a beautiful home and delicious meals every night; and the perfect mother, whose children were the center of her life and always came first.
A few years later, she had her second child…
And life as she knew it fell apart.
She knew she was tired. But more than that, she was losing herself. She had been on pause from her career for several years, and working had been her passion. When she was working, she could look at herself in the mirror and know who she was. But she didn’t recognize herself anymore.
One day, something happened. She felt like she was dying. She couldn’t breathe. Her heart was beating wildly. She called her mother.
She could have never imagined what her mother would say next:
“I know what you’re like. I knew this was going to happen to you. You need to calm down. You’re having a panic attack, and you have anxiety.”
Montse spent the next six months going from one doctor’s office to another. She thought something must be wrong with her physically. This was so unlike her. She couldn’t leave the house.
“I’d never felt that vulnerable, ever, in my life,” she says. “Even when you fall in love with someone and they break your heart, that’s a different kind of vulnerable. This is vulnerable with your whole life, like you don’t even recognize who you are.”
Eventually, she got a diagnosis. It was postnatal anxiety.
Postnatal anxiety is not the same as postnatal depression. It’s defined by hypervigiliance, a state of constant alertness to danger.
Montse’s doctor described her as a German Shepherd, 24 hours on guard. She was afraid something would happen to the children. Simple things like crossing the street were now fraught with anxiety.
Montse had always been independent. She lived on her own for a decade and traveled the world by herself. She couldn’t accept that this was her life now. So she decided to take action. She would research this and find solutions.
She typed “how to fix anxiety” into the Google search bar, and the first thing that came up was meditation and mindfulness.
Mindfulness for Anxiety
Mindfulness didn’t make Montse’s anxiety magically disappear, but it helped start the process of dialing the anxiety back, so she could feel like herself again.
Mindfulness is now part of Montse’s everyday life. She is a mindfulness teacher who shares tips and meditations. She offers courses and professional training in mindful principles to help her clients feel more confident and manage stress.
She offers a message of hope to anyone struggling with anxiety:
You’re not alone. Anxiety is a mindset, and it is a state of mind. Once you can understand the mechanisms of it, you can understand that you can actually switch it and change it.”
Principle #1. Non-judgment
The foundation of Montse’s mindfulness practice is a set of 3 principles that she meditates on.
The first mindfulness principle is non-judgment: not judging yourself and also not judging others.
“I found that, especially when I had the anxiety, I was judging myself all the time. I was beating myself up,” Montse says.
Part of the process of learning to stop judging herself was becoming a witness to her thoughts.
A lot of the time, we’re not aware of the negative thoughts that run through our minds, she says.
Once you pay attention, “you’ll notice so much negative stuff. You’ll notice that you’re constantly judging yourself, you’re constantly comparing to others, you’re constantly criticizing yourself. That just adds to the anxiety.”
You don’t have to buy into those thoughts. You can see them for what they are – mental chatter – and let them go.
Principle #2. Acceptance
The second principle of mindfulness is acceptance: accepting yourself exactly where you’re at, even if it’s not where you want to be.
For Montse, that meant accepting her new path. She was no longer the independent career woman she used to be. She was a mother now, and it wasn’t humanly possible for her to be Supermom. What she did was good enough—it had to be.
Principle #3. Letting go
The third principle of mindfulness is letting go of expectations.
As a professional woman for 20 years, Montse had high expectations of herself. She had to look immaculate, perform brilliantly, and work the hardest of anyone.
When she transitioned to motherhood, she didn’t let go of those high expectations for herself. She wanted to do it all brilliantly. But motherhood was a lot messier than she’d planned.
It’s a trap that so many of us fall into. Thanks to social media influencers on Instagram and YouTube, “we are constantly comparing ourselves to every other beautiful yummy mummy that has come out the other side of it, looking better they ever did in their whole entire life.”
“Now, that’s not me!” Montse says. “I still have a few kilos here that I need to get rid of, but I’m realistic with myself. Because if I beat myself up about that, that’s just going to hurt me more.”
She learned to tell herself:
Okay, you know what? I’m just going to sit here in my corner and try and do the best I can every single day.”
She uses an exercise where she visualizes herself as the person she wants to be. She puts on headphones, cranks up her favorite music, and then imagines how she wants to look and feel. That exercise gives her confidence, and it’s a kind of confidence she wants to share with other women.
How You Can Learn Mindfulness
Montse taught a course on mindfulness for women who’d been through domestic violence, and one unexpected positive result was how much the course helped these women’s self-esteem.
When you’ve lost your confidence in yourself, it’s great to know you can get it back by having these mindfulness principles in the back of your head.
“Anyone can do with a little extra boost in their self-esteem,” Montse says.
“It’s about understanding that mindfulness is actually a state of mind and a state of life,” she says. “You can live in a mindful manner, understanding that the only moment that you have power over is right now.”
Jump to Topics of Interest
1:32 High work stress versus anxiety
4:11 Postnatal anxiety
5:40 How Montse discovered mindfulness and meditation
9:38 Letting go
14:17 Anxiety builds up, so you have to build it down
15:38 Montse’s Mindful Living website and channel
Montse helps professionals accomplish stress management using mindfulness. Before her journey into mindfulness and transformation, she worked in television for over 20 years. But now, through her work, she teaches others the power of being present, manifesting your soul’s purpose, and opening your mind to just this present moment in order to let the universe guide you.