In August 2018, I collapsed yet again at work and I was taken into an ambulance. For years I actually believed it was just low blood sugar, and it was nothing physical that caused the collapse. I found out it was something that I struggled with in my mind, anxiety.

After I completed a six week course at Steps to Wellbeing via the NHS, I learnt new techniques and some ways of coping. They taught me to look at my triggers and to look at my lifestyle. I have good days and bad days. Days where I have to deal with many things and it feels like my mind cannot cope and I become overwhelmed. I then shut down and I get into a depressed state of mind.

But recently I have been having more good days than bad.

As it happened, I was approached by Stephen Lyons (SIFU Wing Chun Master) to create training videos for his martial arts classes as I promote myself as a freelance videographer next to my full time job. I was honoured of course, but also intrigued by the thought of trying martial arts. I quickly learnt that Steve helps people overcome their fears. He is a mild mannered, gentle soul, an inspiring teacher with a great sense of humour.

A "modern day Mr Miyagi".

I was sceptical at first, as I have always felt physically quite weak. But after the first lesson everything quickly changed for me. I felt new energy and focus. I believe it can bring peace and a sense of harmony to anyone's life. Steve teaches everyone valuable life lessons and looks after all of us. Anyone can learn Wing Chun, it can really give you strength and confidence. The classes have given me determination, my body and mind feel stronger and I feel fantastic after each lesson.

It distracts me from my anxiety and my worries (thus making me less anxious). I feel healthier and I am learning to be calmer and I feel more balanced with myself and with others. I even sleep better after a session. I also can't help but feel a bit like IP Man after I learn something new!

I still have a long way to go, but I can truly recommend this to anyone. It has given me a reason to get up in the morning and seize the day, one day at a time.

Vivien C. Francis