Six tools to help dealing with anxiety – with Paddy Byrne and Tom Grennan

Producer and songwriter Paddy Byrne from the Daily Do podcast shows us some tips for a healthy mind with friend and collaborator Tom Grennan

Paddy says: “Hi, it’s Paddy from The Daily Do podcast here. I’m a songwriter and producer working with Tom Grennan, Paloma Faith, Ella Eyre, Snakehips and many others. I was in a band before, releasing the album ‘Slowly & Gloriously’ under the name ‘Byrne’ getting 8 out of 10 in NME way back in 2002…. but all whilst suffering and struggling badly with anxiety, panic and the self medicating addiction that I used to cope until it took me over and made the problems much worse.

“I spent 20 years trying and taking things to change the way I feel. Now I don’t, and I’ve changed the way I feel. I do a simple daily routine in the morning that keeps me free and easy, and whilst life will still get in the way, I don’t react with panic. My creativity is flowing faster and harder than ever, and where before I thought I had to live tough to be rock ‘n’ roll, now I let my words and music do the talking rather than the drinking and the fear.

“I’ve found tools for helping to beat anxiety help to prevent it before it happens. That means it’s best to commit to doing these practices every day. I f I’d have known all those years ago how powerfully they work, I would have done them over and over again, happily!

“Here’s The Daily Six Tools To Help Dealing Anxiety, with some thoughts from my mate Tom Grennan on how he looks after himself in the manic world of the music business!”

1. Get up

Paddy says: “Get up half an hour early to give yourself time to do what I call ‘Freedom 30’! It’s incredibly easy once you’re up. If you make it a habit, I’ve found it really helps your anxiety become more manageable. That’s what I’ve done and it’s worked.”

Tom says: “I always, always get up quickly and get the blood flowing with some press ups or something. I jump in the shower and I’m good. I’m not a big breakfast man, so I start the day by warming up my vocals….I know, mad. I make noises…I like doing that, I go a bit mad with it! I love it, that wakes my brain up and get’s me going! That’s my thing.”

2. Sit in silence and breathe

Paddy says: “Start your day with sitting in silence with yourself and focus only on your breathing. What I found is that when having anxiety, I wanted to be anywhere but in silence in my head! So doing this gives me a clear, calm and enjoyable message that I’m fine, just on my own. I’m not running from fear, here I am, calm. And it works wonders in other mindful ways too.”

Tom says: “Before a gig, I love sitting in silence and not having anything around me, no distractions, just literally breathing and relaxing. It’s not meditation really, it’s more just chilling with no music or distraction, relaxing on my own in a quiet little room.”

3. Keep a journal

Paddy says: “Anxiety is all about feeling overwhelmed, all at once in one frightening sucker punch…I know, I’ve lived it. Writing down what’s going on for you as part of your daily 30 morning minutes releases background fears and confirms what’s great in your life. Worry hates positive facts!”

Tom says: “I write a lot of songs, and when I get an idea I have to keep singing it until I get to write it down. That keeps my head straight. I’m not a planner, trying to plan stuff ahead..that’s what makes my head go. I like things just happening, I just go with it. Obviously there’s lots of stuff going on that I need to do, so I just let the river keep going and I jump in and out. I feel relaxed when I’m just flowing.”

4. Exercise

Paddy says: “A doctor told me that not exercising is like being given a depressant pill and taking it. Getting moving is that powerful! Don’t aim so high that you get put off after one massive effort, just do a little, often. Go for a quick walk, a run or a workout in the gym – but whatever you’re doing, don’t avoid getting going at some point each day. We are an organism, like a plant, we’re not just our minds! So the more we keep our whole system happy, the happier we feel.”

Tom says: “Right now I’m just so busy that it’s hard to get into the gym, but I do exercise. I like going to the park or doing press ups and sit-ups in my room, just to get those natural endorphins into my head! As soon as I’ve done even 20 minutes of exercise, one, it puts a smile on my face, and two, it makes you feel like you can conquer the world.”


Tom Grennan

5. Be Yourself and Talk

Paddy says: “There’s nothing cooler than someone being themselves. Think of all your musical heroes, most are being themselves turned up to 11. I know it sounds easier than it is, but push yourself to be vulnerable, open up, talk and express yourself! This is another release of the pressure that can otherwise lead to feeling hyper tense.”

Tom says: “To be honest, I think because I’m so comfortable in who I am I don’t feel like there’s pressure to be more rock and roll. The only pressure I feel is how do I stand out a little bit more. But if I ever do feel like I need to stand out a little bit more I always say to myself, ‘Actually, no, you don’t’. The talent will speak for itself and also the man that I am will speak for himself as well. I just need to be Tom Grennan. You are who you are and just be you and that’s who people love…just be you.”

6. Do 4-7-8 Breathing when Facing Your Fear

Paddy says: “4-7-8 breathing is an incredible tool that can bring instant calm and focus – and it can stop anxiety in it’s tracks. Dr Andrew Weil promotes this exercise and I use it during the day or in bed at night if feeling a little wobbly. It’s great for getting on planes, going into parties, meetings and studios…anywhere that would increase natural nervousness. You breathe in for a count of 4 then hold for 7 then breathe out for 8 as if blowing out candles on a cake.”

Tom says: “Oh mate, don’t remind me. I recently jumped out of a plane and I was shitting myself. It was for MIND and my Aim Higher Challenge. But again, I’m trying to conquer a fear. Everyone I’ve spoken to said it was the best thing you can do.”

The Daily Do with Paddy Byrne podcast is free to subscribe to here and is available on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, YouTube and Podbean.

Tom Grennan’s debut album ‘Lighting Matches’ is out now. Read the NME review here.