Angela Collevecchio knows firsthand the toll of living with anxiety, including panic attacks and obsessive thoughts. Using her background in human biology, she decided to create a website to share information about natural healing options. Chill Chief aims to find the “happy intersection between modern science and ancient practices” in its blog posts, free downloads, and shop. We chatted with Angela about her goals for Chill Chief and how she takes care of herself.
What is the mission of Chill Chief?
Our minds dictate everything we experience. Chill Chief’s mission is to create community among people struggling with their mental health and share resources that can help them build healthier minds. Through education and understanding, we can end the stigma around mental health and create a happier world.
How did you start Chill Chief?
In my early twenties, my anxiety had spiraled out of control. Every day was a struggle, and I could see how my symptoms were affecting my loved ones. I set out on a journey that would change my life. As I researched and tested holistic treatments, I wondered why nobody had shared this helpful information with me in all my years of struggling with anxiety. Dealing with mental illness and mental health struggles can be so isolating. I wanted to help others suffering and create a space where they could share without judgment and learn ways to manage what they were experiencing. Chill Chief was born.
What is one interesting thing about you that your followers wouldn’t know?
I love to write poetry. I think only two people in my life even know that! Recently, I have been using it as an outlet to work through perfectionism and process trauma and grief. I have a little brown journal with a note to myself in the front about writing just to write, without any judgment. And I open it almost every morning and write whatever I feel.
Did you have to change your routine to stay healthy and well during the COVD-19 pandemic?
Yes, mainly, I had to get creative about physical exercise and social connection. Both of these things are incredibly supportive of mental health. With restrictions and social distancing, both of these activities became difficult to manage. My anxiety skyrockets when I don’t exercise. And trying to motivate myself to exercise at home has always been difficult. My gym classes got shut down, and I had to adjust to stay active. That meant buying a bike, picking up roller skating, and testing out workout classes online. Another difficult part was the lack of social connection. My routine of seeing friends on the weekend came to a screeching halt. So facetime and other remote connections became super important.
Is there an area of anxiety treatment that you think needs more research?
There are so many areas that need more research it is hard to pick just one – especially non-traditional forms of treatment like ayurveda, herbs, meditation, yoga, and supplements. Many of these areas aren’t taken seriously by the medical community or have difficulty getting funding, which makes clinical trials difficult to conduct. I think one of the most intriguing areas is studying the effects of mindfulness meditation on anxiety. There have been some promising studies on mindfulness for stress and anxiety, but more trials need to be conducted to prove efficacy.
What is your favorite thing you’ve learned about managing anxiety?
Anxiety is a powerful emotion that comes with lots of racing, irrational thoughts. My favorite thing I’ve learned about managing anxiety is that we aren’t our emotions and that thoughts don’t have to dictate our experience. These two lessons not only transformed how I experience anxiety but also how I experience all unpleasant emotions – for example, anger, sadness, and guilt. It is like changing from drowning in an sea of emotions to sitting in a kayak on the water’s surface.