Get Inspired: Inner Warrior camps help Alex overcome anxiety

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How rugby helped Alex overcome her anxiety

Towards the end of 2016, Alex had developed a severe anxiety problem which, at one point, left her too scared to leave the house.

The mother-of-one from Hartlepool knew she need to take some action and decided to push herself out of her comfort zone.

She went along to one of the 'Meet Your Inner Warrior' camps at her local rugby club.

The Inner Warrior camps are taster sessions, organised by the RFU and clubs up and down the country, to try and encourage women to give the sport a go.

And though Alex was initially worried about walking onto the field for the first time, her instincts began to take over and she was completely free of anxiety for two hours.

"They were the best two hours I'd had all year," recalls the 33-year-old.

"I completely forgot about how I was feeling because I had to concentrate on doing something else."

Alex was so pleased to be "feeling something other than stress and panic for the first time in a long time" she went along the following weeks.

"I thought Alex was going to be one of the first ones to drop off to be honest," admits Hartlepool Rovers Women's coach Emily Hunter. "But that wasn't the case."

"She just dug her nails in and each session she found something she loved and made her laugh, and the support she had from other players kept her coming back."

And it was not just on the field that Alex began to notice the difference.

"As I kept going back and began to learn new skills, I started to feel differently about what I could actually do," she recalls.

"I could throw a ball. I could run and catch. Maybe I could make a phone call. Rugby is empowering - for me, for my team-mates and for anyone who feels that they're trapped by life at times."

Alex Muller-Nicholson (front row, second from right) with her Hartlepool Rovers RFC team-mates
Alex (front row, second from right) with her Hartlepool Rovers RFC team-mates

Being part of a team pulled Alex out of a low point in her life and rejuvenated her sense of belonging, self-worth and self-confidence.

"It's an opportunity to make new friends, and to be a part of something; to be part of a team," Alex adds.

"I'd never felt that in my entire life. I'd never felt part of a team.

"But here I am - no matter how small or how much of a beginner I might be - I am part of this team, and that on its own is a huge reward."

You can register your interest for the Inner Warrior camps here - and find out more about getting into rugby with the Get Inspired guide.

Check back to BBC Get Inspired as we look at women in grassroots sport every Thursday.