Hi, my name is Sandra Glavan. I'm an anxiety expert and founder of Super Sensitive Sandi, a website for helping people reduce and manage anxiety through changes in diet, lifestyle, and mindset.
After suffering from chronic anxiety for nearly 20 years, as well as stress, depression and many other health issues, I began studying and researching intensively about nutrition and mental health. The things I learned, I adopted in my life and after trying many different anxiety management techniques I finally overcame chronic anxiety.
I read many books, and articles, watched countless documentaries, attended seminars, and workshops, and completed a diploma in nutrition (S.N.H.S. Dip Holistic Nutrition (Distinction)). My goal was to perfect my anti-anxiety diet, create an anti-anxiety lifestyle and self-care routine, change my mindset and learn to love myself, all of which I successfully did.
It is now my passion to share this knowledge and experience with others also struggling with anxiety. I have made a career shift to do this, and I am fully committed to helping anxiety sufferers all over the world.
What makes me different from other anxiety bloggers?
As someone who ….
- caught up on 4 years of school due to war trauma,
- learned a new language in a short period of time,
- completed an undergraduate (BSc) and masters degree in Economic Science (MSc) with first class honors, and
- worked for 10 years in investment banking in London,
...I know what it feels like to be incredibly busy and overwhelmed for 20 consecutive years. Everything I teach is on the assumption that you have very little time as well, so I focus only on what's important and keep things as simple as possible! I know you can't waste any time!
How Can I help You with Your Anxiety?
My Story (VIDEO)
Want to Know More?
1. Childhood Trauma
The War (1992)
I was born in Bosnia in 1983 to Croatian parents, and at only nine years of age, I experienced a trauma that lasted for nearly two years.
As part of the conflict in Former Yugoslavia, in 1992 the shooting spread to my hometown of Tuzla (Bosnia) resulting in many injured and dead innocent civilians.
The Serbian army arrested my father only a few days later, who was at the time a Major in the Yugoslavian army. He was imprisoned in a concentration camp and from then on, my mother, brother, and I had no contact with him.
The government closed all roads leading to and out of Tuzla, and disconnected phone lines which meant that we had no contact with our family either.
Water and electricity were provided seldom, and if so, only at some point during the night.
The supermarket shelves became empty within weeks. After that, food was only available on the black market at unaffordable prices, and the entire nation including my family experienced hunger for most of the war.
Examples of Hyperinflated Food Prices
- 11kg Powdered Milk ~ 6 USD
- 21kg Flour was ~ 15 USD
- 31L Cooking oil was ~ 18 USD
- 41kg Sugar was ~ 35 USD
- 51kg Coffee was ~ 95 USD
We also experienced cold winters without heating, and regular sirens, shooting, and bombing.
For protection, we slept in shelters, moldy and dark cellars and our apartment hallway.
Schools were full of refugees from neighboring villages, and education also came to a halt.
Hospitals were full of injured soldiers and innocent civilians, but there was a shortage of medical resources and spare beds.
The financial sector completely collapsed – banks ceased, the local currency flopped, and financial assets became worthless. But, civilians had to continue working without pay in the hope to keep their jobs in the future.
My mother went from being a teacher to looking after orphan children. These children in her care had not only lost their parents but their homes as well.
There was no fuel and no public transport or cars on the road, and we had to walk everywhere.
To survive, my mother sold pieces of our furniture and other belongings. She would then use this money to buy basic food ingredients.
The Start of My Anxiety
During the war is when my anxiety began.
I remember being in a lot of fear. Each time a bomb would shatter near us, my little body would shatter inside also, and this happened often, as we lived close to the main target. Our apartment building was next to the main hospital, the army base, and a school.
My Father and the Concentration Camp
My father was released from the concentration camp after 14 months (in July 1993)! From there, he traveled to Croatia, where he applied for my family to seek refuge in the United Kingdom. The British Embassy granted his request and soon after sent him to England.
Sadly, we had to wait another eight months before we could leave Bosnia to join him. The Bosnian government made it very difficult for anyone to leave and required lots of NEW documentation to consider anyone’s exit.
After numerous obstacles of what many times felt like the impossible, and more than a half a year later, my mother managed to collate all the necessary documentation. She then sold our remaining belongings and bought three excessively overpriced single coach tickets to Zagreb (Croatia).
Leaving My Home Country
We left Bosnia in May 1994.
Our journey involved traveling for 36 hours on the bus – a journey that usually takes 5 hours in peacetime.
This was partly due to the driver taking several detours to avoid danger zones, and also, he did not have a Croatian travel visa to show at immigration.
The latter was a big problem for all passengers as we paid large fees to be taken across the border, but instead, we learned that the driver lied about having the necessary travel documents.
He made us get off the coach and we were then basically stranded! [Bear in mind that this was during the war and being left at the border was a very frightening experience].
My mum asked the driver to refund part of the money, as he was at fault and we still had more than half of the journey to do on our own. But he rudely replied he has no funds! So, with two children, suitcases and very little money my mum had to come up with a new plan!
I remember standing with my brother by our luggage being absolutely frightened while she ran around trying to sort us out!
Thankfully, she managed to buy coach tickets to Split (65km), and then more tickets to get us to Zagreb (415km). Once in Croatia, the British embassy booked us on the next available flight to England.
I finally saw my father after two years. We joined him in a new country, with a different culture, language and a way of life.
2. New Life in England
Our Initial Years
The language was a problem for all. My parents and brother only knew some German from school, and I didn’t know any foreign languages.
Education was also a problem because I was four years behind my English peers. This was due to a later start in Bosnian schools and because of ‘no school’ during the War.
But, despite these limitations, we all got to work immediately. Within only a week I began school, my mother took up a cleaning job, and my father started volunteering and working. Also, both of my parents and brother enrolled in a college to study English.
As a refugee, the children saw me as different. It took a while before they wanted to be friends with me. In school, most of my peers were part of already formed friendship groups and I was always the odd one out.
We lived in rough neighborhoods. Also, we kept having things stolen, until the police advised us to get a large dog.
But there was something good too! My teachers at school helped me a lot. They recognized my potential very early on and placed me in classes in line with my capabilities. This meant so much to me, as they were able to see beyond my language difficulties.
As Time Went On
My parents and brother were working double jobs, sometimes seven days a week.
They were also studying towards professional qualifications. This was because my parents’ higher education diplomas from home were not recognized.
My mother qualified again as a primary school teacher, and my father became an electrician. Later, my brother followed in my father’s footsteps.
When my mother started working full-time in a school, this was the first time we were able to apply for a home loan. This was when my parents bought their own house in a new neighborhood.
As for me, I gave my everything. I studied hard and worked hard. During the summer I worked full-time, while part-time for the rest of the year.
At school, I put in 100% effort and did everything I could to catch up.
I was even awarded a prize for achieving 100% attendance in all my school years in England!
As a result, I managed to master the English language, receive school grades within the top percentile of students and secure a place at the University of Manchester.
Life Experience in Early 20s
By the time I finished my studies at Manchester, my life experience at 22 was vast.
Life Experience at the Age of 22
3. Moving to London
In 2005 I moved to London to start a graduate program at Citigroup’s Investment Bank and I stayed in the capital for 10 years!
During this period, I changed five more homes and bought my own apartment.
I worked in areas of investment banking (Citigroup/Citibank), private equity (Silver Fleet Capital – SFC), and financial regulation (International Center for Financial Regulation – ICFR).
Working Hours in London
Citigroup was a six-year journey in total, and I became a manager as soon as my 12-months graduate program was complete.
While at Citi, I also volunteered for 12 months in addition to my full-time management job.
The voluntary work was on the trading floor with the Chief Economist in Global Economics.
I worked long hours during all my years in investment banking, but the year of additional voluntary work was excessive by all standards. My routine back then was like this
My Other Positions in London
At the ICFR, a UK government-based organization, I worked for 3 years as a research and events manager. My job was to manage a team of research analysts and organize global events for up to 350 people. The events took place in the UK and in capital cities in Europe.
Attendees at ICFR events ranged from financial practitioners, leading academics, and financial regulators.
Practitioners included: investment bankers, corporate lawyers, hedge fund managers, private equity partners, and corporate accountants.
Professors came from top Universities, such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Imperial College of London, London School of Economics and EDHEC Business School.
4. The Reality
While I was pushing hard at work, my state of health was not so well.
By the time I reached my mid-20s, I had to spend most of my evenings and weekends in bed. I struggled daily with many health issues.
My Health Issues
I also had Frequently Occurring
5. Why Did I Allow Things to Get to This Point?
These problems didn’t surface simultaneously but rather accumulated gradually over the years. Also, for the most part, they were bearable.
My first symptoms appeared in my early teens, a few more while at University, but the rest came to the forefront during my time London and in investment banking.
When my anxiety and other health issues became unbearable I got help.
The therapy was great because it helped me to come to terms with my childhood trauma, which was long overdue, and something I had to do in order to move forward.
Unfortunately, all the medication that I was prescribed for several of my physical symptoms were not getting me anywhere and some of my issues became worse.
So, while still trying to better manage my anxiety, depression, and other health issues, I decided to look for alternative help.
6. First Real Change of Direction
Roundabout this time, I met my husband Kresimir. It was ‘love at first sight’ and after only a few months of knowing each other, we decided to get married!
He became my shining light and helped me to completely turn things around! Together we explored for anything we could find on my most troubling symptoms.
A friend also recommended that I meet with a Phyto-therapist, and as we were open to all suggestions, we took that advice.
When I met the phytotherapist that my friend recommended, this was the first time I had contact with an alternative health specialist.
To my amazement, this lady helped me so much in my first appointment and even more over the years.
During our initial meeting, she asked detailed questions about my health and life in general.
Also she requested to see recent blood, urine, and specific ultrasound tests.
[Phytotherapy is a science-based medical practice and thus is distinguished from other, more traditional approaches, such as medical herbalism, which relies on an empirical appreciation of medicinal herbs and which is often linked to traditional knowledge. Britannica]
Getting to the Bottom of My Health Issues
The phytotherapist explained that I was suffering from several underline and related issues.
But she also said that the cause of my physical and mental health problems was a combination of factors.
Underline Health Issues
New Advice (Alternative Medicine)
The phytotherapist advised me to immediately change my diet and to take the plant medicines that she prescribed.
On top of that, she said that I had to start practicing relaxation techniques to manage my stress and anxiety, as well as start being physically active.
Amazingly enough, after only a few months of following her great suggestions, I noticed an incredible difference.
My skin started to clear up, I was free of abdominal pain, my energy levels went up, and I began to experience anxiety relief for the first time in years!
Words cannot describe how grateful I was and still am to this wonderful woman and healer.
She was a true inspiration to me, and since meeting her all I've done is to explore alternative healing.
7. Lifestyle Changes
At first, I started to make changes in my life outside of work. I searched for healthy meal recipes and began cooking every evening. I also bought lots of books on nutrition and read daily.
Kresimir and I began attending alternative workshops and seminars. We also traveled to Slovenia to study bioenergy healing, which led us to more courses in various alternative therapies and meditation techniques.
8. Going One Step Further
As time went on, Kresimir and I continued to research various ways of healing.
We also decided to attend an ayahuasca retreat in Peru.
The Temple that we chose was incredible. Every aspect of the retreat was amazing, from location, to facilitators, shamans, accommodation, food, and the nature.
We took part in seven intense ceremonies with five Shipibo Shamans, and it was during one of these ceremonies that I had a number of realizations.
One of my first realizations was to quit finance. It was as though this was the next necessary step on my healing journey.
9. Saying Goodbye to Corporate Finance
So, half a year later after coming back from Peru, and 10 years after first moving to London, I decided to quit working in finance!
I was very grateful for everything I had learned over the years, and also for my colleagues, many of whom will always remain friends. But it felt the right thing to do.
To my surprise, my bosses, colleagues, friends, and family understood my decision and fully supported me. So, I left finance with a happy feeling in my heart and the best-leaving party!
Although I felt I had to quit my job, it doesn't mean that going to such extreme measures is always the answer. Life and work can be, and usually is, stressful for most people, but learning how to deal with stress and anxiety is often the better solution.
But in my case, I had experienced too many shocks and changes over the years, didn't allow myself any breaks, and only started to manage anxiety when it was almost too late.
If you neglect yourself in the way that I did, then it's highly likely you'll have to take the same drastic measures to reverse the damage.
10. How is Life Now in my Late-30s?
Physical and Mental Health
I continue to live a healthy lifestyle and I am pleased to say that most of my physical health issues have either improved or disappeared.
Also, I no longer suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Major Depressive Disorder which is amazing!
Having worked hard to change my life, I have no plans to go back to any of my old bad habits. My daily intention is to only make feel-good choices!
I am a full-time anxiety blogger and I absolutely love what I do. My work is centered around helping people reduce and manage anxiety, and each day I connect with anxiety sufferers from all over the world.
I’m not a tech expert so running my own website can be challenging at times but I still wouldn’t change a thing!
My dream is to help as many people as possible overcome chronic anxiety and this website is my platform for this.
Throughout this site I share everything I’ve learned on my healing journey and provide tips and ideas on how you can become less anxious, healthier, and happier.
Thank you for reading.
Always remember that the Power is Within You!
Love and Light,