How to Begin Tackling Anxiety

Anxiety is scary. It is terrifying. It can easily begin to take over your life through your thoughts, feeding on your fears and stopping you from going where you want to go in life, even if it is just into town to meet a friend. It makes you question your life, yourself and everything else. It leaves your mind curled up in a never ending tangle of thoughts, what ifs and whys. Before 4 years ago, I had never experienced anything like it. And those first couple of years of suffering with it were overwhelming and I felt like I had no control over anything. It was the most frustrating thing, being young and wanting to get on and do things with my life but fearing what would happen each time I even tried something new or even something old at times. I was ridden with worry. So how did I begin to tackle it?

I have already written a few posts about my anxiety, from Me Against Anxiety to How To Cope When Anxiety Flares Up.

In this post, I want to show you how I started to tackle the dreaded monster that sits on my shoulder, whispering to me why I can’t achieve something and telling me all of the possible ways an event could go wrong.

You see, there’s something anxiety hates. Something that a lot of people don’t realise. It’s something fairly simple. But it can make a huge difference. Anxiety hates it because it diffuses it’s power over you.

It’s like putting a glass over a giant spider. The spider’s still there, but somehow it’s easier to deal with beneath the glass. It’s a little less daunting.

So what is it? How can you begin to tackle the anxiety that you have been living with?

By talking.

It sounds daft. You talk all the time right?! Maybe you do even talk about the things that worry you. But I mean really talk about it.

I have seen so many terrible news reports on suicides this year. It breaks my heart that these people felt that they had no where else to turn, no one else to talk to. That this was their only answer. Why is mental health still not talked about enough? Perhaps people are afraid of what others will think, that they have to put on a show and a brave face. I’m saying we need to talk about it more. Don’t be afraid.

Honestly, I think if more people talk about it, soon we will realise that some of those crazy irrational fears we think we have turn out to be normal worries that a lot of people are thinking in their head but are too afraid to say it.

Let’s be open.

I used to hide my anxiety. I had a couple of friends that didn’t, and still don’t quite understand how I feel. They don’t realise the huge impact this can have on someone’s life. Yes, I have pushed myself and I have worked hard on battling it and getting somewhat better, but I still suffer. But the difference is, whether people understand or not, I talk. It is horrible when a friend doesn’t understand, but I realise now that that’s more of a flaw on them and their kindness then it is a flaw of mine.

If you speak to people more openly about anxiety, it takes anxiety’s power away. It’s no longer that secret monster on your shoulder whispering hurtful and frightening things. It’s an exposed monster. One that crumbles when it sees the light of day.

Whether it’s a friend or a family member, Samaritans or your doctor. Please just talk. Tell them how you feel, how you’re struggling and you will soon begin to see the anxiety monster get smaller and smaller and easier to deal with.

I’ve met some incredible new people lately… mostly Mums as we arrange play dates. All of them know I suffer with anxiety. I told them. I didn’t ‘bang on’ about it, but I did openly confess that it’s something I suffer with and that at times I get nervous and overwhelmed. Turns out, they’ve been through similar. Now I don’t need to mention it unless I feel the need, because by exposing it, I felt more comfortable. And now I can enjoy these lovely people’s company knowing that anxiety isn’t there- being my dirty secret. It’s exposed, and these people seem genuinely caring and understanding. I felt better for telling them.

We need to raise awareness. 

It’s surprising how common anxiety is. And I truly believe that the more we can talk about it to friends, family and our partners; the more we can tackle this together and raise awareness for mental health so that it becomes far less of a problem in our lives.

If you feel that you have no one to turn to, then please reach out to your doctor, or phone the Samaritans. No one is going to judge you for this. And no one should ever feel ashamed or embarrassed. Mental health affects so many people throughout their lives. It does not make us any less of an amazing human being. It just means that sometimes our brains get tired and need a little help, whether that’s as simple as talking to someone, or something more. We should do what we can to look after ourselves.

After all, a lot of people will talk about their physical pain- from migraines, to back pain, arthritis to tooth pain. Our mental health is just as important, if not more important than our physical health. So, we should just as openly talk about when we are feeling depressed, overwhelmed, scared or ridden with anxiety.

I still suffer with anxiety. Some days are worse than others. Some days I still feel alone, even when I know I should talk to someone. I feel like a burden. But then I realise that if a friend or anybody came to me saying they were suffering, I would want to help. There is too much sadness and suicide in the World. We need to talk and to listen. We need to raise awareness. Ask anyone you know, “Are you ok?” and listen, and don’t say their worries are silly. Because to them they are a mountain, even if it is a mole hill. With time, and your help, they will tackle that mountain until it becomes more manageable. So, I talk. I talk and I blurt it out, without worrying about judgement because I know how important it is to talk. And my goodness, does it feel better afterwards. So yes, I struggle at times still, but now I struggle with people around to help me. Or I struggle alongside someone else. But knowing you are not alone, is amazing.

Check out resources. 

There are some fantastic groups online for mental health too, check your local Facebook groups. Talk to people that are in the same boat. It really does make all the difference. There is hope for us all- we can do this. But please please, begin tackling anxiety by talking about it.

Follow my blog on Facebook to see some positive, motivational and honest open posts from time to time (link above). And please do comment and follow the blog to join me on a journey of tackling mental health.

You can call the Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123. This phone number is free to call. 

Visit Mind for more resources and information on mental health.  

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How To Cope When Anxiety Flares Up

Recently I had a really bad anxiety flare up. I’m not exactly sure what caused it. One day I was feeling fine and chipper, the next day not so much. And the more I thought about my life the more I kept hating it. One thing led to another and suddenly I just cried and felt awful.

This can last a few days at a time. I will suddenly worry about everything and anything. I sound so silly and ridiculous when I am in this anxious state. My worries aren’t justified as such. It’s only when I address some of these anxious thoughts with my husband that I realise that I might be just over thinking things. A tad.

It’s frustrating when this anxious state lasts for days, it’s horrible and it’s so hard to snap out of it. People will tell me not to worry, to relax. I’ll be told to take time out for myself and to not think about things. None of this helps.

So when this happens what do I do to resolve it?

First, I have to accept how I am feeling. I have to accept it as being totally natural. For whatever reason, whether it’s just who I am, how my brain works, my hormones or my thyroids fault- I suffer with anxiety. It’s nothing for me to be ashamed of and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with me. It just means that on and off throughout the rest of my life, I will have anxious moods and thoughts. I have anxiety but anxiety is not me. Anxiety is such a common thing to suffer with. So when I go through these phases, I have to accept them and try not to fight them anymore.

Once I’ve accepted it for what it is, once I’ve accepted that I will be in a mood, a mood that doesn’t allow me to concentrate on much other than the gazzillion thoughts and stresses that flood my mind in these days, a mood that leaves me short and snappy with those I love…. once I accept it, I can then begin to change it.

One tactic that I read about- was something called worry time. This would basically mean that throughout the day, anything that worries or bothers me- I should write briefly on a piece of paper. That way I acknowledge it but I don’t let myself dwell on it right then… I then allow myself worry time that evening for a short specific time. I set a timer and then I look at the paper with all of the worries on. Some of the worries by this point may have already resolved themselves. But those that haven’t, I will then work through in a more logical way bit by bit. This always helps. I always find writing my worries down anyway helps. Even when I brain storm it.

Once this has happened, I feel a weight come off my shoulders and I can start to concentrate on feeling more mindful and less stressed. Any worries that need actions and steps, I will then try and work through the steps.

After I have allowed myself to write my worries down, distractions help. I have a couple of hobbies; nail art, baking, cross stitch and sewing. I also enjoy going for walks and playing games on my phone. So whenever I really can’t shift my mood, I need escapism. For some reason, TV is harder for me to escape to as I still end up distracted by my worries…. unless it is a TV series that I can indulge in and obsess over. So I escape using the other hobbies above. And it just helps to distract my brain and bring me to the present.

Another way I can help my mood is by talking about it. Even when you feel there is no one there to listen, there will be. And even if you feel silly, it’s important to confide in people and open up about it. Otherwise your worries and thoughts will consume you and you will end up feeling lonely. At times I’ve even managed to laugh off some of my stresses with my family or husband.

Rest is also important. It doesn’t matter if I fall behind on jobs or housework, I’m important and so I have to look after myself. So if I need time to rest and absorb myself then that is fine. Normality will resume soon enough.

Be patient. Anxiety is tough. Really tough. And like they say all good things come to those who wait. So that’s what I have to do when I feel so rubbish with my anxiety. I wait for the better days.

Ask yourself, is there a recurrent theme to what you worry about? If you find yourself dwelling on the same matter most of the time, then perhaps you need to delve into it deeper. Allow one of your worry times to explore the problem or matter more. If it is something you can take steps for, is there a book you can take out at the library to help with the issue? I read the DARE book and it helped me so much. I learnt a lot about anxiety and the patterns of brain behaviour. Maybe do some research into the matter if there is something that keeps reoccurring in your life. If it is something you encounter a lot, is there a way you can eliminate it from your life?

Those are just 6 steps I take to help bring me out of a high anxiety mood. Most of the time within a few hours to a couple of days I am feeling much more myself. There are definitely ways you can help yourself during these moods though and to be honest, I am still learning about some new ideas. I know friends of mine try some of the following; yoga, jogging, swimming, exercise in general, writing a journal, phoning the Samaritans, going to CBT sessions. There are so many ideas out there that it’s great to explore and find something new that can help.

It doesn’t matter if life has to go on hold for a little while whilst you help yourself to feel better and happier. You need to look after number one. Don’t let anxiety consume you. Anxiety can be a pain in the arse, but sometimes all you need is to put in some great coping mechanisms and that is what I am trying to improve on and do constantly.

Do you have any strategies? I would love to hear how you cope during an anxiety flare up. Please do get in touch or comment below, I would love to hear from you. Don’t forget to follow my Facebook. My social media links are above.

Thank you for reading.

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Me Against Social Media

Social media is such a difficult subject to touch on. But I think it’s a really important one. I have really mixed feelings when it comes to social media, in particular Facebook.

Without it, I wouldn’t have what I call an external memory drive for my photos, should my laptop or phone ever break at the same time. I wouldn’t have a way of communicating with some people. I wouldn’t be able to see how school friends, uni friends, family and all the other people that have passed through my life are getting on. I wouldn’t get entertainment or news or articles so fast.

But then I also wouldn’t compare quite so much.

I wouldn’t worry about my social status through the perception of how many likes, comments or friends I had on there.

I wouldn’t be scrolling in a quite happy and content mood to see something that evokes jealousy, sadness or hurt which then instantly throws my mood upside down and makes me sulk into myself, barely muttering a word to my husband for the rest of the evening when he has done nothing wrong.

Some of the happiest people I know are those that barely use their social media or don’t have it at all.

Yes, it’s great for a cute video on cats or celebrity memes to circulate but is it great for your mental health?

This is such a complex issue. I have a love hate relationship with it. I enjoy social media, but I don’t enjoy the effect it can have on so many people’s mental health.

I watched the most insightful video last year about Facebook and the endorphin dopermine it realises in the body when you get a like. It is proven to be addictive. Which is scary. Maybe a more realistic view of social media is what I need.

One golden rule to happiness is to not compare your life to someone else’s. But how hard is this when social media is right there at our finger tips? When someone has anxiety, and you feel low about something, naturally your brain will then pick up on other things to support your upsetting mood and anxious mind. So a trip on social media is the worst thing. Soon enough, I find myself comparing everything. From how successful others appear to be, how happy they seem, how social, how much they go out, what holidays they go on, where they live, what job they do. And my humble little life seems so small, so insignificant. It doesn’t seem good enough.

But when I am in a good mood, I am so proud of everything I have. And pull me away from all of those comparisons, how do I feel then? I love my life. My family. My friends. I really truly do. But Facebook is everyones highlight reels. How many times do you see uplifting posts compared to negative ones? I’ve had friends knowingly be upset and they have spoken to me about why they’re upset but they put a post on Facebook saying the complete opposite thing- according to their posts, they appear to be happy, in love, successful, motivated and like nothing is bothering them. When I know it is.

Despite this knowledge, despite being guilty of doing this myself and seeing friends do it, I often forget that it is a highlight reel. Not many people put their dirty laundry on Facebook.

I’ve even sat there and pondered, why does x have more friends on there? Or even in real life? Why does y get more followers on their page? Why does z have more comments and likes? They have thousands, why don’t I?

At the end of the day, none of that should really matter. A friend sent me this interesting quote;

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I think this counts for all social media. And I can totally relate, I know people with hundreds of followers, or ones that get hundreds of likes, yet live a very humble and quiet life. Then I know some very social people that either don’t really use their social media, or when they do, they don’t get much “attention” on it, shall we say?

A huge thing with comparing your life, be it your on or offline life or how many likes and friends on there you have, is that everyone is unique. That is what makes life so interesting. We have all had different upbringings. And particularly with the age we are at now, we have all been through such different walks of life already; whether some went to university, some travelled, some had babies early, some had a career. So how can we possibly compare? Some have friends that enjoy engaging in social media everyday. I know the tight circle around me doesn’t. Which I think does help to keep me grounded actually. Not many of my friends or family engage on social media, whether on their own or commenting or liking mine. It doesn’t mean they don’t ‘like’ me, it means that our connection goes deeper than that. In a world that is being taken over by technology and social media, I am trying my best to focus on REAL connections rather than false likes.

The worst part of social media is when you try to be genuine on it, you try to comment and like friends from the past’s posts. And it is a kick in the teeth when it feels like it is never reciprocated. Sometimes I wonder why I bother? Why do I like x’s post when they never like mine? Why do I follow what they put? Why do I try to message and engage in a REAL conversation when it is never returned?

I don’t really have an answer for any of that. I don’t know why. But it boils down, once again, to everyone being different. We don’t all have the same heart, time or priorities. We don’t all use social media in the same way, so perhaps an old friend from school may see my posts, appreciate them but not like them as they don’t feel the need to. Why do I? This is where I need to step outside of the social media bubble and think…. do I really want to let this tear me down? Make my anxieties worse? Or do I just want to rise above it?

We know it is a highlight reel, we know that likes, comments and followers aren’t a real reflection of someones life and social circle. Although I don’t know why effort on social media doesn’t go both ways, I do know that I can only be myself. I will continue to like posts, to comment, because that is just who I am. I care. Everyone I have on my social media, I have had some sort of connection with in the past and to me, if they’ve been a part of this scary but wonderful journey of life, then I care. You can never regret being kind and friendly. Even when it isn’t returned. Especially when it isn’t returned. My anxieties have turned me into a far more thoughtful person and that is my silver lining.

The other thing about all of this social media madness, is that it makes me realise that this blog and the awareness I am trying to give to mental health and anxiety is more important than ever. I want to show the raw side to life. It isn’t always peachy. It isn’t always the highlight reel that you see online. No, I do not douse my social media in depressing posts. But what I will do is continue this blog and my Facebook page- because if anyone else feels this way, I want you to know that you are not alone. We can all feel sadness and hurt from social media. Whether its from the issues above, or whether its because seeing past friends moving on with their life can hurt. Social media is a constant reminder of what was, what could have been and what now is. Sometimes this quite frankly sucks.

Social media though, can do a lot of good too. Some of my close friends live hours away and social media allows me to keep up with their lives and lets me keep in touch via messenger. It allows me to see what family and friends are up to and to be able to tag them in comical memes or share events in the local area.

But now, it is time to put boundaries in place.

From now on, I am to never allow social media to tear down a happy mood again. Mindfulness has taught me that I can feel hurt when I see something, but that I should let this feeling happen and past, instead of absorbing myself in it. Instead of allowing a status or photo someone has put up to consume me. It’s time I let myself feel a pang of hurt but let it go and focus on REAL life.

I will never compare my REAL life with that of someone’s social media life. To not compare likes, friends, followers and comments- as we all know, our lives and friendship circles are different so that will naturally reflect. I promise to never use social media as a weapon in friendships.

What I will do is be more REAL on my social media. And focus more on REAL life, real friends, real family and real connections. To not consume my time and energy online but to indulge in the everyday normal simple pleasures in life. And I will continue to try and help anyone else suffering with anxiety.

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Does any of this resonate with you? Does social media get you down? Follow me on Facebook (link on the page) to follow how I get on with a month of putting these new boundaries in place. Will they help? Will using social media get easier? Will time away from it help? Comment below, I would love to hear from you.

My 10 Year Plan And How It Helps Fight Anxiety

Whilst I’ve suffered with anxiety over the past 4 years, I have struggled to think of my future and what that would entail. I think anxiety feeds of the fear of the unknown and the future certainly seems like this big scary unknown monster that’s lurking in the depths of the darkness ahead. Behind is light, even though I know there have been struggles, I’ve overcome them. And currently I’m stood in sticky mud. It’s hard to trudge forward to take a glimpse of this monster. It’s hard to think about whether, actually, this monster could turn out to be more like Mike from Monsters Inc rather than a creature from Eight Legged Freaks.
So, last year, I wrote a list. I wrote a list about what I want I want my future to look like in 10 years time. I haven’t looked back at that list but today I thought I’d take a glimpse and share it with you. This is what I would like my life to look like in 10 years;
  1. Happy. Genuinely happy. Not chasing the idea of happiness or what I think it will take to be happy, but just feeling happiness on a daily basis. Being mindful to the point where the simple things create smiles on my face and laughter in my soul. Not faking it and not trying to say once something else is achieved then I’ll be happy. I just want to feel happiness.
  2. My anxieties will be under control. By being under control, I will be able to achieve so much socially and professionally in my life instead of living in constant worry and fear.
  3. The boys will be healthy and happy teenagers. My children are my everything. I hope that at this point in their life, where adulthood is impending, that they can confide in me. I want to be a constructive parent but also their best friend. I want to have so much fun with them.
  4. I will own my own house. I’d love for the house to have character and style. I can not wait to say that I am a home owner. It seems so far off but I would love it that in 10 years it could become possible.
  5. I’ll have achieved my dream job; I will be working from home as a writer. Again, something that feels so far off but I will work so hard to make come true.
  6. My family will still mean the world to me. I am an Aunty now and I would love it that my boys and my nephew grow up close and become amazing friends.
  7. Friendship worries won’t concern me as much. I hope that I will have a better ability of letting friendships come and go in my life. I hope that I will still have some quality friendships. But I also hope that I start to enjoy my own company more and that I don’t seek happiness from seeing friends frequently and that I am able to see them as often as needed.
  8. I’ll be driving and have my own car. Right now we don’t have a second car but I hope one day we are able to afford one and that I have the confidence to run it around.
  9. My sense of style will have improved. I am always envious of how others dress but I let my self confidence get in the way with trying new styles and outfits. One day I hope I can fake the confidence long enough to start believing it so that I can start to dress better. And to enjoy it.
  10. I will have a healthy weight. I worry that all of my life I will be battling with losing weight, currently I am on a mission to lose almost 2 stone. I hope that I am successful and that I can keep it off and maintain a healthy weight. But I hope that I have body confidence anyway.
  11. I will have a pet cat, or 2. My boys and myself would love to have a pet cat, let’s hope it happens sometime!
  12. I won’t be lonely. I fear loneliness but I hope that in 10 years that I will be surrounded by family and a few good friends.
By planning the future, I believe that I give myself the hope I need. Everyone needs hope. Sometimes I get stuck in my life rut and I’m so afraid of the future but by positively imagining how it could be, it gives me that hope, to keep going, to keep battling this anxiety until I finally beat it and have control over it. Let’s hope my 10 years goals and dreams come true.
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What are your goals for 10 years time? Do you find picturing the future helps with anxiety? Or do you rather take life as it comes? Pop a comment below, I would love to hear from you.

Me Against Anxiety

Anxiety. Anxiety. As I type this I can feel knots start to form and twist in my stomach and my heart beat a little faster. What is anxiety for me? Anxiety is the uninvited visitor I have to start to welcome in and take a seat on my sofa, so to speak.

I have had an ongoing battle with anxiety since my pregnancy with my youngest Son, which was 4 years ago now.  Some days, I realise how far I have come in these past 4 years and I am proud of the strength I have had and what I have managed to accomplish despite having this monster residing in me. Some days, however, I let it take over a little too much and I crumble.

I won’t go in to the symptoms I personally have with anxiety as I tend to just confide in my close friends and family with that. Besides, it is different for everyone and people experience a different range of symptoms and a different severity level.

What I will tell you though, is how many hours I have spent trawling the internet, desperate to find a “cure” or at least relief to my symptoms.

I haven’t found a cure. I know of some reliefs to symptoms though, however, I try to limit my use of these in order to build up strength myself. I am quite a determined soul and I am stubborn. Having been offered anti-depressants before, I have turned them down. I have even more of a fear of relying on them than I do of living with anxiety.

There is no cure. That is a common finding amongst the anxiety research and books I have read. There is relief. There are times where I may not feel anxiety but I think at some point in everyone’s lives, people feel it. And then it may go away for a while and then rear it’s ugly head again.

I am only 27 years old. So although anxiety I feel has ruined the best part of my 20s, I also try not to let it take the joy from my life. And I try to think positively in the fact that, this may pass for a while and I may be symptom free for a while. The DARE book by Barry McDonagh has helped me ten fold. I have implemented the instructions as well as I could, but that’s my own doing. I think if I put my head to it, even more good can come of this book. It helped me to understand anxiety a lot better. To realise that by being afraid of the anxious thoughts and feelings, it actually makes them worse as the anxiety feeds off fear. By allowing anxiety just to be then slowly I am getting there. Mindfulness has also really helped. I realise now the essence of just letting things be as it is, is so vital.

I push myself into more new situations these days and ones that would have freaked me out before. I feel the tense knot in my stomach and the panicking thoughts start to race. And I let them. Then I engage in the situation and my mind is suddenly free. And lately I have been really enjoying life. Don’t get me wrong there are some days where I just want to stay in my comfort zone, but I never allow it. I have to be cruel to myself to be kind.

Although I have suffered for 4 years, I have also had the most amazing times thanks to my understanding friends and my family. And the most important thing I can take from this is that it is good to talk about it. To confide in your friends. To tell them that you’re struggling. I realised that more people suffered than I first thought.

Life is hard. Social media doesn’t help. I find myself comparing literally everything about my life. I really shouldn’t do this. It doesn’t matter if I’m not as successful, attractive or social as others. I am my own person on my own unique journey. There is only one of me and I need to accept this more instead of comparing so much.

But life can be easier if we are kinder to ourselves. By researching anxiety I realise not only is it sadly more common than first thought, I also realised that I am giving it far more power in my life then it deserves. By allowing it to be present, by accepting it as being a part of my life and myself now, it loses its power a little.

Anxiety still has a big hold on me. I think it will do for a while. I still have some growing and learning to do. But when I’ve trawked across the internet I’ve seen so many stories of people struggling. They’ve stuck with me. So when I wrote this blog post I knew I wanted to give everyone out there an element of hope in my writings on my suffering. Anxiety is not me. I have anxiety. But I am me. Even though at times I feel like I am ME AGAINST MYSELF.

I am now allowing anxiety to take a seat next to me on this life journey and instead of desperately trying to run away from it, I am now letting it be present and I am learning to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. It doesn’t define me and it will not stop me from having the best of times. It’s just an annoying bug that won’t fly off. So I hope this has helped at least one person have some hope that even though there is no cure, we can still lessen its power. We can still be ourselves.

To start with, I thought I would just write the one post and pop it on one of my blogging platforms. However, after speaking with a couple of friends, I realised that perhaps I need to dedicate a whole platform to this. Not enough people speak out about mental health. Not only that, but I have been one, frantically searching for others that suffer like myself, with the goal of seeking hope and help. Well, now I want to help and I want to be hope. I want to be full of hope. We can conquer this anxiety together. So follow me on my journey of ME AGAINST MYSELF.

Please do contact me if any of this strikes a chord. I would love to hear from you. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

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