Are your friendships healthy? Here’s how you can tell.

Friendships can be difficult to manage, especially when you suffer with anxiety. I have written about it before, One of the blog posts being; Me Against My Social Life. I would say that, thankfully, I have a good set of friends around me and now I feel that my friendships are healthy. But, this hasn’t always been the case.

I have been on a journey this past year.

A reflective one that has opened my eyes wider than I could have imagined and got to an underlying issue that I have a big red trigger button about not being a good person or a good friend. So anything that would threaten to trigger this, would cause me great anxiety. I was trying to make more and more friends and be constantly social as I thought that this was the issue. I was never having a day to myself, because I feared being on my own incase it triggered this. Now, I am sat in my jogging bottoms having the first comfy and cosy day to myself in MONTHS. I have been on a journey, thanks to a great NHS Service in the South called ‘Steps to Wellbeing’. I have technically completed this journey, but I believe that self improvement is a never ending journey. I learnt lot and over the next few blog posts, I am really hoping to share some of this with you. One of the most important things I learnt about was equality in friendships.

I ways always chasing people and trying to please them.

In my eyes, the friends I had could never do any wrong. They were always good for me. If there was an issue, I would put all of the doubt and self blame on myself. I was wrong to do that. I had low self esteem and self respect, I have been learning to build this up. What has happened, is I have now become aware of friendships and the equalities.

This book on Overcoming Low Self Esteem really helped me to address why I was suffering with low self esteem and how I could overcome this.

We are all equals.

Despite what anyone thinks or believes, every single person on this planet is equal. We all suffer the same. Possibly about different things, but we all suffer. We all feel pain. We all hurt. We all have the same emotions. We have different chances, paths, values and morals in life. But we are all equals.

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Friendship becomes unhealthy when we see ourselves as anything other than equal.

This could be either;

  • You see yourself as above your friend
  • You see yourself as below your friend
  • Your friend sees you as below them
  • Your friend sees you as above them

If you see yourself as above your friend, you need to reflect on why that is. Does your friend drag you down? Or is your friend in a bad place and needs a boost? Remember any rough day you’ve had where you’ve felt at rock bottom, remember that when you think of yourself as above people- we are all the same. If you consistently see yourself as above a friend and the friendship is struggling because of that, you need to consider about whether this friendship is healthy and worth the effort and hard work.

If you see yourself as below a friend, again, question why this is. Perhaps you see your friend as being more successful, popular or prettier than you? Whatever the reason- ask whether you would switch lives- and I mean genuinely take on everything in their life. Because I’m betting most of the time, this answer is no. I have friends whom are more popular, pretty and successful- but they have their own downfalls in life and I would not switch with anyone. We also never know what goes on behind closed doors, someone whom is successful may still be in thousands of pounds of debt. That pretty friend may still feel insecure or have downfalls in relationships. Not everything is as it seems. Start believing in yourself more to boost yourself and regain that equal feeling. If you struggle to do this, you need to ask yourself why? Is this a healthy friendship?

If you get a sense that your friend feels that you are below them, or if they treat you as being ‘less than them’ you will get a very unhealthy friendship balance. Is it you doing all of the effort? I had this a little bit last year. And learning about friendship balances, it hit me that one of my friends felt that they were above me. Unfortunately in this scenario, there is nothing you can do as it is not your issue or your unbalance. As long as you see yourselves as equals and your behaviour reflects this, this is up to your friend to sort out. My top advice here is to stop chasing and putting in the effort. Focus on yourself as the lovely person you are. You are more than enough. You are amazing. So believe it, do your own thing and stop chasing. Read more about Why I’m Done Chasing People And You Should Be, Too.

Equally, if you get the sense that your friend feels that you are above them or they treat you as such, that is their issue and problem to address. You may even find that through this unhealthy friendship, they will try to drag you down to their level- when in reality, they are really seeing themselves as lower than everyone else and seeing you as higher than everyone else- so they will drag you down. This will ultimately make them feel worse in the long run. Just as long as you see yourself as equals, make an effort on your end and be a kind, compassionate friend, you have done everything you can. It’s about your friend working on their own self esteem and worth.

An unequal friendship is an unhealthy one.

Reflect on the last few points and where you see each of your friends. If there is that inequality there, this needs to be addressed before you can move forward positively with the friendship. For me, I often felt below friends so it was up to me to work on my own self esteem and self worth. Now I have done that, I feel far more equal to my friends and the balance has been restored. They feel like healthier friendships and I am happier because of it. If any friendship then appeared as toxic or draining and unequal, I have had to take a big step back from these ones. I’ve not shut anyone out completely, I am not the type of person to do this but I now don’t message as much or meet up as much. I now let the other side make more effort, as ultimately, a friendship should be equal in respect and effort anyway.

Sometimes it’s a great idea to show your friends you care with a great gift like this.

So as much as it hurts to begin with, this exercise really does help you to figure things out with friendships and you are able to then focus on the healthy ones and slowly withdraw from the negative ones.

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Have you ever reflected on your friendships before? Have you had to cull an unhealthy friendship? Leave a comment or get in touch, I’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to like and follow me on social media (links above) and if this post resonated with you- please do share it on your social media. It would be very much appreciated.

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10 Things you need to ignore to become happier

Life can be full of confusion, conflicts and chaos. Sometimes it is hard to sift through everything, especially when you suffer with anxiety, to see clearly. It got me thinking, what if we could sift through some of the rubbish. What if we could ignore certain aspects of life in order to become happier? Well, I’ve written a list of 10 things we should be ignoring in order to make this happen.

1. The media when it tries to scaremonger you. I studied media and journalism at university and so I know just how much certain news stories are sensationalised. I know all too well what makes a good news story and it isn’t one where nothing happens. The media can be good, but it can also be really bad when you suffer with anxiety. Just remember- take it with a pinch of salt. Don’t take to heart what is reported and make sure you get a balanced view of what you read.

If you’re interested in news and bias, this book has some great reviews.

2. Google and forums when you search your symptoms. Too many times I have panicked with symptoms, googled them and then panicked some more. Google is not a substitute for a doctor. If you are concerned about anything then the best thing to do is seek proper medical advice and stop using google or forums for this. Since I have stopped doing this, I never seem to panic about my symptoms, and I find me phoning the doctors less too. I seem to have really calmed down about everything medical- even when it comes to my children.

3. Jealous friends and aquantaces when giving advice. If you suspect a friend of being jealous of you, then take any advice they give with a pinch of salt. You should only be asking true friends which have your back through thick and thin for advice or you may end up in a worse situation then you already were in. Sometimes, we give ourselves the best advice too, so try that too. Be your own perfect nurturer and you will not be let down.

4. Silence. Silence is the worst when you are feeling lonely. At times it can be a pleasant retreat for me as a Mother- having silence grace my life from time to time can be a blessing and something my body needs. But when I am feeling lonely, silence needs to be banished so I always fill it with music in these circumstances. Music heals the soul.

Need a CD to help you feel good? Try this one.

5. What other people are doing. We are all different. We are all on different unique paths in our lives. As long as we are living the life we want, we shouldn’t compare. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Do This 1 Thing Each Day To Help Anxiety and you will soon see the light in your own life and realise that it doesn’t matter what others are doing- as long as you find happiness and meaning in your own life, than you are doing incredible. Never compare yourself. Just focus on yourself and things will feel lighter and happier.

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6. Ignore social media. This is similar to the last one in terms of having to ignore what other people are doing. But this is in a broader sense. It includes what people’s statuses and pictures seemingly show. You must remember that social media is a highlight reel. It only reveals what people want it to. Who really knows what goes on  behind closed doors? It’s an exaggeration of real life. And at times, it is even make believe. So take it lightly. And don’t fret over what pictures or statuses people put up.

7. Other people’s ‘likes’. It’s easy to get drawn into the social media craze. This modern day obsession with everything social media scares me at times. And I think it’s no coincidence that the rates of depression and anxiety are increasing. The pressure that social media creates is ridiculous. There are new worries and things to obsess over thanks to social media. One of those is comparison of ‘likes’.

I’ve been there- thinking how mad it is how someone can have a certain number when I’m pretty sure I don’t even know that amount of people. The main thing to remember, is that we are all different. Just like school days, there will always be people more popular than you, the same or less popular than you. We have all walked different paths and along those paths we have met different people. For me, I have been a stay at home mum the past 7 years now. So, the amount of people I have met along this unique journey of mine is far less than anyone that has had multiple jobs in this time. Other things to note, are these people may not be active in the person’s life, they may never have met in real life, they may be family or clients. They could come from anywhere- but the most important thing to remember is that it isn’t the likes you should concern yourself with.

You could have 100 likes but only 1 friend reaching out to you. Or 1 like and lots of friends reaching out to talk to you. Which would you prefer? I know which I do. I used to be confused, I used to want to try to compete at the likes game. But it’s ridiculous. It’s false, and it’s not the type of world I want to engage in. I want the real word. The real friends. I want to base my respect on someone, not on how many likes they have gotten, but how kind they are. I am lucky to have such wonderful friends that take the time to message me and see me, this makes me ultimately far happier than them liking my posts. Because that doesn’t last as long as bonding with a real friendship does.

Read more about social media on my Me Against Social Media post here.

8. Your phone. I think it’s great to ignore your phone, at times. When you’re with your friends or family then learn to put it down and take in life. You will end up connecting and bonding far more with the people in front of you than anyone on the other side of the phone at that time. Give people your full attention. I do tend to have my phone out on the side during dinner, but that’s only for one reason- incase my husband needs to call me if anything happens at home. Also, the odd photo is lovely to take to capture a moment- but don’t let it dominate your time out.

I love to put my phone away at other random times- of an evening, I tend to put it to one side so that I can indulge in the time with my children- especially when we play a board game and do stories before bed. Also, if I want to get creative, read or just binge on TV. I find it so important to switch off and take time for myself. The messages can and will wait until I am ready. I will always be there when people need me, but if a conversation can wait a few hours or till the morning than it does. I think having time away is essential for improving mental health.

9. Your doubts and fears. It is so easy when you suffer with anxiety to doubt yourself and everything you do constantly. But try to change this and your way of thinking. Start believing that you can do it and that you can achieve your goals and dreams. Then start putting steps into place.

This pack of Power Thought Cards are a great start to get you thinking positively.

10. The anxious demon that sits on your shoulders. Anxiety is a monster. One that sits on your shoulder and makes you second think and doubt everything. And it’s not just doubt and fears. It feeds off negativity and drains you of anything positive. You come away assessing every conversation you had whilst you were out, wondering if you came across annoying. You go to plan something exciting, then doubt if you can do it. There is so much that this anxious demon does and it is trying to quieten the real you. It’s time to ignore this anxious demon and take back your life. There is so much you can do to begin this. Try cycling through previous blog posts to get inspiration- like How to Begin Tackling Anxiety.

This book- DARE- was an incredible read and helped me so much.

 

I hope that this post has helped given you some ideas on what you should begin to ignore in life. Try to turn your attention to all of the positive things in life, maybe the sun was a bit brighter today, perhaps one of your favourite TV programmes has a new episode out or maybe you were able to feel pride in something you did. Whatever it is, let the positivity rise and ignore all these downfalls that modern life has to offer.

Don’t forget to follow me on social media (links are above) for more regular updates on my journey on overcoming anxiety.

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Why I’m Done Chasing People And You Should Be, Too

I am writing this very personal blog post in the hope that it may help anyone else that just doesn’t feel good enough at times. I am going to explain why I am done chasing people because I realise now that this is just a vicious cycle in my life.

You see, I have learnt a lot about myself this past year. I’ve learnt what my big red button trigger is. A lot of people that suffer with anxiety, usually have a big red button trigger, that when pressed sets off all sorts of anxious behaviour. It’s difficult to find what your trigger is, but it’s worth doing some self- reflecting until you discover it.

My big red button is that;

I’m not a good person. I’m not a good friend.

I know logically that the only one that can control this and change this is myself. I can do my utmost best to be a good person and friend. Although it changes from person to person on what makes someone good, I know what I would consider as being a decent human and friend and I know how to act in a way to make sure I accomplish this. I put a lot of effort into my friendships, I make a lot of time in my life to see and speak to friends and I try as much as possible to be there for them when they need it.

So, if I know this, why do I worry about it?

Well a combination of low self esteem, being a natural worrier and past experiences has set my brain up to default back to this statement and worry. And it usually defaults back to this when my trigger is pressed.

This book was amazing at helping me to recognise why I had low self esteem.

What causes my trigger to be pressed?

A lot! But one main trigger is when there is a clear lack of effort from a friendship, when a friendship is really one sided. Now, I’m not talking about when a friend takes a while to text back- because I can be guilty of this too. Or the occasional non- reply; because again I can do this. I’m not talking about a cancellation or two, because life happens. But I am talking about constant, consistent chasing of a ‘friend’. The ones where you feel that if you didn’t talk to them, they would never think to message you. The ones where you get that gut feeling that they just don’t want to hang out. Those friendships are my trigger.

So, why am I chasing these one- sided friendships?

Because it has become one big vicious circle. I can’t seem to win with myself- because if I chase, the following happens; I feel neglected, unwanted, unliked, unimportant. This eats away at my self esteem and leaves me feeling like I am not a good person. I am not a good friend. So, I chase because it seems like this is the only answer- because maybe I might break through and get them to like me, so feel wanted. But I also chase because if I don’t; I feel like I have given up on someone, I feel like a bad person. I feel like a bad friend because I usually try so hard to see the good in people and to be forgiving, so when I don’t chase someone- I blame myself for the non contact.

Has this always been the case?

Not at all. I have had many friendships in my life; some still are around and very much present. Some, though, have naturally drifted apart- as let’s face it, we can’t stay friends with everyone from school, college, university or the jobs we have had. It is only natural for certain friends to leave your life. Imagine if we did keep in contact with everyone- we would never have any time to get on with our current lives because we would constantly be messaging or socialising. We have to prioritise who is active in our lives and who we make time for. People naturally drift away but it doesn’t mean they have completely gone, it just means they are further down our line. These are the ones we message or see once in a blue moon. Or maybe it’s just become impractical to see or speak to them anymore. I used to be so good at this. I know that the ones that have drifted, it wasn’t done in a malicious, horrible way, it happened naturally and I still have nothing but love and fond memories for these folk. It never used to affect me until anxiety hit 5 years ago. Read about my battle against anxiety here.

So why am I now done chasing?

Because I realise that something has got to give. I thought about my timescales of a standard day, the time I had to do what. What percentage of my day was wasted chasing? Too much! I have to juggle a lot already, but I have been adding to my already hectic plate. I am a good person. I am a good friend. Yes, at times, this may get questioned but I am doing so much better with this now. It is time to break that vicious cycle. If you are chasing a one sided friendship, then stop. It does not make you a bad person or friend to stop chasing.

Friendships should be a tennis game.

You need to be hitting that ball back and forth. So if you text someone and don’t get a reply- don’t text again until you do. Or if you have asked to meet up with someone and they don’t seem keen, don’t keep asking. You’ve made your move, now wait for theirs. A decent friendship will play out like a tennis game. At times, someone may need to take a break. Let them, when they are ready, they will step back in. Since I have stopped chasing, it has been a pleasant surprise to find that some people whom I didn’t expect to hear from, have actually text me first.

Are there exceptions to this rule?

For me, yes. My inner circle. The ones that I can call or text any time. These people, I can triple text if needed because I know life is busy, I feel comfortable in the friendship and I wouldn’t class it as chasing when usually these people are making as much effort as I do. You should be able to count these people on one hand. This is where quality friendships far outweigh quantity.

And what if I get nothing back?

If a friend came to you and said that someone wasn’t making an effort with them, texting them back or wanting to meet up, what would you tell your friend? Why do you value your friend more than yourself? It’s time we started to value ourselves above everything. It’s so important to look after yourself or this is when anxiety can become a vicious circle and your self esteem and worth can start to decrease.

If someone is making no effort and the friendship has become more one-sided and you can’t see a reason why; then that says more about them than you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a bad person, it could be that their priorities have changed in their life and they don’t have time for you anymore. This does hurt, don’t get me wrong. The worst scenarios are where they are members of your inner circle and they suddenly change their effort. But, that is THEIR problem, not yours. If you have done all you can, then just be you and focus on your life. And if they never get back to you or don’t put that effort in again- then do you really want someone like that as a good friend?

Most of the time, the explanation lies with the other person. We are not mind readers- so don’t try to guess why. Just accept that this person has changed, whether thats due to their priorities or life changes, or maybe your friendship has just altered. The main thing to remember is that we can not be everyone’s cup of tea. It doesn’t make either of you bad people, or bad friends. It just means you don’t gel. And thats ok! We can not get on with everyone or stay friends with everyone we’ve ever been friends with. It’s simply impossible. It may mean that they are just becoming more of a distant friend rather than a close friend anymore. So tell me, what are you willing to give up to keep chasing people in your life? For me, nothing. I realise now that my life is important. My everyday routine is important. So why do I keep using up my time to chase a one sided friendship? I’m done.

How will this help my anxiety?

It will end that vicious circle. I won’t message people over and over. Because I am worth more than that. I don’t have time for that. I won’t keep asking to meet up if I  keep getting consistently cancelled on, or if you are reluctant to make plans as you are busy. I am busy too. Life is busy. I firmly believe that you prioritise what you want to. I can be having such a hectic month, but if one of my best friends wants to make plans; I will make sure that I have time for them. If someone else wants to meet up, I will check my diary and give them the next available date. But, I barely have time for me which is something that is so important and I am going to start scheduling in. I am busy, so why am I chasing someone that is too busy for me? We all have the same hours in a day but different things we have to fit into that. If you can not prioritise time for me; then I will no longer do that for you.

By doing this, I am effectively culling people from my life. This sounds so alarming, but in reality the ones that are culled are the ones that make zilch effort. On a scale of friendships, there could be a certain percent that you end up chasing; these ones are the ones that make you feel rotten. If this percent was culled, what are you left with? Genuine friends. You don’t come away from these conversations or meet ups feeling drained, negative or judged. You come away feeling positive. A couple of my best friends live hours away, we go months without seeing each other, and days without talking but there is nothing but positivity there. Genuine friends can go a while not speaking or not seeing each other- but the effort is still there. The positivity and love is there. And when you’re left with genuine friends- it doesn’t matter how many you’re left with. Quality far outweighs quantity and having people let you down, and not knowing who to trust.

School and Facebook is so similar; there are people that are more and less popular than you. I used to feel envious of the popular ones, of all their likes and plans. I used to think that it would make me a good person and a good friend if I had as many likes as that. But what do you really get from that? What do you ‘win’ in life? After reflecting on this, I’d rather have a small group of REAL friends that make an effort than hundreds of likes on Facebook. It’s all false anyway. As for being popular; I want to be a good friend and person and I think people have different things to offer. I need to start prioritising my own family and life more than chasing friendships, so the time I have left to socialise I would rather work on building up the bonds of those close friends than I would having loads.

Read more about me against my social life here.

I’m done chasing friends.

I am a good person. I am a good friend. By not chasing people, this doesn’t make me a bad person at all. It says more about someone else if they don’t value my time and efforts. I want people around me that make me feel positive and good about myself. Why am I letting people drain me? Why am I meeting up with people or messaging people that make me feel negative, that make me doubt myself?

This little mindfulness book is great at opening up your mind and accepting things as they are.

I have always made it clear that my door is always open. So, if we haven’t spoken in weeks, months, years- I am still here. But I’m not chasing anymore. My time is valuable, my efforts are precious. If you hit that ball back at me, I will always hit it back to you. But when you stop, please don’t be surprised when I take a step back and go join another game. I’ll re join when you do.

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If this blog post resonated with you, then please do give it a like on here or Facebook and share it. You never know who is struggling out there, not feeling good enough. When really everyone is more than enough. You just need to focus on those quality friendships then chasing the quantity. You need to learn to let go and believe in yourself and the right people will be there for you.

Don’t forget to follow me on social media too (links above)

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10 Ways To Help Keep Anxiety At Bay This Christmas

The festive season can be the most wonderful time of the year. But it can also be one of the most stressful times of the year. From the financial strain of buying presents, attending events and social gatherings and treating your loved ones, to the social anxieties the festive season and all of the parties brings. It certainly requires some strength from within. So, how do you keep anxiety at bay this Christmas?

  1. Say no if you need to. If an event or party is giving you more grief than what it’s worth, then just say no. I don’t mean shutting yourself away from the rest of the World and pushing people away, but really question the situation that is making you worry; is it worth it? This time of the year there are always events and situations that we push ourselves to be in and yet really we gain nothing from it but our own torture and upset. Learn to gracefully say no but don’t worry about letting people down, you do need to look after number one.
  2. Don’t put yourself under financial strain. If you can’t afford to do or buy something, then just don’t do it or buy it. People will understand if they are genuine people in your life. As for children, they far more appreciate the presence of a parent rather than the presents.
  3. Make time for yourself. It is so essential to press pause on plans and life to take care of yourself, especially this time of the year. If you fancy binge watching that Netflix show you’ve had on your list for months, or fancy a luscious bath or just want to curl up on your bed and read a book then please do that. Set a date with yourself for yourself.
  4. Keep a balance with food. Yes indulge, it is Christmas time after all! And don’t feel bad about it- this festive period and the indulgant food only comes round once a year so go for it. But, keep a balance- keep eating those healthy veggies and fruit because the vitamins and goodness from them really will help boost your mental health. Also, make sure you keep hydrated and drink plenty.
  5. If you’re currently in treatment for CBT or counselling, then do keep up with your treatment and sessions. Although it is a manic time of year, it is vital to keep yourself and your mental health as a priority and the more you do the techniques you’re taught, the easier life will become. You may even find the techniques help with the situations you’re dealt with this time of year.
  6. Don’t stress the small stuff. If you are busting a gut and feeling drained to try and get every little thing done for everyone, then just stop. Stop stressing; your friends and family will not judge you at all and will still love you dearly.  Sometimes, you just have to breathe and let it all just be. Everything will fall into place. If you constantly stress about the small things then the holidays will fly by and you won’t have enjoyed a single moment of it.
  7. The simple things in life will bring you the most joy. You’ll soon realise that actually, it’s the small, simple things in life that will create happiness for you. That little walk down the road, looking at the twinkling Christmas lights in the houses you past, or the smell of the festive drink from the coffee shop. Look for the small subtle things in each day and the magic of Christmas will soon shine through.
  8. Create reminders. I find that this time of year requires endless lists of everything you have to remember. From sending those Christmas cards, swapping presents, attending social events and school events. When I’m stressed, I end up almost going into survival instinct mode, where I just focus on what I have to do there and then to get by. This can be detrimental when it comes to forgetting things. So, as soon as something pops into your head, set a reminder on your phone for when you need it to go off. These reminders have saved my butt several times over the past few weeks.
  9. Seek comfort in your close ones. You’ll find that friends and family are also feeling the strain of this time of the year, so grab a coffee with them and have a rant and a rave. Offloading and bonding over it all with those you love will give you that warm cosy feeling that this time of year is all about.
  10. Remember it will all soon be over. As hard as the holidays are, they fly by. And actually for me, it is my favourite time of the year, despite how overwhelming they can be. That’s why I am going to be letting go of what doesn’t matter and holding on to those small, simple and subtle moments that this wonderful time of year brings. I am going to be festive, fun and find the happiness in the little moments. I am not going to let this overwhelm me and try to people please so much that I forget myself; so remember- it doesn’t last long. Blink and it’ll all soon be over.

What do you dread about this time of year? What do you look forward to? Have you got any Holiday mental health boosting tips to share? Pop a comment in the box, I would love to hear from you.

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I will not be blogging over the Christmas holidays, as I will be spending every last minute with my family and just having a well deserved break from it all. However, I will be back at the end of next month with a new post for you all. In the mean time, do follow us on social media; the links are above, for more mini doses of Me Against Myself. Thank you. Until next time, I wish you all A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy Anxious Free New Year!

8 Steps On What To Do When You’re In A Slump

Sometimes life can leave you feeling a bit drained, like your glass is half empty and you can feel mentally exhausted. I’ve had my fair share of days like this. Days where all I have wanted to do is hide away from life and not face up to my day to day routines. Some days I feel like the World is against me. I feel those around me slipping away. I feel myself slipping into this anxiety swamp. So, what do I do when I’m in a slump, what should you do when you’re in a slump?

  • Take a long walk in nature. Breathe in the fresh crisp air and look at the beautiful nature around you. There is so much beauty in this world if we really open up to it.
  • Aromatherapy. The best essential oils for anxiety are Lavender, Camomile, Rose and Frankincense. You can also get some great essential oil packs on Amazon aimed directly at improving Mental Health.
  • Phone a friend or family member. Even if you don’t know how to explain how you feel, the company will help. Talk about anything even the weather. At times, socialising with anxiety can feel overwhelming, but it is also important to push through as it does help.
  • Watch some TV or a feel good movie. Personal favourites are The Greatest Showman and Stepbrothers. Escapism is a great way of feeling better and just putting a pause on life until you are more rested and ready to face everyday life again.
  • Eat healthily. Treat your body to some fruit and vegetables. Why not make some energy balls? Try to cook from scratch if you can. Reward your hard-working body with healthy and wholesome food.
  • Read a book. The DARE book is amazing and I can not recommend it enough. It really does help to gain an insight into how the brain works and help you to start facing anxiety. This will give you a mental boost and a sense of new hope.
  • Have a deep relaxing bath. Lush have a great range of environmentally friendly products. Here is a great bath bomb that will relax you and make you feel like a Goddess. 
  • Do some decluttering or cleaning. Decluttering your physical space does wonders to help declutter your mind. This book looks good, it’s definitely one I would want to read soon. 

I find that when I’m in a slump with my anxiety and mood, I just need to pick something and do it. But also, sometimes it’s ok to accept that I’m having a slump and just let it be for a bit. I never let myself dwell in my low mood for too long, but sometimes just laying on the bed and thinking things through, or sitting still with my thoughts isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It all makes me stronger in the end. But once I’ve sat with my thoughts and had a bad mood for a bit, it’s time to pick one of the activities and then the next and work my way through till I’m out of that slump.

I hope this blog post has helped you. If it has, it would mean so much if you could like or share it on social media. Also pop a comment in the box, I would love to hear from you. Don’t forget to follow me on social media too (links are above)

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12 Tips On How To Cope With Anxiety

I’ve been suffering with anxiety for four years now. Over the years, I have had to create tips and tricks on how to deal with it. Somedays my anxiety is harder to deal with than others, but over time, I have done a lot of research into what can help. I have found a few methods and tips on how to deal with anxiety affectively; I will list these below.
  1. Worry time. When I was doing research on anxiety I came across the notion of worry time. I am guilty of worrying too much during the day. And sometimes when I’m feeling anxious, the worries will just keep coming. Well, once I’d read about worry time, I felt like this could be controlled a lot more. Basically anytime through the day, if a worry pops into your head, write it down on a notepad or notes on your phone (so keep it close by) then draw your attention back to your current task at hand or if you’re not doing anything, find something to do. Then when it comes to the evening, set 10 minutes aside at the end of each day. Put the timer on and sit down with your notes. This 10 minutes is your worry time to go over the worries that have popped into your mind during the day. You can then reflect and sort these worries out.
  2. Take it one day at a time. Sometimes when I look at my diary, I can feel very overwhelmed about what’s to come three weeks or months ahead, depending what I have on. When I went for CBT before, I learnt the importance of pushing myself and making plans and sticking to them so I’ve always gone ahead and made plans, even ones I feel slightly uncomfortable with. I do this to push the boundaries of my anxieties in the hopes that it will help me further along, but in the meantime, some of the plans can be quite daunting and scary. So the best thing I find, is not to look ahead to much. Obviously it’s important to know what I have going on in the coming days, but more often than not, it is far easier just taking one day at a time. So when I wake up in the morning all have to know is that I just have to get through that day and those plans. I try not to look ahead too much.
  3. Writing lists. I love making lists, I make them about everything. My list can be about daily chores I have to do, shopping list, to then if I’m feeling anxious or worried about anything I will write a list about that. The lists then help me to organise my thoughts better. By seeing them on paper, I am able to visualise and begin to make a plan on how I go about making my way through what is written down, whether that is organising my to do’s into when I should complete each task or where I can buy the things I need in the shops. Or if it is about my anxious thoughts, I can then make my way through them and figure things out how to make me feel happier and more comfortable with those. Decluttering your mind is just as important as decluttering your physical space. So making lists helps to organise your thoughts and even your daily tasks so that you feel more organised and your mind is less cluttered and busy trying to work through everything it needs to.
  4. Doing research. Since suffering with anxiety, I have read a few different books that have really helped me, not just mindfulness ones. Some of the books I have read are as follows; ‘Overcoming Low Self Esteem‘, ‘DARE‘, ‘The Little Book of Mindfulness‘ and ‘Mindfulness in Eight Weeks‘. Having done some research, I have learnt so much about my brain, anxiety and depression. Learning about it does really help to move you forward in life with more wisdom and knowledge about what you’re suffering with. I think because I’ve learnt so much, I have also learnt a lot about myself and that has helped my anxieties a lot. I have some other books ready on my shelf to read- make sure you follow my Facebook page and subscribe to the blog to see how I get on with those. I can’t wait to be able to read all of them and learn even more. Hopefully I’ll be able to help myself and help all of you as well.
  5. Turn to those you love. I am so lucky and grateful to have a great home team around me. These are the people that have my back. The ones I can call when I need them. My family and husband are so supportive and even if they do think I’m silly, I can always turn to them and know that I will be spoken to with truth but with love. This is incredibly important. Reach out to those around you and bond with them.
  6. Seek help elsewhere if you need it. If you’re really struggling with your mental health, don’t be afraid to go to your GP’s and explain how you’re feeling and why you are struggling. Some areas in the U.K. have fantastic mental health services that you can use. There are also other charities such as Mind , Heads Together, and the number to phone the Samaritans is 116 123 (UK). Don’t feel like getting help is something to be ashamed of. Some people struggle with their diets and exercising regime, so they seek out nutritionalists or personal trainers. Others may turn to sleep coaches to help sleep train their children. Seeking mental health help is so important. Don’t suffer alone. I have been through my local mental health services a couple of times and the help and support I have been given has been invaluable. I’m not ashamed about it as it has helped me to grow and improve and thankfully i’ve done this without needing antidepressants.
  7. Schedule in some me time. It’s really important to give yourself some tlc from time to time. Give yourself a glorious bubble bath with a scented candle.
  8. Go on a nature walk. There is something about nature that really soothes the soul and helps to ground you. Take in the scenery and be mindful.
  9. Escapism. I truly believe in a good bit of escapism- that can be through films, tv programmes or reading an enjoyable book. Don’t stick anything too depressing on but rather something that can absorb your attention and give you that escapism from life for those few moments.
  10. Cut out negative toxic people. I have had my fair share of toxic people in my life. They would make me constantly over-analyse everything to do with our friendship. Suddenly it hit me, that the days I felt so down and ashamed- were because of the way they were treating me. Sometimes toxic behaviour isn’t obvious, but when you spot it, cut it out. You will feel rubbish for a while but after that distance from those people, you will feel tons better.
  11. Don’t over do things. I can be so guilty of this, I end up cramming so much into my weeks or pushing my boundaries too much in one go. It’s good to push yourself, it’s good to try new things- just don’t over do it because it will leave you both mentally and physically exhausted and that leaves the barrier down for an anxiety flare up to happen.
  12. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. Alcohol isn’t advised when you suffer with anxiety, although whilst you’re drinking it you feel merry enough, usually anxiety peaks after an evening or night drinking. I still have a glass or two of my favourite, Tia Maria and Coke, but I never over-do it or drink often.
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I hope these tips have been helpful for you to read. What tips would you give to fellow anxiety sufferers or to anyone to help boost their mental health? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you. Also please do share and like this post on Facebook- we need to spread the message that it’s ok not to be ok.
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What Happened To Kindness?

I feel like as a mother I am constantly being judged. Ever since those early baby days, I’ve felt like all eyes have been on me over the choices I have made with my parenting; whether I’ve breastfed or bottle-fed and also for being a stay at home mum.

Social media can cause us to be judgmental.

With the increase in social media and people opening up their everyday lives through Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram stories, I feel like everyone is able to judge your every move and look at your life through an open window and make comments. Social media tends to only capture what those that use it want to show so that it becomes a highlight reel of their life or an exaggerated part. Or it may even be completely false and posts are just put up for appearances sake. These posts make out that you look really happy and put together and that everything is going well in your life. No one knows the truth behind anybody’s posts really. It’s easy to lie on social media, it’s easier to put a gushing picture of a happy family up and say how happy you are and proud you are of your family and how well the kids are doing, how well-behaved they are, than it is to allow people that real insight into your life.

That real insight could be that actually maybe you were struggling that day and maybe you barely made it through that day without shouting at your children or hiding in the corner with a chocolate bar. I think we all feel like we are being judged and we don’t want to seem vulnerable and show the messy side of our lives. Everyone is comparing themselves on social media and wondering why our lives don’t match up to the person’s you are viewing online.

I am constantly comparing myself to other mums online and wondering why my children aren’t as well behaved or achieving as much academically. Or why we don’t appear as happy or even my social life doesn’t compare to those other Mums. I try with my social media posts to reflect a more wholesome account of the whole truth to what my life is really like but I am also making sure I don’t only show the highlights of what’s going on. I think we all live in fear that if we open up ourselves completely that we will face criticism, judgement and be ridiculed by the way our lives are when actually no one is as perfect as they make out through social media. And no one really has it all together and if it seems like someone has or if they said they have, they’ve been lying because we all have our insecurities and we all have our downfalls in life.

Social media portrays our life as how we want it to.

Depending what is placed online, sometimes an ideal image of life is reflected out. So people tend to judge on what they see on these platforms. People can be unkind to each other because they are judging the image that has been sent into the world. This can come out of jealousy, out of bitterness. But we really need to be kinder because we don’t know what other people are going through and how their lives really are. Social media is not an accurate representation of someone’s life and even in the real life, if a mum is boasting about how well things are going for her she could well be hiding behind something. The apparently happiest people sometimes are the saddest, the most social people are sometimes the loneliest. Just because we think we know what someone is like and how their lives are, we really have no idea.

On a side note to this, 2 stories have recently been in the news that have just shocked me at how truly unkind people are. The first was Now magazine being completely unnecessarily vile to Stacey Solomon. Whom, I personally 100% admire for being one of the most real and down to earth celebrities there is. When I view her posts, I don’t come away feeling like rubbish about myself, I’m always uplifted. Because she shows us a real and truthful view into her amazing world. She is stunning and yet she isn’t afraid to show her wobbly bits to us all! Yet a magazine has placed themselves behind their “fans” and have thought that it’s okay to completely talk trash about Stacey. Calling her boring, well I think she is far from boring. She is real. And just because she is a celebrity, she doesn’t deserve that unkindness. Another incident is the bullying of a blogger Scarlett London. All this blogger did was post up a paid advert and she got trolled to an unbelievable level. Of course the image was pretty, pink and perfect looking- she’s working! She was posting up a brilliantly creative image, because that’s her job. And she got given death threats for this. No, Instagram doesn’t always show a realistic lifestyle- but sometimes thats absolutely fine. Just like TV and film- not everything is done realistically. Doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it for what it is and move on with our lives. Why people feel the need to be so unkind and bully online like this goes beyond me. 2 perfect recent examples of what’s wrong with the world now. What happened to kindness? 

The danger of ‘putting up appearances’

The danger to only placing online the highlights, or alternate views of our lives, is that we are putting up boundaries and not really letting anyone ever in fully. In today’s modern world we are constantly open to communication 24/7 through social media and texting but are we really connecting on a proper basis? I don’t think people are connecting deeply enough as humans. I think we all live in such a bubble through social media that we’re not really connecting and getting to know each other and instead we are just judging each other through what we see on-screen rather than what’s really accurate. 

We use social media to stay in contact and we are texting each other, but are we really connecting?

We replace likes and comments with proper communication and actually messaging that person to ask how they really are, what they’ve really been up to. We think that by following someones time line, that is enough to call someone a ‘friend’. Even when there is a conversation, I feel that so many people are afraid to say what’s really going on- through fear that their ‘perfect social media image’ is broken. The criticism that is out there over mental health makes people so afraid to show their true feelings and thoughts.

I choose to open up.

I have chosen to open up and speak out about my mental health, about the anxieties I suffer with, in the hope that others will. That we break the ‘perfect’ images on social media. That we replace them with realness. With kindness. Even on celebrities photos and accounts, the trolls that comment with such mean and hurtful things. Celebrities are certainly not invincible, as we’ve seen through so many devastating sad news over the past few years, such as Chris Cornell. So why do people think it’s ok to tear these people down? They place judgements on what we are shown- not real life. Celebrities and those in the public lie will not always post real, honest images. But that’s part of a job. It’s their vocation. It’s more than ok. It’s also OK that we publish what we want online, whether it’s real or fake. What’s wrong is the judgements that people then have. It’s the online bullying. It’s even avoiding someone in real life because of what they publish. 

Don’t get me wrong, I fear each and every post I publish will end up with judgement about me for having these issues. But with each and every post I have put up, I’ve had people get in touch and not sympathise, but relate. People relate to what I’m writing, but haven’t ever put their thoughts and feelings into words and that’s perfectly fine, I just hope that through my experiences and thoughts that it can help anyone out there not feel so alone, not be so afraid or left hopeless. I want to leave people feeling hopeful. I want people to read this and learn something positive, that we are all in this crazy world together and together we can achieve great things. Like overcoming horrid mental health problems and creating a lot more love and kindness in the world.

Always choose kindness.

Instead of judging people through what you see online or even in person, before thinking you know someone- always choose to be kind. Always choose kindness. Be careful about the words you say and how you treat someone. You think you know what’s going on in someone’s life but next time, just think twice before shutting someone out, or rolling your eyes at their behaviour. I think we all just need to be kinder to everyone, to absolutely everyone we meet. If you see someone struggling with the kids screaming down the road, don’t judge them for being a bad mum because you have no idea what is really going on. Or if you see someone who usually posts plenty of happy showing off posts on their Facebook, but then they suddenly, they put up a little cry for help through something else- Don’t necessarily think that they are after attention, think actually they want help. Be kind, check if that person is okay.

 

We constantly tell our children, “If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all” I think this is a lesson most adults have forgotten.

In any social interaction, please always choose to be kind. Without kindness, what would this world be?

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We only capture and post what we want people to see.

Get in touch, I would love to hear from you. Just pop a comment in the box provided. Don’t forget to follow the Facebook page (link is at the top of the page) I usually post a few bits in between blog posts on there all in the theme of positivity and mental health. If you liked this post or agreed with the issue above, please do like and share the post.

Me Against My Social Life

I am sure that this will be one of the hardest blog posts I write, mainly because I wouldn’t want to offend anyone close to me. You see- that right there- worrying about offending someone- is what can make social lives difficult for those suffering from anxiety.

I am lucky, I have some decent, amazing friends around me. Some closer than others. But each one as important and serving a unique purpose in my life. But this doesn’t mean that having a social life comes easy, I am sure anyone else suffering from anxiety knows what I mean.

I constantly over analyse my social experiences.

Even with people that aren’t friends, be it a fellow Mum in the park or someone in the queue at the School gates. I come home and I am questioning what I should have said and shouldn’t have. I know many people do this- but still…. it can be exhausting. Because at the end of the day, it’s all been said and done and if someone didn’t like me or what I had to say then they aren’t worth my worries. Any friend, any true friend would see past any blunders or embarrassments. And any random person I spoke to, probably didn’t think twice about what I said. Most wouldn’t even notice or think much about certain things said or done. But that still doesn’t stop my mind from thinking about it.

You question whether you’ve offended anyone, come across as embarrassing, hurt someones feelings or just looked like an idiot in front of them. You then worry that they may not even want to see you again. And then you don’t want to come across as needy, you just don’t like to displease.

Making new friends.

If someone with anxiety has made new friends, this is an achievement, because it is hard to open up to new people, to be confident and forward enough to engage and ask to meet up. So when I have made friends and they’ve become a part of my life, and I’ve let them in, I wouldn’t want to risk loosing them. So I am constantly striving to please those around me, to make sure I am present and keeping in contact and making the effort to see them. Once I’ve opened myself up, I don’t need a person, but this person has privilege. Because I don’t open up to many and I don’t let many in.

The science behind the worry.

Mindfulness and anxiety books have taught me in the past that once your brain is hooked on one way of thinking, future thoughts tend to be steered in that direction- so if you are worried about a friend and whether they still want to hang out with you or if you have anything negative going on- you will then start to question all of your other friends and situations too. This is horrible and most of the worries are unfounded. Luckily, most of the time I try to remain level headed. But I also have to trust my gut. And when my worries are unfounded, I should not feel ashamed of the anxious thoughts and feelings, but rather recognise that I am human, we all make mistakes and we are not mind readers. And if we aren’t feeling confident enough to ask or be bold in a situation, that’s all we’re left with. I have some lovely and understanding friends who are patient with me, but in return I know that I also raise them up in the areas of life they feel down about.

I try to believe that what is meant to be, will be. And that anything that isn’t, I need to learn to let go.

I try harder now, to trust the freedom of friendships. As we’ve gotten older, friendships are far harder to maintain due to all of the different lifestyles we have, the different journey of life we are all taking. Some people work full time, others are stay at home mums, some people are single, others are married. Some people move away, others go travelling. Everyone goes off to be an adult and do their own thing. Sometimes it feels like we can be ‘left behind’ but this really isn’t the case. It is just the natural ebb and flow of life. Instead, I trust now that the true friends that are meant to be in my life, will be, no matter how often we go without talking or seeing each other. Ok, at times I may worry, but I try to remind myself that it will do no good. All I can be is myself. The right ones for me, that suit me will always stay.

We can’t remain friends with every single friend we’ve ever had- imagine how exhausting and draining that would be. But I believe that quality is better than quantity.

When you suffer with something like anxiety too, quality is definitely needed.

If you have a quality friendship with someone, then when you are in an anxious mood or feeling overwhelmed and you have plans, your friend will understand if you seem ‘off’ or most of the time for me-  just by being in their presence helps me to snap out of it and escape the prisons of my mind that anxiety puts me in. Ok, at times I get nervous going out, but I push myself to do it still. To help me to conquer this anxiety. To help make me even stronger.

My friends have helped me to become stronger. They have believed in me, even when I didn’t. They have been there for me in more ways than they will ever realise. I appreciate every park trip with a fellow Mum, every coffee out, every dinner out, every drink out and I appreciate every single time someone takes time to see me. Life is busy and we all have to prioritise. So when a friend chooses to spend some of their precious time, which we all know goes too quickly, with me- I feel lucky. Lucky to have people around me that make me smile everyday, laugh, have someone to turn to and I also love to be there for them too. To cheer them up and to show them how great they are. I love to make things for my friends, I love to help where I can. I think friendship has to be a two way thing, and as much as my friends make an effort with me, I make it back. I will always be there for those that need me.

Sometimes I wonder if my friends find my anxiety off-putting.

To be quite honest, I don’t bring it up much- that’s just another trick anxiety likes to play with our minds. Plus, in today’s world- where suicide rates are increasing at an alarming rate- I would be saddened to find if a friend did let it bother them rather than them be more empathetic as this is something I personally have to battle with. I certainly would never judge anybody for having anxiety– whether they get nervous about going to a certain place, or whether they like to check in and have some reassurance from me. Too many people hide away their anxiety- this is something that needs to stop and I think true friends are the exact people you should open up to. Real friends would never judge.

Friendships can be difficult when you suffer with anxiety.

Sometimes you feel like you just want to put on a brave face and hide it away. Somedays that’s the right thing, other days, don’t be afraid to turn to someone you trust for help. Any decent person would not turn their back on you.

A golden rule too- is never to compare your social life to others. We have all walked different paths in life- and continue to do so. Some have had more opportunities than others. Popularity as an adult is meaningless. Kindness, love and compassion in a person are far better qualities. Remember that social media is a highlight reel of someone’s life and not an accurate representation. There are no rules to having a social life. You can have as many or as little friends as you want. And you can see them and be social as much or as little as you want.

Although at times I find having a social life difficult- from feeling anxious about certain plans to worrying about upsetting friends or losing them- it’s important to keep trying. Because my friends have pushed me into situations that I never thought I’d be in (not in a horrible bossy way) but they’ve shown me my strengths, they’ve metaphorically held my hand and been so supportive. If it wasn’t for an old friend of mine, whom I’ve recently become close with again, I would never have started this blog and I am so glad I have because mental health isn’t discussed enough and now I realise it’s nothing to be ashamed of. My friends have given me so many memories and good times and they continue to do so. Recently, I went to a Drive In Movies with a friend- I was so nervous but she made it one of the best evenings because I was comfortable with her, she made me feel at ease. Now I am striving so hard to trust friendships more and the freedom in life. I will always be open to old, new or present friends to have a spot in my life and to be there for them- for the good and the bad times. I know that the right friends for me- the ones that raise me up, boost my happiness, give me strength and a shoulder to cry on- will always be there. Even when friends come and go, what’s meant to be will be.

To my friends that make this journey in life more joyful- thank you. I love you all.

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What are your greatest challenges when it comes to having a social life? Get in touch, I would love to hear your experiences.

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