Why I think it’s important to be open about mental health.

Just over a year ago now, I remember having a conversation with one of my closest friends. She knew all about my anxiety and how it affected my life. She knew how I had been dealing with it and what I was doing to try and overcome it. I was still at that point, where some of the close people around me knew that I suffered, but I kept it under wraps. In fact, if I didn’t tell anyone that I suffered with anxiety, no one would ever have known. It was a secret I was good at keeping.

But, this secret, it was one that was itching to get out. I’ve always been an ‘over sharer’, I’m sure a lot of my friends don’t need to know half of what I tell them. But this was different, all around us things were happening to emphasise what a MASSIVE problem mental health issues were becoming. Male suicide rates were at an all time high and it seemed that every month, we were losing a celebrity to the terrible disease. I was already blogging; my other blog Tiny Toes and Big Adventures was my outlet. I got to write about something that I enjoyed the most in life; being a parent.

Why I decided to speak out.

My children were growing up and I wasn’t sure of how much I wanted to share about them online anymore. There was something else that I was just itching to write about. My secret. The one I was ashamed of. My anxiety.

I remember the conversations with my friend so well, I am so grateful for her support and her encouraging words to just run with it. So I did. I ran with it and here I am a year later, still writing about it. It became clear that it wasn’t talked about enough, in a time that it needs to be.

If everyone was more open about mental health and spoke out about it, perhaps none of us that suffer would feel so alone. The support I have gotten through writing this blog has been amazing. The comments on the posts have been inspiring, brave, open and so honest. There’s been no judgement. We are all the same, we all suffer the same. And it turns out, a lot of us are suffering with our mental health and need more support, more knowledge and less judgement with the matter.

Why open up about mental health?

If we shared our mental health stories as much as we share our slimming world meals on Instagram, the stigma would decrease and the support would increase. Instead of thinking that someone is ‘attention seeking’ or ‘jumping on the trend of depression’, we should actually be open and welcome to the idea, that it’s ok to talk about- in fact- it’s IMPORTANT to talk about it.

Not only would we all feel less alone, maybe it would encourage someone on the brink of the edge to actually go and seek help. We all talk about our physical ailments, but what about our mental ones? We are encouraged to go and get our smear tests, cop a feel and if we’re experiencing frequent headaches- we go and get that looked at. But why are we so reluctant to seek help over our mental wellbeing? It’s just as important, if not more important. Once we are in a healthy emotional and mental state, we are better at looking after ourselves physically.

Set yourself a challenge for mental health awareness week.

There are so many reasons why I think it’s important to be open about mental health. It’s important because it’s been shamed for too long now and too many lives have already been lost to it. It’s time to speak up and speak out about it. You gain support from friends, family strangers, you encourage others to speak out about it and be open. You could even save a life.

Mental health awareness week is the 13th May. Challenge yourself to be open about it.

I am so glad that I started this blog. I hope that my posts inspire someone else to speak out, or at least to get help. I am so grateful to be able to now contribute written posts to Dorset Mind charity. Follow me on Facebook to make sure that you see my latest posts on there that will be published by Dorset Mind. I will be doing my first post especially for the mental health awareness week, so keep an eye out for that.

What if you aren’t ready to speak out and be open?

I would suggest if you aren’t at that point to speak out and be open with your mental health or anxiety, then book in with your GP and speak to them. Or phone the Samaritans on 116 123.

You could also do some research yourself into it. One of the best books I have read for anxiety is <a href="http://Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks Fast""“>Dare; The new way to end anxiety and stop panic attacks fast. Or look into Mindfulness; The Little Book of Mindfulness is a great place to start.

For more posts on anxiety, check out my post on 10 Things you need ignore to become happier or How to begin tackling anxiety.

Are you open with your mental health? Pop a comment below, I would love to hear from you.

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 Tips To Help You Cope With Change

Recently I went through a big life change. Moving house.
Now, change has often been worrisome for me. But since I started suffering with anxiety, it is terrifying. It’s a leap into the unknown. It’s not feeling at home, comfortable, in charge. It goes against everything I try to daily enforce in my life to ensure calm and to feel “on top” of things. It’s brave.
I’ve been searching for a new home for a few years now. I knew as a family it would benefit us to move closer to my Son’s schools and also I felt like over the past couple of years we had outgrown our humble abode. Yet every time I loaded RightMove I was reluctant and I was picky. I knew whatever I chose, I had to be sure of because I knew how much the change would affect me. Then I found this place. And me and my husband viewed it, then I got this feeling. I just knew this was going to be our future. And so I took that leap.
Change terrifies me. It really unsettled me. I still don’t feel ‘at home’ now, but I know that will come with time. Here are some tips on how I have handled the change;
  1. Make lists. Making lists is something I do all of the time anyway, it keeps me feeling like I have a sense of control and I feel organised and my thoughts aren’t so cluttered and floating free. I’ve got a few lists on the go now but it’s been essential for me during this change. I have always been a list maker. I do it for everything, big and small; from Christmas shopping lists to what housework needs doing, tasks I need doing on my blog to places I want to visit with my children throughout the year. Having my lists handy over the past few weeks has been so helpful to me.
  2. Keep in as much of a ‘normal’ routine as possible. It soon became apparent to me that nothing was going to be normal as I knew it again. We had moved. Our routines would naturally change because of this, but still the first week was awful because I just wasn’t trying to get into a routine. When week 2 began, I knew that the most important thing to do, would be to create some sort of normality through routine. Which we did, and immediately I felt better. No, things will never be the same again as they were a month ago, but they can still be good. You do what you can from the old, but tweak it with the new.
  3. Accept help. In whatever way you need. I had a thousand things to do one day, but my husband ran me a bath and told me to go soak myself instead. I listened, and I am thankful for that pause and helping hand that I was given. My friends and family have been so supportive over the past few weeks and have been helping in the ways that they can. I also, I’m not ashamed to admit it, but have started counselling again. I have never taken anti-depressants, although I see nothing wrong with those and I believe they help so many people so should be used where they can help. So my way of getting help is by talking it through with someone trained to give me help, advice and techniques that I can use. These new techniques of calming my worries down have really been invaluable. I am thankful that I had help available to me.
  4. Indulge in yourself. In a time of change, it’s important to look after yourself. Watch that chick flick, go out with friends, read a book or take a bath. Have some time to yourself. Life is forever changing so it’s important to ground yourself from time to time and rediscover you. You can never feel guilty about looking after number one.
  5. Acceptance. Realise that nothing will be the same again. Autumn is a fantastic metaphor for this. Every year the trees shed their leaves, the breeze lifts them off the branches and they let go. What happens a few months later, new leaves grow. I have been using this metaphor a lot lately, it’s helped that my change has also come over Autumn. But I have to accept the change. Let go of what has been and look forward to a fresh start and what’s coming next. This applies to everything; friendships, relationships and happiness. Nothing is guaranteed to stay. But the best thing to do, is learn to let go, accept what is and what will be and be grateful for what is left.
  6. Take one day at a time. I was very naive when we moved and thought that by the next day, we would be cleaned up, unpacked, tidied with homely things put on the walls. 2 and a half weeks later and there’s still a list of ‘to-do’s. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say. Things take time. I realise that now. I need to practise patience a lot more. To be honest as well, by taking it one day at a time, I am reflecting more on the journey and it can be quite exciting. Small steps.
  7. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I found it so easy to get caught up in all of the stressful situations that moving and change brought me. I was stressing over everything. So many things went wrong and then naturally my mind was racing with negativity. Now, I am slowly getting there with settling down, I realise that every little thing does not need to be analysed and stressed over. If I can not fix a problem, I should not worry about it. Instead I should focus my energy in the tasks at hand. I’ve actually gotten pretty good at this now. And when I really need to worry, I use ‘Worry Time’ to do so.
  8. Be kind to yourself. It has been a rollercoaster couple of weeks. I have had so much thrown at me- as life goes, we all get it- and I wasn’t being too kind on myself. I’ve made mistakes over the past couple of weeks, I’ve gotten snappy and on edge about things. But do you know what? That’s ok. I forgive myself. We all make mistakes. Nothing is dandy all of the time and we can’t always be perfect. All I can do is try my best. Now change is horrible and daunting for anybody, but as I find anxiety difficult at times, for my it’s the worst. Not only that, but moving has been listed as one of the top situations to cause stress and anxieties. So no wonder I’ve not felt myself! But now, I am being kind to myself. It’s been a couple of weeks and I am getting used to it all now, now it’s time to wipe the slate clean, have a fresh start and BE KIND to myself.

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Have you been through a change in your life lately? How did you cope with it? Have you got some tips you could share in the comment box? I would love to hear from you. Don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on social media too, (links are above).

Thank you.

 

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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Do This 1 Thing Each Day To Help Anxiety

What if I told you, you could change your perspective and help with your anxiety within two weeks by doing one thing each day? This one simple thing can help improve your anxiety and mental health in such a short space of time.

Anxiety is such a consuming, scary thing to suffer with.

At times I can feel myself drowning with all of my stresses and worries pushing and shoving me further under. At times it’s hard to feel that there is a way out. Sometimes though, just by building one simple activity into a routine, it can make the world of difference.

The activity is simple.

Each night, find a time to reflect on your day. Try to find a nice quiet location, or just lay in bed quietly pondering the events of the day. To be honest, this was something I was doing each night anyway, but instead of seeing positives, all I could draw out was the negatives. What if so and so found me annoying at the school gates? Oh, I forgot to tackle THAT item on my to do list. Did I show enough affection to my husband and children? Could I have been healthier today?

This activity changes your thought patterns.

It takes 11 times of doing something new to change a habit. Do this for 11 days in a row and soon your will start to change your thought patterns and behaviours. So, instead of dwelling on all of the negatives and over analysing what you should or shouldn’t have done, focus on the good. Then eventually, your mind will learn to recognise the good more naturally.

If it helps, even try to write down four good things that have happened each day.

Is that it?

Yes, it really is as simple as focusing on 4 good things that have happened that day. Repeat this everyday for a few weeks and soon your brain will start to naturally draw itself to the good of the day rather than dwelling and ruminating on the bad.

But I find it hard to think about anything good that’s happened.

Although the task is simple, it doesn’t make it easy. Having suffered with anxiety for the last few years, I find it really difficult to pull the good out of a bad day. Some days it feels like the whole world is against you, you question your social life, you question your future and you dwell on your past. But, there are even positives to having anxiety.  Sometimes all you need is to practice a new skill that can help grow and strengthen you as a person. That’s what this task aims to do.

Recognising the four good things.

When it comes to listing the 4 good things from each day, don’t try to only focus on the big things. Most of the time, it’s the small and simple things in life that mean the most. Perhaps something big did happen, like a job promotion or you went to a social event which you loved. But maybe it was something small, like fresh bedsheets on the bed or it was the night of your favourite TV show so you curled up to watch, for me it’s The Walking Dead, with a cup of delicious hot chocolate. Keep open minded and just find four good things each day. No matter how big or small.

Soon you’ll find that your mind begins to open up to doing this and it will get easier to find four good things that have happened each day, in fact some days you will be able to list far more than four.

So why not give this a go? Try this one simple, non time consuming activity each and every night for the next few weeks and see how much your anxiety and overall mental health improves.

Have you tried this activity before? Pop a comment below, I would love to hear from you. Also don’t forget to follow me on Facebook (Link is above) If you liked this post and found it helpful then please do give it a like and a share on social media. It would mean the world! Thank you.

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