- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
During my recent studies and research on anxiety I came across the notion of ‘Worry Time’. To begin with, this baffled me. Why would I put aside time to worry each day? Surely this seems counter-productive when you suffer with anxiety? Surely you don’t want to be having extra time to worry when you already suffer with anxiety? This isn’t the case at all. In fact, when I read about worry time I felt suspicious about whether or not this would work but nonetheless I decided to give it a go. In this article, I am going to describe the process of worry time and why I think it’s important and a great way to start tackling your anxiety.
Firstly, I would try ‘Worry Time’ for about a week to see how you get on.
I would say during this first week, it is important to have a small pad and pen nearby at all times. If technology is more your thing, then open up a new notes page and use that instead and make sure that that is accessible to you throughout the day. I tended to use a bit of both, if I’m honest because I would use the notepad and pen if I was at home and had access to it, but if I was out and about I would use the notes on my phone so you can always combine the two. But by the end of the day, you need both copies on you and try to write down the notes from one onto the other- so all of your worries of the day are listed in one place.
Whilst I’ve been suffering with anxiety, I have noticed that I am a constant worrier. These worries can be about small things, big things, just anything. Sometimes it feels like my mind always worries and it doesn’t seem to switch off. I could literally be there all day with my brain flowing with worries constantly. Once my brain has gone into this pattern, I find it really difficult to switch off and focus on what I was doing, or who I was with. I would switch to these worries through the day, I’d be consumed by it all. I know that this is a very common symptom of anxiety and I’m sure that many of you can relate to this and have probably experienced this on some sort of same level.
So why is worry time important?
The aim of this is ‘Worry Time’ is to reduce the amount of time you worry through the day and allows you to re-focus your energies on your every day life and offers a process to help you to manage your worries and in turn your anxiety. It allows you to take control back a little bit. I think this is really important in making life more bearable and reducing anxiety in your everyday routines.
The process of worry time is pretty simple and it should be fairly easy to follow.
The trick is to remember why are you doing it and to not ruminate over your worries during the day. You need to be strict and and only allow your worries to come out at the specific time.
Throughout the day hundreds of worries and stresses could potentially pop into your head. This method teaches you how to regain control over them. So all you need for this method is to have a piece of paper and a pen handy or you could use the notes on your phone. Just make sure that you have something that you can record down some of your thoughts.
I personally used a mini pad and pen and had that accessible at all times. I love my stationary so this wasn’t really a chore to have this around and it’s quite nice to have the excuse to have a new pad especially for this task. Basically throughout the day, any time that you feel worried or anxious about something, no matter what it is, you need to record that worry onto a piece of paper or wherever you are jotting it down on.
We are not pushing the worry away, because actually there is evidence that by trying to a avoid your worries that you end up making your anxieties worse, but you are just saying to this worry and this anxiety that you’re feeling, that you are too busy to deal with this right now and you will come back and address the worry when you have your specific time later on. So any worry that pops into your head throughout the day, jot it down and then you are to re-address your attention back to your current task at hand. If you are currently not doing anything, my advice is to indulge and get involved in an activity. This could be anything from doing some washing up, another household chore, to having a bit of pamper time, going on a walk, phoning a friend, reading a book. It can be anything practical, but the importance is to put your attention and mind back on something else and to focus rather than ruminating over your worry.
By the end of the day you will have a few of the worries you have experienced written down. At the same time every day you need to allocate 10 to 20 minutes to sit down and have your worry time. It’s best to put a timer on for this so that you don’t end up using the worry time to ruminate and get excessive and take up too much of your evening, so I found that between 10 and 20 minutes is more than enough to complete this worry time task. Make sure that you have no distractions and that you are on your own ready to go over your worries.
The next part is to go through your list of worries one by one.
As you go through the worries, you may find that some have already resolved themselves, you may find that some don’t bother you any more. With the remaining worries that you have in front of you, you need to then categorise them into two; one being hypothetical worries. These are worries that you can’t do anything about. These are the what if worries and these are the ones that when you usually have them on your mind, they run away with you and you start to panic and think what if this happens, what if that then happens etc. These hypothetical worries can get you very caught up, however, if there is no practical way of resolving them and they are just what if worries you have to try your best to think that there is nothing you can physically do about this worry and you have to put your faith someone into life and hope that with time this may resolve.
Now what you could do, is to make a note on a separate piece of paper with all of the hypothetical worries you have and remind yourself that you cannot resolve this worry tonight so you will readdress this tomorrow. It may be that a few of these you have to come back to each and every day but you realise that although you are worrying about it, you’ve got a certain time that you can worry about it and that’s at the end of the day so that it stops spoiling your day. I think with time you’ll see that a lot of these ones will either resolve themselves or you may not be that bothered by them any more.
The second category of worries are the practical ones. So these are the worries that you have that you can do something about. So if you’re worrying about money issues, then your next step is to write a step-by-step plan on how you are going to tackle this worry; what you are going to put in place to get through this problem. You will find that instead of excessively worrying about the situation, your head is turned into more practical thinking and you will feel better alone by just putting some practical steps and goals onto a piece of paper on how to tackle this worry. Then, of course, you should go ahead and follow the steps and break them down into as many tiny goals as you need to just to make you feel better about it all. By making the steps and goals into bite sized chunks, it all seems more manageable and less daunting.
When the timer goes off, you are to stop going over your worries. It doesn’t matter if you have any left to go over; those will then continue onto the next evening when you have that time again. As soon as you have finished your worry time, the aim is for you to just put your concentration and mind back into other aspects of your life and back to a current task at hand. As I would do my time in the evenings, I would then have a shower and go and watch some TV, knowing that actually I’ve gone over my worries. Some of the ones that I can’t do anything about, I can address another day and I’ve put some steps in place of ones that I can do something about. Now it’s time for me to go and carry on my life and if I have anything else to worry about, I will put it down ready for me to come to during my next time.
So that is ‘Worry Time’ in a big long nutshell.
- Basically any worries you have during the day, jot down as you go along. As soon as you’ve jotted those down, you need to put your attention back on the task at hand in front of you.
- Find something practical to do that will take your mind off these worries after they’ve arisen.
- At the end of each and every day, you allocate 10 to 20 minutes. Put a timer on. Sit down somewhere quiet and go over these worries.
- Some worries may have already resolved or you find that you’re not fussed about them any more. A lot of worries will remain. You then need to decide which category to put these into. Can you do something about this worry? Is it a hypothetical worry or practical worry? Determine which category they belong to and the hypothetical ones you need to put to one side to maybe address a different day or see if with time it goes away or if you are able to just try to let it go and let things be. You cannot physically do anything about that worry or it may be that you can’t do anything about that right now and you’re worrying about something that is a year away, or years away. What I would then say is to have a think about some steps you could put in place if that really happens but other than that I would try to just put it to one side as for now there is nothing you can do about it. Please stop beating yourself up about it. But what ifs may never happen so it is stripping away from your present joy in life by worrying about these.
- With the practical worries, you then need to write down some step-by-step goals on how to tackle these worries so that you can move forward with your life. You can then implement these steps and goals.
- At the end of the worry time, you are to go back to life and continue to jot down the worries you have outside of the time that you allocate each day.
I did this for a few weeks a couple of years back.
It did really help because if I had something I was worrying about I was able to say “Okay, I can’t deal with this right now, but I will do later” and I would write it down and just by writing it down, it felt like I had a load off my mind already. Over time as my anxiety has been getting better, although it is not perfectly okay, I have found a more modified easier version of this. I don’t need ‘Worry Time’ each day any more, however, when I feel that I have a lot on my mind, or I am worrying about several different things in one go, I will write absolutely everything that is on my mind onto a piece of paper. I will then put it away for a few hours, maybe even a day or two and then when I have a clearer mind and I feel like I can deal with these, I will bring this piece of paper out and go over each thing bit by bit. I find that by doing this, I already feel tons better and if it is a practical worry I then set about trying to tackle this with a clear mind and positive attitude. So this is something that you can aim to do further on, but I find that by writing everything down, it really does make things a lot easier to manage. Decluttering your brain is just as important as decluttering your physical space around you.
So I hope that you will give this worry time a go and I hope that you find this method helpful and manageable to do. If you have any questions do not hesitate to send me a comment or message on here and I will try to get back to you as quickly as I can. Do you have any other tips and tricks on how to manage worries? I’d love it if you could leave a comment, thank you. If you liked this blog post, then please share it on your social media pages and give it a like and don’t forget to subscribe if you want to follow my journey of improving my mental health but also improving the stigma around mental health. I am trying to get the message across that it’s okay to talk about this even if it is just to help each other out. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, the link is above at the top of this page.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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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- Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened- Dr Suess. I think this ones really important, it ties in with mindfulness quite well too- during our life we will experience so many different things, some will make us happy and some will make us sad. But say something happy happens like an amazing friendship or relationship or job; when that’s over does that mean it wasn’t a happy thing? No…. so we should be thankful for the past and present. It’s easy to cry because something good has past, but we should smile because we were that lucky to begin with and we should then focus on the future.
- Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind- Bernard M Banich. I’m always trying to please people and with anxiety comes a certain form of social anxiety. This can be really difficult to handle at times but quotes like this one do make me realise; whatever I say to my friends and family, they shouldn’t mind and will support me whatever the weather. But if people are finding me annoying/ irritating etc then those are the people who shouldn’t matter to me! If people are going to be negative and drag you down or make you feel embarrassed or bad then they shouldn’t be in your life anyway.
- Dance like nobody’s watching, love like you’ve never been hurt, sing like no ones listening and live like it’s heaven on Earth- William W Purkey. I think we need to find more joy in the everyday life so I love this quote because we should be doing exactly what it says! Living a more mindful and joyous life to help cast away negativity and anxiety.
- You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams- Dr Suess. I love this, I think I first read this quote when I was falling in love with my husband and it is so true! Two children later and we love our sleep, but I also love our life that we’ve built together.
- Be the change that you wish to see in the world- Ghandi. It’s easy to blame the harshness on the World on others. But for me, I want to see more kinds in this World, but in order to see it more, we need to lead the way. By being kinder ourselves, I believe we initiate a change in our lives. We welcome change then and encourage it. We can’t be ignorant and continue to be selfish, we must be kinder ourselves if that’s the World we want to live in.
- In 3 words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life; it goes on- Robert Frost. This is a huge one for me. Anxiety can be so consuming and scary. It can be terrifying and when you’re going through a particular difficult patch, all hope can feel lost. So, when I see this quote I realise that everything I’ve endured, I have overcome and regardless of what rubbish situation I have been through in the past, life has always just gone on and things get a little easier each day.
- I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one bit yourself and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together- Marilyn Monroe. Again, when you’re in the midst of an anxiety meltdown, this quote has always helped to make me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Also, when I look back at particular parts of my past, I can actually think more clearly and realise that things did happen that way for a reason and usually at the end of the situation, I can see the reason. Don’t get me wrong, it’s frustrating when the reason is unknown or unclear yet and certainly thats when anxiety feels at it’s worse- because it’s the fear of the unknown that gets me. On the whole though, I do whole heartily agree with this quote and I have to remember it when I am feeling particularly anxious or upset about anything.
- You have to let people go. Everyone who’s in your life are meant to be in your journey, but not all of them are meant to stay till the end- Unknown. There are so many similar quotes out there to this one. I think a lot of the time I do feel quite anxious about my social life. I always get scared of losing friends and social media certainly doesn’t help. But, when I read quotes like this I realise that I have to let go and let what’s meant to be, be. Worrying or trying to control the situation does nothing and neither does beating myself up about it when a friend and I go our separate ways; as stated, it’s totally normal for this to happen. I just need to learn to let go.
Quotes can be a fantastic way of making sense of the world. It’s someone else’s pearls of wisdom written into lovely little statements that can be passed on from person to person and now we are able to access a huge world wide web full of them. OK, it’s good not to take them too seriously but they are great for a bit of mindful inspiration and I have found them fantastic for helping with my anxiety and making sense of the devil on my shoulder. For more ways of handling an anxiety flare up, check out this post.
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Anxiety is scary. It is terrifying. It can easily begin to take over your life through your thoughts, feeding on your fears and stopping you from going where you want to go in life, even if it is just into town to meet a friend. It makes you question your life, yourself and everything else. It leaves your mind curled up in a never ending tangle of thoughts, what ifs and whys. Before 4 years ago, I had never experienced anything like it. And those first couple of years of suffering with it were overwhelming and I felt like I had no control over anything. It was the most frustrating thing, being young and wanting to get on and do things with my life but fearing what would happen each time I even tried something new or even something old at times. I was ridden with worry. So how did I begin to tackle it?
In this post, I want to show you how I started to tackle the dreaded monster that sits on my shoulder, whispering to me why I can’t achieve something and telling me all of the possible ways an event could go wrong.
You see, there’s something anxiety hates. Something that a lot of people don’t realise. It’s something fairly simple. But it can make a huge difference. Anxiety hates it because it diffuses it’s power over you.
It’s like putting a glass over a giant spider. The spider’s still there, but somehow it’s easier to deal with beneath the glass. It’s a little less daunting.
So what is it? How can you begin to tackle the anxiety that you have been living with?
It sounds daft. You talk all the time right?! Maybe you do even talk about the things that worry you. But I mean really talk about it.
I have seen so many terrible news reports on suicides this year. It breaks my heart that these people felt that they had no where else to turn, no one else to talk to. That this was their only answer. Why is mental health still not talked about enough? Perhaps people are afraid of what others will think, that they have to put on a show and a brave face. I’m saying we need to talk about it more. Don’t be afraid.
Honestly, I think if more people talk about it, soon we will realise that some of those crazy irrational fears we think we have turn out to be normal worries that a lot of people are thinking in their head but are too afraid to say it.
Let’s be open.
I used to hide my anxiety. I had a couple of friends that didn’t, and still don’t quite understand how I feel. They don’t realise the huge impact this can have on someone’s life. Yes, I have pushed myself and I have worked hard on battling it and getting somewhat better, but I still suffer. But the difference is, whether people understand or not, I talk. It is horrible when a friend doesn’t understand, but I realise now that that’s more of a flaw on them and their kindness then it is a flaw of mine.
If you speak to people more openly about anxiety, it takes anxiety’s power away. It’s no longer that secret monster on your shoulder whispering hurtful and frightening things. It’s an exposed monster. One that crumbles when it sees the light of day.
Whether it’s a friend or a family member, Samaritans or your doctor. Please just talk. Tell them how you feel, how you’re struggling and you will soon begin to see the anxiety monster get smaller and smaller and easier to deal with.
I’ve met some incredible new people lately… mostly Mums as we arrange play dates. All of them know I suffer with anxiety. I told them. I didn’t ‘bang on’ about it, but I did openly confess that it’s something I suffer with and that at times I get nervous and overwhelmed. Turns out, they’ve been through similar. Now I don’t need to mention it unless I feel the need, because by exposing it, I felt more comfortable. And now I can enjoy these lovely people’s company knowing that anxiety isn’t there- being my dirty secret. It’s exposed, and these people seem genuinely caring and understanding. I felt better for telling them.
We need to raise awareness.
It’s surprising how common anxiety is. And I truly believe that the more we can talk about it to friends, family and our partners; the more we can tackle this together and raise awareness for mental health so that it becomes far less of a problem in our lives.
If you feel that you have no one to turn to, then please reach out to your doctor, or phone the Samaritans. No one is going to judge you for this. And no one should ever feel ashamed or embarrassed. Mental health affects so many people throughout their lives. It does not make us any less of an amazing human being. It just means that sometimes our brains get tired and need a little help, whether that’s as simple as talking to someone, or something more. We should do what we can to look after ourselves.
After all, a lot of people will talk about their physical pain- from migraines, to back pain, arthritis to tooth pain. Our mental health is just as important, if not more important than our physical health. So, we should just as openly talk about when we are feeling depressed, overwhelmed, scared or ridden with anxiety.
I still suffer with anxiety. Some days are worse than others. Some days I still feel alone, even when I know I should talk to someone. I feel like a burden. But then I realise that if a friend or anybody came to me saying they were suffering, I would want to help. There is too much sadness and suicide in the World. We need to talk and to listen. We need to raise awareness. Ask anyone you know, “Are you ok?” and listen, and don’t say their worries are silly. Because to them they are a mountain, even if it is a mole hill. With time, and your help, they will tackle that mountain until it becomes more manageable. So, I talk. I talk and I blurt it out, without worrying about judgement because I know how important it is to talk. And my goodness, does it feel better afterwards. So yes, I struggle at times still, but now I struggle with people around to help me. Or I struggle alongside someone else. But knowing you are not alone, is amazing.
Check out resources.
There are some fantastic groups online for mental health too, check your local Facebook groups. Talk to people that are in the same boat. It really does make all the difference. There is hope for us all- we can do this. But please please, begin tackling anxiety by talking about it.
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You can call the Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123. This phone number is free to call.
Visit Mind for more resources and information on mental health.
- Happy. Genuinely happy. Not chasing the idea of happiness or what I think it will take to be happy, but just feeling happiness on a daily basis. Being mindful to the point where the simple things create smiles on my face and laughter in my soul. Not faking it and not trying to say once something else is achieved then I’ll be happy. I just want to feel happiness.
- My anxieties will be under control. By being under control, I will be able to achieve so much socially and professionally in my life instead of living in constant worry and fear.
- The boys will be healthy and happy teenagers. My children are my everything. I hope that at this point in their life, where adulthood is impending, that they can confide in me. I want to be a constructive parent but also their best friend. I want to have so much fun with them.
- I will own my own house. I’d love for the house to have character and style. I can not wait to say that I am a home owner. It seems so far off but I would love it that in 10 years it could become possible.
- I’ll have achieved my dream job; I will be working from home as a writer. Again, something that feels so far off but I will work so hard to make come true.
- My family will still mean the world to me. I am an Aunty now and I would love it that my boys and my nephew grow up close and become amazing friends.
- Friendship worries won’t concern me as much. I hope that I will have a better ability of letting friendships come and go in my life. I hope that I will still have some quality friendships. But I also hope that I start to enjoy my own company more and that I don’t seek happiness from seeing friends frequently and that I am able to see them as often as needed.
- I’ll be driving and have my own car. Right now we don’t have a second car but I hope one day we are able to afford one and that I have the confidence to run it around.
- My sense of style will have improved. I am always envious of how others dress but I let my self confidence get in the way with trying new styles and outfits. One day I hope I can fake the confidence long enough to start believing it so that I can start to dress better. And to enjoy it.
- I will have a healthy weight. I worry that all of my life I will be battling with losing weight, currently I am on a mission to lose almost 2 stone. I hope that I am successful and that I can keep it off and maintain a healthy weight. But I hope that I have body confidence anyway.
- I will have a pet cat, or 2. My boys and myself would love to have a pet cat, let’s hope it happens sometime!
- I won’t be lonely. I fear loneliness but I hope that in 10 years that I will be surrounded by family and a few good friends.
Recently I had a really bad anxiety flare up. I’m not exactly sure what caused it. One day I was feeling fine and chipper, the next day not so much. And the more I thought about my life the more I kept hating it. One thing led to another and suddenly I just cried and felt awful.
This can last a few days at a time. I will suddenly worry about everything and anything. I sound so silly and ridiculous when I am in this anxious state. My worries aren’t justified as such. It’s only when I address some of these anxious thoughts with my husband that I realise that I might be just over thinking things. A tad.
It’s frustrating when this anxious state lasts for days, it’s horrible and it’s so hard to snap out of it. People will tell me not to worry, to relax. I’ll be told to take time out for myself and to not think about things. None of this helps.
So when this happens what do I do to resolve it?
First, I have to accept how I am feeling. I have to accept it as being totally natural. For whatever reason, whether it’s just who I am, how my brain works, my hormones or my thyroids fault- I suffer with anxiety. It’s nothing for me to be ashamed of and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with me. It just means that on and off throughout the rest of my life, I will have anxious moods and thoughts. I have anxiety but anxiety is not me. Anxiety is such a common thing to suffer with. So when I go through these phases, I have to accept them and try not to fight them anymore.
Once I’ve accepted it for what it is, once I’ve accepted that I will be in a mood, a mood that doesn’t allow me to concentrate on much other than the gazzillion thoughts and stresses that flood my mind in these days, a mood that leaves me short and snappy with those I love…. once I accept it, I can then begin to change it.
One tactic that I read about- was something called worry time. This would basically mean that throughout the day, anything that worries or bothers me- I should write briefly on a piece of paper. That way I acknowledge it but I don’t let myself dwell on it right then… I then allow myself worry time that evening for a short specific time. I set a timer and then I look at the paper with all of the worries on. Some of the worries by this point may have already resolved themselves. But those that haven’t, I will then work through in a more logical way bit by bit. This always helps. I always find writing my worries down anyway helps. Even when I brain storm it.
Once this has happened, I feel a weight come off my shoulders and I can start to concentrate on feeling more mindful and less stressed. Any worries that need actions and steps, I will then try and work through the steps.
After I have allowed myself to write my worries down, distractions help. I have a couple of hobbies; nail art, baking, cross stitch and sewing. I also enjoy going for walks and playing games on my phone. So whenever I really can’t shift my mood, I need escapism. For some reason, TV is harder for me to escape to as I still end up distracted by my worries…. unless it is a TV series that I can indulge in and obsess over. So I escape using the other hobbies above. And it just helps to distract my brain and bring me to the present.
Another way I can help my mood is by talking about it. Even when you feel there is no one there to listen, there will be. And even if you feel silly, it’s important to confide in people and open up about it. Otherwise your worries and thoughts will consume you and you will end up feeling lonely. At times I’ve even managed to laugh off some of my stresses with my family or husband.
Rest is also important. It doesn’t matter if I fall behind on jobs or housework, I’m important and so I have to look after myself. So if I need time to rest and absorb myself then that is fine. Normality will resume soon enough.
Be patient. Anxiety is tough. Really tough. And like they say all good things come to those who wait. So that’s what I have to do when I feel so rubbish with my anxiety. I wait for the better days.
Ask yourself, is there a recurrent theme to what you worry about? If you find yourself dwelling on the same matter most of the time, then perhaps you need to delve into it deeper. Allow one of your worry times to explore the problem or matter more. If it is something you can take steps for, is there a book you can take out at the library to help with the issue? I read the DARE book and it helped me so much. I learnt a lot about anxiety and the patterns of brain behaviour. Maybe do some research into the matter if there is something that keeps reoccurring in your life. If it is something you encounter a lot, is there a way you can eliminate it from your life?
Those are just 6 steps I take to help bring me out of a high anxiety mood. Most of the time within a few hours to a couple of days I am feeling much more myself. There are definitely ways you can help yourself during these moods though and to be honest, I am still learning about some new ideas. I know friends of mine try some of the following; yoga, jogging, swimming, exercise in general, writing a journal, phoning the Samaritans, going to CBT sessions. There are so many ideas out there that it’s great to explore and find something new that can help.
It doesn’t matter if life has to go on hold for a little while whilst you help yourself to feel better and happier. You need to look after number one. Don’t let anxiety consume you. Anxiety can be a pain in the arse, but sometimes all you need is to put in some great coping mechanisms and that is what I am trying to improve on and do constantly.
Do you have any strategies? I would love to hear how you cope during an anxiety flare up. Please do get in touch or comment below, I would love to hear from you. Don’t forget to follow my Facebook. My social media links are above.
Thank you for reading.