I don’t think I was aware of mental health until about 3 or 4 years ago.
That statement in itself is just absolutely mental in itself.
I think now when we are surrounded by people who talk/campaign/blog/share their mental health stories I can’t help but question why it wasn’t on my list of things that I should be thinking about and taking care of daily.
Social Media has a lot to answer for. It has created a career for me that I didn’t even know existed, it has created friendships and connections that I value, allowed me to feel less alone when I am feeling my worst... I would say it is probably the reason I know more about my mental health and also the tool I turn to the most when seeking some sort of reassurance.
That being said it is also a huge cause of my anxiety’s and overthinking. I have had to learn to unfollow accounts that don’t bring me joy and notice when I probably need to step away from social media.
I have suffered from anxiety from as long as I can remember. It was only the last few years that I realised what it was, and also how common it is.
My earliest memory of it was feeling panicky in certain situations, like I was out of control and everything around me was moving very quickly but I felt almost like I was in the bottom of a well and couldn’t get out, that’s the best way I can describe it.
Now I’m more aware that they were panic attacks which I would never have known at the time.
These days my anxiety manifests itself in quite a physical way. Usually a tight chest, I have to take deep breaths almost like I’m gasping for air. Anxiety for me feels quite similar to being hungry. I sometimes bite my nails or pick my nails/cuticles when I’m anxious. I get angry very easily. I’m really vulnerable to feeling anxious when I’m not getting enough sleep. Alcohol can make me anxious, I’m mindful that in certain circumstances/company I just cannot and should not drink alcohol.
I’ve had to pay a lot of attention to what sets me off and try and almost intercept it before it can get too bad.
There have been a few personal reasons that involve others that hugely affect my anxiety which is tough, I think learning that I can’t control another person/their actions has been really hard and something I have been having therapy and help with more recently, to just let go of those anxiety’s and focus more on what I can do to help me.
Managing it I guess is probably the best thing I can do, I don’t ever think it will stop but I do believe I can help myself by managing it and have been doing so much better the last few months than I was previously.
Things that really help me are not being on my phone as much. I try and turn my phone off in the evenings and have bought an alarm clock to wake me up in the morning so I don’t need my phone by my bed.
Keeping a diary of when I’m feel anxious and how it’s linked to my cycle and just being a bit more mindful and kind to myself when I know I’m usually more hormonal.
Keeping a gratitude journal to help keep me focussed on the positives and not the negatives (something I’m terrible at) but getting much better at.
Reading with my kids, I know this sounds crazy but if we are having a terrible day and I just feel like I want to crumble, dropping everything and just curling up with a few books actually really helps me just chill out and take a bit of a breather.
As does reading with myself!
And talking about how I’m feeling more plus having therapy. Which has been an expensive but invaluable addition to my/our lives. It took a while to find ‘the one’ but it was a worthwhile pursuit. I know this isn’t an option for everyone financially and believe me I don’t take for granted being in a position to be able to pay for therapy, but there are so many options out there to seek help and I would hugely advise anyone really struggling to go and speak to their Dr or there some amazing charities and resources out there like Mind Charity, The Samaritans and Heads Together.
I’m the worst at bottling it up. The classic ‘I’m fine’ when you feel like you just want to run away. So talking for me has hugely helped. Being honest when I’m feel not great.
Which finally leads me to making sure that I take the time to look after myself. Exercise has been something that I now rely on, it is probably one of the only times of the week that I fully spend time away from work/kids/family life and do something that makes me feel incredible and I’ve realised whilst I may sometimes not look forward to it, making myself take that time has a knock on effect to everything else in a sense that it just makes me FEEL better.
I just want to say a huge Thankyou to Jo and Chloe who are doing the most amazing thing with their brand which I have been more than happy to support from day one, they have really created such an incredible brand and Thankyou for asking me to write for you!