Something that’s very present in my day to day life right now is anxiety, as having suffered from a young age, it’s unfortunately become worse over the past three or so years. I go through phases which are bearable, and I can sort of get along with day to day things – as long they’re controlled. However, the past few months have been pretty challenging for me with agoraphobia leaving me unable to leave the house on my own (hence the lack of outfit posts recently). It’s something I’m working on, but if it’s taught me one thing, it’s definitely the importance of looking after yourself and doing what works for you.
Today is #timetotalk day, a campaign which I fully support, as it encourages people to be more open about their battles with mental health, a topic that isn’t talked about as much as it should be. There’s an awful lot of stigmas that come attached to mental health in general, which to this day still bewilders me. It’s something that I’m very passionate about, after many personal experiences around mental illness have directly affected me and my family in the past few years. I’d love to raise more awareness on the subject, and I hope to do that in a future post.
Anyway, here are a few of the things that have been helping me the past few months:
– Accepting the problem. I’ll openly admit that when it comes to my own mental health problems in the past, I’m very much an emotional ostrich – I bury my problems in the sand and hope they’ll somewhat disappear on their own. In recent years I’ve learnt that this isn’t the case at all, and can actually prolong the problem (which is what I think has caused this recent spell of crippling agoraphobia). There’s this pressure to ‘be happy’ and while I think that’s all well and good, sometimes you just aren’t, and you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Accept you’re having a bad day, a bad month, a bad year even – it’s really not the end of the world. There’s always tomorrow and it will pass, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and you’ll get there. Somethings can’t easily be fixed, but you can learn ways to help you.
– Work out what you want. Our own mental health is something very personal to each and every one of us, with us all having difficult coping methods. I often hide away from everyone, pushing away my friends as a method of cutting myself off from my own problems, which I know it leads to me overthinking and becoming more withdrawn. But realising that has allowed me to change my ways. Now I know that some people prefer to be surrounded with friends while they’re going through bad times. It’s all trial and error, what makes you feel better and what makes you feel worse. But do whatever works for you (of course, as long as no harm is coming to you).
– Mindfulness. A relatively new concept, me and my family have been advised a lot recently to practice the art of Mindfulness. Now I’m planning on doing a more detailed post on this in the future, so I’ll be brief, but it’s basically a different way of training your brain to alter your thoughts. It kind of gives it away in it’s name, Mind-ful-ness, as it encourages you to think in the present. It’s very easy to fall into the habits of thinking about what if, or past mistakes, but mindfulness allows you to put all of your focus into the present moment. It takes some practice, but I’ve heard it’s a very useful skill to have – and there’s plenty of books out there now to help you along the learning process.
– Take some time out. We’ve all had those days where instead of letting ourselves chill out, we’ve thrown ourselves into a project or something to try and distract our minds. Whilst that may work for some, I’ve personally found that it’ll be the answer for a little while… until I totally burn out and find myself both mentally and physically exhausted. If you’ve got a physical illness like the flu, you’ll rest. Now, if you’ve got a mental illness, what’s the difference?
– Put yourself first. Sounds selfish, I know I know. But the importance of self-care is very much based on the idea that you need to look after yourself, because you sure as hell deserve it. If you follow me on Twitter, you may or may not know that unfortunately my family have had an awful lot to deal with in recent years and in the summer of 2014, I found myself taking on the role helping to care for an incredibly ill sibling of mine. Whilst it’s still very much an ongoing problem, I’ve learnt that my way of dealing with the issue wasn’t the best one (even if it did seem like it at the time). I put a lot of extra responsibility on myself, letting myself become exhausted, at the time when they needed my support my most and I couldn’t give that. Look after yourself, it’s so important that you do.
– Find something that you enjoy (and most importantly, that works for you), and do it. If you’ve read my blog a while, you’ll know that I took a little blogging hiatus around Sept/Oct last year, as at the time I spending a lot of my time at hospital with my family. I absolutely love blogging, and I find it to be very therapeutic, as I’m able to put my energy into creating the best posts I can. However, as some what of a perfectionist, instead of using it as an escape, I used it as an extra stress and found myself putting an awful lot of unnecessary pressure on myself. Whilst I still loved to blog, it didn’t work for me at that time, so I took a little time out and its the best decision I’ve ever made. Don’t put that extra pressure on yourself. Don’t want to blog? Don’t. Instead I’d read a book and immerse myself in that, or I’d do a word search, or I’d watch every episode of The US episode. Treat yo self.
– When Anxiety Strikes, a simple concept launched by a friend of mine, I keep this tumblr bookmarked at all times. It’s a wonderful resource page filled with positive, uplifting thoughts for you to remember on those darker days.
– And just remember, you’re just as important and worthy of happiness/peace as any one else.
Don’t ever forget that.
Let me know you’re suggestions, I’m sure they’ll be a massive help to everyone!
(Ps. I’d love to know what you’d think about me doing more lifestyle/advice posts like this, there’s some many topics I feel like I could cover!)