THAT ANXIOUS FEELING. 

THAT ANXIOUS FEELING. 

 

It’s difficult to explain the feeling of anxiety, but I’m going to try. I’m not a fan of things that I don’t understand and even less of a fan of things that I can’t explain. I’m also pretty sure I’m not the only one, so here’s to those who want to undertand.

You know that feeling you get when you reach for your phone in the zip pocket of your bag (because that’s where you keep it, that’s where you always put it) and it’s not there? Your stomach drops. You feel tense and agitated. Your mind starts racing through the last few hours of your life wondering what you could have done resulting in you putting your phone down somewhere that isn’t that zip pocket in your bag. It doesn’t matter if seconds later you find it hiding in the other zip pocket, in that second it was gone. You panicked.

Now, extend that feeling. For a few minutes. For a few hours. For an entire day. 

That’s what anxiety feels like. Apart from the fact that some of the time, there is no reason. There is no misplaced phone. Just that gut wrenching feeling that something has gone (or is about to go) wrong.

The good news is, once you know it’s just anxiety, you can start to cut it off there. Yep, I feel anxious, I’m just going to have to ride it out. It’s not quite as easy as that, but I’m working on it. Hopefully one day it really can be that easy.

I know I’m writing a lot about anxiety and not very much about other things, it’s just that it’s such a big part of my life at the minute. I start back at work tomorrow – I’m looking forward to it. It’s a really big step towards getting things back to normal. Hopefully then I can write more about gin and food and all the other things that make life great. 

That’s more than enough crappy feelings for a Sunday afternoon so here are a few feelings that are just lovely: 

Until next time,

  

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BE BRAVE. ACCEPT RADICALLY.

BE BRAVE. ACCEPT RADICALLY.

Acceptance: it’s a word that’s thrown around a lot, isn’t it? Radical acceptance is simply accepting things for what they are. No what ifs, just taking the situation as it is and moving on. Doesn’t seem too radical, does it?

It may not seem radical, but it does take bravery. It goes against everything your brain wants you to do.


I’ve just sloshed black coffee all over the new cream carpet

There’s no good in thinking I shouldn’t have taken the coffee into the bedroom. What if I’d just put it down on the table rather than trying (and failing) to place it on the floor. What good will that do? It certainly won’t stop the black coffee from seeping into the nice, new, cream (IT’S CREAM ELLEN, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!) carpet. It will actually make it worse; the longer the coffee stays there, the harder it’ll be to clean.

Radical acceptance is taking the situation as it is.

I can’t reverse it, I can’t turn back time. It’s happened. Better start cleaning. Then probably make another coffee.

Radical acceptance is the way to take any situation, whether it’s something small or something much bigger and life altering. Reflection and hindsight are essential for learning, but dwelling on something that has already happened isn’t helpful and isn’t healthy. It causes unnecessary stress and unnecessary worry. If you start practicing radical acceptance (this is irritating me – is it really that radical?) with the small stuff, it might be a little easier when something really big comes along and screws you over.

Be brave, accept radically. It may seem unnatural at first, but just give it a try.

Until next time,

(Flower graphic courtesy of welivedhappilyeverafter.com)

10 CONFESSIONS FROM AN ANXIOUS MIND. 

10 CONFESSIONS FROM AN ANXIOUS MIND. 

One of the reasons I’ve been writing this blog is because anxiety isn’t uncommon, and I hope that just every so often I write something that makes you think yea – me too. Some of the things I’m going to write about in this post I’ve known my whole life, but others have been a little more difficult to come to terms with. I hope that it gives you a little more insight into my anxiety. Quick warning: this is going to be quite a long post, I do quite like to babble. 

So here we go, 10 confessions from an anxious mind:

  

 
 There are two main fears that contribute to my anxiety and they just so happen to completely contradict. I have a fear of things going wrong (things beyond my control) so I try to take control of them. But then, I have a fear of getting those things wrong, which makes me doubt myself, and I’m right back to the fear of things going wrong. The self doubt is going to take a bit of work, but I’m seriously working on not feeling  responsible for everything and reminding myself that things do go wrong – that’s just life. 

  The self doubt means that I really am my own worst critic. And sometimes I can be quite mean I don’t tend to give myself the benefit of the doubt that I would give to anyone else. This is where my perfectionism kicks in, sometimes I really feel like why bother doing anything if it can’t be spot on? And guess what…IT’S SO COUNTER PRODUCTIVE. I’m never going to get anything done because 99% of the time things won’t be perfect, and I’m starting to learn that that’s okay. 

 
 These are the what ifs. They are dangerous, they lead to me catastrophising (I’ve mentioned this word before, isn’t it a great word?) and they lead to me over analysing everything. Turns out, I don’t always have to be as prepared all the time, sometimes it’s not even my job to be prepared. Being prepared is great, but being scared of being unprepared (to this extent) is silly.  

   Sometimes, I get anxious about the most ridiculous things (and I do mean ridiculous). I know it’s stupid, you don’t need to tell me, but in that moment it’s the most important thing in the world. All I can do is to understand that in the scale of things, it’s probably not that important. I can calm myself down, and just let the anxiety pass. I know that I’ll feel different when it’s over. 

  If something makes me really anxious, in that moment it consumes me. You can have a solid, logical proof that we will be there on time – if I’m convinced that we’re going to be late, there’s no shaking that feeling.     I WANT TO STOP. I WANT TO NOT CARE SO MUCH. I WANT TO BE ABLE TO SWITCH OFF. If only thinking, you now what, everything will turn out okay was enough. But it’s not, which is why I’m trying so hard to stop the worrying from ruining my life. 

 
 Sometimes, there isn’t even a reason for my anxiety. Unfortunately for me, that doesn’t quite sit right with my wonky brain – there has to be a reason for feeling this way. This is when I make up problems where there aren’t any, which doesn’t make a happy Ellen. I can convince myself that the the world is ending just because my body says something is wrong – there doesn’t have to be anything wrong. Just ride it out. 

  As we’ve already established, not much can stop be worrying and feeling anxious once I get myself into that frame of mind. Telling me it’ll all be fine doesn’t help – I know deep down that you’re right but the anxiety keeps on taking over. But it does tell me that you care, and that you want me to be fine, and that’s really comforting.  

 Even if I look like there’s nothing going on up there, chances are there’s actually a million different things going through my mind at any one time. I’m probably looking a little vacant because I’m struggling to work out where to start. My mind is like one gaint to do list that is constantly being added to and constantly needs prioritising.

 
 It is perfectly possibly to be a raging extrovert and still suffer from problems with anxiety. I am living proof. I’m outgoing, I don’t often get nervous in big meetings or interviews and yet I still spend my life living in worry. I love to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself on a daily basis, but my mind betrays me by making the way I want to live my life intolerable

 

PHEW

I’m not going to try to tell you that these confessions are in any way representative of every person suffering from anxiety, but they are representative of me (and I’m sure plenty of other people too). It’s important to remember that it’s these realisations that have pushed me to get some help as well as trying to work through these insecurities on my own (of course, with the help of my wonderful friends & family).

I also didn’t realise all this at once, it’s taken most of my life and a good few therapy sessions to even come close to understand what’s going on in my fuzzy, jumbled head.

Until next time,

  


HOW TO COPE WITH FEELING OVERWHELMED. 

HOW TO COPE WITH FEELING OVERWHELMED. 

how to cope with feeling overwhelmed

The past couple of weeks have been tough. I’m happy, don’t get me wrong, it’s just so difficult keeping everything in perspective and not getting overwhelmed by everything and anything. 

I feel useless, I feel weak willed, I feel irrational and I feel a bit pathetic to be honest. This isn’t all of the time, but it’s enough. More than enough. Wallowing in self pity isn’t the way to make this better – actually, it’ll just make it way way worse. And that would just be shit. 

In this post I want to just share some of the things that I’m working on to help me cope with feeling overwhelmed. So, let’s get on with it. 

 GET ORGANISED

This first one is a lot of fun for me, I love getting organised. Planners, pens, journals, post its, calendars, apps – I love it all! 

At the minute I’m playing with a Bullet Journal system in a dotted moleskine notebook. If you’re interested, I first stumbled across it on Boho Berry and decided to give it a go. I’m pretty happy with it so far but I’m planning an entire post about how I’ve set it up so I’ll leave it here for now. 

Planning the future weeks and daily to do lists is helping me to put things into perspective and get on top of everything. I can remind myself of all the things I have to look forward to and focus my days around the things I need to do to get me in the mindset I want to be in. Plus, there’s nothing – and I mean nothing – more satisfying than crossing something off a to do list. 

  BE MINDFUL

This one is taking some getting used to. This was a suggestion from one of my therapy sessions (I was skeptical but therapy is really helping – you really should try it). Being mindful revolves around doing one thing at a time and when you’re doing that one thing, really being there in the moment. Not thinking about what you need to do in 30 seconds’ time, not what you’re having for lunch, not that awful thing that happened yesterday – just the now. 

It’s hard to get used to in world that’s moving so fast. We’re all multitasking, we’re all thinking about a million things at once. Don’t. Slow down. When you’re having a cup of tea, just have a cup of tea. 

Be an observer. Don’t judge, just observe. Snap judgements can lead to catastrophising a situation, so practicing not judging with the small things will help when it comes to the bigger things. 

“This mug is cream with a capital E on one side and a lower case e on the other. It clinks my top teeth every time I take a sip. The tea is Yorkshire tea with a splash of soya milk. I’m sitting on the sofa on a tartan blanket. The seat is warm where I’ve been sitting for the last few hours. The sun is shining through the gap in the curtains and on to the arm of the sofa to my left.”

CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF

This is another one that I’m working on becoming a habit, another one that came from therapy. Whether it’s once a day, twice a day or once an hour, check in with yourself. How are you feeling? Why are you feeling that way? How can you maintain/change your mood?

I do this once a day, just before I go to bed. I rate my day out of 5 based on how my average mood has been throughout the day then I write the thing(s) that I am most grateful for that day. 

It’s a little thing. It takes a couple of minutes. It’s making a huge difference. 

Checking in with myself before I go to bed reminds me that even if I’ve not had a great day, I still have things to be grateful for. It helps my put things into perspective when I’m feeling overwhelmed. 

  
So that’s it, that’s how I’m currently trying to stay on top of things. As I’ve said before, I’m probably never going to stop worrying, but I can (hopefully) calm the fuck down when I do.

Until next time,

  

MY MANTRA: IT’S NEVER AS BAD AS YOU THINK IT’LL BE. 

MY MANTRA: IT’S NEVER AS BAD AS YOU THINK IT’LL BE. 

 my mantra: its never as bad as you think it'll be 
It really never is. As someone who spends their life fighting off anxious thoughts, it’s sometimes hard to remember this. My mind is contsantly firing what ifs at me (apparently I catastrophise) so sometimes it’s important for me to remind myself: I’m probably over reacting, it’s never half as bad as I think it’s going to be. 

Seriously though, whether it’s worrying about going back to work after time off, or an important meeting coming up, or obsessing over a reaction that hasn’t even happened yet – it’s never as bad as you think it’ll be. 

It was my dad that first said this to me. After having my appendix out last year and after almost a month off work, I was dreading going back. He told me this over a pint (of course) and he was right (of course). It wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be – as much as we like to think so sometimes, most of the time we’re not the glue holding the business together. They managed without me, and even though the logical part of my brain (it does exist) knew that this would be the case, the illogical, irrational part of my brain (the part that often takes over) had me in a right old panic. 

It’s stuck with me, this phrase, because my experience tells me it’s true. But we all need a reminder sometimes and this always helps me along a little. 

What’s your mantra, your little phrase that brings you back down to earth?

Until next time, 

  

10 THINGS THAT MAKE ME CALM. 

10 THINGS THAT MAKE ME CALM. 

  
Two weeks have gone so quickly; tomorrow I go back to work. Of course I’m nervous, I was a bit of a wreck when I walked out of the doors a fortnight ago, but I do feel like I’m ready. 

There’s going to be plenty I need to crack on with tomorrow, so I need to make sure that I don’t get overwhelmed, stay in control and most importantly – stay calm. If I don’t, I’ll get myself into a panic, and I really don’t want that to happen. This post is a little insight into what keeps me calm. 

“Things that make me calm” was one of the first pages in my notebook that wasn’t covered in worry. It’s important that I try to remember this stuff when I start to panic.   Lists – Lists absolutely calm me down. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, writing things down helps and means that I can put things in order of priority. I feel more in control of the situation with a list in front of me.  Talking about normal things – Mostly this is Harry. When I was having a tough time at work and things were getting pretty bad, calling Harry and asking him to tell me about his day was a great first step to putting my situation in perspective.  A fresh cup of tea – I’m British, I like tea. But seriously, there is nothing that can’t be fixed by a good cuppa. It sounds cliché but for me, it works.  Going for a walk – Getting out of the situation and getting some fresh air really helps when I’m getting myself worked up. It takes me away from anything that could have triggered the panic in the first place and also really helps if I start to get flustered – thanks to the perpetually cold English weather.  Being offline – Put the phone down. Put the iPad down. Step away from the Internet. I’m not entirely sure why or how this works, it’s not often that it’s something online that sets me off. But nonetheless, getting away from technology helps me to calm down.  Falling asleep in front of the TV – There’s something nice about falling asleep in front of the TV. Obviously this isn’t something I can do if I’m at work, but after a bad day, there’s nothing nicer than a quick snooze on the sofa in an evening.  Going to pole – I’ve written an entire post about how pole fitness helps my anxiety, but any exercise in general is meant to be great for staying calm, relaxing and help control anxiety.  Listening to the rain (or wind) – This is another slightly cliché answer, but it’s lovely isn’t it? Being cosy and dry inside while you can hear the rain on the window outside. I guess that’s why you can get apps now to make the noises in case it isn’t raining (although in England that isn’t too often!).  Scented candles – This one works when the smell is familiar. I guess it doesn’t have to be a candle, just a nice, familiar smell. It takes me out of the situation in which I’m feeling overwhelmed and takes me to somewhere safe and calm. For me, cinnamon is my favourite.  Planning the future – Nothing helps me escape the overwhelming present like planning the future. Whether it’s plans for next weekend or plans for buying a house in the next few years, talking about where I want the future to take me calms me down and helps put the present in perspective.   

    So that’s it. The list isn’t exhaustive, and I’ll continue to add to it. It’s nice to remind me, when I’m feeling a little out of control – a little overwhelmed – a little panicky, that there are things in my life that can calm me down, and that I am in control.

    Until next time, 

     

    THIS IS ANXIETY & IT WILL PASS.

    THIS IS ANXIETY & IT WILL PASS.

     One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog was to share some of the ways I’ve been trying to help my anxiety.

    1 in 50 adults will experience Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) at some point in their life, which means it’s safe to say that anxiety is pretty common. That doesn’t mean that each person suffering from anxiety isn’t important; it doesn’t mean that they’re just a statistic. What it does mean is that there are plenty of blogs, articles and websites dedicated to understanding and dealing with anxiety.

    The first thing I did to start tackling this thing was talk to someone about what was going on in my head. I’m lucky. I have an incredibly supportive other half, parents who only ever want to see me happy and a very close group of friends, some of whom have been through the same thing. Talking helped. It made it real and spurred me on to stop the anxiety from taking over.

    Secondly, I took some time for myself. Although this technically wasn’t my decision, taking some time off work has really helped me to realise how I’m feeling and start to understand why I’m feeling that way. It’s helped me to realise that I am happy; I’m happy in my work, with my personal relationships, with my life. Whenever I feel down, I know it’s not me, it’s just the anxiety being a bastard.

    I bought a notebook and I started to write down everything that is worrying me. My worries range from having not left enough time to do the dishes before H gets home, right through to worrying about money and my health. The worries differ from minute to minute, but the worrying is constant. This sounds incredibly downbeat, right? Well, opposite each page of worry is a page of inspiration. This page could be a quote, a list of things that makes me happy, a list of things that make me calm (I like lists – in fact, the top thing on my list of things that make me calm is “lists”) or just a doodle. Writing everything down has also helped me to identify what causes my anxiety to turn into panic. Hopefully, with a bit of professional help, I can then completely avoid the thinking traps that end in the panic. I tell you now, I need to end the panic, because it is not nice.

      

     This isn’t everything, it’s just the start of getting this thing under control, but it is helping. I start back at work on Monday – I feel as though I’ve come such a long way in just two weeks, so hopefully I can keep on going at this exponential rate and stop anxiety from taking over my life again.

    Until next time,

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