As you all know, I recently started a new job. Although I absolutely loved working in the museum, and the truth be told I even miss it now, I felt it was time to move and to start something else, I felt ready for a new challenge. Although I was already excited and motivated to change jobs, it felt like I had landed my dream job when I was given the opportunity to become a marauding Viking - ROOOARRR, especially after months of really wanting the job it felt like the right move for me.
Despite the fact that it felt like the right thing for me, it hasn't been easy. For anyone, any big change in your life can be difficult, we are creatures of habit, it takes time for us to get used to a new job. Although your work and even your work load may be the same, it is always a challenge to adjust to your new colleagues, environment and the ethos of this different company. For anyone, changing jobs can be a challenging thing with lots of fears and worries such as will I fit in? Will they like me? Will I be able for the job?, the list is endless and each person's fears are different, however for someone who suffers with mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder etc., these fears, worries and obstacles are almost multiplied by ten.
Personally, I didn't sleep for days before starting my new job, silly little things were bothering me, things that would probably never ever keep anyone else awake! Things like is it ok clocking in 5 minutes early? Where do I go when I'm early? Is it ok to make a cup of tea in work if I'm early or would it seem cheeky?These are just a handful of the things out of an endless list of fears and worries that I had before I started my job and believe me when I say that I realise how petty and silly some of these worries seem, however if I have learned one thing over the past five years, it's that no matter how small or simple something may seem, if it is on your mind or bothering you, it is obviously important to you. Everyone's worries and fears are all different, things that play on my mind might not bother you, however, it doesn't mean that mine are more relevant than yours or vice versa. For me I have discovered that the best way I can try to deal with some of my fears, worries and thoughts is to try to identify my worries, why they are bothering me and what I can do to either get rid of the problem, make it better or work through it.
So with all of that in mind, here are my top five tips to help and try to reduce some of the anxieties, stress and worries you may have when starting a new job. These tips are for everyone, not just those of you who suffer from mental health issues, as we all are nervous when we make a big change like this. Some of these tricks have helped me in the past, and some I have discovered in recent months, and although they have all helped me, if at least one of them helps you either now or in the future well then it will be slightly easier for you to feel settled and happy in your new job slightly faster than usual.
1. Your health is your wealth
Of course your health is always your wealth, however I find that when I start a new job, I become really tired and I tend to feel very run down. For me it's definitely caused by two things, mixed emotions and intense concentration on learning the ropes of a new job. It is tiring learning something new, and as I said earlier, the job title may be the same or similar to what you previous did, however every company is different and do things slightly differently so it is exhausting learning while on the job.
When I started at Viking Splash, I definitely under estimated how different the work would be. Of course I knew I would be giving a tour outdoors, something very different to talking in a museum, but I under estimated how much the weather, road works and general hustle and bustle of the town would effect my job and also my health both physically and mentally. Two weeks in and I had no voice, I was on my 20th box of tissues and I was absolutely exhausted, not to mention the fact that I started to become very very anxious every time I was due in to work. I went to the health shop in Liffey Valley, Holland and Barrett, in search of something that would help both my physical and mental health. I didn't have a clue what I was looking for, but I knew I needed to try something. Hand on my heart, the staff were absolutely amazing, so helpful and so kind. Before I knew it, I was spilling my guts telling them how I haven't been dealing with the long hours and work of my new job, that I wasn't feeling great, I was anxious, feeling run down etc. To cut a long story short, after about 20 minutes of talking, the amazing staff pointed me in the right direction regarding some vitamins which I have to say I have seen a huge difference in my anxiety levels and my energy. I'm not going to tell you which vitamins I am on now because each person's needs are different and I really recommend you speaking to the amazing staff in Holland and Barret before you buy anything, as they are honest and so knowledgeable!
As well as the vitamins, they also helped me change some of my food habits. Although I eat quite healthy, I noticed a pattern that in order to keep up my energy for each tour, I was binge eating all of the chocolate I could find as well as having 6 cups of coffee a day! So if you are starting a new job or planning on changing jobs, try switching the coffee for herbal tea, swap some biscuits for an orange, try boosting your system with some vitamins (speak to a professional first however), drink plenty of water and get out for a walk to clear your head from time to time!
2. Familiar faces
Whether your new job is in an office, call center or a school, try to pop into the office once or twice before your start date. It is a good idea to introduce yourself before you start to break the ice and most of all reduce the level of nerves you will experience the night before you start. It will also come across really good and professional as it will show your future employers and employees that you are eager to start work, you are eager to impress and that you are an approachable person.
3. Write down your fears
Not sleeping due to the stress and worry about starting a new job running through your head all night? I find, when I am trying to sleep or even when I am sleeping, that's when my mind feels like it can almost run wild and think about everything that I didn't have time to think about or I pushed aside throughout the day. Sometimes the best thing to do when these thoughts are running through your mind, especially if they are keeping you awake at night, is to keep a little notebook beside your bed and write your fears and worries down in it as soon as they start to become too much for you, i.e not letting you get any sleep. For me, writing these thoughts down almost allows them to leave my head, go onto the page and it frees up some space in my mind, allowing me to relax a lot more.
As each day passes in the new job and I conquer these fears, I like to put a tick or a smiley face beside these fears, to show myself that they were just that, fears and that I am in control. It means that these thoughts no longer have power over me, and they no longer bother me at night time.
4. Don't be afraid to ask questions
Why is it that when we start a new job that we are absolutely terrified of asking questions? For me, I would almost prefer to do something wrong and be told that it was wrong than actually ask what is the right way to complete the task. It's like I'm afraid that my manager or co- worker is going to judge me, mock me and even laugh at me. However what we all tend to forget in these situations is that no matter what the person's position in the company, they were just like you at one point, NEW!!
As I mentioned earlier, it doesn't matter whether your job description is the same in this company as the last, even the way a company's filing system works can be completely different to another's. The people you are working with won't expect you to know everything on your first day so ASK!! it's better to double check everything if necessary, they will respect the fact that you want to do the job correctly instead of just going about your own business, making lots of mistakes and possibly making more work for both you and your colleagues! However, don't forget that it is ok to make a mistake now and again, no one can be expected to be perfect straight away!
5. Be yourself!
Last but certainly not least, don't forget to be yourself! For some people, this might sound a little bit obvious, of course you are going to be yourself, however for many people starting a new job is a lot more than that, it's fresh start. Some people feel like they can almost reinvent themselves, especially if your new job is in a place where you know no one, it is a chance for people to almost be who they want to be. For instance, it can be a chance to change your lifestyle like starting a new diet, taking up a new hobby, trying new clothes, wearing make up etc. This isn't the case for everyone, but I know for myself, that's what I felt about this new job, it was a chance to put all of my negative energy aside and just be who I wanted to be.
Although it is ok to want to want a fresh start and/or to want to slightly change things and of course we change throughout our career and life however, trying to force ourselves to become almost the complete opposite to who we are within a few days is too much pressure on ourselves. It can be very difficult to see what is good about ourselves, what people could possibly like about our personalities however we must try to remember that we were offered this new job because of who we are. YOU applied for the job, YOU completed the interview and YOU were offered the job, so YOU must be doing something right! It is YOU they like, it is YOU they believe in so all they want is YOU to be YOU!! Don't be ashamed to think highly about yourself or to be proud of yourself for achieving this new position, you worked hard, you deserve it therefore you should enjoy every moment of this!
So guys, I hope you find at least one of these tips helpful. Remember we are all different so even if one of these tricks helps you or you have to change them to suit you well then that is ok too. Best of luck to those of you who may be starting a new journey and remember this is your opportunity to shine so don't let anyone ever dull your sparkle!
Lots of love as always,
Hi Guys and happy Saturday!
Only one more sleep til the Easter Bunny- I'm so excited! Those of you who gave up chocolate for Lent are probably rocking back and forward in a chair holding onto boxes and boxes of Easter eggs for dear life!
As you guys know I didn't give up anything for Lent, instead I decided to try and note something that I am grateful for every single day, and I was able to stick to it. Although I didn't manage to post on Facebook everyday about the things I was grateful for, that doesn't matter. What matters is that I took a note each day, sometimes a physical note but sometimes just a mental note. Either way, every single day, I counted myself lucky for everything that I had, did and experienced that day, no matter how ordinary or amazing the day was.
Recently, I wrote a post on how being grateful and thankful has made me happy, by realising what I have and how lucky I am to have these things, it has really put things into perspective. It helps me stay positive even on the darkest of days. At first however, it wasn't an easy thing to do, to find something in each day I was grateful for. As I explained in a previous post in this section, it wasn't that I was being ungrateful or greedy, but to go from just existing, going through the emotions every single day, it was hard to then jump into feeling over joyed about anything. However, as the days went on, it became easier, not only to be grateful but to be truly happy every single day. Although the past two weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster ride as my anxiety levels have been through the roof, by staying positive and reminding myself of how far I have come, I have been able to work through my anxiety, work through tough times and to focus the nervous energy I was feeling into other things.
It has really been an eye opener for me, so much so that I have really enjoyed the past few months and I feel more like myself than I ever have, if that makes sense! It's like things have just clicked together and I have finally found myself. It may sound cheesy and it may sound a bit weird, but for the first time ever I feel like I finally have found a balance in my mood, life and in turn, a happy balance in everything!
So, as it has been a great for months, with so much stuff that I am grateful for, I could never ever fit it all in one post! SO I have decided to put a little slideshow of some pictures of only some of the things I have been thankful and grateful for over Lent.
Guys, I hope you enjoy this post, it's slightly different to what I usually do, but I think these pictures speak a thousand words on their own! Someone close to me recently this: "Me and my mam have been saying that recently, we don't know what it is but you look great!" I was flattered and at the time I thought maybe it's my new hair or new foundation. I mean, maybe those things help, but someone else recently has said that my sparkle is back, it's amazing how becoming more aware of yourself, the people around you, the things around you and how lucky you are can really make you shine both on the inside and out!
Love as always,
The answer is YES!! Well for me it has worked.
I don't know if you remember, but at the start of Lent I decided that what I was going to do for the next few weeks was to try to find something in every day that I was grateful for. Although I haven't posted what I am grateful for up on social media every day, I have been taking a note ( either mentally or physically) of what I was grateful for on that particular day.
At the start I found it VERY VERY difficult to find something every day that I was thankful for. That sounds very spoilt but that wasn't the case at all. For a long time I just kind of existed. I didn't pay much attention to anything, I didn't really feel anything: happiness or sadness and most of the time I was just trying to get through each day with as little communication and interaction with others as possible.
As dull as that sounds that's exactly how it was, so to go from that to working in the museum, I found myself adjusting quite a bit. I had to get the bus by myself, I had to interact with people daily and I was front and centre of a tour for 40 minutes a few times a day three times a week. Some of that sounds very mundane and simple, but considering I was avoiding seeing people for just under a year, that was quite a big jump. However, I adjusted and eventually things that once would have been very difficult tasks for me, I completed them without thinking twice about them and I sort of took things for granted.
I didn't really realise how much I was taking for granted until in January after my interview for my new job, as a tour guide in the Viking Splash. When the interview finished, I was immediately offered the job. As I left the office, I couldn't control my smile, it was beaming from ear to ear. I did it. I saw the job I wanted, I worked hard, I got in touch, I got an interview and I nailed it! The feeling was amazing, I couldn't believe I actually achieved this and the best part about it was that I did it all by myself.
You might think that sounds a bit odd, "How else would someone get a job for you? Only you can do a good interview, right?" Although that's true. when I went for the job in the Museum, I couldn't be by myself at all, especially when I was going on public transport. It was so bad that my younger sister had to get the bus with me into town, wait in a cafe for me to finish my interview and then get the bus back home with me. Even down to applying for the job, my mam sat with me while I made phone calls and applied for jobs. She didn't do anything really but having her there with me calmed me down so much. I went from being a very independent teenage girl to a young woman afraid to be alone.
These were things I actually forgot about, until a year later after my Viking interview. I had already made plans to meet mam after the interview and as I walked up to her, suddenly my mind went back to that interview when I couldn't get there by myself. I felt proud of myself, and I'm not ashamed to say that because if you don't praise yourself from time to time well then who will? However what I mainly felt was gratitude. I was grateful to my mam, dad, sister, Mark and all of my family and friends who were my crutch when I couldn't walk by myself. I was grateful to the Museum for seeing something in me, by encouraging me, pushing me outside my comfort zone and who helped me become a good tour guide. Finally I was grateful for the second chance I had been given. It sounds so cheesy and silly but at one point my whole world crumbled around me, I had no job, I had no passion for anything and I really did not value my life at all. However, now I had been given a shot at a job I believe(and hope) I will love, something that I want to get out of bed for every morning and most of all I love life again, that's all I ever wanted and I finally felt that I was enjoying every minute of it.
It was from that day that I realised there is something in every single day that may help you grow, develop and blossom in the future. Each day is important, each day provides you with an opportunity to make the most of your life and to create more opportunities for the future, and that is something to be grateful for. That day showed me that you can't take things for granted, yes we do create our own opportunities to a certain extent however we are very lucky for the things that come our way and I think that recognising that we are lucky, really does allow you to feel content, blessed and also proud as you can track your progress!
So with that in mind, don't forget that every one is different, what I am grateful for will be very different to what you are grateful for and even on the darkest of days remember that you are alive, safe, well and most of all loved, and they are certainly things to be thankful for and bring a slight smile to your face, right?
Enjoy your weekend, and for all of you mothers out there enjoy tomorrow and from all us kids that break your hearts and mess up your clean houses, we are sorry, we love you and most of all, thank you for everything you have done for us headcases!
Love as always,
The past few weeks have been absolutely crazy busy, between work, study, a first aid course and my lovely back injury! Between one thing and another, I haven't been focused on the healthy and mindful lifestyle that I had created for myself and as a result my mental health well being has been last on my list. Although my moods haven't been too bad, I have noticed that the odd time I am feeling anxious or low, that these emotions feel like they are multiplied by 20 and it often ends up in tears. Without the constant practice of mindfulness, meditation and healthy eating patterns, my mind is suffering and I'm undoing all of the good work that I have been practicing over the past year or so. It is actually scary how quickly you can drop practices that took you so long to include into your daily life. However, the beauty of life is that no two days are the same but you can always start again!
Although I haven't been able to do these things over the past few weeks, the worst thing you can do is to carry on leaving these practices out and not try to include them in your life once again. The more you focus on the fact that you haven't been doing these things, the harder it is to get back into the swing of things. Although this week I am trying to get back into exercising and trying to swap the chocolate for fruit, I want to really focus on trying to get back into meditation. Over the past year I have noticed that my mind is most calm and able to deal with day to day life when I meditating once a day. Even if it is just for 10 minutes, it's better than not practicing it at all!
For many people, the idea of meditation can actually be quite daunting. This may be because they don't know how to start. Many people think that you just close your eyes and that's that, but there are many techniques to it which make it so worthwhile doing! What I have started to use and what I highly recommend for beginners is the Calm App. You may remember a few months ago I bought the Calm book, which helps you achieve a more peaceful and mindful lifestyle by showing you the techniques required to do so. The same people have created an app, which is available for free through your App Store or Play Store on your phone/ Tablet. The aim of this app is to provide easy to follow 'lessons' that help beginners start meditating. Each day you log on the sessions expand, develop as well as the techniques which means that you are able to master the practice of meditation! What I like about this app is that it helps you by taking baby steps, it doesn't expect you to be able to meditate on your own just after one session! It also records how many times you have meditated, for how long and what session you are on! This app is also good for someone like me, who has practiced on and off for a few years but has never included it in their day to day life, this app helps encourage me to practice every day because it's that simple and easy to use! You can use this app anywhere: on the bus to and from work/school, first thing in the morning, before you go to bed and even on your lunch break! That's why I love this app, it is so easy to use even during your busy day!
So in order to get me back on track, I am going to try and use this app for 30 days. I will update you all in 15 days (the half way point) to let you know how I am getting on, if I notice any difference in my moods from it and to see how you all are getting on with it! I know 30 days sounds daunting but just take each day as it comes, remember Rome wasn't built in a day, and soon it will become a normal part of your day as anything else!
So best of luck with this challenge and remember to keep me updated on how you are getting on!
Love as always,
Happy Saturday everyone!
For many people Halloween is just a bit of good old fun full of junk food, fireworks and fancy dress. For many however it is a week many people absolutely dread as Halloween is no treat for those who suffer from anxiety.
I love Halloween. This is something I always tell people, however I'm not being entirely honest. I love the idea of Halloween, I always have. I love the idea of dressing up as someone else, I love the idea of spending some "goofy" time with my friends and having a laugh, and most of all I watching bonfires ... from a far, like really far away... from my bedroom window kinda far!! Ever since I was a kid, Halloween has always been a tricky one (excuse the pun!) for me. As I said I've always loved the idea of it but in reality Halloween can be an anxiety fest for me. In truth, it has become a lot easier for me the older I have gotten mainly because I don't have to wander the streets looking for candy for hours on end in the dark, jumping every time a mask drifts past me. I can join in the festivities in the comfort of the great indoors with a large pint in front of me. However, for many kids, teenagers or even adults bringing their children out, Halloween shouldn't stop you from joining in on the activities, so what can we do to avoid these slight moments of panic growing into a big panic attack? Here are some tips which will improve the weekend for both children and adults.
1. Head out slightly earlier
Sometimes it isn't just the kids that are terrified of the dark and it isn't something that should effect anyone's night. Although the point of Halloween is to go out when it is dark, sometimes it can be ok to start a little bit early, especially if you are bringing young kids out. If it is the adult that doesn't like the idea of the dark, you have to try to not push your fear onto your child, instead of telling them the real reason why you are heading out early maybe tell them that by going out an hour or 30 minutes earlier than usually that you will be back slightly earlier so that they can enjoy the goodies they collect while out trick or treating. That way, you are home slightly before the mass crowds go out and there may still be a little bit of light out.
2. Light it up...
A big thing that can cause anxiety around Halloween is the idea of strangers constantly knocking on the door in the dark, the idea of not knowing exactly who is behind the mask. Something that I see regularly on the spookiest night of the year is a few adults standing at the door for an hour or so. I never understood why until recently. Not only does it stop you having to jump out of your seat every five minutes when the bell rings, being at the door means that you can see people coming up to the house so you are not caught off guard. Instead of standing at the door you could pick up a cheap outdoor light to put next to your door so that you can see people coming up from the drive, or you could keep the hall light on when you are handing out the sweets. The main thing that stops my anxiety during the crazy trick or treat hour is being with someone, distracting myself by watching a film and most of all by having every lamp on!
If you or your child are nervous going out, a small torch can be used when you are out, you could even try to include it in your/ their costume.
3. Remember .... it's just a mask
For many adults, Halloween can bring up bad memories from when they were trick or treating at a young age. For instance, many people are terrified of clowns since they were kids and this can sometimes carry on pass their teens and into their adult life! It may have started from a scary clown at a birthday party or one that scared them at Halloween. Some people may laugh but for many it is a big fear. For other people, the idea of a mask can be terrifying, it is the idea that you don't know who is behind the mask that can scare you. Try to focus on the fact that it is just a mask and that it is just for fun.
4. Rescue remedy
Every day I bring Rescue remedy in my handbag and Halloween is definitely no exception. For me, as I have explained before, I think it is the idea of the remedy that helps relax me and keep me calm. One of the things that I don't like on Halloween night is the crowds, just like every other day of the year. So if rescue remedy works for you it would be silly not to bring it with you even throughout the day! If rescue remedy doesn't work for you but meditation, music or exercise helps you, carry on with your routine and do what helps you to relax, it will mean that you are more calm and settled for the spooky evening ahead!
Since I was a little girl, I have always loved bonfires. I love the smell, the sound as the wood burns and even the mix of the cold and fire together. The one thing, however, that I have never liked about them, surprise surprise, are the crowds that surround them. Kids pushing one another, people getting too close to the bonfire and the worst is when things are being thrown from out of nowhere to make the fire explode further into the air making my anxiety worse and leaving me to jump to conclusions, fearing the worst. Although bonfires are slowly becoming a thing of the past now, there are still organised ones by the state so that people can enjoy bonfires on Halloween night safely. I suggest going to these ones, as it is a more controlled environment it means that you will be able to enjoy the bonfire more and hopefully panic attack free! Don't put yourself in a situation that causes your anxiety and panic, not evening for Halloween!
6. Just as much fun indoors
When I was a kid, the best part about Halloween was indoors! After trick or treating, we used to throw a little party either in our house or a friends, feeling games like bobbing for apples, Halloween colouring, baking, etc. Halloween can be full of indoor fun, for both kids and adults with games, music and sweets. Sometimes the idea of Halloween, more so what it has become - wandering the streets in the dark, fireworks going off and many of the other dangers out there, it causes both adults and kids anxious coming up to the night. For young kids, why not strip Halloween right back and instead of focusing on the idea of trick or treating and masks, why not focus on the history of Halloween, what it actually means, before the idea of trick or treating and dress up existed, so that they aren't afraid of it, they will understand it all a bit more.
7. Be someone else
Last Halloween was the best night I have ever had in a long time. As you are all aware, 2015 was a really tough year for me that I considered staying in and not goign out for Halloween. I didn't have much money, so when I did decide to go out, I couldn't afford a big costume, so I decided to borrow some things from my family, throw some things together and god as a granny - which many people thought was Mrs Brown! I had no heels, so I was a small, frumpy old woman with wrinkles drawn all over my face and as funny as it sounds, it was the most confident I have EVER been on a night out in my life. I remember that day before I went out, I was so anxious all day, but it was something about dressing up as someone else, putting on a funny accent and not looking like myself at all that I felt the most comfortable I had in a long time. I was in great form, chatting to absolutely everyone and anyone and to be honest, I didn't drink that much but I was on such a high that I didn't want the night to end. It really boosted my confidence that I am so excited for this Halloween because it is the one day of the year that you can be someone else, just for a few hours and forget about everything that is going on. From now on, Halloween isn't about wearing scary costumes and begin terrified, it is a way for me to become an actress for the night, leave everything behind me and just have fun!! I know it is just dress up, but last Halloween really boosted my confidence and change Halloween for me from now on.
This is one for the kids... and BIG kids. Similar to points 6 and 7, many kids are scared of the unknown. Halloween has become all about the big, expensive and scary costumes that you can buy, so it instantly creates fear and it can become a scary night for young kids (and bot so young adults). Instead of it being about one scary night, why not make it something that the entire family can become more involved in the week leading to the 31st, changing the meaning of Halloween completely, making it a more approachable holiday. Ways to get the whole family involved (while cutting down the costs) can include making costumes,baking, making decorations, making goodie bags for trick or treaters etc., Not only does it give Halloween a whole new meaning, you will find that it will make this holiday more approachable for both kids and adults for may usually be anxious around this time of year. Getting involved and associating the holiday with other things, will be that it will no longer be something you dread, but it will be something you will look forward to and enjoy.
As you can see, from these simple steps, Halloween can be a holiday that is full of more treats than tricks! These steps may sound simple and slightly silly but you will be surprised at how much anxiety and fear this one night can cause and you will be even more surprised at how these steps can help reduce these anxieties!
So enjoy the next few days, be safe and remember, Halloween isn't a season to just scare us all, it's the one time you can be silly, fun and creative all at the one time!
Love as always,
Sometimes the most intelligent and self aware person can't even see that they are hitting rock bottom. Despite all of the books and articles I have read regarding mental health and despite the amount of times I have hit rock bottom I sometimes don't know when I am starting to go backwards or when I need help. This is when my amazing family step in and advise me to go back to basics and encourage me to seek help when needed. Although I knew that I wasn't feeling myself, I had no idea just how bad I was a few years ago. It wasn't until my mam came into town, collected me from work and told me that she had been talking to my dad, they both agreed I needed to get help that I finally saw what they saw. They have been the ones from the very start to helped me to find the courage to seek help. Without them, I honestly don't know where I would be.
So I have spoken to my mam, dad, Katie and Mark, the people who live with me and put up with me, the ones who have seen me at my highest and at my lowest, they are the ones who have had to live with someone consumed with and confused by mental health. They are the ones who know this illness and what it can do even more than I do, therefore it is only right that I have asked them to name some of the signs and symptoms for this blog post so that you can identify when you or a loved one are going through some difficult times and may need help. The following signs and symptoms were ones that my family saw in me, it is not to say that if someone has one or more of these traits that they are definitely suffering from mental health illness, however it may be an indicator that this person may need to talk to someone. Everyone is different and that doesn't exclude how mental health effects us individually. Please consult your doctor and do not self diagnose.
5 Signs that you/ a loved one may be suffering from mental health illness:
1. Withdrawn from the outside world
For those of you who know me well, may know me as a bubbly, fun and chatty person who wouldn't even turn down an invitation to the opening of an envelope! To some extent, this is true however when I am feeling really anxious and depressed, I become a very different person. When I'm feeling low, my family said that I cancel plans with friends and use some silly excuse as to why I can't go. I also avoid social media as much as I can and I even don't reply to people's texts. To be honest this is something I didn't think I did but when they mentioned it I tried to think back to when I last felt really down and realised this is a pattern of mine, to exclude myself from the world. Sometimes I cancel plans or have time to myself because it's healthy to have some alone time however when it gets to a certain point then it is not a healthy trait and you may need to talk to someone about why you are withdrawn from outside the house.
2. Major mood swings
When I asked my family to help with this list of signs and symptoms, both my dad and Katie mentioned my mood swings. For as long as I can remember I have had extreme mood swings, which doesn't seem too uncommon for a teenage girl eh? But looking back on all of those tantrums that came out of no where and the extreme hyper moments I believe it is a huge trait of Emotionally unstable Borderline Personality Disorder. I don't believe in labels because I believe you can become fixated with them however I do believe that BPD explains why I can go from 10 minutes of extreme hyperness and laughter to ten minutes of ultimate sadness, depression and at times these ten minutes, when I was at my lowest, had the potential to be harmful and life threatening.
3. Difference in eating patterns
Even on a good day, my eating patterns can be a bit up and down. However, when I was at my lowest that I have ever been, I couldn't stop eating which is unusual because for most people because when they are feeling low they lose their appetite, where as for me, it was the total opposite. I never felt full, and I craved sugar. Before I hit rock bottom, I had quite a healthy diet but when I was feeling really low I even started adding sugar in my tea, habits that were very unusual for me. I used to even sneak bar of chocolate, sweets, bread etc., up to my room and just eat until I felt sick. Maybe it was a way of release from feeling so down. Some of these habits can sometimes reappear when I have bad days now, maybe it is comfort or maybe my brain just goes bad to my really low days, what did I do then? For those close to me, this was another big sign that something was up.
4. Lack of sleep
Ever since I was a little girl, I would be the first one to go to bed at night and the first to wake up in the morning, I was never one for a lie in. However, when I was at my lowest, I was lucky if I got four hours worth of broken sleep. Of course with a lack of sleep I was exhausted so I started to take naps during the day, which stopped me from sleeping. I would lie awake at night and as a result thoughts were just running around my head, so by the time it was morning, my brain was already fried and that made it harder to get through the day.
5. Loss of my personal identity
Anyone who has ever known me, knows that my wardrobe is a thing of wonder. I have an outfit for nearly every style that has ever been out, rock chick, hipster, tom boy, glam etc., you name it I have it because I have always been one to try ANY style. I have always been into fashion, not necessarily follow the latest fashion trends but I was never afraid to wear what I wanted to or to try anything. However, one of the signs that I noticed myself was that I didn't want to wear any of my wonderful clothes. It wasn't as if I had out grown them, I just didn't want to make an effort or put myself out there. Looking back now, I can see it was to do with not wanting to draw attention to myself. I just wanted to blend in with the crowd and not make a statement. This for me was the hardest thing to pick myself out of and to be honest I am still trying to find myself and to feel comfortable with expressing myself through fashion again, something which I always loved doing, it now can be very very difficult. That is why I added a fashion and beauty section to the blog last year, I wanted to try and encourage myself to make an effort and to slightly force myself to get back out there. I wanted to try and make myself wear anything bar Mark's hoodies, my old t-shirts and jeans that were way too big for me. It was something that Mark said to me that made me realise that I was not ok, "You don't look happy anymore, you don't look like Emma." He was right, I looked in the mirror and saw this girl, swamped in clothes that did nothing for her, no jewelry, dirty runners, hair in a pony barely brushed, no make up and most of all no expression. I didn't recognize myself because it wasn't me, and as silly as it may sound it was at this point when I realised something is not right. It can be something as simple as you or a loved one not dressing how they used to or not doing something they used to love but in a dramatic way, that can be the biggest sign of all. They are simply lost, they need your help to find themselves again.
So, those are the five signs that really spoke out to my family and made them realise that something was wrong. As I always say, I am not a professional, these are just the signs and traits that myself and my family noticed and what made them take the next step. The way depression effects me can be very different to the way it may effect you, we are all different however these points may help you to recognize similar habits in your loved ones or even in yourself. If you believe that a loved one needs help, below are some services and helplines that you can go to for help.
I hope this has helped at least one of you out there. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to comment below, pm me on Facebook or Twitter or even email me on firstname.lastname@example.org . A big big thank you to my mam, dad, sister, Fiance and my best friend, thanks for all of your support and for looking for help when I needed it the most.
Love as always,
Mental Health Services:
Dublin North: 01-8831000
Samaritans: - 24 Hour Service
Call: 116 123
Pci College: Low Cost Counselling Service
Call: 0818 555 450
Although a woman's handbag can be a dangerous and scary place, for me it is my bag of tricks for dealing with my anxiety while I'm out and about! So here is a sneak peak of inside my handbag and most importantly what five things I never leave the house without!
A bag within a bag:
During the day, wherever I'm going I bring around my little Gold Makeup bag. However, I have replaced the lipstick and the makeup brushes in the gold bag for these five things:
1. Rescue Remedy:
One of my tools to help with my panic attacks, it's no surprise that this little bottle goes everywhere with me. Not only do I use it in time's of panic, I also use it before I go to work, on the bus or before I go somewhere I know I may feel anxious or nervous there. (Before you use rescue remedy consult either your doctor or a health food store).
2. Kalms Day:
These have a similar effect as the rescue remedy however, unlike the remedy, you can only take the Kalms three times a day. I take these with meals every single day to help keep myself relaxed and balanced. I'm extremely forgetful so at least when they are in my bag I have no excuse to forget to take them! (Before you use Kalms Day consult either your doctor or a health food store).
3. Notepad & Pen:
Another one of my tools that I use on a day to day basis that also never leaves my bag is a notepad and pen. Not a fancy notepad, just one from the trusty Euro Shop! In this notebook I write down anything that is bothering me, anything that is on my mind and also how I am feeling. It helps keep me in the here and now and keep's my brain free.
4. Super food snack:
Whether I'm off for the day or working, I have started to bring a small container full of chopped up walnuts. This is not just in case I am hungry, it's so when I am a little hungry on the go I am getting a good decent snack that is good for my mental health, that it will help reduce stress and anxiety. Other super food's you could have in your bag for the day could be fruit, avocado etc.
Whether it is a novel, a comedy, a play or a book about mental health, having something in your bag that can distract you is a great idea especially if you are on public transport, it can be a great distraction. I like to read up on ways to help my mental health and somehow it actually calms me down when I am on a crowded bus or on my lunch break in work during a crazy day. I love this book Calm by Michael Acton Smith, it has so many activities as well as reading so that you can keep busy and distracted as a way to relax. Another item that also helps to distract me while I am on the move is headphones and my MP3, I almost dance my way to work listening to the music as I block out the manic sounds of the streets, bus, luas etc.
So guys, there are the top five things inside my bag that help keep me relaxed, calm and reduce any anxiety I start to feel!
Love as always,
Last week, I spoke about why it is important to go back to basics once in a while on your journey to a happier and healthier you. Here is a post on what exactly I mean't by using your basic tools to help you through times of panic. Here I have ten of my basic tools. The first 5 are tools that you can use while you are experiencing times of panic and the last five are tools that your can use every day while will help to calm you, make you feel relaxed and ensure that your health has the best chance in getting through the trials and tribulations of life.
In times of Panic:
When I am in a busy and hectic crowd, now and again I can feel old habits start to creep in again. Sometimes I just drop everything I have learned and I just go into sheer panic frantically whaling, crying and in some cases screaming like a banshee!! Not a pretty sight nor does it do anything for my voice! I automatically drop the basic tools that I discovered throughout my journey and it's only when I start whaling like a child that I remember how much these basic tools helped me through tough times. Sp here are five basic steps that you can try to ease your stress and anxiety and prevent you from having a panic attack:
1. Chamomile - me -down
Having a cup of chamomile tea a day can really reduce stress from the minute you wake however I have started to carrying a few chamomile tea bags in my handbag just incase I get anxious in work or during the day. The great thing with Chamomile tea that I find is, is that any brand of this tea I have used usually works. If you don't like the taste of this tea, I usually add a little bit of honesy to sweeten it slightly.
2. Handbag essential
In the same pocket as the chamomile tea in my handbag I also have a rescue remedy spray. Some people don'y don't believe in rescue remedy but for me even the idea of using the spray just before I get on the bus or go and give a tour, I automatically feel relaxed and in control. Whether it is mind over matter, it works for me!
3. Just Breathe - 7/11
When I started having panic attacks, everyone told me to breathe. It never worked for me and in fact breathing would often make it ten times worse and allow the panic attack to explode. What was wrong was that I didn't know how to breathe correctly. As silly as that sounds, I was breathing too quickly and actually making my anxiety worse. I have spoken before about the 7/11 breathing technique which to this day I still use when I feel anxious, stressed or when I am having a panic attack. You breathe in slowly for seven seconds and breathe out for 11 seconds slowly. It is as simple as that. This slow breathing helps bring your heart rate right back down as it rises when you are experience feelings or anxiety etc.
4. I'm OK
Take for instance a very crowded bus journey to work. No seats left, people nearly standing on top of one another and no room to breathe. My thought's automatically run away with themselves, "what if I can't breathe? What if I can't get off at my stop? What if I am late for work? " The list of questions goes on and on. The one thing that we can do in a situation like that that is out of our control is to have a little conversation with yourself and tell yourself that you are OK. "I am ok. You are ok. Nothing bad is going to happen. You will be out now in a minute and everything will be ok." If you keep telling yourself that you are ok, you will in turn be blocking out the negative questions that usually run through your head during situations like this.
5. Tap down
This is one basic tool I have been doing since I was 16. `When I was younger, and in my lower days now I had a fear of being in the house by myself. I hated having a shower if I was the only one in the house, I was afraid that someone would come into the house. I know some people may giggle at this but it was and sometimes can be a genuine fear. One tool I learned at a young age was to tap myself down, to tap my arms and shoulders to tell myself I am safe, nothing harmful is going to happen to me and that I will be ok. It kind of reassures me that I am here, everything is ok and I find that this can help when I am having an anxiety attack. This is one technique you can do at home. It helps bring you back to the present moment and to remind yourself that you are safe, you are here and I find it really helps ease some of my fears and anxieties.
1. Super Breakfast
A few days ago, I posted a blog about the 'super foods' that help reduce anxiety and mental health illness when you add them into your diet on a day to day basis. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so it would be foolish to not have a breakfast rich in vitamins and nutrients that helps reduce stress and fight depression. Head to the Lifestyle section for my top breakfast options that are full of super foods that will help kick start your day and keep the stress at bay!!
As we all know, exercise is great for our physical health. It prevents any weight related issues as well as many other benefits. In recent years, more and more people are making it their business to keep fit, active and work out a few times a week. However, for many of these people, the reason behind working out so much is due to the huge benefits exercise has been discovered to have for our mental health. Exercise makes us feel good about ourselves as well as reduce and prevent stress. For me, a small jog for even 20 minutes can really calm me down in times of panic and stress, so doing this even three times a week really helps me keep a handle on my mental health and allows me to be in more control, instead of it being in control of me.
3. The mask of me
In recent weeks, I have found it really hard to have a decent night's sleep. Usually, it would take me an hour or so to drift off or sometimes the opposite would happen, I would fall straight asleep but not stay asleep more no longer than 4 or 5 hours. Every night my sister, for a few years now, sleeps with an eye mask. I used to laugh at her, who does she think she is? Honestly, don't knock it til you try it!! Although it doesn't help me sleep for longer, it does helps me go to sleep a lot quicker, and the more you are in a routine regarding your sleep, your mind feels automatically more balanced and relieved.
4. Routine - No more nightcaps
Following on from point number three, routine is key. I don't mean that a late Saturday night isn't allowed, but from Monday to Friday, if you can get yourself into a little routine especially with regards to bed time, your mind will feel more relaxed and will feel settled. One thing that I would try to not include in this routine is mid week drinking!! I don't know about you but there is something very appealing about a large glass of vino on a Wednesday night. It's the middle of the week, Friday is fast approaching and you have managed to not kill anyone (metaphorically speaking of course), so why not relax with a glass or two of something alcoholic?
The reason is quite simple, it messes us up for the rest of the week. it gets us out of any routine we were in, we wake up the following morning more tired and groggy than if we hadn't of drank and to be quite frank, we are giving our minds in particular less of a chance to be happy, anxiety free and paranoia free. Alcohol isn't good for our mental health but that isn't to say that you have to avoid it forever! What I mean is, if we can try and limit the number of nights we drink in one week to one night at the week, we will feel more energetic and happy for the entire work week!
5. Me time
Last but certainly not least is having that all important me - quality time on a regular basis. This in something, that if you have been following me since day 1 you will know I have banging on about how important it is to have some "me" time, and all for good reason. It is the only time where you get to just be you. No acting that everything is ok, no trying to muster up conversations, no pleasing anyone bar yourself. You can do what you want during this time so once or even twice a week if you can squeeze yourself in your busy diary is so important. It doesn't matter what you do during this time, whether you have a bath, a pamper night, play on the x box, read, watch a film, colour, draw, play music etc., whatever you do, do something that YOU love doing, that calms you down. The past week I have felt so anxious, so much so even hugging a loved one sent me into a panic attack, so I decided to run a bath, do a face mask and read a book. I woke up feeling ten times better this morning. I'm not saying that this will solve every problem, but it really helps. it gives you that time to just be.
So there ya have it guys, these are my basic tools that help me cope on a day to day basis. Some you can do every day and some are just in times of panic, but they are there now and you can use them or use them as a guideline to come up with the tools that suit you best! Remember to introduce these tools one by one, you can't be expected to do them all at once but soon they will be part of your daily routine like brushing your teeth is!
Best of luck trying them out and remember take each day as it comes.
Love as always,
So, you may have been wondering why I went from publishing blog post after blog post after blog post for a few weeks to complete silence for two weeks?
First off, I was spending some amazing quality time with my family and friends celebrating me turning another year older (still no grey hairs in sight!!) We did nothing major just spent some time with loved ones and I was absolutely spoiled rotten as per usual However, since my birthday it just seems to have been one thing after another, all go and no time to sit down relax and catch my breath! Between birthday celebrations (many of them), work being extremely busy, the Wedding and Honeymoon show, night's out, and just general life, I know I sound like an 80 year old granny but I just haven't seemed to stop and I'm so tired both emotionally and physically!! As well as all of the extras I was still trying to meet with friends and family, go to the gym and adding other things on my to do list. Once again I had returned to my old ways, to not giving myself a minute to relax, doing five things at once and not enjoying what was happening now as I was too busy worrying about the next day.
As a result of feeling so tired, I felt emotionally drained. Everything seemed like an effort. From smiling, crying, laughing, arguing etc.,I just didn't have the energy to do any of it. It got to the point that in work I had to give myself a pep talk to smile and force myself to 'act the part'. It wasn't that I was feeling down again. It's really hard to describe but I knew that I was ok regarding my mental health. I knew that I wasn't in any danger of going back down the road I am all too familiar with, however I felt tense all week. I could feel the anxiety build up and up and up, no stopping it.
The problem is actually quite simple. I dropped the basic tools that I had picked up along the way throughout my journey. These basic tools are so simple and easy to do, such as having a cup of chamomile tea when I start to feel anxious or I'm going into a situation I know I will feel uneasy in. Another one for me is carrying my trusty rescue remedy around with me everywhere I went. The list of tools goes on and on (a blog post will be live in the coming days about these tools) and it is important to state that what works for one person might not work for another. However I found what works for me, and for some time these steps were a part of my daily routine. So what happened?
I got cocky thinking I didn't need the basics anymore! I commute in and out of work by myself, I balanced college and work no problem and I was gaining more and more confidence when speaking to people, things that just 12 months ago seemed impossible for me to achieve. But I have achieved them and that's great but there was no need for me to be cocky thinking I didn't need the basic's that if I am honest with myself, these tools saved me. They gave me a routine, they helped me when I was down and really encouraged me to keep going. Whether these tools actually physically did something to help or whether they just mentally made me think that they were calming me down doesn't really matter. The bottom line is is that they worked, and still do to this day, I just need to slow down, stop thinking I can run the world and go back to basics.
Without these basic tools, I couldn't defuse a situation before it got worse. For example, I used to carry rescue remedy with me and take it before I went to work and sometimes before a tour, depending on how I was feeling and if work was busy. Something about that routine calmed me down and in a strange way made me feel safe. Yes it is great that I felt strong enough without it, however I felt weak to go back to it. I was too busy juggling ten things at once and determined that I could do it. I look back at three years ago, when I was in full time college and balancing a part time waitress job, which really had full time hours. As well as a life! Last week this really bothered me, it bothered that I could do it all, and now two things at once can sometimes be too much for me to handle.
Now, writing this, I realise that three years ago I couldn't do all of that. Trying to balance all of that was when I realised that I was suffering with mental health issues. I was trying to do too much, in fact I wasn't coping, far from. I was struggling big time. I couldn't give everything my all, instead my health suffered hugely. Yes it is annoying that I can't split myself into two and do everything I want to, but until some miracle discovery is made with a machine that you can do that, I will just have to face facts. I am someone who can't do too much at once, it isn't a bad thing. It means that I can give my all to everything one by one, not all at the one time. This brings me to another one of my tools. Dealing with one thing at a time. I need to not do too much and listen to myself to see if I am over doing it or not. I thought that this time was different because I have been able to do more and more on my own, that's why I thought I didn't need these tools, the tools that have helped me get to where I am.
The past few days I have been going back to basics. I have been getting used to these tools once again and using them to help me get through each day less stressed. Being able to identify what was wrong and what I need to do to get back on track, is a huge thing. It means that I am learning how to listen to myself, know when enough is enough, strip everything back and go back to basics.
Love as always,
The past two weeks I have started to carry a notebook everywhere I go (well almost everywhere!) I have been saying for months if not years that I should carry one with me to take down how I am feeling especially with the blog, in order to create real accurate blog posts so you guys can really understand and feel the way I did in a certain moment. However, like most things that we mean to do, I have bought several notepads (as my mam says I could open a shop full of notebooks in various colours, sizes etc. ) none of which I have written past the first pages.
A page weeks ago, a friend of mind said that they find writing helps clear their mind. I thought I understood what they mean't as I love writing/ typing up blog posts, as it really does help keep me calm and to let go of some emotions. That's what I thought until I actually started to keep a notebook with me at all times. My friend kept on insisting that writing things down with a pen and paper is a completely different experience than typing things up. I insisted that she was wrong, so as the stubborn person that I am, I decided to pick up a cheap notebook in the Euro shop and decided to carry it with me in order to prove my friend wrong, to prove that it was the same thing as typing up a blog post. How wrong was I?!?
What I started to do was when I was trying to live in the here and now, for instance I try to practice mindfulness when I am getting the bus to work, in order to free my mind and clear my head before I face hundred's of tourists asking the same questions constantly. However, as I explained recently. living in the here and now, noting things that are happening around you without judging them, is actually very difficult to do, especially when thoughts just won't leave your mind, constantly jumping from one thought to the next. So what I started to do was anytime my mind just seemed too full with thoughts when I was trying to meditate or practice mindfulness, I take out my notebook and just write down what is going through my head. I don't analyse them or write an essay on them, I simply write down what I am thinking and feeling, then put the notebook away and go back to the practice that I was doing before my mind rudely interrupted me!
I have to say, since I have started to do this, I find I can switch off, meditate and even sleep better. I don't read over the notes that I have made, I just write them down so they are out of my head, on the page and I have dealt with them. I carry this notebook to bed with me, and if anything is bothering me before I try to sleep, I write it down on the page and I find I sleep ten times better after clearing my head. You ever wake up in the middle of the night with something you have to do tomorrow but you are afraid to fall asleep in case you forget what that thing you have to remember was? Story of my life!! Recently I have been known to wake up at 3 in the morning, write down what I have to remember and go back to sleep instantly!! I can honestly say, I have never slept better! This is something that everyone should be told to do from a young ages because it really has helped my on a day to day basis and I have actually noticed that the days that I forget my notebook or the nights I don't bring it to bed with me, I have in the horrors!!
I hate to say it, but my friend was 100% write. There is something about writing down how you are feeling,m the thoughts that are bothering you, your anxieties as you feel them, that really helps get rid of them. It clears them from your mind, frees up some space and by writing them down it feels like they are done and dusted, they can't hope from the page back into your head to annoy you again!
So my challenge for you this week is to give this ago. It doesn't have to be an expensive diary, just a plain notebook. If you can, try to pick one with a cover that will encourage or motivate you to write in it. Below is my one, and for €2 in the euro shop, it is definitely getting used and most importantly it is helping me so much. I have no where near mastered the art of living in the moment, but little practices like this are helping me achieve more day by day!
So try it, what do you have to lose? Let me know how you get on!
Good luck guys,
Love as always,
Sometimes when I am having a bad day I could try absolutely everything to try and lift my mood and absolutely nothing works. That's when I turn on the tv, go to the music channels and I start bopping around the house wondering why I didn't think to put on music in the first place!!
I'm not saying that music can lift anyone's mood, but for me it really does help me when I am feeling low and sometimes it can even reduce my anxiety. It isn't any music of course, it totally depends on my mood and what is causing my anxiety. Sometimes when I am feeling down, slow and sad songs can actually sometimes provide comfort, or they can reduce me to tears!! It completely depends on what is going on for me, but here are 5 songs that no matter what is wrong, they definitely help lift my mood and maybe they could help you too...
1. Come on Eileen - Dexys Midnight runners
2. Heroes - David Bowie
3. Is this Love ( Montmartre remix) - Bob Marley
4. Red Red Wine - UB40
5. Do You Love Me - Dirty Dancing Soundtrack
As you all know, one of the things I struggled big time with before I started counselling last year was my relationships with people. Whether it was with friends, my parents, other family members or with Mark, I could never find a balance in my relationships, it was all or nothing. By this, I mean I would worry 24/7 about a friend if they were down or I hadn't heard from them. So much so it would be on my mind so much that I would send multiple texts askimg how they are or bending over backwards to help them in any way I could.
Don't get me wrong, it is nice to be nice, but I was over doing it. It got so bad that I wasn't sleeping due to constant worry, you name it I worried about it. I over analysed absolutely everything, making myself phsyically sick with worry, I was far from my own list of priorities never mind the list of those who I was running around for. Sound like a good thing to be a good friend? Yes it is, but to be the only one who does the work without any benefits, that isn't good. Neither is worrying about others 24/7 resulting in no sleep, not eating properly and a lack of concentration in everything else in my life. It sounds a little crazy, but it all came from a good place. So how did I change habits of a lifetime?
To be honest I haven't fully, at least not yet. You can't erase you who are, it is in my dna to be this way. Looking back at both sets of grand mothers, to my own parents and even at my younger sister, being over thoughtful, over nice and a loyal friend is who we are,
although it is a good trait it can also be a negative one also. As it runs in the family, it was extremely hard to not be this overly nice person, in fact it is one of the tools from my journey that to this day I still need to work on every single day. It isn't something that comes over night, but if you are determined and really want this for YOU and no one else, then it is achievable.
So here are some of the tips I learn't which have really helped me in relationships and in achieving that balance that is needed for a happy and non stressful life:
1. Good people means good vibes
As simple and as basic as it sounds, surrounding yourself with good people automatically boosts your chances to have a happier life. By surrounding yourself with people who would do for you what you would do for them, it means that it isn't only you that is doing the ground work, it is an equal level playing field. I know it seems too obvious, but for some reason we can be drawn to people who treat us in a negative way, people who we have to work hard to even get a smile from.
So if you are usually the one pulling the wait, the next tine you are tempted to text this person or offer an hour of your time that you don't necessarily have, ask yourself, "Would they do this for me? Would they value my time?" I don't know about you but I definitely prefer a friendship that isn't tough work or that I resent, one that we both enjoy and most of all, one that we both work for.
2. Don't blurt it all out ...
One big issue I have with any relationship, whether it is one with a stranger I just met to awork colleague or to a family member, is that I carry not only my heart on my sleeve but my thoughts, emotions, my past and pretty much everything else even down to the colour socks I am wearing!! From the minute I say hello to someone, it is as if a sea of words just flows out and by the end of our 10 minute greeting they know everything about me. I don't hold anything back, no matter how hard I had tried in the past I just couldn't keep my mouth shut.
Two reasons for this spring to mind. Firstly, I love talking, so much so I would talk to the wall if I had to. Secondly, not only am I a chatterbox, I believe I talk so much as it acts as a defense mechanism. Despite the fact that I love to chat and many people inaccurately describe me as confident, fear kicks in and it is like I just throw everything about myself at them as if to say I am hiding nothing, in a desperate struggle to make a connection with them, become friends and find something that we can both bond with. However, despite all good intentions it does the complete opposite. Instead of giving you an advantage it makes you more vulnerable to lay it all out on the table, to bare all. It gives them information to cling onto, to remember and as negative as it sounds, once that information is out there, it is out there forever and if the wrong person hears it, they do have that opportunity to use it against you. How do I know? Because time and time again, I tell all and time and time again I am hurt by my own words being said from someone else in a bid to make me upset.
I am not saying to not say anything ever again or to not trust anyone, all it takes is to hold back a little. Don't cling to people as much or tell all. Think of it like a set menu in a fancy restaurant. First comes the starter, it is an indicator of what is to come over the evening, however you are not left feeling too full and left wanting a bit more. Well a first encounter is exactly like the starter of a set dinner, give a little but not too much because if you give too much you might just give the wrong someone way too much information that they either may not want to know more or they way cling on to that information in the completely wrong way.
3. No... I mean Yes... I mean NO
NO: A small, simple and an everyday ordinary word yet it is barely used in a negative way. Why is it when someone ask's use to do something that we don't even stop to think of our own schedule, life or how much sleep we have had, we immediately jump to the answer, which 10 times out of 10 is yes. We don't want to let the person down, no matter what it is, we just say yes. Not only do we not want to let them down, we don't want them to think negatively of us. Even if we do want to say no, we physically can't. Why??
Saying no can feel like a negative and harsh thing to say. I think maybe we associate it as a cold word and maybe even a bad word at times. However, we never think of saying yes or sure no problem to a million things as a bad thing until we are running around on no sleep, trying to please everyone around us with no regards for our own list of things we need to do. We put ourselves under huge amount of pressure and from the time you accept the task til the time you finish it, no matter what it is you have too much time to over analyse and worry that you aren't doing the job properly.
So how do we avoid more headache and heartache for ourselves without sounding cruel or harsh? I am not saying never do anything for anyone ever ever again. I am simply saying, how can you possibly help others or be there for others if you can't look after yourself or put yourself first once in a while. So, we need to learn how to say no without feeling guilty. Next time someone asks something of you and you aren't feeling up to it or you have too many deadlines and can't possibly manage another one, what do you do?
Tell the truth. I din't mean give a three page essay on how you are or anything, but just say, " I really wish I could but I just have a ton of stuff to do," or "I'm just not feeling myself this week, maybe next time though." This way you aren't being harsh, you are being truthful and most of all you are being good to yourself by giving yourself the breathing space you need. The people who care about you will understand, and will be there for you if you need anything. This one takes time to get used to, but I promise, by giving yourself a little break in the day you will be shocked at the difference and also you will notice a difference in your relationships, the person will respect you for putting your needs on a par with theirs as they will know it is a difficult thing for you.
As simple as these three steps may sound and seem, they will be tough especially if you are a class A people pleasure. But by putting these steps slowly into practice you will not only give yourself a break but you will notice a change in your relationships for the better. You will see the people who love, respect and care for you the way you do for them. You will quickly separate the real from the "when it suits them" friends as well as develop a relationship with yourself by understanding and respecting your own needs and wants. let's face it, if you don't learn how to look after number one ..... how could you possibly have a balance life?
So they are my tips which have been passed down to me, now they are your tools to use. These tools won't magically fix things but they will help you make life that little bit easier. Best of luck and remember take it day by day.
Love as always,
The summer months are well and truly here( despite the rain), which means that between packed beer gardens, music festivals, the Euro's in full swing and tourists, crowds are one thing that can be guaranteed for the next few months. Although for a lot of people crowds can add to an atmosphere of a night out and make people feel comfortable, for other's the thoughts of being emerged in a crowd can actually put people off doing things, leaving their house and can cause major anxiety. Unfortunately there is no magic wand to wave away the panic attacks, but this doesn't mean that there are not ways to work around your fears and still enjoy life. So here are some tips to manage your anxiety, cope in crowds and enjoy the summer, rain or sunshine!
1. Give yourself a minute
As silly as it sounds, the first thing you should do is just give yourself a minute. When someone is experiencing a panic attack or begins to feel anxious, our minds often jump to the worst thing that can happen in that moment, our hearts begin to race and we go into sheer panic. Instead of jumping to conclusions try to just be in the moment, take a big deep breath and try to clear your mind from any thoughts for a minute or two.
2. Don't forget to Breathe
This is a step that many people roll their eyes at and think it is a waste of time. Although at first I would have agreed that focusing on my breath used to make me panic more, I think that once you learn how to breathe in a certain way it can help you calm down. What I recommend is breathing in for 7 seconds and breathing out for 11 seconds. The trick however, is to not focus on your breathing as such. Although it is important to be aware of it, in times of panic, you need some distractions. While you are breathing out for 11 seconds, say a word to yourself or think of a word in time with your breathing that will take your mind off your action. For example, the word relax, while you are breathing out say to yourself R-R-E-E-L-L-A-A-A-X-X. It sounds silly, but this word will soon become a comfort word and although you are distracting yourself it will start to help you calm down in an tough situation. I recommend practicing this breathing technique while you are calm and relaxed once or twice a day so that it will become second nature to you and easier to do during panic attacks.
3. "I'm OK"
Tell yourself you are OK. In times of panic, our minds tend to run away with themselves, you need to remind yourself that this state of panic is just temporary. You are ok, you are safe, nothing will happen to you and that this feeling will pass.
4. Be OK with your feelings
Sometimes when we are in a situation or we know we will be in a situation that we know may cause us anxiety or send us into a panic that can actually cause more tense and anxious feelings. Instead of fearing a situation or your feelings, try to accept them. I do this by accepting my feelings, accepting the fact that yes I may be in a situation where I don't feel comfortable but I can get through it. For example, with the Ireland game last Monday, I went to a pub with friends to watch the match. Although I was looking forward to going to see the Match, I was also quite nervous about the crowds and the loud screams of the crowds, as reactions like that can often make me feel claustrophobic and can cause major anxiety. In order to make sure I was ready for this situation, I took some time to myself in my room before I left to go out. I gave myself 1 minute to breathe and clear my mind. After wards I told myself that I was ok, that I was going to have fun and that I would be safe. As I was heading into the pub, I reminded myself that if I do have feelings of panic that they will pass, that I will be safe and that I will be surrounded by friends. If I do start to feel anxious in a situation like this I just relax, let the emotions happen and just give them time to flow through me. This makes the panic attack a lot shorter and easier to deal with.
5. Wait, give yourself time and carry on!
In a moment of panic and anxiety we tend to want to get out of the space, the area that you are panicking in. You want to stop what you are doing and go home, get away from the the feelings of panic as if it is an animal or person following you. Once you leave or stop what you are doing, you are letting anxiety win!! For example, look at the football game from last week. During it I felt anxious a couple of times. A few months ago, the first sign of a huge crowd or that I was going to have a panic attack I would have panicked even more, left the place immediately and I would always be nervous or dread each time we decided to go back to that particular pub for another match or any similar situation as I would always associate these events and places with anxiety.
Now, however, I carry out all of the above steps : I give myself a minute, accepting the anxiety, telling myself I am safe, taking deep breaths, allowing the panic attack to happen and then giving myself a minute after the panic attack before I do anything, allowing myself to relax after the tense feelings I experienced. The last step, carrying on with what you were doing prior to the panic attack or feelings of anxiety, is the most important yet the most difficult to achieve at the start. It can be difficult because logic and reason can easily get pushed to the side to make room for feelings of panic. On the other hand it is the most important step as it is the one that prevents your anxiety from taking over, from having power and from coming back every time you are in a crowd.
I am not saying that all of these steps will all come together the first time you try them and that you will never experience anxiety in a crowd again, as I said there is no magic wand that magically makes you feel OK 24/7. However by putting these steps into practice you are learning how to deal with your fears, you are learning new tricks and most importantly YOU are in control!! These are steps I put into place every single day and I can honestly say the difference in me in a crowd now to six months ago is unbelievable. It is my journey, I am in the driver seat and I control which speed bumps knock me off track and which ones I can work around.
So good luck with these steps, let me know how you get on and remember each day things will get easier you just have to learn how!
Love as always,
This time last year, my amazing friend informed me that she was going to take part in the Women's mini marathon in June 2015. When I asked her for who she said "well you." At first I didn't think she understood my question as I was simply asking for which charity was she going to raise money for. Re-phrasing my question, I waited for an answer to which she smiled a big smile while saying "The charity is Walk in my Shoes but I'm doing it for you."
Almost scratching my head in a cartoon like confused expression, I looked at my friend in amazement. Although I was flattered I wasn't entirely sure what the charity did, although I had heard of them regarding mental health I really was unsure of who they were and what they did.
For those of you who are not 100% sure what they do, they are a mental health awareness and education campaign of St.Patricks Mental Health Services. They try to provide information and awareness about mental health for everyone however they have a large focus on informing and helping young people in particular, which for me I think is amazing as so many young people are really in the dark when it comes to knowing anything about mental health, therefore if they are ever in a bad place they don't have the tools to cope and it spirals out of control. How do I know this? I was 18 when I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression however I definitely showed signs of it growing up, I never knew how to handle my anxiety, stress or emotions.
Walk in my Shoes urges people everywhere of all ages to get involved and to spread awareness and since this January, the campaign has changed slightly as they are no longer a fundraising initiative, they are focusing mainly on educating people from primary school level all the way as far as providing education for companies. Walk in my Shoes tries to spread awareness but in a positive and a sort of fun light and this is no exception for their latest campaign #mindyourselfie which asks people to share a selfie, while hash-tagging #mindyourselfie and providing a link to their new eBooks, which are completely free. These eBooks provide information regarding mental health from all walks of life including a teachers manual for the classroom which is absolutely amazing!! I downloaded the book and it is truly amazing and helpful. It is a great tool for those who are suffering from mental health or who may have a loved one who is showing signs of anxiety or depression.
Here is the link for the eBooks and honestly they are brilliant: http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/get-involved/mindyourselfie/ .
Even if you don't feel that you need help or that you don't suffer from mental health, even download whichever book that suits you the best and have a look at it to update yourself and make yourself aware of mental health. If you would like to help spread awareness today especially, you can take a selfie with the #mindyourselfie and include the link above for the eBooks. you never know who in your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or instagram might need some help!!
Have a good day everyone and remember #mindyourselfie.
Happy Monday! I hope your Monday is going well however if not I got something that might just make it a little bit better! Here, as promised is our second giveaway. Loads of people recently have been asking me about mindfulness, what it is and how it works. So this month's giveaway is a MIndfulness themed hamper to get you started and will hopefully help you relax!
In this month's hamper includes:
1. MINDFULNESS- A Practical Guide by Tessa Watt
2. Knightsbridge Camomile Tea
3. Blush Bubble Bath Bar, "The Comforter"
4. Lush Fresh Face Mask, "Rosey Cheeks"
5. Bach Rescue Remedy
6. Incense Palette
7. Comfort chocolate!!!
All you have to do to be in with a chance to win is to head over to Facebook and do the following simple steps:
1. Like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/holdonthepainends
2. Like the competition post
3. Tag at least two friends
4. Share the post
The competition will close On Sunday evening at 7 pm and the winner will be announced on Monday morning(05/10/2015)!
Good Luck everyone!!
For a lot of us commuting is a huge part of our day, whether we are going to work, college, school or just out for a day of shopping. For me, if I have to go somewhere that I have to commute to I can't sleep the night before. The thought's of a full bus or Luas makes me feel anxious and my mind starts to over think and make up situations that may or may not happen on my journey using public transport.
For a while I tried to avoid going anywhere but by doing that I was excluding myself and feeling even worse in myself. I started to use some Mindfulness techniques to get me through my journey's on public transport and in my car. These tips sound so simple but they really work. Soon you will be practicing these techniques without even realising it.
Below are some tips which I found really helpful, let me know how you get on!
1. Take a mindful pause: When you are on a train or the bus, the best way to take your mind off the crowds is by reading a book or listening to music. However, taking a mindful pause in between a song or chapter in your book to connect with your breathing helps you to come back to the here and now and what is going on around you. Connect with your anchor point, notice where in your body that you are most aware of your breathing, like your stomach. So now and then on your journey connect with your anchor point, focus on your breathing and feel your body relax.
2. Listen: When a train/ bus is crowded it is so easy to focus on all of the people around you and to start panicking. Instead of focusing on the people around you, tune out all of the vices, sit up straight and focus on the noise of the train or the bus, not the noise of the people on it, but the sound of the engine.
3. Look: Have you ever noticed what you pass by on your journey every day? The answer is probably no. As humans, we tend to notice and enjoy the scenery of our journey at first but after a while we take it for granted and even forget what we see on our journey everyday. Try to connect mindfully with the passing scene. By doing so, you are being mindful of what is going on and you are focused on the here and now, her mind is not wandering off and over thinking about things in the past.
4. Morning Routine: Start the day as you mean to carry on by waking up and practicing a simple Mindfulness exercise to allow yourself to focus on the day ahead. You could do so by focusing on your breathing, being aware that you are getting out of bed, being mindful that you are stretching etc. Whatever you do in the mornings try to incorporate Mindfulness into it and create a routine that you do every morning. This way, Mindfulness will be a part of your daily routine without you even trying too hard, it will soon become second nature to you.
Have a go at some of the tips above, let me know how you get on and remember, we commute so much throughout our lives, try to make it a happy and less stressful experience.
As promised guys, here is the first part of our Mindfulness section., take a look and let me know if you find the following helpful.
The one thing that I find really hard to control is when I am feeling anxious which sometimes leads into a panic attack. It feels as if my heart is popping out of my chest and I have a million things running around in my head that I cannot control. I feel like the walls around me are closing it and I become very dizzy.
When I started reading about mindfulness and practicing it with my counselor, I could not understand how being aware of your breathe could help you get through a panic attack and leave you calm, but I was proved wrong. On average adults take 12 to 20 breaths per minute. Although we do not notice every breath we take, becoming aware of our breathing is a key tool in helping us becoming calm when in a state of panic and also allowing us to focus on what is happening in the present moment.
There are many breathing techniques that are practiced in Mindfulness. Below I have outlined two of which I have found so helpful. Firstly,connect with your breathing. To do this, you have to find your 'anchor point'. Your anchor point is where you notice your breath the most. For a minute, get yourself into a comfortable position and begin to take deep breaths. While you are breathing in and out slowly, draw your attention to where in your body you feeling the connection with your breath the most., for me my anchor point in my stomach. Once you focus on this point, your body will relax and you will feel every breath as it enters your body and leaves it. This technique will help you to gain control over your breath and to slow it down in a panic attack situation. This is a great way to try and fall asleep if you are having trouble sleeping,
Another practice that I find so easy and helpful is the 7/11 breathing. This is such a simple technique but it works wonders. All you do is count silently to 7 as you breathe in and then to 11 as you breathe out. This regulates your breathing but it also allows you to escape anything that is bothering you or causing you stress in that moment so that you can just focus on your breathing and relax.
So have a go at these techniques, see if they work for you. Remember they are just quick little practices that will help you to get through any daily tasks. After completing these exercises a few times, it will come a natural thing for you to do and you won't realize you are actually doing it. Once your breathing is under control it is a lot easier to gather your thoughts, stay calm and try to control your panic attacks and anxiety.
Best of luck,
With such busy lifestyles, we forget to accept and recognise our thoughts, our feelings and how our body is feeling. We ignore our personal needs as unfortunately we are so focussed on pleasing others. What happens is that there comes a time when our feelings and thoughts can no longer be ignored and bottled up, that we become overwhelmed with the various emotions which can have negative impacts such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, paranoia and many other issues which can be stemmed from our busy lifestyle’s.
Mindfulness is a completely new way of looking at life. It is when a person concentrates on the here and now as opposed to what has happened, what will happen and what may eventually happen. When practised correctly, it is a healthier way of viewing the world and your daily life. Today’s life is so full and each day is packed with new tasks, adventures and problems that even the most calm, cool and collected person would find it hard to deal with everything.
Some people say they do not have time to practice the mindfulness techniques, and I was one of those people until I hit a really low point in my life that I couldn’t even walk to work by myself, having a shower in the house by myself was so terrifying that I couldn’t go on ignoring my anxieties anymore. Mindfulness, although it is something that does need to be practiced every day, by just learning one new technique every couple of days and adding it into your daily routine, you will immediately see the results and how much easier life is, how it doesn’t seem so scary anymore!
If that wasn’t easy enough, we are going to make it even easier for you guys. Every three days, we will post a new technique and show you step by step how to complete the techniques. We would love to hear your feedback and if you think Mindfulness may be something you would like to try. I am still learning how to do it and I am seeing a huge difference in how easier my day to day tasks are, crowds aren’t as scary and the shower isn’t either! I will post the first technique tomorrow, if you guys have any questions please comment below.
" In a world full of doing doing doing, it's important to take a moment to just breathe, to just be". - Motivational Quotes @911Well