I wanted to take the opportunity to write a post about something that I’ve personally struggled with a lot in the past; loving myself and working on overcoming my anxiety.
I spent a big proportion of my life in long term relationships, so when I found myself single three years ago, self-love wasn’t something that came naturally to me. This became more challenging with my anxiety and if I’m honest initially seemed like an impossible journey.
Through my blog readers and speaking with friends, from all walks of life (whether married with children, single, travelling, city living, young, old etc.) I have realised that this journey is something everyone struggles with at some stage in their life. Self love (and even just understanding yourself) is a constant journey and a tough one at times! As such, I wanted to share some of my learnings and hope that if someone else is struggling, some of my experience can help them too. Enjoy! X
Don’t be frustrated if you don’t know what sets you on fire.
I spent so much time trying to work out what I enjoyed doing and what I was truly passionate about. I went to different gyms, classes (horticulture, make up, immersive theatre – don’t ask), shopping, nights out, eating out etc. The list is endless. I eventually started to get frustrated when I wasn’t finding a real connection to anything that I was doing.
After about a year of trying to work out what I liked, I realised that the pressure of trying to work that out was actually deriving any joy that I would have perhaps got in the first place. As such, I took the pressure off myself and lone behold found out what I love (I’ll give you one guess as to what that is). I’ve also learned that what I enjoy changes and that’s okay, people grow all the time and once I accepted that, I was far more content. So try lots of new things, you’ll never regret a new experience (unless you try immersive theatre) and keep the pressure off yourself.
Give your life a “trim”
Cutting out what makes you unhappy was and still is the most challenging change for me to make. A lot of things that made me happy 12 months ago, don’t necessarily make me happy today.
I think being able to say “no” to things and people is something that develops over time and with experience. I’m noticing that the older I’m getting, the less shit I’m taking. So whether it’s the night out and drinks you really can’t be bothered with, the job you sit in and don’t enjoy, the friends that aren’t particularly there for you or the Prince Charming that messages you with “wyd” at 1am; give them the cut. (In fact, go grim reaper on the WYD dude)
Social Media and Social Norms “Cleansing”
Whether you are fully self assured or the most insecure person on the earth, today’s world ensures that there is an element of pressure on every person to be the best. Be in the best shape, Look perfect every day, Wear the nicest clothes, Drink the skinny tea, Wear the chicken fillet push up bra (honestly how many of them are there out there?) Is it just me that sometimes feels that I’m the odd one out because I’m not promoting Misguided bikinis on a beach in Ibiza? No? Great.
On a serious note, I can’t deny, I am a huge fan of social media and the bloggers I follow are those that really push positivity and self love. However, no matter how hard I try, there are some days when social media and the pressure of social norms really get to me.
I have found there are two things that really help me when I feel like this.
1. Digital detox
I know, the horror of it, but trust me, somedays it’s the best thing. If I am ever having a down day, I switch off all my social media. There is just no point in spending a day looking at other peoples lives as you will naturally compare and that isn’t healthy. I always feel better after a day of digital detox and surprisingly the world hasn’t changed.
2. Challenge Social norms
Another pressure that I feel quite regularly is the pressure to live my life in a certain way. I can’t count the amount of times that I have been at a family event only to be asked “So, any man on the scene?” or “Don’t you think about kids”. Usually I’m questioned on this by 50 year Susan. When I explain to Susan that I am quite happy just as I am, I receive an sympathetic glance with a “At least you have your career though” (As if that is a bad thing). Note. Susan’s husband Dave’s eyes have been glued to my breasts for the whole evening.
Eat Well, Sleep Well and Work-out well
As simple as this may sound, if you are in a bad place or feeling a bit lost; always try and hold on to a minimum of the above three things. I always find that if one of them slips my anxiety sets in motion and then I have trouble doing the basics (let alone loving myself).
My sleeping really takes a horrible toll when I have been through stress or I am feeling a bit lost. I also really struggle with motivation in the mornings when anxiety hits. I am sure most people would agree that without sleep, things seem worse than they are. A couple of things that have helped me
Valerian Root Tea
Okay, so it sounds slightly hippy but this has been my life saver. Valerian Root Tea is £2.50 from Holland and Barrett and I actually get a peaceful nights sleep. Try it if you don’t believe me.
Morning Meme Motivator
So this one is personal, I have amazing friends and when we are going through bad times we send meme’s and quotes to one another all the time. One particular friend of mine sends me quotes from Najwa Zebian (link in my Instagram) and she is by far one of my favourite’s in a morning.
Since embarking on training a couple of years ago my diet has changed (massively for the better), I initially started eating well to improve my physical appearance but after actually starting to see slight changes in my mood from my diet, I decided to look into things further.
I now eat clean as this supports my anxiety in a massive way. While I am an advocate of clean eating I am also not going to sit here and say you must eat avocado’s everyday, if you having a pizza over a weekend makes you happy; do it (I certainly do) but I would encourage clean eating; it really helps.
The two main books I live by are Medical Medium; this book is massively “out there” as it talks about the spirituality of food and it’s healing powers (super hippy I know). I personally had to take some parts with a pinch of salt, but picking out some elements of this book has made a huge difference to my anxiety and I would highly recommend. The second is Clean Eating Alice’s Body Bible; amazing recipe’s and I admire her attitude (plus she is little like me!)
3. Working out
It goes without saying that exserice actually makes us feel better. Every time you work out, your body releases endorphins (a morphine like chemical that is released after periods of intense exercise). Endorphins work as part of the brains “reward system” and will help lift your mood. Face it, you’ve never got to the end of a work out and though “I wish I hadn’t done that”
My only piece of advice would be find something you truly enjoy doing. Whether it be running, spinning, personal training, yoga, boot camps or a mix. Make sure you love it! Exercise has really helped me overcome my anxiety and others that I know. One person I would recommend a follow of is Rebecca Jayne Fitness (link in my Insta). She has an amazing journey and story around exercise and mental well being and would recommend a follow.
As I said, I am certainly no guru on self love, but I hope if you are going through a rough time or struggling with the above, some of my experience helps.
Dating post on Oscar to follow tomorrow.
Thanks for reading!