Self love Sunday…

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. 

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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”

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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

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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 

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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).

1. Sleeping

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.

2. Eating

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!

B x

 

 

 

 

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Podcast: Put Down Your Phone – Social Media and the Mind

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Last week we recorded a podcast on social media and how this impacts your mental well being. As a group of girls in our late twenties we feel that our generation have been privileged (or maybe not so privileged) to have seen the world both before and after the trends of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.

In this cast we discuss “The Gathering Crisis”, the live for likes, Face-tuning, blogging, networks, communities and how we feel social media has impacted our mental well being.

As always, thanks for reading and listening.

Enjoy, B x

 

How Your Muscles Help Your Mind

From a young age, we are taught about the human anatomy. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is my primary school science class. I vividly remember sitting at my table incredibly excited that finally the day had come for my class to learn about the human body. I appreciate at this point in the post you may have the impression that I was some young, eager intellect, let me assure you, this was not the case. The main reason I sat, wound up like a giddy coil about the anatomy class was, as part of my teachers attempt to engage us in the subject we got to play…. 

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OPERATION! 

Does anyone remember that epic game?

I mean, in retrospect, I wonder how appropriate it actually was for Mrs. Gregory to make nine year olds pull a middle aged mans penis out from his body in the name of anatomy but anywhoooo…

As we pulled out the defected pieces of our poorly patient, I remember raising my hand to ask Mrs. Gregory a question

“Misssssssss. I have pulled out all of his pieces. Why can’t I pull out his brain?” 

Mrs Gregory answered and for some reason her response has forever stayed with me. 

“Rebecca, the brain is far too important to be simply removed. The brain looks after everything from your fingers to your toes, your muscles, you feelings and your thoughts. If you didn’t have your brain, you simply wouldn’t work”

At the time, I remember being highly impressed with my brain and the amazing things that Mrs. Gregory said it could do. I thought about it a lot, I remember flexing my fingers and my toes and congratulating my brains achievements, I remember crying at the rather brutal ending of Homewood Bound (#nostalgia) and again feeling rather impressed that my brain was the reason I shed a tear, but the most vivid memory I possess was not just the feeling of admirability but of feeling rather worried (even as a child). I feared, that my brain, as Mrs. Gregory had said, would one day, just disappear. The thought of my brain simply failing to function meaning everything else would also cease to work, well, as I naive nine year old – it scared the heeby jeebies out of me!

Fast forward twenty years and the thought of ones brain simply failing to work is now no longer a silly childhood fear but at times a very harsh reality . As a person that has lived with anxiety for a long time, when I have suffered challenging bouts of the condition, it feels as though my logical brain has actually disappeared and everything has indeed followed suit and stopped working. What Mrs Gregory had said was true! 

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If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that over recent years I have learned to manage my anxiety through different means and now (a little older than nine) I still find the brain incredibly fascinating but for very different reasons. As I mentioned, Mrs Gregory’s words stayed with me, a couple of them now more present than ever before…

“The brain looks after everything from your fingers to your toes, your muscles, you feelings and your thoughts”

She was right, it truly does. Our brains have a tough old job of taking care of everything that our bodies throw at it. Now as a nine year old, I merely assumed that the brain was so incredible it would just keep going, the reality is (a bit like the reality that brains can’t disappear) is that our wonderful brains need some tender loving care and all those muscles and limbs that it takes care of, well, they are actually just as powerful and can give a little back when our think tanks become overwhelmed. 

I am, of course, talking about one of the major coping mechanisms I have come to love and has been key to managing my anxiety: EXERCISE. 

Exercise has been one of the most prevalent activities in enabling me to manage my anxiety. This is not just situational but for the long term too! As such, I wanted to share some of my thoughts, experiences and tips to inform and guide you into something that will hopefully help you, like it helped me.

Why working out?

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Look, no matter where you sit on the spectrum of fitness, there is no wrong way or wrong time to start helping better your mind through fitness. The main reason I initially started to focus on my fitness was not because I wanted to win medals, it was solely to do with how it made me feel. Fitness is truly living in the moment. As a person with anxiety, there is no better feeling than not pondering over the past or fretting over the future, being in that moment whether I am in a class, running, on my bike, I am in that moment and there isn’t an awful lot of time I get to feel that way. 

The Endorphin High

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Aside from the mindful benefits of enabling your brain to “live in the moment” it is scientifically proven that working out lifts your mood. Exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. 

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I mean, if you can’t trust the wise words of Elle Woods, who can you trust? 

On a serious note, if you want to get into the real juicy detail around the science of how endorphins work get onto How Stuff Works and have a read or listen to the podcast, it’s super interesting and really showcases why our brains are so phenomenal.

Don’t worry if you can’t work out what works you out!

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Did you go to the gym, completely confuse yourself with the machines and feel totally out of place? Or did you hit up that Zumba class and hide embarrassed at the back feeling uncoordinated? Or did you go out on a run and find yourself panting against a wall after ten minutes…

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Don’t worry, it takes time to work out what you enjoy in the world of exercise. I have been to countless classes, joined gym after gym and tried (and failed) at so many hobbies. What works for me, could be a total dud for you, so take your time and find your passion. 

Start small

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Okay, maybe not as small as Carrie, but you know where I’m going.

If you are anything like me with your anxiety challenges, you will likely fear failure, so go in hard at most things. Or you could be on the total opposite end of the spectrum and your anxiety may hinder you getting out and about. However your anxiety effects you, I would advise starting small with your workout plan, try and avoid the desire to go in 100% initially so you don’t overwhelm yourself. 

The little lull

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As much as exercise has truly helped lift my mood, there have been a few occasions post work out where I have experienced a low feeling.

After panicking something was wrong (obviously), I did what every anxiety sufferer does and conducted an extensive internet search on my little lull. On this occasion, the search was a productive one and turned out, after a period of intense exercise, my body was experiencing low blood glucose levels. If you experience this, don’t panic (no pun), this is an extremely common side affect 24 hour after a particularly intense exercise sesh! The post-exercise hypoglycemia is often referred to as the “lag effect” and can be easily countered by ensuring you eat a sugary snack after your workout. So, my advice, stock up on apples and protein bars, the last thing we want is to feel sad. 

Lastly… Enjoy, don’t over do!

If your work out plan starts to feel obsessive or, for whatever reason, stops making you happy, change it up or take it down a notch or two. 

Remember, exercising is a mechanism to help your mental well being and that is how it should stay. 

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I hope you guys have enjoyed this read. Next week, as part of my fitness plan and exploring new ways to help improve my wellbeing, I will be writing a post about my experience trying a month of Veganism! 

As always thanks for reading.