I have sort of alluded to the fact that lately, things have been getting to me a bit. Nothing in particular, but I’ve felt that I can’t put into practice all those awesome ‘fight on baby’ nuggets of self-empowered love that I preach. What’s up? Well, nothing, actually. Nothing in particular that’s for sure, except its manifestation of a constant niggling feeling somewhere in the top of my chest that slowly but surely has threatened to leave me a little bit overwhelmed by nothing and everything at any given moment.
My first and most problematic issue here is/was feeling like I have categorically, wholly absolutely and undoubtedly no right to feel like this at all.
I have a lovely home.
I have a great job.
I have a next level awesome set of friends who are at the magical tipping point of part human, part unicorn.
My family are healthy.
I have a blog and a whole set of virtual friends that light up my life.
I have an incredibly supportive and loving other half.
I have a crappy auto-immune condition yes, but I manage it really, really well (for the most part).
I’m healthy, and I’m HERE. Praise be I’m alive!
So what the jeff I have I got to suddenly start feeling so anxious about?
I’ve always been a deep thinker, sure. But I’ve never worried, like lay-awake-at-night-worried, about the small stuff. I’ve just, you know, cracked on and felt ok about most things as long as I’m laughing as often as possible in the process.
Feeling comfortable with saying ‘hey there! This is getting difficile’ is for sure part of the problem.
So, hey there.
I’ve been trying to figure out what’s happened, and why. I don’t think it’s much, but I’ve been reflecting on ways to keep this as a onetime thing that I’m just currently experiencing for a little while. You know, a passing period of time that I can learn from. Soz anxiety, I’m just not that into you.
So what can you do if you’re feeling a bit (or a lot) antsy? I’ve been working through the below in a bid to return to a former and much preferred state of chill, and I know for sure that I’m not the only one who can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by, well, life, so hopefully these will give you a little love too.
1. What’s going in your gob?
Yadda yadda, eat well, we know. But DO you? Cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, pizza for dinner. All cool, but they will likely leave you feeling as beige as the meals themselves if this is your regular intake of foodstuffs. Don’t worry about calories too much, pay attention instead to the names of the ingredients. A sandwich should not contain thirty ingredients, only half of which you recognise as English. These will cloud your brain and make it sad. Eat lots of different colours and prepare as much as possible from scratch, yourself. This doesn’t mean slaving away for four hours a night with your head in and out of the oven; something like a stir fry is an easy and cheap way to get all your goodness in. This will also help you sleep better because your body’s not busy working to break down a shit load of chemical weirdness.
2. Don’t hibernate too much.
You may think you need to create your own space when things are a bit hectic, and you’re absolutely damn straight, but chances are if you’re feeling anxious some naughty (untrue) thoughts are creeping into that monkey mind of yours. Too much time alone with them and there’s a danger you’ll start giving them too much credit. Friends, laughter, FUN, will remind you what life’s all about. Don’t go doing anything too drastic (packing it all in to go and figure it all out in Southeast Asia has crossed my mind more than once), but positive experiences will chemically benefit your brain, and those nice experiences will help you see what’s important, and what matters.
3. But… do take some time for yourself.
The world is a really cool place. There’s so much to do and see and smell and feel and experience and love. Diaries and dates get filled up quickly, and before you know it you’re spending the weekend simply catching up on sleep. But the sensory assault and dashing from A to B to C via D and back to B will take its toll, even if you’re heading from fun thing to fun thing. If this sounds like you, try to keep at least two evenings and one weekend day completely clear for you to just chill. This can be tough if you suffer from a case of the FOMOs, but then it’s a case of prioritising events that are one off and super exciting, and moving that regular catch up to the following week. Prioritise different people on different weeks and you won’t let anyone down. Most importantly, this will ensure you’re prioritising yourself in the process. Also – make time for exercise, even if it’s literally just a walk in the park. The air in your lungs and the time away from life noise is one of the best medicines out there. Try not to see exercise as a chore, but as a lovely thing you’re doing for your body and (more importantly) your brain. It’s self-indulgent time that is just for you. More on that here.
4. YOU DON’T MATTER!
Well, of course you do my darling, you matter so very much. But for some reason this little trick of perspective helps me. It’s impossible to quantify what the 7 billion odd people on this earth look like. Now think about those 7 billion people, over and over again, for every year we’ve known to be on this earth, and every year that’s yet to come. You’re an ant. You’re a dust mite on an ant. Your time here is so precious, and it’s all you can do to make the most of it and to make as positive an imprint as possible, but you think you got problems? They’re so insignificant in relation to the infinity of time! To the number of people to ever walk this planet! Just chill out and enjoy yourself, because when you’re gone none of these little stressors will matter in any way whatsoever. That looming deadline, that silly squabble, that annoying person in front of you who’s holding up the queue – they are not important enough for you to seriously stress over. Preserve yourself so that you can be a dust mite with enough energy to make a positive difference.
5. Detox… From Your Devices.
Ah gad I’m absolutely bloody terrible for this. I sit down to watch the TV and within a couple of minutes I find myself scrolling my timeline, paying attention to nothing in particular. GIVE YOUR BRAIN A BREAK WOMAN. I definitely feel the pressure of keeping up with the infinity of the internet, particularly as I have a job that not only allows, but actually depends on staying in tune with the digital landscape. SO…
- Firstly turn off push notifications for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest… you get the idea. That means YOU control when you check your feeds.
- Secondly, if you sit down to watch a film or read a book or draw or whatever it is you do for chillaxy fun times, leave your phone in the next room. On silent. No vibrate.
- Set your alarm for the next morning and turn your phone so that the screen’s down at least an hour before you get into bed. Don’t check , or even look at it again until the next morning. The ONLY exception to this is to use a mindfulness app like Headspace (DO IT, it’s great), and if that’s your plan, turn your phone to Aeroplane Mode.
- In the morning the world will be exactly the same, but your mind will be in a better place.
6. Focus and Prioritise.
Again, so very guilty of this. I start everything, finish nothing and get distracted 4305 times in the process: reading new information, learning new things, remembering to call about the Council Tax, and worst of all… reading about people who are doing it better/faster/harder/stronger than me. ‘It’ could be anything from blogging to managing type 1 to getting that book deal. Note to self – if you spend your days reading about everyone else’s ginormous achievements, you won’t produce nor achieve anything for yourself, and then you’ll likely feel a bit rubbish about that. If where you want to be or what you want to achieve or the things you need to do feel huge and daunting and scary, step back and focus on the two or three things you can achieve that week, that day, that hour. Write them down. Don’t start anything else until you’ve ticked those off. Keep them small – reply to that email, remember that birthday card, finish that blog post. Suddenly you’re ticking the shit out of life left, right and centre. Hello, sense of accomplishment!
7. SLOW THE HELL DOWN BABY.
Life is short, but it’s also kinda long. You really don’t need to keep rushing around at 100mph – whatever you’re rushing to will still be there when you get there, two minutes later. Sure, a commute isn’t the most pleasant experience, whether you travel in the car or succumb to the depths of the underground (and thus being squashed into someone else’s armpit) of a morning. But ultimately, it will take as long as it takes, and there’s really no need to rugby tackle a poor tourist out of the way to get a train when there’s another one 120 whole seconds behind it. Just because you’ve perceived something to be shit and frustrating and annoying, don’t make it shit and frustrating and annoying for innocent people around you. If you drop your pace just a little, accept a situation for what it is and just ride it out, you’ll arrive at your destination in a much better mental state, ready to take on the next part of your day having not over expended your precious energy on things that you can’t control, nurturing negativity in the process.
8. Ultimately… Be Kind To Yourself.
This goes back to my little post on compassion, and also apparently contradicts point 4 above. Well, it does and it doesn’t. 4 is about perspective. This is about your fundamental and critical need as a human being to be kind to yourself to have any chance at not driving yourself crazy with self-loathing, doubt and/or regret. You’re not a dick for thinking you *should* be better at something. But know that you’re being and doing and living right now, right this second, and as long as you’re not being a dick to everyone else in the world, you’re doing just fine. Better than fine. Amazingly, in fact. So just make sure you’re being a bit nice to yourself, because there’s no practice run, or stabilisers or manual for this thing that is your very precious life so you’re going to feel a bit weird about it all sometimes. And make sure you’re doing things that feel nice FOR YOU, not because you feel like you *should* be doing them (there’s that *should* again! He’s a bugger that one), or that other people expect them of you. Doing things that don’t feel authentic will just make you really sad. Being a bit selfish sometimes in order to preserve and nourish your delicate mind is a very positive thing to do. Look after you, and you’ll be in a better place to respond, interact, help and be kind to others.
Got any more tips for me? Send ’em my way!
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