Sometimes I feel like I should have it all sussed by now. Here I am, about to enter my late twenties (oh my god pleeease, that cannot be right) and married… and yet I still struggle with bouts of anxiety and negative thoughts! I’m sure everyone can relate to this – sometimes, especially when I’m hormonal or having a busy week, I wake up and my heart is pounding before I’ve even opened my eyes!
Between the demands of daily life, running a business and y’know, sleeping, socialising and all that, I often feel so overwhelmed by everything I take on. I spend a lot of time on social media, which really cannot be good for anyone, and it occasionally leads to a bit of (v counterproductive) envy and comparing. I hate those feelings, I truly only ever want to be the kind of person who is completely elated when they see their friends doing well – and 99% of the time, I am that person! But occasionally I entertain the negative thoughts and things go a little awry.
I’ve really had to work at this whole mental health thing, I didn’t always have such a strong sense of self and sometimes I look back at how I was even six months ago and wonder how I managed. The old me seems so fragile!
Becoming more in tune with yourself and understanding your own negative thought patterns takes a lot of time and self-restraint, but I wanted to share a few everyday techniques that have helped me a lot.
Sweat It Out
I know, I hate me for being this person too…. BUT, it’s true. Exercise really, really does wonders for your body and mind. On my mental health days, I have to convince myself to even get out of bed, so thinking about leaving my cosy home for the GYM of all places is just… unbearable.
Anyway, bargaining is key and I tell myself that if I’m truly hating life after ten minutes then I can leave. I always end up lasting longer, and I love the walk to the gym – just me and a beaut little pop punk playlist – so it’s never, ever something I regret doing.
After a workout I’m on a high and feeling my best, and I also find that I’m just too tired to agonise over things that may never happen! Kate – 1 0 – anxiety.
Try A New Approach
A little while ago I decided to take up meditation. How weird does that sound? Like, I feel a bit embarrassed to tell people that.
Anyway, I’m sure we’ve all downloaded the Headspace App on a whim, thought “what the fuck am I doing?” and deleted it that same day. Well, I re-downloaded it and got to work *smug face*. I did it for ten days in a row (because you get 10 sessions free and I’m cheap) and I hate to admit it you guys, but I was feeling better!
I really like the dudes calming voice (I googled him, he looks a lot different to how you’d expect) and the analogies are awesome – there’s a short video that explains that life is sort of like sitting at the side of a busy road, and your thoughts are the cars that are speeding along. It’s so tempting to feel overwhelmed by the vehicles whizzing by, so much so that you may eventually run in to the road and that’s when chaos ensues.
What meditation teaches you is that it’s okay to see those cars whizzing by, to acknowledge the busyness of it all and just let the thoughts happen. That really struck a chord with me, and now I work to recognise or acknowledge the bad thoughts without letting them get to me. It feels a bit like it’s easier to filter out the valueless thoughts from the rest, knowing when to act and when to ignore.
Do What You Can To Get By
One thing I find hard about working for myself, or maybe even just trying to build a career as a woman in general, is that you always feel guilty when you’re not working. At the weekends, I’m pretty relaxed but 9-6 Monday to Friday, I feel like I always need to be working, and working hard.
Eventually I kind of burnt myself out, and I came to realise the importance of a mental health day – or even a mental health morning or hour.
There’s no point forcing yourself through work or life or whatever if you’re not feeling great mentally, so now I tend to take some time out to get some zen. I can always make it up that evening or over the weekend, but if I really need time away from life, I give myself it.
This is probably my biggest come-to-Jesus moment recently; realising that I shouldn’t feel guilty for looking after my mental health.
I’ve definitely seen an improvement in myself even over the last year, I think some things do just come with time and getting older but I know there’s also a lot I can do to help myself too. It’s a bit of a journey, but one to stick at!
How do you get some headspace? Got any tips to add?