Life Advice – 5 ways I harness my anxiety

After a less-than-positive day, I wanted to use my personal struggle with anxiety issues as a basis for this post.

Today was planned to be a very productive day, and from the moment my eyes opened this morning, I knew it would not be going according to schedule.

Anxiety of any form makes life incredibly difficult. Most days it is undetectable by others that I am struggling. And then there are days where it is out there, at it’s worst and available for the whole world to see.

This isn’t going to be the story about my past issues with anxiety, or a deep description of how it feels on my worst days to battle such a illness. The truth is: if you suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, you already know what it feels like.

I wanted to take what I have learned about harnessing my anxiety issues. I use the word ‘harness’ as that is exactly what we need to do – take the reins of the thing trying to control our emotions and our body and steer our anxiety to a safe place.

 

1.. Breathe

This is one I am sure you’ve heard before during moments where someone else can recognise you’re feeling overwhelmed. However, if you learn how to breathe for relaxation purposes, it can be incredibly calming.

There are YouTube videos which can help you with learning how to focus on your breathing during anxious times as well as an amazing app which I have been using for the past year. Taking a few minutes at the beginning of your day to (try) and centre yourself, your thoughts and your mind can really effect your overall wellbeing positively.

 

2.. Time Out

Not everyone has the ability to drop everything and take a sick day. However, taking time out during your day to be alone can be extremely helpful in clearing your mind and recharging your body. Whether it’s taking an hour in the morning to read, or spending some time in the evening watching an episode of your favourite TV show; doing ‘nothing’ and isolating yourself for a small time can really help defuse an anxious period.

 

3.. Write It Down

Having a place to write down how you feel on a daily basis can be really cathartic and also very helpful in the event of seeking help from a professional as you have your thoughts/feelings written down for reference. Don’t be afraid to be honest with how you feel on a daily basis, even trying to write down what setting/event you may have been exposed to during moments where your anxiety is heightened. Just as important, write about times when you’re feeling better, and how you might have been able to get your anxiety under control.

 

4.. Work Out

Now, I’m not one to tell you to get on the treadmill for 30 minutes, followed by a pilates session every morning…but, sometimes moving and working out does help with releasing tension, focusing on yourself and gaining some endorphins from whatever makes you work up a sweat. Try and find 20 minutes a day to go for a walk outside (fresh air does wonders for the soul), or put on a work out DVD or find a video on YouTube to follow which might be entertaining to try.

 

5.. Talk To Someone

As much as the thought of talking to a complete stranger about our anxiety and personal issues seems frightening (and, well, it is for the first session), getting help is sometimes exactly what we need to find a better path for us to continue learning about ourselves.

Speaking as someone who has seen a counsellor before, sometimes all you may need is someone you don’t know to tell you that how you are feeling is okay. Knowing that you are not the only one feeling the way you are can be comforting and also can be incredibly beneficial when you are seeking help.

If you are after someone to talk to over the phone, whether it’s due to an urgent matter, or you don’t wish to be seen face-to-face, there are also phone helplines which are designed to speak with people any time of the day or night (and they are usually a free call, too).

 

Your mental health is important. How you feel on a daily basis is important. My hope is that the next generation are able to speak out about their anxiety issues with more support and understanding that the generations before us.

You are never alone in your struggle and please remember that it is never too late to reach out if you think you need a helping hand in harnessing your anxiety issues, no matter how big or small they may seem.

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Saturday Night Bonfire


Just got home from a lovely evening with friends. 

My friend’s parents live on a farm and once a year they like to make the most of burning off extra crop by holding a bonfire evening.

Thankfully, the cool Autumn air has finally arrived, with the evening warmed up as the fire grew. There was actually 4 separate fires burning in total – at one point it almost looked like we were the only small group of people left alone on earth from some kind of apocolyptic war. 


There were also fireworks throughout the night, which I just love. I think that fireworks are one of those things that make me instantly feel like a child again, even just for a few seconds. The wonder and excitement when seeing the colourful sparkles in the sky just takes my breath away. 

I really don’t take evenings like this for granted. Especially as I get older and see my friends less and less, as we all have so much to do. 

Sitting around with drinks, laughing and having fun for a few hours in the light of those warm flames was just what I needed tonight to end a rather boring week. 

Feeling like I can take on the coming week with confidence and hope. 

I trust you are all enjoying your weekend! I’d love to know what you got up to! 

5 Things I Have Learned About Myself During My First Week Of Unemployment

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It’s amazing how much more attentive I have become of myself and my actions over the past week.

After officially becomming redundant from my job of 5 years last week, I made the conscious decision to use the time I have between work as a positive experience. I have been adamant that I will not let this change get me down, although I will not ignore my feelings all together because, let’s face it, losing your job is no fun. Especially when I enjoyed mine so very much.

Here are 5 things I have learned about myself during my first week of unemployment/redundancy:

  • Sleep: Here I was thinking I would get to sleep in now I don’t have a job to go to. What I forgot to think about was the fact that I have been waking up at the same time for the past 5 years straight. So, my alarm might not be set anymore, but my internal alarm is still very much on!
  • Netflix: There really is no limit to how many episodes of Jane The Virgin one can watch in one sitting. I know this because I have experienced countless moments where I have missed sunsets because I was too busy watching yet another episode (season 1 is amazing). Do you ever look up from your screen and not know what time it is because the last time you looked up, it was light out? That’s been me pretty regularly this week.
  • Job Interviews: You can do as much research about the company you are interviewing for and you can do your makeup/hair at wedding-level preciseness, but if you don’t have the ability to talk to strangers and sell yourself as a worker and person, you probably won’t be successful in your job. Remember to take a breath, smile and think about your best qualities that make you, YOU!
  • Force Of Habit: The other day I was out and about, getting a few jobs done in town. Before I knew it, I had parked in the carpark of my former workplace and was about to walk in when I realised I was in the wrong company block! I suppose taking the same route and parking in the same spot for 5 years does make a lasting impression on my memory.
  • Emotions Are Interesting: Remember what I said about not ignoring my feelings? I have definitely dealt with a range of emotions this week with regards to leaving my job and currently not knowing what is next. Uncertainty is scary thing and I have to keep reminding myself that things will get better. However, you couldn’t tell that to me when I was crying on my couch Tuesday morning in my pyjamas with a huge mug of coffee in my hands while watching TV. Don’t ask me what specific thing set me off – it just happened!

Trying to stay positive about this entire situation is helped by my willingness to get back out there into the employment world and start a new chapter. Life can be tough sometimes, but it’s during these down times that we hopefully find out so much more about ourselves than we could ever imagine.

Life Advice – starting over

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If you had told me this time last year that I would be accepting redundancy from my job next week, I would have slapped you in the face and called you a liar.

It’s amazing not only how much things around us can change in the space of a year or a month or even a week; but how our reactions can change as well. Our confidence levels can increase or drop and our ability to make somewhat difficult decisions can be relatively easy.

Looking forward at the coming months, I know that I will find another job. When or where is yet to be seen, but I am looking at things in a positive way. This is my chance to start fresh and start over. Sometimes all it takes is 1 thing in our lives to be out of whack for us to decide to take a new path. Whether that path is still being paved or whether we know exactly what is coming next, starting over can be daunting. But it can also be incredibly empowering.

Take matters into your own hands and make the decision to try and be positive. I say try because we all have days where we just don’t understand why certain things had to happen to us. I have questioned “Why?” so many times over the past month and have cried over the choices I have had to make more than a few times. But there is only so much moping than you can do before you realise you are achieving nothing by focusing on negativity. Stand tall, look forward and know that things will be alright in the long run.

Sometimes it can take a major lifestyle change in order for us to really start over. Whether it’s changing jobs, moving to a new city, dealing with the passing of a loved one or going through the breakdown of a relationship, these things can help us decide to begin a new path.

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Personally, I have been setting goals for myself now that I know I will most probably be without a job next month. I want to focus more on health/fitness, get outside in the sunshine more, write more and spend more time improving myself for nobody’s benefit but my own. Setting goals for yourself during times of change can be incredibly beneficial for your wellbeing. It is so easy to fall into a slump and not want to do anything, but picking yourself up and writing a simple list of what you want to achieve – whether they be daily, weekly or long-term goals – can be so helpful on getting yourself back on that path that’s being paved.

Another awesome thing about starting over is making the decision to change something about yourself. Whether you decide to dye your hair a different colour, or cut it off, sometimes the best way to start over is to make that change in your appearance. We all know of people who have cut their hair after a major life event has occured – how liberated do they always look? Do something different – wear a different shade of lipstick, wear different shoes, swap skirts for pants…change it up!

This is OUR TIME to feel liberated and motivated for our next chapter. There is nobody standing in your way of achieving your goals but you! Push past those times where starting over can feel like you’re stuck in a car without gas and get yourself to that service station for a tune-up!

If you are currently starting a new chapter in life, just know that you are not alone. Things will be okay – keep paving that path and eventually you will arrive at your next destination.

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International Day Of Happiness – 5 things I’m happy about

It’s the International Day Of Happiness!

Happiness can be felt in so many ways and for so many different reasons.

I am someone who tries to find happiness in every day activities and events.

Here are 5 other things that I am happy about today:

  • I have a job interview tomorrow – am I going to use this news as an excuse to shop for new work clothes? I sure am!
  • I bought some Nescafe Mocha-flavoured coffee sachets on the weekend and with the cool change in weather my morning coffee was absolutely delicious.
  • I bought my very first laptop over the weekend – a MacBook Air. I have never owned a laptop so this will be a whole new experience for me. Very excited to do more regular blogging once it’s delivered sometime this week.
  • Among my healthier grocery items which I purchased this morning, I also bought a jar of Nutella and a pack of bagels.
  • I have just finalised some plans with my cousin who will be visiting this Easter long weekend with her husband. We are very close but do not get to see eachother much, so I am very excited to see her!

Happiness can be found in events which are both big or small. It’s all about celebrating life’s many achievements and giving ourselves a pat on the back when things are going our way.

Here’s to a happy day for you all and to many moments of happiness in years to come!

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Life Advice – you are not ‘running behind’ on life

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It seems simple enough: we grow up being told we need to stick to a certain plan which was mapped out for us by our parents. We go to school, get a job and eventually some of us go to university. And then we follow a plan which we think  was mapped by ourselves, when we are actually looking to our friends/people around the same age of us for comparison that we are doing well on our journeys.

In recent times I have found that I have been looking around at other people’s lives a lot and, in turn, comparing what I am doing to what others are doing.

My achievements and strengths seemed to diminish while comparing myself to others. I realized that while a lot of my friends have moved out of home and bought their own homes this past year, I am still at home with my family.

Isn’t it funny how comparing ourselves to others can sometimes bring out our most negative side?

After some thinking about my life and whether I am happy with things the way they are at the moment, I came to this conclusion: just because people around you are moving forward, it does not mean that you have to as well. It is perfectly okay to be comfortable with the life you have, especially if you are happy with your current situation.

Living on my own is definitely a goal I have set for myself for the coming year. It is a goal I have set primarily for my own benefit and not because I want to be like my friends. (Although, seeing some of my friends new homes has definitely given me inspiration for my future home!)

It is important to make your life decisions based on what YOU want and need. Comparing yourself to friends is sometimes not realistic to what you are able to achieve.

Take a moment and write down your goals for the next 5 years. Some may be big goals and some may be small. Next, write down what you will need to do in order to achieve those goals. For example; you may need to save more money, or get a second job, look into taking some kind of course, or do research online…there are many steps to be taken in order to achieve your goals.

Just because you are not doing what everyone else is doing, it doesn’t mean you are behind on life. There is no set guideline for how we should live our lives throughout our twenties. Things go wrong, plans fall through and I guarantee that we do not usually end up in the same place we started by the time we turn thirty.

It’s scary and it’s hard, but if you stay true to yourself and to your goals and ambitions, your life will work itself out eventually. Who knows, your friends may be looking at you and wishing they had your life!

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Life Advice – having empathy

Having and expressing empathy towards others can be difficult for some people. Sometimes you probably use empathy in every day life and don’t even realise you are doing it.

The ability to forget your own views and opinions on a person or situation and see the world through another’s eyes for a short time can be tough. Especially if you are seeing through the eyes of someone who may have hurt or upset you directly.

Being present, focused and open is an important part of empathy. Putting yourself in the shoes of another and trying to understand why they think or feel the way they do can be difficult, but once you master it, it can change the way people see you as a communicator and confidant.

Having empathy for others is a life skill which should be taught to children from a young age. For children to think of how others’ may think or feel in certain moments can help them become caring adults who are able to look at life’s challenges in a much more compassionate way.

Using words like “I understand how you must feel…” when responding in times where anyone confides in you helps that person to trust that you are listening to them and that what they are saying is important to you. Repeating certain facts back and trying to relate their story to your own experiences can also help – not by making the conversation about you, but by showing that you understand the situation which that person may be in.

Personally, I have found empathy as a great tool in understanding why people in my life may have chosen to take certain paths or say certain things. I also think it has made me more compassionate towards the stories of strangers and celebrities who have made mistakes for the world to see and helps me see them as human instead of ‘celebrity’.

In the end, treating others the way you would want to be treated is incredibly true. Use respect and compassion when helping others and try to place yourself in their shoes.

Knowing that others are making an effort to understand us and rather than judge us without waiting is something we all deserve and would appreciate.

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Life Advice – stay present

It’s so hard not to dwell on the past or worry about the future.

Staying true and present within ourselves and living with what each day gives us can be hard, but I have recently found that living this way helps keep my anxiety at bay.

We cannot change what has happened in the past, we can only learn from our mistakes and remember the moments that made us feel truly alive and carry those lessons with us throughout daily life.

Be open to change, welcome challenges and take a moment each day to remember your goals for yourself. Be there for your loved ones but also recognize when things are weighing you down and take a step back if need be.

Who we are makes a difference and sometimes it may seem like the whole world is against us. Hold your head high, take a deep breath and move forward, for what is still to come, we do not know and that is incredibly exciting.

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Life Advice – when it’s time to move on

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It is important to know when some things just aren’t worth fighting for anymore.

Whether it is a relationship, friendship or job, there comes a time when you just can’t do it anymore. And that is perfectly okay. Not all relationships last a lifetime. Actually, it’s healthy to move on and start new chapters sometimes.

So, you’ve made the observation that things just aren’t working the way they should. The difficult part of it all is when is it time to move on?

  • You Feel Undervalued

When you are consistently looked over for your abilities – whether they be as a partner/friend/employee – and you feel you are given more negative feedback than positive. Know your worth and know you are worth more than what you are currently being given.

  • It’s Not Exciting Anymore

Again, whatever situation you are in, it should be constantly changing, evolving and exciting for you to be part of. When things start to get stale and there doesn’t seem to be a way to spice things up, it’s time to look at what other options are out there.

  • You Have Been Disrespected

To truly love and get along with people and to work in a healthy environment, there must be certain levels of respect places and adhered to each day. There are different levels of respect for a romantic relationship than there may be in a professional relationship, but in the end, we all are taught how to treat human beings from the time we are taught to share our toys as babies. Know your level of respect and know you deserve to be treated with kindness and fairness. If someone is not living up to those standards, it’s time to first voice your opinion to them and then move on if things do not change.

  • You Have Tried Talking But They Just Don’t Want To Listen

Any relationship needs good communication skills. That means speaking what is on your mind when you feel the need to and to also listen when being spoke to. Having empathy for another person’s situation is also important to understand where they may be coming from with their explanation, and how you may be able to help them in making your relationship stronger. When people don’t communicate, it creates a negative effect. This is especially true within the workplace.

  • It’s Just Time To Go

Sometimes you just know it isn’t working anymore. Making change is hard, but knowing within your heart that you have made the right decision makes things much easier. Take time to go over your options and if you are most happy with a decision that includes starting over, then know you have made the right decision.

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Life Advice – how change can be positive

I have always called myself the Pollyanna of my workplace.

With a positive, optimistic outlook on life, I have always managed to take a negative situation and spin it into a somewhat positive situation. It’s something I take pride in – the ability to see the bigger picture over the here and now.

However, in recent weeks after deciding to take a voluntary redundancy from my job – which currently will leave me unemployed within a month – trying to remain positive and optimistic has been hard.

Change can be a wonderful thing if you are able to look at it as a good thing. Most endings bring new beginnings, and while I couldn’t see it for a while, I know my job ending leaves me open to a new chapter. Not just a new professional chapter, but a new chapter in life if that is what I want.

It can be so easy to fall into a negative slump. Trust me when I say that I have been there many times and it is hard to hold my head high and look further down the road to where things may get better.

Important things I try to ask myself during times of important life changes are:

  • “How do you feel now the decision has been made?” 

I was once told that the feeling of relief after making a very difficult decision is a sign that it was the right one. My recent decision to take redundancy was a hard one, but once things were finalized and the weight was lifted off my shoulders, I felt a huge wave of relief. Trust those feelings.

  • “Think of life this time 6 months ago – how much has changed in such a short amount of time? How can life change again in another 6 months or even a year?”

Looking into the future is something I try not to do too often as it can cause stress and worrying about things that probably will never happen. However, in times of change I like to think of how much positive change can occur in such a short space of time. It happens every day and sometimes we do not take enough time to appreciate just how far we have come and what barriers we have broken in order to get to the place we are right now. Keep your thoughts positive and perspective optimistic.

  • “Am I open to the world and whatever positive changes are about to come my way or am I shutting myself off, blocking any possible change that may be trying to make its way through to me?”

I am a big believer in being in-tune with the world around us. If we shut ourselves away and let negativity take over our minds and bodies, how do we expect those around us to help us? Not just friends and family, but everybody. We are all connected by energy and we all are drawn to certain people because of the energy they radiate. If we want good things to happen, we need to be open to it. Sometimes things we think are too far out of our reach just need to know you truly want them before they make themselves known.

  • “Who in my life can help me through times of negativity?”

Staying positive through times of change can get hard. Some days are harder than others. It is important to have people surrounding us who we can count on for support and confiding. Whether that is a parent, friend, work college or counselor, it is important to offload and receive validation that our thoughts and feelings are understood. There are even telephone hotlines you may wish to call who offer free counselling support 24/7 if things get to be too much.

  • “How can I help guide myself through times of negativity affected by change?”

Because we have to live with ourselves all day, every day. And if we can recognise that things aren’t so great at the moment, it is important for us to also recognise ways that we may be able to make things better. Whether it is treating yourself to a pedicure, or watching your favourite movie, or going for a walk in the sunshine while your favourite song plays on your ipod…there are endless things you can do to make yourself feel better.

Take a moment to focus on your breathing techniques. There are some amazing apps which assist in regulating breathing during times of stress. Sometimes 5 minutes a day of focused breathing can make a world of difference.

Wise words from my favourite lady, Miss Swift.

Change can be incredibly scary but you never have to go through it alone. Try to see the bigger picture and remain as positive as possible. If things get too much, it is also OK to let things out and if you need to cry or get angry or eat a pint of ice cream to feel somewhat better – I recommend it!

Lastly, if you are experiencing some kind of uncertain change at the moment, I hope things go well for you soon. Life is interesting in the way good things happen to people and sometimes you need to experience low moments before you can soar back into those incredible heights.

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