Why We Need To Stop Thinking We Can Do It All

 

There is a lot of debate as to whether stress is good or bad for you, with some people arguing that stress makes me you more productive. Which I don’t dispute.

However, I maintain that too much stress (be it good or bad) still negatively impacts on the body… otherwise we’d be able to handle it and we wouldn’t become physically or mentally ill from it.

I have learnt a valuable lesson this week… that ‘good stress’ is just as bad as ‘bad stress’ – a predicament I’ve never experienced before.

As you may know, I started my new job about 5 months ago now (time flies when you’re having fun!) and I reckon I enjoy it as much as anyone can enjoy a job. It’s the right level of challenging yet rewarding.

Because I’ve been caught up in all the fun, I didn’t realise that the stress of the challenge has continued to impact on my body and as I’ve ended up taking on the role of 3 people’s job this past week, I’ve found myself once again being on the brink of being burnt out.

My memory is shot. I’m in bed by 8.30pm most nights. My epilepsy paranoia is out of of this world. I’ve had migraines. Last week, I had a couple of nights of being inconsolable for no valid reason. I’ve not even attempted to lose weight for the past 3 weeks. My stress management strategies are long forgotten and I’ve had random aches and pains. I accidentally ate yeast because I forgot to check the ingredients before I tucked in. But the most dangerous thing of all… I didn’t realise any of this had happened because I felt happy.

I assumed because I was mostly enjoying the challenge, it wasn’t stressing me out. However, once again I’m left wondering whether long term, working as a therapist is the right job for me.

For now, I’m off to chill out and try and regain control over my life. Starting off with car insurance. Because the joys of adulthood never stop.

5 Top Tips To Achieving a Work/Life Balance

Within the therapy world, a phrase you will often here is ‘at 3am this idea popped into my head’ or ‘I was sitting on the loo when an idea popped into my head’ or ‘I didn’t mean to check my emails at 1am but I couldn’t sleep’.

Being the heartless person I was, I always prided myself on the fact that I was very good at stopping thinking about work the minute I left the office.

However, with my most recent job, there isn’t often time to think of bright ideas during the day and I’m working with very complex cases which has resulted in the cogs never quite turning off (including managing to infiltrate regularly into my dreams). The heart seems to have defrosted a little as well. Grr.

As a result, I am feeling run down, struggling to stick to my weight loss plan, grumpy and getting home and collapsing on the sofa.

By the time I get home, I’ve been on the go for 10 hours and I just end up thinking about how much work I have to do tomorrow or next week. I sit on the sofa and collapse into a heap from 5.30PM til 9.30PM.

I have of course also been neglecting The Healthy OT which I want to continue working on and watch flourish. I’m generally feeling quite frustrated with it all. I never have quite enough brain power to think about what to write, or how to build and develop what I’m trying to achieve.

For the past week, I have managed to find brain space to spend some time generating a plan for how I’m going to combat a better work/life balance, so here goes:

1) Exercise (and stretch): a classic go to solution for everything ha! I do find exercise really wakes me up but I really need to persevere with just doing it the minute I get in from work. I would like to be exercising 4 times a week (as I’m currently watching my posture crumple before my very eyes with limited exercises focusing on improving my posture at the moment) and 2 of those times can be done at the weekend. Additionally, if I’m stronger, moving around will be easier and therefore more energy efficient.

Plan: exercise on a Tuesday and Thursday the minute I get in from work (2 x 25 minute HIIT).

2) Have a bath: I know baths are known for relaxation, but for a small group of us, they are known to wake us up and I am one of those people. Our bath takes FOREVER to run but that gives me 25 minutes to collapse on the sofa, get in the bath and then another energy burst for the evening šŸ‘Œ

3) Focus on pushing ‘work’ thoughts out my head – probably the best method for this is to add more tiny hobbies in such as reading, listening to music, getting involved in a box set or generating ideas for a blog post etc. I’m SO bad for thinking of a million different topics at once instead of focusing on one thing, which puts me at higher risk of letting work thoughts slip into my head. I need to commit to what I’m doing in the moment and not think of anything else.

4) Incorporate more healthy fats into my day and meal prep: yes you can eat fat when trying to lose weight! I find that my diet tends to consist of more saturated fat than unsaturated (and they’re the bad fats), so I need to try and add more nuts, seeds, avocado and coconut oil into my day.

Meal Prep: this may seem quite random and abstract (hence the mention of a million thoughts but go with this). I’m often so tired in the evening that I can’t always be bothered to cook what I had planned and this can throw my calories off. I then get annoyed that I can’t just stick to my weight management plan and then end up being frustrated. If meal times were covered and designed to give me a good energy boost and nutritional intake, then I could steadily be losing weight without having to think about it, allowing more brain space to think about other fun things!

5) Get up earlier: I’ve got into a terrible habit of hitting the snooze button and getting up at the last possible minute. I did wake up naturally at 6.15am the other day and I got out of bed and what a difference it made. I got to work 25 minutes early which meant I could leave earlier and have more of an evening!

And I know I said 5 top tips but here’s a free 6th tip:

6) Be less grumpy.: I’m not known for being grumpy. I’m not having any negative thoughts, but I’d like to be able to achieve more leisure activities during the week. I’m just so exhausted that I’m also being slightly more blunt when communicating with other humans. I don’t need the worry about offending people on top of everything else! I’m just going to chill out, take each day as it comes and focus on myself more than work.

Embrace You

“Two things you need to give up: 1) Processed food 2) Processed people”

I was recording a vlog earlier (before I got struck down properly with Tonsillitis) and what started off as a discussion about happiness and gratitude, ended up going into a full on rant about no one being happy because we are forcing each other to do things we don’t want to and be people we don’t want to be. I’ll probably have to re-record as to not offend šŸ˜‚

In this instance I’m referring to the dieting, fitness and fashion industries. What started off as ‘this is how I get muscles’ or ‘this is how I lost fat’ has become a competition for trying to be brand ambassadors for active wear or protein powder and is no longer about encouraging each other to be healthier.

As I spend my days trying (and failing) not to be generic online, I have come to realise the pressure there is to be just like all the others that have made their social media fame.

The majority of these people landing the huge days with major fashion brands (fashion influencers too), come across as being straight out of the factory, and almost robotic in their opinions (and with great bodies).

Of course you stumble across the odd gem who has stuck to their guns and continued to show their personality (and they are my heroes), but you can easily understand why young people are feeling like massive failures because they aren’t conforming to social media’s expectations.

The reality is that to be robotic is a costly and time consuming process which most of us can’t possibly achieve whilst going to school/working full time. These influencers also tend to hire their own photographers to get the best photo, and sell the contents of their home for their ‘hauls’.

Sadly the algorithms favour these people making them an easy spot for big brands. However, rather than sacrificing our young people’s mental health to conform to a computer, why don’t we make the algorithm conform to young (and older) people expressing their own individuality.

The reason I set up my social media identity was ALWAYS to be (dare I say it) ‘the best version of myself’, but never did I say that that would be the best version of myself based on society’s expectations. I would be a massive hypocrite as an OT (which is a therapy based on what’s meaningful to the person), to try to conform and quite frankly, I don’t really want to.

I vow to maintain my identity online – do you care to join me?

Start Your 2019 By Decluttering and Spring Cleaning Your House

Over the years I have become an avid declutterer – partly because I like to be able to see surfaces (I am officially turning into my mother) and secondly, if I did not declutter there would be no room in my house for me to live in it!

I try to apply the ‘have I used this in the past 12 months?’ to about 50% of things in my house. This includes clothing, books, DVDs, toiletries and food. I am slightly more generous with technology and items that are only meant to be used now and again.

I then collect all of these items and put them into what needs to be thrown, recycled, sent to charity or what could be sold.

The most challenging part is our very large collection of penguin memorabilia. Tim’s favourite animal is a penguin but for some reason EVERYONE buys him penguin related items every Christmas. This year alone we got 8 coasters, placemats, a jumper, shirt and ornament. We also have a duvet set, canvas, 5 other ornaments, 2 books, 2 more hoodies, a blanket, a cushion and mugs. I think you would agree with me that that rivals the gift shop in a zoo, but they are presents from close family, some of whom haven’t seen that sadly we do not have enough space to cater for all of these penguins. So for now, they live in a box and are on rotation to ensure they are used.

Yesterday I gutted our abode. It took me 4 hours to clean and I sorted through my preexisting selling pile and worked out what needed to go into recycling or the rubbish (at this point it’s been up for sale for approximately 3 years).

I always feel that when you have a good clear out and clean you can feel your home sigh with relief. We got rid of 2 bin bags of clothing to a textiles recycling bank and hoovered so much the Dyson needed emptying twice!

Research has indicated that a cluttered environment increases the cortisol (stress hormone) in women. It also overstimulates your senses and makes your brain think there’s still more work to do, making it much more challenging to relax after a stressful day at work.

As I have decided that 2019 is going to be the best possible year yet, I encourage you to put on your rubber gloves, get a couple of bags and get busy tidying away this weekend!

NB: I personally have made at least Ā£500 over the years selling unwanted items on eBay. Don’t underestimate what people will pay for the stuff you don’t want anymore!

My Perception of the World Has Changed

I can only apologise for the lack of posts since starting my job. I’m so mentally pooped when I get home, it’s so hard to try and think of what to have for dinner not alone write a half decent blog post.

If you’ve kept up to date with my blog, you will see that during my time of unemployment I really worked hard on myself to shift my negative mindset into a more positive one. At the time I wondered if I would ever truly commit to my new thinking style… it worked in the moment but it didn’t feel real that I had changed my mindset forever.

Now I’m back in the real world and my new mindset is still very apparent. It’s also being challenged on a daily basis. I appreciate I was given a (somewhat stressful) opportunity to work on myself, and not many people get that chance and it’s so easy to see who is on the brink of needing a time out and who isn’t.

I work in a very emotive environment and it’s hard to resist getting sucked into that. But so far I’m able to identify the days that I might be slipping into old habits and work on changing to stay in my more positive mindset.

If only it was so easy for losing weight šŸ˜‚

The reason I don’t want to go back to my old habits is that they are pretty darn stressful and can make life quite miserable. I’m enjoying being grateful and without meaning to oversimplify things, I wonder if that’s where most of us are going wrong. What we are not appreciating is that being positive is so much less stressful than being negative.

We aren’t grateful so we always want more.

We struggle to ‘get’ more because life gets in the way (inflation, breakdown of relationships, loss of jobs etc)

We then are hard on ourselves because we have failed to get more.

For example, Tim and I were discussing the cost of phone bills last night. When I took out my first phone contract back in 2006, I paid Ā£30 a month for an all singing all dancing contract. Now a basic contract is around Ā£36 and people will happily pay out Ā£40-50 for the new iPhone. We personally could not justify spending that much to keep up with the latest trends and if we were 10 years younger this might really get to us.

Our question is….when did it become okay to pay these prices – and paying for something that is impacting on our social skills and mental health?

Don’t get me wrong, I spend hours on my phone, but it’s an interesting concept.

The one downside to this shift in mindset is that I find it harder to empathise with people’s problems that aren’t actual problems.

I appreciate that all problems are very ‘real’ in the moment to that person. But when you are able to stand back and say ‘how much of a problem is this in the grand scheme of things?’ then it’s altogether a very different story.

People still come to me for advice and their problems aren’t that significant but because they are so consumed in all the stuff they don’t have, they are forgetting to look at what they do have, and it can be quite frustrating to listen to.

I maintain that if you have a roof over your head, food on the table, people that love you – then you are winning. On top of that, if you have a job that pays the bills and gives you a little spending money – then that’s the real lottery.

For the next week I challenge you to write down three things a day that you are grateful for… they don’t have to be elaborate. It can be thing such as ‘having toothpaste to brush my teeth with’. Not everyone has that luxury.

Life Update: 4 Months Later

It is 4 months since I started this blog (where does the time go?) and I thought it would be a good time to reflect now that hopefully I have come through the other side.

If you’ve not read my blog before you may not know that my career and I went through a bit of a breakup back in April/May time… we both said a lot of stuff and it was hard. Mostly because I didn’t know what direction to turn in next.

The biggest problem of all wasn’t the clients I was working with – they hadn’t done anything wrong; it was some of my colleagues. They were ruining everything, including my mental health.

Since then a fair few tears have been shed. My mental health did take the plunge initially but I refused to be defeated and with the support of Tim, my family and my friends I’m turning a corner, especially after I managed to get some closure.

Despite all the fun stress of being unemployed and feeling lost; what scared me the most was how much life I had missed since 2012. Some of it very superficial, some less so. As part of being a therapist I often preach about occupational balance but in fact realised that I had very little balance myself. I’d shut down all my hobbies and I couldn’t even remember what my interests were! Somehow, despite making the vow that I would never do this, I had been consumed by my job.

In addition to (re)discovering the gym, watching ALL of the vlogs on YouTube, learning the ins and outs of our finances and learning to live on a tight budget, I am now starting to develop my own business – something I was never brave enough to do prior. It’s still very much a baby whilst I try to work out legal stuff, but considering Telle’s Nutritional Life wasn’t even a thing, I’m pretty pleased with how it’s slowly forming. One thing that’s very important to me is that I don’t want to force it.

I now also have an almost full time other job that’s going to let me be more of a therapist than I have been in a while and let me develop in a way I couldn’t have done whilst working as my actual job title. In addition to this, the hours are perfect for giving me time to focus on TNL and my pay cut is barely noticeable.

My relationship with Tim is stronger than ever and I admire him more than I thought possible. I won’t gush about him on here because no one wants to read that but he is annoyingly perfect.

The biggest thing I have learnt is that you actually can’t control anything and in some ways it’s surprisingly comforting (for the most part). I learnt that I can be the friendliest, smiliest, confident (but not arrogant), knowledgable candidate for a job yet still won’t get it because of that pesky internal candidate. I learnt that you can be exceptionally resourceful when you need to be. I learnt that going for a walk in the middle of nowhere makes you realise how much we generate our own stress and that life doesn’t need to be that complicated. I realised that living in Scotland with Tim means more to me than my career. I realised that sometimes we just have to wait for our dreams to come true (and sometimes this wait may have to be a decade or so). Finally I learnt that being a ‘realist’ or ‘pessimist’ has literally got me nowhere in life. I had spent my life preparing for failure because I didn’t think I could cope with the disappointment. I now partly think that instead, I had been setting myself up for the moment where I came close to losing my career, my home and my savings.

For whatever reason I have discovered positivity (of which many people who know me think I’m faking). But genuinely… we can choose to be happy in life or we can choose to be miserable. I was placing too much emphasis on the wrong things instead of realising we only have one life to live and that we should try and make it a good one.

I May Be Unemployed but Iā€™m Feeling Empowered

Sorry for the lack of posts in the past week… I’ve been busy tying us loose ends at my own old job.

Last time I blogged I had just quit my job and I had a week of writing 16 page reports. What I have learnt is that 16 page reports are completely pointless and can easily break you.

Wednesday was particularly challenging as I woke to the news that one of our rabbits had escaped and eaten the TV wire AND the WiFi wire which is ideal when you’re trying to work from home!

That did push me over the edge on Wednesday and I spent most of the day crying. Chronic stress can truly rob you of any coping skills eh.

Friday came and I finished my work and switched my computer off for what I thought was the last time. Unfortunately my boss got caught up in stuff and I now have to do my handover on Monday (no doubt unpaid).

However, the relief I felt at 5pm was indescribable. It wasn’t just a ‘I quit my job’ sensation but definitely ‘I just quit my career’ and I truly could feel 6 years worth of tension beginning to unravel. Which is good on one hand, but not good if you have epilepsy. The imagery in my head of the tension leaving my shoulders really reminded me of when the Beast becomes the Prince again in Beauty and the Beast. Very Disney esque.

This weekend I have been trying to control my anxiety. Waiting to see if I have a seizure but also relieved I’m no longer an OT. Tim’s parents are here and I would really like to not ruin their weekend by having a seizure.

Tim meanwhile, has been an absolute angel. His love for me must be unquantifiable because I must have been a nightmare to live with and he’s just been so protective.

I’m nowhere near better yet but I’m definitely improving. My sleep has DOUBLED and according to my Fitbit, my awake time is the least it’s ever been. Definitely letting my poor brain rest.

I have also decided two further things in my quest to have a lifestyle overhaul.

1) I’m going to take up yoga – the tension in my body currently means I can’t even touch my toes and my right hamstring is the the tightest thing EVER. I feel sore every time I move and I’m only 31. I’m pretty sure it’s just tension based and I think I could really get into yoga.

2) This decision has not been made lightly. I recently posted on Instagram how I’m not a fan of water. This is partly due to associating it with indigestion and tummy issues as I had a hiatus hernia growing up. Secondly, it’s just got a really metallic taste to me which isn’t pleasant. Thirdly, I need to drink with liquids that have another dimension (bubbles or a thick milkshake) – definitely sensory related.

However, I’ve been reading up on Cola and I hadn’t realised that much about the impact of the acid – I feel so much emphasis is placed on the sugar or sweetener content but I definitely feel the acid has impacted on me the most. Starting Monday I am going to start reducing my Cola consumption. This will not only impact my sweetener intake but also my caffeine intake so I’m very excited about the impending headaches…. however, with all the plastic in the sea, I feel like I need to get my habit in control to reduce my plastic waste and and I can also take care of myself. If I’m honest, my love for Cola hasn’t been as strong for a while, so now is definitely a good time!

3) I’m already half way through my first module for my Advanced Diploma in Nutrition and a Weight Management and it’s only been a week. I’m hoping I might be able to start my case study in a week’s time (I’ll be doing it as well as my mother). I’ll be regularly blogging and instagramming about how it goes as obviously it will be the same formulae I’ll be using for my clients in the future and I need to see if it works!

With all this stress knocking around it’s definitely impacted on my weight and I can’t wait to get back in control of everything.

I still have about 20lbs to go (at least) and it will be an 8 week programme. I can’t tell you how excited I am about it!

Today we off are to take Tim’s parents sightseeing in Edinburgh (although the sky is looking a bit grey). I’d love to chill and lie in bed but that will have to wait til Tuesday.

For now, have a good Sunday and I’ll catch up with you guys in a few days!