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.

How To Tackle Loneliness…

I woke up at the weekend with a sudden realisation that I am lonely.

At first I wondered why. I was at my parents and my husband was lying in the bed next to me. How could I possibly be lonely?!

The thing is, people talk at me. They share their problems, tell me what they’ve eaten and what they’re up to at the weekend. Tim will ask me how my day was but will spend the majority of the rest of the evening working on his podcast. Very rarely do people ask me about me. And trust me, this feels harsh to say.

9/10 times I am the one to send the first text message. I am the one to suggest we meet up. I am the one to visit someone’s house. And my friends are lovely. But it’s hard to maintain this when all but a few are the same.

Some of this is my fault. I’ve always held the belief that you don’t need one best friend, you need lots of close friends, and this has always worked well. I have on occasions been flakey, cancelling at the last minute (usually because I’m too tired). However the biggest change in my social life came when my friends started to have children and their priorities changed (and rightly so).

At the same time, we are saving for a house (well, trying). It means we can’t justify going out and being frivolous with our money. I know I’m considerably more boring than I used to be and this isn’t helping matters either.

Then there’s the part where I don’t drink. My friends that are now parents ensure that their big nights out involve alcohol, and I am often left without an invite despite the fact that they know I’m fine without a drink in me.

So things need to change. I can’t rely on Tim to entertain me all evening every evening. I want his podcast to be a success and I appreciate this takes a lot of work.

I need to find myself some new friends. We won’t be having children any time soon (most likely ever) and it’s perfectly fine to say that friendships change and people move on. If we were to be parents, I’d be relying on getting me some new mummy friends, so there’s no difference in finding friends that I have other stuff in common with.

Tim and I will also be implementing a digital detox on at least one evening a week to ensure we spend time together. We will bring back date night which could be in our house or outside (finances dependent) and I will be trying my best to be slightly more interesting.

We will obviously crack on with trying to buy a house. I’ve found the dream house but I just need to save a few thousand 😂 – once we get a house, we can get my puppy which I swear will change my life!

I will continue to try and make friends through social media as well… even if it’s superficial. But one of our reasons for leaving Surrey and moving to Scotland was because I was lonely. I refuse to let it happen again.

Top 10 Ideas For Self-Care

Firstly, self care isn’t a new concept. It’s something we’ve been doing for years – it used to be called ‘me’ time.

‘Me’ time was considered to be for stressed out Mum’s that couldn’t wait to have some time away from the kids, but nowadays it’s much more acceptable for everyone to engage in some self care time.

The point is, we all need time on our own to regroup. Spending long hours in the office, looking after the kids, being unemployed, saving for a house or a wedding, or starting a new relationship (or keeping an existing relationship alive) all put strain on our emotional resilience.

It doesn’t even need to be something as dramatic as above. Hitting up your local supermarket on a Saturday afternoon can be just as taxing.

Having a time out from life can let your body relax, let your mind sort out its affairs and let you do something that is meaningful to you.

So on that note, here’s my 5 top go-tos for some self-care:

1) Bath – I light some candles, put YouTube on and watch some random videos of health and fitness youtubers. It inspires me to remain healthy, reminds me of how I really must exercise sometime soon and introduces me to new healthy recipes.

2) Cinema – this is dependent on what’s being shown, but if it’s worth watching I’m definitely making my way to the cinema with some popcorn or a Tango Ice-blast in tow. That’s a guaranteed 2 hours on average on focusing on something completely different, allowing my brain to have a rest.

3) Cooking – I really enjoy cooking up some new easy, tasty and (mostly) healthy recipes. I get a great deal of satisfaction creating some yummy food that is lacking in the random crap they put in processed food.

4) Yoga – normally I’m getting quite stressed out if I find myself yearning for a stretch and some meditation or mindfulness. Listening to nothing but my breathing is a great way for a mental break whilst working on your flexibility and muscle strength (I wrote ‘your breathing’ and realised I sounded super creepy 😂).

5) Shopping – retail therapy. Need I say more!

Self-care is anything you enjoy. I have focused on mostly solitary activities in this post because I spend my days interacting with about 40 people a day so I like to seek out peace and quiet when I can.

However, self care can also take form in spending time with your friends, going for a massage – literally anything goes. As long as it’s time spent on you.

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 😂

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 £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 😂

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 £30 a month for an all singing all dancing contract. Now a basic contract is around £36 and people will happily pay out £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.

It’s Only A Setback

It’s fair to say that these past 7 days have been somewhat of a rollercoaster, but I’m choosing to ignore the couple of days of tears and focus on the fact that my mind has taken in SO much information.

It all started when I was introduced to The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris. It was 99p on Amazon so obviously I downloaded it within about thirty seconds.

Now some of this stuff I have thought about previously and dismissed. I wouldn’t say I lack confidence in my thoughts but before I created this blog, who could I share them with?

So what has Russ taught me?

Happiness is not a destination and it’s not a constant. We are always chasing something we will never achieve and we wonder why we are all feeling a bit mopey! We associate happiness with success and therefore because we don’t all live like a Kardashian, we are quite simply failing at life. Research has even shown that people who chase happiness are more likely to experience depression.
Let’s think about it… let’s set up the generic fairy tale. Big house, happily married, two typically healthy children, two fancy pants car in the drive, holiday home in some exotic destination and two well-paid dream jobs. You know the kind.
Except the boiler has broken, one of the kids shoved their Barbie down the toilet, the other kid has a sickness bug. One of the cars has a flat tyre, there’s a hurricane headed towards your holiday home, and one of your jobs is under threat. Depending on how we let negative, stressful, worrisome situations affect us, it could just be the Barbie or the boiler that tipped the scale for us to think ‘I can’t cope. I just want to be happy’. Alternatively we could be in a position to accept and cope with all the above and still find some happiness. After all, the boiler and the toilet can be fixed, the kid will recover (my language here demonstrates how ready I am for motherhood), there’s a spare tyre in the garage, the hurricane could be downgraded before it reaches your home, and you can afford to live off one wage if you need to. You have your partner, two children, your health and you live near the beach (nature is good for you).

In addition to this, two other significant things happened.

On 5th September 2018 was our first wedding anniversary. For some reason (including PMS), I was overwhelmed with emotion. I wasn’t sad – I just felt so incredibly lucky to have Tim in my life that it made me cry like a baby. Tim found it all quite amusing.

Anyway on my personal Facebook page I did the traditional ‘go us’ post, but it felt insignificant just to say ‘Happy Anniversary Bae’ after all he’s done for me. I let down my guard and summarised the year we have experienced and the reaction it had was very strange. People who I haven’t spoken to for years started sending messages of support and private messages of ‘if you ever want to talk’. But I wasn’t looking for sympathy or support – I was just stating that I was grateful for Tim. It was very kind of them don’t get me wrong – but their messages  made me feel like I was on the brink of being sectioned. However, what was more surreal was that I also had messages thanking me for being so open and that these people who appeared to have all their s*** together could relate.

Secondly, two things happened to me last Thursday. I was having a down day because of my never ending job saga and had a little bit of a meltdown. Sobbing. Standard practice. Once my mood started to lift after about EIGHT hours (I cried for about 30 minutes in total), I was relaying my woes to various friends and each one of them told me to be more positive and stop focusing on the negatives.

Now if I’m honest, I’m quite proud of how I’ve managed these past 4 months. I’ve self-rehabbed from burnout. I’ve worked on having a more positive approach to life. I’ve been working on my blog, plucking up the courage to start doing vlogs, planning a podcast, completing a nutrition course, learning a wealth of information on coaching, learning to live on a shoestring and developed and evolved the concept of TNL out of thin air. Now I know my friends meant well, but on the same day I was reading The Happiness Trap and how happiness is not a constant, and it got me reflecting on what my friends had said.

We feel an array of emotions on a daily basis – worry, happiness, stress, love, sadness, anger… yet I felt like there should have been some official diagnosis for me because I was showing something that wasn’t happiness.  Now I know that they weren’t telling me to ‘man up’ and that they do just want me to be happy, but I felt an added pressure that I had to hide my stress and worry and put on a  smile to appease others. And if you know me, that’s not my strongest trait.

It got me reflecting on the mental health movement. Now please don’t get me wrong – I think it’s excellent that we are talking about mental health, that people are coming forward saying they’ve experienced mental health problems, and I am in no way trying to undo any of that hard work. I openly admit that my mental health can be a bit dubious at times, most notably in 2008 and 2014, but there have only been a handful of times in my life that I have had genuine cruel thoughts about myself. I have never had any suicidal thoughts, and even over the past 4 months I have cried because I was exhausted, angry and most recently frustrated, but never because I felt hopeless. I would truly feel uncomfortable saying that I was in anyway experiencing depression or anxiety.

The problem that I now feel is possibly arising is that by normalising mental health problems, we are increasing the pressure on us to feel happy all the time. You can’t possibly ‘get out of the wrong side of bed’ anymore and surely this is going to start creating a vicious cycle of chasing happiness, thus increasing the likelihood of depression?

Following on from that I started listening to a couple of podcasts – one of which is called Crappy to Happy. Cass and Tiff (the hosts) were discussing the idea of ‘threat’ versus ‘challenge’ and how even though technically we are pooping our pants in both situations, we react very differently depending on how we categorise the situation. During this same episode they mentioned the word ‘setback’ and I can’t really tell you how the podcast finished because my mind went down a rabbit hole.

For some reason when the word ‘setback’ filtered into my auditory system, everything fell into place. Generation #liveyourbestlife have stopped talking about setbacks.  We are too busy constantly striving for success and we have forgotten to admit that setbacks happen and that’s perfectly okay.

For me, I’m half jobless (don’t even ask), we may have to move, we are utilising our savings to stay afloat. It’s a significant setback, yes. But I haven’t failed. My marriage won’t fall apart (I’ve had that dream four times this week). We may have to move to a smaller abode but we won’t be homeless. We have our health (mostly). I look around our flat and although we have had to sell some stuff, we still have plenty of crap knocking around.

We are experiencing a setback.

Everyone I know is experiencing some kind of setback… a relationship that fell apart, a loss of a job, health problems, financial problems (probably should have put that first), fertility problems, but not one of them have said ‘yeah so this is a setback.’ I’m very aware that a lot of my friends only speak to me in a crisis (which is fine), so I do hear a lot of ins and outs of people’s lives that others don’t have the privilege of hearing. But because of this, everyone has been quickly chasing something to fill in the gaps that have suddenly been created to make sure that they remain looking like they’re ‘on track. In addition to this none of us possess any patience anymore (not that I ever did) to let the storm pass.

I am lead to believe that only 10% of our ‘happiness’ is created by the situation that we are currently in and for the first time in my life I would agree with that number. Yes I become frustrated that we have no cash to go beyond necessities, and my faith in the human race is not at an ideal level, but there are still a lot of positives in my life and I may be 90 before this setback is over, but I trust that one day it will be over.

The Power of Positivity?

The Law of Attraction is something I knew roughly about but hadn’t really ever considered but I’m now wondering whether there’s something to it…

For the most part, since 2006 life has truly been a rollercoaster, especially since 2012. I had always just assumed that I had been walking into negative situations which had essentially given me a negative outlook on life (understandably, I’d say) and I didn’t want to be positive because I wouldn’t cope if something bad happened.

Two days ago it dawned on me that maybe I had misinterpreted the situation. Perhaps because I was in a negative mindset, I was attracting negative situations? I will happily admit that although I still strongly relate to the therapy I am trained in, the profession itself is not for me and every job I have had has been more stressful than it should have ever been.

Amidst my world of negativity, there was one day in April 2014 when I said to my flatmate, “I really need to commit to finding my future husband. He needs to be about 5ft 9-11, have good style, have a degree, be kind, preferably blue eyes”. I kid you not, the very next day Tim appeared in my ‘he liked your photo’ thing on POF. In addition to this, I was stalking Tim’s Twitter at the time (OBVS) and he had written two days before we first messaged “think I’m going to have a break from this dating malarkey”.

WEIRD.

In addition to the above, I had never really understood the quote ‘surround yourself with positive people’ – positive people annoyed me. Get them as far as away as possible if you ask me.

Since May, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I now ONLY want to be surrounded by positive people. For the first time I am appreciating looking at life through a positive lens and that life is for living and we only get once chance to live this life. As cliché as it sounds, it’s so true.

What led me to write about this was a conversation I had with my Mum who said ‘I don’t believe this façade you’re putting on’. I suggested to her that perhaps I’m reacting differently because I’m no longer in a negative mindset.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have the days where I’m scared about our financial situation and have a little cry, but in terms of life, I am possibly the happiest I have ever been (except for my wedding day). 

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