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.

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 👌

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 😂

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!

2018… You Have Been Weird

I know… I’m rubbish. Since starting my job in October, this blog has taken somewhat of a hit. I’m sorry!

However, as we fast approach 2019 (and yes one of my resolutions is to crack on with this again), I thought it would be rather apt to look back on the past 12 months and think ‘WTF WAS THAT?!’

I won’t bang on about how rubbish the first 10 months of this year were… there are many many posts about that. What is super weird though is how the year is ending. In the past 3 months, miracles have occurred.

I started my new job which I adore. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. I wish I could tell you where it was and what it involved, but alas I cannot. However, I’m still an OT and it’s all going rather splendidly. That was a close one guys.

I have completed by Advanced Diploma in Nutrition and Weight Management which has proved very useful. It is very challenging not to become embroiled in the dieting industry on Instagram… every diet has an excellent sales pitch. However, I will be doing my best in 2019 to follow what I have learnt from this course. Of course, I would love to be rocking my active wear with my belly out by tomorrow, but firstly, let’s be realistic and I also want to incorporate healthy habits into my daily life to ensure I enter my elderly years in the best way possible.

The final and best thing that’s happened this year however, is the change in my attitude to life. Now I know… When I used to hear people speak of daily gratitude I was the first to do an eye roll and think it was all a load of tosh. Just ask my friends. HOWEVER, when it was all going a bit wrong, I really started working on being grateful for what I had and let go of all the dreams to own this, that and the other because I had to for my sanity. Now don’t get me wrong. There were many days when I sobbed on the phone to my Mum asking her what was the point in working so hard to lose it all. I am only human. However I started listening to podcasts on Mindfulness, being thankful for what I had e.g. my incredibly supportive family and friends and REALLY worked hard on not trying to freak out.

And I’m now a completely different person. I’m not afraid to say I feel content and at peace for the first time in as many years as I can remember. Granted there are more awkward silences because I have nothing to moan about, but it’s a small sacrifice.

Of course, I still go on Right Move daily and spend my days on Instagram trawling through millions of photos of dogs. I have put on a few lbs but it is another resolution to get that weight off ASAP. But I’m not sitting here beating myself up too much. To have maintained until December is a small miracle in itself after the turmoil this year has brought.

My life is far from perfect but the reality is, perfection doesn’t exist. As I’ve said before, as long as there’s a roof over your head, food on the table, water to drink and you’re surrounded by loved ones, you don’t really need much more than that.

I won’t miss 2018 by any stretch of the imagination, but I can only hope that it has equipped me with everything I need to have an amazing 2019!

 

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.

Why We Should All Try Harder To Stop Moaning

The fact that I am writing this is absolutely HILARIOUS as I was known for my moaning.

And I still moan. Today alone I have moaned about traffic lights, slow cars, being tired, not knowing what I wanted for dinner and a sore arm.

But what I have noticed is that I moan a lot less than I used to 😳

I would argue that about 80% of messages I receive from friends and family contain some form of moaning… tiredness, workload, loved ones, the weather, traffic, colleagues. The list goes on.

During my period of unemployment every penny was accounted for; we couldn’t do anything recreational, we came close to selling my car, losing our flat and my wardrobe has considerably less belongings in it than it did. As a result it made me grateful for the smaller things in life.

I realised that if we downsized our flat/apartment, we would still be able to live in Scotland, which was our main goal. In the mean time, we could still go for walks and see the gorgeous scenery Scotland has to offer. If we had still been living in Surrey and this situation had occurred, then I’m not sure what we would have done! (Fortunately it didn’t come to moving flats but we were one month away from having to inform our landlord).

As you know, I’ve spent a lot of time on social media and one thing that I found really struck a chord with me…

‘If you keep food in the refrigerator, your clothes in a closet, if you have a bed to sleep in and a roof over your head… you are richer than 75% of the population’.

Now I don’t know how accurate the statistics are before anyone starts but they are arguably within the ballpark.

We have SO MUCH to be grateful for, but instead we focus on the negative. What I should have been saying this morning is ‘I may be tired but at least I had a good sleep’ and ‘at least I can afford a car and sit at traffic lights’.

I’ve also noticed that this approach to life has had a significant impact on my happiness levels. I am happy.

As a notorious control freak I’ve noticed I’m less anxious. I’m happy for life to go the way it wants to go. What will be will be. What’s the point in stressing?

I encourage you to try the following. Instead of moaning that your soup at lunch burnt your tongue, take a moment to be grateful that you had soup AND lunch.

If you’re anything like me, it won’t take long to notice the changes in your thought processes and at least be aware that you are moaning.

Gratitude is definitely underrated.

Are Health Foods Worth It?

I will confess that for the past four months I have watched HOURS (probably days) worth of Health and Fitness Youtubers, and I will also admit that I fell for the hard sell of supplements that are regularly portrayed in their videos.

Now I am not a nutritional therapist, and I am not qualified to say whether certain supplements work or not, but as a fellow ‘influencee’ I wanted to acknowledge that I too got lured into the hype of these supposed magical natural remedies that will make you feel incredible and look sensational.

Having issues such as a yeast intolerance, a life time of digestive issues and chronic sinusitis AND having worked with doctors as part of my job, I often feel that a lot of things can at least be helped naturally, without dependency on medication. As part of my epilepsy, I am required to take 9 pills a day (including AED’s and supplements), so you can probably understand why if there’s a way I can help something without turning to medication, I am keen to do so.

So when I saw these YouTubers’ with similar intolerances and digestive issues I was keen to tap into their world and study what they were eating and what supplements they were consuming. One thing that was heavily used was Maca Powder – which quite frankly I had never heard of. According to the YouTubers’ it’s a great natural remedy for energy boosts and balancing of hormones. Although I suspected my hormones were okay, I could always do with an energy boost as I’ve never not been tired since my diagnosis back in 2006!

I did a little bit of extra research and couldn’t see any problems. That weekend I walked into my local supermarket and what should be there – Maca Powder! It was destiny.

Now I won’t lie – I definitely felt an energy boost and it was like water of a duck’s back to bash out 3 HIIT’s in four days despite not having exercised for weeks. I felt great!

We then went to the Highlands were I openly discussed that I was having horrendous heart burn but I soon put this down to living off rubbish for 5 days. During my time away I concluded that my gut health wasn’t great and followed a 75% plantbased diet on my return and the indigestion subsided.

The following week, the heartburn remained at bay but I had such a terrible pain in my stomach. I put it down to a bug or gastritis and with the heavy use of the 16:8 intermittent fasting, I began to win the battle.

Coming into this week, my weight shot up and has kindly stayed that way since. Yes, I thought it was retention too but no it appears to be fat as my stomach has got bigger. I even took a pregnancy test and it’s not that either.

This week I have suffered from so much trapped wind it’s been unbelievable. In fact, today I purchased my third set of antacids in 3 weeks.

Since Sunday I’ve been keeping a food diary in relation to bloat, trapped wind and heartburn and there was a slight pattern suggesting nuts weren’t helping matters. That is, until today.

If I’m honest, I was beginning to get quite worried. Is it stress? Am I ill? Is it IBS? Have I developed another intolerance? I still don’t know for sure.

However, there has been a development.

I decided to google side effects of Maca Powder. To me, it was just a fancy powdered vegetable kind of thing, and I personally don’t tend to google the side effects of vegetables on the whole. But at this point I had nothing to lose.

There were SO many forums and articles relating to stomach pain and Maca Powder. Yes it does help with energy and hormone balance, but studies have also suggested it can support weight gain (definitely not what I need) and that users should be careful of digestive issues that may emerge when consuming it. People also reported poor gut health because the Maca Powder was interfering with their flora.

Now yes I have a history of digestive issues but this is due to a hiatus hernia and I don’t typically consume antacids at the rate I have been doing so for the past 3-4 weeks. I also find it weird that I have lots of wind and pain but don’t see any changes in the bathroom department (sorry, TMI).

So I will keep you updated on my Maca Saga – if I’m honest, I think it’s most likely the route of my problems due to the timings of everything.

However what this has made me aware of is how different we all are. A healthy balanced diet should mean that for most people supplements aren’t required. But when there are these ‘natural remedies’ promoting that they will help you get your s*** together, it’s obvious that we may be tempted to buy into them.

I’m not disparaging health foods – they certainly have their place. But it just goes to show they’re not suitable for everyone. It’s definitely made me open my eyes and made me realise I’ve sucked into the Instagram vacuum of clean eating – something which I vowed I would never do.

Grrr.