My friends will tell you I’m not averse to blowing my own trumpet, I work hard, I’m a loyal friend and I have an over flowing bucket (not even a glass) of optimism that rarely falters. But when I started to suffer from anxiety it hit me like a sledgehammer as I’d never really suffered with it before. In fact, I was pretty efficient in my thinking, able to weigh up the options and make a decision quickly. Anxiety at the time started with a driving anxiety and what I thought was isolated to driving quickly bled into other areas of my life. As a decisive person this really rocked me, was I who I thought I was if I could unravel so quickly? I started second guessing easy decisions which soon started to affect my sleeping, eating and my relationships as I felt I was hiding a large part of myself from the people closest to me.
Ironically something that had become such a big problem for me lead me to a new career, so I have a lot to thank for the strange way in which my mind stepped in to help me at a time when I really wasn’t thinking like myself.
How do I fix Me when I no longer feel like me?
At first I buried my head in the sand and carried on, if I persisted long enough surely something is going to give, right? But my thoughts and fears of getting in the car started to spiral into more negative thinking and when I struggled to drive a mile due to the anxiety I decided to take action.
I don’t know why I sort out hypnosis, I’d never had it before, I knew very little about it but something drew me towards it and when I booked an appointment with my GP by chance I picked up a leaflet for a local therapist.
Through a few sessions I understood that in a time when I was ill with an ear infection and my equilibrium was all over the place. My mind stepped in to project me, to stop me and to force me to take some time to rest and recover. This might sound like a simple thing to do, if you’re ill you stop to get better but I hadn’t been listening to my body for a long time relentlessly powering on regardless of how I was feeling. As well as my weekly sessions I diligently completed my homework of visualising driving on the motorway and remaining calm, becoming more and more confident with each drive I took.
Changes which made me feel like Me again.
I made some changes to my life paying much closer attention to my mind and body and listening when I needed to recover, the biggest part of this work was being OK with resting, it wasn’t something I was very good at. Pinterest can give you a million self-care lists but until you build one for yourself and see what really resonates for you they really are just another pin on an ever-growing board.
Now I have a list of 5 things that I do every day to ensure I am listening to my body and my mind. These non-negotiables are what makes my optimism unlimited and it meant I was able to move on and support others with anxiety.
My Me again! 5 Tips for a balanced body and mind
#1 Challenge your thoughts
“Don’t believe everything you think”, Practice challenging any thought which keeps coming back around, Distance yourself from it. If it doesn’t sound like you or if you don’t know who you sound like write them down. Often when a thought is written down no matter how true or crazy they are, it’s easier to see it for what it is.
They often fall into 3 categories;
1) Things you can change – Use your imagination, get creative to resolve and change.
2) Things you can’t change – Accept them and move on.
3) Things you’re not sure about – Discuss them with a friend, talk it out, see whether they can be re-organised into 1 or 2.
#2 Get moving
It’s pretty simple just move, don’t put pressure on yourself to run a half marathon, or to complete an Instagram worthy yoga class. Find what movement works for you and do it! Just do 5 minutes (I guarantee it will lead to more) walk, swim or run.
When we take a break and change environments we feel something different. It allows us to move away from a thought we’ve been obsessing over and gain some clarity.
#3 Embrace and Engage
People thrive off communication and the more we connect the less isolated we feel. Be in the moment and engage in the conversation, listen and respond. You are not alone and others maybe feeling the same, share your thoughts there’s no need to hide worries away. Even if your daily contact is with the postie or a neighbour… Make it a good one!
#4 It’s OK to say No
Contrary to popular opinion, it’s OK to say no! you are not obliged to do something you don’t want to do and you’re the only one who can decide. If it won’t make you happy say no.
If you find you’re a yes person try listing how many times you’ve said yes this week and really wanted to say no, it’s an eye opener and can empower you to start saying no more.
#5 Give yourself a bedtime
Regardless of the day, set yourself a bedtime, this programmes the brain and body clock to get used to a routine. Most adults need between 6 & 9 hours sleep, my sweet spot is 7.5 no more and no less. Allowing for a relaxing environment without TV and phones supports a measured approach to a peaceful bedtime, find what works for you.
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