Self Care Tools to Better Your Mental Health and Wellness.

(image: Unsplash)

Looking to improve your mental health today? These 5 resources will help you to develop a healthy self-care regime.

1 . The Blissful Mind 

The Blissful Mind is a self-care blog, here you’ll find a range of useful articles to help you create a structured self-care routine. Catherine is a mindset coach and self-care expert, her goal is to help people achieve a positive outlook, develop a self-care regime, and avoid stress. Using this blog you can learn about the best time management practices to help you make time for what’s important. On the blog, you’ll find a range of different topics, including ‘The Power Of Setting Daily Intentions’, and ‘How To Build A Strong Foundation For Your Inner Life’.

2. Rachael Kable 

Rachael Kable is a mindfulness coach, dedicated to helping people live their best lives. On Rachel’s blog, you’ll find plenty of practical tips for self-care, mindfulness, and improving your mental health. Explore a wide range of articles including ‘Self Care Tips For Busy People’, ‘Simple Bedtime Meditations’, and ‘Ways To Manage Stress’.

3. Sanity & Self

Sanity & Self is a great self-care application, here you can access plenty of activities and tips for self development. Perhaps you’re looking to reduce your anxiety symptoms? You might be looking to recover from a breakup, or boost your self-confidence? Whatever you’re looking to work on Sanity & Self is the perfect toolkit. Using this app you can explore a range of content, themes include sleep, self-love, stress, and more. The app includes both a journal and a mood tracker to help you create a healthy routine.

4. My Possible Self App

My Possible Self is a wonderful app for mental health, there are lots of activities to rewire your thoughts, practice healthy habits and learn new things. The app includes CBT methods and plenty of useful coping strategies. Users can benefit from lots of great features, such as:

  • Visual & Audio Exercises: There are a range of activities to help with sleep, relaxation, and mood.
  • Journaling: Writing in a journal is a great way to write down your emotions and problems. You can use a journal to reflect and problem solve.
  • Motivation: Get all the motivational tips you need to improve your self-care regime.

5. 100% Guilt-Free Self Care 

Looking for an awesome self-care podcast? Then you need 100% Guilt-Free Self Care. Tami is a self-care expert, here to teach you that there’s nothing selfish about the world of self-care. Throughout these episodes, you’ll learn how to fit self-care into a busy lifestyle. You’ll start to understand how you can let go of guilt, and improve your mental wellbeing.

All of these resources can be accessed using a mobile phone, laptop, or tablet. For the best results, update your operating system before attempting to access your content. If you’re looking to speed up mac check out the post from MacPaw to improve the performance of your device that will in turn, help your self care.

With the use of these tools, you’ll improve your self-care routine in no time at all. From apps to podcasts there are lots of ways to learn about self-care, to help you look after yourself and your wellbeing.

This article was written by a freelance writer.

Take Care of Yourself with these Tips to help Mental Health.

Self-care is a term thrown around these days and it’s one that you really have to pay attention to! If you’re going through a tough time or even if you’re not you need to learn how to look after yourself properly. It should never be understated that your self-care has to be a priority for you. 

It can help to know that there are things that you can do to feel far less overwhelmed than you do right now. Taking care of yourself – whether through exercise or through other methods – is vital to your continued health. Being careful about your self-care choices is important, too, as the effect of diet on mental health can be bad for some people. Working out what works for you will take some time, but it will be worth it! With that in mind, here are some ways that you can take care of yourself and ensure that you feel good for a change!

Image Source: Pexels

  1. Treat yourself well. You don’t want to be someone who has nothing to look forward to, so make sure that you are doing something for yourself every single day. Even if it’s something as simple as a face mask while you brush your hair in the morning, make sure that you are doing it so that you can say that you looked after yourself today.
  2. Move your body. Put your headphones on and have a dance party in the house by yourself if you don’t want to get out and run. Consider how much you can feel good just by simply moving your body more than usual. You’ll release a lot of endorphins when you do things this way, and exercise will make you feel good!
  3. Choose to indulge in your passions. Are you excited about painting or do you like to make new clothes? Whatever it is, make time for it! You should give yourself at least 30 minutes every day to do something that you love and you can feel more fulfilled.
  4. Build on your strengths if you’re feeling low. You need to figure out what you are good at and then build on those to feel better about yourself. You could be going through a particularly tough time and you should ask a family member or a friend to help you to figure out what you’re the best at. That way, you can ensure that you have more self knowledge.
  5. Practice being mindful. Whatever it is you need to do to remind yourself of who you are, do it. Practice being in the moment and eat, walk and spend time with others while being mindful. Colouring books are a great way to do that, as they can reduce your stress levels and make you feel focused and resilient. You can meditate, use the Calm app and even just chill out in nature. Take your time here, because you won’t regret the time spent looking after you. It’s all you need to refresh your soul.

This article was written by a freelance writer

Sending Self Care Packages: A Guide to Sending Gifts

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When our friends and family are struggling with their mental health, it can be lovely to cheer them up with a self care gift.. Sending a gift through the mail can truly brighten someones day. Thankfully, online services and postal offices are generally very helpful when it comes to sending something. The gift could be treats for them to spoil themselves with such as bath bombs, sheet masks, hand and body creams, some inspirational quotes or books or even something soft to cuddle!


Remember that there will be delays during festive seasons

If you’re trying to send a gift during a festive season such as Christmas then remember that the postal system is probably overloaded with packages and there will be delays. Don’t expect things to arrive on time and always plan ahead.

Think about the delivery date

If its for a birthday or you want to get them their self care package quickly, its always possible it may not arrive on time. Always plan for the worst and make sure you ship the item/s early so that it at least arrives to them. Think of lovely ideas to cheer your friend or family member up!

Buy it online and send it directly

If you have any concerns or problems with sending a self care gift yourself then the easiest way to handle this is to buy the item online and send it directly to someone. For example, you could send flowers through a store instead of buying them at a florist, attempting to keep them safe in a box, and then sending it. A self care idea is to send bright flowers like sunflowers- which are happy and hopeful or others such as roses!

Do: Always package it properly

If your item is fragile then you’re going to need some serious packaging if you want it to arrive in one piece. For ultimate protection, use a very sturdy box with plenty of protective materials inside. To add an extra layer of protection, consider putting the item into a box within another box, if you are packaging it yourself! If online, you wont need to worry.

Make sure its from a reputable company, with good packaging

Make sure any self care gift is packaged correctly and with good, strong materials. It’s great that you’re thinking of reusing some old cardboard boxes for your packaging and padding, but you need to make sure that it’s going to withstand some damage during the shipping process and protects the items within. If from a good trusted company, their packaging should be sturdy enough.

Put a Smile on their face!

Be thoughtful and think of things they will love. I always find that inspirational quote cards, some beautiful flowers or chocolates, bubble bath or something humourous will always cheer people up who are going through a hard time!

Self Care Ideas for Positive Change in 2021.

(image: Toa Haftaba on Unsplash)

As we move deeper into April, your new year’s resolutions may feel like a distant dream. This is because we often set ourselves large-scale goals that are hard to maintain for long periods instead of introducing small changes that will have a significant impact further down the line. 

As a result, you must understand that sometimes the smallest alterations can have the biggest impact on your life and are often the most effective when it comes to making changes. You also don’t need to wait for the start of a new year to enact them – you can get started whenever you feel ready to do so.

With that in mind, here are some easy ways in which you can put your best foot forward for the rest of 2021 – bringing around positive change in the process. 

Get to grips with your finances.

According to a recent study, around half of the adult population in the UK worry about money on a weekly basis. Therefore, one of the ways in which you can enact positive change in your life is by taking some time to get to grips with your finances – finding new ways to make the most of your money, meaning you can make penny count. This could include: 

  • Setting yourself a budget. 
  • Opening a savings account and putting a small amount of money into it each month.

(image: Feeh Costa on Unsplash)

Take some time for yourself. Sometimes, the biggest changes occur when we start focusing on self-love and development. Thankfully, there are various ways in which you can do that, such as: 

  • Focusing on being introspective, trying to understand why you may act or behave in a certain way and how you can alter your perspective of yourself and your current situations. 
  • Spending time doing something you love – whether that means exploring nature or re-reading your favourite book. 
  • Challenging yourself to try something new once a week. Whether that means you introduce a new colour into your wardrobe or pick up a new hobby. 

Participating in a digital detox

Tackle problems and worries head-on.

Nobody likes dealing with issues. We often try to push them aside in the hopes that they will come to a natural resolution on their own. However, this is often not the case – and many problems will intensify the longer we chose to ignore them. Therefore, by tackling them head-on – or at least starting to address them, you can continue to put your best foot forward.

For example, if you spend a lot of time worrying about events that will happen far in the future – think of everything that will happen in your life between now and then. This can help put your anxiety into perspective and teach you that you have nothing to worry about. However, it can also help you plan for the future and ease your mind.  

Make your mental health a priority and get support if needed too from a trusted GP or therapist.

This blog was written by a freelance writer

Self Care Activities to do for Those Who Love to Be Alone: by Regina Thomas

My Image Source: Envato 

Finding ways to spend a little time with just yourself without worrying about the stress of what others are needing of you can be a little challenging at times. There are many ways that you and others can enjoy a few hours of solitude with different activities for those who like to be alone.

There are also plenty of reasons why you may want to enjoy a private retreat where you have your own space to unwind. Perhaps you are just too much of a workaholic or you find your days too hectic. Or perhaps you’re not ready to settle into a committed relationship yet. Whatever the reason, there are many ways to get some time alone.

A Little Private Getaway

You can enjoy your own space without having to make other arrangements to do so, such as renting a quiet place to stay. You can do this at times when you feel most comfortable and if you don’t mind a short nap in between activities. Of course, you can also find homes that are full of amenities that will provide everything you need to relax.

Get Out in Nature

You can take part in a variety of activities such as yoga or other types of exercise that allow you to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the outdoors. Or you might enjoy fishing, hiking, boating, or swimming. Many people even find ways to get involved in activities like taking hikes around the lake, camping out in the woods, or enjoying the ocean.

Whether it be camping in Pennsylvania or enjoying the sunset on Cannon Beach by yourself. Being in nature can also just improve your mental health and lessen the distractions of everyday life for a little while. 

Spend Some Time at Home

If you have children, you might find it easier to relax and have your own space. Many parents find it difficult to leave their kids at home alone so they have to choose ways to make sure that they can be left alone. But, many other times, you’ll be able to have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you are doing the best you can to keep your family safe and healthy.

In addition, you can also find a way to relax by watching television. A lot of families have a set schedule for watching television and it’s a common practice to have each member of the family to watch a different show during the day while relaxing in the same room. Of course, there’s no set amount of TV you can watch but in some cases, you might find a favorite show to watch on weekends so that you and others can enjoy some quality time together.

It’s a good idea to have a book nearby as well. Reading can help you unwind and allow you to feel like you are part of a world where nothing is really important. Whether you are reading a good book about nature, history, psychology, romance, or any other subject, you can learn a lot of valuable things from reading, while keeping yourself busy.

Take That Time for Yourself

It can be exciting to explore different activities for those who like to be alone. It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and forget how great it feels to be able to just sit back and enjoy the fresh air and let it all pass you by. You don’t have to always have to be an active person to enjoy the quiet and solitude of a retreat – simply taking the time to focus and read your favorite books can be an enjoyable way to relax in the privacy of your own home.

These are just a few ideas to think about when it comes to activities for those who like to be alone. By spending some time doing different things that you enjoy, you can make sure that your mental health and self love are at an all time high.

15 Ways to Turn Your Home into a Self Care Sanctuary: by ImproveNet

Mental health plays a critical role in our lives, and self-care is an important aspect of our mental well-being. Self-care encompasses any activity we undertake to improve our emotional, mental and physical health. 

Make Your Home a Calmer Place

  1. Declutter and organize; donate or throw out what you don’t need
  2. Paint walls with calming colours — blue, green and pink are peaceful
  3. Cover walls with your favorite artwork, photos or inspirational posters
  4. Welcome plants into your life; greenery helps us feel more relaxed
  5. Light candles with soothing scents: lavender, citrus, pine, vanilla, jasmine
  6. Add essential oils to a diffuser; valerian, lavender, jasmine relieve anxiety
  7. Open blinds to natural light, purchase warm-toned bulbs, add dimmers
  8. Purchase soft, comfortable bedding to make you feel cozy and protected
  9. Weighted blankets have been proven to help ease stress and anxiety

Make Yourself More Comfortable

  1. Dress comfortably at home; PJs, a robe or cozy socks are relaxing
  2. Give yourself a home spa treatment with face mask, cooling gel, etc.
  3. Enjoy a long soak in the tub; add Epsom salts to relax muscles 
  4. Take care of your skin by exfoliating, dry brushing and moisturizing 
  5. Consider meditation, deep breathing or yoga to decrease stress
  6. Get plenty of exercise at home: stretch, dance, run on a treadmill

94% of Millennials reported making personal improvement commitments in 2015. Compare this with Boomers at 84% and Gen X at 81%. 

This guest blog and infographic was created by ImproveNet.

Self Care Tips for 2020: Guest blog by Anthony L.

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(image: Pexels)

Now that we are well into 2020 and the landscape seems to be changing every day. Social distancing, quarantine and pandemic are words that would have been foreign in the beginning of 2020 but have now become the new normal. Even though things are changing and it is easy to feel frustrated and disappointed, try to reflect on ways to care for yourself, no matter what the remainder of the year brings because self-care is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

Set a routine

It is important to maintain a routine even though you might be staying home more than ever. Even though it might be tempting to stay in pajamas all day and wait to eat breakfast until the afternoon, sticking to the smallest parts of your old routine such as getting dressed and putting on makeup in the morning can give you that jolt of motivation you need.

Make sure to be intentional about planning your day and what you want to accomplish by setting a routine to stick to. Include time to get dressed, work, cook meals, do housework and some time for hobbies and leisurely activities that you enjoy (even if the way you do those things has changed a bit). 

Change your spaces

One of the primary areas that can fuel your energy and attitude are your surroundings. When being stuck inside all day, it’s easy to lose motivation in the same space you function in every single day. Enlighten yourself by shaking things up. Add some new decor or declutter and organize your home or apartment. With all of the additional time on your hands, it’s the perfect opportunity for some much-needed change. 

Start with a room you normally spend time in or one that you don’t. Begin by going through every item within and get rid of things that are no longer valuable to you. Then, re-organise what you plan to keep into a designated home. After you have re-organised everything you own, completely change your scenery. Get out of the house for some fresh air by taking a walk around your neighborhood or going for a drive.

Check up on your finances

Now that you may have more free time at home, it is a good time to check up on your finances. Start by setting a new budget to account for the changes in your lifestyle. For example, if you are spending less on gas and parking to commute to work but are spending more on grocery delivery, make sure to be mindful of this on a monthly basis. This is also a good time to tackle some financial goals you may have had but never got around to doing before.

For example, a good way to secure some peace of mind during uncertain times is to shop for a dependable life insurance plan if you do not have one yet. Purchasing a life insurance plan is a responsible money move to make and gives you and your family added protection. Sometimes it can be difficult to navigate the space of life insurance, which is why it can be an easy task to put off. If you find the right tools to simplify the process, however, the task becomes much more manageable and doing so during these uncertain times can be a good way to relieve some overarching stress you may have about finances. 

Try out a new hobby

When being at home and in the middle of balancing work and personal life, it can all easily blend together. One way to prioritize your “me” time is diving into learning a new hobby that you have always wanted to try but never had the time to do. Finding something new to explore is the best way to do something entirely for yourself. Whether it’s learning a different language you always wanted to learn or learning a new recipe, now is your time to begin. Watch YouTube videos with step by step instructions of recipes you want to try, or download a language teaching app, such as Babble.

You could also make a new fitness goal for yourself. Maybe try yoga, pilates, weight-lifting routine, or running. Exercise is the perfect outlet to investigate because it will contribute to a positive mind, body, and soul.  

Get creative

Being creative can look different to everyone. For some, this might strictly mean doing arts and crafts. However, there are several other platforms and actions that rely heavily on your personal imagination—for example, knitting, singing, painting, designing, doing puzzles, photography, scrapbooking, playing an instrument, sewing, gardening, upcycling, and more. 

Whatever leisurely activity you love becomes your outlet to be creative. When you do something you enjoy, your mental wellbeing benefits. Experts suggest that by being creative, you are able to submerge yourself within that task and distract your mind from anything that might have been bothering you. You ultimately manipulate your brain into a meditation-like state. Your heart rate decreases and your mood will be boosted because your brain releases something called dopamine. Also known as, “the feel-good chemical.” Without even knowing it, you’re putting your mind at ease while doing something you love during these uncertain times. 

Manage expectations

During these unpredictable times, it can be easy to think about plans you may have had that you have had to change or cancel. Thinking back to these events can lead to disappointment. This is a completely normal feeling, but remember to try not to dwell on the disappointment. Because the times have changed, it is important to change your expectations as well and try your best not to get hung up on the things you can’t control.

For example, if you are now working from home, don’t try to compare your current productivity to your productivity prior to the pandemic. Or if you are a parent now teaching your children at home, you don’t need to be keeping them engaged at the same pace as their teachers in school do. This is all new, uncharted territory and adapting to this new way of life will take time and patience. If you don’t manage your expectations, you set yourself up for disappointment so try not to be overly critical of yourself.

Keep an open line of communication

During stressful times, it is helpful to keep an open line of communication between friends and family. Even though you might not be able to be physically present in each other’s lives, you can take advantage of the technology that we do have to keep in contact with them. Group FaceTime, Zoom and virtual fitness classes are just a few ways to stay socially connected to help your mental health while being quarantined. If you find that you are particularly struggling, remember that most doctors are offering telemedicine so you can still keep appointments and talk to a professional who can help if you are overwhelmed.

Even though there is uncertainty regarding what the near future will bring, there are certain things you can do to minimize stress surrounding this uncertainty. Remember to take time each day to care for yourself to benefit your overall mental wellbeing.

This guest blog was written by writer Anthony L, promoting self care and mental wellbeing.

How to Protect Your Mental Health During the Pandemic: by Mary Davis

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These days of the coronavirus pandemic are filled with anxiety and fear unlike anything else we and the world has experienced since World War II. It’s important to stay in tune with yourself and remember it is okay to not feel totally well and to be feeling more anxious. 

Here are some ideas to help your mental health during the pandemic: 

 

Get moving

You’d be surprised what physical activity does for you, both in terms of physical health and mental health! In terms of mental health in particular, it can help decrease anxiety and improve moods. While gyms and studio classes are closed and it is easier than ever to get an effective exercise in with guided tech at home, now is a great time to become familiar with fitness apps. There are many different ones to choose from: you could try the 30 day fitness challenge app for example to get into a new routine and find the perfect guided workouts work for you! Whether its workouts, barre, or even taking the stairs more, try to move as much as you can. 


Try meditating, mindfulness or prayer

Finding stress management techniques that resonate with you is crucial as stress is an inevitable part of life. The ideal time to start up a mindfulness practice is when times are good so that you have established a practice in times of stress, but it can still be incredibly powerful if you are starting out now!

Just remember to be patient with yourself. There are a lot of practices out there, such as meditation, mindfulness, and prayer, so you have options. If you are unsure of where to start, start with daily deep breathing exercises. 


Avoid alcohol 

Avoid or at least monitor alcohol intake in times of high stress in order to protect your mental health. Alcohol is often used to ‘self-medicate’, but while it can release endorphins in your body, it is classified as a depressant. It significantly impacts your central nervous system, and in times of stress you want to be in tune with your body and paying extra care to your nervous system rather than confusing it. 


Seek a therapist and do appointments via Skype or Zoom

Seeking help is a sign of strength! If you need help or need professional support as you work through stress and/or anxiety, seek a therapist. Many therapists do appointments via Skype or Zoom and if you find one in your area, you can transition to in-person appointments when possible. 


Practise self care

Self care looks different for everyone, and finding what makes you feel good and content is so important. Try cooking, at-home facials, taking extra time on your skincare and giving yourself a face massage, baths with Epsom salts, and quality sleep. 

 

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(image: Samantha Carbon)

 

All of these things can contribute to healthy living and can help us get through the pandemic. They are also great habits to incorporate into your lifestyle to continue caring for your body and mind. 

This guest blog was written by freelance writer, Mary Davis.

The Road to Recovery: On PTSD, Trauma and the Future… by Eleanor for Mental Health Awareness Week

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(image: Eleanor Mandelstam (Segall))

 

Trigger Warning: sexual assault, details of assault and severe mental illness

 

Hi everyone,

Its been a while but I thought I would put type to keyboard and write a blog for more mental health awareness.

Since my book was published, I haven’t written many follow up personal blogs, purely because the launch of my life story into the public domain felt overwhelming and scary. 6 months on, I am used to it being out there but I have been working hard in EMDR trauma therapy to help myself.

See, the truth is that right now the Bipolar Disorder for me is stable and under control on my medicines. I still get side effects- weight gain, dry mouth and thirst, but my mind is generally healthy in terms of the Bipolar- no mania or depression. Anxiety and panic yes but Bipolar, not really at the moment.

Yet, almost lurking unseen after I left hospital in 2014 and began my recovery was the fact I was traumatised by my experiences of going into psychosis (losing touch with reality via delusions, false beliefs) and my experiences when being sectioned. I will just give an overview as the rest is in my book- but this included- being restrained, being attacked by other patients and seeing them self harm, being injected with Haloperidol (an anti psychotic) in front of both male and female nurses in a part of the body I didn’t want, being chased round A and E by security men in genuine fear of my life, dealing with lawyers and going to tribunals while ill, thinking I had been abused by family and was locked up by a criminal gang and fearing my family were against me. My bipolar mind could not cope.

Just before this all happened, I was very vulnerable and was sexually assaulted by a man I knew through friends and all of this trauma stayed with me.

I did what most of us with severe mental illness and assault survivors do- I tried to rebuild my life. I tried to work in schools helping children with special educational needs. I tried to work for a mental health charity as a peer support worker for people like me. I began to blog and write and share as therapy- from charities to national newspapers. Bit by bit, as I wrote out what I has been through, I started to slowly heal. But, the symptoms of the extreme panic remained. I lost jobs because of it. I became depressed. I started dating but I often had to cancel dates- (before I met Rob, my husband who listened to me talk about it all and didn’t bat too much of an eyelid.)

I was in a state of flux, a state of transition. I knew I had trauma still living in my brain and body. I had been physically and sexually assaulted, I had been mentally violated- I had been sectioned twice in a few months and now I was sent home to try and rebuild my life as a 25 year old single woman.

I share this important blog, not to share that I am a victim- because I am not. I want to share that I believe for about 5 years, I have been suffering with some of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). My therapist believes the same.

The panic attacks that grip me with fear before work or the day ahead when I have to leave the house. The fear of going out or travelling at night alone. The fear of being taken advantage of and having to trust men again (thank you to my husband for helping ease this pain). The fear of exploitation, of losing my mind, of not trusting mental health professionals any more.

My panic attacks get triggered by certain events- it could be having to speak about my life or book, or seeing people I don’t feel comfortable with, of feeling exposed, of worrying about others judgement. I am still healing from all I have been through and experienced. The PTSD means that I have to take medication (Propranolol) to function sometimes. It means that I experience flashbacks in my body- I feel gripped with fear, I get chest pain and shallow breathing and I start to cry. I had one the other day at 4am….. thank the lord for meds so I could calm down and sleep.

My therapist is incredible and we have been working since October to process the roots of my trauma and panic disorder. We use a combination of rapid eye processing with talking therapy which helps to tackle each and every trauma- and we are still at the tip of the iceberg. It takes time to process the deep rooted experiences in my brain- we are getting there slowly.

For me, in many ways my future is uncertain. My medicines have long term physical side effects. Motherhood will be more of a challenge due to medication and my mental health- I am still processing the choices I will have to make, which I will write in another blog.

I want to end this blog by saying- if you know someone with anxiety, PTSD, another anxiety disorder or something like bipolar or schizophrenia- Be Kind. You never know what someone has gone through.

The NHS waiting lists for help are too long, services are too underfunded- all my treatment has been private provided by my family due to being stuck on a list for years. I am lucky, not everyone is. 

I hope this blog gives some information about my experiences of PTSD since leaving hospital 6 years ago. It is by far the most personal thing I have posted since publishing my book but I hope it helps you feel less alone.

Positivity and Hope are key.  Meeting my husband and my therapist changed my life for the better as I slowly rebuild and find an equilibrium again.

Love,

Eleanor x

My crippling Anxiety once floored me. Now I wouldn’t be without it : Guest blog by Emma Johnson at Worry Knot Jewellery

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(image: Emma Johnson at Worry Knot)

Trigger warning: talks about self harm, anxiety, depression and mental illness 

 

For 10 or so years, throughout adulthood, I have battled on and off with something invisible and something I still don’t fully understand myself.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder. 

I’m now 29 but my illness started at about the age of 21. In my third year of University, I started to dread things, I started to worry about everything I said, did and I started to question if anyone liked me. I have always been apologetic but this was different. I felt like apologising for walking into a room. 

I was unable to switch off, unable to focus on my University work and I withdrew a lot socially. Life moved quite slow back then. 

For me I knew this was out of character. I’ve always been fun loving and outgoing, with a smile on my face. I became confused about who I was. I developed an uneasy feeling that would take almost 8 years to learn to sit with.

During the first few years of my disorder, I definitely still achieved a lot. I often feel my disorder makes me thrive more, sort of like overcompensation, a little bit like proving people and myself wrong. I graduated with a BSc in Psychology and at the age of 24, I went on to gain my MSc in International Development.

I don’t think I truly recognised these achievements until about the age of 27. 

Whilst studying my MSc life changed quite a lot for me. I had gone through a bad break up in my younger years but then I finally met someone who lifted me back up, who challenged my thoughts, someone who was completely different to me in every way. This was oddly comforting for me, a bit like escapism from my own ruminating thoughts. 

Then I entered the world of professional work. I started out as a fundraiser, and in my most recent role I tried my hand at facilitating group therapy. In 5 years I have moved through 4 jobs within the charity sector. Sometimes part time.

During this time my anxiety disorder would often become too much. I often sunk low and developed bouts of depression. I would cry and sob. I was back and forth to the GP, often teary, often red in the face and always a bit embarrassed, even though I didn’t need to feel embarrassed.

At one point I was signed off sick from work, bed bound for 3 months, with no motivation at all, just me, myself and my catastrophic thoughts. I was pretty exhausted, shaky, drained and more confused than ever. My physical symptoms manifested as sweating, chest pains, palpitations, shortness of breath and the odd panic attack. 

One thing I started to do was open up, I began to share things with my partner and colleagues. They let me cry if I needed and at the same time my GP was stabilising and finding the right medication to suit me. But I was clearly still unwell.

I quit another job I enjoyed through my inability to cope and my lack of self esteem. My Imposter Syndrome led me down another uneven path.  Always overworking. Always overthinking. Always overcompensating. I didn’t slow down until I was forced to.

Another behavioural symptom of my anxiety is skin picking and nail biting. In early adulthood I would sit for 3 hours picking at my face and over the years I have made the skin around my thumbnail so sore it would bleed. It is now scarred.

My need to fiddle with something to ease anxiety is always apparent. Earlier this year, I was talking to my friend about making jewellery and how cool it would be to make my own. I have always been into accessories, fashion and jewellery so I said I’d love to make something I can wear and carry with me discreetly but also fiddle with, to stop me from picking so much. 

She mentioned worry beads and I was intrigued. I wanted to make my own twist on them. A prettier version, merging them with jewellery design that I would more likely wear, so I did and my life has changed. I have started a small business called Worry Knot.

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(image: Emma Johnson at Worry Knot)

Alongside selling calming jewellery, I’m blog writing. I’m advocating more widely about the importance of opening up when confusing and sometimes debilitating symptoms develop. Not only is it therapeutic for me to make my jewellery but it’s extra therapeutic playing with this jewellery a few times a day. 

Having something to focus on, things to make and to write about has been crucial in managing my own anxiety, especially at such an anxious time for the world. I hope my jewellery can go on to help those feeling anxious not only now but going forward into the future too.

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(Images: Emma Johnson)

For more information please visit:  www.worryknot.co.uk and instagram.com/worryknotuk

You can also find me @worryknotuk on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Emma Johnson is a writer with lived experience of mental health issues. She is the founder of Worry Knot, a jewellery brand to help others who have anxiety.    worryknot