Looking after yourself should be your number one priority. Making sure you get quality time to sort through your emotions, thoughts or just to relax is key to getting through the hectic lives we lead; and you can’t be there for someone else if you’re not there for yourself first. As a single mum, who suffers from high-functioning anxiety and depression, I know this all too well. I can often forget to give myself time for me and I quickly feel the effects through increased anxiety attacks and being more easily frustrated by simple things.
May 8th is the start of mental health awareness week, so in this post I wanted to share what I have found helps me. This is not a replacement to medical advice, if you feel like you could have an anxiety or emotional issue, go and speak to your doctor! These steps I have only reached after getting medical advice – and aren’t a replacement to my medication.
Count to 10
This sounds like a simple one but it does work. If you feel yourself getting worked up about something, take a deep breath in and count to ten as you let all the breath out.
Create a playlist
When you’re listening to music, take a moment to recognise how you feel listening to each song. Create a playlist of all your favourite songs. Keep it calming – by this I mean songs that you find calming, this doesn’t have to mean slow quiet songs – and listen to it whenever you feel a little frustrated. This tip has helped me stop anxiety attacks at work and it a true life saver when I’m in noisy situations which trigger my anxiety.
I see a lot of advice around to do this daily, but trying to work full time, be a mum and keeps social network alive makes trying to do anything daily pretty stressful – and we’re trying to avoid that. Do this as much as you can manage, I make time to meditate once every 1-2 weeks. It feels odd at first, but allowing yourself to rest and clear your mind really helps put a lot of things in perspective. I have a busy life, and let a lot of things play on my mind that really don’t need to. Meditating helps remove this from the forefront of my thoughts so I can get on with my life and more important things!
Remove the negative from your social media
With the invention of Facebook memories and time hop, it’s easy to be reminded of less happy times if you have a habit of sharing your raw emotions. I used to use my social media to vent about my health and saw it as a way of making people in my life understand what I was going through. Except, no one can understand without actually going through it and then I was being reminded of all the things that were making me depressed. I know make a conscious effort to only share my positives – the things I want to be reminded about. When I look at my ‘memories’ I delete anything that was negative and enjoy looking at all the positives. For anyone suffering from depression I highly recommend this, my outlook changed almost overnight when I started this approach.
Go for a swim / have a shower / long bath
If you’re anything like me, you love water. I have never felt calmer than when I used to go scuba diving in Thailand. If I could live underwater, I would! Unfortunately I can’t just hop on a plane and go for a dive when I feel stressed so I guess we need to scale it down a bit. Going for a swim is great, not only is it calming but it’s also exercise so releases those happy endorphins that help elevate your mood. If I can’t go swimming then my next best thing to get the calming effect of water is to sit under the shower or take a long bath. It’s instant relaxation.
Often I find I can be tipped over the edge, when something is lowering my mood, when I’m in a cluttered environment. Make sure you’re calm when you do this so there’s no emotions involved, take one room at a time and really think about what you need. Remove the clutter from your home and not only will you feel more relaxed when you’re there but you’ll be able to find things easier too!
Every Sunday I spend some time pampering myself. I do a face mask, use a hot oil treatment on my hair, give myself a foot massage, and my son loves getting involved too! It’s time where I’m not thinking about what’s happening in the world, I have no tech on except maybe music in the background, and I’m simply just enjoying some me time – or mum and son time. It’s about relaxing and looking after my body. After a bit of pampering I then take time to plan my week ahead; I sort through my medication, check what ingredients I have for meals, make sure my washing has been put away and I have enough outfits for the week’s events.
Build a routine
My final tip is find your routine, this is a long-term help kind of thing. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday, including the weekends and holidays. You’ll have more time to do things as waking up will become easier, you’ll also find you sleep better and the routine will help reduce anxiety. If you have medication, make sure you take it. Set a reminder or alarm and keep your medication in the same place. If you can, give yourself me time at the same time each week. You will get used to knowing you have that time to relax, so the frustrations during the week will become less of an impact.