'Well being week’ has now been and gone. Did any of us notice or did it pass us by in a fog of work, commitments and responsibilities? I think it ironic that those of us most in need of some 'well being' may well have missed it.
I recently wrote about my struggles with anxiety (which you can read here) and was extremely touched by all your responses and thank you for sharing your own personal stories. I have been asked what ‘tricks’ I use to control my worries and thought I would share some of my coping mechanisms with you.
The problem with anxiety is that it is not rational and will strike when stress levels from work, kids are high. So below are a few things I do to try and reduce stress and therefore reduce anxiety.
Dance – In a past life I lived in Paris and taught salsa dance and dance remains one of my passions. If I’m feeling stressed I simply turn on the tunes. Dancing releases endorphins and helps reduce the level of cortisol, a stress hormone. I can happily dance by myself at home but I do enjoy forcing my children to dance with me. They laugh – I laugh and nobody cares what you look like.
Bath Ritual – Every night I light a candle, pour in our bath oil and relax in my bath for around 30mins. There are so many studies out there on the therapeutic benefits of water submersion. It is a routine I rarely miss and the times I do I can really feel the difference. Luxury for me is both having a bath - I am aware not everyone does - and being able to take time. The latter is definitely easier said than done but, like most things, when it is part of a routine it becomes much easier.
Read a Book – Entering into someone else’s world can help you forget about your own. I will often drift off to sleep thinking about the characters and their environment. There is so much of the world that I will never see and books are an opportunity to delve into them. They remind you that we are but one small person in this vast universe and can put your own everyday problems into perspective.
Pluck my Eyebrows – I know this is a bit of a ridiculous one but I often forget to do it and then am horrified by my reflection. However, it only takes 30 seconds, and then I can hold my head up higher, safe in the knowledge that I am not too bushy. A small gesture that can yet add volumes to your self worth.
Exercise – Even though I rail about it beforehand (especially as it is often at 6.30am, squeezed in prior to the pre-school turmoil) I do feel so much better afterwards. Again it goes back to celebrating yourself and finding out what makes you feel good. When I force myself to move I am acknowledging my self worth.
Food & Drink – Whatever your food or tipple of choice I would make sure it is good quality, not just for health benefits because we are showing kindness to ourselves. Gareth buys me the coffee I love and makes me a big pot of it every morning. Simply sitting and sipping puts a smile on my face. We definitely eat our fair share of rubbish but try most of the time to eat real food. If we value the quality of what we put on and in our bodies it shows how much we value ourselves as people.
Talk – Problems magnify when they are left to fester in your head. However I speak to my mum or a friend on a daily basis and it is a wonderful tonic. It is finding that person who won’t judge you or criticise – simply listen and empathise. Conversely it is beneficial to simply enjoy the silence and not fill every moment with noise. It is hard not to be afraid of silence as your thoughts come creeping in. However once you can appreciate the silence it can be hugely helpful.
Change up the Routine – Sometimes feeling like you can’t step out of the ‘rat race’ can make the panic rise. However if I plan little excursions for the kids after school, or cook something different for dinner, then my view on life feels more positive and I have more energy.
These are a few examples of the steps I take to try and reduce my anxiety. I would love to hear the tricks you do to celebrate yourselves and therefore reduce negativity and stress. The more we talk and share, surely the better we will be.