The truth is, I actually feel awkward saying that when it comes to my mental health, chronic anxiety is my vice. The reason I feel tentative putting this out there on the internet is because of the stigma and careless attitudes that still surround anxiety and mental health in general. And whilst as a society we have come a long way already, I’ve seen people roll their eyes and say: ‘Urgh. Everyone has anxiety these days it’s just a trendy label’, or worse, ‘you young people just can’t cope with life’ – yep, both of those statements have been uttered directly to me and they make me wince.
When it comes to my mental health, I have had, and continue to have a journey, to say the least. And I’ll be honest, I’m in no way ‘cured’ – some days I’m in the pits of hell, other days I’m feeling pretty good. I won’t delve too deep into my story here, that can be a post for another day, however, I do want to talk about 4 small things that have been helping me stay on top of my anxiety – especially when the going has got pretty darn tough. Now, I know these approaches may not work for you, but they contribute to my own mind feeling a bit more ‘together’ shall we say, so I figured they were worth sharing.
For pretty much as long as I can remember, I’ve been a chronic nail-biter and I’m not talking a few nibbles here and there, I’m talking biting right down to the nail bed, skin biting, bleeding fingers biting. All of this manifests as an outward symptom of my anxiety and whilst I’ve had some periods of growing healthy, long nails – a lot of the time, I’m quite embarrassed about my hands.
One thing I’ve been making time for at the moment is to spend some time usually on a Sunday night painting my nails a colour that makes me happy. Just the act of slowing down to perform such a simple task and taking the time to be neat and tidy with the nail polish has really helped me. In fact, as I type this, I’m wearing ‘Lady Like’ by Essie and my fingers are looking pretty good, not perfect, but okay. And I’ll take that because as I type this, my mind is currently clouded by the fact our family cat is missing and other situations have taken their toll on my lil’ old brain.
Filling the bath with hot, bubbly water and sinking into a mysterious shade of green emerald water (thanks Badedas you babe!) really helps relax the muscles that I hold so very tense throughout the day. I have had a lot of problems with my jaw clicking in and out of place, shoulder pain, neck pain and headaches all thanks to my anxiety. A bath really helps with this, particularly the aches and pains. But it is also alone time, me time, reflective time, or time to catch up on my favourite Youtube channels.
Since I hit the age of 16, I’ve found great pleasure in cleaning and tidying. And now that I am making a beautiful home of my own, I spend even more time cleaning to keep things just how I like them. (Not always easy when your boyfriend prefers to live in a pig sty). For me, a clean and tidy home helps my mind to feel less chaotic and again, the simple act of taking the time to do a focused task really helps me get my mind in order, especially when the outcome is rewarding.
I’ve always been tidy, but this is the cleaning revolution
I’ve also very recently been hinched. For anyone who doesn’t know that term, it’s what people use to describe how the Mrs Hinch Home Instagram account has impacted their lives. Basically, Mrs Hinch is in her own words is ‘cleaning mad’ and her smart cleaning hacks and tips have rubbed off on me. Lenor mix anyone?
So 2016 I know. But I am back on the colouring book hype and I can honestly say ‘Colouring Hour’ is one of the most therapeutic moments of my day. Sure, finding time to do this is pretty hard all things considering, but when the mood strikes, I like to select a back episode of Desert Island Discs (my fave being Keith Richards’ episode) and then whip out the old colouring pens. Just focusing on a task and listening to something interesting and nostalgic is really good at calming my mind down when it’s been racing. I like to head up to my office, light some candles and really try to relax.
And so there we have it, 4 small ways I help calm down my noisy head. I hope you found it useful in some way.
If you want more information or support regarding mental health, the mind.org.uk site is a helpful place to start