Trying to Find Some Calm

To be honest I think I’ve stumbled at the first hurdle with this one when I’ve said ‘trying’ to relax.  Surely you’re not fully relaxed if you’re ‘trying’ to be.  Being truly relaxed is something that happens when we don’t even notice and so probably impossible to orchestrate and therefore out of reach for so many of us who want to be able to control everything, argh!!!!

So what can we do to set us towards this state without forcing it?  That is the million dollar question!

I’m going to start with making a list of things I enjoy doing and that I know make me feel calmer and do more of these things:

  • Spending time with my family
  • Being outside
  • Having the house tidy and organised
  • Eating well
  • Exercising – Doing Yoga
  • Watching comedy and laughing

On top of knowing what you enjoy doing having some good coping mechanisms in place is important.  Such as being able to deal with any situation that comes your way in a calm manner, this does take a lot of practice.  It involves being able to adapt and accept that you cannot control everything or everyone around you.  It also means you have to be able to let other peoples shit – which will be sent your way occasionally – wash over you and not effect your calm.  Some people will not be as emotionally mature as you are and that is their issue not yours.

If we don’t want to remove ourselves from society completely then we must find the best ways to deal with the situations life throws at us which we cannot predict, control or change.  Life is a roller coaster, there will be bad days as well as good, sad times as well as happy and if we can try to put a positive slant on every situation then we will be able to cope better.  Even the toughest times in life will teach us something.

Try and eliminate worry from your life, it is completely pointless.  Worrying about a situation doesn’t improve it, change it or help in any way.  If you are worrying about something and there is something you can do to change it then DO IT.  If there is nothing that can be done then you have to just let it go, know what will be will be and get back to living in the moment rather then the past or the future.  Worry really does spoil any calm you might have cultivated so don’t let it!

Write a gratitude list when you’re feeling low and appreciate all the things you have.  Always striving for the next thing and not stopping to appreciate what you already have is never going to bring you happiness and it’s very exhausting.

Life is full on nowadays and it can be difficult to switch off at times but finding the quiet in all the chatter is important for your brain, how can you relax unless you have time to stop for a moment?  Meditation is brilliant for this, unfortunately I think a lot of people hear the word ‘meditation’ and start to tune out, either because they feel they ‘don’t have the time’, or it’s a bit ‘hippie dippie’ for them.  I’ve thought both of these things in the past and I admit I still find it hard to find time to just ‘meditate’ and be with myself.  I manage to attach some mediation to my yoga practice and this feels a bit less intense to me but it can definitely be hard if you’re not a fan of your own company (and many of those suffering with mental illness aren’t) to find time to just be with yourself.

Mindfulness can be a smaller step in this direction and much easier to do immediately, just focus in on anything around you even just your breathing and off you go!

I hope you have a few more ideas on how to help find your calm and be more relaxed now.

As always, Stay Strong xxx

 

OCD – It’s all a way of thinking

OCD feeds off self doubt, loathing and negative thinking spirals.  It will make you think you are the worst person in the world, that you are capable of horrible things and that you don’t deserve love and happiness.  It will isolate you and drag you down if it can, so if you’re fighting this bastard every day like me then you have to get very good at telling it to go f*uck itself.

One of the best things you can do is simply like yourself (I’ve spoken about this a lot before), know who you are and don’t waver.  You are a good person who deserves good things to come to you and you are stronger then the thoughts in your head, yep that’s all they are, thoughts, not even something tangible or real.

I’ve recently tried to take the next step in my recovery.  For quite a while now I’ve been using my husband for reassurance when something happens that triggers an OCD spiral.  It’s worked so well for me, whatever it is I’m stressing about whether it’s something that’s happened on the drive home or in the supermarket or wherever I just run it past him, he just shrugs and that’s reassurance enough for me to know that I’m worrying over nothing.

Now initially I didn’t even realise that this was a coping mechanism, it happened so organically over time.  Then a while ago I read something that basically confirmed if you do this to relieve a thought then it is a ‘coping strategy’.  Of course they’re right and ultimately I need to be able to process these thoughts on my own without my husbands help.  So I’ve been doing my best to do this, I’m going to be honest it’s super tough, it takes me longer to remove the doubt feeling but it does go eventually which is reassuring.

Last night something happened when I was picking my kids up from pre school and I immediately started to catastrophise it in my head.  I could feel the doubt pulling me down, all the ‘what if’s’ starting to flood into my head.  My mood started to drop and I could hear myself becoming irritable and snappy.

I made a decision that I wasn’t going to talk to my husband about it and that I was just going to sit with it and not think on it.  This was incredibly hard, I busied myself
with making tea when I got home and distracted myself as much as I could, the doubt feeling stayed with me all night, though it did start to loose it’s grip as time ticked on.  This morning the thought has popped into my head a couple of times but I have been able to dismiss it relatively easily.

Something that has really helped me to remove the thought is choosing to put a positive slant on the situation rather then a negative one.  I’m sure I’ve said this before but if you must catastrophise then do it positively!  Realistically if you are going to live your life fully then you are going to come across situations that are going to trigger OCD thoughts, FACT it’s impossible not to.  You cannot avoid them and you know what, even if you try to you will still hit them occasionally, avoiding OCD DOES NOT WORK (take my word for it, I’ve tried).  

The best thing you can do is look at a situation and think on it positively.  So don’t think ‘what if this could of happened‘ but think ‘that didn’t happen’ or ‘I reacted in the best way I could, now I know I can deal with the situation if it happens again in the future’. 

Know you can’t control or predict everything and that that’s OK, you probably wouldn’t want to even if you had the choice.  Know you are a good person and you will always do the best you can in any situation, that’s really all anyone can hope for.  It takes so much strength to overcome these thoughts but you can do it I promise.  Do not let OCD win, do not let it pull you down!

I really hope this helps, even getting it down is helping me process it.  Writing the experience down even though hard can help detach it from your mind, you can then go and burn it if you wish!  By writing it down it’s like an alternative to telling someone, it gets it out and then it’s gone, yes!

As always, Stay Strong xxx

Consistency is the key to change

So we’ve made it to the end of January, hooray! Doesn’t it always feel like the longest month ever (apart from the last month of pregnancy of course, which is officially the longest month ever)!  Every year I find January a bit of a slog, I’m not sure if it’s the cold,
the dark, the post Christmas blues or a mix of all of these put together but it sucks!

The start of a new year always feels a little pressured to make change and be a ‘new you’.  It’s very tempting to try and make dramatic changes such as; crash diets, going to the gym every day, planning to run a marathon, giving up alcohol, going vegan, you know the sort of thing.  We all want to see a quick fix, why wouldn’t we?

Unfortunately it doesn’t normally take long for the motivation to die and for us to realise making significant changes is actually very, very hard work.  Anyone recovering from a mental health issue will of course already be very aware that there are no quick fixes but it doesn’t stop us hoping.

So here’s the bit you probably won’t want to hear. 

To make positive change you have to be consistent, you have to make small daily changes which you stick to, they can’t be massive changes as they aren’t maintainable.

Of course if you are recovering from something like OCD or maybe an addiction of some kind you really have no choice, you have to make the changes and attempt to stay on track.

The trick is not to give yourself a hard time, you will mess up now and again and that’s OK.  Never loose site of the path you’re on, no mater how slowly you’re walking it.  Accept that there may never be an end goal, it’s all about the process of moving in the right direction and getting closer to where you need to be.  Where you end up may look nothing like the way you thought it would when you get there and that could be a good thing.

I’m looking at moving careers very soon and I’m starting some training in March, it all feels very overwhelming at the moment but I just have to remember to do a small amount each day and it will eventually pay off.

Changes don’t have to be an all or nothing thing either, you haven’t failed if you slip up  or make changes gradually over time.

I’ve wanted to be meat free for a while now and more recently I have started removing meat from more and more of our weekly meals.  In the next couple of months the meat will disappear completely but for now if there’s a tin of tuna in the cupboard I’m not going to get stressed about it or throw it away I’m just going to use it up and not buy anymore.  I know even the small changes I’m making are heading in the right direction for me and over time they will pay off.  There is no big rush, life is a marathon not a sprint.

It’s very easy to just think about the goals and not enjoy the journey you’re on but we need to be more mindful about where we are in life and appreciate what is going on around us.  If we are living in the future then we aren’t really living, make every day count.  Go to bed each day feeling like you’ve taken a little step closer to where you want to be and that you are heading in the right direction.  Be kind to yourself and know you are doing the best you can.  Lets make 2020 a good one!

As always, Stay Strong xxx

The chatter

I’m pretty sure this is something that we all suffer with and if you don’t then you are incredibly lucky.  My internal chatter has been pretty loud of late, it’s something that I am incredibly aware of and have been for a long time because of my OCD.  Anyone with OCD will have a very loud internal chatterbox, it’s so hard to escape the noise inside your own head!

I have become pretty good at quietening mine down with practice over time.  Nowadays I try to speak more positively to myself, I have become very aware of my pessimistic,  glass half empty attitude so I have been pro actively trying to be more positive and change my natural thinking patterns.  I have been being pretty successful and have had some really great days but one place I don’t seem able to tune out the negative chatter is at work.

I went back to work about 5 months ago after having my second child.  Whilst I was off there have been a lot of changes to the way we work and I am struggling to keep up with the pace (or so my mind keeps telling me), my boss is amazing and all the stress is self imposed but I can’t seem to get myself out of this hate cycle where I just think I can’t do my job anymore even though I’ve been there for nearly 9 years now!  I have HUGE episodes of impostor syndrome where I just feel like everyone thinks I’m ridiculous and can’t do my job and the amount of times I thought about leaving as surely someones going to notice I can’t do my job at some point soon anyway!

I have made such huge strides forwards in my personal life and OCD recovery but work wise I just can’t seem to think positively.  It’s a huge vicious circle as well, as the time I spend worrying I’m not actually focusing on work!

So what to do about all this?  It’s a good question, I think to start a list of all the reasons to give myself a break and be a bit kinder to myself:

  • I’ve had 2 babies in the last 3 years and have had two years off work, its going to take a bit of time to get back up to speed
  • I only work part time now and don’t have the same amount of time to commit to work anymore
  • You’ve done your job for 9 years, you are able to do it
  • All the pressure is self imposed and is only coming from you
  • If you focus your mind on the new work rather then worrying about it you will be able to do it quicker – stop worrying, start doing
  • Be realistic about what is possible and stop trying to be perfect, you’re not going to keep up with the 18 years old’s who have all the time in the world!
  • Try to add in some daily relaxation
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Use positive affirmations – you can do it.

I’m pretty sure if one of my friends came and talked to me about the same situation I would tell them to be a lot kinder to themselves and stop expecting perfection.  Why are we so hard on ourselves?

Hopefully I can put some of this plan into action and start enjoying work again soon!  I hope some of this is helpful to others out there too, we probably all need to be a bit kinder to ourselves.

Happy new year all (can I still say that or is the 16th too late?), here’s to a fab 2020, and as always,

Stay Strong xxx

 

Just smile

OCD and anxiety can be so isolating at times and the more time you spend alone the stronger their hold on you becomes.  One of the things we need to fight constantly is to keep going out to places, being social and interacting with people.  This of course is more easily said then done.

One of my biggest hang ups has always been supermarkets, I hate them.  I hate the carparks full of people walking in any direction they fancy, the busyness inside, people walking into you with their trolleys, having to make decisions on food choices and
ignore all the associated OCD thoughts.  I will admit for a long time I avoided them completely, I’ve only recently started to go back into them now and I still wouldn’t dream of doing a whole weeks shop.  This is something I’m working on and in the mean time I am so grateful for online shopping!
Anyway I’m digressing, if you are an OCD or anxiety sufferer I am sure you have places that trigger similar thoughts for you, whether it be the car, driving, shopping centres, wherever.

Unfortunately there’s never an easy fix for these things (sorry!) and what we have to do is reprogram our minds and get to the root of what is so anxiety inducing about these situations.  I know for me there are a lot of OCD triggers in supermarkets but I am slowly working my way through them, taking time to breath when someone knocks into me and knowing I will be OK. Picking up the first carrot I see rather then wondering what each little mark on it may be and giving myself time to let the anxiety fade as I know we cannot stay in an elevated state permanently.

A new strategy I’ve recently learned which I am starting to try in the hope it will help is to smile, sounds simple I know.

The brain is suspended in darkness and can only react to the feedback it receives from the senses.  If you are heading towards a situation that would normally make you anxious or you are experiencing some anxiety/OCD thoughts for whatever reason then try  and smile your way through it.  It is reassuring for the brain, it thinks you are happy and it helps to reprogram your automatic responses to situations.
There’s also the added benefit that a lot of the time if someone sees you smiling then they will smile back and then you get more positive reinforcement for your brain that you are safe and happy and that there is no need to trigger any fight or flight anxiety inducing responses.

It’s so simple and so easy to do and can be so powerful.  I know sometimes smiling probably feels like the last thing you want to do but just give it a try, I know I’m going to.
I hope it helps and as always,

Stay strong xxx

Dealing with anxiety

Over the last year anxiety has become my constant friend, everything seems to trigger it and though I continue to try and push myself to do things – knowing that I have to go through it to get better – it really doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and so I find myself thinking, ‘will it just always be there?‘.

This is a very scary thought but is it a realistic one?  So many things seem to trigger it and so how am I ever going to get to a stage where I can just, not be anxious?  Sometimes I’m not even sure why it’s there at all?  If I’m in a new situation, meeting someone new or in an unfamiliar place I get it but why would I feel anxious when trying to decide what to cook for tea?  Or getting ready to go out for the day or even just walking along the pavement?

Are we all just a bit more anxious nowadays? 

Life is incredibly busy and we do put so much pressure on ourselves to be – or at least appear to be – perfect.  Is social media to blame?  Do we honestly think that everyone else has it ‘sorted’?  Are we afraid of looking weak or less than?  Do we think others will judge us?  Why does it matter if they do?  Or is there just some deep bedded shit from our past that we have to work through?

I’m personally not sure how we are supposed to process this stuff but being aware of it I would guess is the first step.  Ultimately you’re trying to reprogram things that have been ingrained in you for years and this takes a lot of work and being present, you can’t just expect the body to change without being conscious of what it is doing.  So how do we tune into our bodies more?

Yoga

I have recently upped my yoga attendance as I find this practice really helps me tune into my body, I have done yoga for years but more recently it has taken on a new meaning to me.  I used to go for exercise, to increase my flexibility and to help with my sciatic pain but I almost feel like I used to do it mindlessly, just following the instructors commands and not really understanding the affect the postures have on the body.  The meditation at the end I just used to find boring and I didn’t really get the point of it but now I tune into my body and feel it buzzing with energy after a practice, something which has made me cry on more then one occasion!  I am so obsessed with Yoga now that I am doing my teacher training next year and can’t wait to understand more about the practice.  I would highly recommend it to anyone feeling anxious.

Mindfulness

We need to live outside of our heads more and not be consumed by our thoughts. It is far too easy to live mindlessly day to day, our mind actually helps us to live mindlessly by putting our daily activities into routines so we can do things without really thinking about them.  Does this sound familiar:

Get up, eat breakfast, shower, brush teeth, get in car, drive to work, switch PC on, etc, etc

How many new thoughts did you have along the way?  The mind thinks it’s helping you out by taking the thinking out of your repetitive daily activities but actually it’s doing you a disservice as you are mindlessly moving through life.  Try and mix up your morning routine, or any routine if you can.  Drive/walk a different route to work or change what you have for breakfast so you are consciously making decisions and being more mindful.

Meditation

Here’s one that’s supposed to be transformative but to be honest I struggle with this one too!  I will do anything to try and avoid it or ‘not have the time’ for it.  It’s so important to try and tune into your body and notice how you are feeling, this is how we pick up on the little things the body is trying to tell us.  I am going to try harder at this one.

Less sugar and caffeine

Trying to keep your body in equilibrium so it’s not spiking and dipping all day is also really important but again another really tricky one which I’m not great at either, I really do love my coffee.  Maybe moderation and baby steps is the way to look at this one to make it achievable?

Spend less time on your phone and more time in the real world

I probably don’t need to explain this one, we all know we do it and just reducing it maybe before bedtime, during meal times for first thing in the morning will have a positive effect.  Technology is part of life, like food this one is all about moderation and knowing when you’ve been on your phone too long.

Get outside more

Again this one is probably pretty obvious but try your best to spend at least part of your day outside, even if it’s just a walk at lunch time and take some deep breaths while your out there!

Be kind to yourself

Look after yourself and don’t beat yourself up, you’re doing your best and you won’t always get it right but as long as you’re trying that’s all you can ask of yourself.

I’m still working on some of these myself but I’m really hoping my anxiety levels are going to start to improve over the next few months. I think a lot of the time we know what we should be doing but actually making the changes seems hard work,  Just take one step at a time and don’t expect radical changes these things happen slowly, we are trying to change habits which have been formed over a lifetime and that’s going to take some work.

As always,

Stay Strong xxx

Alcohol – the social pressure

A complicated topic this one, I think.  I very rarely drink nowadays and to be honest I don’t really miss it but with the Christmas season coming up and the inevitable works Christmas party on the horizon I am feeling the pressure a bit more.

I’ve mentioned to my work colleagues that ‘I won’t be drinking at the Christmas party‘ during a conversion about ‘what we should drink on the train on the way there!‘ and I was met with, ‘once you have one you’ll want to drink‘ and ‘but your so much fun when you’re drunk‘ etc etc.  Now don’t get me wrong I work with a good bunch of people and I know they respect my decision but it has highlighted to me that you are definitely going against the grain if you don’t drink.

So why is it such a taboo and why is our culture so focused on drinking as a social MUST to have fun? 

Are we just all too nervous to relax in social situations otherwise or is it just the love of drinking away the realities of the world for a few hours (was that a bit deep?).

I’ve definitely used alcohol as a way to escape the realities of my life in the past.  I drank massively to excess during my 20’s, partly due to my OCD but also partly because in our culture today it really is just the done thing.

Nowadays I don’t mind not fitting in, I know who I am and I am happy with that, I don’t need to conform but through my 20’s I was not confident.  In fact I kind of hated myself a lot of the time (thank you OCD) and so I drank like everybody else.

There’s definitely a bit of dedication involved in not conforming but still partaking in life.  It’s not healthy to cut yourself off from social situations completely to avoid drinking, especially if you suffer from mental health issues, being on your own is going to do you no favours (Obviously if you have a serious problem this could be different for you and you should get some help).

It is difficult as you can come across as being awkward or difficult a lot of the time.  I hardly drink and I don’t eat dairy so I’m never having a bit of the birthday cake or sip of the celebratory champagne and occasionally I do feel like I’m being anti social but you just have to own it and enjoy the fact that you’ll be the one with the clear head in the morning.

I’m not sure whether I’ll ever completely give up alcohol but I think I’d like to.  In the past I would have terrible memory loss after a night out drinking and that mixed in with false memory and magical thinking OCD was a very, very scary mix, especially if you don’t have a good mate to fill in the blanks for you.  These are definitely days I’d happily leave in the past.

I know this sort of memory loss can be terrifying for people with OCD but there’s no way around it other then just not drinking.  If you’re using alcohol to block out bad thoughts then I can tell you now that it’s only a short term fix and it will not work, but you probably already knew that didn’t you?

Recovery is a slow process but it’s worth it and things will start to get better I promise.

Stay Strong xxx

 

You’re not going to win everyday!

Life is full of up and downs and I think we probably all know this, so why then do we give ourselves such a hard time on the days we aren’t quite ‘feeling it’?

As a mother of two, who works part time and is studying as well I often feel like I’m not quite doing everything up to my self imposed ‘standards’.  I beat myself up if I’m not cooking from scratch or I’ve forgotten to buy the present for Jamie’s birthday party on the weekend but ultimately I just need to give myself a break.

You’re not going to ‘nail it’ every day no matter who you are I promise!  We all need to remember this, there will be days where everything goes to plan and you feel like you’re winning at life but there will also be days when nothing seems to go your way and for some reason you’re feeling a bit crappy about yourself or life.  You know what that’s OK, that’s what makes you human and the world is not going to fall apart if you have an off day.

I think it’s very easy to catastrophise the bad days and forget about the good ones.  We are very often our own worst enemies and we have to stop doing it and be kinder to ourselves, I know I definitely do!

How to help with the bad days

  • I know on the bad days it’s incredibly hard to think positively so maybe do some prep in advance for when they hit.
  • Write a list of the good things in your life so you can read it through when you’re feeling low
  • Make a list of the things you have achieved and if you do something that makes you feel good write it down so you can re visit it when you feel down.
  • If you’re fatigued/burnt out then allow yourself to rest and don’t feel guilty about it – I’m terrible at this – you are allowed some down time.
  • Talk to people, I’m sure they will have a much better opinion of you then you do of yourself on a bad day, they’ll help you remember how amazing you are.
  • If you’re feeling mentally low then get out of the house and get moving, exercise can normally help shift a bad mood.
  • Don’t look on social media and compare yourself to others – this is a highlights reel which is not achievable.
  • Socialise – loneliness is your worst enemy and will only make you feel worse
  • Know what makes you happy and do it even if you don’t feel like it, this is exactly what I do when I feel low now.  Even if I don’t feel with it mentally I make myself physically go through the motions, so I’ll go for a walk, eat something I enjoy, talk to someone, socialise with friends, exercise, eat healthily, write blog post.  Basically all the things I know help me and eventually one of them will start to work.
  • Be kind to yourself – give yourself a hug, you’re doing great.  

I have had low periods for as long as I can remember and some times they last for several days but you know what I’ve learnt from experience, they always, ALWAYS pass and if you do the right things they’ll pass quicker.

I hope today at least you’re all having a good day,

Stay Strong xxx

 

 

OCD and Blood

Now I’m guessing this is a trigger for a few of us out there, I know for sure it’s always been one of mine.  There’s something about blood which just makes my mind go,

‘If you touch that you’re going to catch something horrible’.  

In the past if I walked past a plaster in the street it would play on my mind for the rest of the day. I didn’t even need to touch it, my Magical Thinking OCD could work out a way to make sure I could still catch something from it.  Sometimes it didn’t even have to be blood, just a red blob, it could be marker pen, jam, jelly, anything that could potentially be misconstrued as blood and my OCD would see to the rest.  I don’t know how many times I’ve thought about what I would do if I caught an infectious disease and how many hours I’ve catostrophised and stressed about all the possible outcomes, once again it’s actually very sad to think about.

Today I’m still battling these thoughts but I don’t seem to dwell on them or catostrophise about them anymore.  I still have an aversion to blood but that feels a little more ‘normal’, I’m not sure anyone likes other peoples blood on them or would want to voluntarily touch some.

One of the best things I heard when trying to combat this trigger (from my CBT therapist) was that,

‘diseases can’t live in blood outside of the body for longer then 48 hours’,

now I’m not even sure if this is 100% true, but I choose to believe it and it pretty much cured this phobia for me.  So if you see a plaster on the street that has blood on it, the likelihood it can hurt you is pretty much zero.

Once you can convince yourself of something then the thoughts are easy to bat away and eventually they stop coming all together.  All these things are a work in progress of course but I’ve found through my recovery sometimes you’ll hear something and it’ll just work for you and then that’s another trigger down.

Hopefully this one will help someone else out there.

Stay Strong xxx

Maintaining your mental health

This one I hate to say does not have an easy fix, it takes some commitment and a promise to yourself to be kind.  It needs to be worked at daily if you want to stay level and in control.

It has taken me a long time to come to terms with this, in the past it felt easier to self medicate with alcohol and drugs and just ignore issues but I tell you now from experience these quick fixes do not work.  If you don’t process your pain/anxiety/stress etc then it will most likely come out anyway, potentially when you’re not expecting it and you’re completely unable to control it.  By holding it in you can become tightly wound, touchy, stressed and probably not a very nice person to be around.

Now we all have an idea of what is good for us, even if we pretend not to, we know cigarettes are bad and too much alcohol will make us feel rough.  We know if we sleep in, only eat beige coloured food and do not exercise then we’re not going to feel great or have much energy, so then why is it so hard not to do these things?

Is society stacked against us?
This is such an interesting question and to a certain extent I think yes.  I think socially nowadays it’s really tough to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  So much of our culture revolves around drinking and eating and so opting out of these things can feel antisocial (which can have it’s own mental health impact).
When you walk into a supermarket a lot of the advertising is targeted towards the quick, easy fixes and highly processed foods which aren’t great for us.  Our lifestyles nowadays are hectic, trying to fit in as much as we can, work pressures, family pressures and the general pressure of society (and social media) to live a ‘perfect’ life.  As a result we run on auto pilot a lot of the time as doing things out of routine takes a bit more thought and brain power.  With our hectic lives there isn’t always enough time or energy left at the end of the day, generally if someone offers us a quick fix its just easier to take it.
In the short term it’s probably easier not to ‘be good’. We’ve all heard the phrases ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’, ‘It’s Christmas’, ‘go on treat yourself’, ‘Don’t be boring’.  We all have good intentions but you have to be pretty strong to stick to them when society seems like it’s pretty much stacked against you.
Think though, if we’re constantly doing what we know subconsciously we shouldn’t be then our we always feeling subconsciously guilty?  I’ll leave that one for you to ponder. 
I was listening to an interview with Matt Haig the other day who was saying as a society we’re almost programmed to be slightly anxious so that businesses are able to sell us more products.  Think about it: makeup, face creams, hair products, cars, holidays the list goes on and on.  Your life will be complete when you have these things, you must need them, right?  Putting you into a constant state of unease and discontent.  
So what do you need to successfully change?
  1. Community/support
    I think it’s incredibly hard to succeed on your own, you really have to make a conscious decision to change and that can mean removing yourself from social groups which aren’t supportive and finding other like minded individuals.  I’m not sure of the stats but I would say you’re much more likely to succeed at something if you have the support of a friend or group of friends around you.
  2. Motivation
    You really have to want/need to do it.  A lot of my changes have come through health issues (so a need), my mental health is fragile and needs constant maintaining along with my gut health and so diet.  Even though my journey started as a need it has now become a want, I see the positive affects of the changes I’m making and I want to continue to benefit from them. My other huge motivation is my children.  I want to set a good example for them and make sure they have all the tools they need to be happy and healthy.
  3. Baby steps                                                                                                                            Don’t change everything at once, you will fail. There are probably a few things which will need to be all or nothing such as smoking – at some point you just have to say enough is enough – but don’t quit smoking the same day you go on a diet and join the gym!  Take it one step at a time and be kind to yourself, these are forever changes so there is plenty of time.
  4. Results                                                                                                                                           I have worked at my health (mental and physical) for a good 5 years now and it is a working progress, I don’t always get it right I go backwards as well as forwards but more recently I can see myself changing.  I feel calmer, happier, socially less anxious, freer almost.  I still have dark days and I know I have a long way to go, I’m not sure 100% is actually achievable for anyone but it’s nice to be heading in the right direction at least.
  5. Take time for yourself                                                                                                      Make sure you make time for yourself and treat yourself well, be as present as you can day to day and try to be mindful as much as possible.
I really think small incremental steps is the way forward, it’s not about, ‘in two months I’ll have lost a stone and be vegan’, it’s about adding in a short walk every other day to get some fresh air and exercise or making one vegetarian meal a week.  All of these small changes will add up over time,  Try not to get focused on big target dates, it’s all about the journey.
Stay Strong xxx