Post Lockdown Anxiety

So how is everyone?

Sorry it’s been a little while since I’ve managed to find the time to write something, I’ve been meaning too but full time childcare and yoga teacher training has taken over my life for the last few weeks and I just seem to have no time at all!

So lockdown is finally easing in the UK and this is good news right?  Well yes of course it is but unfortunately for me I have really noticed my anxiety about getting out and about has gone through the roof.  I am an introvert with OCD so not a great combo to start with, add in Covid-19 and well you’ve got an anxiety inducing nightmare for me.

I have worked incredibly hard over the last 2-5 years to build up the courage to do just simple things like; drive to new places, go to the supermarket, meet friends at playgroups and now it feels a little like I’ve gone backwards.

I haven’t managed to get out with the kids without my husband or mother in tow yet which makes me extremely sad.  When my second child was born it took me 7 months before I had the courage to get out on my own with the two kids so this is a bit of a blow for me.  I have friends who have never had mental health issues before who are feeling the anxiety at the moment so I realise it’s probably to be expected that it’s going to hit me a bit harder but still it’s a tough pill to swallow.

There’s also a sort of loneliness about getting out at the moment, in the past we would always be going out to meet friends and socialise but the kids are a bit small to understand social distancing currently.

So I guess I go back to taking baby steps and being kind to myself, I need to remember all the tools that are so useful when things get overwhelming.  Simple things like mindfulness, remembering to breath and even just putting a smile on your face can help.  Eating and sleeping well, not drinking and trying to get some exercise in where you can.

I think it will be a while before I manage to get to a shopping centre but the local park should be achievable right?  I know I am lucky in so many ways and these are the things to focus on for now, the rest will come over time.

I wonder if anyone else is feeling like this?  Hopefully my post will make you feel a little less alone if you are.

Let’s all try and be kind to ourselves in what is the strangest of times,

As always, Stay Strong xxx


Be afraid and do it anyway

I am the queen of self sabotage, I seem to enjoy putting myself down, talking myself out of following my dreams and continuing to do things which I know aren’t good for me.
Why do I do these things?  Is it easier not to change and stay in my comfort zone? Am I scared of failure if I try?  Ummm well Yes but then if I don’t try then I’ll never grow or give myself the opportunity to succeed and is that worse?  I’m guessing a lot of us feel this way.
Recently I’ve decided to make a change, I am going to leave my job of 9 years and try for a new career.  Now this has not been an easy decision, I have worked in my current role for a long time and I am very much in my comfort zone.  I work with a great group of people and the work is stimulating enough to keep it interesting (I’m a software developer), I get well paid, have flexibility with being able to work from home and I live close to my office – am I mad to leave?  Well maybe, my mind has definitely been telling me that (got to love the chatter) but I know in my heart that I am never going to love this job and so I am never going to be amazing at it.  I don’t have the enthusiasm for it that I see in some of my work colleagues and I want that passion for something.
So I am starting my Yoga teacher training at the end of this month, Yoga is something I do love and do feel passionate about.  Realistically I won’t be making as much money for a while and so I have had to save and we will have to adapt to living on one income for a while but with my 35th birthday approaching I honestly feel like it’s a bit of a ‘now or never’ moment.
I will be leaving work at the end of May and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified but I truly believe it is the right decision and so I have to block out all the chatter and negative vibes and believe in myself (always a tricky one for me).  The affect all this is going to have on my mental health has been another really scary consideration for me.  Work has always been a very secure anchor in my life and has kept me stable through really hard times but I have to stop my mental health getting in my way and know I am tough enough to do this.
For anyone else thinking about making a similar life changing decision here are a few positive affirmations for you, I know I will be using them a lot in the coming months!
  • It is never too late to be what you might have been
  • If you ever feel like giving up just remember quitting won’t bring you any closer to your dreams
  • Be afraid and do it anyway
  • You’re either fighting for your dreams or fighting for your excuses
  • Just relax nothing is under control
  • The real challenge is to overcome how we view ourselves
  • Just a little progress each day adds up to big results
  • Be obsessed with your own potential
  • If your dreams don’t scare you, they are too small – Richard Branson
  • If you never try then you’ll never know what might have been
  • Believe in yourself, you got this!
As always, Stay Strong xxx

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



So I’ve done Yoga for many years and for anyone who’s done Yoga at all you’ll be aware that there’s normally a bit of meditation involved and some deep breathing and to be honest I normally find this part a bit dull.  I’ve also been on courses where I’ve learnt about the importance of breathing to get through fight or flight and all about the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system and how to balance them, I’ve learnt about heart math and it’s benefits and I’ve even blogged on here for over two years about how important breathing and mindfulness is but it wasn’t until today whilst listening to a Happy Place podcast with Rebecca Dennis that the impact of my breath on my entire life really hit me.

A good few years ago when I first met my husband he used to say to me quite often:

‘You’re holding your breath again’

Now, I just used to find this ‘pointless’ information annoying but today it REALLY hit me that this is actually the root of all my issues.  This is why yoga and meditation when I do them actually help me A LOT.  I hold my breath literally all the time, I’m doing it NOW, whilst writing this post, I can feel myself doing it!

I honestly think this is going to change my life.  I have been doing my meditations more (admittedly not everyday) but even that is starting to help and I am definitely going to continue with it.

Just stopping now and listening to my breath, its not smooth its not even, I’m surprised I’ve lasted this long to be honest!

I am sure I will need to do some work on what has caused me to hold my breath in this way but at least now I am aware of it and I can move forward.

Hopefully this will help someone else too,

Stay Strong xxx


Mental Health after pregnancy

So I’ve just checked and it’s been a fair old while since I’ve posted on here.  I’m disappointed because this blog is really important to me but I’ve decided to be kind and forgive myself as the reason is I’ve just had no time to focus on it.  I have a newborn who seems to be allergic to sleep and therefore I’m trying to catch up with that in any free time I get!  My sleep is really important to my mental well being and therefore it comes first.

So shes currently having nap so I thought I’d go for it and see if I can manage to get to the end of a post.

So newborns and mental health, where to start?  This is my second child and so I knew a little of what to expect this time around but it still takes a massive toll on your mental and physical health no matter who you are and so if you’re someone already suffering from a mental health issue then it can really throw you off track.

I’ve found control and structure to be so important in my mental health recovery, things such as: eating well, getting enough sleep, socialising, exercise and routine are so important to incorporate into my daily life and when you have a newborn (and in my case a toddler as well) your self care can really go out of the window.  Some things for me have slipped this time around (this blog included) and at times it has been tough.  She still wakes up 3/4 times a night (at 7 months!) and an extended period of time with broken sleep can really takes it’s toll on, well, pretty much everything.  I am lucky that I have a lot of support from family but even so there have been days where I’ve just had to push myself through with will power.

There is a good side to all the madness though (and this is something I would never have believed prior to having children) and that is that I’m so busy that I don’t have time to dwell on OCD thoughts at all.  They come into my head and I honestly don’t think of them again, there just isn’t time.  I have never known anything better at grounding me then my children.  Yes there are other mental issues I am processing such as my anxiety and worry but I almost feel like they are slightly more ‘normal’, everyone seems to have some sort of worry/anxiety and so I don’t feel quite as abnormal for having them.  They’re still completely rubbish but I find other people are able to relate more easily to them and so when you’re chatting about them you don’t get the blank faces where someone is trying to understand why you think you ran over something on the way to meet them and have then completely forgotten about it, stupid intrusive thoughts!

Anyway, I have still been noting a few ideas down over the last few months so hopefully I can manage to write a bit more regularly now.  If anyone has any requests for information on coping strategies or OCD topics or pregnancy or post natal related OCD then I am more then happy to share my experiences so just say in the comments.

but for now,

Stay Strong xxx



Dealing with Stress

I think stress is something we all deal with, there’s just no escaping it nowadays.  We’re all programmed to take on too much and expect too much from ourselves.  How we deal with stress however varies massively, some people seem to be able to dismiss it relatively easily where as some of us let it consume us.

My current method for dealing with most stress is avoidance, over the years I’ve become very aware of what causes me to spiral downwards and so nowadays if I don’t need it in my life then it’s not there.  I realise this probably isn’t the healthiest approach and I wouldn’t really advocate it but there’s an element of self preservation in there for me while I’m on my long road to recovery and I slowly let bits back in on days I feel stronger and remove them again on days when I don’t feel so great.

So this is all well and good until I come across some unavoidable stress, urgh, the worst kind.  How then do we process the wash of tension, self doubt, etc when there’s just no getting away from it?  It’s a good question and one I’m definitely still trying to answer.

Firstly I always try and start with a bit of perspective, when struggling with OCD it’s very easy to catastrophise situations and make them appear much worse than they are, try to rationalise your thoughts where you can.

If the stress has been caused by say an argument at work, or a bad drive home then just let it go, the other person probably did hours ago, is it really worth your time and energy?

If it’s something more significant like an exam or money worries say then stressing isn’t going to help.  Sit down and write out a plan of action, things you can positively do to impact on your stress and deal with the situation in a positive light.

Organisation is key, I personally have a lot going on at the moment but by organising my time and being pro active I am just about winning.

If you can take some time out just for yourself to regroup then do.  Close your eyes, take a deep breath and feel the stress leave you as you breathe out.

Mindfulness and meditation are also great ways to reconnect with your body and try to work out what has caused the shift.  The small amount of time it takes will definitely be worth the pay off you get afterwards.  I’ve got to admit though whilst writing that last sentence I felt a bit hypocritical as this is something I never/rarely do, like I said I’m still working on it too!

Stress is something that quite often comes upon us without us even realising.  Sometimes the first sign for me is that I can feel my shoulders getting tight or I start to be really snappy and short with people.  Being able to sense and notice your signs early is another important factor in getting your stress under control quickly.

When you’re already processing a mental health issue stress is the last thing you want being piled on top of you, my advice would definitely be to remove all unnecessary stress where possible.  I expect we’ve all taken on something we don’t need which can be eliminated.

If you can’t remove all stress, take a day off.  Put the kids in nursery/school, book a days annual leave and do what makes you feel good just for one day, it’s a bit self indulgent but feels amazing and is totally worth it.  You can’t function properly if your cup is half full after all.

Learn to say no when you can, people won’t think any less of you and you will gain some time and energy back.

Look after yourself, if you are the one holding it all together and people are depending on you it’s more important then ever that you take good care of yourself.  Don’t resort to caffeine and sugar try and be conscious about what you are putting into your body.

I hope my ramblings have been of some use, just by writing a few things down I feel a bit more together myself.  Most things aren’t as bad a you think, look after yourselves and as always,

Stay Strong xxx


OCD – Procrastination

Now I’ve been dealing with my OCD demons for a fair few years now (over 20!) and although I feel I’ve gotten to grips with them to a certain extent, I know if I really look at my life that they still hold me back in many areas.

I have, I believe, reached a sort of plateau or ‘comfy place’ in my life and though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – to have a steady job, relationship and social life – it does make it quite easy to just coast along.  Never having to step outside of my comfort zone means some of my OCD ‘fears’ can just be left and never confronted so to speak.  It also means that when something does come along where I do need to step out of my comfort zone – say I have to drive somewhere new/faraway –  normally my first reaction is to feel anxious and think of all the things that could go wrong, catastrophize.

Another side effect of my ‘comfy zone’ is that I never seem to get anything unessential done, things are only sorted when they have to be, rather then when they should be and therefore normally done in a rush and without much thought.  I believe this stems partly from my fear of making decisions.  Final decisions can have OCD thoughts associated with them and so cause me anxiety, therefore I avoid them where I can, naughty, naughty I know.

I feel I do get overwhelmed quickly and it doesn’t take much for me to start spiralling out of control, it definitely makes achieving things tricky.  It can also make me lazy, if I can pass a decision/activity on to someone else then normally I will, not good for OCD recovery I know and ultimately very frustrating for me.

So less of my moaning anyway, lets see if I can try and implement some solutions rather then posing endless problems.

My overall aims are to become more confident, to not let anxiety be the first thing to hit me when trying something new, to find solutions rather than problems and tackle my OCD head on and not avoid it.

  • I think I might start with a list, by writing down all the things I have been putting off/avoiding and then finding a way to tackle them one at a time it will feel less overwhelming and more manageable.
  • It would also help to see new experiences as exciting rather than scary, after all if we never do anything new how do we learn/progress?
  • I should have more confidence and believe myself worthy of new experiences.
  • I should try and get to the route cause of what is causing the anxiety and tackle it head on.
  • Remember that uncertainty is a good thing, would we want to be certain about everything?  There is a good exercise for dealing with uncertainty here.
  • Looking towards end goals and achievements will help to spur me on.
  • Accepting the worse case scenarios so I have nothing to fear.

Wow, so that’s quite a list.  Even the list itself feels a bit overwhelming to be honest but by just trying to take one step at a time hopefully I will start to achieve more of my goals.

Hopefully it can help you too.

Stay Strong xxx


Happy New Year!

So we made it to 2018, woohoo!  For most people the festive period is a time to celebrate and relax but I am more then aware that when you have a mental illness a big break in routine can be terrifying, especially if you don’t have the required support at home.

I’ve talked before about having a plan of action in place for this sort of event.  It’s also important to not let yourself fall backwards or be tempted by things you know may make the situation worse, such as drinking too much.  Try as hard as you can to be in control.    Not always easy I realise.

Know what your triggers are and do your best to avoid them.  If you can’t avoid them completely then prepare for them but don’t overthink it, this can cause anxiety in itself.

If you know for example, that you will be on your own the whole of Saturday then plan in things you enjoy to break the day up.  Go for a walk, do some baking, sewing, watch a movie (always a good way to use up 2-3 hours), read.  Identify the things that you find relaxing and have a day to enjoy them.

If you find your OCD sneaking in, change the activity or distract your mind with something new.  Call a friend or family member for a chat if you can.  If that’s not possible try to think of a time when you did feel calm and relaxed and know that the anxiety and thoughts will pass with time.  Know that the body is unable to sustain heightened emotions and anxiety for long periods of time and breath through them.

I now realise that potentially this post has come a week to late and I’m sorry about that, it has been an especially busy Christmas period this year.

Looking forward to 2018 and all the new opportunities to beat OCD and become stronger.  The great thing about new year is that it’s a fresh start but don’t get too caught up in the whirlwind as it can put a lot of pressure on you.  Setting a new years resolution of

I will fight every OCD thought which comes into my head this year and win

can really be setting yourself up to fail.  If you want to set targets, make them realistic and always remember to take every day one step at a time and that each day can be a new beginning as well as each new year!

I still fight every day and every day it gets easier but I’m sure this year will hold some new challenges for me, I will do my best to continue to share successful strategies as much as I can.  We must all go forward knowing we can win!

Stay Strong xxx

OCD – Setting yourself up to fail

So once you’ve had OCD for a while you start to know what your ‘triggers’ are.  These ‘triggers’ can then start to control your behaviour.  For me, public toilets, driving at night and drinking are just three of the things I can think of that can cause me anxiety, even before an event occurs.  Most of this anxiety is triggered I guess, from past experiences.

If I go into a public toilet and there’s something on the seat, this will cause anxiety, intrusive thoughts etc but I’m going to take a punt and say not many people would like to sit on something unknown on a toilet seat?

Unfortunately for me that’s just where it begins, if there is a mark on the toilet paper dispenser or on the toilet roll itself – here’s betting most people don’t even look at the toilet roll – these can immediately trigger intrusive thoughts which can stay with me for at least the rest of the day.  I’ve already mentioned in a previous post that I always rip off the first piece of toilet roll wherever I am through fear of contamination.  If someone has placed the toilet roll on top of the sanitary bin or on the floor then that can be game over, I just turn around and walk back out.

I’ve already blogged about driving and some of the anxiety it causes me but at night I would say everything is multiplied and it’s much harder to dismiss, potholes, bumps in the road, noises from the car etc.  I would say every time I drive somewhere at night I get back home and there’s some sort of intrusive thought on my mind which I just can’t budge, so frustrating.

So if you start to get anxious before you even get to your ‘trigger’ situation you are completely setting yourself up to fail.  Your mind is already putting the thoughts into your head before you’ve even tried and so it creates a viscous cycle, which causes reluctance to do things and go places and so starts to create behavioural changes.

I’m not sure I will ever completely free myself of some of my OCD intrusive thoughts and thinking patterns, some of them are so ingrained in me after so many years.  I do still make myself face them day in and day out but who knows if I will ever completely win.  I guess the fact that I’m not letting them stop me doing things nowadays is a win in itself.  To live life without the thoughts at all is the battle.

So the point of this post was to try and find a way of avoiding the preemptive anxiety, somehow trying not to fail before you’ve even tried.  It’s such a tricky one because as soon as you start thinking about the situation you’ll probably start feeling anxious about it, another one of those ‘don’t think about the pink elephant in the room’ situations.

I would say the best way to try to combat the preemptive anxiety would be mindfulness.  If you are living in the moment then you shouldn’t be worrying about whats happening later.  If you know you have one of your triggers coming up, then do everything you can not to think ahead to it until you have to, this should help to stop the anxiety kicking in too early.

Every time you face one of your fears and succeed make a mental note of how amazing you are for beating the OCD and anxiety.  We never give ourselves enough credit when we do well and we always beat ourselves up when we are weak – human nature I guess. Make a list of every win and refer back to it every time you are struggling.

Stay Strong xxx



OCD – Having a Plan of Action

This is something which came from my Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT for short.  As the therapy came to an end a plan of action was put in place for times when I’m maybe not feeling as strong as usual for some reason.

I have found that it is vitally important to know what to do when you can feel the doubt kicking in.  It’s also really important to be aware of your triggers so you can be prepared to deal with them straight away.

For me a massive trigger is time on my own.  I know that if my husband is away for some reason and I spend longer then a day on my own, then the OCD thoughts, doubts and associated anxiety will start to creep in, sigh.

So, I do my best to prepare in advance and plan activities which I know will keep me busy.  For me socialising is massively important, it makes me feel normal somehow to interact with people.  I have to keep this in mind when my head is telling me that I don’t want to go out in the car in case I crash (worry) and that I don’t want to go somewhere new in case I’m faced with a situation I can’t handle (anxiety) and I don’t want to get dressed this morning because I’ll have to find an outfit which doesn’t have some sort of negative connotation (OCD).

OCD and it’s associates does everything it can to keep me locked away in the house with just my thoughts, but all this causes is a downward spiral which I know, after many years is the worst thing for me and so I have to push myself past them all and go for it.

Of course it’s not always possible to prepare for these situations and even if you try to sometimes every single person you know will just happen to be busy on that day.  In cases such as these you need to find a way to cope healthily on your own.  Again this isn’t always easy, my first step is always to get out of the house.

I say to myself, ‘put your shoes on and go‘ (baby steps).  Most of the time just by walking out of the front door and taking a deep breath I feel slightly better.

I then try to be mindful as I walk, notice things in more detail than I normally would.   The sky, the buildings, the grass and trees, whatever is around me I take it in and appreciate it.  I remember how lucky I am to be alive and free enough to do these things.

Next I think about what makes me happy, just something small and see if I can incorporate it into my walk.  A warm drink at the local cafe, a book from the local library, (maybe combine the two), sometimes I treat myself to a magazine, a chocolate bar or a piece of cake (maybe all three).  Whatever I do, I try to appreciate it and do it mindfully.

Small acts of kindness are another thing I’ve come to appreciate recently, if you can repay them it can make you feel good.  Hold the door open for someone, offer your seat on the train to someone more in need.  It’s a bit sad that I’m still always surprised when someone does something unexpectedly nice for me.  I have found if I’m feeling particularly negative a small act of kindness can quickly change my perspective on things for the better.

OK so to summarise:

Prepare for situations you know will be triggers for you with activities you enjoy.

If you have no time to perpare

  • Get outside
  • Be mindful
  • Think of something you enjoy and do it and try to do it mindfully
  • If there is an opportunity along the way help someone, it will make you and them feel better.  Who knows perhaps they’re having a bad day as well.

I hope that this has been helpful, I’m just trying to pass on the things that help me in the hope that they can help you too.

Stay strong xxx