For readers that have followed me since the beginning of my blogging journey you will most likely of come across my post: Opening Up About My Battle With Anxiety & Panic Disorder. If you haven’t stumbled upon it and your interested in reading it you can read it here.
I wrote that post way back in May 2017 (which was nearly two years ago.) It took alot of confidence and bravery to open up about something so extremely personal on my blog and for that reason I have only ever shared about my mental health with you all in that one post. I wanted to write about it near the start of my blogging journey because I wanted to share my story in the hope that it could also support and help others to know they aren’t alone…as I know personally that I have always found comfort with my mental health when I can relate to someone else’s experience too. Another reason was so you could get to know me a little better and hear about the more vulnerable side to me. I received so many great and loving responses from so many of you and I was ever so grateful for that. Nearly two years on from that post things have obviously changed with my mental health and ways that help me to cope with it now. The past 6 months I’ve been going through abit of a struggle with my panic attacks again so I wanted to write a little update on a few newer things that I have tried that have helped me more recently.
This post is not an update of all the things that I have been experiencing recently with my mental health and I won’t be writing about the ins and outs of what I have been struggling with, as the post back in May 2017 explains more about my mental health I struggle with…Nothings massively changed except my panic attacks have been occurring alot more recently again for the past six months. For this reason I felt like I wanted to share with you all in an update sort of post, a couple of new things that I have been doing that I find have been a massive support for my anxiety and panic attacks recently. In the hope that one of you out there may stumble upon this and it may help you with your mental health also.
So like I said, the past six months have been slightly harder for me and my mental health. So I have found a couple of new things that I have been doing daily that seem to be improving my mental health and I wanted to share them with you. Alongside doing these I also try to maintain a balanced lifestyle with good, nutritional diet and exercise and just getting out and connecting with nature more…and doing all these things as a package seem to be beneficial to my overall mental health.
This is a long(ish) read so get comfy and grab a cuppa as I wanted to include everything in this post that I feel is helpful to read and know.
MEDITATION AND HEADSPACE APP
I’m sure that you are already aware that Meditation has became very ‘mainstream and popular’…Meditation has been around for years and years and years and it has been recognised as a great tool for mastering the mind and coping with stress. There has been alot of research and studies done on this practice to see how it really benefits us and there has been some amazing discoveries. People nowadays are more open-minded towards meditation and luckily gone are the days when people would just class it as a ‘hippy dippy practice.’ Meditation is extremely powerful and there has been alot of research and studies on how meditation eases mental health conditions. I’m not surprised that Meditation has become popular and mainstream, we lead such stressful and busy lives and people are seeking out more calmness to balance this. Daily Meditation is a brilliant way to relieve stress, become more mindful and focus on and accept the present. There are many meditation apps and sessions out there and one that is extremely well known and popular is Headspace. Headspace is a wonderful place for anybody who wants to take part in meditation. I’m a subscriber myself and I find it extremely helpful. On my laptop and on my phone a whole world of meditation is there at the click of a button whenever I need some time out and abit of calm in my life. It is a very handy and convenient app. Headspace has a range of; guided meditations, articles, videos and helpful animations. There is something for everyone on this app and it’s the perfect place to learn the essentials of meditation.
After hearing so many positive things about meditation I signed up to Headspace at the beginning of the year (just a couple months after I have recently been struggling) and it has been a massive help! Including a daily meditation session to my everyday routine has made me feel a sense of overall calmness within my mind and body. And having never done meditation before the guided meditation sessions have been extremely helpful to understand the basics and essentials in meditation. The voices they use on this app are always just so soothing and relaxing and really makes your mind feel at ease. I do definitely think meditation has helped my mental health and has given me a more positive outlook on everyday life (as it can be exhausting dealing with panic attacks or any mental health condition whilst continuing with daily life.) I have become alot more intune with my surroundings and acknowledge all the small and simple things of the world that I would not of really noticed before in all the hustle and bustle. The soothing voice is very reassuring and calming especially when I feel my panic sensations start to heighten.
On Headspace there is also a section of audio experiences for Sleep called Sleepcasts. I often put one of these on before I settle down to sleep. What’s perfect about these is that they are subtly different each time you play them, so the visualisation of the picturesque scene is never the exact same and it means you can’t track the passing of time as you can’t memorize the narrative. The voices they use for these audios are incredibly relaxing and whenever I put one of these on I always have a super relaxed nights sleep. I have suffered from night time panic attacks and they make the next night incredibly hard for me to feel settled without worrying I will get a panic attack the next night too. So the Sleepcasts have been a brilliant aid at helping me to forget about the nervousness and to just settle into bed being guided through a calming and dreamy environment.
Because I have been using Headspace during my tougher anxiety and panic periods I can see how much it has helped me to get through these and cope. So I highly recommend this app for anybody who is in search of more calmness and relaxation!
POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS AND THINKING
I have been delving recently into alot of research about the mind being an extremely powerful thing. And it has been fascinating to learn that positive thinking can really impact your health physically and mentally. I have heard about the power of positive affirmations and the positive statements are a brilliant way to help overcome negative and self-sabotaging thoughts. I have been trying these out and have found they do actually work for me. It’s been said that when you repeat a positive statement over and over again and you really believe in it then you can start to make that positive change. I personally have thought of ones that help to control my negative thinking and anxiety and I am often repeating them in my head regularly and as soon as I feel my panic sensations start to rise then I will remember to repeat them so I am thinking positive and not negatively.
I have found positive thinking quite hard at times especially during a full blown panic attack and it takes alot of work to remember and really believe the positive statement. However, it has become alot easier now as I have been thinking of them daily. I have noticed naturally in a bad situation my mind will automatically think of the positive statement and it will help calm my mind to the point where it can even stop my panic attack (sometimes.)
I recently did a review on an amazing company called MantraBands who create inspirational jewellery which include mantras and positive statements on them. You can read my review here. I brought a few bangles from them with my favourite positive sayings and I wear them everyday, mixing and matching to the ones I want to wear that day. Having a bangle with a written positive statement on really helps me remember it throughout the day as I look down at my wrists alot and notice the bangle and will read it. It’s been a wonderful way to continue to think positive throughout the day. I wear my ‘one day at a time’ one to work as I find that helps me to remember to take one day at a time and don’t overthink things or get stressed out. It helps me to stay present and calm in the moment. And sometimes I will switch it up at work and wear my ‘Brave’ one to remind myself especially when I’m feeling more panic sensations that I am brave as I have felt these feelings before and they have always passed and they will again. It soothes my mind and calms me to know this. It’s incredible how powerful words can be and are!
MY DAILY THOUGHTFUL DIARY
I have heard about how beneficial tracking your daily mood, feelings and thoughts can be for people with anxiety, depression, experience mood changes, physical pain or stress. So I came across a daily diary called: My Thoughtful Diary By Aabecreative.
It has enough space in there for a whole year of tracking how you are feeling and your thoughts. The diary isn’t dated which means you can add your own date which I personally love. It includes a 1 week per view so you can track how you feel Monday to Sunday. It includes a weekly reflection section and space to add any plans for the following week. In the daily spaces you can rate your mood, add your plans, add something positive and add how you made abit of time for yourself for that day. Inside the diary is also an: Annual Mood Chart, Sleep Monitor, My Health (any medication, supplements, vitamins), My Mindfulness questionnaire and My Scribbles (plain pages.)
Being able to track how I have been feeling as been very positive for me. When I experience anxiety or panic on a higher scale I feel very low and exhausted and it makes me think I have this all the time which gets me very down sometimes. So being able to look inside my diary to the past days helps to remind me that I have good days and good moods and I can see all the positive things I have done before. This really helps change my mindset to a much more positive one. Having a daily diary like this one that focuses on your feelings and thoughts in a positive way has been a wonderful way to see what has helped me out and also abit of a learning place to see what my patterns or triggers are.
I am a very creative person by heart…Perhaps that’s the Pisces in me. I find comfort in having creative hobbies that I enjoy, it takes my mind off of any uncomfortable sensations that I maybe experiencing. Blogging is of course one of them! However, when my panic and anxiety heightened recently I found myself wanting to escape and get my mind doing something else instead of overthinking about why and how I have been feeling. So I had a little think about what creative and relaxing activity I could do and pick up whenever I felt I wanted too and that’s when I thought about starting Watercolour paintings.
I’m not an artist and was never top of the class in Art lessons back in school but that doesn’t matter because doing a creative activity is all about doing it for fun and just learning a new skill. So I brought myself a watercolour pad, a couple of brushes and a pan of watercolour paints and just got creative. I have been absolutely loving doing something new and creative like this and I find watercolours particularly calming. Whilst doing my paintings I can just watch the colours melt into eachother and I observe the colours swirling around with the patterns of where the water is on the page. I have found it to be very calming and relaxing and the main thing enjoyable to do.
I’m not recommending that everybody does a creative activity but for me that’s what I personally wanted to try out, however I do think finding a new hobby to learn and to do is a great way to help focus your mind on other things and it can be very fun to learn a new skill as you feel a sense of achievement. Below are two of my watercolour paintings that I created…I’m not the most artistic but I’m just showing so you can see that it doesn’t have to be perfect to enjoy what you are doing (I also love that I can paint calming and tranquil scenes…things that I personally find calming.)
I hope that you have found some of these ideas helpful. If you have been struggling with your Mental Health or just feeling very overwhelmed and stressed out then please know you are not alone. Try some of these ideas out because honestly they have really helped me…They may not help everyone but there is no harm in trying new things that may help you. If you ever need a listening ear I am always here to chat too as I know how exhausting and overwhelming it can feel so don’t go through it alone, you may contact me via my Contact Me Page. Thank you all for taking the time out of your day to read this and I wish you all the very best. XO