Tag Archives: anxiety

How To Deal With Anxious Thoughts Around Christmas

For many people, Christmas is a time for happiness and being together, but for others, it can be so terrifying it can cause an increase in symptoms. The anxiety around money, the thought of having to go to family gatherings or parties, the pressure to be happy, the thought of being alone, having people tell you ‘pull yourself together, it’s Christmas!’ can be very unhelpful and make symptoms worse.

I used to hate Christmas and everything to do with it. I would avoid even thinking about Christmas but when it’s everywhere you look it can be hard to do that. The pressure of knowing I had to see people when all I wanted to do was hide, knowing I had to seem happy and put together was almost too much to bear at times. But unfortunately, Mental illness doesn’t take days off – no matter what time of year it is, and having the right tools to get you through is so important. Below are some of my top tips to make things more bearable.


Be honest about your feelings.

This one can be hard if you have people who don’t understand or who are not supportive of your struggles, but if you do have family who understands then be honest. If something feels too difficult or scary, let people know, they might surprise you and you might be able to come up with something that feels easier so you don’t miss out.


Have a plan.

If you have to attend Christmas gatherings or parties, have a plan. Decide what time you’re leaving so you have something to aim towards. For example – ‘I can get through this, there are only x amounts of hours left and it’ll be over’. If you’re responsible for hosting parties or cooking Christmas dinner, have a step by step list or plan so you know exactly what you have to do, so you’ll less likely to become overwhelmed.


Make time for yourself.

Self-care is important – especially if you find this time of year more difficult. It’s important to make time for yourself and your needs, away from anything that stresses you out. It can be something as simple having a bath, feeding yourself and drinking water – anything that doesn’t feel like a chore to do.


Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

There’s already enough pressure from society and other people, so there’s no good piling on more. It’s ok if you can’t do something, it’s ok if you have to leave early or not go somewhere at all, no good comes from putting too much pressure on yourself. It’s okay to say no if you can’t manage something. I know one of the hardest things for me is saying no, but it’s important to have healthy boundaries and realistic expectations for yourself.


Distraction, distraction, distraction.

With Christmas everywhere, it’s hard to escape. However, whilst you always have some degree of control, in the comfort of your own space, you are in the most control. If watching Christmas films or adverts makes your anxious thoughts worse, turn Netflix on and watch something not related to Christmas, listen to music, read books, anything not related to Christmas. It can help to have that space where you can pretend it isn’t Christmas and just relax.


Know where to turn for support.

Sometimes, no matter how much you prepare or try out different ways to cope, you can become overwhelmed. Below, I have listed various organizations you can contact if you need extra support:

UK support.

  • Samaritans (Call 116 123, open 24 hours, 365 days a year, Email, jo@samaritans.org, response time within 24 hours a day). For more information visit their website here.
  • Shout (Text Shout to 85258, open 24/7). For more information visit their website here.
  • SANEline (Call 0300 304 7000, 4.30pm to 10.30pm every day). For more information visit their website here.

International support.


Other posts you might find helpful.


Do you have any more tips on dealing with anxiety at Christmas?

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How To Make A Self Care/Crisis Box (Ideal Christmas Gift)

If you’re struggling to find a meaningful gift for your loved one this Christmas why not make them their own self care or crisis box? It’s the perfect gift for a loved one suffering from a mental illness, going through a rough time or anyone who might need a pick me up. Everyone needs self care to get through life, in whatever form that may be. You can even make this box for yourself, and it’s great for birthdays too.

A self care box is exactly like the title says – a box full of items to inspire looking after yourself. Self care tends to be seperated into 6 types; physical, emotional, practical, mental, social, and spiritual. When creating your box it’s ideal to look at the 6 types and try to find items that fit into them. However, many forms of self care are not item based (for example – taking a walk, seeing a therapist, or seeing a friend) so an idea might be to write lists (or find them on Pinterest and print them out) to put into your box so they’re ideal to refer to when you’re in need.

A crisis box is a collection of items to be used when someone is in a state of distress. This might be if someone has self harm urges, suicidal thoughts, or needs grounding from dissociation or flashbacks etc. Something to keep in mind when creating a crisis box is to make sure you don’t put anything in that could potentially be used to hurt yourself/your loved one with, for example – candles, sharp items etc.

Although, a self care and crisis box are quite similar they can be quite different. Self care tends to be to keep yourself well, for example – if you’re feeling deflated or low and need a pick me up. Crisis boxes are for use at crisis point, when trying to prevent yourself getting to a point where you do something to harm yourself.

This is by no means an exclusive list and is designed to give you ideas and get you started. You can add things or take things away. It’s a great gift and allows you to personalise it to what you/your loved one finds helpful or enjoys.


Nurturing.

These are general items used to look after and appreciate yourself. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in life and forget to look after yourself. Small things can make all the difference.

Ideas text with baby pink heart

  • Hot chocolate/coffee sachets.
  • Tissues (it’s ok if you need to cry!)
  • Chocolate or your favourite snacks.
  • A card/letter to show them you’re thinking about them (if you gifting it to someone else) or one you’ve recieved in the past that makes you smile to look at (if its for yourself)
  • Mug
  • Face masks
  • Body lotions
  • A soft toy

Distraction.

Distraction items are great for both boxes. Whether you need distracting from urges, thoughts or memories, or want to do something you enjoy, it’s a great tool to busy your brain and focus on something positive.

Ideas text with baby pink heart

 

  • Books
  • Puzzles
  • Colouring books
  • Craft sets
  • Knitting/crocheting (wool etc)
  • Notebooks
  • Art supplies
  • Planner supplies
  • Puzzle books (dot to dot, wordsearches, suduko, crosswords etc)

Grounding.

Grounding is useful for many different reasons – it’s mainly used during flashbacks and/or dissociation, and aims to ‘ground’ you back to the present moment. Often it uses the 5 senses – sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing, (‘What can you see? What can you hear? etc).

Ideas text with baby pink heart

  • Vapour rub (for smell and touch)
  • Freeze spray/gel (for the cold on skin)
  • Squishies (touch)
  • Tangles (touch)
  • Sour sweets (taste)
  • Slime (touch)
  • Pictures of happy memories (sight)
  • Instrument (touch and hearing)
  • Favourite CD (do people even have CD’s anymore?!)/calming music (hearing)

Useful books/items.

There are a variety of useful things you could pop in the box such as books on mindfulness, happy/gratitude journals and books containing bright positive or inspirational quotes. You can also get bands that have quotes on them such as ‘you matter’ or ‘keep fighting’ etc which can be useful to wear on your wrist to remind the person of how far they’ve come/that they’re ok etc.

The three wristbands in the picture are from Stickman Communications, they’re useful to wear either as a visual reminder for yourself that you’re struggling (and so to be extra kind to yourself), or doing good. Or to let other people know how you feel (such as people you see regularly or live with) so they’re aware of how you’re feeling without you having to explain it – we all know how difficult that can be.

Ideas text with baby pink heart

  • Mindfulness books
  • Happy/gratitude journals
  • Books with colourful positive/inspirational quotes
  • Wrists bands with meaningful quotes on
  • Notebooks/pens

Remember this isn’t an exclusive list and things can be added or took away, it’s really up to you! Just have fun putting it together for yourself or someone else. 

Have you got any other ideas of what someone can put into a self care or crisis box?

charleigh signature

How To Avoid Stigmatising Mental Health In Your Novel

Hi guys and welcome back to my blog. In today’s post I’m going to be talking about how to avoid stigmatising mental health in your novel. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma attached to mental illness (and in my opinion made worse by social media) and people seem to be determined to see mental illness in a certain way. Every single person suffering from an illness is completely different, and everyone’s experiences are individual. The portrayal of mental illnesses in popular fiction (books, TV, film etc), if done incorrectly, can make the stigma worse and is damaging to those of us who suffer. Below, I’m going to share some tips to help you portray mental illness in the best way you can..


Although not everyone will feel comfortable sharing their experiences, as long as you are respectful and remain non judgemental some sufferers will be perfectly happy to give you some insight. Talking to actual sufferers of mental illness can be enlightening and give you valuable first hand accounts on what it’s like to live with a condition. This information can enable you to to craft a realistic portrayal of a character suffering from a mental illness.

Side note – remember never use information that enables anyone to be identified. Remove all identifying features, change their histories and/or life experiences so your character is a new person. Lots of writers use bits and pieces from all different kinds of people to create characters, because basing a character too similar to someone in real life can open you up to problems.


Use proper, respected sites to gather your information about the mental illness you are including in your novel. Remember that there are many different symptoms related to mental illnesses and you don’t always have to just use the typical, well known ones in your novel.

Some greats sites include Mind | Childline | Rethink | Beat.


Don’t scrimp on research, and make it a priority to check and double check before the final manuscript is released. Also, take your time when you are developing characters to make sure that every aspect is weaved into the story. Make sure you have accounted for things like possible causes, a detailed history and how it affects their everyday life.


It can be easy to observe mental illness in films/books/tv shows and automatically assume the portrayal is correct or that’s the only way someone with a mental illness presents. Sadly, many fictional portrayals (especially films) can be highly stigmatised and often show sufferers to be dangerous. Also, don’t use information from tabloid newspapers. These articles can be harmful for stigma and often contain incorrect information.


This irritates me because recovery is not something that happens overnight and it’s unlikely to happen without treatment of some sort. These things take time and hard work. Acting like miraculous recovery is the norm may make people believe that that’s how it happens in real life, or that all you have to do is think positive and boom, you’re cured.


Have you written a fiction book including mental illness? Do you have any tips for writers on this topic?

6 Helpful iPhone Apps For Managing Your Mental Health

Hey everyone and welcome back to my blog. Today, I’m going to be sharing 6 apps that are great for managing your mental health. I have personally tried out all of the following apps and I have seen the potential they have in making it easier to manage your illness. I hope these apps are useful and you find something new to help you along…

(All app titles link to the App Store).


Think Ups.

Price – Free.

This is a lovely little app I discovered by accident. It contains 6 mini activities – happy taps, habit maker, mindset, positivity, breather and illuminator. All of them are based around positive thinking, good habits and mindfulness. My favourite game is positivity, which is a word search game. You are given words revolved around positivity and you have to find them in the grid.


Three Good Things.

Price – Free.

What I love about this app is how simple it is. Everyday you receive a notification to input 3 good things that happened to you that day. It’s a great way to try and pick out the positives of the day, even if it’s been a particularly tough day.


Cove.

Price – Free.

This is one of most unique apps I’ve ever come across. Cove allows you to express how you’re feeling through music. You pick an emotion and it then allows you to add a base, melody and percussion to create a song. It’s great if you’re struggling to express how you’re feeling or you can’t find words to describe it. This app is also working with NHS (you can read more about this here).


Stigma.

Price – Free with a pro option.

Stigma is an app that allows you to track your mood and add journal entries. It also has a pen pal option – where you can connect with other people in similar situations to yourself. I haven’t tried out the pen pal aspect but I can imagine how helpful that could be to someone’s support system. One of my favourite aspects of the mood tracker is you can add a visual representation of how you’re feeling, which you can track over a certain period of time (daily, weekly, monthly).


Quit That.

Price – free.

I’ve added some examples to show you how it works

This is a very simple app that allows you to track habits you want to quit. It isn’t necessarily a mental health app, however, it’s great if there are bad habits, possibly related to your illness, you’d like to stop doing. It also allows you to input if the habit costs anything per day, and it will then show you how much you’ve saved since you’ve quit, which I think is a great motivator.


Clementine.

Price – free.

This is an app that uses hypnotherapy to help you deal with the struggles you may be facing. It includes several audios to listen to in the categories sleep, confidence and de-stress. It also allows you to add mantras (or choose the surprise me option) and the app will send you reminders throughout the day to remind you of them, which is think is a lovely touch.


What apps do you find helpful in managing your mental health?

How To Deal With The Anxiety of a New Year

The thought of a new year when you have anxiety can be an overwhelming and terrifying thought. The bone crushing fear of another year full of promise, and the overwhelming expectations can end up in another year full of so much anxiety and failure that it can overwhelm you. The fear of failure is unrational, the fear of not being good enough is unrational and for the most part we know that – but that overwhelming fear is a reality for many of us who suffer with anxiety.

I for one was adamant that 2018 was ‘going to be my year’ – just like all the other years before that. Instead it ending up being another in a long line of bad health and stressful situations. There were amazing things that happened this year – including finally moving into a wheelchair accessible bungalow, starting up my blog and finally starting to write my first draft of my book. I don’t have all the answers neither am I living proof that the following things are guaranteed to work but hopefully the following advice can somehow make 2019 less of a burden for you…


Make goals.

And I don’t mean massive stuff like lose weight or learning to drive or starting a new job. I mean small, actionable goals, things you can easily cross off so you don’t feel like you’re useless and can’t do anything. For example – say you want to learn to drive, you could break that bigger goal down into actionable steps like ‘decide on learning manual or automatic’, ‘research driving instructors’, ‘contact driving instructors’ and so on and so forth until you achieve the big goal.


Surround yourself with positive people.

Unfortunately there are people in life who can become toxic and affect your mental health. Cut ties with the people who make you feel negative and bring you down instead of building you up. As hard as it may be you have to do what is best for you and if that means cutting ties with people who make you feel bad about yourself then it’s what you have to do.


Don’t expect too much from yourself.

There’s no use in pushing and pushing until you explode because that’s not going to get you anywhere. Start small and work your way up. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do things you aren’t ready for and focus on the things you are better able to do at a given moment.


Try to be proud of the little things.

Sometimes it’s easy to become fixated on all the things you can’t do. You forget that it’s the little things that get you through – getting out of bed, taking a shower or cooking a meal. To a lot of people these things may be the easiest thing in the world but for those of us with anxiety they are massive. Be proud of these small accomplishments as well as the bigger ones.


 

Do you have any advice to someone who is feeling anxious about a new year?

21 Easy Self Care Ideas Using The Five Senses

Blogtober graphic

Hi guys and welcome to Blogtober day 23 and today I’m here with some self care ideas. I see these posts around a lot but I wanted to try and do something different. So, I’ve come with some ideas using all the 5 senses. Once again I thank my beautiful best friend Sarah for helping me come up with these…


Sight.

1. Get out into nature and take some photos.

2. Look at old photos with a positive memory attached. Think about the memory, close your eyes and take yourself back to the day the photo was taken.

3. Pick something to draw, focus your time on what it looks like, every detail. Don’t worry if it doesn’t turn out like you expected – you’re not drawing a masterpiece.

4. Colour in a colouring book or print some sheets off the internet, and take note of the colours you’re using.


Smell.

5. Light some scented candles or melt some wax melts and let the scent surround you.

6. Buy yourself some lovely smelling flowers and display them in a vase.

7. Spritz yourself with your favourite perfume.

8. Bake a cake and let the warm smell fill the kitchen.

9. Use a shower or bath bomb and take note of the different kinds of smells.


Touch.

10. Get yourself a manicure or pedicure, or treat yourself to having your hair done.

11. Cuddle a fluffy cat or dog.

12. Pour some bubbles into your bath and let the warm water relax you.

13. Create a sensory book using a scrapbook and items you like the feel of. You could also incorporate other senses into this (would anyone like a post on how I make mine?). If you already have one go through it, taking your time to focus on each item.

14. Have a mini spa – face masks, foot bath/lotion, body lotion. Whatever helps relax you.


Hearing.

15. Create a playlist of your favourite songs and listen to it on repeat.

16. Download a meditation or relaxation app, put your headphones on and relax. (I use Relax and Sleep)

17. Have a conversation with someone you’re close to about something your enjoy. Listen to every word and take note of how it makes you feel.


Taste.

18. Eat your favourite flavour ice cream/chocolate/fruit etc.

19. Mindfully eat something sweet, sour, savoury, and new, and take note of the different feelings and textures you experience for each one.

20. Try to eat when your body is telling you it needs to.

21. Drink enough water to hydrate. If you don’t like water (like me) you could try adding a drop of different flavour juices or use flavoured water. Focus on the differences in the tastes throughout the day.


What kinds of things do you do to practice self care?

How To Survive Halloween When You Have Anxiety or PTSD

 

Blogtober graphic

Hi guys and welcome to Blogtober day 17. With Halloween creeping up on us, I thought I’d compile together some of the things I try to do to get through Halloween without too much distress. As exciting and fun as Halloween can be – it’s also a pretty scary time for those of us with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and/or anxiety. I love Halloween – it’s fun to dress up, decorate your house and it’s a great excuse to eat sweets (not that we need an excuse of course!). However it’s also terrifying – the thought of someone jumping out at me, not knowing whose behind scary Halloween masks etc.

Now Halloween isn’t celebrated in the UK as big as it is in America and other countries but it’s still big enough thing that it gives me anxiety. I’ve put together this post in the hopes that some of this advice can help you feel less anxious/distressed this Halloween, and if not I hope it makes you feel less on your own.


You don’t have to answer the door to trick or treaters.

Sometimes I think people feel obliged to answer the door if there’s trick or treaters. I know I always do because they’re mostly little kids with their parents but that shouldn’t mean you absolutely have to answer. It’s okay to say no, it’s okay not to answer and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If you want to shut the curtains and pretend you’re not home – that’s okay.


It’s okay not to celebrate Halloween.

Even with all the pumpkins, costumes and sweets everywhere – it’s totally okay not to celebrate if that’s what you want to do. There are many different reasons why people don’t celebrate – religion being one. But if it causes you anxiety just thinking about it – it’s okay to not take part.


Make sure your home before dark.

I find there’s nothing like walking in the dark to get your anxiety up and running. It’s even worse on Halloween night – when there’s people dressed up in all sorts of costumes. There’s also always people who have no respect for others and constantly try and make people jump. To them it’s funny – to us it’s terrifying.


If you have to go out – try and take someone with you if possible.

I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have someone to go out with them. If possible it’s best to only go out if it’s absolutely necessary but I know sometimes going out on Halloween night is unavoidable. If you aren’t able to take anyone with you – try and stick to well lit roads or get a lift or taxi to where you are going. This is important just in general but also will hopefully slightly ease your anxiety.


Distract yourself.

I live in a quiet area but it wasn’t too long ago I lived in a noisy place. On Halloween night it would get so loud it would cause me anxiety and it triggered my PTSD. Although it’s not as easy as it sounds, try to keep busy. Whatever you need to do to cope – arts and crafts, reading, loud music through headphones, binge watching tv, puzzles – whatever helps you get through.


Finally, remember to take care of yourself.

If you don’t want to go out – that’s okay, if you want to go out – that’s okay too. Just do whatever makes you feel comfortable and never feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to. Always remember you are safe and everything will be okay.


Was any of this useful to you, let me know in the comments? Is there anything you’d add?