what is self care?

2021, mental health

Hello!

I feel like I know what self care is, right? It’s women on Instagram having a pamper night with a sheet mask, a bath bomb and a partner who’s prepared to take arty photos in the candle light. It’s taking time away from social media and listening to what your body wants, whether it’s a Netflix binge, a long walk or a cupcake.

Maybe it’s taking some time for yourself, maybe it’s having a shopping spree and buying something new, maybe it’s having a healthy routine and meditating and getting enough sleep at night.

This week has been stressful – I finished my contract in my previous job and didn’t know what was coming next. I’m not good at handling change and I’m really not good at knowing what to do with myself when there is an expanse of nothing with no end date – I was excited about having some time off, but my mental health dive bombed and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’ve been applying for jobs all week in between not being able to get off the sofa, really having to convince myself to eat proper meals, not making it through the day without a nap and then not sleeping until the clock reads ‘am’, which I haven’t done for a long time.

(I did get a job on Friday though, so the ‘never ending expanse of unemployment’ was only a week, which is nice)

But that’s not what I want to write about – I’m trying to listen to my body, I’m trying to figure out how to help myself. I’m going to bed early, I’m making an effort to eat vegetables and not eat all the chocolate and drink all the coca cola I’m craving. I’ve spent time doing my cross stitch project while watching a lot of House MD on Amazon Prime. I’m making to do lists and trying to do something ‘productive’ each day because I know it helps me feel like I’m doing something more meaningful. But I feel more dissociated and distant than I’ve ever felt before.

Self care can’t just be face masks and bubble baths and meditation? Surely there’s got to be something I can do to make myself feel better, right?

I mean, reading a book about a teenager being stalked by a serial killer and demonstrating her somewhat terrifying knowledge about crime scenes whilst suffering from severe PTSD about one of the previous cases she solved in the other books in the series probably isn’t helping, but I also just want to finish it so it’s done and I can read something a bit cheerier.

I’ve seen lots of tiktoks recently about the chronic failings of the British government in the middle of a mental health crisis – a crisis line that suggests baths and meditation and doesn’t help even when people ask to be sectioned and admitted for mental instability. It feels patronising.

So, what’s the point? What is self care? Does it even matter when the medical professionals we’re meant to be able to confide in and trust are prescribing having a wash and lighting a candle to do some breathing exercises?

I think self care is an overrated term – I know that making an effort with my sleep, not engaging with media and entertainment (and books) that mess with my brain and giving myself some structure will help me feel more control. Baths make me feel vulnerable, I find walks boring and meditating makes me think too much. A sheet mask isn’t going to help my physical anxiety symptoms, painting my nails won’t help me cope with change and writing in a journal about my feelings isn’t helpful right now.

Sometimes you’ve just got to ride the wave and remember that you’ve made it through this before and you will do it again.

(but any and all suggestions of things you do to feel better than you need ‘self care’ are more than welcome please)

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

life is a rollercoaster, and I want to get off

2021, mental health

Hello,

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like time is moving far too fast at the moment – a lot of us are still stuck in March 2020 when the most unusual event of (probably) our whole lives kicked off, but I swear it was June yesterday and now it’s nearly October?

I like being in control (read: control freak) and to feel like I’m losing time doing who knows what makes me feel quite on edge – I keep trying to think of ways to feel more present, but I just can’t make time for journalling or meditating in my routine right now. I feel like I’m tripping through life and while I’m just settling into the fact it’s September, next week is October and I constantly feel like I’m playing catch up.

I started to type ‘there’s a lot going on in my life right now’, but before I’d finished typing it I realised it wasn’t true. I have one big thing going on, but it’s a significant change and I’m finding all aspects of it difficult. I received some good news yesterday, after a relatively rubbish week (including a very kindly delivered job rejection phone call and my HelloFresh box just not arriving), and my partner congratulated me and asked me why I looked like I was about to cry.

It was because it meant the change was real. And I have a big decision to make as to whether I want to accept it.

But I can’t even cry – I’ve been struggling for a few weeks now and I really feel like there’s a big emotion I need to get out, but for whatever reason (maybe my meds or some other mental block), I just can’t get it out.

The rollercoaster of my analogy is going way too fast – the wind is whipping through my hair and I’m desperately trying to process it all but I just can’t keep up.

By 25 I thought I’d be more settled than this. Three years out from finishing my first degree (which makes me sound way more intelligent than I am), I thought I’d be more comfortable in my job and my income, I thought everything would feel more stable but I feel like there’s lots of spinning plates and I’ve already got shards of broken crockery at my feet. Everything feels broken, but even I can see objectively enough to know that it’s not.

I’m tired. I feel like I’m fighting to get through each day and then when I get to bed I can’t even get to sleep despite being exhausted all the time.

The one positive I can find, is that although I know I’m in a subconscious depressive low right now, I know it won’t last forever. I can’t force it – I can’t pretend a bath and a face mask is the ‘self care’ I need, because I don’t even know what I need right now, but I know that it will end – my sleep will get better, getting out of bed won’t feel so tough and good news won’t make me nearly-cry (at least, not in a bad way).

I keep trying to figure out what my blog is right now – I think it’s just me in each moment. It’s the happy lists, it’s the emotional rambles, it’s the favourites posts and the goals. I’ve been writing this blog since I turned 18 in 2014 – I just turned 25. Although at my core I like to think I’m much of the same socially inept, closet nerds with ginormous dreams, so much has changed and I’ve grown in the best way. I don’t think I’m someone my 18 year old self would be proud of yet, but one day.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

when the world feels heavy

2021, mental health

Hello,

I haven’t really had any inspiration to write recently and that’s usually a subconscious sign that I’m hitting burn out. I’ve been running on empty for a little while now – getting out of bed approximately 10 minutes before I need to start work, doing my 9-5 from my home office, cooking dinner and sitting on the sofa until bedtime.

Now that I’ve recognised that I’m running on empty, I’m giving myself permission to step back from the manic, productive life I’ve prescribed myself – putting basic self care tasks like showering and emptying the kitchen bins on my to do list and not worrying about things like blog posts and instagram posts that aren’t essential.

But it still feels like a lot – I feel like everything is blurry, like I have a long list of everything I need to do but I can’t focus on it. There’s a weight on my chest and an ache in my knees and I can’t sit still but everything wears me out. It’s one huge paradox of wanting to be better and productive and make time to really relax, but feeling like I’m trying to walk through water and everyone is speaking to me in a language I don’t understand.

I need to do this, I need to be here, I need to remember to do that, I have to be an ‘adult’, I have to buy this and save for that and more and more and more.

And the thing is – I’m not special or unique or alone in this; everyone is busy, everyone feels weighed down and everyone has it hard. Everyone’s been through ‘a lot’ – everyone’s lived through trauma, but that doesn’t mean we all have to handle it the same way.

The world may weigh the same but that doesn’t mean everyone can carry it.

Paired with the relentless news of global despair, waiting for my second vaccine dose and the impending 25th birthday that feels oddly significant, it’s all feeling like a lot right now. And I’m struggling.

But what is helping is knowing where to put my priorities – I can’t afford time off work right now, so most of my energy goes to that. After work I wind down by cooking dinner (I’m still super hyped about HelloFresh – click here if you want a discount!) and watching whatever American medical drama I’m in the mood for (if my fiancé is home it’s Grey’s Anatomy, otherwise I’ve just started The Resident and I dip into House and The Good Doctor every now and then) whilst I try to potter on my laptop with whatever gentle task I’ve set myself – recently it’s been researching fireworks for my wedding or looking up dance classes to start in September.

Then I go up to bed regardless of how early it is and generally I read my book till I fall asleep. Then I do it all over again.

So far, I haven’t recuperated any energy at all but I haven’t had a full on raging breakdown so I consider that a success.

Sometimes the world feels heavy. Sometimes a bath and a face mask isn’t going to solve everything. But learning to listen to your body is a journey and every step is progress.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

things you might not think are anxiety

2021, mental health

Hello,

I’ve not written a post for a week or two and for someone who attempts to maintain a two-post-a-week schedule, it’s not what I was hoping for.

I thought I was run down from work, a bit uninspired and prioritising playing video games with my fiancé but after a little reflection, I’m recognising that my anxiety is worse at the moment and I have less energy and most of that is going on work – work, eat and sleep is pretty much all I’ve been doing at the moment and I’m slowly learning that this is okay; it’s all I’ve got energy for and I have to reserve the energy I have for what’s most important, which right now is getting through my last few weeks in my current job.

Taking this time to self reflect and realise how my anxiety is impacting me in ways I didn’t consciously realise, I thought I’d collate a list of a few symptoms of anxiety that aren’t always super obvious, even to the person suffering them. I always try to disclaim when I write about mental health – I’m not a medical professional and I can only describe my own experiences, so read with a pinch of salt I suppose.

Not being able to shower

Sounds gross, but it genuinely isn’t a choice. Lying in bed before another day of working from home and trying to find the energy to get out of bed early enough to have a shower feels ridiculous – I lie there thinking about how there are no physical limitations of me going for a shower; I can get out of bed, turn on the shower and do it, but then the mental barrier becomes a physical barrier and it’s impossible. It’s hard to describe but it’s like my body and mind are too heavy to get out of bed until I absolutely have to (i.e. something with consequences, like not going to work). That’s another thing…

Not getting out of bed or not moving off the sofa

It’s not about laziness or comfort, often it isn’t comfortable at all – when I’m lying in bed or on the sofa it feels like I’m physically trapped; the thought of moving and doing something productive or useful (like showering) makes my chest ache and sometimes I feel like I could burst into tears because it’s just so much.

But then there’s the cycle of feeling so ridiculous – for something as simple as standing up and doing something else makes it hard to breathe? Rationally, it sounds so stupid but it’s not – anxiety makes mental barriers become physical and the choice or intent of the person is another thing to fight.

Being tired all the time

A phrase (metaphor?) in the disability community is not having enough spoons – in it’s simplest terms, say everyone has a set number of spoons to get through the day, for someone without anxiety or a disability etc, it’s one spoon to get out of bed, one spoon to shower, one spoon to make breakfast and so on, but for some it takes three spoons to get out of bed, five spoons to shower, and then all the spoons are gone. So we have to choose how we spend our spoons wisely because we don’t have many.

So you can either look at it that we have less spoons to work with or everything takes more spoons, hence very little energy and being careful about what we use our precious spoons for.

Not having the energy to cook

Cooking a full on meal can take be a source of relaxing, winding down at the end of the day, but it can also be a massive chore and require more brain power than I have. This can either look like ordering too many take outs, only ever eating frozen food or something simple like pasta with cheese that takes minimal effort.

This is a really nice one to help with if you notice a friend in need – whether it’s getting some nice easy ready meals that might be a bit healthier or going round (if they want company) and cooking for them, having a nice experience of cooking together and a bit of social interaction and love may really help!

Stomach aches, acid reflux, dietary problems

One thing that is barely talked about with anxiety is the physical symptoms – the anxiety stomach pain, the headaches, the way your food just doesn’t seem to agree with you in any way, the nausea – it’s a lot. It can increase anxiety around food which it a never ending cycle of making it worse.

As anxiety ebbs and waves, these symptoms often get better or worse with no pattern or cause, but if you know someone who’s suffered from anxiety and ‘appears fine’ but mentions stomach pain, needs to go to the toilet more frequently or is hesitant around food, be mindful of them.

Not being able to sit still, feeling achy and restless

More physical symptoms, though I’m not 100% sure this one is anxiety or just my grandma joints. My fiancé calls me the Fidget Queen because I can’t lie the same way in bed for more than about 10 minutes, I’m always having to change how I’m sitting on the sofa and more recently with working from home, I have to get up and move just to stop my knees from aching under my desk all day.

I don’t know if it is anxiety, but the restlessness seems to match feelings of uncertainty and I wouldn’t be surprised if not being able to sit still was a part of that.

But it might just be my creaky knees. The point still stands I guess?

There is a lot of stereotyping around anxiety – which on the one hand isn’t a bad thing because it means a lot more people are aware of the biggest symptoms, can look out for their friends and be mindful and knowledgable about how to help if they can. But there’s so much that isn’t talked about.

Anxiety is mental illness, but that doesn’t mean all it’s symptoms are emotional – I think generally if someone thinks of a person with anxiety they think panic attacks, struggling in social situations and trembling hands, but I think those are more representative of a person in anxiety crisis than day to day living with anxiety.

The thing with anxiety, as it was anything, is to just be mindful – check in on the ones you love when you have the mental capacity, share your spoons where you can and be considerate; being human is hard, but we’re all doing it together.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

anxious body, absent mind

2021, mental health

Hello,

There’s no shortage of people talking about mental health at the moment, especially with the mental strain the pandemic has put on everyone. We’re at a point where Mental Health Awareness isn’t important anymore – everyone’s aware – mental health support is what people need right now.

But one of the scariest things about mental illness, is that even for people who’ve suffered with it for years and years, anxiety, depression and other disorders can always take on new forms, presenting symptoms in different ways.

How my anxiety presented itself when I was a teenager and how it presents itself now are totally different – when I was younger, I had anxiety attacks when I tried to fall asleep, now that’s not so much of a problem.

What I wanted to talk about today are feeling symptoms of anxiety without feeling anxious in your mind – or not recognising your anxious feelings at surface level. But let’s take it back a few steps.

At the beginning of the month, my partner flew to Italy for work, where he will be staying for just short of five weeks. It’s the longest we’ve ever been apart, it’s the first time he’s ever been on a plane and he’s working on a global sporting event so we were both nervous! I spent weeks, if not months, in advance of his flight planning my time to break up how long I was alone; seeing friends, seeing family, staying different places to get out of my house etc, etc.

When I left him at the airport, obviously there were a few tears because it’s a big change, but I hopped back in my car, listened to my ‘At Home With Anna and Lily’ podcast and jumped straight back into work. Since then, I’ve felt okay at the surface level – I’m getting lots of updates from Italy, I’m using the time on my own to focus on myself and spending my time catching up on hobbies and my YouTube Watch Later playlist and work is really busy so I’m actually really well preoccupied.

But everything I eat doesn’t seem to be reacting very well, I’m getting a lot of stomach aches and I’m finding it more difficult to get to sleep.

I’m feeling the physical symptoms of anxiety whilst mentally I actually feel okay. Or at least, I thought I did.

So I’m taking even more of a step back – trying to get in touch with my body to understand the subconscious feelings that are causing physical symptoms that my surface level brain either can’t or won’t recognise.

Am I doing this by meditating? Exercising and going on a diet? Absolutely not. But I’m trying to be more intuitive – listening when I need to take a minute away from my computer at work and stretch my legs, leaving more time between finishing my dinner and reaching for dessert to figure out if I actually want it; making more time for reading even if I go past the time I should go to sleep!

It’s not perfect – I still experience anxiety symptoms, but I don’t struggle to get out of bed as much anymore. I can have a shower without having to spend half an hour psyching myself up. I can look after myself and keep everything clean and tidy. It may sound trivial and easy but these are things I’ve struggled with and even though I’m still figuring out my mental illness and move towards overcoming it, I am making progress and taking those little steps.

Eight months ago, I was so anxious and depressed I couldn’t stand the thought of being home alone while my partner went to work for the weekend – I went to stay with my mum and had some of the most intense panic attacks I’ve ever had in my life. From there, working with my doctor, I altered my medication and started taking steps to get control of my life back, because it may sound melodramatic but I was terrified. I felt like my capability to be independent had been taken away from me and at 24, that’s not something I ever thought I’d be feeling.

But all those months, two lockdowns and finding a therapist later and I’m back on the right track. I’m not at the destination yet – I don’t know if there is a destination to reach – but I’m on the track and I’m putting one foot in front of the other.

That’s all I can do.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

trying to feel more present

2021, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

Something I’m finding a bit difficult at the moment is feeling present in the moment – I appear to have blinked and it’s May! I sometimes genuinely forget it’s 2021.

But it’s things like being thrilled it’s the weekend and then suddenly it’s Monday and I feel like I haven’t made the most of my time off at all, I don’t feel refreshed and I’m dreading running on empty for another week. I’m struggling with feeling present and it’s a mix of constantly feeling like I’m waiting for the future or reminiscing about the past and I really want to spend more time focusing on living in the now.

Some of the things I’m going to try and do to work on it is by having shorter to do lists and not trying to cram as much into my precious time off, spending time at home because that’s where I find it easiest to recharge and getting away from the screens – not having my laptop over for the sake of it, listening to music instead of watching TV in the background and trying not to lose hours scrolling on tiktok!

Especially with the weather getting nicer, I’m trying to get out in the garden more, but then also spending time doing crafts, writing in my bullet journal and reading! I hit a reading slump in April and didn’t read more than one chapter in the whole month, but I’ve already read two books in May and I’m so excited to spend the summer outside with my books. My mum’s given us a sofa bed which we’ve put in the extension downstairs and sitting under the skylight and looking out in the garden with a book or with my knitting is so lovely.

It sounds silly, but I hope I can feel more present in my life to make the days feel longer! Thinking about how many weekends I’ve spent in bed till midday because it was the only way I could recover from a week of work just feels like such a waste. Hopefully being able to relax more and slow down will help me sleep better and it all be a nice positive circle of feeling less exhausted and more relaxed in my day to day.

Before work yesterday, I managed to wake up and get out of bed, go to the post box, get pastries from Sainsbury’s, journal and meditate before work and it felt great! I’d love to feel that refreshed and productive before I even start work, but the day before I turned off my 8am alarm, fell back to sleep because I was so tired and woke up again at 8.45am to start work at 9am. It’s a habit I’d love to break!

I’d love it if I could maintain a routine, but I always go through cycles of sleeping well, feeling more present and productive and then there’s times were I sleep for 8 hours and feel like I could sleep for 8 more and I feel like that’s normal? Anyone who maintains a daily routine forever is a robot I swear!

Once you count out work and sleeping, there’s approximately six hours an evening during the week and fourteen hours in the weekend days – but then there’s cooking and cleaning and tidying and doing a weekly shop and other boring grown up things there’s not a whole lot of time left in the week! A lot of our working lives are lost to the boring adult stuff so the time we have left over is precious, so being more intentional but how I spend that time will hopefully make me feel much more present.

But as lockdown lifts and there’s discussions about hybrid working and going back to the office, it’s hard to remember that working from home is actually exhausting mental and physically – I’ve spoken a lot about productivity culture being really toxic and taking that work mentality and bringing it into the home that’s meant to be our place of relaxation is tough!

If you need a sign to prioritise yourself and have a self care weekend, this is it!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

I’m taking a break from YouTube

2021, creativity, mental health

Hello,

Since I started my job back in January, I’ve managed to keep up blogging – I find words come naturally to me and I love typing away a couple of times a week (even if I don’t always post it), but I’ve managed to post three videos since the new year on my YouTube channel…

Thought I have continued to plan content – I’ve scheduled myself the task of making a video every week and sometimes I’ve even filmed, but when it comes to the weekend, the thought of editing and uploading feels like a waste of my precious non-working hours so I haven’t prioritised it.

Thinking about the content I made, what I want to make and what I watch, I just feel like I don’t have anything to say that’s worth sharing at the moment. I like talking about books but I’m not making the time to edit the videos, I’m thinking about getting into making covers again but they were never anything special, just something fun for me.

I have nothing valuable to contribute and that’s fine – I’ve got seven years of memories on that YouTube channel and I’m still pushing myself creatively with the editing I’m doing for work. I’ve been editing Reels, writing scripts, doing podcast interviews and editing the podcast too and I’m really enjoying it. I’m using my creative energy in a different way and when I think about it all incredibly pretentiously, I think that’s why I started my channel in the first place – to be able to use my skills in a working environment; now I’m getting paid for it!

I love the vlogs I’ve uploaded and soon I’m sure I’ll treasure watching them back (it’s too recent for me to feel nostalgic about it yet!) – I might carry on making vlogs in the future, I’m making another ‘One Second Everyday’ video this year so I’ll definitely upload that, but I want to be more selective; remembering to film is surprisingly difficult and it means I don’t feel as present in the moment of whatever I’m doing. I want vlogging to be capturing memories rather than making me feel like I’m not living my own life (though that sounds way more dramatic than I intended).

I’m not a YouTuber; I’m not an influencer; people don’t value my opinion on anything and I don’t have anything insightful about skincare, beauty or fashion to share; I don’t have any great opinions on books and I’m not a comedian. I’m just a girl who likes making videos and music and writing stories. I like making things, but YouTube isn’t the platform for me right now.

I massively addressed my relationship with social media about three years ago and noticeably stopped tweeting and Instagram story-ing my every last feeling (often the negative ones) and now I just don’t feel the need to share publicly as much – the people I care about and that I know care about me get the pictures I take privately. If there’s something worth sharing I’ll put it on my stories but I really don’t share as much as I used to and I think that’s healthy for me.

Stepping back from YouTube seems to be the next logical step. I’m not saying I’m ‘quitting’ and deleting my channel and being all dramatic about it – I love a project and I’d love to work on something more long form or planned in the future, like a series or a mini-documentary or something, but right now I don’t have the time and it’s not a priority, and that’s fine.

I’ve had a lot of fun on YouTube – if it weren’t for starting my channel with Vlogmas in 2013 I wouldn’t have realised I wanted to study multimedia journalism and I wouldn’t have gone to Solent or met my now-fiancé or any of the steps that have let me to the life I have now, which despite all it’s challenges I’m actually pretty fond of!

I’ve done some cool things…

And everything in between! This channel has seen me from cautious 17 year old through three degrees and I’ve just moved into a house that feels far too grown up with the love of my life (I know, we’re disgusting) and I’m actually kind of grown up and self sufficient.

It feels a long way back to look at 17, but so much of my best times are on my YouTube channel and whilst it’s hard to look back at some of it, there is so much happiness immortalised there. I’d like to keep it as more of a scrapbook than a diary.

Thank you if you’ve ever watched one of my YouTube videos – although the views meant something to me, they never had any real impact on anything other than my ego so the fact anyone spent time watching what I created means the world.

And thank you for reading – I’ve not lost momentum with blogging yet, but who knows where the future can take us! I’ll still be sharing my words for a while to come yet.

Sophie xx

choosing relaxing over ‘productivity’

2021, mental health, organisation

Hello!

I am someone who very much values herself over how much I get done – a ‘good’ day is one when I’ve ticked off everything on my to do list, a ‘great’ day is when I’ve started on the next days to do list and a ‘bad’ day is when I have too much to comprehend.

Over lockdowns and general pandemic times of 2020, I learned that crafting is something I really enjoy and find really relaxing – it started with cross stitch, then knitting and sewing, then some paper crafts and scrapbooking, now a combination of them all are integrated into my yearly goals.

So adapting my mentality about ‘to do lists’ and how I equate my mood and the value of my time has been a major priority for 2021 – I’ve been slowly cutting down the number of tasks on my to do list over the last year or so; from 8 tasks, to 6 and now 5.

The main thing I’ve had to adapt is recognising that my ‘free’ time doesn’t have to be ‘filled’ – it doesn’t need to be ‘productive’. Last weekend, I finished my list for the day and my immediate thought was ‘well I could make a start on tomorrow’s list’, rather than letting myself have the rest of the day to properly relax – to let myself knit while watching the last episode of Bridgerton, to practice using my sewing machine; to just sit and scroll mindlessly on the sofa with a packet of biscuits!

Readjusting my relationship with productivity and choosing to stop putting pressure on myself and learn how to relax can only be good for my mental health in the long run, surely? Slowly learning how to get through the day without feeling constantly stressed is probably going to be better for my sleep, my heart rate and even my productivity because I’m putting a new focus on what I’m labelling as a priority.

That doesn’t make it easy – we live in a society where we always want to be busy so we can feel productive and not be bored and have to sit with my own thoughts for too long, I’m always looking to tick off a task or do something ‘helpful’, but I am learning to allow myself to spend time watching YouTube and colouring, knitting and practicing sewing.

I’m really enjoying sewing, can you tell?

You see all these people on instagram that work 24/7 and they’re ‘hustling’ and they’re posting about what a #girlboss they are and that’s great for them, but that wouldn’t work for me – I’d burn out, I wouldn’t be happy and I wouldn’t get the results I wanted from it. But learning to relax, working on my mental (and consequently my physical) health and giving myself proper time to rest, means I can perform better in my job, and be my own #girlboss in my own way.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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losing my sense of style + my body positivity

2021, fashion, mental health

Hello!

I’ve never been a person who’s confident in their body – as someone who spent their childhood and teenage years prancing round a dance studio in leotards surrounded by stick thin ballerinas feeling inadequate because I had a lil belly and my arms jiggled (I was a size 12, I was bigger but not big) I’ve always felt insecure. As I went to uni and put on even more weight and went from ‘a little bit podgy’ to ‘properly plus sized’ my already minimal self-confidence plummeted further.

And in the last year, I feel all sense of ‘self’ in my outward appearance has completely evaporated. Most of us have spent the majority of the last year not getting dressed ‘properly’ at all – loungewear sets became all the rage, the ‘lockdown pounds’ became a (horrible) thing and many of our clothes have done nothing but gather dust with no reason to wear them.

Don’t get me wrong – I love fashion (in my own way); I like experimenting with clothes and figuring out how to take looks I like from girls who don’t look like me and make them my own. I like giving girly outfits a grungy twist with a leather jacket and Dr Marten’s and pretending I’m more edgy than someone who listens to tiktok songs on Spotify and turns up to video meetings earlier than necessary because I’m scared of being late. I love wearing trousers that aren’t jeans and patterns and colours; cosy oversized jumpers and thinking about curating a wardrobe that lasts rather than buying new clothes on a whim for the short-term endorphin hit.

But every day I turn to a pair of leggings and a variation of a t-shirt and hoodie or a sweatshirt. Now I feel like all of my clothes are too tight and I want to feel like I’m being drowned – like a child wearing their dad’s clothes.

I regret giving my mustard hoodie that was (literally) 12 sizes too big for me to my sister.

I mean, she loves it and wears it all the time so it went to a good home but still.

I feel like I need to ‘reinvent’ my style – put more effort into getting dressed and enjoying the outfits I wear, but those outfits aren’t meant for sitting in my living room on my own working from home 8 hours a day. So how do I get out of this funk? Do I buy myself some massively oversized clothes and see if hiding my body makes me feel better? Do I start chanting some mantras about loving myself as I am (even though I really don’t)? Do I start making myself get dressed and do make up even when I don’t have the energy for it?

I wish I had answers.

One of the options should probably be to do a wardrobe clear out and get rid of the clothes that don’t make me happy. But right now, I don’t think it’s the clothes that are the problem. I think my desire to want to hide in my clothes is a reflection of me and not my wardrobe.

For now, my response is to wear what makes me feel comfortable for the day – if I want to wear a shirt, if I want to wear a t-shirt dress, if I want to pull my hood up over my face and pull the strings tight, it’ll make each day easier. Everyone is struggling right now – no one’s hardships can be compared to another because the universe it throwing us the biggest curveball it can in turning the world as we know it upside down and we handle that how we can. Predominantly with loungewear.

log Forcing myself to feel something I don’t about my body is never going to help me on the journey to loving it – making the effort to eat good food, exercise more than 0 times a week and find clothes that don’t make me feel like a clown are enough to get through one day at a time.

That’ll do for now.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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handling anxiety when working from home

2021, mental health

Hello!

There are so many stereotypes about anxiety but like any other mental illness, everyone experiences symptoms differently. Not everyone’s anxiety is a racing heart and shaking hands. Not everybody’s anxiety is feeling stuck in bed and not getting dressed. It can be completely zoning out in a conversation, looking at a document on a screen and feeling like you can’t see the words or even looking at your calendar and feeling like you have absolutely no time do to anything you need to, thinking you’re a complete failure and wondering why you were ever hired in the first place…

But that’s not true, despite what your brain tells you.

I’ve only been working from home for a month, but starting a new job in lockdown is daunting and scary in completely different ways and even on my team I know I’m not the only one feeling overwhelmed by everything that’s going on. So I thought I’d collate a few of the things I’ve tried out in the last few weeks to help ease my anxiety when I’m working from home and need to get stuff done.

  • take a 5 minute break

I have a mode on my phone called ‘Focus Mode’ which disables select apps and notifications during work hours. So if I want to go on Instagram, it asks me if I want to take a 5 minute break and I think this is a great way to have a moment to step back. I let myself switch off for a little bit, I know that I won’t get distracted for hours and the app will automatically close and lock itself again unless you tell it otherwise.

Even just 5 minutes of scrolling mindlessly I find calms me down enough to feel ready to tackle whatever it was that was overwhelming me. It’s not a lot, but just that moment to step away can be enough to re-centre and feel more in control.

  • organised your workload

Whether it’s writing everything out on post-it notes, using highlighters or just making a new to do list, sometimes re-organising your workload can make things seem more achievable and less anxiety inducing.

If you’ve got a really big task or project, write down a step by step guide to define what you need to do to get it done. Put a deadline on each task if you know that will help you feel more comfortable with doing it or if your department needs things by certain times. Put them all on separate post it notes and pile them on top of each other so you only see one task at a time if you think that would work for you.

There are so many organisation tips and ideas online, even spending 5 minutes looking for new ways to organise your workload can make it feel less intimidating.

Maybe organisation doesn’t help everyone’s anxiety, but it definitely helps me to feel more in control when I know exactly what I need to do and when.

  • don’t work out of work hours

This isn’t particularly helpful when you’re in the midst of feeling anxious, but I’ve found being very rigid about not looking at my emails after 5pm and not working on anything over the weekend has made it easier to relax in my off time.

This is much easier in some professions than others – I work in marketing so it’s relatively easy to keep work time as work time and my personal time as time for me, but in other industries or other companies that might be much harder; whether you’re working with people that continue to exist outside of work hours or whether your boss is much more demanding and less respectful of your personal time.

For my anxiety, I know not letting myself work on anything whilst I’m not being paid for it makes it easier to look after myself in my personal time. The fact I spend most of my personal time pushing myself to ‘achieve more’ with blogging and my bookstagram account and constant to do lists is beyond the point…

  • treat yourself to a nice drink or snack

Now we’ve all been subjected to the ‘new year, healthy eating’, ‘the diet starts on Monday’ mentality and whilst we’ve been at home, not snacking all the time is a real challenge.

But enforcing this self-set ‘rules’ on yourself when you’re already mentally struggling isn’t going to make anything easier. And if you’re anything like me it just means you think about it more.

Whether it’s a nice homemade hot chocolate, a packet of biscuits or a late afternoon packet of crisps, just letting yourself snack on what you want when you’re anxious can sometimes make the craving go away and make it easier to concentrate.

  • have an anxiety combatting activity to hand

When I had a really bad day a few weeks ago, I ended up sitting with a work conference on in the background and colouring. I was still paying attention to the conference and what was being said, but I was borderline anxiety-attack and I had to prioritise myself for a moment.

I keep feeling guilty about not working 100% in my working hours but 1) 100% is exhausting and 2) if I weren’t working from home, there’d be natural breaks in the day – chats after meetings, tea breaks, day to day desk chatter – this is what I don’t get working from home, so taking a few minutes for myself to sit back and not work for a second is fine.

If I felt anxious in the office, I’m sure my manager would be okay with me taking 10 minutes to calm myself down and feel okay again.

So sometimes, when I feel really on edge, I’ll take a few minutes to do some colouring. It helps clear my mind and focus on one, inconsequential thing for a little while and it can make all the difference.

Anxiety is hard enough to navigate in the ‘normal’ world, but during a pandemic? That’s been going on for nearly a year? Everyone’s feeling the strain but your feelings don’t need to be valued against someone else’s – you are allowed to feel however you feel and handle that however you want to. Give yourself a break – you’re doing okay!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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