things that make me happy

2021, lifestyle

Hello!

Life is a lot at the moment isn’t it? I know lockdown has been lifting for a while but it feels like I’ve spent six months in restrictions, the weather’s been nice but I live quite far away from any friends or family now so haven’t been able to see many people and my work life has been very hectic… So spending a little bit of time making a list of things that make me happy is going to be a good therapeutic exercise and a nice thing to look back on!

In no particular order:

  • the smell of grass after it rains in the summer
  • reading in the garden on my new sun lounger
  • lighting a candle I’ve been saving for special occasions
  • dance parties to Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat with my boy
  • my house plants
  • the light in our living room first thing in the morning
  • redesigning my island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • binging all the YouTube videos on my Watch Later playlist
  • picnics with friends on sunny days
  • game nights with friends on rainy nights
  • knitting my ‘scarf’ which is just lots of rows of the same stitch over and over again
  • watching tiktoks and not minding losing 1-3 hours of my life
  • reading in bed while the sun is still up
  • playing ‘ready, steady, cook’ with whatever food we have and accidentally making something really delicious
  • keeping my bullet journal up to date
  • when I’m in such a good writing flow that I feel like the story is writing itself
  • sewing a cross stitch kit
  • talking to my mum
  • reading whilst cuddling with my boy
  • bubbles
  • ordering spontaneous take out
  • trips to The Range, B&M and/or Wilkos
  • 2am giggles with the person I want to spend forever with
  • music by All Time Low
  • buttered toast
  • rewatching every film in the MCU… again
  • rewatching the entire Harry Potter franchise
  • live music
  • going for long walks (and playing Pokemon Go… I know)
  • an empty laundry basket
  • reading a book so good that you can’t put it down
  • having at home spa nights with face masks, foot masks and properly moisturising
  • using my sewing machines to make face masks
  • buying myself flowers
  • chocolate
  • fidget toys
  • my bear factory bear (yeah, pre-Build a Bear)
  • coloured pens
  • stickers!
  • lying on my bed and listening to music
  • giving my loved ones surprises
  • picking pictures for my photo wall
  • scrapbooking
  • decluttering the house
  • fairy lights
  • Lucas, my fiancé person
  • the music in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • space and galaxy themed things
  • a Tescos meal deal (chicken salad sandwich, a kinder bueno and Ribena)
  • tap dancing
  • sitting down after a busy day having ticked off everything on my to do list
  • the opening notes of Les Miserables in the theatre
  • doing paper crafts in my bullet journal at the start of each month
  • potatoes
  • summer evenings – the cooler air, the colours of the sky when the sun sets, BBQs and fire pits with friends – just the best

Many of these things are summer themed because that’s what’s making me happy right now, but I’m sure I could do a cosy winter version too!

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

a life update, but not just the highlight reel

2021, lifestyle

Hello!

I wrote a few weeks ago about going through a creative block with my blog, but I thought I’d climbed over that hurdle… and then I’ve been stumped every time I tried to write this week.

I don’t know if it’s an anxiety thing or if I’m just a little too close to burnout for comfort but I felt like I couldn’t read the words on my screen, let alone write anything cohesive. To throw an extra spanner in the works, WordPress has updated it’s user interface and the post writing section is completely different – as someone who doesn’t like change, I hate it.

Like, I know I’ll get used to it and then they’ll change it again and I’ll wish it was back like this but still… Give me my old editor back please!

On Tuesday I tried to write another book themed post about how I organise my ‘to be read’ books, but the answer was as simple as; I organise them in alphabetical order by author’s surname because it shuffles them enough that nothing’s too similar but I don’t have to make any decisions about what I read next because the order is already planned.

There wasn’t much of a way to extend that beyond one paragraph without it being really boring and unnecessary, so I decided to stop beating myself up and just let that one slide.

Then Friday night’s post was meant to be all about trying to move house in a pandemic, and whilst we have applied for a house and been approved to move in two weeks (hopefully), 1) We haven’t signed a contract yet so I’m still a bit dubious and 2) It’s actually been okay – we started looking at rightmove and booking viewings a few months in advance of when we wanted to move and we didn’t hand our notice in till after we’d found somewhere so we didn’t have any deadlines, the only thing I’m nervous about is the contract falling through but the national lockdown rules ease by the time our provisional moving date is so we’ve roped a couple of friends in to help (all legally).

And again, that’s the whole story in one paragraph!

So I thought I’d write a kind of diary/update post – because that’s essentially a taste of what those two other posts would have been anyway!

My whole life at the moment feels like work and trying to not be tired – my mental health is in a weird state where sometimes I spend ages staring at screen taking three times as long to do a task as I should be, and sometimes I feel really present and efficient and excited about what I’m working on. Finding a balance within all that is okay, I’m learning to work with my mental state rather than working against it and getting frustrated, but it’s annoying when the to do list just keeps being postponed to the next day and everything is building up.

Outside of work I feel a bit restless – I know I want to be doing something but I don’t know what. I’m starting a new creative writing project in April but I don’t have the words to write right now (though the stories are developing in my head), I can’t comfy enough to read (I’m too young for everything to ache this much, right?) and knitting watching my fiancé play video games is not top of my list. I’m trying to tune into what my body wants and needs but I’m exhausted a lot of the time no matter how much sleep I’m getting.

But it’s not all doom and gloom – though tired, I am really enjoying my work and I love working with creative people, feeding off their energy and ideas and feeling valued when I share ideas of my own. I’m planning to have a weekend of sewing and packing which I’m excited about – watching YouTube or turning some music up loud and having some off screen time to potter around the house.

I love mundane tasks like tidying and organising (not cleaning so much, which isn’t ideal), I love listening to music and pretending I’m the main character in a film (I know it’s weird, let me have it) and I’m excited for what feels like ‘the next step’ for my partner and I, moving into a more ‘grown up’ house.

Things are up and down, but as I recently described it to a close friend – ‘I’m alright, ups and downs, in a bit of a down at the moment but knowing it won’t last forever is a big step in itself’.

Thank you for reading!

Sophie xx

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a blogging writing block

2021, creativity

Hello!

I’ve been consistently writing blog posts for somewhere upwards of two years now – when I started in 2014 I had no idea what I was doing, in 2015 I did a 365 day challenge (successfully, might I add!), in 2016-2018 I played around with 2-3 blog posts a week and generally was pretty consistent! Then from 2019 (ish) onwards, I’ve pretty religiously written two blog posts a week and rarely missed one, other than maybe posting a day late because I forgot to publish a post.

But in the last month, I’ve not felt the motivation to write – I don’t like the ideas I’ve come up with, I don’t think they add anything to my blog’s narrative and I don’t feel inspired to write anything. Maybe it’s lockdown finally catching up with me – after a whole year I’ve finally run out of stuff to say. Maybe it’s the new job – it’s been two months of being knackered by 9-5 (does anyone ever get used to it?) so by the time the evening comes I want to sit and watch TV or play games with my partner and I wasn’t excited enough about the post ideas I’d come up with to open my computer back up and stare at a screen for even longer.

And I don’t know where this lull in my blogging motivation has come from – as a craft, I love writing, I love expressing myself in words and getting lost in what I’m typing. And I miss it – I miss writing those passionate rambles and creating my own little history book on this website, but I just didn’t see the point in anything I tried to write (and believe me I’ve tried).

But it hit me the other day as I was desperately trying to expand a couple of hundred words into an actual blog post – I’m out of creative energy.

Talking about ‘energy’ at all feels more hippie than I have ever sounded before, but I think it’s fairly common within creative communities and professions that it’s not an endless source to be tapped into. It’s a pool and like any body of water and ebbs and flows in waves – I’m just at the bottom of the wave.

For some reason that thought gave me comfort, rather than immediately catastrophising that after six years my blog is finally going to crash and I’m never going to find motivation again, I knew that this is just a moment and my mojo will come back.

Whether it’s a few good nights of sleep (the fact I first tried to spell night with a ‘k’ at the beginning show’s how few of those I’ve had!), getting that one really big work task finished or moving house (fingers crossed!) to get my mojo back or it’s just riding through this funk till I can surf the wave, I will not feel like this forever.

Is the water analogy going too far now?

Either way, it’s happened before and it will undoubtedly happen again, but beating myself for not maintaining my trivial, self-set deadline of two posts a week isn’t the end of the world – giving myself the space with being okay with deleting that task from my list rather than ticking it off.

This blog is mine – it’s meant to be something fun and lighthearted and when I start to feel stressed by it, I need to listen to what my body and mind are asking for and give it some space.

So I might not be posting every Tuesday and Friday – sometimes it might go up late on Wednesday or Saturday or I might not post anything at all. If you miss me, send me a message on instagram – I’m usually scrolling!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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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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how am I? | life update

2021, lifestyle

Hello!

My favourite blog posts to write are the long, stream-of-consciousness ones that I don’t have to think too hard about writing, I just pick a topic and see what happens.

Generally these fall into the category of a ‘life update’ – documenting what’s going on in my life and generally making some sort of statement about mental health and/or body image. But I always feel they are the most genuine of posts because they come from the heart (however cringy that sounds). I love writing more than anything else; I like figuring out the best ways to use my words to say something meaningful, whether that’s a blog post or a story, but I also think connecting with someone else’s words is so much easier when you feel they’re genuine.

I also find writing about myself and my experiences really easy, but let’s not look too far into what that says about my vanity.

Trying to figure out ‘how I am’ is an ongoing question – every day I have video meetings on Google and everyone opens by asking how everyone else is and I always say ‘I’m good! How’re you?’ with a fake enthusiasm that I hate even as it’s coming out of my own mouth. But it’s what everyone says, regardless of how true it is and whenever I think about being more honest, it feels like I’d just be attention seeking because I’m not fitting the ‘social norms’ or saying I’m okay.

To some extent I am good – I’m so lucky to have a job right now so quickly after finishing my masters, I feel incredibly privileged to be in a job where I believe in what I’m doing, everyone is super friendly and I feel like I’m challenging and developing my skills after only a month in the position. I’m so grateful that my line managers trust me and are giving me valuable work where I can see my contribution rather than being treated as ‘the new guy’ and being given little tasks just to keep me busy.

But I am struggling to adapt to full time work – I’m exhausted, I’m still figuring out how to track all the tasks I need to do and whilst everyone I work with is so kind and friendly, I find it harder to engage with them over video calls and I hate trying to make my home space a suitable work environment.

The UK’s Lockdown 3 is definitely having a huge impact on national motivation; everyone is feeling drained, everyone’s tired of the same four walls and ‘daily walk’ has become almost a joke whilst being so many people’s saviours. Even the introverts miss contact, real conversations and physical presence, though I’m sure we’ll go back to craving our alone time as soon as society returns to ‘normal’. If there’s even a normal to return to, but that could be a blog post of its own.

The main way I judge my own ‘mood’ is generally productivity – whenever my mum messages and asks how I’m doing, a good day will usually be a list of everything I’ve achieved whilst a bad day is a day of feeling like I have cotton wool in my head and I stared at a screen without seeing a thing on it.

My time management of still achieving what I want with eight less hours to play with in the day has been challenging, but I’ve recently started a sleep course to help with (shock horror) my sleep and I’m currently in the sleep restriction cycle, so I’m not ‘allowed’ to go to bed before midnight and I have to wake up at 7.15am. Although this is almost certainly contributing to the near-constant feeling of exhaustion, I’ve got far more hours in the day than when I rolled out of bed at 8.50am for my 9am start!

I’m playing Animal Crossing with breakfast and watching Bridgerton whilst I spend my evenings knitting! On the other hand, I feel a lot of pressure to ‘make the most’ of my weekends and often feel so overwhelmed by not wasting the weekend that I don’t do anything. But in a way, that’s not a bad thing.

So in conclusion, I feel the exact same as everyone else – generally I’m okay; I’m grateful for my health and my job and my partner, but lockdown is hard; my mental health isn’t great, I feel physically and emotionally drained and I’m craving ‘normal’ times.

The main thing is I’m reminding myself that it’s okay; I’m okay – my feelings are okay and they’re valid.

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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