Rushing, moving, getting on, doing… In this constantly busy life that has happened to us it’s hard to slow down. It’s hard to take time out. Sometimes, even when we have nothing much to do we still find it hard to switch off fully, unwind, and relax.
That’s before we even consider how we think and feel about what others are thinking of us. The pressure we put on ourselves – and that’s most likely before we’re even dressed in the morning! There’s so much to think about, so much to do, and sometimes it all just gets a bit too much. Even thinking about the coming weeks makes some of us tense, uptight and feel a little overwhelmed, and we haven’t even got there yet!
Worry is one of those things I’ve had to tackle head on, because at one point in time it was ruining my life. Catastrophizing to such a degree that I became powerless in my own life, and made daily living almost impossible.
It took a number of different things to change this, and quite a bit of time- but it’s served me so well that I have never been back in that awful place where panic gripped me so much that I couldn’t see a way out of it.
Starting to talk with my family about it helped – they assured me that while some of the thoughts I was having weren’t quite realistic, that it was normal to feel bad when worried or under so much stress. They also encouraged me to get some outside help.
For me this has taken several routes;
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy): Which has helped long term.
- Counselling: Which gave me the courage to voice my deepest fears, and more importantly to start leaving them behind and build new coping skills.
- Checking in regularly: With friends and family, but being honest about how I really am.
- Journaling, habit tracking and keeping a daily diary of mood/activities (bullet points only though, not huge paragraphs!)
- Being mindful of what I allow in: News, TV programs, radio, people. Noticing what I’m tuned into helps to become more aware of how I can change it.
- Using my language to change how I feel: We use so many words a day, and quite often don’t consider them or their impact. Choose as many positive words as you can (whether you feel like it or not) and see the difference it (quickly) makes.
- Fake it til you make it: Show up, and do the mundane stuff, whether I want to or not.
- Lifestyle changes: Seeing certain friends more, or less (we all have ‘friends’ who act more like a drain than a radiator – so I focus on my friends who radiate and tend to lift me up instead of spending time with anyone who zaps my energy).
- Looking at what I eat: Not like a diet, but just becoming aware of how I feel when I eat certain things, whether I skip meals or eat too much, and how THAT makes me feel.
Moving my body: Not even specific exercise, but I always feel better after a walk in the fresh air, or yoga.
- Quiet time: I never valued this enough, but giving myself time to read, or paint, faff about doing nothing in particular…or whatever I need in that moment, is such a big thing and can really help re-set how I’m feeling.
- The biggest realisation I’ve had is that Big Change happens in the tiniest moments. Start. Just do one tiny thing, and then another, then another. You know what makes you feel good. Trust yourself, and go do it!
Barbara Brennan is an artist, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a suicide survivor, and an expert by experience in Recovery and Wellness. She is also a public speaker and facilitator who has worked with the National Stigma Reduction Campaign since 2009 starting conversations nationwide. In that time she has presented and facilitated all over the country to all kinds of groups and organisations, spoken on national radio, TV and newspapers to stir conversations. Her passion comes from her lived life experience, and her desire to bring the message of hope and share the knowledge that people who have struggled with their mental health can and DO recover. Barbara is a former MyMind client, and believes strongly in personal responsibility and empowering people to achieve their potential.