Five Things To Start Doing If You Have Social Anxiety

An event pops into your inbox. You feel excited and put it in your calendar. Yet as the days draw closer you start to feel that panic. Does that sound familiar? If so, you might suffer from social anxiety. Me too. But I got fed up of letting it beat me.

Social anxiety and blogging just don’t mix. I would end up in a state of utter panic in the lead up to an event. Sometimes to the point, I just couldn’t go. One time at the Professional Beauty Show a lady asked my address. I had got myself so worked up, I just couldn’t remember where I lived! I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

This week I went to two events. Admittedly, only one was alone. If though, I think back to even a few months ago, I would have struggled. Well, I still struggled, but I got myself there and after the initial nerves, I totally enjoyed myself. I also met up with some lovely ladies who made it feel such a lovely experience. Thank you, Abigail Kathleen, Afshanesque and Ola Lella.

Lady walking away from the camera feeling anxious

Here are a few things you might want to start doing if you have social anxiety.

1.Push yourself out of your comfort zone

There were times that I was so anxious, that I couldn’t even go to the local Sainsburys alone. It was made worse by the fact that I was a supply Teacher. I spent my time dreading the phone ringing about work. Not the best job when you have social anxiety. Yet, if I could answer the phone and go on a longer-term placement, I felt good. And with each assignment my confidence grew.

What can you do to push yourself out of your comfort zone?

2. Prepare yourself

Get out everything you will need the night before. Then do a bit of self-care to relax your mind.

Prepare your route. I am forever getting lost when I have somewhere new I need to go. I get in such a panic about what is going to happen when I get there, I can’t focus on what Google Maps or Citymapper is telling me. Although, be prepared for the unexpected. I was all set and the Central line wasn’t running! Plan your back up too.

3. Practice your social skills

Observe yourself. What do you do when you feel social anxiety strikes? I wring my hands, laugh nervously and talk rubbish (although, if you know me I tend to talk rubbish anyway!).

I know you will feel a bit of a tool, but who is going to know! Smile in the mirror. Notice your habits and be mindful of how to calm yourself down. The event the other day was the #LibertyLivingHealthy Wellbeing event and made me realise how powerful mindfulness can be and I took away some great techniques.

4. Have something to talk about

Hands up, I hate small talk and gossip. I haven’t got a clue what went on in Love Island or whatever is the most popular tv chat. So I’m quite limited in what I think I can talk to new people about.

I’ve started up a mental bank of things to talk about and hopefully strike a conversation. Especially, for that awkward part when you first meet a group of people.

Don’t forget to ask questions. You want the other person to talk too. That way you have time to breathe.

Just be honest that you feel nervous. Chances are there will be someone else there who will be nervous too.

5. Reward yourself

Don’t forget to reward yourself. No matter how big or small the achievement.

Even if it was because you lasted half an hour at an event. You went! Next time you can aim to stay for an hour. You CAN do it!

 

How do you deal with social anxiety?

10 Things You Can Do To Fix A Bad Day

Bad days. We’ve all had them, haven’t we? Yet, how we deal with them can make all the difference between an incident that goes wrong and it feeling like the entire day was ruined. Well, hang on in there. It’s all about changing your mindset and keeping that “bad” incident in perspective to fix a bad day.

I’ve previously talked about how I can easily end up in disorganised chaos and things like a GYST routine help me stay on track. What though if it all doesn’t go to plan, or life just chucks you some big, not so juicy, lemons? If you’re anything like me that would just make a mountain out of a molehill and the whole “bad” day would turn into the worst week and I would just feel overwhelmed. 

With that in mind, here are 10 things that have worked for me that you might want to if you’re having a bad day:

1. Step outside.

A fast fix for a bad day is simply stepping outside and removing yourself from whatever is causing tension. Get a breath of fresh air, go for a walk and take a break. The little break away gives you a chance to change perspective. It gives you chance to think, so this has gone wrong, what can I do to fix it.

2. Exercise.

Whether it’s going to the gym, for a run, or some simply yoga stretches. Exercise gets the endorphins going and makes us feel happier. Yoga is also brilliant for ridding yourself of the negativity and creating a more positive, centred mindset. I am terrible for not exercising enough, and I know this is something I need to work on.

3. Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a great way to improve your physiological state. I find that my mind is all over the place when I feel anxious, so I’ve been really interested to learn about the benefits of mindfulness and breathing exercises.

A quick breathing exercise I’m loving: Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. As you inhale notice as your breath works it’s way around your body, filling you with life. Notice how as you exhale you expel the negative energy. Repeat.

4. Listen to music.

Pop on your favourite playlist or your favourite song. Even better put on your favourite dance tunes and dance away. Music has such a positive effect on our mood. I just love popping in my ear phones and dancing in the flat. My mood shifts so quickly and it’s amazing what it can do towards feeling it’s helped to fix a bad day.

5. Talk to a friend.

Talking to a friend or family can instantly change your mood. Just letting them know how your feeling can also give you a change of perspective. I have always been really bad at talking about things, but the more you bottle things up, the worse it gets.

My mum always says to me “Will (this) really matter this time next week, month, year…” Chances are it won’t, but if it is a big deal, you can start sorting it out now, rather than letting it all build up. I found myself in a position a few years ago where I didn’t tell anyone what I was going through and eventually it all became too much. Don’t suffer in silence, talking to someone will help you realise if it’s a big deal or you’re just being a drama queen.

6. Take time out for self-care.

If you’re anything like me, self-care is the first thing I forget to do when I am going through a tough time. Yet, self-care can help us feel less stressed and happier. For me this would be something like a relaxing bubble bath or go for a nice long walk. It gives me the perfect time to clear my head, that all important head space and a change to change my mindset.

7. Read a book.

Take a few minutes to mentally escape and read something that you enjoy. I find fiction is great for escapism, or non-fiction to read something positive and uplifting for a quick change of mind-set. Alternatively, if books aren’t your bag, watching a favourite film or box set does the job just as well.

8. Do something that makes you laugh.

Watch a comedy film or TV show or something that makes you laugh. I have a few favourite TV shows and films which are my ‘go-to’ when I need a giggle. I’ve recently been popping on an Inbetweeners episode whenever I feel I just need to have a laugh. The physical act of laughing almost instantly relieves that horrible stress feeling.

9. Write it out.

Got a few things on your mind? Write out your frustrations down.  The act of writing our thoughts down can help us reflect on how we are feeling and what is causing us to feel that way. I find journaling is such a great way to download, as well as writing down what I am thankful for. I did start doing morning pages (basically writing down your thoughts every morning), but I stopped for some reason. This is something I’m trying to get back into, as it felt more of a prevention, rather than a cure for a bad day.

10. Change perspective.

Are your feelings part of a bigger issue? Are you actually feeling stressed and tired? Maybe by sitting down and tackling the stress, your sleep pattern or changing your routine, you can change perspective.

Let’s change that perspective and  fix that bad day!

 

‘Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place’. – Unknown.

What do you do to fix a bad day?

Five Ways To Sort Out Your Sleep Struggles

Up until recently, I used to have problems sleeping. I would either struggle to get off to sleep, or I would fall asleep and wake up at least once in the night. Rarely would I feel well-rested and it really started to affect my mood and productivity. Cue grumpy Helen (sorry Dan) and I really struggled to focus on work. I would count down the hours until bedtime, yet I was met with just another rubbish nights sleep.

Here are a few things I’ve experimented with to try to sort out my sleep struggles.

Lifestyle

What you do during the day can have an impact on your sleep. I found stress and anxiety were having a massive impact on my sleep pattern. I’m really trying to work hard on relaxing in the hours before bed. Although yes, it’s easier than it sounds. If I feel anxious, I have started to write my thoughts down, whether it be in my journal, writing the blog, or just on a scrap of paper that I will rip up when I’ve finished.

I’ve also tried to incorporate yoga into my routine, and even if I just use the breathing exercises, I find that can really help. Taking a bath with a lovely scented bath bomb or bubble bath is also incredibly relaxing.

Bedtime Routine

I think it’s easy to underestimate how powerful establishing a sleep routine can be in the whole eradicating sleep problems. I never used to think about it, and I would go without a decent sleep in the week and then sleep in at the weekend. Cue Sunday night syndrome! Now, I aim to go to bed at 10. I usually read for 15-20 minutes until I feel sleepy. If I don’t have to get up the next day, I will still set an alarm, so I aim to get around 7-8 hours sleep, which I’ve found is about right for me. 

Drinks

One of the best things you can do is avoid stimulants such as tea, coffee and alcohol for at least two hours before bed, but the longer, the better. Instead, try a nice herbal tea, I’ve tried a few, but the Sainsbury Bedtime Infusion sleep tea tastes nice and seems to do the trick (not sponsored, we just like it). 

Switch of Technology 

Try to avoid screens at least an hour before bed. I’ve been turning the sound off and putting my phone face down. Just having a quick peek at notifications before bed. I try to avoid engaging in anything too exciting I’ve spotted online. Unless it’s essential, I make a note to check it out in the morning. 

Bedroom 

Make sure your bedroom environment is conducive to getting a good nights sleep. The room should be dark enough, with a nice cool temperature, quiet and comfortable. Make sure your bedding is right for you. Make sure your pillows are comfortable and try variations of sheets, duvets and a blanket if you find you get too hot in the night.

I always spray my pillows with a lavender spray just before I brush my teeth, so it has time to dry. I’ve only just ran out of the This Works Deep Sleep spray, but I’ve made my own replacement by adding a few drops of lavender oil to argan oil into one of those holiday spray bottles.

As I mentioned, I like to read a book. I’m a huge fan of thrillers, but I’ve opted for a Jane Fallon in the hopes it doesn’t stimulate my mind too much. Once I get used to reading before bed, I’ll be reverting to a good thriller and see how it goes. 

 

What do you do to help you sleep?

Lots of love,
Helen xoxo

Life lessons: What if we’re our own worst enemy?

I have lost count of the times that I’ve thought. Why did I do that? Why didn’t I do that? I need to do that! I’m either living in the future or living in the past. That, let me tell you, leads to some pretty bad decision-making. Why can’t we just be happy and live in and appreciate the now?

How many times have you got so excited about something and next thing the self-doubt creeps in? What will work think? What will so and so think? What will all the Facebook/Insta peeps think? Who are ‘these people’? Is it actually that we are just scared and in reality the only person who is judging us is actually ourselves. Hands up, anxiety leads me to constantly self-doubt and make mistakes. I’ve just landed myself back to square one and I’ve spent the past few weeks berating myself and it needs to stop.

“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.” Buddha

I hope this time it can be different though. Some how the destructive cycle needs to be broken. Where to start? I’ve jotted a few ideas down that I’m trying out. Feel free to add to and let me know what works for you? Here goes:

1.Forgiveness. Just forgive it. Forgive yourself and let go.

2. Stop living in the past, or the future. The past has gone, yes learn from it, but it’s gone. The future; it’s not here yet. Yes, our actions today may impact tomorrow, but don’t get too hung up on the future. Live for now.

3. Write it down. The times I find it hardest to write down my thoughts is when I feel at my lowest. Ironically, if I can sit down and write and get it ‘off my chest’, then I feel so much better. If can write each morning for say 5-10 minutes and I eventually start to feel I’ve lifted myself into a better position.

4. Take some time out. Now is not the time for planning the next move. Just to have a mo, meet some friends, go for a run, have a glass of wine, stroke the cat. Whatever your thing is. Just do it and enjoy the now.

Lots of love
Helen xoxo

Time to Talk: Anxiety

It’s #TimeToTalk Day today. With the aim of raising awareness of the importance of having a conversation about mental health. It’s too easy to feel isolated. Simple things like sharing stories, providing a listening ear, or just opening up about how we are feeling can make a huge difference.

Hands up, I hate talking about things

I’m socially awkward at the best of times, so then to talk about how I’m feeling is very uncomfortable. I realised by talking about how I feel, I feel less alone. The more you bottle it all up, the more powerful “it” becomes.

About two years ago, an unfortunate set of circumstances started to make me doubt myself and have a knock on effect on my confidence and I noticed I was starting to feel anxious. Anxiety is a sneaky one. It slowly creeps up on you. At first social engagements become less appealing. Socialising starts to feel daunting, distant and more like a fake smiley “everything’s fine” charade. Before long you think: I’m not good enough. I can’t do that.

To the outside world, all is good. It’s all big smiles. Yet all the while you’re desperately try to get a grip. The constant self-doubt and questioning yourself. Did I do the right thing? Have I said the wrong thing? Invariably, this then leads to you making mistakes and forgetting things; you’re exhausted. Yet, if you can overcome the dread and that feeling that your heart is going to burst out of your chest. You can just be “brave” and you do it, you survived and it’s not as bad as you imagined. Then you start to wonder what stops you.

What leads you to this point?

Many people have many different triggers. For some it’s some significant traumatic event or period in their lives. It’s important to realise the seriousness of an event that troubles you, as it may in the end lead to much darker days. Although, I know, as they say; hindsight is a wonderful thing and often it isn’t easy to see at the time.

 It’s time to talk: Speak out

The only tiny piece of advice I have is speak out, whether that be to a trusted friend, or seek professional counselling. It is the best first step to doing something to help. There are different strategies to change those negative thought processes. For example CBT and Mindfulness, but try out a few and find the one that works for you.

 

Together we can change things!

Helen xoxo