You can’t do it all – and you certainly can’t do it all well

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There’s increasing pressure on us these days, especially women, to be proficient at everything. The areas in which we must excel in life have increased over the years as equality has been improved, and whilst this of course is a step in the right direction it means that women are expected to fulfil a number of roles with no room for failure in any of those.

The main pressures in life on women, being a good mother and wife, having a good career and being financially independent as well as looking good, all have sub-sectors which often in themselves can take up most of our time and energy.

The truth is, it’s simply impossible to be all of the things above, at least to a degree of excellence in all.

How do you prioritise and concentrate on just one thing, once you decide what it is you wish to focus on? As a younger person, it’s likely that the responsibilities you do have seem huge to you, but when you look at the lives of other women, you wonder how the hell they juggle the things you juggle, in addition to children and work and a husband (I know I do!!). You only have a certain amount of energy. Where do you want to expend it? And what do you want to achieve as a result?

For me, I’ve decided I have to take a look at what I have to do, what I feel I have to do, and what I want to do. When I did, I realised that much of the things I ‘have to do’ and subsequent tasks give myself to do are actually not things I have to do at all. They are things I feel I have to do, make myself do, for the approval of others. It’s not at all simple just cutting these out (especially if you have an anxiety disorder), but I re-evaluated my list and found there were things I could possibly subtract.

The things I actually had to do, like working, and things I wanted to do, came last on the list. Isn’t that ridiculous? No wonder I am so stressed. Sound familiar?

Prioritising isn’t easy because our brains tell little fibs and make unimportant, non-essential things seem imperative and astronomical in comparison to the things we actually need to do day to day.

I’m making a conscious effort to re-prioritise my life, to make room for the really important things that in the long run will make me happy. Try it for yourself – write everything down that you ‘have to do’ and assess just how important they all are. If you really do have to do all of those things, try and grade them in order of importance. If you struggle with that, you most certainly are not alone. It’s just a case of having a real think about what you want, and taking time to try and get your head around what you want to focus on. Focus truly is everything – you can only do one thing at a time and do it well! Then you will succeed. Let me know how you all get on!

Rose xx

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Christmas Anxiety

And by this, I don’t mean worrying that you won’t get what you asked for on Christmas Day!

For lots of people with GAD, Depression and EDs, (me included!) Christmas can be an incredibly stressful time. Most ‘normal’ people (as they would call themselves!!) don’t understand this anxiety or bad feeling surrounding Christmas because after all, it’s the time of year that most people enjoy and look forward to the most. Time off to spend with family, lots of yummy indulgent food, gifts; what’s not to love? Plenty, it seems, for those who are suffering from a variety of mental health issues. Below I’ve compiled a few reasons I believe Christmas is so difficult for some. In fact I genuinely believe that through a facade of mirth and excitement that a lot of people dread Christmas, for various personal reasons. Let me know if you agree/disagree, or have any of your own to add….

1. Winter Weather. This is  a HUGE one for me. My family always say that I ‘wasn’t built for the cold’ and I have to say, they’re completely right. I’m constantly cold, my skin is dry and often blue. The nights draw in to the mid-afternoon and quite frankly all I want to do at 4pm when the lights go out is go to bed. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is very common in the UK and those who have other mental health issues are predisposed to suffering from it.

2. Food. This one really only applies specifically to those who have suffered from or are in the midst of an ED. That said, with most women and men under constant pressure to look perfect, and many dieting constantly, it’s going to apply to a lot more of the population this year. Christmas in this instance is hell. Food absolutely everywhere; on television, on the radio, and most worryingly, in the house; in abundance. To make matters worse, this isn’t just any food – it’s the most indulgent, fattening, scariest kind. An onslaught of invitations for parties and dinners arrive, filled with the prospect of copious amounts of sugary booze and frightening festive party food. I’m a guilty party here and I’ve been known to turn down party invitations simply because of the sheer anxiety I suffer knowing that the lure of a smoked salmon blini is stronger than my willpower. However I need to put this in perspective here, not only for myself but for everybody reading this who is similar to me. You really do only get one life, and so many Christmases. A few indulgent evenings won’t make you fat or unhappy. We know this, and are incapable of believing it, but please, try not to let food control your Christmas, as it controls the rest of your life. There will be more posts on this over the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled.

3. People. Staying with parties, what happens if you have an anxiety about going out and being around people? Acutely low self-esteem can leave you feeling so bad about yourself that you just can’t face presenting an ‘inadequate’ you to a room full of ‘perfect’ people. Sound familiar? Of course, we’re all expected to be sociable at Christmas and attend parties and events which usually involve dressing up and looking fabulous. But if you don’t feel fabulous, then these functions only serve to hammer your self esteem into the ground and normally end in drunken tears. Rejecting these invitations, I feel, isn’t the key to overcoming this. For me, the only things I have found to have helped is a) not giving myself too much to do/too many things to go to, and b) manning up and forcing myself to go to at least one thing a week. It’s really, really hard. But however overwhelming it is, however many panic attacks precede walking into that venue, it is ALWAYS worth it. I promise. If nothing else, just for the sheer pride in knowing that you took that huge step, stuck two fingers up to your anxieties and walked through that door with your head held high. Trust me.

4. Expectations of ‘Fun’. Lots of people say that ‘forced fun’ is the worst fun. And it’s true. When you’re expected to be happy and excited and having lots of fun (because it’s Christmas, why shouldn’t you be?), it’s so much worse because you really are not happy, excited, or having any fun at all. Those who are judgmental about those with mental health issues come out in force over the festive period, contributing their nuggets of unhelpful ‘wisdom’ from ‘Well it’s Christmas, what have you got to be unhappy about?’, to ‘You’re very lucky, some people have no Christmas and no food on their plate’. It’s excruciatingly frustrating to hear these things and unfortunately, nothing you say will pacify these people. The root of anxiety is trying to please others and worrying about what others think. In this case there really is no point. Christmas is your time of year, as well as anyone else’s, and you are free to enjoy it, or perhaps ‘not enjoy it’, however you choose.

5. Money. Lots of people feel anxious about money around Christmas. After all, it’s an expensive time. In an increasingly material world, presents a re equated to status, and how much you love someone else. When of course that’s ridiculous. Easily said, not easily felt when children are now demanding iPads and PS4s in their stockings. The Money Advice Service, or MA, is a government-run service which provides help for those struggling to make ends meet over Christmas. Money Saving Expert is another good one if you are looking for tips and tricks to make your money go further this year. Remember – it really doesn’t matter how much you spend.

6. Social Media. The root of much evil in society today, in my opinion. Over Christmas, the ‘life competition’ is extended. Cue Instagrams of people with their beautiful trees, their gorgeous children, their hot boyfriend, in the thick white snow. Enjoying mulled wine with friends, opening expensive presents, eating lots of fatty food and still pouting in an XS reindeer onesie. It’s all SUPERFICIAL and it’s the fuel for anxiety and a feeling of inadequacy and ugliness. Don’t forget that whilst these folks say they are enjoying themselves ‘so much’, if they were really having a good time they wouldn’t be spending time away from their families to choose what filter makes them look hot. This culture of vanity is difficult to get away from and easy to get sucked into because after all, you don’t want to be the one with no gorgeous pictures to display and we are conditioned to compete with our peers. My advice? Stop going on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. I have. If it’s killing you, stop looking, however tempted you are. It won’t go away, so you have to be strong and make it. Delete those apps!!

My advice after all this? Remember the fundamentals. Respect and enjoy the simple things. Do you have some food? Are you warm? Have you got some time off work to spend on yourself and your family, friends or people you care about? That’s all you need. Even if it’s cold, if the sun is shining go for a walk. Clear your head and you’ll find beauty in the small things.

Before I end this post, let me say that I am NOT Scrooge. I do enjoy the feel and festivities surrounding Christmas, and I DO make a conscious effort to enjoy it. However I wrote this post because more people than I anticipated have shared their anxieties with me in the run up to the holidays, and I would like to ensure that nobody feels alone in their thoughts this season.

Let me know what you think!

Rose xx

When Change is Better Than A Rest

Sometimes, we get wrapped up so inextricably in our daily lives that we are unable to see things clearly. Issues and problems arise, without us even being aware of them, let alone being able to address them.

A substantial break away from my day to day life a couple of weeks ago made me realise that things I felt were incredibly important (to the point of obsession) before I left, were in fact rather insignificant in the scheme of things. It helped me to take a step back, and remember to appreciate the things that truly mattered; family, happiness, peace of mind.

I must admit that before I left, I was concerned uncontrollably with excelling in every area of my life. That’s nothing new – it’s a huge part of my personality. But rather than aiding my success this only served to make every aspect of my life difficult.

It’s not easy to stand back and assess your life when you are in the thick of it. And of course, we can’t jet off on holiday on a regular basis, or when times get hard. But this reminded me that sometimes, however hard it seems, really looking properly and rationally at the things that worry us can actually afford us more freedom than we could ever know.

As Eckhart Tolle rightly pointed out, generally our worries really are more insignificant and unimportant than we believe them to be. Are they worth your time? Ask yourself – will this worry me in an hour? Tomorrow? Next week? Next year?

It’s an effective way of grading our concerns and issues and breaking them down into manageable portions which can then be prioritised accordingly. Do we need to panic about this right now? Or should we be agitated about it at all?

As I find strategies and tips for coping with anxiety and stress I will share them with you all. I’m already armed with many pearls of wisdom from the greats as above, however sometimes it is important to remember this advice and employ it in daily life.

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Rose xx

Be Kind

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“All little girls should be told they are pretty; even if they aren’t” – Marilyn Monroe.

Today’s theme is kindness. Kindness not only to others, but also to ourselves. There is another well-known phrase, ‘Be cruel to be kind’. But when it comes to our children, should we adopt this policy? Think about your current hang-ups and anxieties about your appearance. How many of them are borne out of childhood/teen experiences and taunts? These could have been throwaway comments made by relatives, or cruel jibes by peers deliberately designed to make you feel sad or ugly.

Recently I saw an article on ‘Baby Make-up’. The statistics included in this article claimed that up to 60% of parents worry that their child is ‘ugly’. This both concerned and astounded me. Are our own difficulties and obsessions over appearance affecting our children?

More to follow on this topic! What do you think?

Rose xx