How To Keep Calm In Uncertain Times

I think it’s a common theme with us all right now that we’re not sure how we’ll wake up feeling from one day to the next. With still so much uncertainty about the future, and the brutal reality of the impact on our beloved NHS, the emotional rollercoaster caused by the c-bomb is very real right now.

For example, one day at the end of last week I woke up feeling anxious, but couldn’t really figure out why. I’d had a ‘good’ week so far – in that it was fairly productive and I’d spoken to people in my life I cared about, and they were all safe and well. However, I continued to have a tightness in my chest, and was on the edge of tears for the rest of the day. Perhaps it was a manifestation of how guilty I’ve been feeling that things in my life are as okay as they can be considering the current situation, when for so many others it’s the polar opposite.

Whatever it was, I knew I had to lean in to it. It’s absolutely okay and to be expected that we’ll feel a range of emotions at the moment, and some days we’ll even swing violently between them.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed by certain thoughts and/or out of control, the below tips are how I’ve helped myself ride out a day of feeling anxious, and ended up going to bed feeling a little calmer. I know coping with anxiety is no one-size fits all solution, but I hope these tips will be ideas you can build on to find what works best for you.

I Listen to my Favourite Podcast

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When you’re on the edge of tears, it makes sense to do things that will lift your mood. My go-to podcast that has me laughing out loud is Shagged Married Annoyed with comedian Chris Ramsey and his wife Rosie. (they’re both worth a follow on Insta too) You’ll be introduced to the Beef family, and be equally appalled and astonished at the questions and stories from the public – they’re not for the easily offended! Or, just search for comedy podcasts on Spotify and you’ll be sure to find something to suit your taste.

I Workout

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Even if I don’t feel like it beforehand, I always feel better after a workout. For me, it’s a chance to switch off and just focus on what exercise comes next. The endorphin boost afterwards also gives me the little bit of energy I need even on bad days to get something ‘productive’ done, and that makes me feel better about myself. I like picking workouts from Joe Wick’s (aka the nation’s PE teacher) YouTube channel, The Body Coach TV. There are so many online workouts available right now, so pick one that feels right for you and your fitness levels.

I Dance

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As I’ve grown up taking dance classes, this is a sure fire way to put a smile on my face. Give me some decent pop music (80s preferably) and I’ll be shaking my bum for sure. It’s one of the few activities that I do that I feel I can really let go with. Why not make a playlist of your favourite tunes and blast them out whenever you need a boost? Then dance like no one is watching!

I Clean

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I like to mix this with the dancing, as it makes mundane cleaning tasks that much more enjoyable. Similar to working out, there’s something about cleaning that makes me zone out and forget about everything else. I also get a lot of satisfaction from seeing my flat transform from a cluttered mess to a clean haven that smells great. It brings me a sense of control and comfort back too. For a little cleaning inspiration, I would definitely recommend giving @mrshinchhome a follow on Instagram. She openly admits that she cleans to calm herself down, and makes it fun too.

I Read

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Last week when I was feeling anxious I soaked in the bath and read The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary. Being able to escape into a totally different world helped to distract away from how I was feeling, and I could feel the tightness fading in my chest. If it’s a good story, I will read it, and perhaps unsurprisingly at the moment I’m getting through books more rapidly than ever. (if you’re wondering, I give The Flat Share a 5/5) You could even try reading along with others – there are loads on online book clubs at the moment, plus it’s a way to connect with others through a like-minded community. If you struggle getting the focus to sit down and read, you could give audiobooks a try instead.

How have you been feeling so far this week? What activities do you do to help lift your mood or calm anxiety? I’d love to hear your tips too – share them in the comments.

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Why We Should Celebrate Small Wins

At the moment, I think it’s fair to say that even though we’re all staying at home, comparison is still king on social media.

It seems like my social feeds are full of people still appearing to live their best life – doing yet another online workout, sharing a healthy recipe, completing a home project or upping their Tik Tok game.

Kill Comparison

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Granted, this blog was born out of having so much free time on my hands it was impossible to ignore the urge to create the idea that had been in my head for months.

Nevertheless, seeing what everyone else is doing on social media has had me convincing myself that I should be spending absolutely all of my lock down time doing productive activities, because that’s clearly what the rest of the World is doing.

This of course isn’t true, and I’ve learnt this mindset comes from a lack of self-belief – something that we can all be guilty of at times – I’ve personally struggled with it for various reasons ever since I was a teenager. It therefore doesn’t make sense for us to be so hard on ourselves – we need to give ourselves a break, big time.

Take a moment to check in with how you’re feeling when you’re scrolling on your social media. If you’re feeling anxious, annoyed, angry or anything similar, consider either limiting your screen time or curating your feed so that you only see content that makes you feel good. There’s no point making an already challenging time even more challenging on your mental health.

Embrace a Slower Pace

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The pace of life has slowed down massively ever since lock down, so what constitutes a win for each of us has changed. Before all this, successfully nailing a presentation for the most senior members of the business I work for was a big win for me. Now, a big win is figuring out something technical with my blog, or having my latest bake come out of the oven looking edible and tasting half decent. On the weekend my wins included putting a load of washing on and hanging it up to dry and running the hoover round the flat for 5 mins.

Whether something is a win for you or not depends on the amount of energy you have available to give to an activity. With the constant air of uncertainty at the moment, lets face it, some days we wake up feeling meh, not really wanting to do anything at all. On days like these simply getting washed and changed out of your pjs is a win.

How to Celebrate Small Wins

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During such mentally exhausting times, celebrating your small wins can help you have the momentum you need to go from one day to the next without wanting to burst into tears every 5 minutes. Just Marie Kondo-ed your drawers? Soak in a hot bubble bath. Baked a delicious batch of scones? Sit down to enjoy them with a cup of tea and your favourite book. Did 3 online workouts this week? Binge watch a series on Netflix.

Even the smallest activities you achieve day to day should and deserve to be celebrated. We’re all doing our best with the amount of energy we have and we shouldn’t feel bad with how that manifests itself into our days.

What was your win today and how did you celebrate it? I’d love to hear, so please share in the comments.

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Why We Should Listen to Winnie-the-Pooh

Like pretty much every other person I see on social media just now, my boyfriend and I have signed up for the Disney+ free 7 day trial that’s on offer at the moment. (well done Disney for taking advantage of a time when literally everyone is at home watching TV)

Although I will most definitely be taking the time to catch up on my favourite 90s classics, (hello Aladdin & Little Mermaid) the first film I picked to view was one of their newer offerings – Christopher Robin. This post isn’t a film review, but if you’re after some feel good nostalgia and sentimentality then it’s worth a watch.

The main quote that’s stuck with me from the film was from Pooh himself – “Doing nothing often leads to the very best something”. I think it’s stayed with me because it’s so apt for how I feel we should be approaching the c-word situation we find ourselves in right now.

Doing nothing often leads to the very best something

The End of Busy

Busy has always been a buzz word associated with being successful – our societies thrive on being constantly on the go. However, things couldn’t be more drastically different now – there are literally hundreds and thousands of us stuck at home, with a lot more free time on our hands and no where to go.

That kind of frantic busy doesn’t exist at this point in time, and a lot of us are finding the ‘doing nothing’ that Pooh describes very difficult. But what if we allowed ourselves this time to breathe and decompress – allow the weight of a normally manic schedule to be lifted? What’s left could be seen as scary – what’s our purpose if we don’t have the structure of the routines we’ve become so comfortable with to cling on to?

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Your Head Space

Maybe we will have the mental head space to thrive – creative project ideas will come to the fore, new hobbies that bring us joy will come to light, and quality time will be spent nurturing our family and romantic relationships. I know myself that these are things I never could have anticipated I would have had the time to explore properly when we started out in 2020.

There’s a popular opinion circulating online that the main characters in Winnie-the-Pooh (and indeed the Christopher Robin film) are representations of different mental health issues. For example, Tiger has ADHD, Piglet anxiety, and Eeyore depression. I would have to say that I agree.

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Find Your Character

The human condition is prone to all these different facets of mental health. I identify most with Piglet – my first reaction to the c-bomb was worry, fear and stress. Now that I’ve had a little time to begin to come to terms with the fact there’s so much out of our control right now, I am keen to embrace my inner Pooh bear and let Piglet fade into the background.

As well as being kind and loving, Pooh is seen as being impulsive. By being fully present in each moment, he makes sure that every moment of nothing leads to the very best something – he’s swept away in the glorious opportunities that are presented to him right there and then. Moments to appreciate what we have, our friends and family, and the nature around us.

Which Winnie-the-Pooh character do you identify most with? And how will you be making sure your moments of nothing lead to the very best something? Share in the comments below.