Let’s Talk Anxiety

Being self-employed suits me. But it does mean I have to generate a huge dosage of self motivation. When you’re employed, you generally do sort of have to get out of bed and go to work five out of seven mornings in a row. When you employ yourself, I don’t know about anyone else but for me, there’s often an internal struggle that takes place about 7:30am, which sounds a bit like a chipmunk princess in your ear singing ‘Disney duvet day?’ Five days out of seven I manage to knock that furry bitch down.

Some of those days, I want to take over the world. On others, I really can’t be bothered. With anything. What is the deal with female hormones? I can literally go from jumping out of bed one morning smiling from the inside out, with beaming intentions of productivity and creativity, and then before I’ve even put my hand on the bathroom door I feel like my life is over and that I might as well just give up now. Bit dramatic. But I am a girl and that is allowed.

Well, it’s definitely an improvement on a few months ago, when even getting out of bed to go to the bathroom was mission impossible. I couldn’t put it down to hormones then. On the whole, I consider myself seriously lucky to have been wired up from birth to be a Positive Polly – the settings switch in my brain in the end always somehow pings back to ‘Default: Happy’. But I haven’t totally escaped it. That thing that’s pervading more and more of society these days. The A word. (Not arsehole.) ANXIETY. And anxiety is such an arsehole. So I’m going to bring it to the front here, because once you face an arsehole head on, it’s possible to see that perhaps you haven’t quite been standing at the best angle.

So let’s talk about it. Feels nice to know we can all just be one giant mess together, right?!

I’m not an expert in this field by any means, and I can’t claim to be a long-term sufferer of anxiety. But what I did experience intermittently over a period of a few months is this: a feeling of dread churning at the pit of my stomach. Clammy hands. Inner trembles. Voices saying ‘you’re not good enough for that – who do you think you are?! She does it so much better than you! Might as well just quit now!’ Shortness of breath. Lack of drive. PANIC PANIC PANIC. I’m pretty confident that everyone reading this has experienced it on some scale. Perhaps some of you on a regular basis. When waking up every single morning with a dark cloud over your head is the norm… Well, it’s not the best is it? No one should have to live like that.

Hands up if you’re fine? (Reeeeeally?) Who actually ever means they’re fine when they say they’re fine? The word ‘fine’ is like secret code word for ‘well I feel like shit actually!’, but we all say we’re fine, because on some level we feel like we should just be getting on with it. Thankfully, it does seem that society is slowly becoming more and more sensitive to and aware of mental illness, the stigma is finally dissolving, and people are seeing that it’s okay to not be okay all the time. Actually, I reckon the more acceptable it is to not be okay, the more okay we all will be.

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Anxiety can hold you a prisoner inside your own mind. For me, I felt as though someone else had been held prisoner inside my mind; as if voices, thoughts and feelings were trapped within the confines of my mental walls that didn’t belong to me. I needed to find a way to get back to me. Getting motivated to do anything was like trying to push a car up a hill. But rather than waiting for motivation to kick in, I found that you just gotta find a way to kick-start it yourself – make one small achievable change – put the key in the engine and feel those wheels start to roll, baby.

I’m not saying that every case is the same, or that this is a ‘one-size fits all’ cure. But below are five things that, practiced regularly, personally changed my life, and still are, in some pretty special ways. These things have shifted my perspective, instilled a decent amount of inner peace and conjured up an instinctive knowing that everything is going to be okay. It might not be any new information for some of you. I’m not going for a particularly creative angle here – sometimes the simple things are the most effective. And if it’s stuff that’s been repeated over and over again, well maybe that’s for a reason… I mean it might actually work! Here we go:

1) Yoga. The obvious one, given that I teach yoga and bang on about it a fair amount. At first, I didn’t understand how yoga could change anyone’s life. How can trembling awkwardly in a headstand bloody well calm my nervous system and positively affect my state of being? The more regularly you practice, committing to presence and tuning in to yourself, the more good little changes will creep up on you. Apparently, sometimes you just gotta get upside down to see straight. So find a class you like (there are so many different styles, but ultimately the goal is the same), and give yourself the time to just be with you. Put yourself at the top of your to-do list.

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2) Meditation. People make the mistake of thinking that yoga is just a physical practice. The physical practice is only a small part of a much bigger picture, which acts to prepare our bodies for what’s to come – the union of the mind, body and soul, the connection to our true selves. Yoga is effectively a moving mediation. I also like to spend fifteen minutes a day completely still in meditation. Meditation has been scientifically proven to not only physically change the shape of our brains, but to mentally mould us into happier beings, reducing anxiety, connecting us to our souls that hide beneath our intrusive egos, awakening our intuition, and so much more. The benefits are actually quite unbelievable. In a world where everyone tries to shout over one another to be heard, meditation, I believe, helps us to see that silence often speaks louder than noise.

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3) Gratitude. Make a mental list of all the things you are grateful for. This is a powerful exercise, especially when you’re finding it really hard to get out of the ‘FMLiiiiiiiife!’ mindset. The Universe loves gratitude. When we’re grateful, we’re given more things to be grateful for – it’s all part of the Universal law of what you put out, you get back. Gratitude can change your perspective pretty quickly. Spend 5-10 minutes on the train or walking to work or wherever suits you – but don’t just say the words as if it’s a chore; make the effort to really feel the gratitude if you want to feel the effects. It’s all about the feelings.

4) Get outside. Being immersed in nature raises our vibration, ie makes us naturally happier. That’s because when we’re close to nature we’re closer to truth. Every morning for about six months I went for a walk to my local woods. I would just stand amongst the trees and consciously breathe, watching them watching me, connecting to something that felt bigger than me, surrendering and allowing myself to be happy ‘right here, right now, knowing that this is exactly where I need to be’. Yes, I’m a weirdo who loves all the trees. Works for me.

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5) Positive audios. This is the first thing I do every morning for 20-30 minutes while I’m snoozing. It could be anything from motivational speaker Tony Robbins, to my personal hero, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Les Brown… Anything that’s going to fill my subconscious with positive messages. I guess I see it the same way as eating a decent breakfast: I start the day off right feeding my body with some organic porridge oats, almond milk, nuts and banana, which sets me up for the day and keeps me feeling full, healthy and satisfied. If I ate fried eggs and bacon I would feel sluggish, unfocused, and a bit gross to be honest. Positive audios are my mind porridge. The news headlines, on the other hand, equals a fried (eggs and bacon) mind. Feed your subconscious with daily morning positivity, and feel the changes over the next few months.

See the above as natural pills. They might not ‘solve’ any real deep-rooted problems you might have – that might take some further digging – but they will certainly help to improve your life, whoever you are. The changes you will experience will be subtle at first. It’s about perseverance, faith and commitment. If you can’t tackle them all at once, perhaps just try one thing at a time and then introduce another when you’re ready. They work for me, but it’s all about finding things that feel right to you. I’m not here to give anyone any answers – you already have all the answers inside you. These are just ways of helping you access them, unlock some doors, blow away some brain fog.

I still definitely have off days! But I feel well-equipped to deal with life and my feelings now. I’m mostly calm and at peace – I trust that I’m being taken care of, and I trust myself, because I’ve worked to connect with and meet my real Self. I’m learning to release the ‘ego-talk’, knowing that it’s not really me. And I’m not the only Positive Polly in the world – every single one of us is. Our natural state is joy, believe it or not. It’s just about finding ways to get back there.

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If you’d like to start, or continue your journey with me combining most of the above ‘happy pills’, I am running outdoor yoga sessions over the summer from next Monday 6th June in southwest London, starting on Clapham Common! I’m really excited to have been asked to be a part of the charity ‘Happy Space’, which focuses on bringing awareness to mental illness, specifically anxiety and depression, so in the act of giving, your first class for the first week will be half price at £5, with £2 of each fiver going to Happy Space charity. To register and book on, click here, using the discount code FIVER. I’ll also be running Happy Space’s first fitness fundraiser on Saturday 9th July from 12:30-4:30pm at the Coffee Co Cafe in Clapham Common; a fun afternoon consisting of Zumba, Barre, Yoga, a positive mindset workshop and a guided meditation. Tickets are limited, so get yours here before they go!

I hope you’ll join me on my mission to make the world a happier, healthier place, from the inside out.

Have a great week x

If I Write About Kendall Jenner, Will You Like Me?

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A couple of weeks ago, as some of you know, I was accepted to be a writer for Elite Daily, after having submitted a piece of writing that was approved. I was quite chuffed actually. I did a little celebratory dance and everything. Three articles later, all of which were denied, I wasn’t feeling very chuffed at all.

Confessions of an English student: I didn’t even know what ‘Elite’ meant. I looked it up. According to Google, it’s ‘a select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society.’ Interesting. Think they’re superior, do they? Huh? Huh? HUH?! (I’m feeling bruised at this point okay.) So following the emails of rejection and experiencing all of the anger and the denial indicative of a breakup (though the relationship was very short and apparently one-sided), I finally rested at acceptance. Here’s why.

Skimming through other articles on the ED Facebook page to see where I’d gone wrong, all sorts of eye-catching titles jumped out. I have to admit, I didn’t feel too fussed by KFC releasing an edible nail varnish that tastes like fried chicken, or whether One Direction were to appear in an episode of Family Guy… But for a second I did find myself seriously considering whether to research and write about Kendall Jenner’s latest red carpet frock choice. ‘This is what people want! Surely an article like that will get me accepted!’ Then I heard the brakes in my head screeching woahhhhh, come back.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those kinds of articles, or actually that there isn’t some great, thought-provoking, soulful material posted on Elite Daily. I’m also not saying I won’t try again. The point I’m trying to make in all this is that, although the rejection hurt and was instantly translated into feeling like I wasn’t good enough, I had to stop and tell myself – I am good enough. Because aside from doing my best (what more can I do?), I’m not trying to be someone I’m not, or write with the sole intention of gaining popularity – I’m writing about things that resonate with me, hoping it might resonate with a few others too and make a difference, even if my ripples are small. I’ve tried in the past to adapt myself to suit someone else, and that didn’t work out too well for me. It never does. So at the risk of writing a post that just sounds like a rant, I actually just wanted to use this experience to make a statement about the importance of staying true to ourselves. It really is so easy to let our egos get caught up in temporary whirlwinds of excitement that will earn us lots of likes and thumbs up and winky faces (all very valid displays of cyber admiration I might add), but if what we’re trying to achieve doesn’t come from a place of authenticity, the impact won’t last long and the cracks will show. If our ego gets a stroking along the way well okay, that’s a very nice cherry on my refined sugar-free cake (if it’s a week day), but that should never be anyone’s main agenda.

I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe I didn’t go wrong; maybe I’ve gone right, in following my gut and choosing to spend my time staying real with my small-time blog over licking an elitist’s bumhole hoping that 70 million people are watching. (Couldn’t resist.) So for now, to all ten of you who are reading – thank you – I’m going to remain with my two feet on the ground and continue on the path that feels authentic to me. Kendall Jenner-free.

(I probably won’t send this one to Elite Daily.)

How Being Single Can Make You Complete

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Relationship hopscotch.

Phrase:

Hopping from one relationship straight into another, before you’ve even had a chance to land both feet safely on the ground.

Hands up if you’ve played that game? Me.

I watch friends who are doing it now. And I’m not about to tell them not to because it’s their lesson to learn, their journey to make and their heart to break… Aaaaand here comes my opinion anyway.

Time alone is important. And I don’t just mean alone as in let’s run a bath and have some real candlelit ‘me-time’ alone (although that is very nice too)… I mean, ALONE, as in, without partner, boyfriend, girlfriend. Single. I can only speak from experience, and coming from a girl who has just spent eight months being single after thirteen years of playing relationship hopscotch, I can tell you now – time alone is important.

So here are my three top nuggets of wisdom I’ve accumulated during my ‘alone time’:

1) Being selfish is not actually selfish. It’s a necessity.

We don’t realise just how much energy we give to our partners. Even when we’re not physically together, they occupy a lot of brain and heart space, which doesn’t always leave much for us, and can mean we end up neglecting ourselves. Having time alone allows us the chance to be selfish, work out who we are and what we want from life. Selfishness is generally seen in society as a negative – all this ‘put others before yourself’ business – no. Just, no. Being selfish is The One. Totally necessary. I’m not saying ‘f*** you, the last Rolo’s mine’ kind of selfish, I’m just saying it’s so important to make decisions based on what’s best for you, not because you think it’s what’s best for them. Only they know what’s best for them. We didn’t come here to live other people’s lives. Looking after number one first means you can look after number two better. Putting them first doesn’t make you a better partner… In fact, that shit actually ends up boomeranging right back on you both. Be selfish, work on yourself, and fill your space up with you.

2) It’s not their responsibility to make us happy. That’s our job.

Chances are, if we jump straight from one relationship to another, it could be because we’re looking to someone else to make us happy, unconsciously searching outside of ourselves. We place responsibility on our partners to make us happy, and it ends up just making us sad. It’s no one other than our responsibility to make us happy, and it all starts with self love. Cheese on toast, but a simple truth. Having time by ourselves throws up a lot of surprises that would probably take a lot longer to realise being in a relationship, and a really big one for me was learning that I didn’t completely love or believe in myself. If you don’t love yourself, how can you love another person the way they deserve? The best advice I can give here is, don’t use someone else to fill a hole – learn to be content by yourself, and then the right person will just enhance your happiness, not be responsible for it.

3) We attract what we are.

Probably one of the biggest and hardest relationship lessons I’ve had to learn since becoming single is that we attract to us what we are. This can be a difficult one to get your head around. Do you find yourself blaming them? Trying to change them? Wishing they’d act or behave in a way that suited you better? Time to take a look in the mirror. Or rather, just look at your partner, because every piece of good and bad we see in them is a reflection of what we already have inside of us. This can be a hard thing to accept – at first, I didn’t want to believe that the ‘negative’ things I noticed in others existed in me. But whether we like it or not, the external world is always a reflection of our internal world. When you’re faced with qualities you don’t like, see it as an opportunity to look at yourself. In the words of Jim Rohn, ‘don’t wish it could be easier, wish that you could be better.’ Which is a whole separate topic for another time. So for now, look to change yourself before you can expect to see a change in someone else. Being on our own gives us the time to become the best version of ourselves, so that we can attract the same person towards us. Become the person you want to attract. If we move on immediately to another relationship without any breathing space, unknowingly discontent in our own company, chances are, our next partner will be exactly the same. And that rarely leads to a happy ever after situation.

Yes, it can be hard and lonely and scary being alone after a relationship ends, and it’s pretty natural to want to look to someone else to help soften the blow! Being on my own filled me with anxiety for months, but I knew it was necessary if I was to ever be truly happy. The relationship hopscotch pattern needed to be broken. And getting to the other side is incredibly empowering. We need breathing space between partners to turn the focus inside and work on the most important relationship we could ever possibly have – the one with ourselves – which is so often forgotten about. Once you’re in a good place with yourself and the internal work is being done, the right person will appear at the right time. Someone who loves themselves too, and is able to love you right back, the way you deserve. Someone who sees the greatness in you because they’ve worked to be great themselves. And someone who doesn’t call you their ‘other half’, because they know you’re already complete by yourself.

Holly x