Dealing with emotions…

I have grown up in a society that generally speaking doesn’t deal well with emotions, instead we are taught to brush everything under the carpet and put on a front.

Now obviously there are situations when we may have to hide our feelings to a certain extent such as when we are at work, however, I cannot advocate ignoring our emotions completely.

What we underestimate is our bodies way of knowing when we are not dealing with our emotions but because we may not be aware of the link between certain physical symptoms and our emotions these symptoms may well be shrugged off as something else. (It’s worth having any physical symptoms checked out with your GP).

Everybody is different and so how our bodies may react in certain situations will be unique to us, however there are some common symptoms that may appear during times of stress, anxiety, upset etc. Symptoms that we may experience include sleep problems, muscle tension, indigestion, eating too much or too little, having little energy, unexplained aches and pains including stomach-aches or headaches, being generally run down etc.

All those symptoms particularly on there own are very easy to fob off as nothing and so we can ignore them and carry on but unless the source of the problem is dealt with then the symptom/s are unlikely to disappear.

This can make it tricky to know if indeed your symptoms are linked to what is going on in our life or not. Aside from seeking a professional opinion, it can be useful to write down the symptoms you are experiencing as well as everything that is going on for you and how you are feeling. It is possible that we are not necessarily aware of what is going on for us as often we are so busy.

Recently I have noticed that I am better able to deal with stressors in life and instead of falling apart I tend to allow myself to have a little wobble (which usually involves having a good cry) and then I form a plan of action. However, I have to admit that despite thinking that I had started to incorporate more self-care into my life I am aware that I haven’t been doing enough.

The reason I know that I haven’t been doing enough self-care is because my body started displaying physical symptoms which I know are linked with stress/anxiety. As well as not liking these symptoms (although fortunately they are fairly mild but still unpleasant) I am also feeling frustrated with myself for not being aware of how things have been affecting me.

Many people take their physical health seriously and so may have exercise routines in place yet when it comes to people’s mental health generally speaking most people don’t tend to put as much effort into looking after it until we realise, we have to.

I think for me, (& this could be the same for others) there has been an element of small things building up and certain things affecting me more than I thought they would. Most people will have things that will trigger certain emotions or feelings, but we aren’t necessarily aware of what those triggers are, which can then throw us when we aren’t expecting something to affect us or to affect us as much as it does.

So now I am on a mission to make time to recognise and find ways to deal with my emotions more regularly. I know some people take time every day to jot down positive and negative things about their day and to recognise and acknowledge how they are feeling both physically and mentally. Maybe this is something worth trying.

This can be anything…from reading, watching something funny, playing with a pet, playing your favourite song, singing, dancing, exercise, screaming, crying, punching a pillow, ripping up a piece of paper.

Do whatever it is that helps you let go of your emotions (in a healthy way) and makes you feel better.

It can be easy to think that we don’t have time to incorporate some self-care, but it can be as little as 5 minutes every day. I’ve had people come to me telling me they don’t have time but most of us spend time driving each day so this could be the time you blast that song or listen to something funny.

Strength

This week has been challenging on many levels and I found myself having to reflect on how things impact me. I am someone who cares about others, and I am a softy. I do not want to change that about me, but I am trying to learn how to cope better especially with situations that do not directly impact me. I suppose that is where my bubble comes from, and when things get tough, I will go in my metaphorical bubble to protect myself.

I have allowed myself to feel emotions this week, but I have tried not to let them run away with themselves, instead trying my hardest to distract myself and keep busy.

I found out that someone’s mother had died and so despite feeling as if I couldn’t go and pay my respects in case I ended up crying, I busied myself making homemade lemon scones to take to her and my daughter helped pick some flowers.

Everyone on my college course appeared to be struggling with the presentations that we knew were coming up and I struggled to read all their messages with people saying they had lost all their confidence, that they were close to a break down etc, and I felt helpless. So, I decided to bake everyone some buns as a way of showing that I cared.

I really could have done with the amazing support of my counsellor this week, but she was having some much-needed time off …I know, how dare she?! She had said that I could get in touch if I needed her which means a lot, but I wasn’t going to do that as I didn’t want to disturb her. So, I dug deep and tried to support myself as best I could.

I found myself dealing with a mixture of internal anger, frustration, and sadness due to events of this week, but I did not let this stop me from celebrating my Mums birthday, having a kitchen full of homemade baked goodies, and standing in front of my peers to deliver my presentation.

I am proud of myself for doing my presentation, not only standing in front of everyone and speaking for 10 whole minutes (which as I said to my group, was probably as much as I had spoken up in the entire year – this made them laugh!) but also that I shared very personal information with them about myself. This is a big deal for me as I am normally very reserved, but I felt safe to share and wasn’t afraid of being judged. I was humbled by everyone’s support not only for myself but for everyone else in the group and we learned a lot about one another.

I wouldn’t say that I am now a fan of speaking in front of others, but I know I can do it which is a massive achievement for me.

One thing that I am still struggling with this week is a feeling of sadness due to something that I am not ready to talk about just yet. I think the sadness has also been exacerbated by a feeling of frustration. I learned about a young man who I have known since he was 2 who has been treated unjustly and has reminded me of how much the law is an ass. To top it off I did something I know is almost like a form of self-harm by googling his name and my goodness the tabloids (definitely NOT a fan of tabloids) ripped him to shreds and made him out to be horrendous. I was livid. How dare they?! The damage that those so-called journalists have done to him, his friends and family, is heinous! Reading their articles could have tipped him over the edge…who would be responsible then?! I am appalled that these ‘journalists’ are allowed to write such rubbish, without a care in the world. I do not know how they sleep at night. It makes my blood boil.

It has reaffirmed more than ever, my desire to work with young people and has highlighted again the need for more support when it comes to mental health particularly with young people especially boys/men.

As part of my Mum’s birthday celebrations, we went to the beach and enjoyed a paddle in the North Sea (now that is rare as it is normally rather cold!) and I allowed myself to close my eyes and feel the sun on my face and breathed in the sea air which always makes me feel calmer.

Lockdown part 3….Week 11

This week has whizzed by and has felt a bit strange. I get the impression that people some people are feeling in limbo due to lockdown. Some people have expressed how liberated they feel now they are back at work and the commute which they used to begrudge they now love because they have a valid reason to be driving somewhere! Others have commented on how nice it is to see people for real rather than virtually.

However, we are still very limited with what we can and cannot do…in 8 days’ time on 29th March we will see easing on social contact restrictions, so in time for most schools breaking up for the Easter holidays, outdoor gatherings, including those in private gardens, can go ahead of either six people or two households. Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts and open-air swimming pools can also reopen.

This date also makes the end of the ‘stay at home’ order, though many restrictions will remain in place.

I know that the past few months have been hard on people who aren’t able to see any friends or family and have only been able to meet up with one other person outside for a walk or more recently to sit on a bench with a drink however that’s not as pleasant when its cold and rainy which has predominantly been the case recently. So, to be able to know that in just over a weeks’ time we can sit in someone’s garden will make a pleasant change and with the weather starting to improve this will no doubt be something many of us will look forward to.

This Tuesday (23rd) is National Day of Reflection…looking back over the past year it has certainly been a year nobody will forget, and one people will talk about for generations to come. I remember thinking when I first read about Covid in China thinking that it would never come to the UK, then when it did, and we went into our first national lockdown I thought that it would have all disappeared by the end of that lockdown. Never in a million years did imagine that I would have to wear a face mask to go out and about doing everyday things or that hand gel would be come part of our everyday lives.

For someone who suffers with health anxiety I am impressed that I have coped so well and that I don’t feel panicky leaving the house. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel particularly comfortable going to supermarkets or being in crowded places at the moment and therefore I do avoid them, however, this is more to do with the fact that I want to help stop the spread of Covid-19. Hopefully in time things will improve but for now Covid has taken the edge off perusing around a shop and instead I go round quickly and move on if there are people hovering around. I certainly won’t be queuing up to go into the shops when they hopefully open in April.

I hope that people can reflect on this past year and realise how well they have coped and adapted to a situation we have never experienced before and that we have got through this. This is a massive achievement. The past year has proved challenging for most people in one way or another and will no doubt have caused added stress, anxiety, or depression. I hope that you can find ways to be kind to yourself, no matter how that may be.

I also want to remind people to check in on friends, family and loved ones as you never know how they are coping or feeling. I have found in my experience that people tend to assume people are busy and therefore don’t want to disturb them but it’s always worth dropping someone a message just to say hi or that you are thinking of them.

When people ask me how I am, I have a tendency to always say that I am fine – I rarely answer differently unless I say I am ok…regardless of how I am feeling. I think this is because I have the impression that there isn’t necessarily meaning in the question and that it is just something that is said in passing…’hi, how are you?’ and most people respond with a short answer such as, ‘I’m good thanks’ and then that ends the conversation. I am also quite a private person and don’t like to burden people so I wouldn’t want to say if I wasn’t ok.

Someone shared with me an acronym for ‘fine’ which I found hilarious but true…I have added a picture of the acronym at the end of the blog!

…..

I was given a gift of a beautiful, framed poem this week called ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou. I had never heard that poem or of Maya Angelou before, but the poem is beautiful and empowering. I was told that the poem made them think of everything that I have been through and how strong I am. I watched a clip of Maya reciting the poem and it made me smile with her use of facial expressions and actions. What a powerful, wise, and incredibly inspiring woman she was! I feel inspired by her and wonder if there is a small part of me that feels I could be a little bit like her.

Lockdown part 3….Week 7

This week has been more of one of reflection. I have had a few days to myself and challenged myself to strike the balance between doing jobs and having some ‘me’ time.

I think a few things have been building up and have left me feeling a little drained. I know I feel stronger but clearly burying things under the carpet has taken its toll! I also didn’t realise that writing about what happened in my previous relationship would bring up as many memories and emotions as it did.

The highlight of my week (well in fact of this lockdown) was when I was invited to book my Covid vaccine. (I’m not going to write about people’s judgement towards other people having a vaccine when they don’t think they should. We all have our opinions and may not agree, there’s a lot of things I don’t agree with about our governments decisions, but I don’t have the power to change this and feel fortunate to have now had my first vaccine).

When I went to book my vaccine, I was offered to go to York which although is an hour drive away, I jumped at the chance! I haven’t driven more than 5 miles since lockdown and now I was being allowed to go all the way to York! I can’t tell you how excited I was!! So, I got my play list ready and some snacks for the journey relishing at the thought of having 2 hours in the car, just me and my cheesy play list. It’s safe to say I sang and boogied the whole time!!

I can’t tell you how uplifting it was to see the countryside and to be free to drive!

I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived, but I have to take my hat off to the absolutely amazing volunteers at the vaccination centre. There were so many volunteers there to guide you to where you needed to go. The volunteers covered all age ranges and despite it being dark, cold and windy they were all so friendly, helpful and welcoming.  The whole process from arriving in the car park to leaving was so smooth and efficient. I was waiting no more than a couple of minutes before being sent in for my vaccine and I even got a sticker afterwards! Yay! I’m pleased I had it in my left arm, being right-handed as it feels a little sore but hey, that’s a small price to pay! I have my 2nd vaccine booked for in 12 weeks’ time in York again which is something to look forward to!!

I also took some time to pamper myself a little, do some retail therapy (online) and absorb myself in some grown up TV. I discovered White House Farm on Netflix and got hooked, I ended up watching all 6 episodes over a couple of days. If you’ve not seen it, it’s worth watching. I’m not always into true stories or murder mysteries but it was gripping. I couldn’t even ‘tat’ whilst watching it in case I missed anything. (Normally when I am watching TV, I’m doing something else at the same time).

I feel very lucky as yet again I had another mystery parcel left on my doorstep from a mystery neighbour. Because I got one last week, I feel I should redistribute it but equally know they chose to leave it for me and my girls and don’t want to appear ungrateful. (Which I am certainly not!)

I wish I could afford to do the same for others, but I hope that our window art puts a smile on peoples faces. I need to think of what we can make this time…probably a spring/Easter theme. I shall put my thinking cap on!

I know there is a lot of talk about Boris’s announcement tomorrow and I feel people have high hopes and expectations. There have been rumours thrown around about what he may say but despite feeling pretty desperate to be able to see friends and family, I really hope that he will stick to what he said about following data rather than sticking to dates. I personally don’t want us to come out of lockdown too quickly to only find ourselves in the same boat again. I have no expectations that he will talk about being able to mix socially which is all I really want to hear. I hope he won’t tell us that pubs and restaurants are opening if we can’t go and sit on a bench with a friend or allow someone into our garden. I somehow feel this is a long way off.

This week I shall leave you with this…