5 subscription services that will make life better

subscription mental health make life better

Is it just me or are the weekends getting shorter? It seems I can’t do anything other than fall asleep on the couch on a Friday night and before I know it I’m having my obligatory Sunday afternoon nap. I guess being over 30 isn’t as exciting as I thought it would be!

I’m trying to be more active at the weekends, as well as during the week. It’s too easy to let time run away from us after the working day is done and I don’t want to waste time slumped in front of the telly any longer than necessary. Because let’s be honest, sometimes it’s necessary.

Here are few subscription services that I think help make life better, more spontaneous, less stressful and more fulfilled without having to fork out too much money.

1. Cinema

I’ve always loved going to the cinema but as prices have steadily increased since I was a teenager I was often put off paying nearly £10 to see a movie, especially when I was unemployed. Even once I was well enough to work again my minimum wage salary didn’t really accommodate weekly visits to the local cinema.

Once I moved to Glasgow city centre and heard about the Cineworld Unlimited card I knew that I had to sign up. I currently pay £17.40 a month and can see as many movies as I like, although some movies like 3D or IMAX cost a little extra.

Working to a tight budget means that even if I’m skint one week, I know I can still go and see a film. With it being my favourite thing to do anyway, I think that’s awesome! It means that all those movies I probably wouldn’t have paid full price to go see (you know, all that Adam Sandler trash) are now available to me within my monthly payment should I wish to waste away a few hours of the day.

My husband isn’t a fan of horror, but now I can go on my own in the afternoon after work and use my Cineworld card. In fact, you might notice that cinemas are now over-run with people going to see movies on their own which I think is a great thing for us little old introverts.

2. Cooking boxes

I’ve never thought of ordering a cooking box. My talents as a chef way exceed anything that I could be sent in the post – joke – so how on earth could it benefit me? I pride myself in cooking most of my meals from scratch so I’ve never thought I needed the guidance of a ‘how to’ style delivery service with pre-portioned ingredients and accompanying recipe card.

However, after a long weekend I was surprised at how helpful a Gousto box was when I returned from holiday, stamping my feet and moaning I DON’T WANNA COOK. I made a tasty Aubergine Katsu Curry (which you can see in the video below) and some Sweet Potato Taquitos.

Although the recipes weren’t difficult, they’re still ones that I wouldn’t have picked out myself because I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand. The best thing about Gousto is that they give you the exact amount of each item, meaning you don’t have to fork out for some random spice or condiment that you’re never going to use again.

This means you can expand your cooking repertoire without wasting food or money in the process. Bonus!

Discount code: To receive a generous £40 discount on your Gousto order (£20 off your first and second box) use the code TORNADO

3. Snack boxes

I’m still getting to grips with intuitive eating after years of restrictive eating, so having snacks on hand can be a tricky balancing act for me. Subscribing to Graze or The Vegan Kind is something that I’ve been looking into trying after my success with Gousto.

I personally tend to get stuck in a rut with what foods I eat, and snacking on the go is something I struggle with. I always eat Nakd Bars and if I can’t find them I often end up eating flapjacks and cereal bars which are full of sugar. Not the best thing if you’re trying to train your brain to escape the binge-eating/diet cycle.

Having tasty, healthy morsels in my bag for when I’m at work or at the gym is something that I know would make my life easier, and take away some of the guilt associated with eating the wrong foods when I haven’t planned ahead. I’m definitely going to be giving these a go.

4. Prescription

It might sound simple but setting up a repeat prescription has changed my life. My anxiety makes GP appointments a stressful affair, but because I take anti-depressants I can only receive one months supply of my medication at a time.

Although I do kind of understand the reason behind this, my mental illness means that I constantly dread making an appointment (using the phone is a fear of mine) and talking to a doctor about my health over and over again.

Now, the doctor is happy because I only get 28 tablets at a time and I’m less worried because I don’t have to go through the torture of making an appointment every month.

subscription mental health happiness hobbies

5. Audio books/podcasts

Instead of mindlessly watching TV or scrolling on my phone, I find it helpful to listen to podcasts and audio books. Although most podcasts are free many of them offer a payment scheme where you can get access to exclusive episodes before anyone else. I love listening to Emma Gannon as well as My Favourite Murder and Generation Why.

Audible is a really affordable app which gives you enough credit to buy one audio book per month and there are thousands to choose from. Once you’ve downloaded it you actually own it and can listen to it a many times as you like. You can also return books that you didn’t enjoy and get a full refund!

I find Audible great for when I want to read up on a subject like healthy eating or time management. It’s also great for catching up on those classic books that you never got round to reading. Either way, it stops me from passing out on the couch and is a great incentive to get outside walking too.

Have you used any subscription services to make life a little easier?

 

Opening up about mental illness in the modelling industry – Washed Away by Nikki Dubose

nikki dubose book review

Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a Memoir by former model Nikki Dubose. She has appeared in magazines such a Maxim, Glamour, Vogue and Vanity Fair and first suffered from an eating disorder at just eight years old.

Her childhood trauma of sexual abuse led to bulimia, various drug addictions and serious mental illness in later life. Although she boasted a high-flying career in the fashion industry, at the height of her success she was experiencing intense inner turmoil which she kept hidden from the world.

Talking about one performance on the catwalk she writes;

“As my feet carry me to the edge, I hear no sound, experience no sensation. Despite the music and commotion, I am lost in a dreamland. How long have I waited to arrive in this spectacular moment? I never imagined I would feel so numb, so vacant. Dozens of cameras pop and crackle as they capture the magnificent creature before them. I perform, but inside I feel trapped, imprisoned within my mind.”

Nikki describes the terrifying ‘whispers’ she hears when she’s on stage, the voices in her head which mock her every move. When met with praise she ignores everyone and instead of celebrating with champagne and dancing, she rushes home to her apartment to be alone. She only wants one thing, and that’s to binge on – and then purge – large amounts of food.

To say Nikki came from a broken home would be kind at best. Her parents separated early on and her mother sexually abused her and treated her as a buddy; someone to show off to as she performed sex acts in online chat rooms and hooked up with strangers in bars. This is just one of several people who took advantage of her innocence from a young age.

With such a tainted childhood, it’s no surprise that Nikki went looking for love in all the wrong places. Her struggle to meet the demands of how a model should look only exacerbated her eating disorder as well as her constant self-loathing.

As I read the history of Nikki’s eating disorder it became clear that it was not only a way to stay as thin as possible for the modelling world, but a form of physical release that she couldn’t get elsewhere. Her mental illness ultimately led to the physical condition which consumed her life.

Having lived with a hatred for my own body for most of my life and dieting since aged 17, this topic really hit home for me. I’ve never been diagnosed with an eating disorder but I know I’ve teetered on the edge, and so I empathised with the daily rituals she went through to hide her unhealthy behaviours.

“I binged and threw up in the shower or in paper bags that I kept in my bedroom. I was the smart one; Evelin and Vitor had no idea, especially when I hid the vomit in the paper bags. My knuckles and lips began to bleed and scar again, but I covered them with concealer. Whenever a make-up artist raised an eyebrow at the cuts, I said that I had an autoimmune disease.”

Nikki talks to the reader as though we are her closest ally. Throughout her illness she felt unable to share her troubles with anyone, so to have her talk intimately and in great detail about the things she’s endured is a privilege.

Reading her words is like being inside Nikki’s head. Her writing style is brutally honest and disturbing at times, a testament to not only what she has endured but also how difficult it must have been for her to relive these painful memories and put them down on paper.

I had no idea what to expect going into this book. I never thought I’d finish the thing in just a few days and feel so utterly connected to someone I’d never met. Knowing Nikki’s story has reminded me why I started to write about mental illness online, even though it often leaves me feeling vulnerable to expose myself to the world.

Although Washed Away is about championing the possibility of recovery, it’s my no means a self-help book. I’m not sure the world needs another one of those anyway. Often those of us with mental illness know deep down what steps need to be taken, but we just can’t imagine having the strength carry them out.

This book proves that we are indeed strong enough, and that even the darkest of times will lead to light.

Buy Nikki’s book here

This post is sponsored and contains affiliate links

 

10 things you should stop doing just to please other people

mental health blogger UK stop pleasing other people

When I was 17 I grabbed a box of the brightest red hair dye I could afford and went from blonde to copper one Friday afternoon in my parents’ bathroom. It was the first time I’d thought ‘fuck it’ and done something on a whim. I kept it that way for a few years, but as my career progressed I returned to my natural shade of blonde in the hope that I would appear more ‘professional’ and ’employable’.

Since turning 30 have had a few more ‘fuck it’ moments; including going back to that copper shade I was when I was 17. I’ve decided it’s time to stop doing what other people expect of you. Here are a few examples…

  1. Playing it safe with your hair colour

If you like to experiment with your hair then good for you. Pink and blue hair is kind of trendy right now, but if you want it that colour until you’re 60 then rock on. Some people think bright coloured hair looks unprofessional but nothing says, “I get shit done” like a mermaid inspired bouffant, in my opinion.

2. Settling for a job you hate

For years I climbed the corporate ladder in an industry I hated. I didn’t have any other skills (or so I thought) after doing the same type of work since I was 17. I spent years getting promoted, taking on extra responsibility and earning reasonably good money for what I did. I had an office and my own department and it looked like I had it all together. Really I was terribly unhappy and it took a mental breakdown to realise my career wasn’t making me happy. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough to try something different.

3. Eating something you know makes you feel shit

Sometimes only Oreos will do. I get it. But when you’re sat in a restaurant and you know that eating dessert is going to make you feel overly-full and bloated then don’t do it. You don’t have to order burgers and fries when you know you’d rather have salad (those days DO exist, I promise). You don’t have to keep up appearances for fear of looking like you’re a stick in the mud – eat what makes you feel good.

Fiona mental health blogger UK

4. Drinking alcohol

A glass of bubbly to cheers to someone’s new job or 30th birthday is often seen as obligatory. Just because someone hands you a free glass of cheap cava doesn’t mean you have to drink it! If, like me you know that alcohol brings out the worst in you; why bother?

5. Going for the healthy option

Similarly, it’s easy to feel like you have to eat what people expect you to eat. So you told people at work you’re on a diet and the next day you want a cheeseburger. You probably don’t want to eat it in front of those same people in case they comment on how you’re diet didn’t last long, or they talk about you behind your back. I felt like this for a long time and I would regularly eat ‘healthily’ in front of others and binge on junk food in secret. This often meant that I would overeat when I was alone because I felt so panicked and ashamed of what I was doing. Eat that goddamn cheeseburger.

6. Wearing something conservative

I spent my life trying to dress appropriately according to my peers. Hearing the dreaded phrase “What’s everyone wearing?” before a night out used to put me on edge. I probably already had an idea of what I wanted to wear and if not, I didn’t need a panel of gorgeous ladies giving me suggestions. Wear what’s comfortable. Wear what makes you feel fierce. Wear whatever is clean that day cause it’s not really that important.

7. Agreeing with someone’s politics

I’m the ultimate ‘nod and agree’ person in any social situation. I hate confrontation (who the hell doesn’t?) so I tend to just go along with whatever the general consensus is on a topical subject and hope that we get back to talking about the weather before it gets too complicated. I’ve realised though, that my opinion is just as important as anyone else’s. If I hear someone saying something that I think is racist, sexist or morally wrong then I think I have a responsibility to question it. If they can see my side of the argument that’s great; if not then at least I can say I tried.

What do you do to please other people? Are you willing to try and stop?

 

 

How to survive Christmas day as an introvert

being an introvert on christmas day mental health blogger uk

Christmas Day can be pretty intense. Even for the most outgoing person, the idea of being cooped up with your nearest and dearest for 12 hours straight with nothing but food, alcohol and polite conversation to pass the time can be a little daunting. For someone like me – a textbook introvert – the frivolities of the big day are my worst nightmare. I’m not hugely looking forward to it, but I do have a few techniques up my sleeve to help the day go as smoothly as possible….

Get enough sleep

It’s tempting to go out on Christmas Eve and have a few too many drinks to ease your nerves about the following day, but make sure you still get a good night’s sleep after you socialise. I find my temper is shorter when I’m tired and I have no patience with anyone. It also makes me gravitate towards the Quality Street to keep my energy up, which then makes my anxiety worse as I ride the unpredictable sugar-high whilst trying to remain calm in front of relatives. I’ve heard people say that you often wake up in the frame of mind you had when you went to bed, so try and have a relaxing evening to keep yourself level-headed.

Keep busy

Although I’m a firm believer in keeping my calendar as clear as possible, I also find I’m happier when I’m distracted with day-to-day jobs. OK not always happier, but I’m definitely less anxious and that’s the path to happiness in my world. This doesn’t mean socialising for hours on end but simply keeping my mind and body occupied with enjoyable tasks. For me these include blogging, reading, cooking and exercising. Offer to help chop the vegetables, set the table, clear away used wrapping paper and keep everyone’s drink topped up as a way to keep busy.

Get outside

With that in mind, you may want to take your exercise to the outdoors. Getting some fresh air whilst the turkey is cooking is a nice way to relax before sitting down to a formal meal where the conversation can get heated. Offer to take the dog a walk, or get the kids away from the TV for an hour and you’ll find yourself refreshed with a clearer head, ready to enjoy the rest of the day.

Plan time with people who understand

We all have those friends you just get us. They let us be ourselves and there are no awkward silences when we’re together. They let us vent endlessly about our problems and often have the answers to them too. These are the people that should be by your side on Christmas Day. If you can, try and plan to see them in the evening once the festivities have died down, or at least keep in touch via text message or Face Time. Even if you’re feeling terrible, they’ll listen to what you have to say and help ease the burden of a busy day.

Are you ready for Christmas Day?

 

10 little luxuries to help boost your mood

little luxuries to cheer up boot your mood depression anxiety

Dealing with low moods and the physical effects of depression and anxiety can be a full time gig. I feel lucky that I don’t deal with my issues on a daily basis any more and I’m currently going through what I would call a ‘good spell’. I am however hyper-aware that this situation could change at any moment. Depression can appear like a dark cloud without warning and anxiety symptoms can pop up out of the blue. My way of staying on top of my moods is to allow myself a few little luxuries on the regular, as it keeps me happy and relaxed. It’s not a cure by any means but it’s what keeps me going! Here’s how I boost my mood with little luxuries…

Face mask

This is such a cliche but I can’t talk about boosting my mood without mentioning face masks. I don’t actually do them often enough, but when I do I basically use it as an excuse to do as many treatments as possible. I like to cleanse, exfoliate and then use either a moisturising or deep cleansing mask depending on how my skin is that day. I will then cleanse again before applying my favourite moisturiser and serum. I also love using the Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate oil before bed as has that soothing aromatherapy scent that gets my mind ready for sleep.

Bath bomb

I don’t make time for a bath very often as I’m definitely more of a shower-and-go kinda gal. I believe taking time to select the perfect bath bomb from Lush is a fine art, and one that should be savoured for as long as possible. I have sensitive skin so I tend to go for the simple ones like Butterbear and I also love the massage bars for soothing aching muscles.

Scented candle

OK you get the idea. I like to pamper myself in order to boost my mood! Lighting a scented candle is something I do almost every evening. I love knowing I’ve created a welcoming atmosphere for myself and any visitors and scented candles do that so well. I love sweet scents like vanilla and cinnamon, as well as fruity flavours like lemon and cherry. I’m also partial to a musky scent like Yankee Candle’s Midsummers Night.

Fresh fruit

I am pretty consistent about eating vegetables everyday but I tend to avoid buying fresh fruit because it can be so expensive. When I’m feeling low I like to treat myself to my favourite healthy snack to avoid or at least delay my urge to eat junk food. I love fresh blueberries and strawberries topped with coconut yoghurt with a drizzle of honey, or a home made fruit smoothie with oats and Greek yoghurt.

boost your mood mental health

Handmade chocolates

I recently tried some handmade Belgian chocolates that my good friend bought be as a birthday present and I was blown away by the quality. I won’t be giving up my Dairy Milk anytime soon but when you want something a little special a handmade chocolate is hard to beat. If you’re ever in Glasgow make sure you hit up Kimbles in Princess Square and sample a cappuccino truffle.

Double cleanse

The feeling of being ‘clean’ is something that instantly makes me feel more alive when I’m tired and feeling like crap. Once I’ve been for a shower I like to do a double cleanse as a special treat for my skin when I’m feeling a bit rough. I remove all my make up with a cream cleanser like the Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser and then the Elemis Cleansing Balm to remove any dirt that’s been left behind. Finish off with a refreshing toner and my favourite moisturiser and I generally feel a little better than I did before.

Colour refresh

When my hair colour starts to fade but I can’t afford to get it done, I often book myself in for a refreshing toner treatment. It basically acts as a semi-permanent dye to inject some life back into your colour in around 20 minutes instead of having to get a full colour which takes so much longer. My salon charges around £30 and that includes a blow dry which also means I don’t have to worry about styling my hair for the next few days!

Coffee from your favourite place

Sometimes we forget to take ourselves out for coffee. Whether it’s with a friend or alone I like to enjoy my favourite beverage – currently I’m all about the chai latte – once a week as a little pick-me-up. It gives me time to relax and watch the world go by, something I often forget to do when I have my head pointed at my phone or laptop for most of the day. I find this is particularly helpful when I’ve been writing all day and I need some time away from work.

little luxuries boost your mood self care mental health

2017 planner

Nothing gets me excited quite like stationary does. The idea that this little stack of paper can hold all my grand plans and ideas makes me so very happy. I like to scribble my thoughts and ideas down in various notebooks, but at this time of year it’s a great excuse to start the hunt for a new planner for next year. I love the Brilliant Ideas Launch Pad which looks perfect for bloggers like me, and this cute little Dinosaur Diary is adorable.

New bed sheets

I love nothing more than getting into a bed which has fresh sheets, so investing in a brand new set is like heaven to me! I like to have them washed and all ready so that once I hop out the bath I can just get straight into a beautiful clean bed. For me it’s the perfect end to a long day and the best way to guarantee a good night sleep.

When you think I’m being rude, here’s what’s really going on 

appearing rude mental health how do i pretend to be OK

I’ve just returned from a busy weekend in Scotland. It was our first visit back home since we moved to Birmingham and I was really excited to see my friends and family for the first time in 4 months. Unfortunately for an introvert like me, being constantly on the go for 72 hours turned out to be kind of a drag. I knew my time was limited with everyone, but after the first day my mind was so exhausted that I could barely hold a conversation or stay awake.

Combine my solitary nature with mental health issues and you’ve got someone who appears to be extremely moody and rude for a lot of the time. I’ve said I’m sorry again and again. I feel like it’s out of my control. When I feel a low mood creeping in, it climbs onto my back and digs its claws in. It doesn’t let go and then I feel anxious about how I appear to other people.

I know there are people who can’t understand this at all. But I also know there are people out there who know exactly how it feels. Here’s what’s going on in my head most of the time:

I don’t have the strength to talk

Holding a conversations when I’m drained, depressed and on edge with anxiety is near impossible. I’m caught in that horrible contradiction of being fatigued but my body is often producing a lot of nervous energy. Sometimes making small talk is just too hard.

I have nothing nice to say

When my depression sets in I feel like the world is a bad place. I suddenly think I can see everyone for who they really are; they’re all pretending to be happy, nothing is worth the effort and we should all just give up immediately. If I’m in this frame of mind and you ask me what shade of lipstick looks best then I won’t have anything helpful to add to the discussion so I try to just keep my mouth shut.

I’m concentrating on not freaking out

It might look like I’m just grumpy and quiet but secretly I’m scanning the room for potential anxiety inducing situations. Where are the toilets? Are those drunk people going to talk to us? How are we going to split the bill and do I have enough money? Are you going to ask me something I can’t answer? Am I going to look stupid?

I feel like I’m not enough 

If this scenario continues on for more than a few hours and I feel like it’s obvious to other people then I tend to feel like a bit of a failure. Why can’t I just fake being polite for one day? Why can’t I think of one single thing to talk about? Why do my friends and family even want me around? I don’t deserve them. I’m such a waste of space.

I’m feeling guilty

When I start to feel like I’m cramping everyone’s style I am plagued with guilt. I feel like I’ve ruined the day, wasted everyone’s time and been a crappy friend/daughter/sister. Even when people tell me it’s not my fault I find a way to convince myself that I should be able to control my moods better or get better at pretending to be OK.

If I come across as rude to you, I’m so sorry. I’m working on it.

 

How writing has improved my mental health 

writing blogging mental health creative therapy
I’ve not realised until recently how important writing is to me. I’ve started doing it everyday, it’s definitely become a habit but an enjoyable and healthy one at that. I still have ongoing mental health issues and probably always will, but finding a hobby I enjoy has been really helpful for me, here’s why…

It gives me structure 

I currently work part time at my day job and use the rest of my time to do some paid freelance work as well as my own blog. The need to write everyday has given me a more structured day which is really important for keeping me on a somewhat even keel. I don’t cope with change well, so establishing a healthy routine everyday is cruical to helping me feel in control of my life. I know I can’t really blog in the evenings because I want to spend time with my husband, so this forces me to set loose working hours during the day that fit around my day job. I normally write in the afternoons when I finish work, edit pictures and share posts on social media. The next morning I will do a final read through of that day’s post or project and publish it or send it off via email. Then I spend the rest of the day replying to comments, talking on Twitter and planning my next post to write that afternoon. This helps me keep busy in between meals, stopping me from fixating on food and also stops me from taking naps at random times in the day. Since I started writing everyday I also don’t watch any TV until after dinner, so that’s a good thing!

I can organise & communicate my thoughts

As an introvert I naturally shy away from too many social engagements and this is only agravated by my anxiety around people. Holding a conversation with someone is quite taxing for me, and I find polite chit chat incredibly hard to mainain for extended periods of time. It’s like I can feel the life draining from me as I try to stay alert and focused. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, more that I just can’t find the confidence to say it. With writing I can grab a pen and my journal and just take note of whatever I’m thinking at that moment, without fear of having it come out wrong, offend someone or be made fun of for it. I can get my feelings out of my head and onto paper where I can read them again, analyse what’s going on and then form it into a blog post if I think it’s of any interest. Although this might seem completely anti-social, for me it’s like having a practise conservation with myself before releasing it to the world for comment. The blogging community has led me to use Twitter a lot more which is a great way for me to meet like minded people, especially as I’ve just moved to a new city where I don’t know many people. Once my blog post goes live I can share it, talk to other people about it online and read other posts on similar topics.

It’s a creative outlet 

I have always been mildly creative in my life. I say mildly because I don’t ever recall feeling compelled to draw. I just did it because I was bored. I wasn’t obsessed with writing music but I did it now and again, and went through phases of being in a band and playing a few instruments. I didn’t wake up and write poems everyday but I really enjoyed penning creative stories when the teacher asked for them. I studied Music for three years at university and after realising it wasn’t for me I just naturally stopped being creative.

The problem with depression and anxiety is that often you are bombarded with people asking “How do you feel?” and “What are you thinking? The truth is that sometimes it’s impossible to describe. It’s a sense of being that’s so overwhelming it’s hard I even spend time delving in for a closer look. It’s too much. Then once in a while I’ll hear a lyric or even just a melody, maybe one single note played on the piano that effortlessly sums up every thought in my head and every fibre of my being. I personally feel a great benefit from having a creative outlet, not just in the form of writing but in coming up with my blog images, layout and even my Instagram. There is nothing groundbreaking about my content. But the feeling of creating something that only exists because I chose to make it, is a wonderful feeling and a form of expression that should be celebrated.

Have you found a hobby that helps improve your mental health?

Why do we love giving advice but never take it ourselves?

why do we love giving advice but never take it ourselves?

I’ve spent all weekend procrastinating. I’ve consulted my list of blog topics which grows everyday and normally never fails to inspire me. I’ve read other blogs, spent hours on Twitter talking to strangers, been to see not one but two movies at the cinema and watched about another five on Netflix to try and muster up some creativity to write today’s blog post. To be honest I’ve been going through a low point with my depression. There has been a lot of mindless sobbing and questioning the point of it all; not exactly what I had planned this weekend but when you deal with mental illness you don’t always get to choose what you do with your life – it controls you. I realised as my husband was comforting me that all the things he tells me are things that I myself have told to others. On Friday I even posted a blog about Self-care tips for when you’re depressed but I could barely bring myself to read it in my state never mind carry out some of the steps I suggested. So when it came to writing a blog today I though, why do we love giving advice but never take it ourselves?

Many of my blog posts on here take the form of advice. I try not to sound like a know-it-all (I certainly don’t know much) and purely draw on my own experiences in the hope that maybe some of it is transferable to my readers. As a sufferer of anxiety and depression I benefit from the symptom of over-thinking absolutely everything, questioning my own behaviours and looking for unhealthy patterns in my life. I believe the introspective life I lead can be detrimental to my happiness a lot of the time, as I scrutinize every decision I’ve ever made and see the worst in every situation, but it has also led me to notice some progress made in the long run – which led me to write many of the advice posts I’ve shared on here.

I find sharing my thoughts and advice therapeutic I suppose. Maybe we all do – that’s why they say talking is the best therapy, right? I get to offload all of my baggage, toss it into a blog post, organise and edit it just so, to make enough sense and maybe offer a lesson learned. I click ‘publish’ and for a brief few hours my mind is clear. My clustered musings are set free to the world, awaiting a response. When I get comments from readers saying that they identify with what I’ve written, I don’t feel at all qualified to have given them tips on how to ‘become a better person’, or ‘how to improve your body image’. I just feel content in the knowledge that someone out there is questioning themselves and their abilities too. I think I like giving advice because it reminds me that everyone needs advice. I’m not alone in feeling like I don’t have any of this shit figured out – but at least I’m trying.

When it comes to taking my own advice, well….

When I am feeling as much self-loathing as I’ve felt towards myself these past few days, why on earth would I read my own words with any confidence? When I wrote those words on self-care I was feeling empowered. I felt like I was over the hump of my last depressive period and I was ready yet again, to stand on my self-appointed soap box and preach to my listeners. My blog had the most traffic last month it’s ever had, I was full of confidence that my words had value and my little nook on the internet was worth fighting for. Cut to 24 hours later and I’m considering deleting all of my recent posts and putting a stop to all mental health chat on my blog because I have no right to speak a word online until I sort myself out. My own advice looks false, made up and as though it was written by someone else entirely. The person I am today would never have the strength to think that positively.

But I think that’s the point. I can’t take my own advice because when I really need it is when I’m doubting myself the most. We never praise ourselves. We never highlight our best parts when we look in the mirror. When we score 80% on a test we always focus on the 20% we didn’t get right. I’m human and I’ve been trained to put myself down. So when it comes to taking advice, when I need it most I am weak. I’m too deflated to look within myself and that’s normal. When I’m strong again I’ll be there for everyone else who’s struggling but until then I’ll settle for anyone’s advice but my own.

Self-care tips for when you are feeling depressed

self care tips for depression fiona suffer recovery blogger

Self-care has become a bit of a buzzword online recently, and although it is quite annoying I genuinely do think that a lot of people could benefit from a go-to routine for taking care of themselves when they feel mentally or physically worn out. Since being diagnosed with depression and generalised anxiety disorder 4 years ago I’ve had to find ways to calm down, relax, get motivated… to basically try and bring my energy either up or down depending on where my head’s at. It’s not easy, so I’m sharing my tips for showing yourself some love on days where the world seems like too much to deal with. Please bear in mind that this advice should not be used in lieu of medical help but is simply based on my own personal experience with depression.

Eat well 

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know I have a complicated relationship with food. On my low days I stereotypically avoid eating all day because I associate it with guilt and being overweight. Bad idea. This inevitably ends up with me overeating in a monumental fashion late in the day, usually in the form of ice cream, chocolate and an assortment of baked goods. Aaaand cue more guilt. Not a good state of affairs. To stop this cycle I’ve learned to try and start my day with a well balanced meal containing protein, carbohydrate and fat e.g. Cheese and onion omelette with a side of porridge oats, or full fat Greek yoghurt with berries. I try not to restrict foods on my bad days because chances are I’ll get emotional and this is a trigger for me to binge on unhealthy foods. If I allow myself a few treats throughout the day as I crave them this seems to keep my emotional eating at bay and avoids the blood sugar roller-coaster I seem to go through when I deny myself things like carbs and fat.

Take it slow 

My husband truly deserves a medal for handling me on a bad day. He is so good at letting me take my time, and he has made me realise that the worst thing I can do is to rush myself on these days. If I think about all the little things that need done – taking a shower, washing, drying and straightening my hair, putting on make up, finding an outfit – I feel totally overwhelmed and just hide under the covers until it’s dark again. Without sounding patronising, my advice is to only think about the task you’re doing that very moment, and to take it in baby steps. The biggest hurdle for me is always getting in the shower. Pre-wash I feel like I will crumble at any moment and can’t string a sentence together. I’ll cry all the way through the shower and by the time I’ve washed and conditioned my hair I’ve exhausted myself enough to stop for a breath. Somehow after a good ‘shower cry’ the world doesn’t seem quite so horrendous. Also, I need to point out the importance of washing my hair when I feel this depressed. Beforehand, the task seems monumental but when I’ve done the deed I honestly feel born again when I have clean hair. It’s a key part of my regime, not to be overlooked. If I need to lie around for 2 hours before I consider make up and hair styling then so be it. In fact, sometimes it’s more helpful not to attempt it at all and just enjoy a make-up free face and a loose topknot. If I can find time, I also like to do another beauty treatment like a face mask or painting my nails just give myself that little bit of extra attention.

Rest

This might seem like an obvious thing to do, and you’ll probably want to succumb to sloth-like behaviour when you’re feeling low but it’s worth considering how you can truly feel rested in body and mind. When my brain is in overdrive, thinking about all the things I have to do and how crap I am as a human being I find if helpful to work off some of that nervous energy to allow me to ultimately feel more relaxed. I personally really enjoy the gym so if I feel like I have enough energy to do a light workout then I will, and I like the feeling of achievement that comes from doing that. On the other hand if I was planning a workout and I woke up feeling incredibly low, I’ve learned it’s OK to change my plans and do absolutely nothing. Obviously you don’t have to go to the gym if that’s not your thang, but sometimes a walk round the block and some fresh air will help tire you out enough to get a good sleep. A lot of medical professionals say you shouldn’t sleeping during the day when you have depression because it creates a unhelpful sleeping pattern but when I’ve hit a bad one and look like a zombie, an afternoon snooze is impossible to avoid. It works for me once in a while and I try not to make a habit of it.

What are your tips for self-care?