Spring Clean Your Mind | Learning How To Deal With Stress And Anxiety

meditation

It feels like forever since I’ve sat down and dedicated time to this blog. Two weeks to be exact, not that I’m counting. I needed some time out and because I’m not one for ‘fluffing’ the truth, I’m just going to say it – I was drowning. Not figuratively of course, by mentally. I needed a break from…well…life.

Exhausted, to say the least, I was in desperate need of a retreat. Rather than the usual choice of sun-drenched resorts with plenty of cocktails, I was craving tranquillity and seclusion. I know what you must be thinking and I promise I’m not a complete recluse (complete being the operative word). I needed some peace and I certainly wasn’t getting that in my daily routine.

I took some time out last week to engross myself (and my willing husband) into the depths of the english countryside. In complete isolation, we took to life in a very beautiful and quaint cottage with nothing more than the birds and a lovely stream at the end of our garden to listen to. It might sound like a nightmare to some, but for me, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Upon my return it became ever so apparent that I needed to change my approach to life. Stress, anxiety and even depression can creep up on the best of us. Whether we ask for it or not, life can take a downward turn and it’s hard (even for the strongest of us) to pull ourselves out. Without any lawful reason, the simplest of tasks become unmanageable and your mindset takes a different route. For some it’s a lifelong condition, for others it’s a speed bump, but regardless of the situation, we’ve ALL been there at some point or another. Sounds very dark now that I’ve said it out aloud, but I’ve promised myself to be as honest as possible and this blog post is my most truthful to date.

We all need a little helping hand with life and I’m definitely not afraid to admit that of myself. Admitting that sometimes life gets the better of me is the best form of therapy I’ve ever given myself. Beyond that, there are a few steps that I take in my daily routine to remind myself to stay grounded and not allow for stress and anxiety to get the best of me. After all, life is beautiful, we just need a looking glass to confirm that every now and then.

Putting down my phone

This has been the hardest and yet most satisfying task to date. Being a blogger means that social media is at the forefront of my mind at all times. Having my phone surgically attached to me has become an un-welcomed habit. A habit that, unfortunately, has become the norm in this day and age. Blogging has opened my eyes to the world of social media and how much it can manipulate you. I’ve always been active on social media for personal reasons, but since blogging, I’ve now learnt that there is a dichotomy between my blogging and personal life. My blog is all about sharing, commenting, posting, liking and networking. My personal life – is very private and although I would consider myself a social person, I tend to like my own company. I’ve made it a point to separate my two worlds and because I spend most of my week working on the blog, I keep social media to a bare minimum (non-existent if I can help it) on the weekends.  Sounds like a minuscule task, but I can’t tell you how liberating it feels to put down the phone and just live in the moment.

Learning to breathe

I’ve been a follower of Swami Ramdev’s yoga teachings for some time. One important aspect that I’ve learnt is the art of breathing. Simple breathing techniques can reduce stress, anxiety, blood pressure and increased heart rate. When I feel like I’m in a difficult situation or my stress levels take an unprecedented turn, I breathe. Closing your eyes, blocking out any external noise and concentrating on deep breaths can do wonders for your mind.

Learning that meditation is not a hippie fad

Meditation can mean a number of things for different people. For some, meditation means taking 10 minutes out of their day to sit in peace, while for others meditation means hours of chi-centering, aura-finding, trance-like prayer. For me, meditation means peace no matter what my method. When I have time, I spend a few minutes in the morning lighting some incense and listening to energy-boosting meditation music whilst I sip on my morning brew. Not the most conventional method of meditation, but it helps me kick start my day in a positive manner. I also spend time in the evening (preferably before bed) to listen to daily affirmations. It helps me sleep better and it encourages me to end the day with a peaceful state of mind.

Learning the power of music 

Music is a healer. I should know that, I’m married to a DJ who is in turn married to his music. Music alters your mood and transport your mind to another dimension. Whether you’re into heavy metal rock, deep house (my kinda music) or classical orchestras; putting on your favourite genre of music can ease your mind of great tension. My mum would often listen to Hindi songs of the yesteryear (particularly while she is trying to sleep) and I never understood the necessity of it. That was until I tried it myself. Not with Hindi music as such, but I find meditation sounds (in other words ‘spa music’) very soothing, especially if I’m struggling to get to sleep. I often find myself listening to it through out the day, particularly in the car; which is a far cry from the hip hop songs I used to blare from the speakers in my younger years. The point is whatever your choice in music, if it soothes your mind, use it as a healer.

Dabble in essential oils

Much like music, essential oils have the properties to lift and brighten your mood without any invasive technique. I’ve dabbled in essential oils for quite some time, but to be honest, I’m still learning about them. I’m no expert, but I know that when I need a little pick me up, I reach for a bottle of bergamot or lavender. There’s a lot to learn about essential oils and there’s a number of benefits to using them, far too many to list in one post. However, essential oils have helped me massively in calming my mood and even combating tiredness.

Learning to enjoy my own company

Another honest yet brutal confession from me, I much rather my own company than being in a crowd of people. This is probably where my anxiety kicks in, as I find large groups very very unnerving. It may come as a shock to someone who knows me personally, but I’m not very social. It’s a shock as I’m mostly the one doing all the talking in a social situation. I’ve learnt to love my own company and the quietness that comes along with it. Obviously there’s a fine line between reclusiveness and being the life and soul of the party. However, learning to love your own company can make you more confident and self-assuring around others.

Learning what makes me happy

I’ve never been guilty of not treating myself. I’m sure my mum and my husband can vouch for that! However, as shallow as it makes me sound, I love nothing more than drowning my sorrows in the depths of a spa or beauty salon. I aim to get a massage once every two weeks, not just for vanity purposes, but for the simple fact that it relaxes my mind, body and soul and it makes me very happy. I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to take this route. Some people find peace within reading or cooking. The point is, finding a hobby which makes you happy is just as important as finding the perfect job. Everyone needs that certain something to take the edge off of life and rather than using it as a treat once in a while, make it a regular occurrence. Life is difficult enough without having to put restrictions on yourself.

Learning not to push myself 

I’m my own worst critic. I’m a perfectionist at heart and everything I do comes from the heart; which is why I place so much pressure on myself when I undergo a task. If I don’t create the perfect image or write the best blog post, I beat myself up for it. I’ll spend hours and hours on a blog post if it means that it’s perfect (in my eyes). However, what I have missed out on is the fact that this additional pressure that I put on myself hurts no one but myself. Learning to let go has been a hard task for me, but I’m trying to remember that it’s ok to be in the middle lane rather than the fast all the time.

Keeping organised but not making it a priority 

This goes part in parcel with my previous point. I place so much emphasis on ‘perfection’ that I find it hard to delegate or even compromise. I have a serious case of OCD and I like my surroundings, my life and everything around that to be perfect, in its place and organised. So much so that I will obsess about something until it’s complete. This could be something as little as planning an event or organising my wardrobe. I obsess and I dote on the little things; which isn’t healthy. I don’t think I’ll ever be disorganised, I quite like being OCD, but I shouldn’t need to put so much emphasis on the details. In the mornings, I spend a few minutes writing down a list of daily tasks that I wish to accomplish by the end of the day. 8 times out of 10, I over exert myself and I’m not able to complete them all. However, rather than beat myself up over it, I’ve learnt that spreading my tasks over a few days is ok and if I don’t have the time, it’s not the end of the world.

Learning that some days are good and some days are bad

One thing that’s hit me like a ton of bricks is learning the fact that some days are good and others are bad. Like many other women, my moods tend to go up and down. Rather than assuming that every day is going to be full of rainbows and roses, I’ve realised that I am going to have off days and these are the days when my ‘feel good treats’ come into action. Rather than penalising myself I’ve learnt to deal with my off days in a way that makes me feel more comfortable. I let go of my regime, I treat myself and I go to bed knowing that tomorrow is a new day. I draw a line under the mistakes that I’ve made that day and I go back to being ‘normal’ when my mind permits it.

Do you suffer with anxiety or any form of depression? What do you do to deal with it? Comment below.