When Life Feels Overwhelming

I can only describe it like this: You haven’t learned how to swim yet but suddenly you find yourself in the deepest part of the ocean with no life jacket and no one to call for help.

It’s overwhelming.

I think in some ways we’ve all been there. We feel like there are not enough hours in the day. We want time to slow down but we also want it to stop. But time doesn’t stop, which makes it feel like we’re racing through life with no clue what we’re doing and where we’re going.

It comes down to the concept that we’re running out of time. We trick ourselves into believing that everything should be happening RIGHT NOW. And when life doesn’t work out the way it should it makes us feel like failures – that’s when the feeling of overwhelmingness hits us.

It’s a feeling that I experience more than I should. Maybe it’s because I’m impatient, or maybe it just seems like everyone else is always two steps ahead. Either way, there’s always something occupying my mind. I worry about work and meeting deadlines, I worry about my weight, I worry about the future, I worry about making plans, and most of all I worry about things that I have no control over.

I want to hide away from everything and lie on my bed staring up at the ceiling and think about nothing at all.

I’ve found that whenever I feel overwhelmed it’s because I’ve been neglecting my own needs. And believe me, it’s so easy to forget about the little things but those little things make me the happiest. Discovering and reading new books is something that makes me so happy, and it helps to take my mind off my problems. Unfortunately, I can’t read all day every day (if that was my job, you’d never hear me complain) but if I can set aside even half an hour it makes all the difference. Another thing that always helps me is to write. It sounds counter-intuitive as sometimes writing is the reason I feel stressed, but other times writing is healing. It puts things into perspective. It’s easier to understand why you’re feeling so overwhelmed when you have the reasons staring back at you.

Sometimes, abandoning whatever you’re supposed to be doing is the best solution. It’s not giving up, it’s making some much-needed time for yourself. A few days ago I started writing a piece on managing anxiety but I couldn’t finish it. At the time I felt so overwhelmed with life that I couldn’t write anything positive and anything I did write felt forced. I know that if I’m not in the right mindset, I’m not going to be happy with anything I write. So I went for a walk and I didn’t think about work, deadlines, or anything that was making me feel stressed; I focussed on the good things. I thought about plans that I have coming up that I’m looking forward to. After about an hour, I was back working and getting things done.

Life is fast. Life is urgent. But life is meant to be enjoyed. Let go of what you have no control over and embrace what comes naturally.

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10 benefits of being a dog owner

Owning a pet has become commonplace for many cultures, which is understandable as they offer companionship and unconditional love, especially for the elderly and the blind. But dogs offer more than that. Surely you would have noticed how your furry companion is not just a pet, but rather part of the family. Although they cannot talk, give you advice, and all the other perks that come with human interaction, they can still be your best friend.

Sure, they can be expensive and even a nuisance at times (chewing up the furniture, weeing on the bed, to name a few) but they can also bring so many benefits to your life.

1. You will feel less stressed

There have been studies to suggest that dogs decrease stress levels. That means petting you dog, playing with your dog, and just being around your furry friend can improve your mood and reduce stress and anxiety.

2. You will feel safe

Dogs can be an expensive but highly trustworthy burglar alarm. Thanks to your dog’s great sense of hearing and loud barking to alert you of a possible intruder, you can sleep better at night, which will do wonders to your physical and mental health.

3. You will get sick less often

Having a dog in the house means more germs. Fact. Yet the more you are exposed to these germs and bacteria, it can help build up your immunity to disease. In turn, people with dogs are less likely to get sick than non-dog owners.

4. You will feel happier

Not only can dogs help with your physical health, but they can make a huge difference to your mental health too. Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression. That’s because having a dog to take care of enforces a routine that can help them out of a depressive episode. The interaction and mutual love from a dog can help people stay positive and focused, and may even be a great alternative to medication.

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5. Your kids are less likely to have allergies

Children who grow up in a house with a dog have fewer allergies and are less likely to have eczema. Also, kids who are raised around a dog, will have higher levels of immune system supporters to keep them in good shape as they get older.

6. You’ll have better heart health

Did you know that petting a dog lowers your heart rate and blood pressure? Studies show that pet owners have lower cholesterol and are therefore more likely to survive a heart attack. Other studies show that those who own a dog have less restless nights and are sick less often.

7. You will get more exercise

When it comes to exercise, there’s no excuse. There’s even less excuse when you’re a dog owner – you have to exercise daily. Most dog owners will walk for a minimum of 30 minutes everyday, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and greatly improving your overall health.

8. You have a better social life

You’re more likely to be approached when taking a dog for a walk than if you were to go alone. In fact, polls show that people trust dog owners and will feel more inclined to go up and talk to them.

9. You may detect cancer sooner

Your dog could possibly play a role in saving your life one day. It appears that due to their amazing sense of smell, dogs have the ability to detect cancer sooner than a human would. There have been stories from many dog owners of their dog sniffing or licking a mole or lump on their body and after getting it checked out, turned out to be cancerous.

10. You become a better person

Having a dog teaches us a lot about ourselves and can ultimately shape who we are. We have to learn to be patient, selfless and committed. Dogs can be hard work sometimes, but they are the best teachers and the best friends you can have.

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15 Ways To Manage Anxiety

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Living with anxiety can be challenging at times – what appears to be simple tasks become almost impossible to do.

Some people may choose to take medication, while others are hesitant about this. Does it work? What if I become addicted? Talking with your doctor is a great way to find a solution that suits your circumstances.

Fortunately there are alternatives for managing anxiety for those who don’t take medication, and with many strategies to choose from you will likely find something which can help make a difference to your day-to-day life.

1. Acknowledging your anxiety

This is an important step which you cannot avoid. Right now you have to admit that you are struggling with your anxiety, and know that it is OK – your mental illness does not define you. Say things like “I’m just feeling anxious” and “I’ve got through this before”. Accept it for what it is.

2. Avoid anxiety-triggering foods

From here on caffeine is your enemy and it must be avoided. Helpful changes to your diet include reducing your intake of coffee, alcohol and fast food. Instead try consuming food high in Tryptophan, as this is known for having a positive effect on the mind and body. This would include consuming more oats, bananas and nuts.

3. Take a break from social media

Sometimes it picks us up. Other times it puts us down. Social media can be a trigger for anxiety so a detox from time to time may be beneficial. Prove to yourself that you can do it.

4. Listen to music

Music has the ability to make us not feel so alone even when our mind and body is telling us otherwise. There are many videos on YouTube, like this one for example, which are designed to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

5. Write it all down

Whenever your anxiety is at its highest, write down what you think could be triggering this in just a few words. Also, write down the things that make you feel calm. Then go back to it and read what you have written – use it for guidance.

6. Talk to someone you know well

Talking to someone who understands what you are going through, whether it’s over the phone or person, will keep you calm and focused. Just talking in general can make it feel like a weight has been lifted.

7. Exercise

Studies suggest that regular exercise may help relieve you of your anxiety symptoms, whether it’s a 20 minute walk or a 5 minute workout. It all makes a difference.

8. Rearrange your room

It’s a good idea to keep things organised as this creates some kind of structure in your life, and structure is associated with a calm body and mind.

9. Pet an animal

Dog, cat, micro pig – it doesn’t really matter. Studies show that your pet can be the key to reducing tension and improving your mood. This is the ideal therapy for any animal lover.

10. Read a book

A good book has the ability to heal us, and it’s the perfect escape from reality. In fact, even reading for just 5 minutes daily can decrease levels of anxiety.

11. Relax in the bath

Soaking in the bath reduces tension in our muscles and helps us to relax both physically and mentally.

12. Baking

The process of baking can be both soothing and uplifting.

13. Be creative

Anything that requires you to focus your attention on something other than your anxiety such as drawing, making a bracelet or solving a puzzle is the best distraction and it will give you a sense of accomplishment.

14. Singing

Singing is a way to express ourselves and sometimes it’s good to let it all out.

15. Reward yourself

It’s important to give yourself a ‘pat on the back’ whenever you make progress towards managing your anxiety. This is the encouragement that you need in order to tackle your anxiety for good.

Lastly, I recommend this book for anyone suffering from anxiety and/or depression.

Understanding mental health

Many people will probably experience anxiety, depression and overwhelming feelings of stress and sadness at some point in their lives. In fact, in the UK, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem. Yet the main issue here is that these statistics often go ignored – mental health is not addressed how it should be. Most people suffering with their mental health do not feel encouraged to talk about it, which only worsens their condition because they are bottling up their feelings, which leads to further isolation. Even though it is difficult, I encourage people to talk to someone, anyone who can help in some way. Even just telling someone how you feel while they listen, can benefit you in so many ways. First of all, you won’t feel so alone. You’re not. There are so many people who feel exactly the same, and it’s important to remember that. Secondly, a problem shared is a problem halved. If you are having suicidal thoughts, talking about these feelings is the first step to recovery. Confide in someone who you can trust, someone who will help you get through this dark period in your life. There’s always someone who will listen to what you have to say. Lastly, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you don’t see it, it is there. Keep searching. Keep going.

If you know anyone suffering with a mental health issue, try talking to them about it. It can make a world of difference.

How to manage your anxiety

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First of all, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I do suffer from anxiety, as do millions of people all over the world. We’re all in the same boat so none of us should feel ashamed as we’ve all experienced it at some time in our lives. But some of us struggle with anxiety more than others. Only a couple of years ago I couldn’t even pay for something in a shop without feeling extremely anxious, and I know that some people would find that ridiculous ― why would someone get nervous over something so simple? For many people, going to the shops, being in a crowded environment and talking to new people is a difficult thing to do. There isn’t a cure for anxiety yet (don’t worry, I’ll let you know when there is one) but there are some things that you can be doing to help manage your anxiety.

My best advice is to take it one step at a time. Start off with the smaller challenges and work your way up, this way you won’t end up completely overwhelmed and it reduces the chances of experiencing panic attacks. I think what I’m trying to say here is: know your limits. Know what you can do, and what you can’t do. More importantly, just because you’re not capable of doing something right now, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to do it. Set yourself a goal and work towards it. You’ll get there.

Secondly, it might be a good idea to reward yourself after you’ve achieved something. If you went up and ordered something in a café or you bought something in a shop, and this is something which you usually struggle with, then you should be proud of yourself. Why not treat yourself to a bit of chocolate or a slice of cake? Another lipstick? A new car? (Probably a bit too far at this stage). Write a list and start ticking things off. You’ll feel good looking back at how far you’ve come.

Another proven method to manage your anxiety is meditation. I cannot recommend this highly enough. I’ve recently just started this and already I feel so much calmer. On YouTube, you can find quite a few tutorials on meditating for beginners which I’m sure will be a lot of help. Some people like to listen to music while doing this, (I don’t mean Eminem or Dubstep) I prefer wave music but it’s entirely up to you. Whatever floats your boat – see what I did there? I was just talking about waves and now a boat . . . OK, I’ll leave now.

Lastly, just make sure that you’re exercising regularly, eating healthy and keeping hydrated! All three contribute largely to your overall mood and will affect how you are feeling throughout the day, so make sure you don’t start getting lazy (I know, it’s a bit rich coming from me) and forget to stick to your dieting and lifestyle, as this will only worsen your anxiety. The last thing you want is to take five steps backwards.

Keep going, you’re doing well!

 

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