Alex Hurt, wellness blogger and fellow spa professional, writes again for our blog series ‘Go Mental’. Alex’s journey has given her first-hand experience in mental health awareness from an early age and working in wellness has allowed her to acknowledge and provide a voice of reason when people need it most.
Wow, what a difference a month makes! Here we are again folks, standing on the brink of what used to be the unknown, finding ourselves already equipped and armed with over six month’s worth of experience of lockdown, and there’s the possibility that by the time this is released we could already be back to baking banana bread!
Once again, a whirlwind of emotions and a very hazy vision of the future can leave the most stable of people a little windswept. After all, our foundations are already shaken from the last lockdown, and hardly steady. This month I’m exploring what anxiety feels like, the shame surrounding it and how acknowledging it is the only way to feel better.
For those of us that have met our anxiety head on, lived with it and worked on it, we can recognise why we feel the way we do. However, this year there are so many that have had all the symptoms of anxiety or depression and yet not recognised them, pushed them down deep, and kept on ‘carrying on’.
It’s easy to disregard our feelings and put them to sleep; circumstances play their part and can also be to blame, but how many people are silently experiencing feelings that they have never previously encountered?
The Office for National Statistics stated that ‘feeling stressed or anxious was the most common way adults experiencing some form of depression felt their well-being was being affected; with 84.9% of those interviewed stating this to be the case.
In addition, when feeling stressed or anxious it has been reported in https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/ that some people resort to potentially harmful ways
of coping, including increased alcohol consumption, substance misuse and over eating, putting both their physical and mental health at risk.
Faced now with another lockdown, it’s time to acknowledge those new feelings.
So have you ever asked yourself any of these questions?
What’s that niggle, that feeling like I’m excited but afraid?
Why am I a bit breathless? I’m sure it will go away.
I wonder why everything feels a bit harder at the moment? Am I just tired?
What’s that feeling? … Oh god, now I’m getting all tongue tied, I’ve forgotten the words.
USE YOUR WORDS… where are they? Why can’t I remember?
Maybe I’m just tired…
Why haven’t they replied to my message? I sent it hours ago.
What have I done wrong? Maybe I’m too much? Maybe I said something I shouldn’t have?
Perhaps they just don’t want to message back?
Maybe I’m just tired?
I don’t want to get out of bed today and why won’t my brain switch off? I can’t focus on anything. I feel so sad and just want to sleep. I must be really tired! Ooh what’s that pain? Did I have that before? Where’s that come from? Oh no, what is it? Should I see a doctor ? I can’t, they’re busy and only taking emergency appointments. It’s nothing… but what if it’s not? Oh no it’s fine! I’m sure it won’t kill me… or will it?
I can’t go to the supermarket, no. I just can’t. I don’t want to see anyone or put myself at risk of catching the virus. I’ll stay at home. I’ll get a home delivery and then I won’t even need to get out of my pj’s. I can stay here, safe and sound. It’s full of virus out there, I could stay in here forever.
There’s a stigma that clings to mental health, making it difficult for us to come to terms with the reality of needing a little support. If you consider the importance of the brain and its key function in controlling the body, you would be wise to firstly understand that whatever thoughts you feed your mind will affect your body. If we surround ourselves with a positive environment, our thoughts will be positive. Look at your immediate surroundings, influences, friendships and relationships, are they healthy? Do they make you feel good? Your brain is precious and it needs to be fed and nurtured, just like your body. Consider your life laundry, and let’s sort out a load.
There’s no shame in admitting that you aren’t feeling okay. If you have no issues in telling someone you have the ‘flu, or a stomach bug, there should be no problem in saying that you’re focusing on your mental health and wellbeing. Remember, just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. If someone is in pain, for the most part you can’t see it. Explaining how you feel to someone who can either help or lend support is crucial to feeling better.
The first step to recovery is to admit to yourself that you need help. Stop writing it off, convincing yourself that no one can help and it’s your problem and no one else’s… I have been at this point many times. So, depending on your own preferences and needs, you may well consider trying one of the following:
Telling a friend/Meditating, practising yoga or other holistic practices/Speaking to a doctor
Before you do any of the above I recommend clicking on this link https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/seeking-help-for-a-mental-health-problem/where-to-start/
Mind.org.uk is an awesome tool for you to keep as part of your toolkit, you will realise that you’re not alone, and there’s many ways to help you along. Some of us need a gentle nudge, some need a push, and others need to be hauled towards the help they need.
Almost two years ago I was diagnosed with health related anxiety, and this meant that I overthought physical symptoms that may or may not be real. This overthinking consumed me, robbed me of my life and left me depressed, anxious and scared. Having always lived with anxiety and managed previously with meditation and breathing exercises, I had no idea that medication could seriously give me my life back. Trust me, I’d tried every holistic trick in the book… and for me, they just didn’t cut it. Now, two years on medication and I’m balanced, calm and utterly thankful that now I can enjoy my life.
At a time when we don’t know what’s coming next, we must live each day in the present. Our attitude of gratitude will pave the way to a better tomorrow. You’re far more likely to be happier surrounding yourself with happy people. It’s simple, but at times we all need a reminder of this simple truth.
If we recognise our feelings and tune into them, we can act on them, feel better and live more. Don’t be afraid, because you CAN FEEL BETTER, you don’t need to be at war with yourself.
Until next time, stay safe, be true and remember…
Alex Hurt, Mindfulness, Well-being, Blogs