The right people

A message I’m always keen to get across is that as much as it’s important to open up, what matters even more is that you do it with the right people.

For some that may be obvious but others might find themselves wondering who qualifies as ‘right’.

It really depends on the individual.

However, there are a few questions you can ask yourself like…

How do I want to feel when I open up?

What do I want from the person I open up to?

Then come up with the answers and think about the people you know that align with this.

For example, if what you want from the person you open up to is emotional support and a listening ear, it’s no use opening up to someone who is just going to tell you what to do. Or if you want to feel calm and supported it’s no use talking to someone that leaves you feeling anxious.

Further to that think about your past experiences. Can you think of a time you opened up to someone and regretted it? Can you think of a time you were glad you opened up to someone?

I’ve found that these types of situations, when you know what you want, you’ll know what you’re willing to accept.

Sometimes that means being a little more picky about who you choose to open to.

Rest, reset and refresh

If you go through a period of stress or anxiety, something that can work wonders is taking a break.

It might seem counter productive and you might feel like the better thing to do is pull yourself deeper into what ever has gotten you off balance.

But further exposing yourself to thing that isn’t making you feel good is probably not going to make you feel any better.

What you might need is to take a break.

In this day and age, in our go, go, go society it can be challenging to really take a break from your day to day life.

And so I think it’s important to figure out what helps you rest, reset and refresh your mind.

It could be a walk in nature where you’re away from buildings and cars but surrounded by greenery and wild flowers.

It could be a massage, something that forces you have to stay still and you have to put your phone away.

And once you’re done you’ll know that it worked when you can go back to thing that had you feeling stressed but you now feel calm and at peace.

The worst possible thing

What do you do when the worst possible thing happens.

And by worst possible thing I mean something unanticipated, something that you didn’t plan for that throws you off course.

The common and perhaps most easiest way to react is panic.

Like a sort of ‘Oh my goodness, what I am I gonna do, everything is going wrong, this has gotta be liek the worst possible thing, what am I gonna do now?’

Turns out the popular and easy reaction isn’t particularly helpful.

Instead my experience has taught me that the much more useful thing to is think. Go through the possible scenarios and come up with a solution. Once you’re able to remove some of uncertainty suddenly the worst possible thing isn’t so bad.

Granted you can’t control how things will turn out. However, what you can do is remind yourself that you are capable of overcoming the unexpected.

Self-deception and the power of checking in

Sometimes we trick ourselves into accepting things that we don’t want. We make excuses and convince ourselves that we’re so totally content with our current circumstances.

This happens for a variety of reasons but a major factor is our core beliefs. If you don’t think there is something better out there for you then will always settle even if that means being perpetually unhappy.

The wake up call that you’re not as happy as you think will come when you least expect it. Perhaps you will encounter someone or something that represents what you really want. Then suddenly you find yourself wondering how you could have ever thought that you were happy with what you had accepted.

It’s like clearing the colour from your rose tinted classes and finally seeing things as they are.

A great way to stop yourself accepting less is to check in with yourself regularly. When you’re not where you should be you can end up getting so used to the anxiety that you don’t even realise that it’ there until you leave

Make a note of what you want in different areas of your life and think about how it would feel.

Lets say you moved into a tiny apartment in a neighbourhood you don’t like but you tell yourself you’re happy because you’re saving money and you don’t even spend much time at home anyway. That’s you convincing yourself that you’re okay with not feeling comfortable in your local area and that you don’t want to spend time at home.

But if the notes you make on what you want from your home and how you want to feel don’t align with your reality then you might want to make some changes. That might mean paying a little more to be in an area, in a bigger apartment or both.

That’s the power of checking in, it allows you to identify whether the life you’re creating is the life you actually want.

Self help

Perhaps when you were young, someone taught you that when you feel overwhelmed, step away and give yourself a moment.

Maybe you grew up practising that and maybe you didn’t. If you didn’t you might find that as an adult when you feel overwhelmed you don’t quite know how to handle it.

The feeling might end up growing and growing to the point where it’s now unbearable. Then all of a sudden you remember that in the past it helped to give yourself a moment.

Even though you know it could help, you don’t do it straight away because you’re almost skeptical. It might not work, you might end up feeling exactly the same.

But then you do it, you step away, get some fresh air and take a few deep breaths.

It helps.

You feel calmer afterwards.

In that moment you remember that (even though you forget time and time again), you’re capable of supporting yourself in difficult or uncomfortable situations.

Don’t just talk to anyone

I think I’ve used the phrase talking helps at least half a dozen times on this site (turns out I was exactly spot on as shown below).

Talking helps

Making a breakthrough

Worth seeking advice from

Managing stress and deadlines

When you don’t have anyone to talk to

Unexpected but needed

I say it because that’s what has works for me and like everything I share here it comes from my experience. If this was around 3 or 4 years ago things would have been very different. Back then, I wasn’t talking about the challenges that I was facing or things that I struggled with because I didn’t know how.

Plus, at the time I didn’t think that talking would help.

But I also think a lot of people forget to mention that it’s more than just talking to anyone.

For example, the person that is feeling suicidal might not to find much solace in talking to their friends. Their friends aren’t equipped or trained to help in that kind of situation.  Friends not knowing what to say doesn’t make them bad people.

Instead they might find it more helpful to talk to a professional, someone with training or someone who can relate to their experience.

Further to that, think about you want the outcome from talking to be. Of course there’s no magic fix but if you just want someone to listen and leave you feeling hopeful, talking to the person that will just dismiss your issues probably isn’t the best idea.

And if you don’t have anyone to talk to, that’s okay too.

If you live in the UK or Ireland call Samaritans on 116 123.

For anyone else the country you live in probably has a helpline you can call too.

The easiest way to get things done

Is to start.

Not soon, not later and not tomorrow but now.

So often we find ourselves overwhelmed by our ever-growing to-do lists that we end up thinking more planning, more thinking and more organising is the way forward. But at the crux of it all without taking action, nothing is going to change.

You’ll be surprised at how at ease you feel once you start getting things done and actually commit to it for a chunk of time wholeheartedly instead of half-heatedly. Not long after starting you’ll find yourself getting into the flow of it and the anxious feels will begin to simmer.

Often it is merely the thought of doing the work that is causing you to feel overwhelmed not actually doing it.

Do you really want to do it?

When someone comes to you, asking some thing of you, how do you respond?

Do you simply think about whether or not you want to do it?

Do you worry about how the other person will react if you say no?

So often we grow up inadvertently being taught to people please and unless we later unlearn it, it stays with us.

Then you find yourself saying yes to something you don’t want to do because you’re worried about hurting someones feelings, to the point where you place that above doing what feels right for you.

If that’s something you can relate to, you might want to start learning to say no.

It gets easier over time, practice makes perfect after all.

Don’t focus on the fear

It is so easy to get carried away.

There are lots of things that you could be afraid of but it doesn’t mean you should be.

I find that the more you focus on fear the more you amplify it until all of a sudden you’re having heart palpitations over something that would be better off as a passing thought.

There’s so much more to you and your life than the things you’re afraid of.

And sure it’s easier said than done but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try.

Go with the flow

It’s hard to balance tense and triggered aspects of self with the softer more malleable bits.

My anxiety makes me tense and rigid but it also deeply influences the way I write. But my softer more malleable side deeply influences my writing too.

It is often through writing that my anxieties subside and I am able to go with the flow, follow the words and not worry about the order or things making perfect sense but to instead stay inflow allowing the words to pour.

To be able to follow the flow no matter how brief or specific is something worth cherishing. When you’re tense and rigid or feeling overwhelmed by life it seems impossible that there’s any other way, but there is.

The flow is always there whether you choose that path or not. You can go back to it at any point because the moment you realise that what you’re doing isn’t working or should be different is the moment the solution becomes available.