Category Archives: self care

Life with anxiety.

spring flowers at kew gardens

I’ve written a bit about anxiety on the blog before, but never really told my own story. Since it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, here in the UK, it’s time for me to share.

I recently ‘outed’ myself in a consultation with a friend at nutrition school.

She asked to describe how I felt when I felt anxious.

I described a fist clenching, gut wrenching experience, at its worst. A feeling that makes it necessary to prep myself for everyday situations, such as meeting new people, meeting new friends of friends. A feeling that makes it necessary to give myself pep talks to get through situations I would ordinarily be able to manage. A feeling that makes everyday situations seem insurmountable.

I don’t have anxiety, everyday, all day.  It’s at its worst when I’m not taking care of myself, when I’m drinking too much, not getting enough sleep, indulging in all of my food cravings. It’s during these times, my anxiety gets better of me and I go into crisis mode.

Over the years, I’ve learnt how to manage it. Eating well and getting enough sleep are key. Eating well to me, means eating at least 7 servings a day of vegetables (especially green leafy and cruciferous veg!) and fruit, adding in some nuts and seeds in different forms, getting good quality protein, mainly meat and some fish. It also means not having much sugar and drinking lots of water, some kombucha and lovely, warming  herbal teas.

I’ve discovered recently that alcohol exacerbates my anxiety. Which makes sense, knowing that alcohol depletes vitamin B6, a key vitamin for the production of serotonin, the feel good hormone. I was sad to say goodbye to my evening glass of red wine, but even happier to spend the day on an even keen mentally.

How you manage your anxiety? The more I research, the more I discover. There are so many different tools that folks tend to use, from deep breathing techniques, to CBT, to adding and subtracting food to and from their diet, to taking various supplements.

I supplement with a good women’s multivitamin, an omega-3 fish oil with a good DHA to EPA ratio and magnesium, which helps me relax and ‘unclench’ a little. On the advice of a collegue at school, I’ve recently started supplementing with inositol, a substance produced by plants and animals, that belongs in the B family of vitamins. It helps mood regulation and can reduce anxiety.

Fingers crossed, my cobbled together approach seems to be working well so far. What do you do to manage your anxiety on a day to day basis?

Stop telling me to be nice.

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I wrote this on Instagram this morning and wanted to expand it out a little.

In the last three days, I’ve been seeing many posts talking about the need to ‘be nice’ to others as we all process the result of the US election. These posts frustrate me.

What I wonder is – how does it help, in moments of grief, of anger, to hear calls to ‘be nice’, to ‘turn the other cheek’?  It strikes me that these calls to ‘be nice’ are a way for people to hide their discomfort with what’s happening around them. It can be hard to grapple with an uncomfortable conversation about the true beliefs and inherent biases in those that surround you, to hear challenging words, words that may challenge core beliefs and biases.

Rather than ‘being nice’ and sweeping things under the rug, I’m a firm believer that people need an opportunity to process their emotions, especially in these macro moments of shock and horror. Let them feel what they need to feel as long as they’re not hurting anyone.

When you see the increase in racism and xenophobia, it’s hard to hear ‘be nice’. People are suffering and we need to take care of each other.

We need to try and to understand each other more. Let’s constructively challenge assumptions and build new understandings, that are based on truths. Change is messy, uncomfortable and not very nice. But it can be incredibly effective, life-changing, even. Let’s try.

The importance of self-care.

There’s been so much depressing, upsetting news recently that sometimes I feel like shutting off my phone and laptop and burying my head in my pillow until it all goes away.

But it’s not going away, is it? Between Brexit, the US election, even the abuse that Meghan Markle is getting, makes me feel really sad for the world. There’s so much hate bubbling under the surface, hate that’s now fully out in the open, tearing apart families, friends and communities.

Obviously, hiding away isn’t an option, which is why self-care is so important.

We all need to take time out of the relentless news cycles, the phone alert and screaming headlines to slow down and appreciate the small moments in life that bring us joy.

It feels more essential than ever, if we stand a chance to keep moving forward in our lives.

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What do you do for self-care?

I find myself drawn to beautiful bouquets of flowers, the vivid sunrises and sunsets we’ve been having recently, slow meditative cooking and long walks in nature, breathing in fresh air.

I’ve also talked before about how switching off and staying away from news sites & social media has become an essential part of my self-care. I don’t want to shut the world away, but sometimes I want a break from the bad news and bad behaviour. Is that selfish? Is it indulgent? It feels necessary to avoid emotional burnout.

An ode to self-care, rest and reflection.

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I talk a lot about food on this blog, a bit about fitness and a smidgen about love. The eat, the love and the move.

What I’ve been realising this summer is how important rest and a sense of peace are to your own self-love, self-care and ability to love others.

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By September this year, I was feeling a bit done. Burnt-out on all of the demands on me, my time and my spirit. I felt like I was giving a lot and not getting a lot back.

I’ve come through to the other side of this feeling with a reminder that there are lots of seasons in our lives. There will be seasons of unrelenting busyness and there will be seasons of peace and reflection. There will be times that you give a lot and you don’t get a lot back.

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We need to give ourselves permission to go with this, knowing that these are the ebbs and flows of life. Living at an unrelenting pace is just not sustainable.

Our trip to Mallorca a few weeks ago gave me a enough distance not only from the UK, but from my everyday life to remind me of all of this. It gave me a chance to take a deep breathe, get away from the rush of London and listen to my own rhythm for a while. It also reminded me that I love taking photographs with my DSLR and that I should do more of this!

What is your self-care routine? What do you do when the rush of the city, of life gets a bit too much?