Positivity

Happy Saturday, everyone!

I say happy, because today I’m sharing with you some of the “good things” that I have observed over the past few weeks.

I recently wrote about daily positives on Instagram and had a whole bunch of lovely messages from people about it, so I thought it would be good to write some more on this subject. Also, being selfish about it, I want to start my weekend on a cheery note, having ended my Friday with a big cry down the phone to my boyfriend, before accidentally knocking over my TV and smashing the screen!

The world feels like a very serious place at the moment, and so I hope none of this is taken the wrong way – but honestly, if I spent every waking minute dwelling on the bad stuff that’s happening, I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I’m not sure how well the world would function if we all spent the next few months hiding under our duvets, and I think the ability we have as humans to find small moments of happiness even in darker times is pretty wonderful. So here goes my list of five positive things I have observed over the past few weeks.

When someone asks how you are, they mean it – and we’re all giving a proper answer. In all the Zoom calls and work meetings I’ve attended in recent weeks, I’ve not heard a single “how are you? I’m fine” exchange. Replies have varied from “Yes, I’m feeling quite positive this week, thanks”. Or, “I’m not sleeping too well so this week is a bit tough”. I really appreciate that this experience is teaching us all to be more open about what’s going on inside our heads, even the not-so-good stuff, and to take more time to genuinely listen to each other.

Life has slowed down. I’m fortunate to still be working and really do feel for those who aren’t. But work aside, I’m not constantly over-committing myself and rushing around to be places. I’m a bit of an introvert anyway – which doesn’t at all mean I dislike spending time with others, but does mean I need time alone to recharge. Since I live alone, I’m filling my time cooking, reading, cross-stitching, writing – all things that I loved before, but found little time to do. While I will be thrilled when I can once again meet friends in the pub or go to a yoga class, I hope I can remember to find a bit more balance and stop saying yes to absolutely everything!

I really appreciate the outdoors – and it’s so much lovelier. When you’re only allowed out once per day, you properly notice your surroundings. I’ve lived walking distance to the Downs for 3 years and barely spent any time walking up there before now, which is ridiculous. But it’s not just amazing open spaces that I’m noticing. It’s bunches of daffodils growing in the park, plants in neighbours’ front gardens and birdsong not being drowned out by traffic noise. Walking just to walk, not always with my earphones in, and not always to get somewhere, is something I really didn’t value enough before.

I’ve found new ways to move. My love of running (while still there deep down) has gone a little off the boil lately. I appreciate a quiet a run on my own after a busy day in the office, but it doesn’t hold quite the same appeal when I’m alone basically all of the time! I saw this as a negative at first, but actually I’ve replaced some of those runs with so many other fun things. Live-streamed HIIT classes, Discoaerobics in my kitchen, lunchtime bodyweight workouts. I’m not suggesting I can do everything every week (see previous point about over-committing!), but I’m having so much fun adding a bit more variety into my workouts, and I’d probably never have bothered had I not been forced to get a bit more creative.

People are, in general, fantastic. I mean, not everyone, clearly. But for every bad example out there, I reckon there are at least a thousand good ones. From a personal point of view, like many people, I’ve spent the last 55-ish days mostly in my own company. Yet I haven’t felt lonely once, which really says a lot about the people I am lucky enough to call friends and family. My personal situation aside, I’ve also loved seeing so many online communities spring up recently, neighbours checking in on each other, people putting pictures in windows and hanging homemade decorations outside to make each other smile. We’re all guilty of allowing life to get busy and taking others for granted at times, so it’s great to have chance to just notice the many ways in which other humans are awesome.

I hope that listing my positives might help prompt a few of you to find some of your own – particularly if you’re having a crying, accidental TV-smashing kind of a day! At the very least, I hope reading this made you smile, and that you have as happy a weekend as is possible xx

Mental Health

Let’s talk about…Anxiety & Uncertainty

“Working From Kitchen”

I had planned to keep my first “proper” post fairly lighthearted so as not to scare you all away from the outset. But I guess the whole point of a personal blog is to write about the stuff that’s going on for me right now, so instead of some running chat or my top 10 favourite porridge toppings (don’t worry, those will come!) we’re jumping straight in and talking about anxiety. More specifically, a weird feeling that has crept up on me this week of being afraid of lockdown ending.

I mean, I’m not entirely sure I even know where to start with this one, and my initial reaction was “what is wrong with you?!” But I suspect I’m not the only one feeling this way, and I think there are some good lessons to be learned here, so bear with me…

Let me start by saying that I definitely don’t want to spend the rest of my life in lockdown. Of course I don’t want us all to be dealing with this terrible virus situation forever. I want to visit my family, and sit in someone’s garden, and drink beer in the sunshine. I want to give my running buddy a huge hug and then chat our way round 10 miles on a Saturday morning. I want to go flat hunting and finally move in with my boyfriend.

But on the flipside – I know how to do this weird version of life that we’re currently doing. The first week was stressful, but then I gradually found a routine. I joined some online fitness classes, figured out the best time of day to get outdoors without dodging a thousand other people, found a way to structure my workload, and set aside time to bake and read. I get out my journal on a Sunday and make a rough timetable for my week (which I don’t rigorously stick to – more on that later!), but the point is that I pretty much know how my week will look.

So when rumblings started in the news about restrictions changing, my all-time number one source of anxiety made an appearance – uncertainty. As you can probably tell already, I am a planner. I invariably sleep better at night if I know I’ve organised my life and thoughts a little bit. I wouldn’t say I’m resistant to change, but I do like to know when and how it’s going to happen. Unfortunately, life in the outside world just isn’t as “plannable” as life at home, and now I need to get my head around that all over again.

It took me a long time to realise that trying to manage anxiety by planning every day in detail is never going to be a success. Lockdown life has allowed me to fall into that trap a little bit, and now I need to dig myself back out. Fortunately, I have some strategies to hand to help me do this, so I thought I’d share them in case they help anyone else:

  • Don’t think in “what-ifs”. If you find your mind going down that route, try to shift your focus and concentrate on what is happening in your life right now, today, this very second.
  • If the endless media speculation is stressing you out, avoid it. While I wouldn’t advocate getting all your news from social media, I’m finding the daily bullet-point summaries from Simple Politics really helpful when I can’t handle anything more.
  • If you must plan, keep it light. Plan your dinner so you know what ingredients to take out of the freezer, note down a couple of to-do list items. Plan just enough to have something to reach for if you’re struggling to focus, but without falling into the trap of thinking you can control every minute of your day.

In a recent episode of my favourite podcast – How To Fail with Elizabeth Day – Mo Gawdat was asked for his tips on dealing with the current uncertainty we are all facing. His response?

“Since when did you ever have certainty?”

I found this so helpful I’ve actually stuck it on a post-it note on my bedroom wall. Ultimately, I think the best way for me personally to become less anxious is by realising that the course of my life can’t really be “planned”, and by focusing my time and energy more on the here and now.

Thanks for reading 🙂 xx

Life

First Post: Who am I and what is this blog all about?

Writing More, Worrying Less

In short – I’m Tanya, one of the many 30-somethings who are happy to call Bristol home. If nothing else, this is a place to write down some of the many thoughts that pop into my head as I navigate my way through this business of being an adult. If I’m lucky, a few other people might visit, and perhaps one or two of them will find something relatable that helps them to navigate life too!

So why start a blog now?

  • Having struggled with anxiety on and off since my late 20’s, I began 2019 with a resolution to waste much less time on relentless worrying, and to turn these experiences into something positive by writing about the things they have taught me. (The fact that I’m writing this first post in May 2020 should tell you something about my tendency to procrastinate.)
  • At 36, I find myself happier being “me” than I have ever been before. Maybe by sharing how I got here, I can help other people be a little bit kinder to themselves.
  • Lastly, I love reading other people’s general ramblings about life…so it only seems fair to share my own too!

What can you expect to find here?

I love many things, but I’m particularly passionate about mental health, well-being and keeping both of those in check by staying fit and active. So expect plenty of my (entirely non-expert) thoughts on those areas. Baking is a favourite hobby, and I love nothing more than a good breakfast, so I imagine there will also be some photos of cake and fancy bowls of porridge. Perhaps a few other things too…my only plan is just to get writing and see where we end up!

If you’ve made it this far…welcome to “Write More, Worry Less”, thanks for reading my little introduction, and I promise not to procrastinate for too long before writing my first “proper” post. Oh, and if you want to find out more about me in the meantime, you can find me hanging out on Instagram most days.