Sarah Bolitho is a personal development coach who specialises in helping women who have encountered change in their lives, this could be going back to work after a career break, being newly single or who just want to give their lives a good old shake-up.
She has recently gone through lots of changes and shaken up her own life, so has started a podcast, 'from surviving to thriving' to log her adventures, whether great or small! Find it on most platforms or at Fabnewlous.
From Worrier to Warrior
This is a strange time. Spring is upon us with summer following closely. The anticipation of t-shirts, flip flops and eating alfresco would normally be on our minds - and yet most of us are confined to our homes - alone, or with just our immediate family and our worries for company.
I’ve been through some very stressful times, most recently my daughter had a significant crisis at the same time as my mother’s physical and mental health deteriorated to the point where she couldn’t live alone any more. We lived 300 miles apart from each other – three of us at opposite ends of the country!
I coped by making sure I got rid of anything that I either couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with at the time. I made sure I ate well, slept as well as I could and exercised at least once a day, even if it was a 10-minute walk. I also took ashwagandha as I’d heard it can be helpful for stress. I got through it and all is well now.
The main lesson I learned from this was that we can (and do) cope when we need to. However, it can mean tackling the causes of your worries or fears, avoiding the catastrophising trap, and letting go of anything that uses energy that you need for the immediate and more significant issues. It also means putting yourself first and taking time out for self-care at least once a day.
We all worry
Many of our worries are linked to anxiety and stress, which are very similar, and are both very normal emotions. Stress is a transient response to any demands on us, both physical and mental. It can be a good thing, it drives us, inspires us and helps us meet our deadlines! Anxiety is more of an anticipatory reaction to something that might, or might not, happen. At its normal level it keeps us safe, it stops us doing things that might be dangerous.
When worry becomes excessive, it can overwhelm our thoughts and behaviours, impact on our mental health and create disproportionate fear and nervousness, even of normal situations.
Facing our fears
We can overlook the causes of our worry as we tend to catastrophise, to focus on the worst-case scenario. However, if we focus to identify the root cause of our main fears, we can do something about them.
Start by making a list of everything that worries you now, treat this as a brain dump, write down whatever is on your mind without too much thought. There is no right or wrong here, big or small and no one else will see this so just let your writing flow. Your list could include major issues like financial implications of the current pandemic, or minor, like your grey roots showing (maybe not minor!) – ANYTHING that worries you goes on the list.
Even writing it all down seems to help. The next step is to now cross off anything that you either can’t change (world situations) or isn’t important right now. Taking even a small amount of control like this helps us realise we can cope. Now you can see the things you can change, or that represent the real cause of your concerns. Even if you need to break them down into smaller chunks so they are easier to cope with.
Hex the habits
Worry is a habit, and as our brains like to take the path of least resistance, the more you worry, the easier it gets. We start worrying about big issues, and soon we are worrying about all the much smaller, more trivial things too. Then it seems to be easier to worry than to try and find a solution.
It takes a while to create a new mindset, but using simple techniques like going for a walk, exercising, meditation, relaxation, tapping or breathing techniques when you feel at your most anxious, will help you create a more positive outlook and distract you from worry. Tackling small things at first helps too, like a warm-up for tackling the main issues or worries!
Strong from the inside
Looking after your health is absolutely essential too. Eating well is vital; a nourished brain is a strong brain. So prioritise healthy food like fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, protein and water. Minimise caffeine, alcohol, sugary or highly processed foods as these will not help your brain function well.
Everything looks better after a good night’s sleep, doesn’t it? If you are not sleeping, have a look at your evening habits and see where you can create a more calming and restful routine that promotes sleep. This will probably include staying away from the news late at night!
Consider high-quality supplements that may help you manage anxiety or promote sleep to support your mental health and wellbeing which will help you manage your worry. I found Ashwagandha to make a very real difference, and Magnesium is also well recommended to support good sleep.
Self-care is an important part of our holistic health so put yourself first at some point every day – even if it's for half an hour! This is the equivalent of putting on your oxygen mask first and is a priority. A relaxing bath, a home facial, reading a book or magazine, listening to music or a snooze on a garden chair will remind you that you matter, give your mind and body some much-needed attention and boost your energy reserves. It's not a luxury, it's essential!
The path from worrier to warrior may not be straight or speedy, but by listening to what is going on in our heads, tackling our fears and taking care of ourselves, we will get there 😊
Stay well and happy, beautiful one. Lots of love.
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