Distraction

After a crappy few days, there is nothing better than focusing yourself on a task to help calm any bad feeling you may have. It is one of those things that seems impossible to do at times. I guess the important thing is not to force yourself to do something, especially if it is something that you may enjoy. Because forcing yourself on something you actually like, may take the joy away. It is supposed to be a respite for you, not simply another thing to give you anxiety.

I know, with myself, when I have a ‘bad turn’, I usually have to ride it out. I always try to do something, but if I am not in the right frame of mind, then nothing will help. I can easily sit and stare at the same page of a book for an hour, or zone out and miss 2/3 episodes of a TV show. These things that are normally relaxing for me, don’t seem to have the desired effect. There was a time, when I was younger, I actually thought my ‘zoning out’ was simply another thing that made me broken. Because for a long time, that is what I thought of myself. An unfuctioning, broken person. It has taken years of work to realise that I needed to give myself a bit of a break. Being harsh on yourself for having shit mental health, just makes your mental health worse. It is a vicious circle.

When I realised this, I started giving myself a time scale. For example, still staring at the same book page after 15 minutes, close the book and give it a rest. It became a rule that I followed, something I had to train myself to do. Because, if I didn’t, I would do nothing, and then feel bad because I had done nothing. I think that is the hardest thing about trying to self-manage your mental health. You should be strict enough with yourself that you push yourself forward, but you don’t want to be too strict and send yourself backwards. It is hard, and something it has taken me many years to try and get better at. But, I am getting there slowly.

What can be a distraction? Well, anything really. Here is a wee list of things that I use to help me feel a bit better.

Go for a walk- This could be anywhere. Luckily we have a lot of coastal walks around where I live, and I find the smell of the sea air quite relaxing. No matter where it is, a walk is something that gives you the good feeling of exercise. You may go to the park, walk to the shops, walk to a friends or even just walk round the block. I love walking, as it always has the ability of helping me de-stress.

Listen to music- Music can be great. It is a good way to block the world out, which is good if that is what is giving you anxiety. I have a variety of music tastes, and one day I’ll be listening to Pantera, the next Steps, and then some Faithless. Because different things can trigger my anxiety, different music can ease it. Unfortunately, I have a habit of leaving my iPod (with my full music collection) at home, but that is where iTunes, Spotify or Amazon Music come in handy. Every few weeks I make a new playlist. I pick a range of songs, from all different genres. It means, I can have the playlist saved to my phone, have music that is for my mood (whatever that may be), and it doesn’t take up all my phone’s memory.

Watch a TV show- This is hit and miss with me. I don’t have a lot of patience to sit and watch a TV show a lot of the time. But when I am in the mood, I can sit for several hours with the same program. The main services I use are Netflix and Crunchyroll. Again, I have a variety of shows that I am working through. So I can put on The Big Bang Theory when I need background noise, Pretty Little Liars when I want to sit and focus on something longer than 25 minutes or Naruto because I LOVE NARUTO. This again, is because my mood is never the same 2 days in a row, so I like variety.

Watch Youtube- I am addicted to youtube. It is the app I go on to when I am getting ready for bed. I love the variety. I love the variety of content that I can find on there. Watching some daily vlogs do inspire me sometimes, by seeing how motivated other people are, it kind of motivates me. I also like retro gaming, tech stuff (mostly mobiles and computers) and anime (Naruto) commentaries. The good thing is with youtube, especially on the most frequent app updates, you can click one video, and it will automatically set a playlist with similar videos, that it plays automatically. It never fails to cheer me up.

Draw something- I used to be better at this, than what I am now. Nothing I do, ever, compares to how drawing and painting makes me feel. Because of the lack of practice I do, the quality is kind of crappy, but that doesn’t even really matter to me. Whether the cat I drew, looks like a cat, doesn’t matter. I have bought myself these colouring books (the colouring for grown-ups, ones), and as much as I do enjoy them, they aren’t the same as doodling my own wee pattern, and colouring that in. My sketchbook is a mess, but it is mine, and sometimes I can look back and see progress in myself, in how I feel. Which is nice.

As I have said before though, you can do almost anything to distract yourself if you are struggling with mental health. But, do remember not to force yourself to do anything, give it a go, but if you can’t focus, stop. These things are usually so good at being distractions, because you enjoy doing them.

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Mental health is hard. If you are really struggling, you can visit your GP for help. I have found both Breathing Space  and Samaritans to be very helpful. You are never alone as what you feel, and there are so many people out there to help. 

Exercise Is Evil

Okay. I know exercise isn’t really evil, in fact I enjoy exercise a lot, something I have into on this blog before.

The truth is, I am sore. I am very sore. This is mostly because I pushed myself at the gym yesterday, and did a lot at work today. This means that I limped home at the end of the day, feeling a bit sorry for myself. And, a bit like how a person after a night out on the town, may curse the existence of alcohol, I am cursing the existence of the gym.

So, to make myself feel better, I had some chips for tea and a nice long +90 minute bath. I am still sore, but I feel relaxed, so it easier to deal with. There is a myth that when it comes to exercise, the school of thought ‘no pain, no gain’ is the way to go. But I don’t believe it is. When I first started exercising, I did a little research first, as I was a bit nervous about hurting myself. I have problems with my joints, in general, where if I, for example, lift something heavy, it can cause my hands and arms to hurt. Nothing, that some pain killers can’t fix, but it is annoying.

Anyway, I looked into the best ways to gradually ease myself into exercise. And one of the things that is widely promoted, is that if you push your muscles too far, they can tear and get damaged. This is what can happen when you feel pain after exercise. This is why it is important that you warm up, before you do any exercise. Whilst I usually do warm up, I feel like I did too much. I walked 5km on the treadmill and cycled 10k, which is over double what I usually do. And that, is what I think caused the pain. Now, at that point, when I was sore, I should have had a bath. But I didn’t. So I went to work today, did a lot of bending and lifting, and the pain got worse.

I’ll survive. And, now I’m just having a lazy night with Youtube and my bed.

Not as dirty as it sounds.

Gym Bunny

Today marked my first gym visit of 2017. I had a wee break at the tail end of last year, with the busy period at my work, and then Christmas. I can honestly say, that I missed the good feeling that I get from an hour or so working out. It is almost like I can be a different person, a less stressed, happier person.

I started going to the gym in May last year, after my work advertised a good deal with the local leisure center trust. There was no contract, so I thought I would try it out. I have wanted to go to the gym for years, but I was so scared. I am not the smallest of people, weight wise, I never have been, so I was really nervous about going to the gym. I think I always thought that people would be mean, like what I have experienced at other places. Something that has made me feel so stupid, and useless before. Total strangers thinking it is okay to berate me as they pass, because I am overweight. Not a nice feeling.

But, I pushed through my negative feelings for a change. And I went. And I discovered that there were people, just like me, using the facilities. Sounds stupid, but I think it is easy to assume that the only people who use gyms and such, are people who are already fit. Which is not true. It is people who want to better themselves, whatever their physical state. And, when I started exercising, I felt so much better. It felt like, all those anxieties that I felt upon initially walking into the gym, just went away. It was like a massive weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It was an addictive feeling, and I started to go regular. I would spent time at the gym on my days off, and it really effected my mood.

I have been a wee bit stressed out this week, so I thought that I would take the opportunity with my quiet weekend, to get back into the gym. So I went today, and that great feeling came rushing back to me. Which has been a real boost to keep on track with my plans for the year, and forming new habits. Although, doing exercise was initially to get me fitter, it has been the improvement in my mental health that has kept me so interested. The shift of my goal from weight-loss to focusing on feeling better, was a game changer. It also meant that when I didn’t lose as much weight as I wanted, I wasn’t disheartened. To be able to commit to things better, like I am aiming for 2017, I need to shift perspective on my goals. Hopefully I can figure out a way to do that.

Plodding On

Sorry about the lack of updates over the last few weeks. As I explained in my previous post, I have been struggling with anxiety recently. It is different to when I have bad bouts of depression, as I talking about what negativity going on in my head actually helps ease the stress I feel because of it. However, with anxiety, I feel the absolute opposite. The more I think about what is causing me to panic, even just to blog about it, the more I actually panic.

It has become a problem, because I feel I am only now getting to grips with my depression, and now there is another hurdle. It’s not that anxiety wasn’t there before, it’s just depression kind of takes over everything. Like, your head is in such a fog because of the depression, that whilst anxiety did happen, there was no reason for it. But as my mind has become clearer, especially over the last few months, my anxiety has gone up. And it is a very hard thing to manage. Sometimes it feels never-ending, like you deal with one thing, for another to come up and hit you for six.

I have worked through my previous mental health issues, by writing about it. It has always helped. But with anxiety, when I think about what has maybe triggered me during a day, I can feel myself panicking all over again. And it can take hours for me to calm back down and stop crying.

I am trying to work through it. If I experience something that triggers my anxiety, I try to leave that situation. Which has meant, that because I have been having panic attacks near enough every day, I haven’t even wanted to write anything. I couldn’t face even thinking about what was going on in my life, so I didn’t didn’t even attempt to blog at all. It is not a nice feeling, being unable to rely on the one thing that has helped me through all my mental health issues. But, as with everything else, I will find away through it.

My focus is on the gym and getting fitter. It has helped my depression a lot, but I am finding it is helping me get a clearer mind. And, whilst I am still having a lot of anxiety issues, I have a clearer mind to deal with it. It means that if I get that feeling in my stomach when my heart starts thumping, I know I need to try and get away from what is making me feel like that. Clarity of mind, really does help me recognise the signs of an up coming panic attack. Maybe things will get easier, if I stay focused.

A Little Tuckered Out

Seriously, exercise is harder than people make out. I walked 5 miles today, which is a slight increase of my 0 miles a day.

Scotland enjoyed a beautiful April day, where me and my mates walked along the Coastal Path. It helped me realise how lucky I am to live somewhere, where I have the opportunity to enjoy the countryside so close to my home. I think its easy to take our surroundings for granted and not appreciate them.

Anyways, I kinda hurt right now. My body isn’t used to being used so much. My feet, back, legs and head are sore. To be honest, it would be great just to go an lie in my bed.

At least it’s the weekend. Which is awesome. Although I am sure that it will go too fast, as normal.

playing– Good Charlotte- The Truth
mood– a little ill
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