During my 3 weeks of work experience, my cousin invited my 2 sisters and I to her birthday dinner. It was at a restaurant in central Edinburgh, and she’d invited about 20 people. My youngest sister couldn’t go because she was working. I initially didn’t want to go as I didn’t know anyone who was going except my middle sister and my two cousins, and I DEFINITELY didn’t want to go out clubbing (which is what was planned for after the meal). However, I decided that I would go along to the restaurant in an attempt to face my fears.
Unfortunately, the entire evening, and the conversation going on around me, reminded me of the song (if one can even call it a song) that I took the title from (I definitely wouldn’t choose to listen to it, but I was subjected to it). I was really anxious throughout much of the evening, but my sister is the only person who knows about my anxiety (my cousins know absolutely nothing about my mental health problems), and isn’t usually particularly helpful/ supportive. I didn’t want to mention that I was anxious in front of everyone, so I texted her. She looked at her phone, gave me a couple of (probably condescending) pats on the shoulder, and then went back to talking/ boasting to our cousin’s friends. My two cousins were also obviously busy talking to other people, so I was pretty much sat twiddling my thumbs, wanting to leave, and trying not to have a panic attack, for most of the evening. My cousin’s boyfriend’s sister sat next to me at one point and attempted to have a conversation with me, but I was obviously too awkward for her, as she soon moved her chair over to a group of other people. So on one side, I had no one sitting next to me (which made me feel even worse about myself, and like an extremely weird and unlikeable person), and on the other, I had my sister constantly boasting to my cousin’s friends about university life, her boyfriend/ sex life, clubbing/ drinking, and so on. The weird thing is that my sister told me before we got there that she didn’t really like that particular group of people, yet she spent the entire evening trying to one-up them.
Maybe this is just me being really bitter and grumpy/ weird, but all the conversations going on around me seemed to be very superficial and vapid. Like I said, it seemed that most people were talking/ boasting about their social lives/ nights out, and about various things they did while drunk. Now obviously, as someone who has a virtually non-existent social life, perhaps I just interpreted it this way. But with my sister at least, she certainly did seem to be trying to make herself/ her life appear better than the lives of the other people she was talking to. I just found it all rather odd. Then there was the guy who kept loudly boasting about the fact that he’d once managed to take over a hundred selfies on another person’s phone without them noticing. I felt like saying to him: “What do you want, a medal?” I felt like a complete alien, being there.
At the end of the evening, people were trying to convince me to go out clubbing with them, but by then, I had had more than enough anxiety for one evening, and just wanted to go home. Thankfully, I had work experience the next day, so used that as an excuse for leaving early. I didn’t enjoy the evening at all, and spent most of it just waiting until I could go home. I can’t tell if I wouldn’t be able to get on with most people my age, or if I would be able to get on with more like-minded individuals. What I quickly realised is that I didn’t have much in common with those people. I feel so alienated when it comes to most people my age. And I think that most of them see me as being very weird/ antisocial. Oh well…at least I’ve learned (I think) not to force myself to go along to social events if I feel that I probably won’t enjoy them, and don’t have much in common with the other people there.
Best Boiler Repair. I was asked to repair a Boiler for a customer who suffered from panic attacks but, I did not know this at the time of asking. I asked her, How Long Do Panic Attacks Last, i had a thought, i should change the subject. I starting talking about her boiler and how […]
I mentioned in a previous post that I was attempting online dating again and that I might be meeting up with a guy from one of the sites. Well we did end up meeting up, and things have gone really well so far. I’ll need to write about our first date at some point, actually, as it makes for a funny story, in terms of how mortifyingly/ hilariously (depending on how you look at it) awkward I am. We’ve been going out for almost two months now, and I now have a boyfriend (!!!) Trust me when I say that no one is more surprised than I am! I was thoroughly convinced that I would never be in a relationship, given my mental health issues, unattractiveness, and low self-esteem. I still can’t really believe it now. This is a very prolonged and elaborate dream that I’m having. I really don’t want to mess this up, but I’m worried that all my issues that I mentioned above will inevitably ruin things. He knows all about my social anxiety and history of depression, and has so far been extremely patient and understanding, but it is still a worry. I have zero relationship experience (and not even much experience with friendships), and, as I mentioned before, being in a relationship/ getting close to someone is the area in which my anxiety and low self-esteem are most intense. I am also absolutely dreading meeting his parents (he has already met all of my immediate family, but his parents live up in the Highlands, so it will be some time before I have the opportunity to meet them, if everything continues to go well), even though they seem like lovely people. Everything in a relationship is so new and daunting to me.
While I’m of course really happy about finally having found someone I really like (and who apparently likes me) enough to be in a relationship, I am having huge issues with cognitive dissonance. For example, I can’t believe him when he says that he really likes me or that he finds me attractive, because most of my previous life experiences have taught me that I’m unlikeable/ unlovable, and that I’m hideously unattractive. Therefore according to the sum of my life experience and conditioning, he’s lying. And then I get suspicious and start to worry about what else he might be lying about. Stupid brain. All of this has made me realise that low self-esteem is my biggest issue/ obstacle. I’m currently reading a book on self-compassion in an attempt to address this. Another thing that I’m worried about is that I have intense anxiety/ issues around physical intimacy (I find it really difficult to talk about that kind of thing, but will hopefully write about it in more detail at some point, as I imagine it’s quite a common issue in those of us with SA). Even though he’s been super patient and understanding about this so far, I worry that my issues with this will eventually cause his patience to run out. Anyway…negative rant over.
It feels so great to finally have someone special in my life. I thought that romantic relationships would only ever be something that happened to other people, not to me. I’ve been so lucky to find someone so caring, patient and understanding when it comes to me and my mental health. I had the courage to be open with him about my issues, and he has accepted me, anxiety and all. I feel like this is someone that I may actually be able to trust and open up to completely. Although there are a lot of things about getting close to someone that make me really anxious, I have become so much more comfortable around him already (probably like a different person compared to how anxious I was on our first date), so I am hopeful that I will continue to improve and won’t let my anxiety get in the way of this part of my life. Even if things ultimately don’t work out, I’ve still really enjoyed our time together, and have some new happy memories to add to my collection. Any friendship or relationship that I have in my life is very precious to me. I won’t take this for granted, and I will certainly cherish this far more than most people.
If your social anxiety is anything like mine, you’ll most likely have those persistent niggling thoughts every time you approach a social situation. They probe your brain and infect it like a virus, whispering nasty things not just to you but about you. These thoughts attempt to establish themselves as truth until we believe them above everything else.
Thoughts that if said out loud by a real live person to someone we love, we’d accuse them of bullying.
Imagine your best friend, brother or sister, being told “You’re not good enough”, “Everybody in the room is going to laugh at you”, “Everything you say is wrong and nobody likes being your friend”. How would you feel about the person expressing those poisonous words?
Would you want your loved one to invite them into their life and trust them? Would you want them to listen to their demeaning and cruel dialogue? Would you stand back and watch that person chip away at your loved one’s self-esteem without saying a word? I doubt that very much.
You would probably want to protect them from this person. You’d brand a relationship like that abusive and toxic.
Why is it then, that we let our social anxiety talk to us in that way? We convince ourselves that all the negative things that creep into our mind is true. We give it such a big platform that it takes over our lives, sometimes so much that we avoid things we’d actually rather like to do. Instead of thinking of the potential any social situation may have, we think of how we might screw it up, or how it might hurt us.
Maybe, we should think about our anxious thoughts as we would a person talking to someone we love. Every time that voice chimes in to tell you that “you don’t fit in” or “everyone here thinks you’re weird”, ask yourself how you’d react if you heard a random person saying that to someone you care about? How wrong those words sound out loud.
Let’s give our negative thoughts and self doubt less power.
In the United States, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults age 18 and older, or 18.1 percent of the population every year. The diagnosis is the most common mental illness in the U.S.
Sadly, less than 37 percent of people with anxiety receive treatment.
For example, some individuals panic upon boarding an aircraft, others find it impossible to enter a room with a spider on the wall and again others prefer the staircase over the elevator — even to get to the 10th floor — because riding in elevators elevates their heart rate.
Therefore, what sounds like funny quirks is often debilitating for the sufferers. Sometimes their anxiety can affect them to a point that they are unable to follow a normal daily routine.
Care for the disorder has improved significantly with the introduction of cognitive behavioral therapy and the technique of deliberately exposing anxiety patients to the situations they feel threatened by — under the individual psychological supervision of an expert.
However, CBT appears to help some more than others.
A new German study led by Professor Martin J. Herrmann, a psychologist at the Center of Mental Health of the Würzburg University Hospital, explored strategies to improve patients’ response to cognitive behavioral therapy.
One supplemental method was the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation. During transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a magnetic coil is placed near the head of the person receiving the treatment.
The coil produces a rapidly changing magnetic field which sends magnetic pulses through the cranium into the brain. There it triggers an action potential in the neurons and the neuron transmits an impulse.
Although the technique has been around only for a few decades, it is routinely used in research and diagnostics. “We knew from previous studies that a specific region in the frontal lobe of the human brain is important for unlearning anxiety,” Herrmann said.
He said initial studies have shown that magnetically stimulating this brain region can improve the effectiveness of unlearning anxiety responses in the laboratory.
In the recently published study, the team investigated whether the technique would help to relieve anxiety associated with a fear of heights.
Researchers studied 39 participants with a pronounced fear of heights. Virtual reality was used to take the participants to dizzying heights during two sessions. “The people feel actual fear also in a virtual reality, although they know that they are not really in a dangerous situation,” Herrmann said.
The scientists stimulated the frontal lobe of some of the anxiety patients for about 20 minutes before entering the virtual world; the other group was only administered a pseudo stimulation.
“The findings demonstrate that all participants benefit considerably from the therapy in virtual reality and the positive effects of the intervention are still clearly visible even after three months,” Herrmann said.
What is more, by stimulating the frontal lobe, the therapy response was accelerated.
Next, the researchers want to study whether this method is also suitable to treat other forms of anxiety by conducting a further virtual reality therapy study for arachnophobic (fear of spiders) patients.
Source: University of Würzburg /EurekAlert
Photo: People suffering from a fear of heights experience the anxiety also in virtual reality — even though they are aware that they are not really in a dangerous situation. Credit: VTPlus.
New research supports an emerging theory that a PH imbalance in our body causes unexpected panic attacks. Panic disorder is a syndrome characterized by spontaneous and recurrent episodes of incapacitating anxiety.
The condition typically emerges during adolescence or early adulthood and is often emotionally and physically debilitating.
Physical symptoms can include heart palpitations, sweating and/or chills, trouble breathing and dizziness, nausea and even chest pain.
Although significant progress in both diagnosis and treatment has been made with panic disorder, professionals are uncertain as to what triggers the panic symptoms.
However, there is new evidence that a pH imbalance disruption in the body, known as acidosis, can unexpectedly cause the panic attack.
In a new study, researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) have found that a particular receptor in the body — acid-sensing T cell death associated gene-8 (TDAG8) — may be associated with the physiological response in panic disorder.
The research, a collaboration between Jeffrey Strawn, M.D., and Renu Sah, Ph.D., appears online in advance of publication in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
The TDAG8 receptor, a pH sensor, was first identified in immune cells of the body where it regulates inflammatory responses. Studies of animal models in Sah’s lab identified TDAG8 in immune cells of the brain, called microglia.
“Although we had reported the potential relevance of TDAG8 in panic physiology in the lab, we were uncertain whether the receptor would play a role in panic disorder. It was important for us to validate this in patients with this disorder,” says Sah.
To do this, the UC research team embarked on a basic science-clinical collaboration, seeking to understand the receptor’s expression in adolescents and young adults.
“We evaluated the role of this receptor in patients with panic disorder (including adolescents who were close to the onset of panic disorder).
We saw a relationship between this receptor and panic disorder symptoms, in addition to differences between patients with panic disorder and healthy individuals,” says Strawn.
The study evaluated blood samples of 15 individuals between the ages 15 to 44 with a diagnosis of panic disorder and 17 healthy control participants. Anxiety symptom severity was also assessed in the study.
The pilot study is the first to evaluate the relationship between the TDAG8 genetic expression among individuals with panic disorder as compared to people without the disorder.
“We found an association with TDAG8 and symptom severity, and we observed that there was a relationship between this receptor and treatment response in patients who had been treated with antidepressants.”
Strawn says the findings show a direct link between increased genetic expression and severity of panic disorder. Moreover, treatment for the disorder was associated with a lower genetic expression and raises the possibility that pharmacological therapy facilitates a “remission” of symptoms because of suppressed actions of TDAG8.
“It will be important for additional studies to further explain the functional relevance of TDAG8 and associated inflammatory processes as well as other acid sensors in patients with panic disorder to explore the role of TDAG8 with predicting treatment response,” he says.
Sah notes that further research could demonstrate whether altered TDAG8 is a result of a genetic variation or other factors.
She also says that in future studies, perhaps drugs targeting TDAG8 or associated inflammatory responses may be developed for panic disorder.
Source: University of Cincinnati
A couple of weeks ago, I put feelers out there, to see if you lovely lot would be interested in me doing a blog series, describing what things I’ve been doing to tackle my social anxiety and any exposure experiments I’ve been doing. The initial idea seemed to go down quite well, so now I’m putting it into practice.
Before I just go ahead and tell you what I’ve been upto, I first want to explain what I mean by “social anxiety exposures” to anybody that’s scratching their head in confusion at this point. Exposure Therapy is a common type of treatment for anxiety, usually used in CBT, where you face your fears gradually. You’re basically exposing yourself to the thing that scares you but in smaller, easier steps and instead of doing things like, avoiding the situation, running away, making excuses to leave, you stay in the situation until your anxiety level drops.
I love this kind of therapy technique and even talk about it in my free anxiety guide. It’s been a long time since I finished therapy but I always make sure I keep up with using the techniques I learned there.
Here’s just a few things I’ve done in the last few weeks, while tackling my social anxiety…
I’ve travelled abroad before, in fact I’ve been much further away from home in the past but it had been such a long time, that for some reason I became extremely anxious on the lead up to our weeks holiday in Spain. I had a number of anxiety attacks weeks before, mostly to do with the actual trip and managing to get to the hotel okay and also because of money. I am a constant worrier when it comes to money. That stuff is like poison to me. It turned out okay in the end though and we managed to scrape some spending money together and I definitely enjoyed myself.
This holiday actually forced me completely out of my comfort zone. First of all, I wore a bikini on my chubby bod in front of everyone at the pool and on the beach… something I was absolutely dreading. Secondly, I ate in the busy all-inclusive restaurant full of people 3 times a day, every day… eating around people for me is hard but being in a crowded place is even harder. Thirdly, going new places is a scary thing with social anxiety and when you’re practically somewhere new everyday, that’s a lot of exposure!
A big shout out to Fiona from Fiona Likes To Blog who got me seriously out of my comfort zone for a Facebook Live interview. I was kinda shitting myself beforehand but I practised dropping my typical safety behaviour of over-preparing for every situation and instead I took it as it came. This was a good decision! Not only was it very easy to talk to Fiona anyway, I’m starting to realise that the less I prepare for things, the more natural and flowy they are.
Lately I’ve been pushing myself to do things I typically find uncomfortable and one of those things is, going out without any make-up on. I hate myself without make-up and normally would die before letting someone see me without a full face of slap on but in the past few weeks I’ve actually left the house without a stitch of make-up on, completely bare-faced! This is a big deal for me, as some of my PCOS symptoms are embarrassing, making my anxiety really bad and I use make-up as a way to conceal that.
My take-away from doing this, is that nobody actually gives a fuck or notices my flaws. It’s definitely in my head that people are judging me all the time.
I’d love to hear what you have all been up to in the last few weeks to tackle your anxiety, feel free to post in the comments!
The post Social Anxiety Exposures: Travelling Abroad & Facebook Live appeared first on Anxious Lass.
Since starting this blog 3 years ago, my mental health has drastically improved for a few reasons: a) I felt that if I was going to write a blog about mental health, I wanted it to be more positive and helpful rather than just write a journal about how shit things were going, so I’ve worked on my own mental health a lot. b) It’s become a platform for other people with anxiety and depression to come forward and chat to me about their struggles and successes, which is great because we can share ideas and talk about mental health openly. c) Watching my blog grow into something beyond what I ever thought it could be has been a massive achievement and that kind of growth and independence is brilliant for my anxiety, it makes me feel like I can do anything I set my mind to.
I completely recommend writing a mental health blog, it’s such a good form of therapy. In fact it can actually turn into a job if done right. I talked about making money from blogging in my previous posts How To Make Money With A Chronic Illness and Working With Social Anxiety and because so many of you emailed me about blogging, I decided to make a more in-depth post.
Today I’m going to tell you how I started my blog, how I get 8,000+ views a month and how I monetize my blog. Hopefully this will give you some inspiration if you’re looking at starting your own mental health blog but this information will generally work for any kind of blog.
Here it goes….
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I only endorse products/services that I believe will be a benefit to you and would never recommend something I don’t like or trust.
Before you do anything else, it’s a good idea to sit down and brainstorm your thoughts about what you want to achieve with your blog, so that you can narrow down what kind of audience you want to attract. I fully advise having a niche instead of just being a general blogger, you’ll find it much easier to get the right people to your blog and keep them around if they know what your blog is all about. A mental health blog in itself could be considered your niche but I’d go that one step further and find out how you’re going to make it different.
When I started my blog, I had no idea what I wanted from it because I was really just writing it for the sake of it and it took me a while to take it seriously. So, at first I just wrote about myself and anxiety, mostly in a satirical way and my blog looked a mess because I had no idea what I was doing with my theme, logo, photography, nothing. You’ll probably notice how different my older posts are to how they are now.
In fact, my old blog name used to be Anxiety Bitch (does anyone remember that?) and it was terrible for advertising because it would get censored all the time and my branding was all over the place. Then I decided it was time to actually come up with a good name, branding and what kind of audience I was aiming towards.
That’s how I came up with Anxious Lass – I chose feminine and light colours because my audience were mostly young and female and I wanted my blog to feel uplifting and bright. Really, if you want to attract people who are similar to you and going through the same kinda stuff, it should be easy; Just think about what YOU would want if you were to visit a blog.
First of all, you’ll need somewhere to place your blog on the big world wide web! You can get fairly inexpensive hosting when you’re just starting up with a smaller website. I fully recommend using SiteGround to host your blog, check out their starter web hosting for less than £4 a month, it’s really cheap considering how good they are. The trouble with some cheaper hosts, is that your blog may end up with lots of downtime, resulting in you losing viewers. That’s not the case if you’re using a good host like SiteGround.
When you have your hosting, it’s time to start building the foundation of your blog. To get the most of your blog, you should definitely install WordPress before anything else. I couldn’t imagine running a blog without WordPress now. It’s completely free to download and install and there are so many amazing themes and free plugins you can use with it to make your blog the tits!!
Once you’ve installed WordPress, it’s time to get your theme set-up. There are a few good free themes for WordPress you could get started with but if you already have an idea of what you’d like from your blog and what your branding is going to be, this is where I’d recommend investing. It doesn’t have to be much, Creative Market have lots of gorgeous themes for sale, some of them under £50 – just make sure if you’re going to buy a theme that it a) is for wordpress and b) doesn’t need another kind of framework or theme to work.
I wanted something really specific and well built, so I did lots of homework and now use a combination of Genesis Framework by StudioPress with Fun by Pretty Darn Cute Designs. I love how my blog looks now and I get tons of compliments on it. I firmly believe you have to create an overall good experience for people to come back to your blog and design is a massive part of that.
I’d also recommend looking on Creative Market for a good logo, you can get an inexpensive premade logo or template if you’re not so bothered about it being bought by other people. A unique custom made logo can cost hundreds, so I’d go down the premade route if you’re on a budget or you could even have a go at making one yourself if you’re good with graphic design. I made my blog logo myself!
The most important aspect of your blog is to write great content, content is key. You don’t necessarily need to be the balls at writing and have perfect grammar but giving your readers something they want is mega important. You aren’t going to attract as much of an audience and certainly not enough to keep them around if you’re just talking about yourself, you need to offer them something too. I still think it’s a good idea to talk about yourself a little, it helps inject personality into your blog and it helps people to feel like they know you but the kind of posts that are going to drive the most traffic will generally be posts that help your readers with a problem they’re having or teach them how to do something.
I try to have a mix of posts; Personal stories like A Letter To My Younger Self, posts that relate to other people with the same problems I’m having like 10 Reasons Why Eating Out With Social Anxiety Is Awful and posts that offer help to the reader like How To Explain Social Anxiety To Someone Who Doesn’t Have It
The third kind of post, the helpful kind, that’s my hands-down most sharable, viewed type of content.
I’d suggest writing a good selection of posts and put them on your blog before really launching it, that way when you do launch, your readers have several things to look at and can see what type of content they can expect from you.
Your biggest asset when your write a blog, is your email list. Trust me, you’ll want to start getting email sign ups straight away, don’t miss out like I did for the first two years. Even if you’re never going to create a product or launch a course, your email list will still hold lots of value.
I use MailerLite to get sign ups to my blog now, you may have noticed that I have sign up forms and an opt-in incentive (my free anxiety guide) in quite a few places around my blog, including the very top of each page, my sidebar, the bottom of each post and a pop-up that’s timed to when you scroll half way down the page.
You can also get really nice landing pages for your opt-in when you use MailerLite, that’s why I chose them over other platforms, as well as the fact it’s free up to 1,000 subscribers including automation, which is something you’d have to pay for on other platforms.
To encourage sign ups, you may want to try an incentive, like a freebie as an opt-in. You could create a free mini e-book, a free email course, swipefile, checklist, worksheet etc. Anything that has value to your target reader will get sign ups.
There are several ways of getting traffic to your blog including social media, search engines, guest posting and more. Here’s a list of my favourite ways to get traffic and where most of my blog views come from:
Making money from your blog isn’t going to be an overnight thing and like I’ve said in previous posts, don’t just start a blog to make money, start a blog about something you love and because you want to write about it. If you’re not passionate about your blog and you’re putting more ads on it than genuine content, your viewers will get fed up. Your blog has to have value to the people reading it.
I didn’t start my blog for money, in fact I didn’t take it all seriously until 4 months ago. I spent 2 or more years, writing my blog as a hobby, purely because I wanted to say some stuff about anxiety and relate to other people with it. Now I’m doing both, writing about anxiety while relating to people and making money. There’s no point in making a blog your job if you’re not passionate about it because it’s too much hard work for that.
Now, if you’re ready to learn how to make money from your blog, here’s some ways to do it…
Affiliate links are your own special links you use to recommend a product or service on your blog and when someone purchases through that link, you get a commission. There are lots of good affiliate marketing networks online to sign up as an affiliate, but here are my favourites:
ShareASale – You sign up to each program individually and then you can use their links and banners etc. Each company has their own set of terms, like how much commission you get and how many days after they click your link will you get a commission if they purchase. You can search affiliate programs by keyword, making it easy if you have a very specific kind of product or service you want to recommend.
ClickBank – This network is for digital products, making it a fab place to find ebooks and online courses to recommend. You also don’t need to sign up to each program individually, you can start using affiliate links for any product straight away.
Amazon Associates – One of the best affiliate marketing programs ever, especially if you like to recommend physical products. Everyone knows and trusts Amazon, so it’s a great place to have an affiliate account with.
Another good way of making money from your blog is through implementing ads. These are great because they don’t cost your reader anything but I’d advise to keep them to a minimum to not annoy anyone. My preferred ad networks are Google Adsense and Media.net
Obviously the more views you get and the more you blog grows, the more you’ll make money from advertising.
Not something I’ve accepted on my blog just yet, just because I don’t want content on my blog that doesn’t fit what my blog is all about but another way of making money from your blog is by doing sponsored posts.
I’ve paid for these myself on other blogs for my wedding photography business, by paying to run an article or post about my wedding photography on a few wedding blogs. You can have people pay you to write or write something themselves to put on your blog about their product/service. This helps them get exposure for their business and you get paid for it.
One of the most popular ways of making money from blogging is to create your own digital product or service such as an Ebook or an Ecourse and using your blog as a way to market your product.
For instance, if you were writing a blog about healthy eating, you could create a digital meal plan and sell that, or if you were writing a blog about post-natal depression you could create an online course to help other people through it.
If you want a much more in-depth guide to starting a blog and making it profitable, Blog by Number by Suzi Whitford has got to be one of the best courses out there, taking you step by step through setting up a professional blog and making money from it (she makes $17,000 a month from her blog, a month). You also get some pretty stock photos with it too!
I grew up with a Social Anxiety Disorder, which led to a long and complicated relationship with Depression. My mental health was never very good growing up, I struggled even in my early twenties. There were lots of break-downs, hospital visits and unfortunately, self-harm.
Through the years, I have always had my coping methods, including ones that were just bad for me and hurt my mental health long-term but the one coping method I clung onto, that was nothing but good for me, was walking.
It was my escape.
Walking in the woods and listening to birdsong or walking along the docks with my headphones on, it made me feel free, strong and clear headed. For me, there was nothing that could replace that feeling.
It also helped me with my Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for my social anxiety, as I had to ‘expose’ myself (I know, sounds a bit rude) to social situations and walking outdoors meant that I could do that in a more relaxing and slower paced way. Instead of just going to a party and meeting a heap of new people all at once, basically diving into the deep end, I went walking to start my social anxiety recovery journey.
I’d see a few people every 10 minutes or so and I actively tried to say hello or at least acknowledge each passer by with a smile, I found that people were much more approachable than I first thought. One day in particular, I’d gone for a half walk/half jog and I’d just tackled some really steep steps that had been built into a hill in the woods, when I noticed a photographer with all of their equipment by the stream. I’m a wedding photographer by trade and I like to dabble in other forms of photography too, so I figured I would push myself that little bit further and try to introduce myself. About 20 minutes later, we were following each others work on Facebook and I felt like a social fucking butterfly.
See, walking hasn’t just helped my mental health because it’s good for my body, released endorphins and makes me feel strong, it’s helped me because it’s got me out there in front of people and socializing even in just a small way.
I don’t know if you saw my last post but I mentioned that I’d be taking part in HEINEKEN’s Race To The Tower event to raise money for the mental health charity, Mind. This will be a two-day event where I’ll be walking over 52 miles, all in aid of raising money for mental health.
What has walking done for your mental health? Let me know in the comments.
If you want to sponsor me for the Race To The Tower ultra marathon in aid of Mind, you can do that here. No donation is too small!