So this last year has been such a journey for me mentally and emotionally. Honestly, one I never expected!
I thought, as I am starting to finally get it all figured out, I should share, maybe it could help someone like me? That’s where most of my posts have been coming from, you see. That is where this one comes from too, I hope you find it useful!
When things are getting on top of you, it can be almost impossible to find your calm.
On one of ‘those’ days, you always seem to wake up already tired and short tempered. Even if you get up early there is never enough time to do everything. The kids are always too loud, too chaotic, too naughty. Nothing goes right.
Know those days? Yeah, me too.
This last year I’ve been having days where anxiety is almost all consuming. It doesn’t matter what I have planned, how good things are going, whether or not I’m alone or Husband is home and whether or not the boys are behaving. Those day’s creep up on me and just ruin everything.
Somehow I still manage to get things done, go places, hang out with friends and have an all-round normal day, the problem though, is that on the inside I am freaking out.
My thoughts and feelings go like this: I just don’t have time. I have too much to do and I just can’t get it done. I can’t concentrate because there is just so much to do that I don’t know what to do first. Sometimes everything is too loud and distracting me!
Of course this is almost entirely rubbish. But knowing that can’t always help and I end up spending entire days with my muscles tensed constantly. Ugh. Some days are a bit better; Husband gets in from work and I disappear into the bedroom for a few hours and just write. This usually helps a lot.
Fortunately, I am pretty sure I know the origin of these thoughts and I’m taking steps to manage them.
When I realise I’m going to have one of those days, I know I have to find a way to trigger my ‘calm button’. It’s a weird sounding thing I know, but it makes sense, I promise.
Quite by chance, I found that certain things helped me feel better when I was having an anxious day. I don’t mean what you might expect, like breathing exercises, herbal tea or a relaxing bath, etc.
I mean something to start the day right and help bring my anxiety back into perspective, before It’s gone too far.
Do you want to know what mine turned out to be?
Go on, guess, it’s so ridiculous I don’t whether to laugh or cry…
Making the bed.
That’s it. That’s the simple, mundane, unexpected secret I have for managing my anxiety.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never really cared about making my bed. We live in a mid-terrace two-bedroom house. The two bedrooms are upstairs, everything else is downstairs, so when we get up and dressed in the morning, we come down and basically don’t go back up until bedtime. With the exception of Rhyd going down for his nap in his cot, or having laundry to put away, that is. (When I can make myself, as I’ve mentioned before I hate putting laundry away.)
I will easily go the whole day without going back into the master bedroom until bedtime.
Most days, we just get up, get dressed and go. I maybe straighten the covers, if I remember.
Then one day I was having an anxious day, feeling more and more tense about how I had no time, I retreated to the bedroom only to realise I didn’t know why I was in there and what I was supposed to be doing and that made it worse because I was wasting time.
I looked at the bed and realised it was a huge mess of bundled up duvet and wonky pillows. In that moment I just felt so frustrated, turning it into a personification for how the house was always a mess and I didn’t have time to clean and I couldn’t get everything done.
I made the bed driven by my misdirected (and completely unnecessary) anger and then something happened. As the bed covers were straightening, I felt my annoyance fading away. The tidier the pillows looked, the less stressed I felt.
I finished smoothing the covers and actually let out an audible sigh. I don’t know how, or why, but suddenly I felt… calm.
The act of making the bed had become, quite unexpectedly, the act of organising my thoughts, soothing my anxiety, and bringing my priorities into order.
I could see, as if a veil had lifted, that there was time; I didn’t have that much to do, the house wasn’t that big of a mess and realised, finally, that I couldn’t even figure out why I was getting so worked up in the first place.
This was the beginning of my realisation that I’d been having episodes of anxiety, and it lead me to figure out why (I think) that is and how to fix it (but that’s for another post!) Along with how to try and manage it on the days when it takes over.
I know, it’s very strange to have such a huge realisation doing something so mundane, but I can’t help but think it’s better that way. When something you’ve needed finally clicks into place, isn’t it better to have it happen calmly and privately?
I try to make my bed, at least half-heartedly, every day now. I find some days I still forget, but that’s okay, because if I realise I’m getting worked up I just go back upstairs and make the bed.
It has become something of a symbol. It is almost like hitting a button and I reset my whole day.
My calm button.
It’s probably not about making the bed at all. It’s probably something very deep and psychologically tied up in representing and symbolising other things, like ‘tidying’ my thoughts and ‘smoothing’ my moods.
But it works for me.
Are you finding yourself having days where anxiety creeps in? Having trouble shaking it off again?
Try looking for your own calm button.
Does your anxiety have a certain feeling, like mine does? Try thinking of something to represent it, something you can do quickly and easily to ‘reset’ your day.
Another thing that helps me chill out when I’m frustrated, is having my husband stay home with the kids while I just have a quick (30 mins, maybe?) walk to the shops and back for something we need.
I listen to music on my headphones and try to let the songs I’m listening to represent and diffuse my mood.
Music is a pretty powerful tool, if you’re not sure where to find your calm button, maybe try starting with music. Songs that are particularly useful are often the cheesy ones.
Don’t be afraid to succumb to the guilty pleasure of power ballads or good old cheese! A good song to give you a mood lift (based on lyrics) is Taylor Swifts ‘Shake it Off’. Another one is Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’.
Embrace the cheese! You never know, it might be just what you need.
Do you have an unusual or comical calm button? Perhaps a routine or ritual you think could help others? Please leave a message letting me know! the more ideas we can share, the more people we can help together! xx