What a cringy title. This is a bit of a “does exactly what it says on the tin” post.
I was on a real low last week and it kind of scared me. As some of you will know I suffer with anxiety and it’s something I have learned to accept in recent years. In my younger adult years I didn’t recognise the emotion as anxiety. I labelled myself as a “worrier” (that I am) but couldn’t put my finger on the feeling of dread. The feeling of something terrible being around the corner. A strange mix of fear, panic and dullness. It’s not very pleasant. Well that feeling washed over me last week. It always takes me by surprise and I think that is probably the worst part of anxiety. One minute you are fine and very quickly you can find yourself drowning in your own panic. Your heart starts to race, your throat dries up and your thoughts start to scare you. They are scattered and hyper and you can’t slow things down. When you do finally slow things down it tends to only highlight and amplify the bad feeling.
So last week was an anxious one. I always find it difficult to explain how I’m feeling at those times. I tend to text my mam and try to put it in to words. She is great for words of wisdom and always helps me see things a little clearer. The one thing she always highlights is that when that feeling very suddenly washes over me out of the blue, it’s usually something kind of outside of me. The anxiety, hormones, stress. A knee-jerk reaction to something I am worried about in the future or a general intense feeling. The point is that it passes and I don’t need to be afraidd of it. The worst thing is just waiting. It’s like you have to accept that it has to run it’s course and you have to just submit to it.
As a control freak it’s really difficult to accept something like that. I want to be in control of how I feel and sometimes I am not.
When it got to Saturday I started to feel a little bit better. The clouds were parting and the path ahead was clearer. I love that moment. It’s a really obvious shift in my mood and I can recognise that the worst part is over and the anxious feeling is starting to fade away. It is so reassuring and in a weird way it makes me feel excited because I know in a day or two I will feel back to my regular self. I did a bit of soul searching and started to wonder if there were any things that I could have changed about the week that would have made me feel better. Were there external things that didn’t help? Were there physical or circumstancial things that made the feeling a little bit worse? Quite frankly I was really scared that the following week would be the same and I didn’t feel like I could handle another week on that, eh, frequency. So I thought about it and realized that these were some of the things that definitely didn’t help the way I was feeling. I then looked at each of them and tried to turn them in to some kind of positive plan for the week ahead.
1. The Weather
The weather was crap last week and I didn’t realize how often I was cooped up indoors. I am not someone who responds well to being indoors for too long. I am a home-bird and love coming home but it’s like my soul needs to be outdoors and out and about as much as possible. Particularly now since we are living in a small granny flat. When I am home I am noticing the mess more. I am obsessing over all the work I’ve to do and I am less productive than ever. The reason for this is because toddlers just need fresh air and to run the little legs off themselves. It makes a huge difference. If we have an afternoon at the park I find that Billy is more likely to have some down-time in the afternoon. It might only be 30 minutes but it is incredible just how much work I can get done in that small window. It’s good all round. Last week the weather was crap. Lots of rain. I am not precious about bad weather at all usually. We’ll head out if it is in anyway possible. That’s what rain-gear is for. But this was bad weather. So yes, we were indoors a lot and that definitely didn’t help at all. The days were long, less productive and my son was particularly difficult in terms of his behaviour. I’ll talk about that one next.
So, what did I do to turn this in to a positive for the new week ahead? I made plans to go places that the weather didn’t dictate. We went swimming on Monday and it was so much fun. Billy adored it. It was a two hour round trip between the drive there and back and the actual swim. The smile on his face made my day and I was so excited to find a new activity for us. Even better was the price. It was €6 because little man was free because he is under 3. I turned the radio up loud and we loved singing along in the car. I felt refreshed and little man slept well that night.
2. The Terrble Twos
It really is a thing. Oh my God last week was tough. It’s really difficult when your sweet little child is doing so many destructive things. It’s a feeling of panic because you’re wondering if it’s normal, if you’re doing something wrong and if there is anything you can do to help it. We are going through a stage where he is being very rough. Throwing things, pushing, shoving, purposely breaking things. People tell me he is “such a boy”. I posted my worries on a Facebook group I am on and the responses were so reassuring. The consensus was that it is completely normal behaviour and I haven’t done anything “wrong”. He is being a normal two year old. Testing boundaries and getting reactions wherever he can. The main point everyone made was that aged 2,3 and 4 are very difficult in general. I felt much better knowing that I wasn’t alone and I definitely think the weather and being indoors a lot didn’t help.
So, how could I turn this in to a positive? Well I decided to not get too down about it because that was half the battle. I also made a conscious effort to do more active things that week so that he could exert all that toddler energy.
3. Lack Of Exercise
Who would have known but exercise really does affect your mood. Now I don’t do any actual exercise. I don’t go to the gym or go running. But I’ve had a seriously active six months. Because we like to get out and about I just walked everywhere. To the shop, play-dates, food shopping, the park – anywhere. Most nights I would feel the burn in my legs from all the walking that week. It was great exercise and the fresh air made a huge difference to my mental health too. A BIG change that has happened around here is that I am now driving after twenty eight driving lessons. I am a driver. I am getting more confidence every day and it is at the point where it feels exciting and I can feel the freedom. However, I am now driving everywhere because I now have a choice as to what shop, park or play-group we go to. That means I am pretty much walking nowhere. It hit me the other day and it was so clear to me that this was impacting my mood. Less fresh air, less exercise. It makes sense.
And the positive? I made plans to meet my friend at a park which is a fifteen minute walk from my house. It meant that if nothing else I would get that walk in during the week. I did it and it felt great. I also did an extra walk after I collected little man from school. It’s only an extra five minutes but it meant that he fell asleep for his nap easier and five extra minutes three days a week does add up to something. Even just more fresh air and a clearer head. Most importantly I became really conscious of it and going forward I’ll be doing a lot more walking.
All in all these changes made a huge difference. I had a much more positive and productive week this week so I’ll be doing much of the same next week. Hopefully this might help someone who is in a similar place.
The best thing that happened this week was this. A totally stress free afternoon at the park with my best friend. Our kids are pals and have known eachother since they were newborns. They are adorable together (even when they are killing eachother). We had proper chats and a catch up and it really rejuvinated me. AND I got to feel her baby kick which made me cry, in a good way. It was incredible and reminded me just how precious this life is.