Parenting

Unrealistic new year’s resolutions and how to avoid them…

Hello fellow anxious people, 

A huge happy new year to you all! (Even though we are 13 days into 2019 already!) I hope all of you had the best Christmas with loved ones and were able to take a bit of time off work to relax and recuperate over the Christmas period. It’s so important to take some time out from the every day stresses of your life once in a while to allow yourself to chill out, physically and mentally. I know it’s a lot easier said than done, especially if you have a very demanding job – or in my case – very demanding children. But I really do recommend putting more effort into your mental health, and by that I mean taking a day off once in a while to simply do nothing! You’ll be surprised what a day off every now and then can do for you and the people around you. Try it! 🙂 

me and ben .jpg

(Ben and I this Christmas, 2018. By this point I was already writing my new year’s resolution list and putting a lot of thought into what goals I wanted to achieve this year, if I could realistically achieve them and how I could achieve them. I really recommend writing down a long list of goals you want to achieve, small or big, and then going over them, putting them in priority order and an order from most realistic/likely to achieve to least, and then thinking about how you would achieve them.)

“NEW YEAR, NEW ME”

That dreaded phrase we hear so often on the 1st January of every year!

This blog post is mainly going to revolve around those dreaded new year’s resolutions and how to avoid setting yourself unrealistic resolutions that end up doing you much more harm than good, causing you more stress. I get it, I totally get the excitement and desire of setting yourself new goals for the brand new year ahead of you – a fresh start and all that. I get excited about it every year too! I understand how you want to say goodbye to the stress and bad memories of the previous year and become this new, wiser, healthier and more organised version of yourself, learning from your mistakes and applying them to the new and improved you. However, you can still 100% be a new, wiser, healthier and more organised version of yourself without completely losing who you truly are and without setting yourself huge, unrealistic resolutions. You can still totally be this “new person” simply by setting a few little goals – goals that are easily achievable based on your lifestyle at the time. In fact, by setting yourself small goals that you are much more likely to achieve because they are small, you actually end up feeling a whole lot better than you would do if you had set yourself big goals that are quite unreachable and unachievable when you really think about it. You feel great about yourself and quite proud that you are actually getting through your new year’s resolutions a lot quicker than you thought – because they are realistic goals! So, even though it’s only a few small goals you’re achieving, you still feel so much better about yourself for achieving them nonetheless, and as a result it completely lifts your spirits, gives you more confidence and makes you feel good about yourself. I know a lot about this purely from personal experience — I made the same mistake once of setting myself big new year’s resolutions that were completely unrealistic based on my lifestyle at the time. So, I’m truly and genuinely speaking from the heart here! I’ve also witnessed first hand how much setting unrealistic goals can cause others more harm than good – friends of mine have also made this same mistake and it was really upsetting to watch. 

The KEY to setting achievable goals:

The first tip to follow when setting yourself a goal is to take a look at your current lifestyle. Ask yourself some questions about your day-to-day life and routine: how busy are you on a daily basis? What time of day are you busiest and least busiest? When are your days off? How demanding is your job or your family? What time in the evenings do you start getting too tired and need to head to bed? Do you have any disabilities or conditions that could make your resolutions quite dangerous or tricky for you? There’s no point setting yourself a goal such as running 5-10km every day if you work 10-12 hour shifts 5 days a week and don’t get home until late each evening. You’ll quickly realise you just simply do not have the time to run that much every day if you want to live a normal, healthy and sociable life. You’ll become very tired and drained afterwards, meaning you probably won’t ever want to do anything else after your run every day (e.g. seeing friends and family, making dinner, completing chores, doing coursework etc) so now you’ve completely lost your social life too. “Sorry I can’t make it to dinner this evening, I’ve just been for a run (again) and I am totally exhausted/running late/need to get the housework done/coursework done before I go to bed” – You get my point by now. On weeks where you may only manage to run 5-10km 2-3 days a week, you’ll feel crap about yourself and you’ll genuinely feel as if you have failed, when actually running 5-10km that much each week is amazing!! You’ll feel like a failure because you’ve set the bar too high – to run 5-10km every single day. Where as if you had set the bar a little lower, you would have felt ecstatic about yourself for running 5-10km twice a week and it would’ve boosted your confidence and made you feel great. It’s all based on your lifestyle, that’s what it all comes down to at the end of the day. So, before you ever set yourself any kind of goal, ask yourself those questions above and really think about what you will definitely be able to achieve – set the bar low to start with and if over time you realise you have more time in your days to achieve more than what you’ve set yourself – then and only then – set the bar higher.

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(Seeing the lights at Kew Gardens was one of my goals for 2018. I knew it would be achievable because not only do I live close to London so it would be easy to get there but also because I knew I would have the time to set aside an evening sometime near Christmas to go. Being able to achieve this goal made me feel great and I enjoyed the lights as much as I knew I would.)

My new year’s resolutions and why I made them:

After making the mistake of setting myself goals that were too difficult to achieve, causing me stress and feeling like a failure when I didn’t accomplish them to the standards I expected, I decided I needed to make my goals much smaller and more realistic. Small goals, but important ones, like making sure I drink 8 glasses of water a day and getting at least 7 hours of sleep every week night. Such important goals, but very realistic and achievable, therefore making you feel great 🙂 

I once read a book called 100 SMALL WAYS TO QUIT WORRYING   which gave me the inspiration for setting my new year’s resolutions for last year and again this year. This book lists 100 small every-day ways that will help someone stop worrying so much all the time – small ways that you probably wouldn’t ordinarily think of doing before reading that book, so I highly recommend giving it a read. You can find it on Amazon by clicking the link on the title of the book at the start of this paragraph above.

100

I’m going to list my new year’s resolutions for this year below with the hope of it helping others who are in the position I found myself in a few years ago when I set myself unrealistic goals. I hope these give you some good ideas and inspiration for your own goals you can try and achieve this year. 🙂 

 1.) Drink 8 glasses of water every day. 

2) Do 100 squats every day – at home, at work, wherever! It only takes 5 minutes. 

3.) Put in more effort with friends & family – phoning them more often and seeing them more often.

4.) Start a degree in something I am passionate about, through Open University. (I have already achieved this and have just started my degree in Health & Social Care)

5.) Start going to a pilates/yoga class again as often as I can afford at the time and try my best to stick with it for the year. (I am in the process of finding a class close enough to me that I can afford)

6.) Put in more effort to actively meet new people and make new friends (This can achieved in many ways, such as: become a member of an online group and meet people that way, go to the Open University student get-togethers each month, strike up conversation with strangers when I am out and about etc.)

7.) Complete my first year of my degree – don’t give up no matter how hard it may get!

8.) Put myself first a bit more, give myself 1 evening a week of doing something purely just for me – my mental health and happiness matters just as much as everyone else’s. (I have a habit of putting my happiness on hold a lot so that my son, partner, friends or relatives are happier. I hate not being able to please everyone and I hate saying no) 

9.) Don’t be afraid of saying no and realise that I simply cannot please everyone. (If anything, this will also make people respect you a little more too. Saying yes to people all the time will give off the false impression that you are a pushover and will do anything that is asked of you no matter how difficult or stressful.) 

10.) Walk more! Now that I am unable to drive for the next 5 months due to a one-off seizure at the end of 2018, I will have to walk a lot more. As annoying as this can be, it’ll be great for my physical health and also my mental health – fresh air can do a person wonders! 

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(Walks along the beach are my favourite – whatever the weather! Some fresh sea air does wonders to your physical and mental health.)

I really hope this blog post has helped some of you in some way or another and given you a bit of inspiration to make your own realistic new year’s resolution list in the quest to start making you feel better about yourself and your abilities. 🙂 I will be posting a lot about my goals for 2019 on my Instagram throughout the year, so feel free to follow my journey with me along the way by following me on @secretlifeofananxiousmum .

Wishing you all the best of luck for 2019!

Lots of love,

Lauren! Xxxx

 

Parenting

Living with chronic conditions (Hannah’s Story)

Hello! 👋🏼

The next few blog posts are going to be solely about other people living with chronic conditions or chronic pain. I recently set out to reach out to people through my Instagram (@secretlifeofananxiousmum) to find people who are, like myself, also living with a chronic condition or chronic pain in the hopes that they would be ok to share their story on my blog. I feel very passionately about this “project” because I truly believe it will help others who read this. It’ll help other people living with a chronic condition/pain by showing them and reassuring them that they are certainly not alone in their suffering, other people out there all over the world are also living with a chronic condition. It’ll also help those people out there who aren’t suffering with a chronic condition or chronic pain because it’ll help to educate them a bit more on the subject so that if they ever need to they can help people living with a chronic condition or pain. 😊

I’m sorry it’s taken so long to start posting these amazing stories onto my blog. I’ve had a hectic few weeks, mentally, emotionally and physically! If you follow my blog or my Instagram you’ll already know that I suffer with depression, anxiety and I live with severe chronic back pain which I have to take prescribed painkillers for on a daily basis. (I talk about this a lot on my Instagram and a blog post explaining my chronic pain will be posted soon)

Sometimes I will go through phases (usually a few weeks at a time) where my back pain will get really bad and my mental health will take a tumble and I just need a few weeks to recover and get myself back on track 😊 if you suffer with depression you’ll completely relate to me on this one – it becomes too damn tricky to concentrate on anything long enough. I haven’t had the mindset whatsoever over the last few weeks to properly sit down and write on my blog, the concentration went out the window and unfortunately that’s a big symptom of depression and a very common one too! I’m feeling a little better now, still not 100% but I’m definitely on my way there, so I decided to kick myself up the butt and get posting this amazing story from a fellow chronic-condition-sufferer.

These next few blog posts I would like to completely dedicate to the heroes who wrote them and shared their stories with me. None of this is my doing, none of this is me, it’s all completely them. If it wasn’t for these amazing people, I wouldn’t have a blog post in the first place. This is all down to the bravery of these people and these people only who share their story hoping to help, reassure, support & educate others.

My first story is written by a woman named Hannah. (Instagram: @reframingbirth) Here is her story:


Exhausted. In agony. Can’t think straight. Constantly anxious. No sleep. Too much sleep. Can’t move. Don’t want to move. That is where it all started.  For as long as I could remember, this was the life I was living. I must have been around 10 years old when I first realised I felt awful. Cue back and forth to the doctors, being told I was just growing and had anxiety. Referral to CAMHS who told me it wasn’t anxiety and back to the drawing board. This must have gone on for 4 years. Shit got real when I was going to the doctors atleast once a week, to try to get some help. The pain was making me bed-bound, I’d sleep for over 12 hours at night and nap during the day, barely doing anything at all and skipping school constantly due to how awful I felt. My first glimmer of hope was upon meeting a nurse practitioner, who did a lot of tests and told me I had very low vitamin D levels. Okay great, I had a course of supplements and that went up to a normal level. Did I feel better? NO. So I went back. She then mentioned the f word. I’d been suspecting it for a while, I’d researched it and it sounded right. She then told me she had it too. Fibromyalgia. The illness with no cure, little medical research and barely any clinical guidelines. Great. So then I waited. Enduring this pain, fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues, anxiety. 31st March, 2015. The day I was diagnosed. Aged 17. 7 years since it all began. It was a no brainer for the rheumatologist. I hit all of the tender points, had all the symptoms and arthritis was ruled out by a blood test. So we had the name. What the hell do I do now? They referred me to the pain clinic, who told me I was too young for this and discharged me. I was told to take co-codamol, but only the strength you can buy over the counter, which I’d been having religiously anyway. I went gluten and dairy free, which did help, I’ll give it that. But I was still in agony, trying to do my A Levels. Barely attending sixth form, thank goodness for supportive tutors. My parents didn’t know what to do. My friends didn’t get it. No one got IT. So, back to the nurse practitioner. She decided to send me for a pelvic ultrasound to rule out anything that could be causing issues there. Surprise surprise, all clear. Back to the drawing board. This backwards and forwards with different tests, scans and no support went on for another year. Until one day.  April 2016. I was still at college and I had a place to study midwifery, starting in the September. I was sitting there in a lesson and my whole body just went numb. I couldn’t move. My pupils were dilated, my heart rate was through the roof. Straight to hospital and that is where I stayed. They ruled out MS, did loads more tests and concluded..migraine. These episodes happened frequently and I have had 4 further hospital admissions due to them since. September 2016. I started uni. How? Living off the strongest codeine, tramadol and a cocktail of various other things. To be honest, things were ok at this point. I mean, the pain was still there and I was tired as hell, but I had a goal. I didn’t want to give it up, so I just carried on. Faking the smile, wanting to cry. Time went by and I was still trying to find answers, but it all came back to ‘you have fibromyalgia – deal with it.’ By the end of the year, my heart was causing me some issues. Symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness, nausea, fainting. It kept happening.  I found an amazing doctor. He was willing to try anything. We started trialling drugs. Gabapentin, amitriptyline, naproxen, pregabalin. Unfortunately, none of them worked very well, but he believed there was something happening. He got me. We did more blood tests and my liver function was not good. I’m guessing due to all the painkillers, but he wanted to investigate that too. Then stuff messed up with the doctors surgery and he left. My one chance, I felt shattered. Wanted to give up and entered a state of depression. I almost left uni,but needed that drive to get through.  We’ll fast forward again to January 2018. This is all still going on. The pain is severe, but my worst symptoms now are with my heart and digestive system. I had 3 more hospital admissions. They were questioning everything. They were taking me seriously. I saw a gastroenterologist who did an endoscopy and colonoscopy. I saw a cardiologist, had an echo, heart monitor for a week and we finally found some ‘proper’ problems.  Firstly, my stomach is severely inflamed. Possible crohns. Waiting for biopsy results to confirm, but for now, medicated to try to reduce it.  Secondly, my heart. Supraventricular tachycardia. It goes too fast for no reason, which is the cause of the episodes of numbness, fainting etc, previously classed as ‘migraine’. The echo also queried a hole in my heart which should have closed when I was a baby, so I’ll be going to a specialist unit next month to have a cardiac MRI. For now, bisoprolol is my friend. The cardiologist said he would never prescribe this for someone my age, but my heart is ‘out of control’. It is nice to see someone who understands.  Me, I’m ok. The drugs are kind of working. I don’t want to be on them, but they let me get out of bed in the morning. I think it is a mindset thing too, I have worked hard with mindfulness and reducing anxiety. I’m still studying and will qualify as a midwife in September 2019. I’m running my own business, teaching hypnobirthing to expectant mothers. I am holding down this job, I have never been able to work before. Don’t get me wrong, it is hard work, doing all of this. But I just can’t sit here doing nothing, in self pity that I’ll never be normal. I know my limits. People around me know my limits and I do what I can. I work from home. I sleep when I want. I work short shifts and no nights. I do what I can and I am happy for the first time in 10 years. I know I still have a long way to go and there will be many bumps in the road, but for the moment, I am able to function and I couldn’t be more grateful. I realise that so many people with fibromyalgia are completely debilitated with no quality of life and trust me, I have been in that place and expect to be at any time, but there is definitely hope.


A huge thank you to Hannah for sharing her story on my blog in the hopes to help others suffering with chronic conditions. ❤️

Parenting

WTF WEDNESDAY

Hello 👋🏼

As you’ll already know if you’ve been following my blog, most Wednesday’s I try and write a “WTF Wednesday” post on the blog about my most WTF moments so far as a parent 😂 we all have them, sometimes they’re hilarious and sometimes they’re infuriating but we all have them! When we had a baby we automatically signed up for this for the rest of our lives! There’s no avoiding them. My WTF moment today is something that literally just happened and I’m still giggling away about it.

This WTF moment involves a very annoying little game called Fortnite! FYI, before I carry on with this post, I would just like to salute any other parent out there who has also lost a child to this bloody game!! My 8 year old son has become addicted to the extent I now have to regularly monitor him on it and limit his time on it!

Earlier today, my son approached me and politely asked if he could have some money to buy some vbucks. (Vbucks is like fortnite currency for money you spend on Fortnite in order to buy things on there such as new characters etc. E.g. 800 vbucks is roughly around £8) I told him no because I don’t have enough money. I explained to him that if he did really well at school for the rest of the term and did his chores around the house then he could have some money for vbucks in the summer holidays. He accepted this answer (or so I thought) and went back to his bedroom. Now, before I talk about the next bit, which is the funny bit, I’ll explain that on my son’s 8th birthday my partner and I gave him a phone. Mainly so that he could play on it instead of always playing on ours and also so that he could FaceTime his family who he doesn’t get to see often and his old friends from where we used to live who he always rarely gets to see anymore. So far, he’s only ever used his phone for those purposes 😂 until today! (His phone is closely monitored by me.)

My son then secretly text my mum from his phone asking if he could have some money for vbucks, probably knowing that she would never say no to him, and inevitably she said yes! He then came running to me all excited and said “yay!! Nanny just said she would give me some money for vbucks! She is transferring £8 to you now and I’ve just bought some vbucks!” A big part of me was angry at the cheek of him for doing this without telling me. But a small part of me was trying so hard not to laugh. It was one of those moments where I had to pretend I needed the toilet so I could go and giggle in the bathroom without him seeing me 😂 that was when I whispered to myself “wtf!?”. Like I said, most of me was angry at him, but a small part was impressed with his thinking skills to ask his grandparents instead of me because he knew they’d never say no! 😂 Kid is going places.

It’s safe to say, my son won’t be going on Fortnite for a little while so he learns his lesson. I explained to him that what he did was naughty and he mustn’t ever do it again. He told me he was sorry and explained he didn’t realise it was naughty. 😂 let’s hope he learns his lesson!

If you’ve got any WTF parenting moments with your little ones please feel free to leave them in the comments below or head over to my instagram (@secretlifeofananxiousmum) and share them with me on there. I would love to read them 😊

Lots of love to you all,

Lauren ❤️