Archive for lifestyle blog

Mental Health Awareness Week – some things I’ve found that have helped me with anxiety…

This week, 18 – 24 May is Mental Health Awareness Week on the theme of kindness.  Quite apt during this continuing lockdown period where a lot of us are struggling in one way or another don’t you think?  

Whilst I wouldn’t say I suffer with anxiety, I’m definitely an anxious person.  In my teenage and early adult years I suffered with Emetophobia, which caused me a lot of anxiety and whilst I don’t think I’ll ever be completely over this phobia I’ve certainly learned how to deal with it better over the years. I’ve written a full blog post on this which you can read here if you want to. I cannot believe how many people messaged me after I posted this saying that they felt the same, it took me so long to get the courage to write that post and I’m so glad I did, it just goes to show that you might think you’re the only one who feels someway but you pretty much definitely won’t be.

Anyway, during this period of time and in the years following my worst time with it, I learned a few different coping mechanisms and things that I know now will help me to feel better and I thought I’d share them here just incase they’re helpful to you too.  I think it’s important to note that these are things that have helped me personally – they may not work for everyone but hopefully even one or two of them might.

Yoga / in fact any sort of exercise…

Yoga is something I’ve got into in more recent years.  Focussing on your body and regulating your breathing does wonders for your mind.  I carry a lot of tension in my back when I feel anxious and if I’m feeling panicky I can sometimes feel shaky which in turn gives me awful back ache.  I’m beginning to realise now that if I can feel an anxiety session coming on a quick half hour of Yoga with Adriene will usually sort me out if I catch it early enough.  While I was running I found this had a similar effect on my mental well being but I haven’t run for ages so we won’t go there 😉

Do something with your hands

I cannot talk enough about how knitting helped me during the worst time of my phobia.  It was something therapeutic that I could do with my hands which was mindful enough to calm my anxious mind.  It also gave me something to look forward to and plan for – thinking about which project I’ll make next and what wool I can buy. I do this with fabric now 😉  Some of the benefits recorded with knitting have also been lowered blood pressure and distraction.  It can also be very social, there’s a whole world of knitting Instagrammers out there you know! I know lots of people who would say the same about crochet and gardening too.

Prayer & meditation   

I’m a Christian so I’ll always pray through my worries, sometimes sitting alone for a while listening to a talk or meditation and reading my Bible will be enough to remind me that God is in control and give my worries over to him. However, I’m only human and a bit of a control freak so it’s worth mentioning that sometimes I find this difficult too.

Getting Outside

When you’re gripped with worry and on the verge of panic going out for a walk can be the last thing you feel like doing but when I’m feeling anxious getting outside, usually with the dog now, does me the world of good. Something about the calm and quiet of being in nature helping to calm my mind I guess.

Counting backwards from 100

Sounds madness but I’ve been known on a few occasions during lockdown to have woken up in a state and been calmed back to sleep by doing this over and over accompanied by some deep breathing.

Write it down

Another thing I’ve only recently got into is journaling, I was sceptical at first but actually getting your feelings down on paper does actually help – who knew!  

Get someone who understands to rationalise with you

In my teenage years it was my parents and a couple of close friends, now it’s my husband.  Talking over your anxieties with someone who cares about you, even if they feel silly to you, will always help.

Be kind to yourself

In the midst of my worst struggle with my phobia mental health wasn’t talked about like it is now.  I felt like there was something wrong with me, that I was strange or weak.  If you’re going through a tough time please know that you aren’t alone. 

When I was at my worst with this there were very few people who actually knew what I was going through, I got very good at hiding it and knowing how to avoid situations I couldn’t cope with without looking too weird.  What I mean by saying this is that you never know what someone else is going through even though on the outside they might look fine!

Always be kind and remember…

I hope some of those tips may have been helpful.  I’m always happy to chat if you are suffering from a similar phobia or if you just want to chat in general. 

Take care, stay safe and as always thank you for reading!!

Sally xx



Lockdown Reading Inspiraion – Five Books I’ve Loved Lately…

What are you currently reading??  It’s a question I am asking anyone and everyone at the moment.  I’m not sure what’s happened to me during this isolation period but I cannot get enough of books.  I should explain that this isn’t entirely uncommon for me, I’ve always been a ‘reader’ and books have always been part of my life.  I could sit in a library or bookshop for ages, stare at the books and just feel – well – comforted! 

Since having my children though I’ve found it harder and harder to read at home, I’d usually have a book on the go but I’d struggle to concentrate or to read more than a couple of pages in bed before I was ready for sleep.  Holidays were really the only time I’d ever get through a whole book in less than six months!!

I think this lockdown period, a time where we actually can’t be that busy, we can’t fill our time with outings and gatherings and kids activities, has enabled me to rediscover what I always loved about books which is that feeling of escapism, or being part of another world for a little while and all of the emotions that a piece of writing can make you feel.

So, in case like me you’re always looking for your next read at the moment, I thought I’d share with you five books I’ve read lately that I’ve really enjoyed and why I loved them so much.

I’ve linked the books in the title so that you can view them for yourself if you want to 🙂

The Dressmakers Gift – by Fiona Valpy

The book follows Harriet as she unravels the truth about her Grandmother’s story when she lived and worked in Nazi occupied Paris during the war in 1940.  I love anything set in the 1940s it’s my favourite era to read and learn about and to have it set in a French atelier during that time with the references to sewing, dressmaking and French design and fashion was just perfect for me.  I loved the story, a little reminder if ever we needed one of what our grandparents and great grandparents went through during that time.  I adored this book and didn’t want it to end!

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

‘Rich, dark and intricately twisted, this enthralling whodunnit mixes family saga with domestic noir to brilliantly chilling effect.’ RUTH WARE

This book has mixed reviews on Amazon but for me I was absolutely gripped throughout and read it in a week which is unheard of for me lately.  It’s kind of dark and a little bit creepy but it kept my interest until the end, wanting to find out what had happened and why things had turned out the way they did.  My only criticism might be that the end seemed a little rushed but I guess all books have to end somewhere.  Definitely recommend if you want a page turner that you won’t be able to put down and like a bit of mild psychological thriller-ism (is that a word!!).

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Another book set during the second World War!  This one has been on my list for ages, I started the book at the start of lockdown and was worried it would be a bit hard going, given how I was feeling, but actually it wasn’t at all.  Don’t get me wrong there are parts of the book that are pretty harrowing to read, it’s set in a German concentration camp after all, but it is an amazing story of love, friendship and the determination to survive above all of the odds.  The most amazing bit is that it’s based on a true story.  I found the real life parts at the end fascinating.

The Girlfriend – by Michelle Frances

‘A girl. A boy. His mother. And the lie she’ll wish she’d never told’

Continuing the psychological thriller theme I read this book on our holiday to last year and it was another one that just kept me gripped throughout.  I could not put it down.  Lots of twists and turns, every chapter ends on a cliff hanger that left me unable to put it down to sleep.  The sign of a good book – and the making of a very tired mumma the next day!!

The House we Grew Up In – by Lisa Jewell

‘ An unforgettable story about a family with a terrible secret’

Another Lisa Jewell book! This one didn’t keep me quite as gripped as the one above but I still really enjoyed it.  It did make me feel quite sad in parts, not crying my eyes out sad, but sad about the knock on effects family life can have and how parents are parents but are still their own people with their own feelings and issues.  Very compelling, an excellent read.  I won’t waffle on anymore about it incase you decide to read it yourself and I ruin it for you.

So that’s it, next on my list is Grown Ups by Marian Keyes. I’ve read every one of Marian’s books so far and I’m looking forward to seeing if this one lives up to the others.

Have you read any of the books on my list?  I’d love to hear what you thought and please do let me know what you’d recommend for my ever growing ‘to read’ list.

Lots of love as always!! Sally xx   

*Blog contains some affiliate links*  

January – on taking things slow…

I went out for dinner with some friends last week, our main topics of conversation were:

  1. How tired we are
  2. How busy we are
  3. How much we’d done that day
  4. How quickly time is flying by

You get the picture and I’m sure you’ve probably had very similar conversations yourself.

I am a busy person, I struggle to sit through a film, the cinema would be my least favourite outing of choice because it involves sitting still for more than half an hour.  With both work and home I plan tasks in my head that I ‘must’ get done that day, if I don’t I feel I have failed. I can’t watch telly without doing something else at the same time. It’s why I knit, at least I feel I am doing something with my hands and something productive with my time. In short, I struggle to slow down – I know I’m not alone!

In the run up to Christmas life was so busy, as it is for everyone, with Christmas shopping, working on the business, getting orders out, school activities, productions etc.  In the week or so before Christmas I struggled to sleep at night and by the time Christmas came I felt quite stressed and exhausted from the lack of sleep.  Once  Christmas got going though, with no work and a lovely lack of routine something strange happened – I started to relax.  I would watch tv and be able to concentrate on what I was watching,   I read at night in bed and actually got into what I was reading and enjoyed it, I had a long bath rather than a rushed shower. I began to allow myself to spend time doing the little things I enjoyed and actually allowed myself to enjoy them and not feel guilty for not doing something ‘productive’.  As a result, I started to sleep better and felt happier and more relaxed than I had in a long while.

This got me thinking, I am one of those people who is constantly amazed by how fast the days, weeks, months fly by and  I get frustrated because I don’t feel I can take enough of it in.  But is the reason it does fly by so quickly because we are so immersed in the busyness of life to notice what is actually happening in the moment?  For me I think it is.  There’s almost a pride these days in how busy we are, how many clubs our kids go to, how many nights of the week we are out – but why?

I mentioned the other day on Instagram that in the past I have struggled with being a stay at home mum working on my business while my children are at school because I feel like I constantly have to justify my time, although no one is actually judging me but me.  I feel almost guilty sometimes about stopping for a cuppa and half an hour of telly where I could be working or doing the washing or getting the dinner prepped.  We all know how these tasks never end, but on the times I have allowed myself a break I have been a lot more productive in the hours that follow.

So this month, even this year I am going to try and bottle those feelings of enjoyment at making time to do the little things I enjoy.  To slow down and make time to read, go for a walk with the dog without feeling rushed, watch tv in the evenings, without being on the laptop at the same time, do some exercise (yoga and running for me) and make some time for myself without feeling guilty for it.  What’s that saying – ‘You can’t look after others if you aren’t looking after yourself’ or something like that.

So January, for me, is going to be my slow month.  Even if my slow month does mean slowly Marie Kondo-ing my way through our house along with the rest of the world, it’s good for the soul you know…

Take care!

Sally xx