Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Becoming Your Own Hero | Part 7: Little Anxiety Fighters


I've kept it no secret on my blog that I have quite a negative mind-set, but I've never really discussed how this affects me in my every day life.  The main way this affects me is that I feel very anxious a lot of the time. 

When I moved out last summer I slowly improved but coming away from home after Christmas has brought a new wave of homesickness, and along with it a tidal wave of anxious feelings. 

I've been letting my anxious feelings control my brain completely to the point where at the weekend I didn't leave my bed from Friday evening to Monday morning except to go to the bathroom.   The only reason I got out of bed on Monday morning was to shower (just in case you weren't aware, lying in bed for two days makes you smell disgusting - apologies to my roommate!) and because I had work.

The realisation of me wasting two entire days in my bed has kind of hit me and I thought it would be helpful if I shared a list of the little things that could help me to combat this, as I know I'm not the only person who struggles with overwhelming anxiety sometimes.


1.  Talk to someone.
This is the main thing. Talk to someone about anything, it doesn't have to be about your anxiety (although this will help greatly, even though I'm not at this stage yet, I know it will help when I do talk to someone about my anxiety). 

I felt a lot better after talking on the phone to my mum, dad, and sister.  Albeit it made me miss them a lot more but it reminded me that I have the three of them there to support me no matter what.  I'm also trying to schedule a Skype call with my friend who lives in Australia which I'm hoping will help as well.

2.  Pyjamas
I feel my cosiest and comfiest in my Primark mickey mouse pj bottoms and a band t-shirt.  I just find that there's something really comforting about putting on your favourite pyjama's.  When you're feeling anxious it's important to try and make yourself feel comfortable in your environment.  Finding an item of clothing that is comfortable and makes you feel happy when you're wearing it can really help.

2.  Hot Chocolate
Or whatever hot beverage you enjoy the most.  I am trying to cut down on food and drink that aren't as 'good' for me.  But at least this means that I can view a hot chocolate as little pick me up treat for when I need one.   Take the time to sit down and enjoy a hot drink, and I mean actually enjoy it, not just gulp it down as soon as it's made so you can get on with whatever you were doing. 

3.  Cleaning/Tidying
This evening I tidied my room as best I could.  I blasted some Paramore, tidied away all the dirty clothes on my floor and put on a load of washing.  I'm going to take down the Christmas tree tomorrow (yes, I'm THAT lazy person who hasn't taken down their tree yet) and give my room a good hoover.  Then I'm going to tackle the bathroom *inwardly groans*.

Tidying can help you to get some order in your life and help you to calm your mind down by having something constructive to focus on. 

4.  Baking
I love to bake.  When I was at college and had a part time job I set aside Thursday as my baking day and would try my best to make something every week.  It helped me to have something to look forward too when I was stressed during the week.  But, since I started the job I'm in now I haven't really done any baking. 

I realise this doesn't coincide with me wanting to eat better and you would be right.  But most of the time I'll be baking on my day off and then taking whatever I bake into work the next day for the morning tea break.

I want to get back into baking because I enjoy it.  If you plan in your week to have a certain evening or day dedicated to doing something you enjoy then it will be useful as something to think about and look forward too when you're feeling anxious.

5.  Blogging
You may have noticed that this past week I've thrown myself into blogging.  I'd forgotten how much of an outlet this blog is for me and how passionate I am about my little blog.  I really want to make the effort with my blog again and get to a place where I'm uploading weekly content that I'm proud of, onto a blog that I'm proud of - which will hopefully mean some design changes soon!

Having a creative outlet can be really helpful if you feel anxious a lot.  It can give you a way to deal with the confusing, overwhelming emotions you're feeling.  It helps me to focus on something that I really enjoy and that I can work on and improve in.

6.  Keep busy
I've made myself a list of things I can do for when I'm feeling anxious, mainly to prevent myself from lying in bed for two days straight, listening to Ed Sheeran and not eating properly from happening again any time soon.
I have the list down one side, numbered weeks along the top, and tick boxes in the middle.  I'm going to force myself to do things and keep my brain occupied so as not to dwell on my anxiety.

7.  Sleep/Rest
On the other hand from keeping busy, make sure you're taking the time to relax and go to bed at a decent time.  I know, this is coming from the girl who laid in bed for two days and smelt disgusting at the end of it.  But, anxiety can really tire you out emotionally and you need to make sure you're getting enough sleep.
Have early nights and make sure you're taking the time to unwind before bed, read a book or listen to some relaxing music to help settle yourself. 

8.  Exercise
I've started doing little things to slowly bring up my fitness level.  I've been going for walks on my lunch breaks, doing a fifteen to thirty minute workout in the evening each day, and I've downloaded a fitness timetable to keep by. 

Exercise will make you feel better about yourself, and it gives you something to distract you from all the little anxious thoughts swirling in your head. 

9.  Socialise
This is the one I'm struggling with the most.  I love to write, I don't like to talk.  I stutter and often find myself struggling to get words from my brain to my voice box.  As a result I've been distancing myself from interacting with people and I know this isn't healthy and is something that I need to change.  However, the prospect of this is petrifying for me and not one that I want to do to be honest.  I think I'm going to have to do it in baby steps and see how I get on. 

10.  Pamper yourself.
Have a bath.  Do a face mask.  Paint your nails.  Or do a me and do all three in one evening because you just needed it for yourself.   Take the time to look after yourself and do little things that help you to feel better about yourself. 

I know that trying to deal with my anxiety is going to be a daily battle, and it's going to be one that's difficult and tiring.  But hopefully I can work my way through it.
I hope that some of these ideas are helpful.  If you have any other suggestions for ways to deal with anxiety then please let me know in the comments. 

This post is part of my Becoming Your Own Hero series, you can read all the posts from this series by clicking here



Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Baking Diaries | Tanya Burr's Lemon Drizzle Loaf

So, after posting my first baking post quite a while ago, I finally thought it was time to share another recipe with you all. 
I am a very big fan of Tanya Burr's blog and YouTube channel so when she released her first book, Love Tanya, I was very excited, and I loved the baking section of the book.  I'm even more excited that she'll be releasing a baking book later on this year.   The first recipe that I tried from Tanya's book was her Lemon Drizzle Loaf, which I actually made quite a while ago, I'm just being a really bad blogger and only sharing it with you now. 
For the cake:
3 eggs
170g self-raising flour
170g caster sugar
170g butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 2 lemons
For the icing:
150g of icing sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
Firstly you need to preheat your oven to 180 degrees (for a fan oven).  You then need to measure out and mix together the eggs, flour, sugar, baking powder and the zest of the two lemons into a mixing bowl. 
A tip which my mum gave me is to cut up the butter into small cubes and melt it in the microwave for 20 seconds to make it easier to mix together with the other ingredients.
You then need to line your baking tin with butter, I also cut out a piece of greaseproof paper for the bottom of my tin to be on the safe side, or you could use a non-stick tin.  Pour your mixture into the baking tin and put into the oven for 35-45 minutes. 
To test if your cake is ready, slide a knife into its centre and if the knife comes out clean then your cake is ready.  Also, you could gently press on the top of your cake and if it rises back up then it's ready to be taken out the oven. 
To make the icing mix together the icing sugar and the juice from the two lemons, stir it together so that it has a watery consistency. 
While the loaf is still warm use a skewer to poke holes all over the loaf and then pour the icing over it so it can soak into the loaf. 
My loaf came out quite crispy at the edges, so the next time I'll need to bring it out a little earlier than the full 45 minutes to prevent it from burning at the edges again.
 And there you have it, my first attempt at a Tanya Burr lemon drizzle loaf!  Let me know in the comments what you think of this recipe, I'd love to hear if you've baked a lemon drizzle loaf before. 

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

A Spotlight On: We'll Be Okay by With Confidence

I was pretty excited this morning when I logged onto my instagram to learn that With Confidence had signed to Hopeless Records.  I've been listening to their music for almost a year now so seeing them sign to a well known label in the alternative music scene was pretty exciting. 

Not only did With Confidence announce their signing to Hopeless Records today but, they also released their new single We'll Be Okay.   So I thought I'd share it with you for my A Spotlight On series.


The vocals are there from the start which is something you don't hear that often, it reminds me a little of All Time Low's Poppin' Champagne which I like.  At first the vocals are joined solely by the lead guitar part which I like, it builds a bit of expectation before the other members start playing so that there's a kick when they do join the song. 

I really like how the lyrics in the bridge link back to the first line of the song, it's a nice touch and helps to join the parts of the song together.   The bridge is actually one of my favourite parts of this song, the snappy guitar riffs, the effects on the vocals, and the amazing drumming make it a great lead up to the chorus.

Vocally, the chorus isn't what I expected but that kind of makes me love it more.  At the end of each line the vocals hit a higher note than expected but instead of sounding out of place it adds a really nice edge to the chorus, and it's something that will make this song stand out. 
The guitars in the chorus work really well with the vocals, they're providing some really nice riffs that are complimenting the main tune. 
The guitar riffs used in the chorus then tie into the second verse and continue throughout the verse and add a great counter melody to the vocals.  Lyrically I love the second verse:
 Glowing as we take our turn
Knowing that we'll be all right
And it could be you
It could be you
The lyrics relate back to the chorus and, at least to me anyway, are very " generic pop punk".  If you've been reading my blog for a while then you'll know that this is something I love. 
The drums in the third verse are absolutely incredible.  They really stand out here and provide a good, solid rhythm to the third verse.  This verse continues well into the final chorus with vocals being accompanied by short bursts from the instrumental, this isn't too drawn out and creates an energetic, hyped up atmosphere for the final chorus. 
I'm pretty much in love with the backing vocals in the final chorus, they're not too overpowering but you still know they're there and complimenting the lead vocals.  The guitar riff that's prominent at the end of the chorus provides a really great outro for the song, and it makes me happy that the vocals are clean cut at the end instead of fading. 

Overall I'm loving We'll Be Okay and thinks it's a great way for With Confidence to start of their signing to Hopeless Records.  I'm looking forward to hearing what else they're going to be releasing in the future, especially in terms of their debut album with Hopeless records.


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Saturday, 2 January 2016

A New Year: Fragility & Perspective | 2016

I've just reread my new year post from last year for the first time in a long time.  It's crazy to think how much can change in the space of 365 days. 
December 2015 was challenging, emotional, and at times extremely difficult.  The fragility of life was made very clear to me in a raw and painful way when a close member of my family passed away at the end of November (hence why I've been absent from the blogging world), so the early days of December were spent trying to come to terms with this loss.  I'm still not quite there yet. 
I've said time and time again on this blog that I'm quite a pessimistic person, it's just the way that my brain is wired, trying to change this has been difficult. 
At the beginning of July I moved out to start a full time job and this was an extremely scary decision for me, but one that I know has most definitely been for the best.  It has made me happier, and helped my self confidence to grow.  Although I'm still having days where I find myself drowning in doubt, worry, and anxiety, and these days have become more frequent recently, I've decided to try my best to not let this shape how I'm going to start this new year. 


Whether we like it or not death is inevitable.  We are not guaranteed our next second, minute, day, month, or year.  But, like so many others, I live my life as though I am invincible and as though I have many years ahead of me. 
But whether I like it or not, the future for me and everyone else on this planet is a great big unknown.  And this scares me a lot.  But at the same time, it's kind of brilliant.
I've heard the saying "live every day like it's your last" more times than I'd care to count.  But I've only recently realised that for all I know this day could be my last, so I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and stop taking life for granted. 
Human life is fragile, short, and filled with ups and downs.  Thinking about this has made my mind go to some pretty dark places and made me feel scared and emotional a lot of the time. 
But at the same time it's made me put things into perspective. 
I may have a list of things going on in my life that are making me scared, upset, angry, and worried.  But I have a list twice as long of things in my life to be thankful for and that make me happy and I forget this on a daily basis.  I need to make the time on a daily basis to be thankful for what I have (even if it is just my favourite Primark pyjamas), to tell the people that I love how I feel, and to let go of the negative things in my mind and in my life.

  Yes, life is fragile.  But above everything else life is beautiful.  Life is crazy, fun, loud, scary, exciting, exhilarating, upsetting, busy, stressful, bright, and just completely mad.

This thing called life that we all try to tackle on a daily basis is a huge, unknown adventure, if we make it one. 

I need to stop wallowing in self pity, take my life (including everyone and everything in it) for granted, and start making it an adventure, despite the anxiety that I feel on a daily basis, I need to start seeing the good in my life and stop dwelling on the bad. 

Life is fragile and I need to have a perspective where I am aware of this, but aware of it in a way that makes me live my life as an unknown adventure instead of being scared of it. 


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