5 C’s To Managing My Anxiety

For the last decade, I have been suffering with crippling anxiety. As I made the transition from my teens to my twenties, my anxiety continued to grow and I started to feel like I was no longer in control of my thoughts, emotions, actions or behaviour. This year, it started to feel stronger than it ever has before. It was like I was living with an uncontrollable monster inside my head, one that was trying to destroy my life and constantly paralysing me with fear and doubt. I have been trying different methods to get rid of this life-ruining anxiety with no long-term success. I was trying to find a ‘magic cure.’ I wanted to be ‘normal.’ I wanted to be ‘anxiety-free.’ That was the problem. I was trying to eliminate my anxiety, rather than learning to manage it. I believe I have found the best way to manage my anxiety and it isn’t just one thing, it’s a combination of five different things. What works for me may not work for anyone else, but I believe I now have the right tools in my anxiety toolbox to not only manage my anxiety on a daily basis but no longer let it take over my life and jeopardise my health and happiness.

CALM

If I consistently practice yoga and meditation and give myself a little bit of time each day to unwind and slow down, it has a huge impact on my anxiety levels. Yoga has the amazing ability to change the outcome of my day. Focusing on the breath takes my attention away from my thoughts, even if it is only for thirty minutes a day. If I ever find myself overthinking, a quick sun salutation is sometimes all it takes to press the refresh button. I started doing yoga about five years ago and I still remember the first time I tried it, honestly, it has been a lifesaver during my lowest moments. I go through phases of laziness when I don’t practice and I see a big change in my mood when I don’t spend time on the mat. I need to be stricter with my yoga practice because it really does benefit my overall wellbeing. Meditation is something else that keeps me grounded. I have the Headspace app on my phone and sometimes a guided meditation is all it takes to change my mindset for the day. Yoga, meditation and finding time for self-care are all the ways I find calm in my day.

CBD

Something new I decided to try was CBD oil. I have always known about it, well before the current CBD craze that has swept the internet recently. I was always a little hesitant but decided to buy some a few months ago. I was taking it every day and felt much calmer. However, I didn’t know if that was just a placebo effect. When I ran out, it gave me a chance to see how I would feel without it. I spent four weeks without my daily dose and slowly but surely, the panic started to return, I found myself going back into old negative thought patterns and whenever I felt stressed at work, it started to affect me in a physical way, tight chest, headaches and light-headedness. I’ve started to taking it again and the only word I can use to describe how it makes me feel is zen. I know CBD oil has many benefits but for me it keeps me in a even-tempered state, it’s almost as if the things that usually trigger stress and lead to anxiety didn’t bother me in the same way…. magic!

CREATIVITY

I’m a creative person. I love art, music and poetry. I am always looking for new ways to be creative. What I have found is that having a consistent creative outlet, whether this may be cross-stitching, painting, playing guitar and ukulele or writing poetry, it has a drastic change on my thoughts, my mood and my overall anxiety level. Something that has really helped me is creating an art journal. On a regular basis, I get out my art box, which is full of paints, pencils and pastels and I just create. I spend hours, I get lost in a creative haze and during that time, I am free to do whatever I choose to do. Now that I have a job that gives me more time to spend alone to do these things, I have noticed a big difference in my health and happiness.

CAPSULES

I’ve never been one for prescription medication. I am extremely sensitive to anything doctors prescribe me, so when I can, I find natural and holistic alternatives. Holland & Barrett is one of my favourite places! What I love about it is not only can you find supplements to aid different problems in your life, the staff are extremely knowledgeable. After talking to someone in H&B, I decided to give 5HTP tablets a try. If you’re not sure what they are and what they do. 5HTP is a daily dose of serotonin (Serotonin is an important chemical and neurotransmitter in the human body. It helps regulate mood and low levels of serotonin can contribute to depression) I started taking them every day and my mood was so much better! I also stopped taking hormonal birth control (as I believed that this was contributing to my anxiety and depression, five months later and my mental health has improved dramatically, so I am 99% certain that being on the pill for a long time was a contributing factor to my decline in mental wellbeing in the last 9 years).

COUNSELLING

I’ve always been open on here about my struggles with my mental health because I think it is important, it helps to remove stigma and let people know that they are not alone. I have tried CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) in the past, twice, but it didn’t work for me. This year, I finally took what feels like the final step in my anxiety journey. I booked to see a private counsellor. I was tired of my anxiety holding me back. I had no idea if it would work but I’m so glad it did. I’ve had five sessions already and I feel like a different person. The things that have weighed me down for years suddenly feel lighter. I still find myself being anxious from time to time but it quickly passes like a cloud, it doesn’t stick around anymore, it doesn’t build and build until I have a panic attack, I finally feel in control of it and this is because of my counsellor, she’s amazing and worth every penny!

Finding these five different things and doing them all simultaneously has been the key to managing my anxiety. Finally, I feel free from it. I no longer walk around believing there is something wrong with me because there isn’t. The label of General Anxiety Disorder that I wore so proudly for years has been ripped from my chest, I don’t want it anymore. Anxiety is a normal part of life. Allowing it to consume you and become part of your identity like I have been doing isn’t healthy, I know that now. Letting anxiety affect your daily life and being so paralysed by fear that you don’t allow yourself to be happy is madness, yet I let it happen for years. I was blinded by anxiety but now I see everything so clearly. I’m ready for then next decade, 2020 is going to be a continued year of personal growth for me and my number one goal is to continue managing my anxiety and live a calm, balanced, happy and healthy life.

‘Wild’ Film Review

A inspirational montage of hallucinations, beauty and heart. Wild captures the struggle of addiction, grief and loneliness and still manages to uplift, reminding you that no matter what happens, you have to keep moving forward, one foot at a time.

Based on Cheryl Strayed’s best selling memoir Wild: A Journey From Lost To Found, Wild is a great comeback for talented actress Reese Witherspoon. Far away from the blonde bombshell of Legally Blonde, Witherspoon shows her vulnerable side and shows the world that she is anything but a one trick pony.

The film deals with sex, drugs, addiction, grief and learning from past mistakes but the dark themes are juxtaposed with inspiring moments of faith, freedom and enlightenment. Cheryl Strayed is a flawed character but that only makes her more relatable.

When the film begins, we learn about Cheryl and how her mother’s premature death has sent her into a downward spiral of self-destruction. Cheryl is determined to find herself again so she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, alone with her thoughts, she works through everything she was previously trying to forget.

The film incorporates Cheryl’s backstory by using hallucinatory memories, poetry and songs. The narrative is honest, the acting is superb and the message is crystal clear. Wild is a terrific film that brings to life the real story of one woman’s journey that helped her find herself again.

Rating – 5/5

‘Lucy’ Film Review

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Lucy is a heart-pounding action packed thriller with eccentric possibilities. 

Luc Besson’s latest film Lucy has been compared to Limitless, a previous film starring Bradley Cooper but the thriller explores further fictional realms. The plot begins with the main character Lucy played by Scarlett Johansson, a student living in Taiwan. Her latest boyfriend Richard tricks her into delivering a case to a group of business men in a fancy hotel. In a matter of minutes Lucy is thrown into a mess of blood, drugs and crime when she and three other men are used as drug mules to transport a mystery drug CPH4 to different countries.

After being kicked in the stomach where the drugs are stored Lucy experiences the devastating effects of the drug leaking into her body. The sub-plot centres around Professor Samuel Norman played by Morgan Freeman, who’s area of academic expertise surrounds brain activity and cerebral capacity. The plot switches between the action of  Lucy discovering her abilities and Professor Samuel Norman talking about what would happen if humans could use more than 10% of their brains.

When the characters collide the fast paced plot soars and the mind blowing blend of science and fiction creates an exciting  film experience. The words that really stood out to me during the film were ‘Without time we don’t exist.’ This profound sentence captivates the entire meaning of the film and makes you wonder if we actually exist at all. There are very few films that leave a lasting effect on the viewer, Lucy is one of those films. It is a gem, the best film I have seen this year and if you love science fiction, action or thrillers you will definitely love this film.

Five stars *****

Orange Is The New Black TV Review

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A beautifully plotted TV series with heart wrenching moments of truth.

Orange Is The New Black is the latest TV craze to spark controversy and gain instant fans. This comedy drama set in a prison was everything I wanted it to be and more. The writing, first of all is absolutely brilliant in this show. The characters are individual and I really liked the way that each episode focused on their backgrounds, how they ended up in prison and how much they have changed since their crime.

There is a diverse cast and some of the stories are lifted from Piper Kerman’s memoir ‘My Time In A Women’s Prison.’ The series began as a rich to rags story about the main character Piper and her ways of adapting to the prison life. Although I enjoyed the first few episodes, it wasn’t until the end of season one that my anticipation grew.

However, as the first season progressed and season two began, the main arc of the series focused on the conflicts between inmates and how their stories coincided.  I personally loved the character Suzanne Warren, often referred to as Crazy Eyes. She was a wonderful character with many layers to her back story and I am glad that justice happened in the end for her character in the season two finale.

I now have to wait like everyone else until next year for the next instalment of Orange Is The New Black, but after that spectacular season finale. I am left feeling satisfied and warmed by the surprise endings and the sweet karma that killed an inmate that definitely had it coming.

Watch it! I promise you won’t regret it.

Five Stars!

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Film Review

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Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is back with the second adaptation of The Hunger Games Trilogy.

Catching Fire is a wonderful addition to the first film and it has definitely stayed true to the book and true to the characters that the readers created in their minds when reading the series. I am always sceptical when I watch adaptations because most film makers ignore some of the important points in the book and leave them out of the film. Catching Fire was an exception to this. It was exactly like the book! The first Hunger Games left out a couple of key points but the film contained all of the plot points that were needed to tell Katniss’ story.

The story takes place in a futuristic place of Panem, where people live in districts and teenagers compete in a televised fight to the death called The Hunger Games. In the first book we are introduced to this concept and follow Katniss as she wins The Hunger Games alongside Peeta Melark (Josh Hutcherson), a boy from the bakery who also lives in district 12. The Capitol, who are in charge of the games were not best pleased with the stunt that the two young teenagers pulled and their act of rebellion would definitely come back to haunt them this time round.

President Snow, still in charge, decides to hold a Quarter Quell for the 75th Hunger Games, which means that victors from all of the games compete together. There are some new quirky characters in the second film, Katniss and Peeta fight, holding hands, pretending to be in love for the sake of both of their lives. This Hunger Games was set in a tropical jungle, the challenges that they face are even more dangerous than before. Catching Fire is a step up from the first, Mocking Jay is hoping to be even better. There are rumours that the final film will be split in two parts. I can’t believe that I have to wait another year to see Mockingjay in the cinema.

Catching Fire is an excellent film, the book, written by Suzanne Collins is equally excellent. The perfect young adult fiction series since Harry Potter in my opinion. Collins has created her own franchise, just like JK Rowling. I really believe in The Hunger Games franchise and I know that it will carry on being successful.

If you love the books or just want to see a fantastic action-filled exciting adventure then Catching Fire is for you. This film adaptation exceeded my expectations and more.

Brilliant!

It definitely will not disappoint you!

Rating 5/5

‘The Hunger Games’ Film Review

I went to the cinema today to watch ‘The Hunger Games.’ I saw the trailer  about a month ago and I had already heard a few of the songs on the soundtrack. I don’t really know what my expectations of this film were but they were definatley exceeded. I loved the film because the storyline was strong and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The main protagonist Katniss Everdeen is a brave character who volunteers to fight in the hunger games for district twelve instead of her sister Primrose. The other main character Peeta Mellark is also part of the same district and without spoiling too much for you they also have a strong bond throughout the film. I loved the mix of elements displayed in the film, there were some parts that almost made you laugh but the sadness overshadows most of the film.

The ending is a surprise too and you know that the story doesn’t end there, I knew there was two other parts to the hunger games trilogy so I knew the film makers would end the story on a nice cliffhanger. The film is amazing and if you have a chance to go to the cinema I would go and see it. I usually read the book and then go and watch the film because the books are usually better.

In this case I watched the film first, I am going to go and buy all three books from Waterstones and hope to not be disappointed with the comparison to the film. The Hunger Games is the next big phenomenon and I know that fans will be praying that Catching Fire and Mockingjay are also made into films.

Rating – 5 stars