Christmas Wishes…

Christmas, a time filled with family, friends, hope and laughter…I love the seasons undeniable beauty, with light brightening the streets, decorations filling the fireplace and of course the warmth of sitting by the fire with those I love.

But also as a sufferer of mental illness there is the added pressure associatiated with this special day. There is no “off switch” for Anorexia, Depression Anxiety or any other Mental Illness so just like any other day it is unpredictable how much it will effect you.

Recovering from an Eating Disorder at Christmas can be difficult but this year unlike the previous 10 years I’m going to try to not let food become the focus. Instead i will think about positives and be mindful to other activities that are important.

This applies to every one – that if you feel anxious or concerned around ANY situation in the day try not to let them become the negative focus. Sometimes it can be helpful to distract yourself from negative thoughts and in my experience I have found that taking a walk with a family member or friend helps to keep your mind of things, particularly if I’m feeling guilty or panicked. Some other alternatives some people have used is playing a board game, calling a friend or relative, listening to music or focusing on light conversation as positive alternatives.

It can be very easy to become completely enveloped during Christmas, which can magnify the inwards feeling your thoughts can give you and leave you feeling excluded from your surroundings. This year make sure you maintain contact with the outside world and don’t get too drawn into a vortex!

Fight your fears head on and have the magical Christmas you all deserve…

“The blessings of peace, the beauty of hope, the spirit of love, the comfort of faith… may this be your gifts this christmas”

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Almost anything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes – even you…

The art of relaxation… a chance for your body to recharge, recover and revitalise. With many appreciating the time spent sprawled across the sofa, watching a film or enjoying a bubble bath. It is important that we all have this opportunity to just “let go” and forget all that is going on around us.

But it can be hard or even a rare occasion for many as they cannot seem to find any time in their hectic schedule. I understand that many are constantly on the go, busy, under pressure or have many responsibilities… However, I still think we use the excuse far too often!

Everyone has time to fit in at least a couple of minutes to put down the phone, shut their eyes and switch off from the world.Yes, switch off…that thing we all find a struggle to do – me included.

Personally I find it hard to relax, not because I don’t have the time but more because I don’t allow myself too. Unfortunately the compulsion to keep constantly moving and on the go has come as part of my Anorexia. This means that any moments I find myself beginning to relax I am filled with a nagging voice telling me I’m either to lazy or don’t deserve to rest.

This can be difficult when both physically and mentally exhausted and something I am trying to address as a part of my recovery. Whilst an inpatient I had relaxation classes which were scheduled into our weekly time-table. I found these sessions very beneficial and although it was sometimes difficult due to the guilt, I knew it was something I had to do…

Since returning to “normal life” I have not had this dedicated time slot to relax and if I am honest I have not been consistently allowing myself too. The last week I have spent on holiday in Zakythnos, although initially being overwhelmed with guilt, I am beginning to remember just how important it is and am ready to re-introduce it when I return home…

Many of you will be wondering why something most people really love, I manage to find so hard. Well if I’m honest I don’t know the exact reason behind it either? But what I do know is that any moment I do end up trying to switch off my thoughts can become unmanageable and like those with a stressful job this is the time when everything seems to rush to the front of our minds.

I have learnt some techniques to successfully switch off when I feel panicky or overwhelmed and have found this also helps with the aim of “switching off.”

  • Move into a safe or calming environment – being surrounded by a place of safety will automatically make you feel calmer
  • Be aware of sounds, smells and the feel of things around you – noticing small thing’s like the rustling of trees in the wind or even the clock ticking can give you a distraction
  • Lastly, I was advised to focus on my breathing – firstly because slowing down each breath helps your body relax and also they reverse the effects of adrenaline.

“If you neglect to charge a battery, it dies. And if you run full speed ahead without stopping for water, you lose momentum to finish the race” So make it a priority of yours to schedule in some time to relax because although it may feel an inconvenience, in the long run you will really appreciate it!!