Walking has become my new saviour. Anxiety has become the prison I find myself trapped in and I’ve been searching for things that allow me to set myself free. I bought Spotify premium and mental health-wise it’s been such a good investment. I use Spotify everyday anyway, but recently I’ve been using it even more due to the amount of exercise I’ve been doing and so I decided to treat myself to Premium as a form of self-care, and it worked. I also bought myself a white orchid as a form of self-care, because I’d been wanting one for a while and so when I saw a beautiful white one in Marks and Spencer’s I decided to buy it. She’s called Ophelia, I’m keeping her on my white desk at home and she looks very pretty there. That was a week ago – I came into the office this morning and my boss had also bought me an orchid because I’d been saying how much I wanted one. This one is called Aurora and she’s white with lilac tiger-patterns on her petals. She’s also very pretty and now sits on my desk at work, so now I have two beautiful orchids at home and work and when I look at them I think of self-care.
Walking has now also become self-care for me, I love putting my headphones in and just walking for hours in my own company, getting to watch the sun go down and thinking anything and everything I want to, being in my own world, my own solitude and feeling the fresh air on my face and in my lungs – feeling free. It’s become therapy for me, a daily thing I have to do that my day would be worse-off for if I didn’t or couldn’t get the chance. On Sunday afternoon I took my dog for a walk which is something I also love to do, putting my headphones in and going for a walk in what is essentially still my own company but I’m not on my own because I have my little bear beside me and he’s enjoying his walk. That’s why animals are better than humans – they don’t ask questions. I like allowing Ted to just explore and take his time, rather than dragging him along like I’m in a rush and have somewhere to be. It’s very relaxing to just listen to my music and wander with him, to just let him do his own thing. On Sunday the weather was pretty unpredictable but the sun eventually did come out and so I decided to risk it. I was listening to Taylor’s Red album, as I always do (with the new version coming out in November I cannot tell you how happy my heart is to re-experience the whole thing all over again) and after about 10 minutes it decided to rain. Hard. When I have my headphones in I am very much in my own world and don’t pay attention to my surroundings because it’s nice to just escape the reality of the real-world sometimes, and suddenly the rain started to come down hard and All Too Well came on which, if you didn’t already know, is my favourite T.Swift song and one of my favourite songs in general and it started playing and suddenly I was running home through the streets in the rain with Ted and laughing to nobody but myself but it was perfect and a little bit magical and felt like some silly thing you’d see in a movie but it was real life and I was the main character and I’m running down these streets getting soaked and so is Ted but we’re racing and I can’t see but All Too Well is playing and I’m in a movie and I’m laughing and I don’t care what I look like or whatever anyone else who sees me may think and I didn’t have another thought in the world at that moment other than that.
I’m so grateful for my legs and how strong they’ve become, how they allow me the ability to run and walk and take myself on these journeys in order to set myself free. I’m grateful for unlimited music and buying beautiful plants as a form of self-care – something I need to do more of but self-care is not a one size fits all scenario and it looks different for everybody, something I didn’t realise until recently. For some, self-care is taking a long, hot bath, doing a facemask, or buying new clothes. For me, self-care is walking, buying plants to fill my space with and lighting beautiful candles without worrying about the fact I’m doing so because guess what? I can always buy more, and that in itself will be self-care and something to get excited about.
My other boss (not the one with the orchid) and I were discussing books the other morning and we had a great conversation about literature which is of course, something I love. We had a lengthy discussion and during it recommended lots of great works to each other, prompting him to say he would make sure to do me a little list of recommendations of books he’d think I’d like / should read, and sure enough I came into the office this morning and there was a post-it note of book recommendations stuck on my keyboard. I’ve been reading books about anxiety recently which is something I also don’t do enough of as I only ever tend to read fiction, but one of the helpful tips was to keep an anxiety journal as such, and write down the things that are making you anxious in there. I journal regularly anyway and have different journals for different things, I also have lots of spare notebooks for future use anyway and so adding another journal to the mix wasn’t an issue. Every day (because you know, anxiety is a daily occurrence in this household) I now write down all of the things that have made me feel anxious throughout the day. This allows me to see my anxious thought patterns and look back on the things that were at one point making me feel anxious but which I’m now over, so that I can realise that there was no point in even worrying about them in the first place because things actually turned out fine and it’s all okay. I can then also cross out, rip up / burn pages as I see fit which will also make me feel better.
To counteract it I’ve then started writing positives below these anxieties, so that yes, I’ve had these different worries today, but also there were some good things that happened too – I went on a walk, my boss bought me an orchid, my other boss wrote me a list of book recommendations, and so on. I’m trying to just be present and in the room, because these anxieties only exist inside my head and so if I could just step outside of my body I’d realise they don’t exist inside the physical room and space I’m standing in, they’re just inside my head. My thoughts aren’t real, physical, tangible things and I am in control of them. Doing a lot of self-searching and self-discovery at the minute, I know that would normally be phrased as “soul-searching” but that’s not what this is right now, I’m just taking time to push myself to do things that I know will make me feel better. It’s pitch-black outside and it’s freezing and raining and I really can’t be bothered to get out of my cosy pjs and go to the gym but guess what? I do. The weather outside is cold and I’m tired from a long day at work so I really can’t be bothered to go on my 5 mile walk right now but guess what? I still do. And I always feel so much better for it afterwards. I get excited on Friday afternoons when I finish work early and the sun is shining and I can take Ted for a nice leisurely walk. I like sitting in my back garden curled up in the fresh air reading rather than being stuck in my room and doing the same thing. Now that the Winter months have arrived, I’m trying to navigate the fact the weather won’t be on my side anymore and it will be dark and raining 99% of the time – trying not to let that affect me too much even though it’s going to stop me walking as much as I want to and the seasonal depression will probably hit me like a ton of bricks – we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, I’m just reminding myself that I’m okay, I will be okay. I can’t just accept the fact that things are fine for now, it’s like my brain can’t process the idea that maybe something isn’t wrong for once and that maybe I can be happy. My happiness is always short-lived though before another anxiety trigger is set off and I’m back to square one, so it’s like I can never just be okay…because there must be something wrong, right? Surely things can’t just be fine? And then there’s always this underlying feeling of anxiety for me as I wait for the next thing to go wrong, because surely it will. Something I need to work on but haven’t found a solution for yet. Trying.