Run a 10 Minute Mile in My Shoes….

‘It’s not that your goals are physically impossible that’s keeping you from achieving them; it’s that you lack the self-discipline to stick to them. It’s physically possible to lose weight. It’s physically possible to exercise more’ – Daniel Goldstein

I’ll openly admit that I’m probably one of the messiest, laziest person you’re ever likely to meet, and I’m perfectly ok with that. It also wouldn’t be unfair to describe me as wishy washy or flaky. I can make up a million believable reasons not to do something if I really don’t want to. One thing you may not know about me however is that every now and again, I’ll decide to do something and I won’t stop until it’s done.

On example of that recently was saving up for a trip of a lifetime to Vegas with Meagan. Another was just before Christmas when I set myself a challenge of being able to run a mile in under 10 minutes. I’ve never been shy of the fact that I’m not a natural runner, I’m 5’4 – with only a foot of that made up of leg, and my thighs are as wide as they are long (think less Beyonce, more international sumo wrestler) but I do know what good exercise it is, it tones me up like nothing else, and as cheesy as it may sounds, that ‘runners high’ you get when you’re finished is pretty addictive.

I’ve challenged myself with exercise a few times in the past. In 2015 I did a ‘10K Everyday’ challenge I invented myself as a way to stay fit over the Easter weekend and it’s been on my bucket list for years now to complete a half marathon at some point. The reasons I decided on a 10 minute mile challenge were four fold:

  1. It was less time consuming than marathon training and was something I could tag onto the end of a standard workout
  2. It’s something that can be done in the gym – which in the cold winter months was a huge attraction
  3. I feel I have endurance exercise down, I can zone out on the crosstrainer for 90 minutes on a good day, but fast, high intensity isn’t something I do much of, so will be good to try something new
  4. The treadmill at my gym shows you running around a virtual 400m running track and when you grow up with Janine ‘Gazelle’ Weightman and Angela ‘School Cross Country Team’ Harrison as your best mates, I want to prove to 12 year old Helen that running round a running track isn’t the stuff of nightmares it once was.

So after about two and a half months training (about a month of being frustratingly stuck on 10:15mins), on Sunday 18th December 2016 I did it, I ran a mile in 10 minutes (in under 10 minutes actually) and it felt pretty bloody amazing.

wp-1483563593927.jpgPhotographic evidence: calories, speed, time, distance

What’s even more bloody amazing is I’ve managed to do it again every time I’ve stepped on a treadmill since then as well, so it wasn’t just a one off – yippee!

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More photographic evidence from 04.04.2017

It feels good to set yourself a goal and achieve it. Not just achieve it actually but work it into your daily workout routine. Now I need to start thinking about what I’m going to do next; it’s Easter weekend again soon however I reckon the possibility of me running another 10K every day this year is slim to none – still, it’s something I can tell the grandkids I did once…

Introducing #SundayExerciseClub

Exercise is really important to me – it’s therapeutic. So if I’m ever feeling tense or stressed or like I’m about to have a meltdown, I’ll put on my iPod and head to the gym’ – Michelle Obama

Background

I had all the best intension at the beginning of the year, I was going to get back into eating right and exercising regularly. For the most part this has happened, but a nasty bout of gastroenteritis in the second week sapped any semblance of energy I may have had and seems to have pushed me back a bit.

One thing I have started doing is walking. There are loads of country parks round where I live so I’ve been sticking the headphones in and just walking around in the fresh air for an hour and a half. I was pounding the pavements this morning and as I waved and smiled at all the other walkers/runner cyclists etc it felt like we were all part of a sunday morning exercise club.

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Then I started to think what a good twitter hashtag that would make. We all like to feel part of something, to feel included to to surround ourselves with like minded people. My friend Suzie has already set up the very successful #sundayblogshare so I thought how nice would it be to have an all inclusive #sundayexerciseclub for anyone who wants to share their sunday morning success stories or look to others for motivation. A sunday seemd a perfect day to choose, as if you’re anything like me you may have had a few cheeky gins the night before and there’s strong temptation to sit on the sofa watching last nights episode of The Voice.

The ‘Rules’

The idea is simple really, if you want to talk about what you’re up to that day exercise wise this is the place to do it. Just simply tweet the hashtag #sundayexrciseclub and i’ll pick it up and retweet it at @sundayexercise.

No exercise is off limits, It could be anything from walking to the shops instead of taking the car, playing in the park with your kids, having a session in the gym, doing a workout video at home or training for a marathon. There’s absolutely nothing off limits. It’s not just about the success stories though, #sundayexerciseclub is also a place to go if you’re feeling unmotivated and need some advice or perhaps you want some inspiration to get out the house?

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Of course this doesn’t just have to be a text tweet, a screen shot of your running app, a motivational quote or a picture of the sunday dinner you’re rewarding yourself with, the more creative the better, just make sure you include the hashtag #sundayexerciseclub

So if you fancy being part of this new movement, you can follow us right here @sundayexercise

We look forward to reading all about your adventures!

 

 

New Activewear for 2016

The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them’ – Lee Haney

So I know social media has been awash with the whole ‘new year, new me’ stuff that get’s rehashed every year but the truth is, starting a new year is a good time to make all those changes or do all those things you said you always would.

In 2005 I joined weight watchers soon realised the more I exercised, the more I could eat so quickly joined the gym. I fast became a cross trainer addict, so much so that in 2010 I bought my own so I could work out at home. And I did for a long time. The problem with that was the cross trainer I had at home was getting old and rickety and I didn’t feel I was getting a good work out anymore, so I rejoined the gym.

When it comes to gym fashion, I’ve always been a joggers and t-shirt kind of girl; in fact when I worked out at home I was a joggers and sports bra kind of girl (my poor neighbours!). Of course now I’m back exercising in public again it would be unfair to subject my prosecco tummy to the great and good of Newcastle upon Tyne so I’ve used this new year as an opportunity to overhaul my gym wardrobe. If I’m going to look like a hot, pink, sweaty mess after 45 minutes on the crosstrainer, I may as well look cute doing it!

For me this year it’s all about the slogan t-shirt. After the festive over indulgence I need every bit of motivation I can get so that means cheesy words of wisdom emblazoned on my chest. On my bottom half, I’ve never been a fan of leggings, they don;t do my thunderous thighs much justice so I tend to lean towards cropped joggers – they’re a little harder to find but way more flattering than squeezing myself into spandex!

So here’s what I’ve found to get me through that painful first month back in the gym:

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‘Till you drop’ graphic tee – Forever 21 £11

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‘Days Off’ Muscle Tee – Forever 21 £9

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‘Yes You Can’ tee – Forever 21 (sold out online)

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‘Don’t Give Up’ t-shirt -George @ Asda £6 

My Fantasy Workout Outfit*

‘I’m 33 now and I seem to have hit a fitness plane. Shifting the wobbly bits isn’t as easy as it used to be’ – Matthew Rhys

As Nigel Lythgoe once famously said ‘Christmas is over and the goose has gotten fat’. Whilst I try and still hit the gym over the festive period, it’s more damage limitation than anything else, and when I shoe horned myself back into my work trousers last Monday, I knew I could procrastinate no longer and it was time to get back to the gym tout suite!

Steadily over the years, activewear has become more and more accessible, you can get some really decent fitness gear on the high street and in supermarkets, which, along with ebay is where I get the majority of my fitness stuff.

I’ll admit I could be accused of being a ‘joggers and faded t-shirt’ kind of girl in the past, but the older I get, and the more important exercise becomes to me, I’m beginning to realise that going to the gym doesn’t mean you can’t also look super stylish. So when online company Farfetch got in touch and asked me to put together my dream workout outfit, I jumping-jacked at the chance!

My fantasy workout outfit:

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If you’re a woman, nothing is more important than keeping those heaving beasts strapped down so you don’t injure yourself (or indeed others) and this Calvin Klein elastic bra (£23.94) ticks all my boxes. It’s predominantly cotton which prevents nipple  chaffing (and trust me, that is no pic nic!), has a racer back so will fit under all your sport tops and is a neutral colour which won’t blaze through your t-shirt.

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I have many good qualities and am generally body confident however I feel let down by my bottom half. As such my thighs don’t really lend themselves well to super trendy patterned leggings, which is where these Monreal London cropped track pants (£107.73) are like a godsend for ladies with larger lower limbs. The drawstring waistband makes them comfortable (perfect for post Christmas chub) pockets to keep your locker key and phone out the way, and also lightweight and cropped to keep you cool, perfect for cross-training on spinning where baggy full length joggers can get in the way.

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One of my two fashion obsessions? Cobalt blue. Being naturally blonde it’s a colour that suits my complexion and I always get loads of compliments when I wear it, and anything that distracts from my pink sweaty face is a good thing! I normally avoid wearing too much colour on my top half to be honest as darker colours hide the sweat better but I think the material of this Monreal London ‘Performance Airstream’ tank top (£110.00) looks super breathable so is likely to keep you more cool than a cotton t-shirt, plus a personal trainer once told me ‘sweat is sexy’ so there.

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It’s really important to keep warm after exercise, even though you might feel boiling hot, your body temperature can drop really quickly. I love this all encompassing Scoop neck sweatshirt by Alexander Wang (£143.64). It’s nice and baggy – there’s nothing worse than trying to put something tight on over a sweaty body, but more importantly,  the way it’s cut means the blue vest will poke out from the bottom and around the neck, adding a pop of colour for if you have to pop to Tesco on your way home (as I invariably do!)

My other fashion obsession? Leopard print. I think keeping the rest of your workout gear in basic, block colours (for practicality reasons more than anything) means you can completely go to town on your trainers. I don’t often get to wear cobalt blue and leopard print together which is why I’ve picked these Golden Goose Deluxe Brand ‘Running’ sneakers (£267.34) and I think pulls the whole outfit together, creating a sweet spot between being matchy-matchy  and garish.

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Finally, if you’re anything like me, the moment you bum touches the sofa after work, it takes far too much motivation to get yourself back up again which means you more than likely go to the gym on your way home. If so you’re going to need something to keep all your posh new swag in. What’s cuter than this Joshua Sanders x Barbapapa face embroidered backpack (£275.32)?!

Farfetch’s tag line is ‘300 boutiques, 1 address’ and is the perfect place if you’re prepared to splash some serious cash. Along with what I’ve picked, they stock almost everything swanky from high end designers like Balmain and Dolce & Gabbana to more high street brands like Nike and Adidas. If I ever win the lottery, I may well become a regular customer. After all, I’m going to need to look the part in the private gym in my mansion!

Contact:

http://farfetch.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/farfetch
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Farfetch
Instagram: https://instagram.com/farfetch

 

Surviving my first spinning class

‘If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health’ – Hippocrates

You wouldn’t think it to look at me but I love to exercise.  I never used to, I used to be the laziest chick you’d ever meet and in some ways I still am, but ever since I joined weight watchers about 10 years ago and figured the more you exercise the more chocolate you can eat, I’ve been really trying to build it into my life.

The crosstrainer has always been my equipment of choice, until recently I only ever ran when being chased and the crosstrainer gave you a good workout without the impact on your hips and knees. I got good at it too, I can easily do an hour session if I have the right music or TV shows to watch. Problem is it almost became too easy and I no longer felt I was pushing myself anymore.

I’ve never liked exercise classes, perhaps it’s something to do with growing up in the army where everything was so regimental I tend to challenge being told what to do. Every class I’ve ever tried, step classes or Zumba in particular, I never felt I was getting more of a workout than when I would just crosstrain. Steph had been telling me about all the classes she does at her gym and she really enjoys them (and she’s got the most amazing figure so she speaks with authority) so I decided to bite the bullet and try my first spinning class.

I took Dave along for some moral support as non impact strength exercise helps out with his running training. He got a free session as it was his first time and I get classes free as part of my gym membership. My gym offers 3 different types of spinning classes:

Beginners spin
Virtual spin
Advanced spin

We started off at a beginners class and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was only half an hour so felt like a good gentle introduction. Although gentle isn’t the way I would describe the class, it was hard!

The best thing about it is that you set the resistance yourself, you can work as hard or as gently as you like. So beginners spin went well, Dave also managed to position himself on a bike behind a lycra clad gym goddess so he thought the class was a roaring success. I then moved on to virtual spin which is essentially a DVD on a big screen and no instructor present. Again, I liked it, it was a longer class than the beginners spin so felt I got a better workout, however I didn’t find the DVD as motivating as if an instructor was there, and the guy on the DVD was pretty annoying. So feeling like I hadn’t quite spun enough over the last few days I bit the bullet and tried Advanced spin on Sunday morning. Now, I wasn’t sure whether it was ‘advanced’ because it was harder than beginners or ‘advanced’ because it was 15 minutes longer. Turns out it was both. So to say I left everything in the saddle is an understatement. Once the 45 minutes was up I flopped off the bike in a sweaty blonde blob and lay in the fetal position until my legs stopped shaking and would be able to bear my weight again*

Pretty much exactly what I look like during spinning…..

...that's obviously a lie, this is what I really look before and after spinning!

…that’s obviously a lie, this is what I really look before and after spinning!

So now having tried 3 classes in 5 days, here’s my pros and cons for giving spinning a go

Pros:

  • You can go at your own pace so don’t feel like you’re having to work as hard as the super fit Fitty McFitface on the bike next to you
  • Because it’s quite high intensity, the classes are quite short, so you get the same workout in half the time. More time for chocolate cake – yay!
  • Unlike Zumba (or ‘Aerobics rebranded’ as I like to call it) you really feel like you’re getting a decent workout, especially on your legs, which, if your thighs are an thunderous as mine, is essential
  • Classes are obviously at set times, which means you have to go, if I’m just going to the gym to work out on a Saturday or Sunday morning it’s ah-mazing what I can think of to do to procrastinate.
  • In my gym, classes are included in my £19.95 a month membership, so it doesn’t cost me any extra
  • When you sprint you feel like a total badass

Cons:

  • Because you go at your own pace it’s easy to not push yourself as much, but remember you’re only cheating yourself, or something or nothing
  • The seats aren’t the most comfortable in the world. Your undercarriage will be rather sore afterwards
  • In my gym, you have to ring a book a bike, and can only ring on the day of the class, which is a bit of a pain in the undercarriage

So there you go, spinning is now my thing. Mind you, running was my thing once and I soon got board of that so stay tuned in a couple of months for a post on how I’m now obsessed with underwater polo or something equally as ridiculous!

*Ok that may be a *slight* exaggeration but it was pretty hard!

10 of the Best: Girl Problems

People care less about your actions than you think. Why? They have their own problems!’ – Kris Carr

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a girl, and despite the fact that I will maintain I was a tom boy growing up because I climbed the odd tree and wore jeans a lot, i’m pretty much the most girly girl you’ll meet. I love clothes and make up and getting my nails done, I do however get jealous when my husband can shower, change and get ready for a night out in 8 minutes when the only thing I can get done in 8 minutes is decide that my hair needs it’s 5th re-straighten.

Sometimes men just don’t understand what we have to deal with. So here are 10 of the most annoying Girl Problems that haunt my very existence on a daily basis:

1. Hair bobble problems

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Is there anything more annoying than the lack of elasticity of a hair bobble? Or even worse, when you stretch one too far to get it round that third time and it snaps ricocheting off the back of your hand and causing a wound that requires immediate medical attention.

2. Short girl problems

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I’m a 5’4 gal from a family of 6’2 men, which means when giving my big brother a hug my head nestles perfectly betwixt his nipples, which is just uncomfortable for everyone involved.

3. Sweaty girl problems

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I sweat so much at the gym I could give Lee Evans a run for his money. The earbud problem is very real for me, so much so that my doctor actually told me off for wearing them because my sweaty ears were causing my Labrynthitis to flare up. But what are the other options? Beats by Dre? What am I, made of money? Or even worse listen to the Happy Hardcore they pump through the gyms sound system? I think not!

4. Nail varnish problems

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I don’t paint my nails these days as much as used to but when I do, you can bet your bottom dollar the left hand will look immaculate and the right hand will look like I just poured the bottle directly onto each nail and hoped for the best. Also, why is it that a heavy gust of wind will smudge your freshly painted finger nails yet paint your toe nails and they can survive a nuclear holocaust?

5. Hair grip problems

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There must me a vortex somewhere in my house that all my hair grips and bobbles go, and one day the vortex will implode and every hair accessory I’ve ever owned will come raining down on me like a biblical hair plague. Just a dream I had once.

6. Pale problems

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Turns out when you’re naturally blonde, pale isn’t interesting. You can only pull of the whole porcelain skin, English rose look if you have dark hair, blondies just look unwell. Almay liquid foundation in ‘Sand’ used to be perfect for my skin, until it was discontinued in 2008 and I haven’t been able to find a suitable replacement since, so I have to now buy 2 shades and mix them together *eyeroll*

7. Fake tan problems

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So to try and combat the pale problem, I use fake tan or tinted moisturiser a lot. Believe me when I say I’ve tried pretty much every product on the market before I settled on Garnier Summer Body lotion. So I have most definitely been guilty of slopping too much on in order to look like I’ve just come back from a fortnight in Greece and ending up looking like an over cooked roast chicken.

8. Handbag problems

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Every time I empty out my handbag I always vow to not just throw all my crap in there but it inevitably builds up. There’s stuff currently in my handbag that may or may not be alive and receipts for things I’ve never even bought! I have a rule that I never put used food wrappers in mt bag, yet how does to the bottom look like a whole packet of crumbled up Maryland Cookies? A total, total mystery.

9. Dancing problems

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I don’t have to have a drink to dance, I’ll dance pretty much anywhere given half a chance and when I do I am 100% confident I look like Beyonce. Until I see pictures or video back. At least I suppose it’s yet another thing that makes me and Taylor Swift so similar.

10. Weight problems

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No matter how much I weigh I always wish I was half a stone lighter. I’m currently about half a stone heavier than when I was at my thinnest, and I look back at those pictures and wish I looked like that again, but when I did look like that I still wasn’t happy. It’s a never ending cycle of self body shaming which I’m sure can’t be healthy! As soon as someone invents vegetables that fill you up and taste like Costco cake icing I’ll be the size zero I’ve always dreamed of!

Managing My Anxiety

Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days’ – Kris Carr

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I don’t think it takes a genius to work out that there are strong links between happiness and sunshine. I mean, I don’t know what the scientific statistics are but it can’t be a coincidence that places like Russia and Scandinavia who experience almost 24 hours darkness in the winter have a higher suicide rate than California, where even in December it can be 18 degrees Celsius. You see it yourself at work or even in the supermarket, people are just in better moods when the sun’s out.

I’ve mentioned many times before that i’m a big old worrier, which is pain in the bum at the best of times. There are occasions though, when I become more than a worrier, and I find myself slipping into periods of really high anxiety. Whilst I’ve seen various professionals about it, and thankfully never been diagnosed with full blown depression, it seems to be something that’s pretty deeply ingrained. No matter how much I try and Taylor Shift my feelings by just shaking them off, I’m a believer that it’s part of my genetic make up, and something I’ll have to live with forever. So instead of spending countless hours trawling the internet trying to ‘cure’ me of my high anxiety, I’ve started looking at ways to ‘manage’ it instead.

Here are some things I’ve found that help me tame the negative thoughts, the constant’ what ifs’ and automatically going straight to the worse case scenario in my mind:

1. Sunshine

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As mentioned above, there’s something about getting a vitamin D top up that instantly relaxes me. It’s difficult living in miserable, wet, windy north east England where chances to get out in the sun are few and far between, but you can guarantee when that yellow fire ball does appear  in the sky I’m straight out in the garden with my leopard print beach towel. One of the few times I feel I’m ever able to truly relax are on summer holidays (usually in Greece) where I can spend the day by the pool with my ipod and kindle so being able to mimic that feeling in the back garden always pushes any negative feelings to the back of my mind for a few hours at least.

2. Exercise

My friend Cheryl at work always laughs at me because if we’re getting into an in depth discussion about something other than what happen in Made in Chelsea last night, I will inevitably start a sentence with ‘I was thinking at the gym last night…’ Aside from the obvious physical health benefits I have always been an advocator of exercise being good for your mental well being as well. It’s no secret that exercise releases endorphins and endorphins are the Superman to negative adrenaline’s Lex Luthor (negative adrenaline being that feeling you get when you’re having an anxiety attack that makes your heart beat faster and start down the nasty worry cycle – it’s also what attributes to panic attacks). I do a lot of my dwelling and mulling when i’m at the gym or out for a run, and more often than not, by the time I’m finished I’ve either resolved whatever issues I was having myself, or I’m so knackered (now physically as well as negatively) that I don’t have the energy to think about it any more. Having something to train for is an excellent way to prevent anxiety attacks, a training plan gives me something positive to focus my energy on rather than being bored and having time to worry over silly little things.

3. A Change in Routine

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My husband said something that struck a chord with me the other day, he said ‘it’s about time you had some time off work because it’s starting to become all you talk about’. It’s been 4 months since I’ve had any time off work other than the odd bank holiday here and there, and it’s started to become so all encompassing that it’s the only thing I’ve been talking about recently. What’s worse is, I’ve started to stress about stupid little things that would never normally bother me because i’d have something else happening in my social life to occupy my mind. I have 4 more days left at work and then a week and half off, and even though i’m not going abroad, one of my best friends is coming to visit from America and we’re going to have loads of fun things planned together. I think the change of scenery; something different from the treadmill of work-gym-home-eat-sleep-repeat will do me the world of good, and give me something else other than work to focus on and talk about.

4. Talk to the people who know you the best

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I have a few people in my life, Dave, my parents, Ang, Steph and Cheryl who know exactly how to handle me when I’m going through one of my ‘moments’ and it’s not always them just telling me what I want to hear, quite the opposite in fact, they each have their own ways of using tough love on me and talking me sensibly through my worries; essentially telling me to count my blessings and pull myself together, but in a nice way! I often find as well, just getting my worries down in a text message or email, and seeing them in black and white, makes me realise how out of proportion I’ve blown things, then to get the text or email back with some comforting words of reassurance calms me down no end. Be careful though, the people you choose to be your go to people when you’re feeling blue have to be right. Talking to someone who doesn’t know you very well, someone who hasn’t seen this pattern a million times before can be dangerous. They don’t know the right words to say that are unique to calming you down and can be counter productive and fan the flames.

5. Listen to your favourite music

I have a few songs that I always look to when I’m feeling nervous or anxious about something. I’m not sure if it’s something about the bmp or chords that are used (perhaps someone less tone deaf than me could advise?) but there’s something about the composition of these particular sounds that soothes my soul, which is weird because they’re not really songs I would automatically class as my favourites in the typical sense. There’s just something about them that makes me feel better when I have those awful butterflies of anxiety fluttering around in my tummy:

6. Own Your Feelings

God that sounds so pretentious doesn’t it? I don’t mean it to honest, What I mean is recognise when you’re going down a negative path and try and do something to change it (any of the above will probably help but I understand it’s not always feasible to go for a run, or go on holiday every time you feel your anxiety levels rise!). I know a lot of people who suffer from high anxiety and use it as an excuse to act like a dickhead. It irritates me because they’re not taking ownership of how they’re feeling, they’re trying to push it on to someone else and make it their problem too. In my experience the worse thing I can do is pretend nothing’s wrong when there is. I end up bottling it all up then snapping at someone about something totally irrelevent instead of just saying what the matter really is, regardless of how silly it may sound. I did that for a really long time until I just accepted and admitted to myself that I have an anxiety problem at times. Since coming to terms with it and looking for ways to manage it and not blaming it on other people I’ve been way happier, as has everyone else around me because i’m not biting their heads off all the time any more!

The analogy of thinking of emotions as spirals is one that always works for me. If you’re feeling an extreme emotion, whether it be good or bad, it invariably spirals one way or another. If you’re in a good mood about something, it spirals and has a knock on effect to everything around you, and spirals getting better and better. Alternatively if you’re thinking negatively, then everything else that happens takes a negative turn as well, and you spiral deeper and deeper into negativity which makes it harder to dig yourself out of. I don’t think I’ll ever shake it off (shake it off) completely but I’m hoping to try and get it under more manageable control. Life’s hard enough as it is without having to worry about what the lass on reception at the gym thinks about your appearance after an hour on the crosstrainer!