Song for the day: Heathens by Halestorm
Because this cover is amazing and Lzzy Hale is a bamf
Hiya! Happy new year everyone. Hope it’s going well! Mine started with being too hungover to even stand up because I drank too much due to having to meet new people on NYE (but that’s a post for another time).
I did a quick summary of this year’s resolutions on my instagram. Basically, I want to:
- Tackle my weight. 2 stone down, 5 to go until target #1!
- Get a real job.
- Pass my driving test.
- Tackle my anxiety and depression.
The final point is probably going to be the hardest – and it’s the reason I’m struggling to do the other three. So, when I got a lovely message through from the lovely people behind Bloggeration asking if I wanted to read Ruby Wax’s A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled, I jumped on the opportunity to kickstart my resolution.
Even from a couple of pages in, it’s so clear that Ruby Wax got her start in comedy. I always remember her as the woman I regularly got confused with Sharon Osbourne – but enough about that.
Ruby starts by explaining her story. Celebrities, they’re just like us, they have problems too. She emphasises the stress epidemic – days off from stress costs Europe alone €20b per year!
Ruby says that we are living in a constant state of “fight or flight”. This makes perfect sense to me as a sufferer of anxiety – when a rabbit is out in the open and senses danger, it gets itself ready to scarper. When I am out of the house and sense danger (in the case, people. People everywhere.) I get myself ready to scarper. That buildup of fear and adrenaline in your chest. Fight or flight.
She goes on to talk about how it is rarely necessary for humans. Fair enough. I don’t have to worry about a fox sneaking up behind me (irrational childhood fear of foxes aside. I’m so over that. Plus have you seen Juniper’s insta?? Super cute). Just the idea of being judged for my every action and being unwanted on the earth.
Ruby, however, says that this spike in emotions is our bodies telling us to slow it down. When you’re burnt out – frazzled, if you will – by that essay, by that public speaking task, by having to get out of the house and to the corner shop, your brain needs to process this instead of yelling loudly to GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE or to SHUT THAT STREAMING TAB DOWN OR YOU WILL FAIL YOUR ESSAY AND THEREFORE YOUR DEGREE AND THEREFORE LIFE ITSELF.
I found that interesting, if not a little stressful to read about because of home truths. I particularly liked (read: I felt particularly dragged by) her sections on ‘past and future thinking’ and ‘autopilot’.
Next we move on to the helpful sections: the definition of mindfulness, and how the brain works with it. I have to say that these segments of books are usually the boring parts for me. (Generally, if a book says that it’s a guide for the frazzled, I would expect the reader to know what being frazzled meant in order to know they have to buy a guide to deal with it). HOWEVER, it was actually quite enlightening.
My self care usually involves going on autopilot and writing/editing fics. It’s very cathartic for me. However, this usually involves me numbing the pain (still emo at 23 y’all) rather than actually dealing with it.
“Mindfulness is a way of exercising your ability to pay attention”, says Ruby. I’ve heard of this technique before. I’ve tried it before, when I texted my best friend during an anxiety attack and she tasked me with counting all the books on a girl’s shelf at a house party. It’s a way of focussing your mind on something rather than whirling around in it like one of those donation boxes where your coin spins round and round a bowl first
before plunging into a dark pit .
ANYWAY, Mindfulness is basically housekeeping, if you like. Sussing out what you’ve got in there, and having a bit of a tidy-up and throw out. Even if it means facing that spare room that you throw everything into and closing the door behind it. Thankfully, your new friend Ruby is there to hand you a mop.
This mop comes in the form of a six week mindfulness course – a boot camp, if you will. Tbh I’m planning to start this soon – it’s my birthday next week, so I’d like to start age 24 well. I just want to wake up, to start living out of my constant state of depression, and this is like a slow wake-up rather than a brutal alarm. Shock isn’t very good for the stressed, after all.
Section 6 – The Social Mind: Social Relationships is probably the one I find the most helpful. It’s full of handy tips like how to stay calm when your boss is freaking out. As someone who is very likely to burst into tears when criticised, I find this section invaluable. I am slightly concerned that focussing on my boss’ nostril when being yelled at would mean that I missed the message, or that I would start laughing (does anyone else’s nose tickle when you stare at someone else’s? No? Ok) but I’m going to try.
If you’re a parent (or a teen), there are sections for children and parents alike too!
Ruby has a really friendly way of explaining what it means to be mindful of your stress, and made me laugh quite a few times. It was like a mini therapy session. I found the book to be a really interesting read. I wouldn’t say that it will cure you of all your ills, but it will definitely help you to understand them!
Hope you’re all ok out there 🙂