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Living With Yourself

Do you ever find yourself fighting an internal battle with the voices in your head?

I’ve spent this week feeling, for the most part, pretty positive about life. I’ve been eating sensibly, skipped on drinks in the evenings, and have been getting back into an exercise routine. So why do I feel so low today?

My logical, rational mind (it does exist, I promise) is skipping along feeling pretty pleased with itself, whilst my emotional mind is being a stroppy toddler, dragging its heels and refusing to be interested in anything.

It’s exhausting.

It’s a mark of how far I’ve come since my initial diagnosis of severe anxiety and depression that I’m able to take a step back from this and not let it ruin my whole day, or week. Is it frustrating? Sure. Do I feel thoroughly unproductive? Absolutely. Am I going to let it compromise my sense of self-worth and confidence? Not a chance.

I’m proud of myself for having got out the house for a run, and done a workout when I got back. I haven’t left any work emails unread or flagged that needed attention today. I don’t have any deadlines that I’ve missed by being in this headspace. And I need to remind myself that that is an achievement in itself.

So - how do you break the cycle of letting your emotional brain take over and dictate your feelings to you?

Treat it as a separate entity. It does not define you. Direct your ire right back at it.

There’s also a certain level of acceptance to reach. You don’t need a reason for a bad day, but that bad day shouldn’t overshadow everything else in your life. Agree with your emotional brain that you’re feeling a bit crappy. But you really have some things to get done. So prioritise. Choose one thing that must be done today. Why not make that two things - one professional, and one personal. That way, even when you get to the end of the day feeling a little deflated and unaccomplished, you can look back and realise that you actually did do a couple of things.

Did you change the world? No, but I can guarantee that the greatest innovators and trailblazers of our history had more bad days than good ones.

Check out from social media for a few hours. It’s always a glossy look at people’s lives, but when you’re feeling less than positive, it only serves to deepen the cracks.

Give a friend a text. Someone you can be honest with. Say you’re feeling a bit crap - even if it’s just to say it to someone else. Someone you can trust not to respond with platitudes. Misery loves company and sometimes it can be really helpful to offload together with someone and agree that everything is just a bit shit right now.

And give yourself a break. Things might be returning to normal, bit by bit, but we are far from what we recognise as a familiar state of affairs. There’s a lot to be said for gratitude - things might be bad, but they sure could be a whole lot worse. Take a moment to focus on one or two things that you’re grateful for. Particularly things that might not have happened if it weren’t for the pandemic. For example - my sister has moved in with me. That never would have happened if it weren’t for lockdown pushing her to - initially - keep me company for a few weeks. Now she’s here to stay - and I can’t think of a better thing to have come out of all this.

Last but not least - take a deep breath. Let it out. Loosen that jaw. Relax your shoulders. Feel better?

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