As an anxiety sufferer, you'll know that sometimes sleep can hard to come by. Whether it be due to medication or genuine stress and worry, there can be many times when you can't get to sleep or have disturbed sleep. There is much to trawl through on the internet about how to get back to sleep or get to sleep, so I thought I'd compile a few tips which I've heard are beneficial or help me. 

1. Yoga - yoga is great for nerves, but also for trying to get to sleep and more importantly; back to sleep! There are many apps and videos in which you can follow yoga routines. 

2. No caffeine - it seems quite an obvious one, but is often avoided. This means no tea, sugar and possibly even cheese before you sleep. It can reduce anxiety in general too, if you have less of this in your diet.

3. Write it down - an old trick from the book. Writing down your worries can help a lot. For me I don't just like to write, but I like to organise, whether that's before I go to bed or whether I wake up in the middle of the night, stressed. Sometimes, if I really can't sleep I'll try and complete some of things on my to do list.

4. A hot drink - a hot drink always helps - of course it helps if it's not caffeinated!

5. Music - if you go onto YouTube, you'll find many songs and playlists with music to help you sleep. I've found this really beneficial.

6. Get up - if you find yourself tossing and turning for over twenty minutes, then try to get up and move. It only has to be for a minute or so. For some reason it works quite well.

7. Bath - people always say a hot bath helps de-stress and helps you to sleep too. See what you think!

8. Screen time - supposedly not using your phone/tablet for an hour before you go to bed can help you to sleep better. Give it a go.

9. Regular sleeping pattern - if you are constantly going to bed at different times throughout the week, try getting up and going to bed at certain times. Your body will soon get used to it within a few weeks and hopefully without the need of an alarm.

10. Counting - this may have been something you were taught as a child to help you sleep; but counting can often help you to drift of into a deep sleep.

It takes time

Everyone says time is the biggest healer, and in some ways they're right. You can go through therapy and take medication, and even though this may speed the process up, it will still take time for you to improve. Unfortunately, mental illness isn't a quick fix and throughout everything I've learnt that time is a great support. For me, councelling has been a process of going to the doctors every week and for medication, it took at least four weeks until it began to work. CBT also takes a lot of practice too.

I guess the message is, not to feel disheartened if at first you don't get the results you want. It takes a lot of strength to battle and try to overcome your mental illness and remember that that is an accomplishment in itself. In regards to time being a great healer; you'd be surprised at how life can change within a matter of seconds, weeks or months. For example, within a few months of CBT and without any medication I managed to catch public transport. For this to happen, I needed time.

It's been a few years now that I've been living with this condition and looking back to the first few weeks of severity, time has helped me immensely. The aid of therapy and medication has helped a lot too, but at the end it all comes down to time. It's amazing how much I've accomplished and how I've improved over these last few months and years. One day you may feel the ability to tackle an anxiety provoking task, and that day will come. The day will come when it'll 'click' and you'll find the strength to attempt it. As time passes, your body is working and you'll discover strengths that you may not have found before.

Small improvements will build up to big accomplishments over the months ahead. Keep going and remember time will pass, you can improve and persevere!

Best wishes, 
Amy xx

Don't blame yourself

How many times have you thought of yourself as a 'failure' or 'weak' because of your mental health? And how many times have people made negative comments or hold negative stereotypes about mental health? The answer is probably, "many". I expect most of us have spent our days searching for a reason why we have such conditions and I expect many of us have been in turmoil because we struggle to take part in activities like those around us. 

Let me tell you, it is not your fault. You are not weak and you are not a failure. To get through a mental health issue, is one the hardest things to ever tackle. To be in a battle with your mind every day and to keep going shows great strength. Please, please don't go thinking it's your fault, because it's not. Don't ever let the opinion of someone else phase you, even though I know this is easier said than done. The majority of the time, mental health is an inbalance of chemicals and thus an illness like any other. I'd like someone to take a step in your shoes and see how hellish some days can be, to see how strong you were that you managed to get out of bed, or how brave you were to put up your hand in class.

People need to begin to understand that mental illness is not something that's asked for. Mental health is something that can kill, just like any physical illness and just because it can't be seen, doesn't mean it affects people any less. As the quote goes "you don't know what goes on behind closed doors"; yes the person may look fine on the outside, but they may be really struggling - always ask someone how they're doing. Let this remind you to keep going and to have faith.

Best Wishes,
Amy xx

How do I talk to someone?

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll know that I encourage talking about mental health as the best route to recovery. However, I know this is easier said than done and I know that talking about your problems with mental health can be very difficult. Therefore, I've compiled a list of a few things that may help you:

1. Letter - Often we have the words to say, but we just can't bring ourselves to say them aloud. By writing a letter, it may be easier for you to tell someone about the issues you are facing and give the other person time to reply.

2. Trust - It's always easier to talk to someone who you know really well and trust. You know that these people will support you with whatever you will tell them. "A problem shared, is a problem halved" Therefore, you'll not only find it easier to talk to them, but it may give you the courage to talk to other people who you are close to in your life.

3. Research - Unfortunately, mental health isn't as understood as we'd all like it to be. However, there are ways you can help. It will become easier for the other person to understand if you have some information to help you explain the condition. You can find this information from the doctors, charities, the internet and of course your own experience!

4. You're the same - Keep in mind that you're still the same as you were before you had told this person about your mental health. You haven't changed, you just have to battle something extra in your everyday life. Perhaps explaining this to the person, may help them to understand and support you; you're still the person they've always known.

5. Walk and talk - Try to find the best way for you to tell the person. Perhaps it's easier to go on a walk and have a catch up with a friend, or it's easier to have a cup of tea and tell them face to face, perhaps telling them online; whatever is best for you. It's important that you try to find a way in which you feel comfortable and at a time when you feel ready.

Generally speaking, people saw the changes mental illness were having on me and thus it was hard to hide. On the other hand, for those I managed to keep it quiet from, I managed to have a general catch up with them in person, rather than online or by sitting them down. I found it easier to tell them straight away, as excuses only made it harder for me tell them what was really going on.

I hope these tips have helped. Everyone is different, so the method you have used may not be on this list. If you have used a different method, then please let me know in the comments below. Take your time.

Perhaps this video may help you:

Best Wishes,
Amy xx

It's over

I expect we can all count on more than one hand, all of the times we've felt disheartened and have wanted to give up. There will have been numerous times when your work has been criticised, someone has pointed out a flaw or you've not done as well as you've hoped in a competition or exam, for example. Many people say "I've failed", but I've always been told to remove the word "failure" from my vocabulary as it's damaging and can make things worse.

When we are criticised or don't do as well, it can often knock us. In my younger days, I felt this often when I wasn't doing something 'perfectly'. However, I've come to realise that just because one thing hasn't gone as well as you wanted or worked for, it doesn't mean in any way that you cannot improve or that it's the end. In fact, it means you can learn from it.

When we feel we haven't done something as well, we often become fatalistic and lose hope. We think "well there's no point in trying next time". What you have to remember instead is that "it's not over, until it's over". This seems like a really obvious statement, but too often people don't take notice of it. 

When we get put down, instead of thinking it's the end, we need to realise we have every opportunity to do better and to change until the day of the event. You have up until that last second before the competition or exam ends to change and improve for the better. Your effort and hard work isn't over until you close that exam paper or pass the finish line. You have every chance.

It's normal to feel down and hurt when your hopes are dashed, but this time we all need to try and climb the ladder to the top again, knowing we have the opportunity, even if the odds are stacked against us. I'm sure there have been many times when you've done better than you thought were possible. In the same way, this can happen even if you think the chances are small; so keep working towards your goals.

Best wishes,
Amy xx