Sunday, 28 February 2016

Changing/ Moving school

I figured I could do something that could appeal to a slightly younger audience. Although this is still pretty relevant to any teachers, parents with children or younger siblings. Moving school especially when everyone else is already settled in can be terrifying, so thought I'd share my experience of moving schools.

Thinking way..way.. back in Year Six (aged 11) I was both excited and nervous to start secondary school. Of course what followed was a year and a bit of on/ off being bullied and generally just disliking school. But at the start of Year 8 I got a letter through the post saying I was somehow enrolled into two schools, and if I wanted to move schools I could. I absolutely jumped at this chance. By around October/ November a few meetings with senior staff and entrance exams later, I had moved school. Just to point out what I did find funny was I was in bottom set for maths in the previous school but the test placed me in second set (For anyone unsure of how sets work, classes are set by ability). So either I was in a seriously high achieving school beforehand, or I just was never tested properly until then.

The first month or so was me settling in, I already knew several people from primary school so was lucky in that respect. It felt a little hard having to sort of latch onto someone else's friendship group, but they were (and still are) pretty great so wasn't too hard. What surprised me the most is how comfortable I felt, there were some amazing people I met at my first secondary school I won't discount that at all. But at this school I felt much more relaxed, bullying was reduced to a minimum and I started to enjoy going to school again. From then it just got easier to make friends of my own, and now here we are around 11 years later. I'm still friends with a few of the people at my first school and a lot more from my second.

Here's what I learnt from this:
- People are a lot more welcoming then you think
- The thought of moving could be scary but its worth it
- Don't discount the good, it can help you through the bad times
- You are more capable then you realise


Saturday, 20 February 2016

Anxiety: Journeys

I thought I'd talk about journeys, I don't mean the personal journey of my life because even though a lot has happened there's still a lot to go, and I'm enjoying the mystery of it all. No, I mean journeys to and from places, anywhere from meeting a friend, going to an interview or just going to a new shop.

I hate the thought of being lost, and causes quite a bit of anxiety. And even though it still happens occasionally, with these steps it only occurs rarely now.

1- Know where you are going- For me knowing exactly where I am going eases my anxiety a lot. For example if you have a job interview, knowing the location, post code and general area means you not only will be there early, but have one less thing to worry about.

2- Look at a map- This leads nicely onto looking at maps, with the technology today Google maps is a life saver as it means you can look at a satellite view as well as the road view. However if you like to go old school and look at a map that works too. Have a look where it is, how far it is from home and think how long it will take.

3- Plan a route- Once you've had a look at the map, plan the route that suits you best. If you are using Google maps they will usually provide the route for you. But more often then not you'll find your own route you'll feel most comfortable with. See how long it takes using whatever mode of transport you use, as you'll have to know which buses you'll have to take if you don't have a car.

4- Pick out memorable landmarks- Using the satellite, I usually drag and drop the little yellow man and walk along the route where I have to walk. This sounds mad but when you are unfamiliar with the area you need to be able to pick out landmarks that will remind you you are still going the right way. And by memorable I mean, shops, a park, a building. Anything that will make you think yes I know where I'm going and feel a little calmer.

I screenshot parts of the route where there's junctions to make sure I don't veer off in the wrong direction. Also listening to music or audio books can help make the journey go a lot faster and acts as a good distraction. A final part which I regularly forget about is accounting for traffic and the time of day you have to go out. If it's early and mid afternoon you'll hit the school rush traffic. It also means the buses are packed with school kids.

I hope this has helped if you feel like you struggle with going on journeys.


Thursday, 11 February 2016

Anxiety: A-Z Part 3

Here's the final part of my A-Z of anxiety.

R- Reassure: So constant reassurance can be a little stifling, but having people who care and tell you the feeling will pass soon helps. The same goes for being that person who's there for someone when they need a bit of help. 

S- Self-care: Looking after yourself is key, whether you have anxiety or not. Making sure you eat, sleep and get some exercise everyday helps maintain you health. And when you feel well you've usually got one less thing to worry about. 

T- Triggers: Triggers are something that..well.. trigger anxiety. It could be going into crowds and you start to feel panicky, or small spaces and you want more than anything to get out. 

U-Understanding: Having someone even if it's one person who just gets how your feeling is great. Because it means you can confide in them knowing they can help. Also having you own personal experiences means you can help others too. Which leads nicely onto the next one: value. 

V- Value: Everyone is valuable whether you feel it or not. Everyone means something to someone and to me no one is alone. There is always something you are good at whether its listening, talking, drawing etc. Never underestimate how valuable you are. 

W- Walking: Walking is good for the soul, there's always something wonderful you come across. Like in Autumn walking through fallen leaves or in Summer seeing the Sun shining through the trees. Not only that but its great exercise, you don't have to walk alone. In fact walking with a friend I'd recommend more it does me more good than walking alone. 

X- Extreme emotions: So there's not a lot beginning with X apart from xylophone.. So had to improvise a little. So extreme emotions and anxiety seem to go hand in hand, it feels like even tiny things can get blown way out of proportion. You analyse every possible scenario that probably won't even happen, which makes you miss out on a few things. 

Y- Yoga: This can be very relaxing, much like meditation it'll take at least a week before you really begin to feel a difference. It's another good form of exercise and helps with breathing techniques you can use day to day. 

Z- ZZZ (sleep): Again like with the letter X.. I think there's little beginning with Z. Sleep can be a bit of a problem, but it's important to get some every night. The only way I can get to sleep is either by listening to an audiobook or music. At the minute Tina Fey's autobiography 'BossyPants' is a favourite, but My Sister's Keeper is a close second. Listening to either one of these helps me sleep throughout the night, where I couldn't before. 


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Anxiety: A-Z Part 2

Here's part two to my A-Z of anxiety.

I- Instinct: As I mentioned before the bodies natural response is the fight or flight response. Your heart is racing, your chest feels tight, your body starts shaking. But its just the bodies way of reacting to a situation. It's not something you can necessarily control but how you help bring the body back to ''normal'' is something you can control. Whether that's by breathing, walking away until you've calmed down or sitting somewhere quiet. 

J- Jelly: No not the food kind, I mean how your legs feel when you have a trigger. I feel like I can't walk and if I do my legs feel like they've turned to jelly. So the best thing for me to do is sit until the feeling has passed enough for me to calm down a little. After which I try to find somewhere quiet, if this isn't possible then take some deep breaths and focus on something else.

K- Kind: Being kind to others is always important, it can help make someones day that little bit better and you feel good for being kind too. What do I mean by being kind? Texting someone how they are, smiling if someone smiles at you. The little things mean just as much as the big gestures. 

L- Listen: This leads onto listening. Everyone is always going through something good or bad, and its natural to want to tell somebody. So if you are that somebody, listen and be proud that they trust you enough to share their story. And if you want something to share, there's always someone, somewhere who wants to listen.

M- Meditation: This is something I've tried relatively recently, its not an instant fix. It's something you have to try everyday for at least two weeks before you really start to feel any difference. The great thing being that everyone has 5-10 minutes in their day to meditate. You start to feel a sort of inner peace where you know there aren't issues over crowding your brain. I use an app with rain sounds because this sound has always relaxed me. For others it could be the beach, white noise or anything. Guided meditation works well for beginners and those more used to it if you feel you need it. 

N- Natural therapies: I've spoken about natural remedies like Rescue Remedy and Scentered before in my post Anxiety busters for on the go. So I'll keep this brief, they work better for me than conventional medication and there aren't set doses so can't really overdose by accident. 

O- Opportunities: Accepting new opportunities can be difficult for anyone. Even more so for people with anxiety as new things can bring new challenges and triggers. But sometimes it's good to take on something new. There's a famous quote which says do something everyday that scares you. And I think we should do that, even smaller things like going to the shops when it may be busier. All of this can help in the long run.

P- Panic Attacks: Panic attacks can be scary, it's one of those things that unless you've had one its hard to explain how you feel. But when people say they feel like they are having a heart attack, they aren't far wrong. Okay so I've never had a heart attack, but I have had panic attacks. And they are terrifying, you shake, feel like you can't breathe, tingle all over (because of the lack of oxygen), cry, feel like you can't move and so much more. Having someone there comforting you is helpful, not being too crowded as it can make you feel worse. Remembering to breathe, failing that the person you are with keep telling you to breathe in through the nose and it'll pass soon. 

Q- Quiet: Sometimes having some quiet time to yourself to read, listen to music, sleep.. anything really can be quite healing. A time where you can just do something you really enjoy, just as long as you remember to join your family and friends again afterwards! 


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Anxiety: A-Z Part 1

I decided to do an A-Z of Anxiety, going through each letter of the alphabet and how I either deal with it or how it affects me. I've tried to keep each one as positive as possible mainly because I'm trying to turn my anxiety into something I can control, and by doing that I have to be positive. I'll break it down into 3 parts and start each one with one of my quote cards. So here it is..

A- Anxiety (Slightly obvious I know): My anxiety usually is triggered by crowds. I think its the thought of what people may/ may not be thinking as well as not feeling like I won't be able to move about. Everyone's manifests its self in different ways and for different reasons, even then the way it presents itself can be different. Whether its panic attacks, stomach aches, feeling sick or not wanting to leave the house.  

B- Breathe: This leads onto breathing. Taking deep breathes is important to keep the Oxygen flowing in and the Carbon Dioxide out. Breathing quickly and shallow leads to hyperventilating which is when you tend to panic more because it feels like you can't breathe. Whether you're feeling like you are going to panic or in the middle of an attack remember to breathe! Inhaling deep and slow through the nose and out through the mouth (belly breathing). The feeling of not being able to breathe will soon pass.

C- Conversations: Talking to people you trust can lift so much of the tension and stress you are feeling. Whether its your friends, best friend, family anyone you know you can confide in. Because they tend to be able to give you the best advice and cheer you up.

D- Diary: Keeping a diary, notebook I think is a good idea. I use my notebooks to write favourite quotes, lyrics and little doodles. But the important thing is they are all positive things you can look back through when you are having a bad day. Even during the bad day, noting down nice quotes or songs you love gives you that little distraction where you aren't thinking about the bad stuff.

E- Exercise: I don't mean going to the gym, there's plenty you can do like exercise dvds at home, walking, pilates, yoga, the list is endless. The advantage of dvds is that you don't have to feel uncomfortable of people looking at you in the gym and do it at your own pace. Exercise makes you feel good within yourself and it shines through whether you realise it or not.

F- Fear: Fear is natural, gives us that fight or flight response. Some fears are easier to stay away from than others, but doing something that scares you sometimes does you good. For example I used to be afraid of heights, I went to an adventure holiday camp when I was about 13 and had to climb and jump off a 40 ft pole. After that heights didn't bother me so much because I realised if I could do that I could do anything, now I love going up skyscrapers the higher the better.

G- Groups: Joining online forums like Ele-friends or Facebook groups is great as you can talk to people who understand that little bit more what you are going through. I would recommend talking to charities first to see what kind of support is out there. The charity Mind have Ele-friends, which provides a bit more anonymity that Facebook lacks.

H- Hope: Having hope is such a big thing to hold on to. The hope that tomorrow could be better, that things can turn around or that you'll be able to do something new and scary.