Living Life Ready – Calm Your Anxiety Naturally With Kalms Lavender

Here’s an interesting question for you.  Did you know that lavender can help to manage your anxiety? Do you know the difference between stress and anxiety? We tend to use these terms interchangeably, but there are definite differences between the two.

We experience stress when our feelings threaten to overwhelm us in situations where the demands made on us are greater than our ability to manage. We often know exactly what the source of our stress is too – for example starting a new job, sitting an exam or attending an interview.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is an unease about something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety can exist even when the cause of the worry is gone.  I’m frequently told, “it’s all in your head”!

Did you know that almost one in five people say they feel anxious a lot or all of the time? Anxiety has become a common problem in our daily lives.

Symptoms of anxiety include feelings of worry, apprehension and uncertainty.

We feel we are worrying all the time, perhaps about things that are a regular part of everyday life or things that are unlikely to happen.  Some of us even worry about worrying.

But anxiety and especially prolonged anxiety can have a negative effect on the body.  We may suffer a racing heartbeat, nausea, headaches, and muscle tension.

There is no doubt that long-term, anxiety can impact on the quality of life and wellbeing. So what can we do to better manage these feelings?

If your anxiety is severe, you should talk to your GP or perhaps ring a helpline best suited to the nature of your problem.

If, however, your anxiety is mild there are plenty of ways you can help yourself to manage your fears and take better care of yourself in order to cope.

Whilst you are taking steps to make your life more manageable, you could also try a new supplement to help relieve the symptoms of mild anxiety.

Kalms Lavender One-A-Day packaging

Kalms Lavender One-A-Day Capsules are a traditional herbal medicinal product which contains uniquely prepared, pharmaceutical quality lavender oil.

The product is used for the temporary relief of the symptoms of mild anxiety such as stress and nervousness, exclusively based on the long-standing use of lavender as a traditional herbal remedy.

You see when we are anxious we may suffer from an “Anxiety Imbalance” where the nerve cells in the brain become over-stimulated, due to the excessive release of neurotransmitters – the brains chemical messengers – such as dopamine and adrenaline.

This leads to hyperactive nerves which are excessively ‘switched on’ – an imbalance which can result in symptoms of anxiety.

The results of over 15 clinical trials have shown that a daily capsule of lavender oil can noticeably relieve the symptoms of anxiety in just one to two weeks – and those benefits are comparable to commonly used anti-anxiety medications.

One study found that symptoms in 70% of those taking the lavender oil capsules were rated as ‘much’ or ‘very much’ improved when reassessed by researchers at the end of treatment.

Lavender Oil is the active ingredient found only in Kalms Lavender One-A-Day Capsules in the UK- and the research suggests that it can reduce the overstimulation of nerve cells leading to an improvement in symptoms of anxiety. Kalms want us to enjoy our days to the full no matter what symptoms anxiety may throw at us!

It’s surprising how it’s often the little things that set us worrying.  These are some of the things I worried about this week.

– Mathew flying to Canada for work – I am always worried about plane crashes!

– St. David’s Day – do you think I could find safety pins to pin Caitlin’s Welsh Lady shawl?

– World Book Day – I can’t sew for toffee and we are always scrabbling about to get some sort of costume together at the last minute.

– Cooking – or more specifically what to have for tea.

– The kids actually eating the tea I’ve cooked.

– My glasses not fitting (readers of this blog will know just how much stress this gives me!)

– The constant hissing in my ears – thanks Tinnitus!

My usual coping mechanisms involve hot baths, early nights, reading a good book and a glass of wine – like many parents across the land, and you can find more of my suggestions for managing your anxiety in this post.

Manage your anxiety with these tips

Here are some more brilliant tips from Kalms to help you manage your anxiety.

1. Slow and steady

If you’re feeling anxious, try taking slow deep breaths; calmly inhaling for 4 seconds through your nose, then exhaling for the same via your mouth. Studies show practising a breathing technique can stimulate the part of the nervous system responsible for relaxation, helpful in reducing anxiety.

2. Take a mindful moment

Mindfulness – the practice of being present in the moment and noticing our feelings, body, thoughts and environment – has been found to improve mental wellbeing and be beneficial for anxiety. Being mindful can be as simple as paying more attention to things we touch, see, smell and hear, like savouring our morning cup of coffee, rather than being caught up in our whirring thoughts. Visit NHS Choices for an introduction to Mindfulness.

3. Know your triggers

Knowing what exacerbates your anxiety is an important step in addressing the issue. Often we avoid situations that make us feel anxious – but this is counterproductive and can make our fears worse. Facing what we’re worried about can help alleviate the anxious feelings – whether it’s been making that phone call you’ve been putting off, replying to an email or even tidying the house.

4. Time to talk

Sharing your worries with a trusted family member or friend can make them seem less daunting, and voicing your fears out loud may help you put them into perspective. You can also turn to anxiety support organisations for advice in times of need.

5. Write it down

Try taking some time at the end of each day to write your worries down. Offloading thoughts in this way may help you slow down your thinking, step away from a continuous cycle of worry and clear the mind.

Writing a to-do list also allows you to commit to paper all the tasks you still need to complete – without spending excessive time thinking about, and trying to remember them.

In order to get a bit better at living life ready, I have been trying Kalms Lavender One-A-Day and after just one capsule I felt noticeably calmer and more relaxed.  In fact, I felt so calm I could have taken a nap!

These do seem to help.  Just take one capsule with a glass of water.

The packaging does state clearly that the product may impair your ability to drive or use machines so make sure you read the label.

The product is not suitable for the under 18s, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or are allergic to the product ingredients.

I would say that for periods of mild anxiety Kalms Lavender One-A-Day capsules are certainly worth a try but if your symptoms do not improve after 2 weeks you need to see your GP.

Find out more about the Kalms Lavender range at www.kalmsrange.com and find more tips like this in my guide to holistic living.

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20 Easy Self Care Hacks To Feel Better Now

We all have days when things don’t entirely go to plan or we wake and find we just feel ‘blah’ but I have 20 easy self-care hacks to help you to get your mojo back.

Those of us who bear the strain of a chronic or auto-immune illness may start each day from a position of compromised energy and it may be a struggle to even get to ‘blah’. And if you are in your 50s like me, you may find you have lots of little niggles and aches to deal with.  (Find more on about self-care in later life on my new blog selfcareatmidlife.com).

At times like this, having a strong support network of friends and family is invaluable and the phone can be our greatest ally. Even the often maligned Facebook can offer a lifeline of community, friendship and seasoned advice.

It is also important to treat ourselves with kindness and to know when we need a break.  It is not a crime to take our needs seriously.  As the saying goes, you need to apply the oxygen mask to yourself first before you can save anyone else – and this is particularly true for parents.

I’m sure you will have your own list but here are 20 easy self-care hacks to press the pause button in your life and to take some time out to reconnect with what’s important to you and your feelings – and to make sure you are treating both your mind and body with care.

Self-care hacks to get your mojo back

1.  Say no.  Remind people that ‘no’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘never’, but at the moment it means ‘not now’.

2.  Call a friend or relative you can trust.

3.  Lose yourself in your favourite TV box set (mine is the Agatha Christie’s Poirot series).

4.  Read a really gripping book.  Here’s a review of one of my favourites.

5.  Learn a new skill – both dancing, table tennis and learning a new language have recently been shown to keep our brains young and stave off dementia.

6.  Take a long, hot bath.  You could try an Epsom Salt bath which is great for renewing our Magnesium levels.  A magnesium deficiency can be the cause of tiredness. Take this magnesium deficiency quiz to determine if that’s the case.

7.  Turn your gadgets off for a while.  The world will not implode.  Even if you turn email and Facebook notifications off you may feel less frazzled.

8. Try some adult colouring or dot-to-dot.  There are loads of books available.  In fact, so many of us are colouring, we are facing a global shortage of coloured pencils!

9.  Create a vision board on Pinterest.  If you haven’t got into Pinterest yet, you may be surprised at how easy it is to use and how addictive.

You basically create online pinboards containing your favourite images and you swop and share images by following others just as you do on Facebook and Instagram.

A vision board is a visual wishlist of all the things you’d like to have or experience and, so the theory goes, by regularly viewing your vision board, you are more likely to bring the things you want directly into your experience.

10.  Ditch the black – it’s so easy to dress in black because we think it’s slimming or it helps us blend into the background but we know that colour lifts both our mood and that of the people looking at us.

Why not add a dash of bold colour into your wardrobe – a hot pink, yellow or orange?

Black can be pretty ageing, especially around the face whilst a splash of colour can throw a flattering light on our complexions.  This, by the way, is why ladies used to wear pearls – to light up their skin.

11. Do some yoga, pilates or some gentle stretches.  You don’t have to go to a class to get the benefit as there are loads of good DVDs.

As you get older, you might find 10 minutes of stretching each morning ‘unkinks’ your body from your night’s sleep and prepares you for the day.

12.  Meditate.  Just 10-20 minutes a day has been proven to give long-term benefits to our health. There are many guides to meditation online and I have also heard good things about the Headspace app which offers guided meditation if you just find it too difficult to ignore your thoughts.

13. Take some photographs – just photographing your kids, your pets, your garden, the sky, anything that gives you joy, will lift your spirits.

You can share your world via Instagram and, if you use the right hashtags, you may find many others who share your particular interests.  Did you know, for example, that there is a hashtag called #catsofinstagram?

14.  Take a nap.  Not exactly rocket science I know but it comes back to taking time out for YOU and not being afraid to assert your needs.  The theory goes that anything between 20-45 minutes is a sensible amount of time.  Any longer and you’ll probably wake up feeling groggy.

15.  Eat something.  Seriously.  If you have been fuelling yourself on carbs and sugar all day, try a high protein snack – a handful of Almonds or some cubes of Cheddar Cheese and some apple.  Try some Green Tea for a slightly healthier caffeine drink or just a long glass of water.

16.  Write a gratitude list.  I know, I know, it might sound a bit ‘woo-woo’ but you’ll find that there is truly a lot we can all be grateful for, right now.

17. Do something nice for someone else.  I read this week about a lady who was buying an In Sympathy card for a relative since there had been a bereavement in her family. She was surprised to find a small plastic envelope in the card she selected.

In the envelope was £10 and a note from a stranger saying “I am sorry that you are having to buy this card.  Please take this £10 and do something nice for yourself”.  I image that stranger felt as good making that gesture as the lady who received the envelope did.

18. Do some baking.  In her book “Saved By Cake“, the writer Marian Keyes describes how baking helped her to deal with her depression.  You may find it helps you – in which case, worry about the calories later and get creative with the butter icing.

19.  Pray. Although many of us no longer adhere to a formal, organised religion, there is a lot to be said about asking for what we want and putting the future in the hands of a higher power – whether that be God or the Universe.

Just ask, let go and then go about your day. Even better if you can sit in a sacred space, whether that be a church, a garden or a quiet place you’ve made your own.  Why not light a candle and spend some time thinking about what it is that you really want and need.

20.  Declutter.  There’s a wonderful book about domestic cleaning called Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley (Flylady)  She recommends doing something called the “27 Fling Boogie”.  Get a black bag and run around your home selecting 27 things to go in the bin.

Or you might prefer the more philosophical approach of Marie Kondo in her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying“.  Either way, a good sort out tends to clear the mind and give you something else to focus on.  Just remember not to go too mad and chuck out stuff that brings up positive emotions for you.

So there you have it. 20 simple self-care hacks to recharge your batteries. What do you do to make yourself feel better?

Top Tips For Dealing With Guilt

How good are you at dealing with guilt?  I ask because a recent study by the firm Intrepid Travel discovered that the average Brit feels guilty for six hours and 36 minutes every week.

woman by the sea with her head on her knees - dealing with guilt

Presumably, they didn’t ask mums because I spend far longer than that berating myself for everything I’ve done that might have upset someone, somewhere even prior to giving birth.

Guilt is the evil twin of worry.  Guilt lets us fret over things that occurred in the past whilst worry can paralyse us with fear about the future.

Small wonder, then, that living in the present and mindfulness are rapidly becoming the self-help tool of choice to support our mental health on a daily basis.  Mindfulness techniques are something that even children can benefit from by the way.

The 2000 adults polled said guilt struck on three occasions each week with the feeling lingering for more than two hours each time.

Giving in to a craving was the most common guilt trigger while not keeping in regular contact with relatives was a close second.

Breaking a diet, not calling friends you’ve been meaning to, and accidentally being rude to someone also regularly leave us feeling contrite.

Other reasons for guilt included not tidying up, getting a taxi and getting a takeaway, along with gossiping, deliberate rudeness and not going to the gym.

Then there are bad habits which leave us feeling guilty, with swearing, eating chocolate, procrastinating and snoring among the most common.

The study did find, though that one in three turn guilt into a positive by learning from their mistakes and almost half do try to atone for their misdeeds by giving something back – for example by donating to charity, helping the homeless or helping a family in need, leading to around 48 per cent claiming to have a clear conscience.

Hmm.

Here are the things we Brits most like to reproach ourselves for according to the study.

Top 25 ways in which Brits feel guilty

1. Giving in to a craving
2. Not calling family enough
3. Breaking a diet
4. Not calling friends enough
5. Accidently being rude to someone
6. Not tidying up
7. Cancelling on a friend
8. Getting a takeaway
9. Gossiping
10. Being rude to someone
11. Not going to the gym
12. Leaving a pet at home
13. Lied to a partner
14. Spending a day in pyjamas
15. Lied to family
16. Not recycling
17. Lied to a friend
18. Asking someone to do you a favour
19. Not showering/washing
20. Leaving a small shop/market without buying anything
21. Not taking your advice
22. Forgetting manners
23. Pretending you’re working
24. Accidental queue jumping
25. Hitting the snooze button

Nothing in that list about parenting.  How about not giving your kids full attention, texting when you should be listening to them, shouting at them, never making time for ‘messy play’, never baking with them, reading a bedtime story, talking out for walks even when it’s raining?

I don’t know about you but I can easily come up with a much longer list than that!

But if you are regularly bitten by the guilt bug there is an answer.  I am regularly asked just this by readers of my problem page.

Guilt is an emotion and like all emotions, it’s not one that can be squashed.  Far better to acknowledge what it is that is making us feel guilty.

Dealing with guilt doesn’t have to be done in a way that makes us feel worse.  Acknowledging these feelings should be part of our regular self-care routine.

Lots of us though, are particularly bad at prioritising time for ourselves.  We run around keeping everyone else happy whilst denying our needs and priorities.

So if you have been bitten by the guilt bug, how should you approach it?  These are the questions you need to ask yourself.  Why not write your answers in your journal or diary and then over time you will be able to see if you have managed to find a solution and how far you’ve come.

What exactly am I feeling guilty about?

Most of the time we can answer this question easily but it’s worth being specific.

It’s one thing to say “I don’t spend enough time with my family” and another to say “I don’t spend enough time with my family because I am prioritising work / the gym/ Candy Crush over them.

Or “I spend too much money” when you mean “I spend too much money on the kids when I really need some new workwear”

It’s not until you drill down into the problem that you can decide i) what the problem is and ii) whether you should be feeling guilty about it at all.

Will anyone else think it’s a problem?

Has anyone else mentioned it?  Is it a guilty secret that you know will cause problems if others find out about it?  Is it really a problem, or one of a long list of ‘shoulds’ that we (particularly mums) insist on carrying around like a badge of honour?

How is it affecting those around me?

If it’s a serious problem then the answer will be obvious.  If you are having an affair then odds are at some point it will affect your partner and kids.

If you have a shopping addiction, sooner or later, you’ll default on the mortgage and risk repossession.

If you are eating/drinking/smoking too much then the effect on your health will have an impact on your family too.

Can I cope with this problem alone?

I’m a firm believer that talking helps almost all problems and we do not need to carry our personal problems alone.

If you have nobody to talk to there are plenty of counselling organisations and helplines out there to help with almost any problem.

On Facebook, for example, there is a group for almost any problem you can think of – particularly health-related ones – where you will find like-minded souls and have the space to vent and express yourself without judgement.

What solutions are open to me?

I think we need to recognise that there is often more than one solution to a problem and also that if we are carrying long-term guilt, it is not something we can be rid of overnight.

If others are being affected by the cause of your guilt then they need to be part of the solution too.

Sitting down with them to talk and be completely honest is the most practical solution if that is a possibility for you.

Again, you may need professional help to craft a solution – a lawyer, a debt counsellor, a doctor for example.

What can I do to feel better right now?

We can usually cope with our problems a lot better if we are being kind to ourselves.  This does not mean rushing out and treating ourselves (especially if we are feeling guilty about spending).

Better still, why not do something to give back and benefit others.

The travel company survey also revealed the top 10 ways in which Brits give back and none of them involves spending money.

Top 10 ways in which Brits give back

1. Recycling
2. Donate to charity
3. Donate to charity shops
4. Greet people with a smile
5. Help a friend in need
6. Always be thankful to those around you
7. Help family in need
8. Compliment people
9. Tell the people around you that you love them
10. Celebrate other’s success

There are loads of things you can do for a ‘feel-good’ hit, for example swopping your usual coffee and tea capsules for fairtrade ones.

Why not have a sort out of all the kids’ toys and books and bag them up for the local charity shop?

If you have time on your hands why not try volunteering for a few hours a week?

Generally, when we spend less time worrying about ourselves and our problems, and helping others with theirs, things get a lot better. Dealing with guilt is less of a challenge.

Guilt is an unpleasant emotion to carry about as it sucks all the joy out of life.  Ask yourself the questions above to determine whether it is something you should be carrying and work with others to find ways to put it down for good.

And, if the guilt isn’t really yours to carry, I’d also suggest handing it straight back to the person who should be dealing with it.

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Have You Got The Welcome Mat Out For Anxiety?

It dawned on me the other day that the reason for my (comparative) inertia when it comes to grabbing the bull by the horns (or indeed any other colloquialism for getting off your backside and acting), is that I have probably been suffering from anxiety for most of my life.

 

I carry a vague sense of unease around with me most of the time.  I’ve even given it a name – “The Fear”.  It is a shapeless, amorphous blob which lurks behind doors and curtains and casts a shadow on the gloomiest day.

I could write a list of things that could have triggered it.  But, you know, nobody lives to the age of 53 without having had something unpleasant happen to them, a loss, a scare, a disappointment.  That is, to quote one of my mother’s more annoying truisms, “all part of life’s rich pattern”.

I carry “The Fear” around with me most of the time and it makes itself known in strange symptoms like my “glasses thing” (or OCD), my inability to leave fluff on the carpet (whilst being completely able to ignore dusting), my requirement for absolute darkness and silence at night.

Anyone who leaves the empty cardboard tube from the toilet roll on the floor of the toilet feels my wrath.  I cannot bear wet towels on beds, shoes on in the house, toothpaste lids left off.

It’s all about control.

And, more specifically, controlling “The Fear”.

Lots of us, of course, would medicate it away somehow.  Or read endless self-help tomes (“When I loved myself enough to knit my own yoghurt”).  Or seek therapy. (And how does that make you feel? Well, crap, actually).

I’m not entirely convinced acknowledging “The Fear” helps.

We are all battling the human condition and (to quote mum again), we all have our cross to bear.

There’s one of those motivational postcards I often see on Facebook which says something like “be kind because everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about”.

I suspect that is entirely true.

Which means some of us have developed more effective strategies for dealing with “The Fear”.

Or are we so far in denial we think we can get to Narnia through the wardrobe.  (You can’t, I’ve tried).

Perhaps this is why there are so many videos of cats doing, well, cat things.

I love that quote about cats by the French Renaissance writer Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) who said:

“Quand je me joue à ma chatte, qui sçait si elle passe son temps de moy plus que je ne fay d’elle?

(When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?)

Cats really don’t, to use the vernacular, give a stuff.  They do what they want and bugger the consequences.  In fact, most cats would sniff, scag your tights with their claws and then say”what consequences” whilst yawning.

Montaigne also said “There is no passion so contagious as that of fear” and “The thing I fear most is fear”.

And that’s the thing about anxiety too.  You get anxious about whether you’re anxious. And then you are.

I often theorise that lots of ‘odd’ behaviours are simply displacement activities to avoid looking within and admitting that you are anxious.

Lots of us simply hide away.  Or leave parties early.  Or ‘forget’ to turn up at all.  That old saying about “always finding me in the kitchen at parties” is a neat metaphor for social anxiety.

You’ll always spot the anxious at children’s parties because they’ll be the ones clearing up the remnants of sausage rolls and half-eaten pizza armed with black bags and an air of determination not seen since the Blitz.

The anxious will always give themselves away by hating things that everyone else likes – just in case they have to join in. Christmas?  Too commercial.  Ditto, Valentines Day. Any major sporting tournament, big event in the social calendar, spontaneous knees-up… “I can’t be bothered with all that”, they’ll say.  ” All that fuss and unnecessary expense”.

Hell would be joining the Parent Teachers Association.  Or being invited up on stage during a live show.  Management ‘team’ games, ice-breaking exercises, karaoke – no thank you!

We anxious ones always stand apart like statues.  We avoid eye contact.  If someone speaks to us, sometimes it’s so surprising we actually jump.

At conferences, we anxious avoid eye contact.  We take urgent phone calls.  We write notes.

We anxious ones like to end even the tersest email or text with a row of kisses.  “I hate you, you bastard” xxx

The thought of upsetting someone and having to deal with the consequences is always far scarier than standing up for ourselves, claiming what’s ours, demanding to count.

It’s a shame there’s no secret handshake to announce you are suffering from “The Fear”.

Social Media is very fond of urging you to find your “tribe”.

My tribe would be named (and this is one of my dad’s favourite jokes), the “Elawi”.  Ask them where they are and they say “we’re the Elawi” (where the hell are we)?  

Since I’ve had “The Fear” for well over 40 years, I guess I had better get used to it.

And as a parent, the last thing I want to do is pass it on to the kids.

Kids have superheroes to help them synthesize their fear, to give them role models for, to quote Percy in one of my favourite historical sitcoms, Richard Curtis’ Blackadder, “putting ice cubes down the vest of fear”.

Perhaps in later life we just need to say “sod it – The Fear is part of me.  It is who I am”. Perhaps acknowledging the intruder will take away a little of the horrid antsy, unsettled feeling. Perhaps, after all, we just need to put the welcome mat out for anxiety and some days, just some days, it may go and visit someone else for a change.

The late Helen Gurley Brown, founder and later editor in chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine said that when she was upset she would lie on her sofa with her cat and talk it out, a bit like a court hearing.  I did this, he said that and so forth.  She would do this until she felt better.

I think I want to get another cat.

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Depression And The Return Of The Black Dog

The highly ironic thing about suffering from depression is that you are very often the last one to recognise that you are back in its grips.

Black Dog - Depression - Mother Distracted

A key clue, for me at least, is when I find myself unable and unwilling to communicate.  It’s that thing of announcing ‘I’m fine’ to everyone whilst looking like you’d cheerfully assassinate them. It’s the piercing resonance of the slightly shrill “I’m OK”.

Sometimes it even seems loud to me.  And I’m deaf.

Whilst we go on strike verbally, struck dumb by our latest encounter with the Black Dog, our bodies tend to shout our feelings loudly.

We don’t want to get out of bed.  We don’t want to talk.  We want to eat comfort food and watch the same ITV3 drama repeat over and over again letting it wash over us like morphine.

The Husband has become pretty shrewd at working out when I’m about to plummet. He knows the signs better than I do.  For the person who suffers from depression, so locked inside our experience are we that everything seems normal – even when it clearly isn’t.

You know, those days when washing your hair seems unnecessary and hiding behind the curtains so you don’t have to answer the doorbell is entirely normal.

Equally odd is the slow drip, drip, drip of the latest malaise as it builds up without you noticing. Like leaving a tap on in the bathroom, you never quite know when to expect the flood.

Also confusing is what exactly sets it off – whether it’s the effect of a period of poor self-care, or the kids going back to school, or the gradual fading of the sunlight into autumn, I can never pinpoint when I crossed the line from slightly anxious and definitely grumpy, to morose, gloomy and downright unapproachable.

All of this has to be hidden behind a painted smile, of course. But, gradually, phone calls get ignored, letters remain unopened and packet noodles replace any attempt at cookery.

The kids are, happily, generally unaware of all this.  Caitlin though, approaching the grand old age of 10, has a way of looking at me knowingly and asking “Mum, are you ALRIGHT” in that cadence which hints she knows something is up.

Many of us rely on anti-depressants to see us through.  I have never been able to take them. I don’t want to be beholden to chemicals to make me feel better, particularly since the side-effects of some of these drugs make you wonder why they are prescribed in the first place.

I say this with absolutely no judgement of those who do take them, by the way.  We sufferers all find our own way through as best we can, dodging the bullets of depression like ninjas when we can and sinking like a donkey stuck in quicksand when it all gets too much.

I joked recently to my sister’s partner that whilst, for many 2016 was a dreadful year and t-shirts were being printed with “I survived 2016” on (funny, but not really if you see what I mean), I’m already starting to feel like I need the 2017 version.

Hospital visits, builders, family illness, endless problems with my glasses, tinnitus – ah – a veritable catalogue of potential triggers. There’s even Blue Monday in early January designated as the most depressing day of the year where we’re all likely to feel miserable!

So where is your tipping point?

When does the Black Dog return to sit faithfully at your lap, tail wagging, damp cold nose insisting you pay attention?

One thing’s for sure, I wish someone would let the bloody dog out.

Stay At Home Mum? Oh no! It’s the curse of the ‘going out’ headache

Why is it that I don’t go out for months on end but, having found a babysitter, and finding myself actually free to leave the building, I find I have got myself so worked up I have a headache. I seem to have been cursed with the worse kind of social anxiety.

Social anxiety - stone buildings with sign reading hotel & restaurant

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

I seem to sink in a Bermuda Triangle of anxiety symptoms – namely worry, excitement and stress.

And the less I go out, the worse it gets. In fact, I almost seem to welcome my anxiety because it gives me an excuse to avoid doing those things I hate.

Social anxiety is a huge problem I think for stay at home parents who, although they once worked, socialised and mingled with the best of them, eventually find that all and any social interaction can be a source of untold stress.

And you can’t really talk about it, can you?

You can’t say “off out tonight for a lovely dinner with the husband and I’m stressed to bits about it”?

You’re supposed to feel appreciated, lucky, excited, not all knotted up inside with social anxiety.

You are not supposed to be frantically tidying the house so the babysitter doesn’t have a fit of the vapours at the sight of your undercrackers on the radiator and the dust mite party happening behind the TV.

What’s to be done?

No – not pre-loading with a glass or two of wine so that the rest of the evening passes in a haze.

One solution may be to ask the babysitter to arrive a little earlier so that you can take a few extra minutes to compose yourself and actually enjoy the process of getting ready.

Or you could negotiate with your partner so that they are ready before you are and can take care of the kids while you try to recall the makeup routine that was kicked to the kerb as soon as you arrived home from the hospital.

I admire those women who have not let parenthood get in the way of keeping themselves groomed and glossy but I suspect for many of us that is no longer the case.

How many of us find ourselves reaching for a make-up bag at the bottom of a handbag full of Fruit Shoot lids, Werthers Original wrappers and broken crayons, only to find our mascara has dried up, our blusher has caked and cracked and the kids have been drawing with the (one) expensive lipstick that still remains?

And then I can never find a hairbrush (even though we have quite a few) because they have all been left in various locations in the house due to school/ballet/ general going out panics.

Much the same way that you can never find a hairband when you want one either.

Having got myself dressed up I then have to teeter down the drive in the same height of heel I used to regularly run in when I was still working. This is usually accomplished by holding on to the Husband like an octagenarian whilst he tries not to laugh. These days I’m far more used to flat shoes.

I’ve never got a matching coat and bag.

I keep meaning to take all the junk out of my usual bag and actually use the beautiful Louis Vuitton bag which was my 50th birthday present from the Husband but I haven’t quite managed it yet!

By the time we return I feel a whole lot better – a large glass of wine tends to do that I find – but just the one or I’m useless the next day.

I wish I could say that my accessory of choice for a night out wasn’t a box of ibuprofen!

Manage Your Stress With Nelsons Arnicare & Flower Power!

The lovely people at Nelsons, makers of Spatone (reviewed here) have sent samples of their Arnicare Bath & Massage Balm, Bach Emotional Eating Kit and Bach Rescue Liquid Melts for me to try for you.

As you know, I am always interested in anything which helps a busy parent to manage their stress levels better!

I have been reading Susan Balfour’s fabulous book “Stress Control: Stress Busting Strategies For the 21st Century” [review here] and Nelson’s products are a perfect complement to this.

Nelsons Arnicare Bath & Massage Balm

Nelsons Arnicare® Arnica Bath & Massage balm is a unique dual purpose relaxing balm which creates a luxurious, lovely fragranced bath to help ease aches.

It contains Arnica Montana to soothe and relax you after a tiring day, with Calendula, Evening Primrose and Sweet Almond Oils to hydrate and nourish the skin naturally.

The balm has a lovely Lavender and Grapefruit scent to help melt away tension and clarify the mind.

I found the milky bath very soothing after a day with the kids and I rely on the occasional hot bath to help my back. (I’m relying on pilates to help set me straight, exercise-wise).

As a plus, the bath was easy to clean afterwards with no heavy, oily residue.

The advice is to use 2 capfuls per bath but I like the fragrance so much I used a good 3 to 4 capfuls. Nelsons Arnicare Arnica Bath & Massage Balm costs £8.49 and is available from Boots.

emotional eating kit from Nelsons
Nelsons Emotional Eating Kit

If you find yourself wandering off the path a bit when it comes to your diet and healthy living resolutions (don’t we all, especially with all that Easter chocolate on the horizon!), and you need a helping hand to get you back on track, then try Bach™ Emotional Eating Kit. [£11.99 at Boots]

The kit comprises three flower essences to help with emotional eating (using food to deal with your feelings).

You can create your own individual combination and adapt it to suit your changing moods.

The essences are alcohol and artificial additive free and suitable for the whole family.

Each essence offers a different psychological boost and can be taken as drops on the tongue or in a glass of water.

Crab Apple is for acceptance of yourself and your imperfections,

Cherry Plum can help you to think and act rationally and Chestnut Bud can help you gain knowledge from your experience.

I have used flower essences before and find them easy to take, comforting and reassuring. You don’t have the worry of side effects as you do with many over the counter medications.

Bach Rescue Remedy Liquid Melts

If you are having a difficult day and are struggling to find motivation, try some RESCUE® Liquid melts [£8.89 in Boots] to help when your day threatens to get on top of you.

The Bach Rescue Liquid Melts are tiny capsules containing 4 drops of a blend of 5 flower essences designed to offer calmness and to help you regain clarity.

You might argue that the act of pausing and taking stock is therapy enough but it is difficult to do when you are ‘up to your eyes’.

You simply place a melt on your tongue and let it dissolve.

The drops are combined with grapeseed oil and they melt onto the tongue with very little taste.

I have previously used Bach Rescue Remedy (the same blend of drops) which comes in a glass bottle but the Melts are easy to carry in your bag and each individual melt is sealed for hygiene.

The Melts don’t contain alcohol and they are non-drowsy and suitable for all the family.

I was surprised to find that the famous Rescue formula comes in a number of formulations – even chewing gum!

In case you’re wondering what the 5 flower essences in the Rescue blend are, they are Rock Rose (for terror and panic), Impatiens (for irritation and impatience), Clematis (for inattentiveness and to counteract faintness), Star of Bethlehem (for shock) and Cherry Plum (for irrational thoughts and lack of self-control).

So there you have it, Nelsons offer a wealth of alternative remedies to help you manage your stress – the natural way.

*PR samples were received for the purpose of this review.