The coffee problem

Whenever I feel myself getting stressed or anxious, one of the first things I like to do is get a cup of coffee. This is initially all I need to calm down. My level of attentiveness shoots up and my productivity increases dramatically. Unfortunately, this boost in energy and alertness comes with a major downside, the big increase in stress hormones such as cortisol. This coupled with the blocking of happiness hormone production tends to actually lead to an increase in my anxiety. The big issue is that when my anxiety levels increase, all I want to do is to drink more coffee, further fuelling these issues.

Scientifically speaking, there are studies that support this. The effects of caffeine on people with anxiety and depression have long been studied. There is evidence that in small amounts caffeine can be of benefit to those with these conditions. In larger quantities it can have the opposite effect, blocking the production of happy hormones and increasing the production of stress hormones. The issue I have is that caffeine doesn’t appear to be the problem for me, I can happily drink green tea all day without issue.

It took me a long time to work out that coffee, alone, as a beverage was the thing that was fuelling my problems. Despite now knowing this, I still have the problem because I cannot easily escape my dependence on coffee. Tea does not provide the same calming effect for me, even though I also don’t get the negative effects. All in all, I need to find a middle ground, it would be foolish to think I can completely give up coffee, but for my mental state, I need to try and cut back.

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Perfect insomnia

This post is a part of my series looking into health and what we can do to keep ourselves healthy, while still enjoying life.

Click below to access the hub page for the health series:

A push for perfect health


If insomnia is something that I am destined to suffer, then at least I can try and enjoy it. This current balmy weather we are experiencing in the UK is perfect for late night walks. Although having time to think is probably something that is dangerous for sufferers of anxiety, it is better to do it while out enjoying a nice walk than to lay in bed awake all night letting the demons in.

The worst thing I find with my insomnia is that it has such a huge impact on my behaviour, especially the way I act around other people. I have discussed these issues with my friends in the past but, although they are supportive, I’m not sure they are really equipped to understand. I don’t blame them for this, after all, there are many behaviours exhibited by others that I cannot understand. Even as a sufferer of anxiety and depression I have a hard time really understanding the way it affects others. If we cannot understand our own feelings we cannot really expect others to.

One of my biggest fears is that people, however much they say they love you and however many times they say you can always talk to them, will eventually get bored or fed-up with your problems. I have recently gone very quiet with my best friend because I am scared that I have told her too much. We don’t really speak other than to say hello, I am basically avoiding contact with her at this point. This is clearly unhealthy for a relationship, but I really don’t know how to deal with the situation. I am actually hoping I can get out and use my sleeplessness as some thinking time to try and deal with this issue.

Over time I have come to respect insomnia as something that can actually benefit me to some degree, after all, everything I have tried to fix it has failed, may as well embrace it.

Photo by Simon Robben from Pexels

 

Bullet journaling: Relieving symptoms of anxiety.

This post is a part of my series looking into health and what we can do to keep ourselves healthy, while still enjoying life.

Click below to access the hub page for the health series:

A push for perfect health


 

One of the first things I started doing when I was first diagnosed with anxiety (GAD & SAD) was to start writing. Initially, it was so freeing to just get all of the messy thoughts and feelings out of my head and onto paper, after a while though I decided that I also needed to find a way of better organising my time. Bullet journaling was suggested by my psychologist as a way of achieving both of these things.

For those that don’t know, bullet journaling is a method of journaling that allows great flexibility in the way you use it. Using a blank journal, you are able to add whatever sections you want. I use a weekly planner, that I draw in myself as well as sections such as habit tracking and mood tracking.

Bullet journaling was created by an American digital product designer named Ryder Carroll. You can find out more here: http://bulletjournal.com/

I have found this system is so freeing and allows me to organise my life and clear my mind. I even have pages just for doodling, one of my favourite anxiety relief activities. I use Leuchtturm1917 notebooks for my bullet journal as well as other notebooks such as my doodle book and my college and work notebooks. There are Leuchtturm1917 notebooks designed specifically for bullet journals, these have a specially designed index page but are otherwise the same as the rest of the range. You can also choose between dotted, lined and plain paper depending on your preference (I use dotted).

Buy LEUCHTTURM1917 products here:

*This is an Amazon UK affiliate link.

The practice of bullet journaling is one of the best ways I have found of managing my anxiety, it is no longer something that rules my life. I will likely never be free from the grips of mental illness, but using methods like this it is easier to manage.

 

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

 

Freezing shower?

I have just read that as well as having well documented benefits for your skin, turning the shower water to freezing just before you get out can increase your ability to cope with the effects of anxiety and stress.

Has anyone tried this?

I feel like if there is any measurable benefit to this, even if it is purely psychological, it is something worth doing. If such an easy change can make a difference it has to be worth it right?

Food for thought.

Surviving the morning.

Some mornings I am so full of energy that I will get up 3 hours before work. These mornings I will go for a run, have a healthy breakfast and then walk to work. Other days I get up less than an hour before I need to be at work, skip breakfast, challenge the world record for the fastest ever shower and buy my coffee from one of those vending machines at the petrol station. Then there are the days after the sleepless nights, the slightly dead look that I rock up at work sporting. Hair that looks like one of those adverts for surf style gel, only without the effort. Eyes that are so bloodshot that you would be excused for confusing me with a zombie and a level of weirdness that goes far beyond that which I usually exhibit.

The only constant in all of these mornings, and truth be told the rest of my quiet time, is music. The music I listen to varies greatly with my moods, and often has a huge impact on it. Although I can be guilty of allowing myself to wallow in my less positive mind on occasion, because of the music I choose to listen to at that moment, in general it is one of the few things that can comp change my mindset.

This morning was a wet and dreary one. I got up about and hour and a half before work, showered, had some tea and then drove to work. Feeling reasonably good, I decided I would allow fate to choose the soundtrack of my morning, and so it was that I was treated to the delights of My chemical romance.

I have always found it amazing how music can evoke such strong feelings. Take the song “I don’t love you” from the “Black parade” album, I can’t quite pinpoint what it is, but something about this song just makes any feelings of stress or anxiety about the coming day disappear.

This is why I would recommend listening to music every morning. Create your own life soundtrack, think of it as a film, how dull would your favourite movie be without music? Don’t let your life be like a dull, silent film.

To buy the Black parade album mentioned in this post click here: Black parade – Amazon UK