This is me…

Since having Adam I’ve done a lot of losing and finding myself.  It’s funny how becoming a parent can do that to you isn’t it?!  I started this blog when I found out I was pregnant and instantly felt very alone in the things I was experiencing and the way I was feeling. The parenting blogger market is so heavily saturated but the real, shitty gritty stuff is still buried deep down below all the perfection of parenting and I wanted the shitty stuff. I wanted someone else to tell me that what I was feeling wasn’t strange, or wrong or unheard of! I wanted someone else to write about what I was writing about. And then I started believing those to be my weaknesses and I hid them from the world (those posts are set to private).

Those feelings haven’t really changed very much since having Adam, they’ve actually grown and evolved.  Feelings of losing myself as a person, losing my independence, suddenly being thrown into this huge amass of responsibility.  Since falling pregnant and becoming a parent all I’ve wanted was to shake those feelings!  I didn’t want those feelings anymore but I’m learning to embrace them.  I went from being an independent working professional, showered and dressed every morning and not smelling of congealed breast milk to barely getting a second to breathe, let alone eat or sleep and constantly rocking the messy bun with added grease and it was a shock to the system to say the least.

So naturally I’ve gone on a very long soul searching journey whilst riding the motherhood train and I seem to finally be finding my feet.  Being on maternity leave meant I had lots of free time on my hands (in between the sleepless nights and cluster feeds) to work on finding me again.  It took a while but I realised I could be me whilst still being Mum.  I rekindled my love for writing but also found a new passion for photography and with Instagram being a visual platform, that is naturally where all of my efforts have been spent recently.  If you haven’t found me on my blog, it’s most likely I’ve been on Instagram, Liking, Commenting and creating a bit of magic for my feed but I’ve also been creating lots of useful Instagram related content for my wonderful friend Jodine and her new venture Brand Influencers UK.

Instagram has fast become my little obsession but I am by no means an expert.  I do enjoy learning the inner workings of Instagram and as well as following the works of Sara Tasker, I am partial to spending my spare time learning about what works for Instagram and what doesn’t and I love shouting about it from the rooftops but for some reason I just don’t put my own knowledge into practice.

My downfall when it comes to Instagram or anything for that matter, is that I fail to practice what I preach.  I know what works and what gains traction but I rarely find the time or energy to put those things in to practice. 2019 is the year I stop making those excuses and practice what I teach!

I have had a fair bit of time to soul search these last few weeks (that’s what being admitted to hospital twice in the space of a week does to you!) and I’ve realised that my whole purpose for blogging or Instagram blogging hasn’t changed. I still very much see it as an outlet for my mental health journey and a way of communicating feelings that I otherwise may not be able to express. But the way I convey my message has changed, I use photography and editing as a form of therapy and what better platform to do that on than Instagram right?!

So there is a little insight for you about my journey and how it has evolved over the past year or so for all the new followers who have found their way to me through Instagram and for those that have been there from the start. I’m still learning and growing, and I don’t claim to be an expert but I now where my passions lie, I know what makes me ME again.

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Helpful Thinking for Anxiety…

As some of you may know, when I took my break from work I vowed to get a better handle on my anxiety before even attempting to go through that all over again.

Those with anxiety, or any other mental health issue for that matter, will know that you don’t just wake up one morning and be ‘cured’ of those harmful thoughts or depressive feelings.  You can’t just pop a pill or wrap a bandage around it and hope that all will be better in a few hours because these thoughts come from deep within you, sometimes they are deep rooted and have grown with you for years and attempting to fix those thoughts take a lot of time and effort.

Since starting therapy I’ve been working on a few techniques with my therapist and nothing has helped me more than keeping a ‘Helpful Thinking Diary’.  When I first learnt what this was and how it worked I thought NOPE!! That wont work for me.  I was very used to avoiding all negative or anxious thoughts until they suffocated me and then it was just too much to handle!  Like an overwhelming surge or emotions and I’d end up drowning in them.  I’ve learnt that burying my head in the sand until i’m choking on it just wasn’t good for anybody and it wasn’t resolving anything, just adding to the many many layers of worries and fears and it did come to a point where I just couldn’t handle it anymore.

Now I feel like before I continue I should disclaim a few things, I have no formal qualifications in therapy or mental health.  I did not develop these techniques and am not associated with any persons or corporations that have developed them.   That being said I am somebody who has suffered with a lot of issues on the mental health spectrum, and I know what works for me and what doesn’t. This is something that I have tried in various forms and it has been really helpful for me and my catastrophic way of thinking and when I find a technique that works for me I literally want to shout about it from the rooftops.  If this helps just one other person then it is totally worth speaking about it openly.

I started by getting a small notebook, something lightweight and small enough to throw into my handbag anytime and a pen.  If you love your stationary as much as me this can be a part of the therapy, the beginning of learning to manage your detrimental thought and worries.  Make it a positive treat, a nice little bit of self care that you don’t have to feel bad or guilty about.  This little mode of thrashing out your anxieties will help you feel so much better in the long run so it’s so worth it!  I did consider doing this on my phone just in the notes section and in an age of constant screen stimulation this could be what works for some people but I wanted to step away from the phone a bit.  It’s so easy to be distracted by messages and social media notifications while you’re trying to put yourself in a different mindset and I know that if it was me, I’d end up replying to messages or checking my Instagram notifications and the entire task would be thrown out of the window.

So once you have your vessel, begin filling it with helpful positive things.  Take one of your worries and centre it on your page and once you have your worry begin constructing your branches.  One should say ‘whats the worst that could happen?’ and the other ‘Whats the best that could happen?’

Now break down each main branch further, for each scenario ask yourself ‘what past experiences prove these points?’ For example lets say your fear is your child being harmed if you go out.  The worst that could ever happen is that serious harm comes to your child while you’re out.  But the best is that you go out, achieve whatever you needed to achieve while you’re out and have a lovely day with your child, they get to build their social skills and you get those shoes you’ve been eyeing up all month.

Breaking those two scenarios up further, What does past experience tell you about your fear?  You have been out many times with your little one and thankfully they have come to absolutely no harm therefore the likelihood of it happening is very small.  Some may argue that it is is still a possibility for your fear to come true but break that down further.  Harm could come to anybody at any time, My little boy has more bumps and bruises occuring at home than anywhere else but I would never refuse to bring him home because of the fear he may come to harm.  Past experiences show you that when you have left the house with your little one no harm has come to them but they have interacted with nature, their surroundings, strangers in the street.  They’ve gotten some fresh air and maybe they’ve napped better after they’ve been out? So past experiences show you that it is beneficial to leave the house with your little one.

This is obviously a scenario that I’ve invented to show how, by breaking up the best and worst scenarios you can assist your mind to think more positively.  I’ve used this technique a few times recently and found it so helpful I just had to come on here and write about it

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My gift to Adam for Nursery…

 

As you all probably know, if you’ve been following my journey with Adam for a while, our attempt at putting Adam in to nursery and me going back to work didn’t really work out very well for either of us when my maternity leave ended last December.

So I took some time away and had a good hard think about how we were going to make this process easier for the two of us second time around.  I knew that I wanted to step away from all the negative feelings I had when we went through all of this previously and make it as fun as possible so that it wasn’t such a shock to both of us when the time came for him to go back to nursery.

I came up with the idea of creating a little scrapbook for Adam to take to nursery, something that was only his and he could sit and look through if ever he missed us or wanted a reminder of home so I sourced a small scrapbook and got to thinking about what I could do/put inside for him and then I thought, Why not just put lots of photos inside for him to look at.  He loves books and when I’m not there to read to him he’s equally as content just flicking through the pages and pointing at all the different characters.

The four most important things in Adam’s life are probably Mummy, Daddy, Nala (the cat) and Cars so I got to finding all the pictures I could of those four things and neatly arranged them into his little scrapbook for him and I’ve been showing it to him every time I update it with new photos and he’s absolutely loved it!  I stuck the photos on with brightly coloured washi tape  to ensure they weren’t just going to fall out but also because washi tape is so easy to remove, so when hes all settled and doesn’t really want his little book anymore I can take the photos out and put them back in our photo albums again.  And if he always wants his little book near then I can continue swapping photos out and changing things in the book as he grows without ruining the pages or the photos.

Now that he’s settled into nursery the feedback from the staff is that he loves his little scrapbook and it’s such a great way for little ones to regroup when they’re confused about where family have gone.  He likes to slope off into a quiet corner at some point during the day and look through his book knowing that it is all his and he wont have to share it with the other children and we even give it to him when hes at home which he loves.  Mindfulness is my new favourite pastime and I love that by encouraging him to take a breath during his day and promoting calm moments it allows him to process his emotions without leaving him overloaded at the end of the day.  I’m in the process of taking more pictures of him with the silly cat so that I can print them and pop them in his book for next week and this will be an activity that we can both sit down and do together so he is always involved in the evolution of his little scrapbook.  Also I’m so happy that Autumn is here so that we can forage for crisp leaves and maybe pop them around his photos.

This is not in any way an #ad but I’ve been using the freeprints app to print all of my photos which is amazing because we get to choose 45 free prints a month.  I usually go over the 45 because I take so many pictures of Adam but it only costs a little bit extra.  And all i have to pay is the delivery charge and they arrive a few days later and look really good.  Both myself and my husband have the app so we get 90 free prints a month!! Use my referrer code and we both get 5 bonus free prints, you don’t have to but it would be nice :).  https://fpuk.app.link/invite?friend=sahmad155&end=end

I’d love to know of any other ideas for crafty things with toddlers if you have them and please tag me your pictures if you decide to make your little one a little nursery scrapbook.

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The frazzled Mother

I’ve had a little bit of a hiatus from writing on my blog recently and although it wasn’t planned I just haven’t felt like sitting down and writing.

The main reason for that is because I use writing as an outlet for all the frustration of day to day life.  I like being able to sit down and pen my worries and just leave them there for a while because it not only frees up my mind from all the clutter but it also brings me closer to a whole community of people out there who may be feeling the same way as me and a problem shared is a problem halved.

But recently I’ve found other creative outlets for reconnecting with myself and de-cluttering my frazzled mummy brain, mainly Instagram!

Some of you may not know but when my maternity leave ended I felt so overwhelmed with life with a baby, and the added everyday pressures of being a wife, a woman, a human being, that going back to work almost broke me.  I can talk about it now because I’m in a much better place personally, psychologically, physically and emotionally but at the time I just wanted to run away!

For quite some time I lied to everybody that asked and just said ‘yes, work is fine’ but my reality was I was barely half the person I was before getting pregnant and I was trying to spread that half person so thinly over my husband, my son, the house, my blog, life in general and it just wasn’t working.  I was granted a 6 month career break which suddenly freed my mind of so much emotional distress and all the stresses that came with being away from my boy.  I gave myself those 6 months to grow as a person so that when the time came to going back to work I’d be in the best position I could be to juggle motherhood and having a life.

Well that time has actually come! In three weeks time I shall be hanging up my mummy cape and heading off to work for 2 days a week and this time I feel ready for it.  We’ve found a nursery that is a bit further away but I feel Adam with thoroughly enjoy and I have had the last 6 months to free my mind of all the negativity I was harboring, surrounding motherhood in general and am in a much better place.

What has helped me the most is keeping myself busy, focusing my mind on more taxing and creative tasks so that I just haven’t had the time to obsess and fester on negative things.  I became obsessed about many things when I first my son like breastfeeding (I had to get it right and when it wasn’t I blamed myself for being a useless mother), Separation anxiety (I couldn’t manage even an hour or two without my baby) and lots more including his weight gain and his health in general (I worried about every little ailment and it made me an anxious mess!).

If you’ve followed me on Instagram for a while you’ll notice a bit of an evolution in my photography recently, I’m enjoying putting my focus on editing and taking beautiful photos instead of worrying but I’m not going to lie it’s worked brilliantly until now…

I’m back to being a nervous wreck and an anxious crazy loon but I think with enough planning, the transition into nursery life has been a bit easier this time.  I’ll be writing a post about what we changed and how we’ve made the whole process of enrolling him back into nursery much easier for him and for me so keep your eyes peeled for that.

 


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My favourite literature for anxiety…

If you know me well you’ll know that my most favourite platform at the moment is Instagram and recently I put up some polls asking my followers which posts they wanted to see next.  I asked about whether I should write about what literature I’ve found to help with anxiety or what supplements I take and the results were pretty 50-50 so I’m going to write both.

If you’re like me and have suffered with anxiety for a while, or it’s been heightened since becoming a parent then this post may be of some help to you.  Below are some of the books/literature I’ve accumulated in my search for a calmer, more level headed me and they’ve helped me so much I’m keen to share in the hopes that they will help someone else too!

The Anxiety Solution – Chloe Brotheridge. I found this book when searching for books to help with Anxiety and it had amazing reviews on Amazon.  It’s an easy read and takes a few hours to complete cover to cover with nappy breaks and toddler tantrum intervals but it’s a real eye opener.  I would say though that it’s written from the point of view of a woman and therefore is more biased to female experiences but that’s not to say a man can’t read it.  If you’re going to read this book then I’d advise committing to it, complete the tasks, take notes and be honest with yourself.  It’s not going to delve too deep into your soul but I found it helped me to understand my anxiety a lot more and now that I understand it I can manage it much better.

Just Breathe Magazine – I found these through Instagram but they’re actually stocked in all major supermarkets and I usually pick mine up from Sainsburys but you can also order online here.  If you substitute your fancy barista coffee from starbucks you can pick up one of these instead and you wont regret it.  I’m going to be very honest, I have 2 copies so far and I still haven’t read them all completely because their images are enough to make you feel calm and zen.  sounds kinda stupid but I can very happily just flick through these over and over and not get bored.  They are stunning, their illustrations are mind blowing and the articles are great for promoting mindfulness and positivity.

Breathe journals – If like me you love the magazines, the journals will literally blow your mind!  I have the Nature Journal and its so beautifully put together and illustrated that I almost don’t want to use it but I am, slowly.  I may also have just made a sneaky little order of the other journals in their range and I can’t wait to get stuck in.  You can even find some of them on Amazon like the list journal, perfect if you love a good list like me.  If like me you find that mindfulness and putting your mind to more creative outlets really helps chill out your anxiety then these are a must for you.

Calm – This book coincides with the Calm app which I also love but if like me you’d rather practice your mindfulness, away from your phone and all other technology then the book is brilliant.  It gives guidance to how you can practice mindfulness and meditation everyday along with short mindful activities that you can complete in minutes and they instantly bring a bit of calm to your life.  This book gives you everything from physical exercises to help wind down, to proverbs and anecdotes from other cultures and famous people.  Some of my favourite activities are the imaginative ones like design your calm island and go cloud gazing.  I’m not sure where you can pick this up as I found mine in my local Homesense stationary section but I did find it on good old Amazon here.

Start where you are – This was another Homesense find that can be found on Amazon here.  It’s called a journal for self exploration and it ‘pairs insightful quotes with prompts that spark reflection through writing, drawing, list making, and more.’  I bet you’re seeing a theme now with the sort of literature that has helped and it’s definitely ones that make you pause and reflect on your worries with actual mindful activities to help you conquer your fears.  I found this one to be the easiest to do, simply because the tasks aren’t too taxing.  They just simple, quick tasks like write three things that made you smile today and describe one thing about yourself that pushes people away.  It’s very easy on the eye with lots of typography.

If you’re looking for something that’s going to really get you thinking and working on your anxiety then The Anxiety Solution is by far the best one for you but if you’re looking for more thought provoking simple activities that you can incorporate into your everyday life for little snippets of calm in your day then any of the others are great!

I’d love to hear if any of you have any suggestions for books or magazines that you find great for anxiety then I’d love to hear them in the comments or if you try any of my suggestions do let me know! I’d love to know how you get on.

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