How to start setting boundaries in relationships (as a people pleaser)

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It’s funny how we can go through life being totally oblivious to some of the ways we trip ourselves up or get in our own way. 

 

That’s why I think therapy is such a great idea. It’s like someone kindly props a mirror up in front of us and gently shows us where we have been going wrong all this time.

 

For instance, I have recently come to learn that I am not very good at setting boundaries in relationships, due to the fact that I’m a run-of-the-mill people pleaser.

 

I have this deeply entrenched fear of disappointing people and this fear leads me to do almost anything in my power to avoid letting people down.

 

 

I am a gentle, quiet person so it is easy for me to get bowled over by stronger personalities. Like those who are louder, more confident or more forceful with their opinions than me.

 

It is much easier for those of us who are quiet people to just let things slide rather than face the potential embarrassment, fuss or arguments that speaking up may entail.

 

But without setting boundaries in relationships, this need to please can get us into some rather sticky situations. 

 

We end up agreeing to go to places we really don’t enjoy and spending time with people we would really rather not. We end up stretching ourselves too thin and not leaving enough time for the things we truly enjoy. We end up wasting months and years of our lives trying to be something we are not.  

 

So why are we so afraid of disappointing people? 

 

What I think it comes down to is the fact that most of us are looking for belonging. What we want most of all, is to fit in, to be accepted and loved. 

Therefore, we try to avoid doing anything that might jeopardize that.

 

We are scared that if we disappoint someone we might lose their validation. We might end up being alone. We might be misunderstood and left out in the future. 

 

how to start setting boundaries in relationships, how to stop being a people pleaser, self care, personal growth, personal development, self acceptance, building your confidence

 

But here is the truth: Disappointment is part of adulthood. 

 

Part of life is coming to terms with the fact you might not get everything that you want. We have to learn to cope with being disappointed by other people. 

 

What is important to remember is that we cannot be everything for everyone and therefore, we will disappoint people.

 

You may like to look at setting boundaries in relationships as a radical act of self-care. Daring to put your needs, feelings and self above the comfort and security of keeping others happy.

 

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” – Brene Brown 


 

How to start setting boundaries in relationships:

 

Accept yourself

 

First of all, you need to allow yourself to take up space in this world. That means being proud and unashamed of who you are. 

 

For example, I have this weird thing about cutlery where I cannot stand using a knife and a fork that don’t match. I know it is a little nutty but when I try to be cool and let it slide, I just feel uncomfortable and don’t enjoy my meal as much. 

 

But I am learning that part of loving myself is indulging these quirks and being okay with the way that I am, weird cutlery issues and all! 

 

We deserve to eat with matching cutlery if that is what makes us happy. We deserve to wear the polka dot skirt if that makes us feel fabulous. We deserve to dance to that music that nobody else gets if that puts us in a good mood.

 

You are fine just the way you are. Celebrate you. Accept you. 

 

Put it into practice: Start owning those little quirks that make you who you are instead of feeling embarrassed by them.

 

 

Consider your own needs

 

Something that has felt so freeing for me is to recognise that my voice, opinions and feelings are valid. 

 

For a long time I have been afraid of rocking the boat, of making waves or being a nuisance so I have stayed quiet and withdrawn rather than speaking my mind. 

 

My first instinct is to go along with what others say or want, without giving any consideration to how I am feeling or the fact that I can say ‘NO.’ 

 

Setting boundaries in relationships is important for protecting yourself. It’s about being aware of your needs and how any given situation makes you feel. It is about stopping to consider what terms and conditions you might need to put in place so that you feel comfortable.  

 

Put it into practice: Next time someone asks something of you, stop and consider your needs before automatically agreeing. 

 

 

Communicate your needs

 

I’m no relationship expert but I have come to learn that communication is one of the most important things in healthy relationships. 

 

It is so easy to misunderstand someone and to allow resentment to build up if you don’t clear the air on a frequent basis. The power of vulnerability is that it gives us an opportunity to confront problems before they get bottled up. 

 

First things first, you have to know yourself and what you need.

 

If it is really important to you that your significant other shows up to watch your important event, then tell them. If something your mum said really upset you, then let her know how her words made you feel. 

 

Put it into practice: Be vulnerable and share your needs or feelings with someone today.

 

 

I heard a quote recently that has stuck with me…

 

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” – Joseph Campbell

 

A lot of people are afraid of growing older but I think the older I get, the more I am becoming my true self.

 

With age comes this deeper understanding of who we are and what we need to be happy. And we become less willing to compromise on our happiness as we did when we were younger.

 

But we don’t have to wait until we get older to start practicing self care and setting boundaries in our relationships. Let’s start now by putting these little steps into practice each day. Let’s choose to love ourselves even if that means disappointing others.

How to develop an abundance mindset | Community over competition

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This world struggles with a scarcity mindset. 

 

There is this underlying belief that there isn’t enough to go around. That we must be the first in line, the highest ranking or the most impressive in order to be successful. 

 

It feels like we are always trying to outdo each other, in our careers, in our home décor, in our families and in our quirky hobbies. 

 

We are afraid of cheering each other on or sharing the lessons we’ve learned along the way in case it helps someone get ahead of us. We want to keep everything under wraps, close to our chest, tucked away so that maybe we will have an advantage in this race for the finish line


 

When I think of having an scarcity mindset, I am reminded of this quote that my mum loved to tell us as kids…

 

“Blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make mine burn brighter.”

 

Because scarcity leads us to believe that other people’s candles get in the way of our own. That in order to shine the brightest, we have to dampen their light. 

 

And whatever we do, we should definitely NOT stoop down with our own lit candle and help someone light theirs. 

 

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Learning how to develop an abundance mindset is so important, especially in this world where success often looks like trampling over anyone who might get in your way.

 

Where we are all in constant competition with one another. Where everything is measured, monitored and evaluated to calculate how much it is worth. 


 

I recently listened to an episode of The Little Chapters podcast on abundance vs lack.

 

The hosts spoke of the common misconception that everything we want out of life can be represented by this metaphorical pie. A pie that everyone is fighting to get a slice out of. A pie that depletes quickly and once it is gone, cannot be replaced. 

 

 A lot of us tend to live in this fear that if someone takes a slice of pie before us then we will miss out. 

 

So we scramble to get in first, to be the best, to be different to the rest.

 

We live in this place of lack, of scarcity, of fear that we might miss out.


 

I’m an Enneagram four so for me, the scarcity mindset plays out in my need to be special. 

 

One of the characteristics of fours is our deep desire to be individuals. This makes it really difficult for us to share.  

 

I want to be the only one with that exact brand of shoes so I don’t want to tell you where I got mine. 

I want to make the BEST chocolate chip cookies so I don’t want to share my recipe with you. 

I want my blog to do really well so I don’t want to share the brilliant marketing tips I’ve read about. 

 

 

I have been working really hard to develop an abundance mindset in my own life. It is so counter-cultural, so vulnerable and so not how I usually think. It takes work every day to remind myself that there is enough

 

I thought I would share some advice for those of you who are struggling with a scarcity mindset…

 

How to develop an abundance mindset:

 

Give positive feedback

 

When you read something you really like, tell the author. Leave a review for them on Amazon so their book will rank higher. Write them an email and let them know you are a fan of their work. 

 

Leave comments on your favourite blog posts. Reply to blogger’s stories on Instagram or send them direct messages.

 

Or in the real world, be kind to people. Share the lovely things you think about people instead of keeping those thoughts to yourself.

 

Remember: Other people’s success does not indicate your failure.

 

 

Share other people’s work

 

Tell your friends about the things you love. Give people recommendations on podcasts, books, Ted-talks or shoe brands that you think are brilliant. 

 

Word of mouth is such a powerful marketing force. You never know how much that exposure could mean to a small business or artist.

 

Remember: The world needs more creativity, innovation and vulnerability. Sharing other’s successes won’t mean there is less space for you.

 

 

Do things just for fun

 

Make time for things that have no external purpose outside of the moment.

 

Do some things just for the sheer joy, without needing to be productive, or perfect or feeling like you have to share the moment with anyone else. 

 

Remember: Collect moments, not things. At the end of the day, the most precious things in life can’t be measured by wealth or fame.

 

 

Stay in your lane

 

Focus on your passions and strengths rather than comparing yourself to others. You have a unique story and way of telling it. 

 

Don’t get so caught up in trying to be better than your perceived “competition” that you lose sight of yourself. You simply cannot be the best at everything. So be the best at YOUR thing.

 

Remember: We need YOU. Your gifts, your story, your unique way of creating something of beauty, inspiration and encouragement.

 

 

Say these abundance mindset affirmations:

 

  • There is enough space for everyone 
  • There is only one of me, I am a one-off
  • The way I tell my story is unique
  • Community is more important than competition
  • Creativity is endless

Do you struggle with a scarcity mindset or have you figured out how to master an abundance mindset?

The rise of influencer marketing and what it means for authenticity online

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For some time now, Instagram has been my least favourite social media platform.

 

When I first started blogging, I jumped on absolutely every social media platform –like you do–  and I treated Instagram like a visual diary.

 

I used it to document all of the sweet, funny, lovely moments of each day and I would connect with other bloggers who were doing the same. 

 

But A LOT has changed since then.

 

These days, with the rise of influencer marketing, owning an Instagram account comes with a lot of responsibility.

 

As a member of the platform, if you want to be taken seriously, you are required to curate an aesthetically pleasing feed for your followers.

 

There is no room for spontaneity or images that depict real life anymore. Influencers have created a world where everything needs to be colour coordinated, perfectly proportioned, edited and filtered so that it looks like something you would find inside a glossy magazine. 

 

I really struggle with how fake some of these accounts seem to be. Authenticity is something I value a great deal, as I talked about in my post- authenticity and finding happiness by being myself.

 

the rise of influencer marketing, how to build an instagram community, remaining authentic online, honest blogging, authenticity, vulnerability, blogging tips, building relationships with your followers, mindfulness,

 

At the beginning of this year I found that logging into Instagram made me feel not only bad about myself, my home and my life but also about my creative endeavors.

 

I felt that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get a perfectly curated feed. I never knew what to say in my captions. And recording videos for Insta-stories made me feel terribly awkward. 

 

Instagram reminded me of the way I used to feel in high school.

 

How there were all those little cliques and segregated groups. The sporty kids, the nerdy kids, the quiet ones and the popular ones.

 

No matter how much I told myself we were all just PEOPLE, I always felt intimidated by the popular kids. There was something about them that I could never match up to. They always made me feel inferior with their designer jeans and the effortless way they managed to always be the centre of attention. 

 

That’s how I used to feel on Instagram. Small. Insignificant. Impossibly confused. 

 

My feed seemed to consist of influencers with hundreds of followers whose picture-perfect lives were a billboard for everything I am not.

 

For the longest time I have just felt left out and left behind. 

 

I am no supermodel. I don’t have abs worthy of bikini-on-the-beach shots. I don’t go out every Friday evening to share snaps of my cocktails. I don’t have a beautiful all-white, marble counter-topped kitchen.

 

I’m just well, ordinary. 

 

Most days I go without wearing make up. I prefer to make coffee at home rather than spend money going out all the time.

 

I feel embarrassed taking pictures of myself in public with everyone looking at me. And my bedroom is dark, cozy and totally un-aesthetically pleasing. 

 

But nobody wants to see ordinary on Instagram. They want flashy, beautiful, and air-brushed. They want a real-life fairy tale all sparkly and tied up with a bow. 

 

So it leaves me wondering, where does someone like me fit in? What have I got to share that people would actually care about? 

 

I couldn’t answer these questions for awhile so I just stayed away.

 

I hardly ever posted. I became an Instagram lurker, one of those people who likes pictures and watches everyone else posting but never participates. 

 

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But slowly I drifted back and decided I would take Instagram seriously again.

 

If I wanted to be a serious blogger, then I needed to not just lurk online but to participate, to share and be part of this world.

 

So I started editing my photos to make them a little nicer. I started putting in a bit more of an effort to figure out the colours and style that I wanted to display in my feed. 

 

I started to see Instagram as just another outlet for my creativity

 

I discovered it could be another place to be curious, excited and inspired. 

 

And in the process I found there was a community of people just like me. People who weren’t there to make sales, who didn’t look like models, who weren’t portraying these impossible standards. 

 

I found people with the same values as me.

 

Who were passionate about mindfulness and living intentionally and being present in the moment.

 

People who weren’t pushing consumption, asking their followers to buy more and more and more. People who just wanted to share their art, their words and their pictures with the world. 

 

My kind of people.

 

And so Instagram has become one of my favourite social media platforms. I place where I can connect with other creatives. I place where I can feel inspired and uplifted. I place where I can create and share my work. 

 

 

I think the rise of influencer marketing is a double-edged sword.

 

I hate the way it encourages mindless consumption. The way it makes us feel like we are always lacking something. The way it portrays a lifestyle that is unrealistic, even for those taking the photos.

 

But I love that it enables small businesses and lesser-known creatives to shine. I love that it makes connection and community possible. And that this form of marketing gives power back to the people.

 

How do we choose authenticity over perfection online?

 

By following people who are genuine.

 

Those who share their behind-the-scenes and aren’t afraid of the messy aspects of life. Those who are honest about which of their content that is sponsored. Those who only share what they truly love and believe in.

 

By un-following people who make us feel less-than.

 

You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. It doesn’t matter how cool or popular they may be, you don’t need to compare yourself to them. There are only so many people’s pictures you can scroll through in a day, so they might as well be people you actually LOVE to follow.

 

By choosing community over competition. 

 

Search for people who care about the same stuff you do. Find your community and build them up. Comment on, like and share others accounts, there is enough space for all of us to be creative and successful.


 

Let’s chat about this in the comments…

 

How do you feel about Instagram, influencer marketing or social media in general? 

 

The best simple living podcasts to encourage mindfulness

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I love podcasts. I love that I can take them with me wherever I go. I love that they are filled with such inspiration, humour and wisdom. And I love that they have this magical property of turning any dull task into a delight. 

 

I used to try listening to podcasts on the bus to university but I found myself getting increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t turn the volume up loud enough so I could hear them speaking without bursting my eardrums in the process. 

 

So I stopped listening altogether for a while. 

 

Then, when I started driving myself to and from work, I rediscovered the joy of podcasts. They gave me something to look forward to as I left the house, in the dark, at an ungodly hour and joined the humming, early morning traffic. 

 

Podcasts have this way of making mundane, daily tasks a pleasurable experience.

 

Suddenly, cleaning dishes, commuting to work or brushing your teeth becomes a time to relax and reflect. What once felt tedious becomes a routine I thoroughly enjoy.

 

I now find myself itching to go for a walk each day so that I can slip my earphones in and start listening to the next episode in my queue. 

 

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It’s exciting to me that podcasts are so rapidly growing in popularity. I’m delighted that more and more creatives are using this platform to share content. 

 

I love reading blog posts but I find there is something really special about hearing a person’s words in their own voice. 

 

As you know, I am a simple living enthusiast. I am passionate about slowing down, being mindful and living in the moment. And I love nothing more than connecting with or discovering other people who feel the same way. 

 

I wanted to share with you some of the people who inspire my writing. These are my go-to podcasts, the ones I’ll always make time for. Some of them I’ve been listening to for years and some are fairly new to my collection.

 

All of them will inspire you to live intentionally, to not take anything for granted but instead to appreciate every precious moment you have.

 

The best simple living podcasts to encourage mindfulness:


 

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Image: Christy Nockels

The Glorious In The Mundane- Christy Nockels

 

Christy is a Christian musician and I’ve mentioned her lullaby album before in my post about ways to calm down when you are feeling anxious for no reason. I listen to her album on repeat on bad days.

 

And her podcast is just as beautiful as her music.

 

Each season she has a theme which she centres the episodes around such as ‘home’ or ‘postures of the heart.’

 

In every episode, she starts by telling a story from her everyday life. I know a lot of people who hosts podcasts do this, but I think Christy does it the best.

 

Her stories captivate your attention like your teacher did as she read to you while you all sat cross-legged on the mat. Her words have this way of making you feel lighter, softer and closer to God.

 

Christy will remind you to gently look for the beauty in the ordinary (hence the name, ‘glorious in the mundane.’) After listening to this podcast you will have a greater appreciation for the wonder of life, even in the dull moments. 

 

My favourite episode: Build my life | Episode 25

 

 

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The Next Right Thing- Emily P. Freeman

 

I came across this podcast last year when I was in the middle of job hunting and feeling so terribly lost (the theme of my twenties I feel.) I was drawn to the title because boy, did I need some help figuring out my next right thing.

 

Every episode of this podcast feels like a warm hug. A pat on the back. Someone giving you a little cheer as you drag yourself closer to the finish line.

 

Emily provides guidance and wisdom as we try to work out what to do next. She reminds us of the gentle nudges we often miss that are also known as our intuition. 

 

This podcast will encourage you to take things slowly, to give yourself a little grace, to take the little steps that lead to big steps until you eventually find your rhythm. 

 

My favourite episode: Stay in today | Episode 36

 

 

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Image: Apple Itunes

Hashtag Authentic- Sara Tasker

 

I stumbled across Sarah’s book and subsequently, blog through another blogger I follow.

 

Sarah is what you might call an Instagram guru. She runs her own beautiful blog, Instagram and a super successful business teaching others how to do the same.

 

Her podcast is so down to earth. You get the impression that she is one of the sweetest people on earth. She talks about mindfulness, creativity and social media in a way that brings together what can sometimes feel like polar opposites.

 

You will love this podcast if you are a fellow creative, a business owner, or someone who finds Instagram beautiful but impossibly confusing!

 

My favourite episode: Live in Manchester | Episode 67 

 

 

 

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Image: Katie Dalebout

Let It Out- Katie Dalebout 

 

You may have seen Katie’s book ‘Let It Out’ around online. It’s a guide to journaling and one of the BEST journaling tool kits I’ve come across.

 

Her podcast has been one I have followed for a long time. What I love about it is that she doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects. She mainly focuses on health and well-being with topics such as self care, therapy, and body positivity.

 

Katie talks earnestly about a lot of things that are really rough about your twenties. She makes you feel like you are not alone. Her gentle, warm voice leaves you feeling comforted like you just caught up with an old friend.

 

 

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Image: The Commoner’s Communion

The Commoner’s Communion- Strahan

 

Strahan is another Christian musician but he’s actually from New Zealand which makes me really happy. Not only does he create fun, folksy music but he is also an incredible speaker.

 

I’m disappointed to say he hasn’t released any new episodes of his podcast in quite awhile but I highly recommend you go and check out his older ones.

 

Strahan is one of those beautifully articulate, poetic, wordsy people who reminds you that everything is sacred and special. His podcast makes faith and Christianity more accessible and less old and stuffy.

 

My favourite episode: New | Episode 4

 

 

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Image: Jessica Rose Williams

The Little Chapters- Jessica Rose Williams & Kayte Ferris

 

This is one I only just came across recently but I loved the episode so much I had to add it to this list. 

 

I love how chatty and friendly these two ladies are. The conversation I listened to was really interesting and encouraging. 

 

This podcast is very real and authentic, it will inspire you to reconsider some of the beliefs you hold and take actions to improve yourself.

 

My favourite episode: Abundance vs Lack | Episode 15


 

What are your favourite podcasts?

3 lies about your self-worth you need to stop believing

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I’ve been run down by one of those hideous, can’t-see-it-but-it-still-hurts colds. The kind of cold that gives the illusion of not being so bad but in reality, feels like your brain is too big for your head and is trying to squeeze its way out. 

 

I hate being sick. Everyone hates being sick. 

 

Usually people hate sickness because of the icky symptoms. The relentlessly runny nose, the scratchy sore throat, the pounding head and watery eyes. It’s a cocktail of discomfort that nobody likes to swallow. 

 

But secretly, if I am being truly honest, the reason I hate being sick is that I can’t do anything

 

In my weakened state I am forced to lie down, to rest my eyes, to drink cups of soup and watch old re-runs on TV. 

 

And somehow, deep down a little part of me still gives into the lie that says my self-worth is determined by my productivity. 

 

It’s why I currently dread Mondays so much. While everyone else sets their alarms hideously early and gulps down their coffee so they get to work on time, I wake up and am reminded that I have nowhere I need to be. 

 

It feels like a kick in the gut every time. It sends me into an absolute funk at the start of each week. 

 

I feel like a kite that has come loose from its string. Untethered and floating aimlessly. No purpose, no meaning, no value. 

 

But the stupid thing is, I AM still being productive, my guilt is misplaced, my shame is invalid

 

Right now I am doing some online study, I am writing for my blog, I am curating content and connecting with others. I am not wasting time and yet I feel this strong sense of unworthiness. 

 

I blame this on the messed up world we live in, with its endless hustling mentality, with its thirst for collecting accomplishments, with its need to seek approval from everyone else.  

 

It’s just too easy to get sucked into those wonky beliefs. 

 

But I have to say, I am mighty tired of feeling like a failure for not quite matching up to these expectations. 

 

More and more, I am needing to shrug my shoulders into grace like you do a sweater. Right now, especially, I am needing a reminder of who I am, what makes me valuable and where my worth comes from. 

 

So as much for me as for you, here is some encouragement for your heart today.

 

3 lies about your self-worth you need to stop believing…

 

 

Your worth doesn’t come from your work. 

 

Your value is not measured by how much you get done each day. You cannot simply work more, hustle more or stretch more into each day to make yourself of greater importance. 

 

As a type A personality, I always struggle with this one. I like that if I put in effort, I can see the results. I like knowing that my hard work pays off. The idea that I can’t earn my worth is difficult for me to wrap my head around.

 

But coming to a place of understanding that productivity does not make you whole is a huge relief. 

 

If doing more won’t make us more worthy, then doing less won’t make us less worthy. Therefore, I can rest. I can just BE. I can slow down and enjoy life without feeling guilty.

 

I’ve always liked that quote that reminds us we are human BEINGS not human DOINGS.

 

We don’t have to earn our rest.

 

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Image by: tend + mend

 

 

Your worth isn’t related to your career. 

 

There has been such incredible progress for women in this area. Nowadays, there are so many opportunities for us to excel. There are so many ways we can make a living, so many things we can do to keep ourselves busy. 

 

But with all this progress, I feel an underlying pressure to pursue the sort of career that the women who came before me couldn’t. 

 

I feel privileged to have the choice but that being said, it should be a CHOICE

 

Whether we stay at home and raise sweet babies, bake cakes, and cultivate beautiful gardens. Or whether we wear snazzy suits, have a personal assistant and the only way to see us is to make an appointment. Or whether we split our time between home and the office. 

 

Regardless of our choice, we are worthy.  

 

 

Your worth isn’t determined by your success. 

 

Time and time again I feel the thorny fear of failure tightening around my chest. 

 

So often this fear is what puts us off even trying something. We are so scared that we might fail and therefore be a failure. 

 

But simply failing doesn’t make you a failure. Failing means you were daring enough to even try! 

 

The thing is, no amount of awards or accomplishments will give us meaning. Successes and failures slot neatly into the boxes of wisdom and experience, useful to draw out for future endeavors but completely irrelevant in terms of our value as human beings.

 

Win or lose, we have purpose here.

 

self-worth, inspiration, encouragement, believe in yourself, self-love, self-esteem, build yourself up, self-acceptance,

 

And while we are on the subject, here are some more lies you shouldn’t be believing about your self-worth.

 

Your self-worth is not determined by…

 

Others opinions of you.

What you wear.

How thin you are.

Whether you went to college.

How much you know about politics.

Whether you can throw a rugby ball.

How good you are at dancing.


On and on we could go. 

 

These are just the lies that shame feeds us, keeping us small, keeping us tame, keeping us from reaching our full potential. 

 

Because here is the truth: your worth is innate, intrinsic, a part of you regardless of anything else. 

 

You cannot earn it. You cannot lose it. 

 

I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel free. I can do or be anything. I can try and fail at anything. I can wrap myself in love because grace says, no matter what…I am worthy.

8 ways to calm down when you are feeling anxious for no reason

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I originally sat down to write a post on perfectionism but as soon as I started, I realised something. I’m not really a perfectionist and I don’t have much to say on the matter. 

 

I would be of no use to you. I don’t have any advice for people who obsessively use rulers and match the colours of their clothes pegs. I am not that person. 

 

What I am however, is highly strung. I know all about feeling anxious for no reason. 

 

I carry anxiety around with me like most ladies do a purse. 

 

I am hopeless without structure and routine. I need to be able to plan ahead. I need to make sure I am adequately prepared for any and all eventualities. 

 

Spontaneity, completely throws me off, it rips the rug right out from under my feet. 

 

The older I am getting, the better I am becoming at letting go of control. I am slowly learning how to cope with uncertainty so that it doesn’t paralyze me. 

 

But sometimes when we feel ourselves slipping, we need strategies to help us calm down. 

 

We need tools to help us cope after a stressful day. A routine that can help us to prepare ourselves for something uncomfortable like a dentist visit or awkward phone call. 

 

We need to have a way of cooling off and resetting, a way of bringing harmony into our every day lives. 

 

Because sometimes there is a clear and obvious reason why we are feeling anxious, but sometimes we are feeling anxious for no reason at all

 

These coping mechanisms are especially important for highly strung people, those of us who are always just teetering on the edge of becoming overwhelmed. 

 

We need to know our limits and make sure we take extra special care of ourselves. 

 

So as a highly strung, often anxious person, these are my personal coping mechanisms. These are the ways I practice self care. This is how I manage to stay sane. 

 

8 ways to calm down when you are feeling anxious for no reason…

 

Focus on your breathing

 

When we get very stressed we tend to take short, shallow breaths. The problem is, this only encourages our body’s ‘fight or flight‘ response which ends up prolonging our feeling of stress.

 

The very best thing we can do in any stressful situation is to focus on our breathing.

 

Make a big deal of both your inhale and exhale. Pause and try to count a few seconds after each. Make your breathing as long and deep as possible.

jessica hagy illustration

Illustration by Jessica Hagy.

 

Listen to gentle music

 

Although technically not music, I love listening to nature sounds, especially rain or thunderstorms. There is something soothing about hearing the rhythm of nature. (Unless you look up whale sounds, there is nothing soothing about that!)

 

My favourite album to listen to when I am feeling anxious for no reason is ‘Be Held‘ by Christy Nockels. This is a collection of lullabies for adults which never fail to bring me back to a place of calm. 

 

I also made a playlist of slow, peaceful songs which I’ll put on in the car or as I am working to put myself at ease. Music has a way of reaching us that words simply cannot. 

 

 

Try using a relaxation exercise 

 

In one of my tutorials at university we spent the whole hour learning different relaxation exercises. At the time I thought it was a bit kooky but now I can appreciate the value of it. 

 

The only one I can actually remember involves your five senses. 

 

It goes like this… Find yourself a quiet space and close your eyes. Begin breathing deeply. Then start to take notice of each of your senses individually.

What can you hear around you? What can you smell? Open your eyes and what can you see? 

 

Slowly become aware of your surroundings and allow your tension to dissipate.

 

 

Just write

 

I always find healing in writing. I always manage to un-twinge my tension and stitch up the wounded bits when I write out exactly how I am feeling.

 

The most important thing to remember is that your journal/laptop/back side of a napkin is a safe space. Allow yourself to write freely without judgement.

 

You cannot fully let go of the built up pressure inside you if you are fretting about the things you are writing. So no judgement, just write.

 

 

Paint, draw or colour-in

 

Those adult colouring-in books became really popular a few years ago for a reason. Being creative is relaxing.

 

Painting, drawing and colouring-in bring us back to the present. They allow us to be adventurous and playful, to make a mess and just have fun.

 

They also distract us from the fears and worries that can overwhelm us. Sometimes what we need is a little distraction, a little moment of rest from all the hustle and stress.

 

 

Go outside

 

I am a nature girl. My happy places are all outside. I love the softness of the beach, the ruggedness of the mountains, the quietness of the forest.

 

I need greenery and I need wide open spaces. Nature is soothing for our souls.

 

While you are outside, try out the relaxation exercise I mentioned above. There is nothing more uplifting than listening to the early-morning birdsong.

 

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Get clean

 

Have a shower or run a bath but make it an experience.

 

Fill the bath with bubbles, allow the steam from the shower to soak into your pores, bundle yourself up in a warm, fluffy towel afterwards.

 

Often it is the simple things that bring the most pleasure. For example, when I want to feel especially luxurious I take the time to moisterize properly. I find the nicest, sweetest-smelling body lotion and I make myself soft all over. Simple, but delightful.

 

 

Talk about it

 

Bottling up your feelings will never do you any good. Be brave and open up to someone.

 

It often will feel like the last thing you want to do, but the effort it takes will always be worth it. Just make sure you speak to someone who is gentle and understanding, no judgement in your writing, no judgement in your speaking.


 

I’d love to know, how do you practice self care when you are stressed?

Do you ever find yourself feeling anxious for no reason at all?