I saw this on someone else social media today and wanted to share as it vocalises what anxiety feels like so perfectly for me.
I don’t know the person who wrote this but really worth a read.
I saw this on someone else social media today and wanted to share as it vocalises what anxiety feels like so perfectly for me.
I don’t know the person who wrote this but really worth a read.
Today’s blog topic is a request (possibly my first ever topic request!) and is focused on the Post Marathon Blues.
This doesn’t just need to apply to marathons, it could equally apply to people who have trained for any big sporting even (half marathon, 10k, big swim or cycle, triathlon, a show, a tournament- anything where all your focus for several months has been working towards being in your peak physical form and at the top of your game for one specific event).
How we feel after an event is not something we tend to focus on. We put lots of thought into preparing for things and on the day itself and even on the immediate recovery in the hours or days after a physical event.
But many people report feeling a bit down in the weeks after a marathon or other big event. Words like lost, aimless, flat, down, void, lacking in motivation come up in conversations. It’s a lot like that feeling you get when you come back from a holiday and the realities of normal life hit you and now because the holiday has been and gone you don’t have anything to look forward to.
This is due to both physical and psychological reasons.
Physically the day itself will probably have left you feeling extremely tired, a cumulative effect of weeks of training hard and the extra effort of the day itself and you may have picked up blisters, bruised toenails and niggles which don’t help make you feel great about yourself. Your endorphins will have been high during the event and as you settle back into normality this can have an effect of how you feel as you struggle to replicate the high you felt in that moment again.
Mentally, you no longer have the event to focus on and that can leave you feeling like life has no meaning or focus after months of everything you do revolving around training (can’t go out Saturday have a long run on Sunday morning, can’t eat that as I’m in training and so on). It can make it harder to you to motivate yourself to eat well or train as you no longer have that reason for doing so. Many of us thrive on routine and having something meaningful to us to work towards and once you reach your goal where do you go from there?
Thankfully, these feelings tend to only last a few weeks and people normally spring back to their normal self but there are things you can do to help yourself feel better in this situation and feel the positivity you probably expected to feel after your big achievement.
Plan to do something nice to celebrate your achievement – a massage, spa break, celebration meal. Take time to congratulate yourself for what you achieved so it doesn’t feel insignificant now.
Book something nice
Similar to above, you could consider booking a weekend break or holiday- something to focus on that is nice and not exercise. This is bound to improve your mood
Think about what you achieved, all the positives and even what you would have done differently in hindsight. Think objectively about whether it’s something you would like to repeat or if once was enough. That way if you choose to train for the same event in the future you know what pitfalls to avoid and if not you know you can confidently say once was enough. Sometimes reflecting on your feelings can give you more ownership on how you feel and help you both make decisions and manage your emotional responses better.
Get a sports massage, continue to eat nourishing food (and enough of it) to help the body recover, stretch, get some good quality sleep and take some time to just sit and chill. Any sporting event which take a toll on your body requires some proper mindful recovery in the days after to help you feel better physically which in turn will help you feel better mentally.
Do some low impact exercise
Don’t feel like you need to be back training he day after. A week or two off could be exactly what your body needs. If you feel the urge to exercise though try and stick to low impact options which place less strain on your CNS. You may want to try some yoga or similar during this time.
Don’t run for a couple of weeks
Similar to above, a couple of weeks not doing the exercise you have just trained hard for can be beneficial, both in allow you to physically recover but also give you that little bit of excitement when you do go back out for that first run after a couple of weeks.
Find a new challenge
After a couple of weeks when your rested and refreshed this could be the time to think about what comes next. Another run of the same distance, a step up to the next distance (Ultra anyone), maybe looking at trying something new instead. Setting your next goal will give you a renewed sense of focus.
Above all, don’t stress about feeling a bit blue after a big event. It’s human nature and being sensible and kind to yourself is the key to letting it subside.
Equally, if you suffer from depression anyway, don’t let the idea of post event blues put you off training for an event. Research has shown that having something to aim for and the training and self care associated with that training can be beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of depression and as long as you are mindful that you might feel a bit down immediately after the event and have your coping strategies in place this should have a generally positive impact on your mental health.
Social Media isn’t reality, did you know that?
It feels like recently there has been a lot of acknowledgement that people tend to post a ‘best of’ of their lives of Instagram and Facebook- nights out, impressive meals, pretty hotels etc. and that can sometimes make us feel bad about our own lives; that we are perhaps not exciting enough, successful enough, interesting enough.
More people now, possibly in response to this, post more mundane / normal things on Social Media (if you want to know what I’ve eaten at any given time check my Instagram stories and there will be a not very attractive meal that may or may not have some nutritional value to it but to be honest is likely to involve cake, because I’m a fitness instructor and like to fuel my body with foods that provide it with value but I also really really like cake). That’s good right- fewer perfect lives and more normality will make people feel less disheartened?
But actually does it? Is my account any different from someone living their best life? I would say my social media is reasonably warts and all, I post the days I eat the food I planned but I equally post the unplanned cake and chocolate. I post pictures on nights or days out but my Twitter account, which is basically a tool for complaining to Northern Rail about their ever worsening service, demonstrates that my daily commute is far from glamorous and my days are simply long most of the time. Yet even I unwittingly self ‘airbrush’ my own life. In what ways? Well, obviously not everything I do or eat gets posted, so I might not specifically hold back certain things and post others, but what I do post can’t totally reflect my day or who I’ve seen / spoken to or how I feel (I’m a historian by degree and we will tell you that all historical accounts are subjective so this isn’t something new with the advent of Facebook). If I’m feeling a bit anxious or down for whatever reason I’m a lot less likely to post anything, so it’s not that I always feel OK and sarcastic as my accounts may suggest, just that my response to not feeling on top form is to withdraw a little rather than tell the world. So even if you follow people who are pretty open and honest you still don’t see everything.
This make me sound like I’m not keen on Social Media but that isn’t the case at all. I use many forms frequently and find the positives outweigh the negatives for me personally most days. But nothing is cut and dry.
Social Media allows fitness professionals to talk to people openly beyond the clients in their gym and there are many excellent fitness professionals, both well known on Social Media and those only known more locally, who provide great insights to people for free. This can potentially then encourage someone to go and seek out more advice and make huge strides in their fitness journey. Equally, advice and posts could be misunderstood or someone could take advice that was meant for a different demographic to them and not get the results they want. So positives yes, but we also need to be careful about what we say and promote.
Social Media can connect people who would otherwise not have met and provide opportunities to get advice and mentorship from such people and allows businesses to connect with clients on a more human level. Equally it can cause debates and misunderstandings as people don’t know each other to understand why they have those opinions or view points because their situations are different. It often appears easier to argue with someone you never have to see and that can create an environment where people feel more able to say things they wouldn’t in person.
Social Media has opened up conversations around mental health. Now I’m still a little dubious about this. I like how people feel more comfortable talking about it. I am less keen on how sometimes when people do post things about their own mental health they can be met with well meaning but not necessarily helpful reactions. It’s tough to know whats really going on behind even the most honest of status. I think being aware of the emotions of the people we talk to daily is a better way to show support to others. Watching out for the signs that suggest that someone is maybe a bit stressed or anxious is possibly going to be more helpful on a realistic level. However well meaning, we aren’t doctors or health care professionals and whilst listening to people express their feelings on Social Media can help both break down barriers and make the person in question feel heard / better understood, it also encourages us to offer advice – which might end up being helpful but equally could not be. Our feedback could end up being harmful to the person posting. Nonetheless the reduction in stigma surrounding mental health issues is a positive thing.
Social Media can help keep you motivated. I know of many social media accounts which responsibly promote building a healthy mindset and teach hacks and systems which allow you to approach life’s challenges and which don’t try and fix whether you are ‘happy’ or not (if you are interested I can direct you to some people). Equally however there are well meaning posts that show a happy picture and a quote about only wanting to deal with positive vibes. Those posts are probably normally quite personal to that individual and reflect what they are feeling at that moment and are not a dig at others. Yet I sometimes feel they could have a negative effect on people who maybe at that point do not feel positive. Because let’s acknowledge that depression means you don’t always feel positive but that this doesn’t mean you are a ‘negative’ person. In reality we all have days when we don’t feel 100% positive and that doesn’t make us negative people. Sometimes we don’t need to be told to be more positive we just need to be able to vent or have a rant and clear out our mind / work though our thoughts. When we post on social media we don’t always think how our words could be interpreted by others, nor can we be held responsible for how someone else takes our words of course – this is just another one of the double edged swords of the medium.
Like real life, Social Media isn’t all great and isn’t all bad – it’s messy and can be viewed differently day by day. So in reality how we respond to anything whether it be something showing someone’s ‘best life’ or someone posting something real and honest is going to depend on how we feel ourselves that day and on any given day the same post could be viewed as inspirational and motivational or equally something which makes you feel a bit shit. That’s our internal reflection of what we see more than what is actually posted.
So yes, sometimes accounts may only show the best bits, but I think all accounts however honest and real can affect people in different ways regardless iof intention.
How do we deal with that, because for a lot of us, Social Media is a part of life and just dropping out isn’t necessarily an option we want?
Well in part I think just acknowledging that Social Media is always a life through a filter or a censored opinion – even when we think it’s totally real- it’s just not possible to be 100% real via a computer / phone or photo, even when you try. I go back to history as my example, as a historian all sources are tainted by subjectiveness – be they propaganda materials or diaries and personal testimony.
Some people are more honest and open in how they use Social Media though so you could look to pick people to follow who match with your values and make you feel better / empowered rather than crap – people who will talk to you, respond to questions with honest answers. If there are people on your feed on any site who make you feel rubbish you can remove them or mute them (because you may not be able to remove your mums neighbour three doors down without causing awkwardness in the supermarket).
If we choose to use Social Media for positive it can be a great addition to our life, it just needs to be something that we are aware of how it affects us and react accordingly to that. That means breaks when needed and setting boundaries that work for us (because everyone’s limit will be different).
Beyond that, I believe working on our own emotions and head space is a really important thing. How we train, eat, feel can be impacted by Social Media only so much when we are in the best place we can be at the time. How often does a post trigger you into a mood on a bad day but on a good day you’d find the same thing funny? That is why when I don’t feel so great I spend less time talking on Social Media. It is also why I haven’t just invested time and money into my physical well being but I also work with a trainer on my mindset as well – our wellness is a much more rounded package than just our bodies.
For me systems and creating habits in the real world, which help me respond differently to triggers than I used to is the key to then feeling healthy towards what I see on Social Media (and beyond).
This blog started as one thing and then sort of meandered elsewhere so apologies for the random nature of what has essentially been a mind dump on how I feel about Social Media and mental health, but as I said I have systems in place that help me process my own thoughts and sometimes this blog ends up being one of them … so here it is a very public social media style way of considering social media.
Also – sometimes we just do nice things and want to post them for people to see. So as reflective as I have been sometimes we really just had a nice holiday and want to share!
Would love to hear your thoughts – whether you agree of disagree!
10th October is World Mental Health Day.
I have suffered from (do still) depression and anxiety. It’s an important topic and I’d be happy to talk to anyone – whether they need someone to talk to or want to just gain a greater understanding.
Mental health isn’t just depression or anxiety or any one singular condition. Mental Health is something we all have – it’s how we deal with life, how we feel. You might feel great that’s still mental health. We all need to be aware of how we take care of ourselves, to keep ourselves well mentally and much as physically. Self care isn’t only for people with illnesses – it’s soemthing everyone needs to practice.
Every year there is a specific focus of World Mental Health Day–This year being “young people and mental health in a changing world”.
According to WHO “Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. Our focus is on building mental resilience among young people, to help them cope with the challenges of today’s world.”
One challenge highlighted is the impact of technology in people’s lives. This topic can go beyond young people however, there will be few people of any age who do not find themselves increasingly relying on various forms of technology in all aspects of their lives (if you’ve lost your phone recently you will probably have realised just how much this is the case).
Social media is probably one of the most obvious ways in which technology has changed the world in a matter of years. The expanding use of social media undoubtedly brings many benefits to our lives – we can develop social contacts and business relationships regardless of location. However, the same technology can also bring additional pressures into our lives, as connectivity to virtual networks at any (ALL) time of the day and night grows and becomes the norm. Being ever connected and seeing more aspects of other people’s lives in a way we previously would not have can have a profound effect on our own mental health and how we view our own situations.
Only this morning I was having a conversation with a member at a gym I teach at who recently removed themselves from Facebook for this very reason.
They have been away studying at university and seeing pictures of friends from home together every week, having fun together as a group, whilst this person was miles away and couldn’t be with them produced negative emotions. Despite speaking to them and knowing that these Facebook posts were not the full picture (during the week these friends barely get a chance to speak and it’s not all constant socialising) the emotions the Facebook posts created wasn’t positive and since removing themselves from Facebook they feel happier.
We all know social media posts create a version of our lives whether we mean to put a filter on things or not it’s inevitable that it happens. Whether we present something as glossy and amazing or terrible – we have decided how it is presented to the world. The world then views it from their own prism and puts their own spin on what we’ve said.
All this sounds like I’m anti social media but I’m not. I use Facebook, Instagram (occasionally Twitter, never really got the hang of Snapchat) and obviously I blog. I have got work from and made business connections through the advances in social media. It has so many benefits and can add value to your life as long as you are aware that it can also add new types of pressure.
So here are a few ideas of things you can do to protect your own mental health and help create a healthy relationship with technology:
As much as technology may cause some increased stresses to our mental health it also allows people to talk about it more openly about the topic of wellness and to a much wider audience so there are lots of positives to our changing world.
Talking about and being aware of the potential issues arising from change can help us work though them and stay well. We all need to be aware of our mental health and develop systems to help us maintain a happy healthy life as our surroundings change. That’s not easy- believe me I know – but days like today and discussions like the ones created by days like this can all play a part in helping work towards better mental health.
Earlier this month I received the September Buddy Box in the post.
Buddy Box is one of those subscription boxes a product which has grown in popularity recently often boxes filled with the latest beauty products – that you get in the post once a month, filled with products you don’t know you’re getting until they arrive. The appeal here coming from not knowing what you will receive ahead of time, and getting to try new and different products you may not otherwise.
These boxes have a different purpose however. They are designed to promote self-care, with each months box having a theme related to looking after yourself and taking some time out for you. You can buy the boxes on a subscription basis or as a one-off box.
I first came across the company, Blurt, a couple of years ago when I was going through a period of severe depression and a friend gave me a subscription to these boxes – now every now and then I buy one and it gives me a little push to look after myself a bit more than normal.
Blurt, in their own words “exists to make a difference to anyone affected by depression. Being diagnosed can be overwhelming – there’s a lot to learn and plenty of prejudice to battle. Telling people is tough, and not everyone will understand. That’s why we’re here for you, whenever you need us, for anything at all.” One of the ways they do this is by their subscription self-care boxes.
This is what I got in the September box:
If you’re looking for a little pick me up, or even a nice gift for someone else who could do with a bit of a mental pamper these make a great buy – whether it be a subscription or one-off purchase.
Solidly aimed at 50% of the population this one. Sorry.
When I’m on my period I literally crave fatty, sugary, salty foods. When you spend a lot of time trying to eat well this is pretty annoying so I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time looking into why and what I can do to try and make myself feel better (because I suffer from horrible cramps most months and bloat enough to feel like I may actually be pregnant with a baby Elephant) without giving into eating 10,000 calories of pure fat and sugar a day.
Just before and during our periods our Serotonin levels lower (less feel good hormones), our stress hormones spike (not helping in the feeling good department) and our bodies use more calories making us feel hungry more often. It’s therefore not hugely surprising we want to comfort eat- but apart from eating too much of the crap stuff affecting your body shape aims (I won’t say weight!) eating too much sugar will also cause a spike followed by a crash and burn which also doesn’t make you feel good in the long run.
I’ve therefore been making an effort to read up on what foods will help make me feel better without having a negative affect on looking after myself in general to try and implement them more into my diet .
Foods To Eat:
Foods To Avoid:
Really, this list is not too different to the type of foods I’d want to eat more of / avoid at any other time of the month but if you tend to feel a bit rubbish at certain points in your cycle knowing how you can help manage those symptoms (painkillers and hot water bottles aside) thinking about your diet isn’t a bad starting point.
Note- I’m not a trained nutritionists this is simply based on my own research about something that affects me- I would always recommend you see a qualified dietitian should you need advice!
I haven’t posted anything for a couple of weeks as I’ve been busy preparing for my Level 2 Gym Instructor exams, which I took the weekend just gone (and passed!).
The days leading up to the exams were stressful. Some parts of the course came naturally to me but other parts definitely did not and I suffered severe self doubt that I would be able to pass certain elements.
I almost decided to cancel and not even try to sit them because I was convinced I wouldn’t pass.
In the end pass I did though, so I’m glad I didn’t give into my own self doubt.
Does that mean I was stupid for worrying, getting so stressed out about it? Some people I know would probably say yes and that I’m just a stress head but I don’t think I was – I was genuinely concerned I wasn’t adequately prepared and was scared of hearing that I’d failed. Actually just deciding to go and try my best and see what happens meant me having to fight my own anxiety and fears.
People will often say walk away from things that cause you stress but sometimes to get to where you want to be you have to accept that you have to face up to rather than walk away from difficulties, to face up to potential failure and give it your best shot regardless. If you really want something, you need to sacrifice things / do things, which make you uncomfortable short term to get results.
Next up for me is Level 3 Personal Training and I know this course will be harder and I will need to try and get less stressed before I give myself a heart attack!
But this has also enforced the idea adage that if nothing changes nothing changes. If you don’t occasionally push past your own comfort zone and challenge yourself you won’t move forward.
I’ve had a few conversations recently that made me think about our relationship with social media and how social media affects our relationships with others.
How many friends do you have on Facebook you haven’t seen in more than 12 months? more than a month? How many have you never met?
Social media has warped our perception of what it means to be friends.
I’m old. To me my friends are the people I speak to daily, weekly, sporadically but often as well as those who I may see less often but have deep seated connections to (old housemates, best friends from school etc.).
Then I have friends I know via my jobs but don’t really know well enough to have a one on one conversation with. We all have friends who fall into both categories sometimes people can cross from one to the other over time, others stay in one camp all the time.
This is how I see the distinction. The number of people on a friend list, number of followers and number of likes and gushing comments on posts do not define my worth. The people I speak to all the time – who know what’s happening in my life not just what I post on Facebook- their opinions matter to me.
I feel like for some, perhaps more so those bought up in an age of social media, this is less the case. The distinction between quality interactions and connections versus instagram fame are less defined.
This has more to do with fitness than you would first think it does.
Fitness is big social media business these days. The platform allows you to make yourself well known and carve out a reputation by depicting yourself in a certain light.
This is a brilliant tool and I’m not knocking it at all- I know many people who have used the medium well and carved out reputations that are genuine and true to who they are.
These people tend to understand the difference between real life relationships and Facebook relationships. This ability to understand what a real connection is allows their personality to show on social media and whilst they may come across less polished than others at times they tend to be pretty happy with how they are perceived, largely I think because they are comfortable within themselves – they have their people, their support – the reaction to something they post therefore becomes ess important to them.
I also know of fitness professionals who post to boost their business in the way they think will win them clients and likes, but which is maybe more detached from who they are in real life. To be fair I’ve seen this method build profiles and large followings of strangers – make people recognisable to people they’ve never met – so for some people this works really well. Again, those people still tend to nurture a group of positive relationships away from social media.
But I worry there is a risk amidst all this Social Media hype of people getting swept away – because having lots of friends online doesn’t help you when you need a shoulder to cry on or you are having a crap day. If we focus all our energy on growing followings we risk loosing opportunities to build personal connections with people we actually see or speak to daily. That’s not saying I think we should all quit social media – but perspective and balance are lovely things!
To be honest when I’m enjoying someone’s company I normally forget to log onto Facebook or Insta. The people I speak with most often – when I meet up with them I’m less likely to tag that on Social because I don’t need to tell the world I’m there to make it worthwhile for me – although obviously if there isn’t a selfie it didn’t happen still, that’s jus the law these days – which is unfortunate because if it isn’t food I’m unlikely to photograph it!
This has been a bit deep and rambling (sorry) but my takeout from my brain dump is pretty simple.
I think we should embrace social media- I have great banter online, love sharing photos and Insta stories along with my random opinions and gnome updates. Sometimes it can be used to great effect to get your message and opinions out there. You can meet some lovely, like- minded people. We just need to remember to cultivate real life relationships at the same time. Because, if nobody online likes your photo but you best friend messages you and says it looks great which matters more?
I feel like my posts this week have been quite deep so I thought I may as well keep to the theme (don’t worry next week I’ll write about falling falt on my face doing box jumps or something).
I feel like I’ve changed and progressed a lot in the last twelve months and most of that has come from a change in mindset. I’ve written about this previously in various forms but essentially I’ve just started doing little things, considering certain questions I hadn’t thought about before which has led to me taking more control of my outlook and emotions.
By starting to think about these things and structuring my life around these questions I feel like I’ve started to gain more control. Even if things are not perf6ect right now there is a purpose for what I am currently doing which fosters a more positive outlook that before.
There are lots of things that happen in life I can’t control of course but I can control me and my reaction to those things and turn those reactions back to focusing on my why and purpose. This is so much easier said than done and I often have blips where it doesn’t quite happen immediately but building mental fortitude takes time.
Have a read of this email which pretty neatly sums up where you can start with thinking about your why:
A couple weeks ago I was walking down the street at lunch time (on my way to buy an icecream… errrr… I mean an apple …) and a man called me fatty. Literally. A stranger. Just called me fat.
Now I’m not skinny but I’m not fat by any means. I’m quite strong and reasonably defined – but not overweight.
I am also apparently quite thin skinned because this throw away comment really ate away at me all day and knocked my confidence a lot.
I’d not had the best week food wise (and was on my way to get icecream) so it fed into all my negative perceptions of myself, because I already felt a little bit out of sorts.
I mulled it over several times in my head and with people before I felt better about it. I wanted to write about it at the time but to be honest it actually knocked my confidence too much to commit it to paper.
A few weeks later and with some perspective, I want to make two observations about this comment.
First, for your own mental wellbeing learning when not to give a shit matters. I lost so much of my day being upset about the opinion of someone I’ve never met. More to the point it wasn’t even an accurate comment because I’m not fat – would I have been so upset if he’d have said today is Tuesday (when it was in fact Thursday), an equally inaccurate comment? Of course not. Even more importantly – if I was fat his opinion on the subject still wouldn’t matter.
I’m healthy and fit – what anyone else thinks of my choices surrounding my body or lifestyle are irrelevant as long as I am happy with what I’m doing.
Second, setting aside point 1, we should all be careful with our words. I’m almost positive that man thought nothing more of that throw away line. I mean yes, it was unnecessary and mean, but he probably never gave it a second thought. Yet it affected me for hours- knocked my confidence, bought up insecurities. If he had thought about that would he have still said it? Perhaps… but I think he was probably just a dick to be honest.
What we say without thinking and see as insignificant may mean more to and affect the person we are talking to in a much bigger way. That doesn’t mean we should never speak our mind- sometimes people get too easily offended- and we can’t be held responsible for how others interpret our words and their meaning. But. If we know something could be taken negatively (calling someone fat for instance- a pretty sure bet) and there isn’t an actual need to say it – why do it? Even if you think it’s not a big deal- it could be to the person you are talking to. It’s just spiteful. Be a nice person not a prat.
So the next time someone decides to shout an insult at me in the street (I’m sure it will happen some people are just idiots) I shall ignore them and be happier for it knowing I’m more in control of my own feelings that I was just a few weeks ago.
So really the man did me a favour.