Coping with anxiety on holidays… 

As some of you may know I’m currently holidaying in beautiful Indonesia, exploring Bali and making ticks on my bucket list. And as some of you may also know, I’ve written about my battles with anxiety over the past year or so with raw honesty. So because I’m spending my afternoons sipping cocktails and watching incredible sunsets, then surely I’m not feeling anxious at all, right? Wrong. As anyone who has travelled to a developing country would know, the sudden change in lifestyle habits (exotic cuisines, increased alcohol intake, hygiene concerns etc etc), is enough to make even a normal person feel slightly uncomfortable. So how do you think I’m feeling, as someone who has worked extremely hard to overcome anxiety issues in the past year? More than a little uncomfortable at times is the answer, but I’m not going to let it ruin my holiday that’s for sure! 

I think the key lies in knowing when you absolutely need your down time, but also knowing when you might just need a little push from your friends and out of your comfort zone. I’m so happy to say I tried snorkelling in the open ocean yesterday, something I’ve always wanted to do. Yes, I was scared. As someone who practices regular meditation, not being able to breathe through my nose due to the snorkelling mask was really uncomfortable. But I did it! I jumped in that water despite convincing myself that sharks and other terrifying ocean creatures were lurking close by, and I’m so proud of myself. I’ve also taken a ride on a scooter through the hectic and bustling traffic, and had my feet sucked by tiny little fish – a very weird feeling I must say. These are things I was absolutely hesitant about at first, but a little encouragement from my friends was all I needed to find my inner courage. 

Then there are days like today, when Bali Belly has set in with full force (I’ll spare you the details). I didn’t want to get out of bed or face the day. I just felt like hiding, crying and somehow clicking my fingers and waking up to find myself back home in the comforts of my regular surroundings. But that’s not living is it! Things happen when you travel and it’s all part of the experience. Fingers crossed I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling fresh as a daisy, and ready to keep exploring this wonderful country 😊

Green with envy – the pitfalls of jealousy.

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I’ve fallen into the trap of social media envy lately – that ridiculous self-imposed jealousy you feel when endlessly scrolling through happy snaps of people travelling and living (seemingly) fabulous lives. And even though we all know the version of people portrayed on social media isn’t real, there’s some part of us that still feels down when we see images of gloriously tanned people, sipping on cocktails by the beach in exotic destinations. So why do we do it to ourselves? Why do we even bother looking on social media sites when we know, more times than not, they leave us feeling like our own little bubbles somehow aren’t as wonderful or glamorous as others?

For me, I think I’m personally suffering from some mild seasonal depression as well. Winter in Australia is officially upon us which means no bikinis, no little sundresses, and no swimming (unless you’re really adventurous, or just drunk). Life in summer is what makes my soul sing… give me sweat, sand and sunshine every day over snotty noses and socks. So as I sit here in ugg boots with a eucalyptus oil diffuser cleansing the air, I can’t help but feel a little envious of those basking in summer on the other side of the world. I’ve recently been bombarded with images of friends in far off places like Mexico and Cuba, looking like they’re having the time of their lives. Meanwhile I’m stuck here in a small town, with less friends that I can count on one hand, working in a pretty mundane job.

But I’ll stop myself right there and metaphorically slap myself on the face, because in actual fact – I’m setting myself up for a wonderful future. I’ve returned home for a ‘gap year’ of my own choice, and in 4 months I’ve managed to save $7,000.00 in a casual job which is something I should be really proud of. I’ve (slowly) recovered from some debilitating anxiety issues, and while I know there’s still a long road ahead in this regard I’m fully committed and positive it’s something I can now manage. And lastly, I’m going to Bali in a few weeks for a holiday with my beautiful friends, where I’ll be doing the exact same thing – creating social media envy for others. And while this is not my intention of course, it’s become part and parcel in our digitally connected world, and something we must all learn to live with.

So let’s give ourselves a break from feeding the jealous monster within that sometimes wreaks damage on our happiness, and commit to living in the moment – especially the moments in between those ‘happy snaps’ posted on social media. Those are the real moments – the raw, honest and authentic experiences we all go through. Cheers to that 🙂

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Photo credits – amin_ramzi & hvmansouls

 

My best friend is a dog, and I couldn’t be happier.

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There’s an age old saying that dogs are a man’s best friend, and I couldn’t agree more. Who needs human interaction and conversation, when there is an abundance of furry-faced creatures on earth ready to love you every single minute of every single day? I for one would be happier in a society where dogs are allowed to come grocery shopping with you (and taste test their food before you spend a fortune), or come to the hairdresser with you so you have something to pat instead of looking through trashy magazines. I know our gorgeous dachshund Audrey would love to come to the movies with me, curl up on a chair and nap in the darkness. At least I wouldn’t get judged for going alone seeing as I have approximately one friend left in my hometown at the moment, a new mum who doesn’t really have much time for nights at the cinema.

Seriously though – on my days off when someone asks me what I’ve got planned, the answer is usually ‘Oh I’ll just be hanging out with the puppy.’ This normally involves a sleep in and snuggles, lots of licking (on her behalf), lots of tickling (on my behalf), and generally just staring at each other wondering what the other is thinking. Then we’ll have a cup of tea under a blanket on the couch, typically followed by a mid-morning nap. Afternoons are usually spent together down at the beach jogging, looking for interesting shells and just enjoying the fresh air. Sunsets with her at the beach will forever hold a special place in my heart, both of us happy and content in the moment. Once a week or so I’ll subject the poor darling to a warm shower and shampoo so she doesn’t get too sandy, and even though she appears to hate it, I’m positive she’s thankful for feeling fresh once she’s dried off.

I honestly don’t care if it’s not normal to hang out with a dog so much or spend so much time thinking about them. It’s hardly an effort to ensure she has a happy life, in comparison to the joy she’s given me. On days where I literally don’t feel like talking to anyone, I’ll just lay in bed with her kissing her warm little belly and that’s about as comforting as life can get. I don’t think much compares to the endless amount of love that dogs can bring to your life, and when you get home and see their tails shaking around with pure joy – that’s precious.

” A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose ”

(Tom Wilson).

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Photo credits – anthropologie & folkgreen

Friendships – Why do we need them?

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I’ve just come back from a lovely coffee date with a girlfriend, a first time mother of a gorgeous little girl. We catch up two or three times a month over a warm brew, and every time we’re both bursting to the brim with exciting new information to tell each other – health tips, great podcasts or small town gossip. As I sit here today reflecting on our conversation I can’t help but feel content, and grateful, for long lasting friendships.

I can honestly say that all of my friendships have stood the test of time, and I’m pretty proud of it. I’ve known two of my closest friends since around Grade 4, having gone through all the fun teenage things like pimples, boys and silly fights together. Thrown in there was of course, the sad things too – moving cities, break ups, deaths, and the inevitable highs and lows of maintaining a friendship that’s spanned nearly two decades. Ultimately though, it’s pretty amazing knowing someone for that long and still having stuff to talk about. We know each other inside out and back to front, but still surprise each other sometimes – and that’s important I think. We all need to grow, spread our wings and fly.

Then there’s the crazy bunch of people I met at University in the last 8-10 years, who have all stuck by my side through hilarious stories and chapters in life. The share-housing, the pizza nights, the drunken nights, the ones who’ve held my hair back as I’m hurling into a toilet. The ones who’ve travelled all over the world, but when we get together again it’s like no time has passed, and you can pick up right where you left off. The thing I like about this bunch is that we’re all from regional Queensland – Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton and Mackay. Our dynamics as a group are wonderful, and I’m looking forward to what our future holds with a smile on my face.

Lastly there’s the odd assortment of people I’ve met through working in the hotel industry over the last four years, a random bunch of people thrown together with one goal – good customer service. These are the people that see how you react under intense pressure, deadlines and difficult guests. They see you stressed out, put on the spot and can’t help but scrutinise your professionalism, thinking patterns and workplace habits. Getting together outside of the workplace is always interesting – you’ve known each other in one dimension only, and seeing them in ‘free dress’ and talking without boundaries is always a bit of an eye-opener. Ultimately though, you can pick out the ones you’ll click with from an early stage. Once you’ve farted in front of them, commented on their smelly shoes or revealed how you think the guy in the bar is super cute, the friendship is solid.

I think it’s incredibly important to have a variety of friendships from all walks of life, to give us the social outlets we need as humans. That personal connection with people is essential to personal development – we need to feel ‘included’ in certain circles and feel like we’re part of something, contributing to society. I’m truly grateful for all the people who’ve stuck around over the years, and while I sometimes might become reclusive or distant while dealing with my own issues, I’ll always come back with an open hand.

You know who you are 🙂

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Photo credits – hubs_united & multefitt

2am thoughts should never be disregarded… 

I’ve been thinking lately about those poignant thoughts you have in the dead of night – the ones that not only wake you up, but also make you want to take immediate action. You’re laying there in a shroud of darkness with all your neurons firing, worried that if you drift back to sleep you’ll lose these seemingly life changing thoughts, but at the same time just enjoying this moment of clarity. 

This week I had one of those moments. I woke up to a message from a friend overseas, asking if I was enjoying being home. I read the message and put the phone back down, willing myself to get back to sleep – but I simply couldn’t. I was frustrated at the simplicity of the question – was I enjoying myself? I’ve been home for nearly 6 months now on what I’ve decided is my ‘gap year’, recovering from extreme anxiety and stress brought on from work, and it’s been H.A.R.D. Harder than anything I’ve ever gone through. To reduce the last 6 months to something simple as the word ‘enjoyment’ would be a complete joke, when I’ve worked very hard to overcome personal challenges and come out smiling. Yes, I might post pictures on social media of pretty things, adventures, time at the beach and snuggles with my animals – but social media isn’t reality. It’s how we like to frame ourselves to the world and often ourselves, and certainly doesn’t tell the story of all the difficult times between those happy memories.

Since moving home I’ve had messages from numerous friends saying how jealous they are of all my pictures, and how happy I look. And while I can’t disagree with them – I’m a THOUSAND times happier than I was a year ago, I’ve still got a while to go. I suppose it’s my fault as well, for perhaps not divulging all my deepest darkest fears and worries to certain friends – sometimes we just want to keep a small portion of ourselves private. I’m so grateful for growing up as a teenager without the influences of social media, where reality is staged and happiness only looks attainable to the rich and famous. Our social media accounts are not our lives – they are a colourful way to document things and express ourselves, but they definitely only represent a small part of the whole. 

I’m sure that most of you will agree with me that we should all strive to live in the present a little more, and worry a little less about what we see online. Ask your friends how they are – don’t make an assumption based on their Instagram or Facebook account, because more often than not they’re craving that human connection. And while you’re at it, grab a journal for those 2am thoughts – you never know what might need jotting down in the dead of night 🙂 

Photo credits – jetmour & moodyports

On not giving a damn.

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How good is it when you finally reach that age where you just DON’T care about what other people think anymore? It’s like this huge weight off your shoulders, a time where you can go wherever you please, do whatever you want and not fret over what your friends and family might think. Staying in every Friday night to eat caramel from a tin and watch documentaries? Sure thing. Rocking up to work in joggers because it’s comfy? Hell yes. I’m personally loving this transition in my thinking patterns, and shaking my head at my former self.

Most of the time if you saw me out and about, I’d be there to avoid feeling guilty if I’d cancelled, or to keep a promise to a friend that I’d be their wing-woman. Nowadays if I don’t want to go out, I simply tell my friends straight up – and it’s TOTALLY fine. There’s no begging me to come or guilt tripping me. It’s fantastic! We’ve finally grown up and realised that everyone’s different, and maybe we’ll just go out for brunch tomorrow instead.

You know what else is great about growing up? Wearing bikinis to the pool with NO shorts to cover up your butt and thighs, and NOT giving a damn when you feel it all shaking. This is me and I’m a woman! Deal with it. On a similar level, navigating life in winter has become much easier now that I’ve accepted I will look like a pasty whale for a few months. We’re all in the same boat honey so pop your uggies on, make a hot chocolate and settle in for the night.

Not apologising for being yourself is a truly great place to be in life. Don’t get me wrong, I still need to work on a few areas before I can truly say I’m living life at my own pace. But I’m certainly on the right track, and there ain’t no better feeling than that!

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Photo credits – rachael_adkins & folksouls

 

 

Excuse me, can you not?

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If you’ve ever experienced the relief of getting away from toxic people in your life, then you aren’t alone. Having gone through some recent life overhauls, I’ve distanced myself from a lot of relationships that I knew weren’t serving me in a positive way. Trouble is – there’s always another one waiting around the corner. I think the secret lies is knowing how to manage these relationships without letting them affect your energy and self-worth.

From the nasty colleagues at work to the over-bearing friends, we’ve all been there. In almost every situation we encounter, we are going to meet people that we simply don’t vibe with. How do we know that something isn’t quite right? I’ve learned to identify a few factors – feeling uncomfortable around them, looking forward to the time when you can get away from their presence, and feeling like you can’t be your authentic self to name just a few. So why are these kind of relationships so toxic to us? For one thing, they are DRAINING. You’ll never leave a conversation or encounter with these people feeling happy or refreshed, you’ll feel absolutely exhausted in fact.

From the manipulative people to the drama-queens and everything in between, I’d rather not even bother. Having a few select friends (to go alongside my family) is all I need, and a good book to fill the time. I think you can identify the people who are toxic to you from early on – if their energy doesn’t mix well with your energy, then that’s okay. They’ll find a companion, and you don’t have to deal with it. Of course, in the workplace it’s a little harder to separate yourself from these kind of people. Keep it polite and professional and they’ll soon get the hint that you’re not interested.

We’re going to meet people from all walks of life on this journey of ours, so finding the right people to surround ourselves with is pretty important. Not only will they be your friend – rain, hail or shine, but they’ll be there through all your milestones and genuinely want the best for you. I hope to be very old one day, sitting with my friends and having a laugh about the good times and the wild ride it’s been.

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Photo credits – ocelomeh.artisans & life.wl