Health and Wellbeing

Screw You Anxiety

 

anxiety, www.sarahdipity.com.auDuring my recent month long bloggy break I would often jot down my thoughts and other post ideas. Some days, the urge to just ‘write it out’ would become so strong that I would reach for my phone and type out a whole post in my notes. This is one of those posts. I deliberated about sharing it, because I’m in a different mind frame today than what I was that day. But then I decided it was important to share it, because it was how I was feeling on that particular day and I really need to acknowledge that. So here goes…

If you know me or have read this blog before you will probably know that I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for many, many years. It’s a part of my life that unfortunately I have come to accept. Most of the time I deal with it fine, I have lots of strategies and supportive people around me to help out. But sometimes, I just get a little sick of it all and right now is one of those times. You see, living with anxiety can be really exhausting. Constantly over thinking things, questioning myself, trying to predict and control everything; its exhausting. And so today, if it’s ok with you, I’m just going to have a little ranty rant about anxiety.

I’m very self aware. I know why I suffer from anxiety, I understand the triggers behind my panic attacks. I’ve researched and read books and joined forums and taken medication and sought counselling and delved into my childhood and all the major life events that have helped shape who I am today. Sure, I understand why it happens but it still doesn’t stop it from happening. I understand that I am not going to die from a panic attack but that doesn’t stop me feeling like I am. I understand that when I have a panic attack it is just my body going instinctively going into flight or fight mode; a thing us humans have been using since the dawn of time to protect ourselves. It helps to prepare our bodies physically to either stay and fight or run for our lives. But seriously, I’m not a bloody cave woman out hunting and being confronted by a lion; I’m just trying to do the shopping at my local supermarket!

I know many people think that having a mental illness is a sign of weakness, I feel that way sometimes too, but in reality the reverse is true; you have to be a super strong person to face anxiety everyday. Sometimes I get sick of having to be brave. Have I not already proven how brave I am? Have I not already proven that I’m stronger than you? That I will go out, go shopping, meet new people, jump on a plane, travel and go to new places in spite of you. Have I not faced you and stood up to you and beaten you a million times? So why oh why do you keep coming back…yes I know, it’s totally a rhetorical question. But how nice it would be to go to a new place or event without spending the whole day feeling sick and planning my exit strategy and then  maybe cancelling last minute because it all gets too much.

And here’s the thing; I’m one of the lucky ones, I know I am. Because I still manage to function. I manage to hold down a job, look after our son, have a happy marriage, socialise with friends; I do all that in spite of my anxieties. I know others who can’t, I know others who are too scared to even leave their own house (I know because I’ve been there myself) and for that I say screw you anxiety. Just screw you.

If you suffer from anxiety can you relate? Do you sometimes just feel like saying a big ‘screw you’ to anxiety? Get it all out in the comments below…trust me, it’ll make you feel much better!

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Drained

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Wow, last week was a big one for me and I have to say I’m feeling a bit emotionally drained after it.  I published a lot of writing last week and it felt a bit like an emotionally purging of sorts.  I shared the epic story of my scoliosis diagnosis; if you missed my posts you can find the whole story here: Part One, Part Two and Part Three. I also had a very personal article My Black Dog published on Her Collective. I wanted to say a big thank you to each an every person who took the time to read my stories. They were hard to write and brought up a lot of feelings but I found the whole process rather cathardic too. Writing has always been a type of therapy for me and getting everything down in words was something I felt I needed to do for some time now. It’s always a bit scary when you put such personal writing into the big wide world; it sort of feels like you’re standing naked in front of a crowd of strangers! But I was overwhelmed by the response and all of the comments, messages and emails I received. They ranged from ‘I’m sorry you went through that’ to ‘I’ve been there too and I understand’ and that’s exactly what I needed hear. I write these things not only for myself but for others who may be going through the same thing. I often think if only one person reads this and feels less alone then it makes it all worthwhile.

I’ve also started writing a series of posts for The Organic Place exposing the truth behind pesticide use in Australia and let me tell you what I discovered is pretty scary! I encourage you all to read this post which shares just five of the shocking facts I found out about pesticide use in Australia.

So yeah, lots of heavy stuff and it’s made me glad the school holidays are here. We’ve got lots of fun things planned. We’re heading to the Big Freeze Festival and Disney on Ice this weekend and hoping to spend some family time at our caravan down the coast when hubby has holidays next week (yay!) But yesterday, we kicked off the break with a nice slow day; the morning spent in our pjs baking and the afternoon spent crafting and watching movies. Just what I needed.

Anyway, just wanted to pop in today for a quick hello and thankyou and to say if things are a bit quiet around here for the next two weeks it’s because I have a four year old permanently attached to my side!

What have you got planned for the school holidays?

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The Organic Place

Remember the other day how I was talking about opportunities? I’ve had some great ones presented to me lately and none more so than the opportunity to work with this awesome lady….

Meet Brooke. I’m sure she’s going to kill me for putting up that photo of her but isn’t she lovely? Brooke and her partner Ben own and run The Organic Place, a company that delivers fresh organic fruit, vegetables and produce to straight to the doors of families living all over Melbourne and the west.

I originally met Brooke through our children (she’s got three!). They went to the same family day carer and now her daughter and my son attend the same kinder. A few weeks ago we got to talking; about my blog, her business, our passions….it soon turned into a long conversation which turned into a brainstorming session which quickly turned into me starting to work for The Organic Place! It all happened rather organically (pardon the pun- you see what I did there?) We’ve been kicking around ideas (we have lots of them!) and putting some plans into place for the future and let me tell you, it’s all very exciting!

When I talked about opportunity last week I talked about being at that special point in my life where I have the space and time to explore doing the things I love and this right here is one such thing. I love Brooke’s story, I love her vision, I love what she is trying to do for not only Australian families but for Australian farmers. And I’m proud that I now get to play a part in that, even if it is only a small part. And the added bonus is that I’m also learning so much about healthy eating and living which comes at a perfect time for me as I embark on my ‘a healthier me’ journey. We now get a big haul of fresh, organic produce delivered to our door every week and it’s inspiring us to try new things and eat more fruit and veg every day.

So this is just a little thankyou to Brooke, for taking a chance on me and welcoming me into your business and a big shout out to The Organic Place (check them out people- you won’t regret it!)

Have you ever been part of something exciting? Ever met someone you’ve just clicked with straight away? Are you an organic food lover? I’m a total convert!

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A Healthier Me: An Update and Free Printable

Several weeks ago I wrote this post about my plans to become a healthier me. I’ve had a few people ask me how I’m going and so I thought I would update you all.

I got off to an awesome start (as one always does). For two weeks I ate healthy and exercised every day; usually a 40 minute walk. Then we went away for the long weekend and I fell off the wagon a little. I ate crap and stopped exercising. For some reason in my brain I think that if I start the week off on a bad foot then the whole week is a write off and so then I had to wait until the following Monday start ‘being good’ again. Why do I do that? Does anyone else do that?

So anyway, another new week came and I made another fresh start. The thing I’ve always struggled with is finding information on healthy eating that isn’t about losing weight. Seriously, all the websites, books and information out there all seems to be geared towards losing weight and I don’t want (nor need) to do that. And there is so much mixed information out there too, so many fads and diets; quit sugar, stop eating meat, cut out carbs…and the list goes on. But personally, I think it’s all about balance. A dietician gave me a useful little checklist last year and I’ve been using that to track what I’m eating and see the gaps; what it is that I need to be eating more or less of in order to have a well balanced diet. I was pleasantly surprised to find my eating is not actually as bad as I thought it was. Overall I need to increase my daily veggie and dairy intake. Unfortunately chocolate doesn’t count as dairy otherwise I’d be killing it. But for fruit, breads/cereals, healthy fats and oils; I’m kicking goals!

Because I’ve found the checklist so helpful I thought others might too, so I’ve added it here as a free download below:

healthy eating checklist, www.sarahdipity.com.au

Just click here to print your free copy. Each little check box stands for one serve of that particular type of food. The idea is that you should be ticking off each check box and having little to no items in your ‘extra’s box’ on a daily basis. If you’re unsure what constitutes a serving size you can find that information here.

With eating, I know my downfall has always been going for the convenient option (i.e: whatever I can quickly grabbed from the cupboard) and the way to combat that is through planning. I have always planned our dinners on a weekly basis and I’ve now started to do the same with my lunches. With snacks, I’ve been setting some time aside every Sunday to prepare some healthy snacks for the week; things I can easily grab as I head out the door or start to feel hungry. Another really good tip I’ve been using is to always stop and think ‘what can I add?’ this is especially handy for my daily vegetable intake. For every meal or snack I look at it and think ‘what can I add to make this better?’ maybe it means mixing in some grated veggies, adding a side salad or sprinkling some cheese (there’s that dairy intake folks). I’m finding the more I do it, the easier it gets.

What about exercise? Well, umm, cough, that’s something I’m still working on. Perhaps starting right at the time when daylight savings stopped and the weather is getting colder wasn’t the best idea. Finding the motivation to go outside for a walk when it’s cold and dark is hard! But hubby is currently in the process of setting up a home gym (complete with a cross trainer for me) so I’m hoping when that’s ready to go I’ll be making good use of it.

So that’s where I am at the moment. Working my way through, getting there slowly.

How are you doing? Are you kicking goals when it comes to healthy eating and exercise? Or, like me, do you need to lift your game a little?

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Habit, Addiction and The Challenge

Hands up if you’re one of those people that spends way too much time on their phone; checking emails, scrolling through social media, posting pics online? Yep, me too. When your four year old son tells you to “put down your phone mummy and look at me” you know there’s a problem. Granted, showing me the giant booger in his nose probably could’ve waited until I sent that email, but still.

So last week, interested to see just how much time I actually am spending on my phone, I decided to install the ‘moment’ app on my phone. Moment is a free app which will track how many minutes a day you spend on your phone as well as how many times you actually pick up your phone. Then it breaks it all down into a daily timeline that looks something like this…

Moment App, www.sarahdipity.com.au

And let me say, it is damn interesting and a real eye opener! I discovered that on average, I’m spending about two hours per day on my phone. I wasn’t really surprised and honestly, I know it’s not as bad as what it could be (compared to others I know!) But two hours out of a twelve hour day…well I guess that is a lot. That’s a whole two hours that could be spent doing other more important things. That’s two hours that I could be doing all of that other stuff, like exercising or ticking things off my to do list, that I feel I just don’t ever get the time for.

But the thing that did shock me was how many times I actually pick my phone up; an average of sixty times a day! The majority of those times I spent less than a minute on my phone; so basically I was picking it up, looking at it and putting it straight back down again. That my friends is called habit. Something I learnt about myself by doing this little exercise was that I am addicted to multitasking. I don’t just watch TV; I watch TV whilst scrolling through my phone, whilst replying to an email, whilst playing with my son, whilst reading a magazine. I don’t just cook dinner; I cook dinner, whilst watching TV, whilst posting a pic on instagram, whilst paying my bills online and emptying the dishwasher. I am actually incapable of doing just one thing at a time! So when I find myself on the couch, or sitting in traffic, or waiting at kinder pick up, my immediate reaction is to pick up my phone. It’s a habit. But when does habit become addiction? Well I guess I’m about to find out because this week I’m setting myself a challenge. A limit of one hour per day on my phone. That’s it. I think that’s reasonable, do you? Considering that I am a blogger and part of being a blogger means spending time online engaging with my readers, I know it’s just unreasonable to set myself a limit of any less than that. And really, I don’t want to, because I enjoy being online, just not at the detriment of my family, relationships and work in real life.

You can upgrade the ‘moment’ app and use it to set daily limits, block out screen free time or send yourself reminders but for now I’m going to try going it alone and see how that works. So that’s the challenge I’m setting myself and I would really love you all to join in; install the moment app on your phone this week and let me know what you discover; how long are you spending on your phone each day? How many times are you picking it up? Were you surprised? Would you say you’re addicted to your phone? I’d love to be able to compare and discuss with everyone what you think is a reasonable daily limit. Head on over to my Facebook page where I’ll be keeping you updated with my progress and will be asking about yours too!

Will you accept the challenge?

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A Healthier Me

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If you didn’t know me and saw me walking down the street you’d probably say I’m a pretty fit and healthy person. Because here’s the thing; I’m skinny. I don’t say that to brag, it’s just a fact; thin, petite, small, whatever you want to call it, I’ve always been that way. But here’s the other thing; I’m not fit, nor am I particularly healthy. No I don’t have an eating disorder (I promise!) It appears I’ve just been blessed with a super fast metabolism or something which means I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want, without gaining any weight. You hate me know don’t you? But honestly, it’s not as awesome as it seems. Because I can eat crap and get away with it, I do. Because I don’t need to exercise to maintain my weight, I don’t. But as a result that means I’m pretty unhealthy and super unfit. And I’m tired, all of the time and I’ve often wondered if my constant tiredness is due (or at the very least linked) to unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise. I’ve known I needed to do something about it for a long time but I never do, or I always start only to give up after a few days. You see it’s very hard to get motivated when you can’t actually “see” any results.

I recently took a trip to my GP to get her opinion on the whole tiredness thing. I’ve always battled with low iron so we’re trying to get that under control. She also referred me to a sleep specialist who I went to see last month. He’s booked me in for an overnight sleep study in August (there’s a bit of waiting list) to see if there’s anything else going on there. I’ve always had trouble falling to sleep and I’m a very light sleeper so he suspects even though I might be in bed for 8 to 1o hours each night I’m not really getting the quality, deep sleep I need. Truth be told staying in a sleep clinic over night, hooked up to wires with people watching me sleep through a window kinda freaks me out so I’m using this as my motivation; lets see if I can get this tiredness issue under control before I get to the point of needing to do a sleep study. Can I get rid of this constant tired feeling by making changes to my lifestyle instead?

Let’s face it, I’m never going to give up chocolate or run a marathon; I don’t want to and I don’t think I need to either. I’m going to start small and build from there. Here’s some goals I’ve set for myself:

  • Increase my water intake: This one should actually be pretty easy for me. I like water and apart from a juice in the morning and a small soft drink with dinner it’s all I drink. I used to be pretty good at drinking plenty when I was at work, I’d have the drink bottle on my desk and sip throughout the day but I’ve noticed since I’ve been home I forget and don’t drink as much.
  • Make smarter snack choices: When I looked at my eating I realised my biggest downfall is snacking. Fast metabolism equals constantly being hungry which means lots of snacking. And I always go for the convenient choice- whatever I can quickly grab from the cupboard. So I guess the answer is I need to get rid of the crap in my cupboard and fill it with healthy choices. I figure if I don’t have it then I can’t eat it can I? But the problem is I’m very fussy, which limits my choices, which leads me to my next point…
  • Try new things: I’m a plain eater and pretty fussy. As I get older I’ve started to try more things and often surprise myself because I find there are things that I actually like. I need to live by the rule I’ve always given my son “If you don’t like it that’s ok but all I ask is that you try it”.
  • 20 minutes of exercise everyday: That’s what “they” say you need and I think that’s totally doable right? So I’m going to start there, with a brisk 20 minute walk each day.

Now that I’ve written it all down and shared it with the world I’m hoping that will make me more accountable.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has had similar issues…do you have any tips for me? Any suggestions I could try?

I’ll keep you all posted on my progress; here’s to a healthier me!

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Anxiety Myths

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Being someone who has suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for many years, I am all to aware of the myths surrounding these conditions that exist out there. If you are a sufferer I’m sure you will be able to relate and if you’re not, then I hope this helps you understand a little better.

5 Myths about Anxiety:

If you suffer from anxiety you are weak: On the contrary I think that people who suffer from anxiety are really strong. If you are someone who experiences anxiety or panic attacks and are still able to face each day…well that takes a lot of strength. Being brave doesn’t mean not being afraid of anything, the true definition of bravery is being scared of something and doing it anyway. Having anxiety can often mean facing your biggest fears each and every day. Now that’s strength.

Only women suffer from anxiety: Completely untrue. Just like every other mental illness it affects both women and men. One of my closest friends who suffers from anxiety is a male. Anxiety does not discriminate, it affects people of ages, sexes, backgrounds and races.

You’re exaggerating about the physical symptoms of a panic attack: Nope. The physical symptoms of a panic attack are very, very real. I actually know quite a few people who have called an ambulance the first time they experienced a panic attack because they legimately thought they were dying. The physical symptoms of a panic attack vary from person to person; from pain in the chest and breathlessness to faintness, heart palpitations, sweating…the list is endless.

Medication is the only way to control anxiety: Medication is one form of managing anxiety but it certainly isn’t the only way. Counselling, talking, learning to manage thoughts and symptoms through techniques such as meditation and deep breathing are all other options that can be explored and in fact need to be if you want to manage anxiety long term.

If you take medication for anxiety you are weak: As my Doctor once said to me “If you had diabetes would you take insulin? Yes. So why is this any different? Anxiety is an illness and sometimes it needs to be treated with medication.” I am not saying everybody who suffers from anxiety should take medication; it is a case by case basis which needs to discussed and decided with your doctor. But for some people yes, it can get to the point where medication is required and that’s ok.

It is my hope that the more we talk about these things, the better people will understand and myths and stigma that currently surround anxiety will no longer exist.

Are you a sufferer of anxiety? What other myths do you want to clear up?

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Foodies

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Are you a foodie? One of those people that enjoys cooking, dining out and sharing pics of perfectly styled food on Instagram? I have to confess, I’m not. Don’t get me wrong, I love food (who doesn’t) but as far as cooking it, marvelling over pretty photos of it, understanding it…well no, I don’t. You will not find me in the kitchen baking up a storm of homemade muffins on a Sunday. My idea of making Italian is to boil some pasta and stir through a jar of sauce (hangs head in shame). I’m in awe of people who use all these amazing words to describe their food. I have two basic descriptions for food “Yum, I like it” and “Yuck, I don’t like it”. I don’t watch MasterChef or My Kitchen Rules either (gasp!)

But let me be clear, whilst I myself am no foodie I am certainly not anti-foodie. In fact I would actually really like to have more of an appreciation of good food. I’d love to expand my horizons, test out my tastebuds and try some new things. I have always been a fussy eater and fussy equals boring and that has gotten a little, well, boring! So that leads me to the whole point of this post. Foodie friends I need your help; I don’t know where to start. I’d like to make healthier food choices; my choices now are quite limited and usually made out of sheer hunger and convenience. I’m overwhelmed by all the information out there- eat this, don’t eat that….So, what are some simple changes I can make? Some great recipes I can try? Super foods? Yays and nays? Hit me up in the comments below or head to Facebook to share- I can’t wait to your suggestions! Who knows, I may end up a foodie yet!

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