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Dealing with anxiety

This past year and few months have been a trying time for numerous people around the world. Whether physically, mentally, financially or emotionally, we have all been affected by this pandemic.

During this time it is important to take charge of our mental health. There are so many triggers for depression and anxiety right now including being isolated, loss of a loved one, illness, fear of losing a loved one, fear of deteriorating health or financial issues.

I thought now would be a good time to talk about dealing with anxiety and share a few tips that work for me when it comes to overcoming or dealing with anxiety.

The first time I realised that my anxiety was an issue for me, was years ago when I had my first panic attack at work. It was so random and unprovoked in my opinion at the time. It hit me out of the blue and it was one of the scariest experiences in the moment.

I was left wondering what was wrong with me. I noticed a change in my eating habit and my weight as well as my sleeping pattern. Some nights it took hours to settle down for bed because it felt my head was packed with thoughts and scenarios swimming in my head. I would replay every decision, every conversation and every action I did that day over and over again and scrutinize it rather than getting some much needed sleep.

It was only after someone suggested that I talk to a professional about it, I sort help and guidance for my anxiety. Years later and I still implement all the things I learned during that particularly rough time. Here are a few tips in dealing with anxiety.

Breathe….

The number one tip is to just breathe and release those feelings of anxiety. Practice taking deep breaths and slowing down your breathing….. Inhale 1..2..3..4..5.. Hold.. Exhale 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. Repeat. It may sound silly at first but trust me. The next time you feel the anxiety creeping up, stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and just breathe….

Practice mindfulness exercises or grounding techniques

Practicing mindfulness exercises or yoga or grounding techniques or even listening to music are great ways of dealing with anxiety. There are so many mindfulness exercises, types of yoga exercises and grounding techniques to choose from. Research them and choose a handful of your favorite to practice doing when the feeling of anxiety hits. One of my most used techniques is the 5-4-3-2-1 senses method. When I begin to feel anxious or overwhelmed, I stop what I’m doing, look around me and think of 5 things I can see, 4 things I can feel, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell and 1 thing I can taste as well as 1 feeling I’m currently feeling. All of this is done while actively slowing down my breathing.

Make time for self care

What’s your idea of self care? Chilling on the couch and binge-watching Netflix with a wine glass in hand? Doing your haircare and skincare routine? Reading a book on your bed? Taking a much needed nap? You need to make time for what makes you happy and helps you de-stress. You can’t pour from an empty cup, learn to refill it from time to time.

Write down your thoughts and feelings

Writing down how you feel and what you’re thinking can help unscramble your thoughts and aid in deciphering those complex and jumbled emotions in your head. It is a good way of helping you identify what your triggers are. Sometimes you’re not even sure why you are feeling the way you are feeling but writing about it can reveal any underlying issues that may be contributing to it. A bit of insight goes a long way.

Accept that you can’t control everything

This one is super important. Worrying about the future and running a million scenarios in your head does not change or impact the future in any way. It just takes up your present time and steals your joy in the moment over something that may or may not happen in the future. Similarly, ruminating and replaying past moments and events does not change the past in anyway. Once again all it does is take up your present time and steal your joy in this present moment. Learn to live in the moment and not in the past or your ‘what-if’ future.

Stay clear of negative thoughts

This is easier said than done as I know that negative thoughts tend to creep up on you out of the blue. Learn to shut them down from early and replace them with positive thoughts. Think about something good that happened today. Think about something that you are grateful for. Think about something that makes you happy and hold on to those positive thoughts.

Seek help and talk about it

And last but not least, Seek Help if it is becoming overwhelming. Talk to a close friend or family member that you trust, pray to God, join a support group and/or find a therapist or psychologist. Talking about your anxiety issues and the cause of it is very helpful in dealing with the anxiety. You don’t have to suffer alone, there are many people feeling the way you’re feeling and who understand what you’re going through. Don’t bottle everything up until it eats at you, it will just make matters worse. Seek the help that you need.

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Lifestyle

Tips on balancing life

How I learned to balance the different aspects of my life

I have been asked many times how I balance life as a wife, mother, doctor and blogger/content creator. Honestly, it wasn’t easy at first and I will be lying if I make it appear simpler than it really is. It took a lot of effort on my part, scheduling and time management. It also took some trial and error to learn what works for me.

As I type the draft for this blogpost on my phone, I am in my bed awake at 11:45pm while my husband and son sleep. I worked back to back night shifts for the past 2 nights and only slept 2 hours this morning, took care of my son and then went to a last minute dinner with my girlfriends tonight which I actually just arrived home from 1 hour ago. In fact, I came up with the idea for this blog post and wrote down the 5 main points while in the car on the way to the dinner.

To top it all off, tomorrow I’m working a double shift at work which includes another night shift. After which I plan to transfer this draft to my laptop, edit it and make this blogpost live after my post-night shift nap, a postgraduate zoom class and a few zoom meetings. This is just an example of how crazy trying to fit everything into my schedule can get sometimes.

With all the things I already have on my plate, I even added a few things this year including a postgraduate program and 3 other things that I will disclose to you guys later this year if all goes well. How am I going to make it through the year? By implementing all the lessons I learned about balancing my life from the previous year.

1) Stop procrastinating

The first thing I quickly learned when it comes to balancing all the things in my life is to stop procrastinating. I admit that I am a procrastinator and it was hard to break that habit. I started setting earlier deadlines for myself for certain tasks. If I have a blog post planned in a week’s time, I set the deadline in my mind and on my calendar a few days earlier. It forces me to get started earlier on the task because I have forced myself into thinking the deadline for completion of the task is earlier than it really is.

2) Keep a schedule of everything

I schedule every single thing, even writing blogposts, studying for my postgraduate program, my selfcare routine, creating photos and videos for my content creation, dates with hubby or dinner with my girls. Of course it all depends on my shifts at work, which vary day by day with no fixed pattern. Once I get my roster for work, I sit down and write down everything I need to get done for the month and schedule what days and times I will allot to doing whatever task. Of course some things are unpredictable, so I leave gaps here and there and allow myself to be fairly flexible if I have to be.

3) Remember to take breaks

I am not an energizer bunny that can keep going on and on and I have to keep reminding myself of that. Hence I make it a priority to schedule my relaxation days where I do my self care routines and recharge. It makes no sense running on a low battery for a prolonged period of time and then expect to get much tasks effectively done. Choose a day in your busy schedule to make yourself a priority and rest physically and mentally.

4) Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing

What I mean by this is any time I feel like giving up, I remind myself of why I am doing what I’m doing in the first place. For example, I study so hard so I can be a better doctor. I take the extra time to read to my son and play learning games with him because I want him to have a good start in life. I write blogposts and create content on my Instagram because it has been my creative escape, as well as my way of dealing with my anxiety. Once I remind myself of the reason for the task, it helps me keep going and push to get them done.

5) Don’t neglect what is most important

Last but not the least, don’t forget what is most important to you. Don’t neglect what you value most in life. For me it is my family. And in trying to balance all the different aspects of my life, I keep reminding myself to not neglect my family. They trump everything else and if I find the scale is being tipped too far away from what matters, it is time to readjust the scale, alter the schedule and rethink things.

It is now 12:30am and I have a long day ahead of me. It is time to get some shut eye for a few hours and wake up for work this morning. I hope this blogpost has been of some help to you and I hope you enjoyed the read.

Till next time.

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Lifestyle

Life lessons learned in 2020

And just like that 2020 has come to an end. It’s about that time where you think back to what valuable lessons you learned in the past year and decide on the necessary changes or resolutions for the new year. While reflecting on the year that went by, I wrote down just a few of the main life lessons I learned throughout the year and made a concise list.

1) Life is short and unexpected, Enjoy it.

With an unforeseen pandemic throwing a wrench in everyone’s plans and also causing the untimely death of so many people and loved ones around the world, it made us value our life and time on this earth even more this year.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone and we should embrace life and enjoy it while we’re still here to do so. Show your loved ones you care about them and don’t take for granted that you will always have time on your side.

2) Be grateful for what you have

With so many people having lost their jobs, their livelihood, their lives or their loved ones, it has taught us to be appreciative of what we do have and not take anything for granted. Be grateful for the things and the people you have in your life and count your blessings one by one.

3) Set your goals and chase your dreams

Don’t just dream of a better future. Learn to set your goals, outline your plans and work towards making your dream a reality. Take the plunge and make those first steps. Without a plan and without any action, a dream will forever remain just that…. a dream.

4) Fall 7 times, get back up 8

It’s impossible to go through life without experiencing failure. However, fear of failure should not paralyze you and hold you back from achieving your goals and achieving greatness. No matter how many times you fall, you need to get up, dust yourself off and get back on the horse.

5) Make self-care a priority

Self-care is not a privilege, it is a necessity. You can’t pour from an empty cup so take care of your own wellbeing first and foremost. Make sure you schedule time to do activities that reduce your stress and enhance your physical, mental and emotional health.

6) Take care of your mental health

Never neglect your mental health and suffer in silence. Take charge of your mental health and get the necessary help you may need. It is important to practice appropriate coping methods and take control of your anxiety or depression before it takes control of you. And remember, you are not alone in this.

7) Change is inevitable, embrace it

The only constant thing in life is change. Life does not remain stagnant and that’s the fun in it. Learn to be flexible and adapt to the many twists and turns life may bring.

8) Stay away from negative people

If you surround yourself with bitter people, then you too will become bitter yourself. Stay clear of people who see the worst in everything and make life appear more dreary than it needs to be. Instead, fill your life and inner circle with people with a positive outlook and energy who acknowledge the bright side in life and every situation. Stay positive!

What other lessons did you learn this year? Take a few minutes, reflect on this past year and write them down. As the new year begins, make a promise to yourself to learn from and remember these lessons in the new year.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Lifestyle

7 Self-Care tips

Taking care of your wellbeing.

I’m sure you have heard the word Self-Care thrown around so many times, but what exactly is Self-Care. It is setting aside the time to take care of your own wellbeing whether it be physically or mentally and taking steps to ensure your happiness and reduce stress levels.

This year I embarked on a self-care journey where I actively invested time and energy into my self-care routines every week. Saying that self-care changed my life may sound like an exaggeration but it is not. Investing in my self-care made me a more content, healthier and less anxious person and I’m so glad that I did.

Here are a few self-care tips for those wanting to make a positive change.

1) Schedule some ‘ME’ time

The number one tip is obviously to make time for yourself and time to practice self-care. Just saying that you will do your self-care routine when you get the time is not enough. You need to set aside a few hours a week where you and only you are the priority, even if it means writing it into your calendar or phone as a reminder.

Set aside some alone time to drink a cup of tea on the balcony while watching the sunset, or take an evening stroll through the neighborhood while listening to your playlist, or lie on the couch and watch a feel-good movie. Do whatever makes you happy.

This past year I chose one day per week and dedicated 2-3 hours to just my self-care routine. This would usually be during my son’s naptime or after his bedtime on my day off from work. I made it a habit to squeeze in the time no matter what and reminded myself that it was a necessity.

2) Get the sleep you need

With so many things to do in a day and so little hours, sleep is often neglected. Sleep is a vital activity to maintaining your physical health. Your body needs that 8 hour reset in order to keep functioning at its best and keep going the next day. Give your body the 8 hours of rest it needs and it will thank you later.

To maximize on sleep, optimize your room and your body for sleep. Reduce your caffeine intake later in the day and make sure your room is a comfy and distraction-free environment. Set a bedtime and stick to it. An hour to your bedtime, you should start your wind-down process. You can dim the lights, take off the TV, take a bath, drink some chamomile tea and do a quiet activity till it is time for bed.

3) Get moving

Exercise is important for not only our physical health but also our mental health. It boosts our mood and reduces our stress levels. It also raises those feel good hormones, serotonin and dopamine.

Being active gets the blood pumping, keeps us fit and can even help lose some excess weight. Exercise doesn’t only mean cardio, taking a walk, weight training and sports, it can be yoga as well which has the added benefits of deep breathing and calming exercises.

This past year I became serious with my exercising and would squeeze in 3 workouts per week. Of course losing 28 lbs this year was an extreme plus for me, but I absolutely loved how exercising made me feel about myself and my body.

4) Pamper yourself

Take the time to run through your full skincare and haircare routines, get your nails done, take a long warm bath/shower and get a massage. You have only one body, take care of it and show it the love it deserves. Do this and trust me you will thank me later. Not only will you look good but you feel great too.

My weekly self-care routine religiously included a full skincare routine as part of my pampering session. Not only did my skin improve and look better, but I felt better about myself as well.

5) Plan creative activities/hobbies

Look for a creative and relaxing activity to do in your scheduled quiet time. Whether it be reading a book, drawing/painting pictures or writing in a journal. Find an activity that you love doing that brings you peace and joy, and do that activity in the scheduled ‘ME’ time that you should have had from the first tip in this blog post.

This year I reintroduced myself to painting and coloring in my spare time which is quite fun and calming. I’ve also taken up reading books once again and I can’t believe I ever stopped doing it to begin with. I absolutely loved reading books as a child and completely forgot about my love for reading when life became too hectic.

An important side note is that I actually started this whole blog page as part of my self-care. It started off as writing in a journal and soon became a whole blog website just for the fun of it.

6) Learn to say “no”

One of the things that can easily lead to stress is not knowing that it is okay to say no. You don’t have to stretch yourself thin and do things that are too much of a hassle or do too many things in a short space of time.

Learn your limit and try not to cross it. Prioritize your list of stuff to be done and remember to put your own wellbeing first and foremost. You should never feel guilty about prioritizing your self-care.

7) Don’t neglect your mental health

Forget the stigma that the world has of mental health. Your mental health is important and the necessary steps should be taken to take care of it. Too many people suffer in silence with their depression and anxiety. Seek out a counselor or psychologist or someone you can talk to about it. You have no idea how much talking about your fears and stressors can be of help. Bottling it all inside is a no-no and is a recipe for disaster later on.

I hope these 7 tips were helpful to you in some way and I hope one of your new years resolutions will be to take your self-care seriously. You won’t regret it.

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Lifestyle

Why I became a blogger

My Creative Outlet.

It’s finally here, my first ever official blog post! How did I even get here? I thought I should make this an introductory post into why I even became a blogger in the first place and a little insight into me as a person.