All that fear and all that pressure…

I’m thinking we probably have some newcomers to the world of overwhelming anxiety. Panic is a no win kind of game, but there a few cheat codes. Since I’m an old pro and a real darling, I’m going to clue you in.

Full disclosure, none of these are a cure. Anxiety is a fucker and you should definitely seek professional advice if you are worried about your mental health. However, none of these calming hacks will do you any harm & so you can totally give them a bash. They might buy you a little temporary peace or even just knock the steam off your panic attack.

Gratitude Lists

I know that sounds wanky, but bear with me. Sometimes when I’m dealing with that grinding, slow burn type of anxiety this can be helpful. I go through things I’m grateful for in my head. It can be anything. Often I’ll do the simple I have a warm house, comfy bed, not being pursued by the mob type of thanks giving. Other times I’ll get specific about factors that mitigate whatever I’m worrying about. Either way it switches my head away from catastrophising for a minute & lets me catch a breath.

Slow Sips

If you’re wholesale panicking, slowly taking small sips from a bottle can help. It forces you to regulate your breathing, which can ease the physical symptoms of a panic attack. Thus giving you an opportunity to stave off a really bad episode.

Waves of Sound

Get yourself a sound machine app. Lying awake all night feeling scared is awful. Waves, thunder storms, pouring rain are all rather soothing. This can also be helpful via earphones if you’re feeling freaked out in a public space.

Waves on Scottish beach

Play it Out

On a similar note I like to prepare playlists of songs that I know will be good for certain situations. For instance I have calming bedtime tunes, waiting somewhere stressful songs, help me do these things that need to be done lists and so on.

Child’s Pose

I know yoga isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it does work for me. Child’s pose in particular is very helpful for chilling my body out and making my brain stop for a minute. You can access loads of good yoga vids on YouTube. It’s worth a try to see if anything helps you feel more ok.

Repeat Yourself

This probably sounds a little dumb, but it can be surprisingly effective. In moments of panic/fear simply repeating a reassuring phrase can help. I usually go for ‘you’re ok’. The repetition and saying the words out loud has an impact.

Text ‘you’re ok’ repeated on pink & green swirly background

Hide

This probably sounds even more daft. Again, it can work. Taking yourself to a small, safe space can reduce your body’s desire to flip out. I’ve taken myself into my tiny home office & given myself a minute many a time. Being somewhere that I know no one can see me or even know I am there is great for combatting rising panic.

Dark & Loud

When the world is really too much, blocking it out us the way to go. Find yourself a dark room, get comfortable and turn some beloved music up really loud. Assaulting the senses like this aids a positive disconnect from whatever is distressing you.

Write

This one obviously works for me. Getting the terror out of your head and onto the paper/screen is a lifesaver. Something about making those words concrete rather ever growing worries is hugely cathartic. Give it a try.

Ain’t no place like home…

We’re not going anywhere & lots of are finding much of our work has vanished. If like me your anxiety is spiralling distraction is just the ticket. So, here’s a bunch of things I have been enjoying. Hopefully they’ll help you pass some time.

I’ll kick off with excellent things you can stream. I’m new to Amazon Prime & not sure I’ll keep it, but I do recommend that you take advantage of the free trial to watch Hunters. It is all kinds of awesome. Set in the 70’s it follows a group of Nazi hunting crusaders. It has a slight Tarantino seasoning & lots of nods to the current political climate. Well worth a watch.

Hunters poster

Netflix is sheltering a few hidden gems at the moment. Wasteland is a revenge heist set in a distinctly unglamorous council estate. It’s clever & engaging. Hangman is a mostly unnoticed serial killer thriller. It features a decent turn from Al Pacino & enough sentiment to balance the gore. Finally there is Thanks for Sharing, a romantic drama/buddy movie about sex addicts. It’s much more uplifting than it sounds. Give it a bash.

I used another free trial to have a gander at Shudder. I used to find horror films too scary, but for some reason I have come around to them. As streaming apps go, shudder is disappointing, but I did find one cracker. Revenge sees an underestimated young women seek retribution against three gross men. It’s very full on, but has a satisfying ark (TW – Sexual Assault).

Revenge poster

The i player has both series of Shrill, which are definitely binge worthy. Based on the book of the same name by Lindy West it follows a women’s body liberation journey. Amazing watch for those on the Bopo path and brilliant primer for slim folks wanting to understand some of the fat experience. Oh & it is funny, sexy & smart.

Shrill poster

All 4 has a gorgeous new comedy by Mae Martin. It takes a bittersweet look at love & addiction. It’s funny & sweet with some proper touching moments. If you liked This Way Up (still on there if haven’t seen it yet) this is the one for you.

Two women dancing in neon lit room

You’ll have to pay a couple of quid, but The Kitchen on Sky Movies is worth it. It’s a gangster flick with a twist. Strong female leads all turning in tip top performances plus thrills & spills without a depressing end.

If you are all tv’d out it might be time to switch mediums. My new favourite relaxation method is getting in bed & firing up a podcast. I am currently obsessed with three. All Killa No Filla is fueled by the genius of stand ups Kiri Pritchard McClean and Rachel Fairburn, Both are hilarious & their woke take on the true crime genre is even better. If you’re interested in serial killers, but sick of the sensational & often misogynist approach these are your girls. Episodes consist of well researched information and random (unbelievably funny) sidebars. I eagerly await each new offering.

All killa no Filla logo

Myths & Legends does exactly what you would imagine. Each episode takes you through a different myth, folklore or legend filling in all the details you might have previously missed. If you’re interested in the origins of the stories you half know, give this a listen.

My newest discovery is Behind the Bastards. Journalist Robert Evans invites a guest to delve into the lives of histories biggest bastards. Intensely researched & surprisingly entertaining there’s even a some nonsense with machetes. What more could you want?

Instagram stay home logo on black background

Sister of mine…

For this year’s International Women’s Day I thought I’d stay close to home. There are of course many, many wonderful women doing important things across the globe. However, sometimes you have to recognise the people on your doorstep. Thus, I give you a special women I’m lucky to share DNA with.

When my mum was pregnant with my sister I was determined that she would be a girl. People kept telling me that I might get another brother, but I would have none of it. A sister is what I wanted and a sister is what I got. Thank god! I have loved just about every minute of being a big sister. From her cute toddler babbling, playing (& fighting) in our shared bedroom, taking her out to clubs she wasn’t allowed to be in and so much more. She has been a blessing.

  • These days I sometimes have to take a minute to remember this powerful women is that same chubby cheeked wee girl. My sister astounds me. Her determination knows no bounds. She cannot be stopped. Lauren combines running her own law firm with being a literal supermummy. She does exceptional work in an often taxing field. The impact of practising criminal and family law is frequently overlooked. Solicitors really take a bullet for the rest of us. By dealing with issues many of us do not want to think about too deeply they ensure our justice system continues to function. A service we should all be grateful for.
  • When she’s not bossing it in court my sister is a fantastic Mummy. My nephew wants for nothing. He is showered with love and attention. No bedtime story is skipped, homemade food, home made costumes, even elaborate home baked birthday cakes; my sis is not sleeping on any detail. It shows, her boy is smart & funny & a total love bug.

    If balancing career & motherhood wasn’t enough my extraordinary sibling also finds time for friends and family. Oh and she looks bloody beautiful whilst doing it all. Seriously, even her lazy days are chic. My darling sister has spent too many hours by my side in a&e. She’s ferried me about and offered very wise counsel. We have also spent countless hours gabbing & dancing & laughing. I know she offers the same support & good times to many others. Quite simply, my baby sister is a phenomenal woman.

    Inspirational women aren’t all winning Nobel prizes or running for high offices. They’re all around us. So, this Women’s day give the fabulous females in your life the credit they deserve.

    Up in the mirror…

    I’m still struggling to up my cute to dragged through a hedge ratio. I did manage two not hideous days in a row last week & I’m celebrating by sharing those looks with you.

    I had to take care of some tedious bits on Thursday. My reward for ticking off the to do list was dinner with my favourite man. I popped on this polka dot number for vegan yummies & top chat. I think I’ve only worn this once before, I don’t know why. I love it.

    Mirror selfie of ly in white wrap dress with polka dots

    Dress – Boohoo

    Tights – Snag Tights

    Shoes – Primark

    I always size up with Boohoo. Their sizing is neat especially across the bust. Don’t get hung up on the number on the label, better to be comfortable in bigger size!

    The next day I was ready for comfort. This dress is a dream. It’s made from the softest fabric ever. It has all the ease of a basic t shirt dress, but the drawstring waist gives just enough cinch. I felt like I was wearing jammies whilst rocking my hourglass curves.

    Mirror selfie of ly in black t shirt dress with walking stick

    Dress – Primark

    It’s also available in tan, which I’m getting even though my darling sis said it was ugly. This is the spoonie fashion I need for the hard days.

    Tan t shirt dress

    All that cuteness wore me out. Today it’s back to lounge wear & sorting life admin. Bronan finds it all exhausting.

    Black & white cat sleeping on cushions

    Still after all this time…

    It’s Friday night. I’m watching Bridget Jones’s baby (again) after which I shall go to bed & continue re reading Persuasion. Probably a pretty nice cosy night in, but Bridget & Austen are red flags for me.

    I always read Austen when I feel wobbly. I find the manners & gentle wit soothing. Whenever I read about Elliots or Dashwoods they seep into my dreams. Georgian heroines winning happy endings is a definite upgrade on what’s usually swilling around my subconscious. Bridget Jones offers a similar, but slightly more bittersweet comfort. Echoes of Austen, shadows of my own experience. Sadly, sans the fairy tale ending. They amount to my mixed media version of a junk food binge.

    I love some good old fashioned romance, but my own Mr Darcy is not what I’m longing for. I don’t know that I’m actually cut out for the conventional vision of love. I’ve given it some good tries; satisfaction never abounds. Perhaps what I miss is just more innocent times. Younger me believed in things I can’t muster the faith for anymore. That is both freeing and, well, sad.

    I feel like I’m standing on the edge. I can’t see what lies beneath. The uncertainty scares me. I’m grinding through the days. Fighting the urge to stay in bed. Backing thoughts of blood into corners. I’m teetering on the brink of that big blank something.

    Maybe this is how you feel when you’re prone to crazy and about to turn 40. Or perhaps this is just always going to happen. Remission & Relapse. Almost sounds like a novel a 21st century Jane Austen would write. She’d probably find a way to lighten to the mood. Alas, I lack her talent.

    Instead I’ll borrow some well-being from her work. Mansfield Park can follow Persuasion. I might even dig out the Bridget books too. I’ll take light relief where I can get. Hold my nerve. I’ve survived steeper falls than this. There’s always safe ground waiting.

    When it feels like this…

    January was a rough ride. Between norovirus, ear, throat, kidney infections and good old depression I haven’t had much fun recently. Out of the longest month I had about 5 good days & I only managed to look half decent on 3 of those. As ridiculous as it sounds, i’m quite pleased with myself for pulling it together & getting out the door that much.

    What do spoonies wear when they are struck with regular person illness, but still want to look cute? A new found love of wide leg trousers has been my saviour. I still prefer a flirty dress, but I’ll be seeking out more of this style. My keep warm & comfortable whilst still looking cute uniform has been a combination of the wide legs, vests & my slouchiest cardigan.

    Plus size women in black wide leg trs & stripey cardi

    Trousers – Elvi

    T- Shirt – Pretty Little Thing

    Crop Top – Asos Curve

    Cardi – Daisy Street via Asos

    The first iteration of this look was for lunch with my fav man. I paired my beautiful velvet trousers from Xmas with the softest crop top & sheer tee.

    Plus size woman in shark vest & velvet trs

    Vest – Primark

    Next up was a Tuesday adventure with the boy. I swapped out the t shirt for this sharky vest. The big toothy beast with the caption harmless amuses me. The boy is also a fan of anything with a shark.

    Plus size woman in leopard print trs & stripey vest

    Trousers – Asos Design x La Quan Smith

    Vest – Primark

    Last week I made it out to see my littlest niece & all my nephews before the infections really took hold. I was feeling rough & so grateful that I’d ordered these leopard print babies. Lovely warm fabric, gentle elasticated waist & big pockets make them a spoonie dream.

    And in the interest of transparency, this is what I look like the rest of the time.

    Plus size woman in jammies with walking stick

    Glamorous, eh?

    January girl…

    January is turning into quite a challenge on both physical & mental health fronts. Mood dips at this time of year are predictable, but this feels like it’s edging towards more than that. Thus, I am doing the sensible thing & taking a rest.

    I’ll be still be sharing other people’s cool stuff & perhaps bits from the archives. There’ll be a pause on new content. If you begin to miss me, you can find me here & here.

    Black and white cat lying in back with text, paused for inner maintenance