How to Help Yourself When Times are Hard

Do you know how to help yourself when the going gets tough?

I don’t hide the fact that I’m having a hard time while I’m having it. Sharing my downs (as well as my ups) helps me get through them. I also get the odd piece of stellar advice that I might not have come across otherwise, because chances are I’m not the first or only person to be experiencing whatever it is that is causing me problems.

A very lovely lady commented on my Instagram recently that she found my openness really inspiring, because generally people are only comfortable with being so vulnerable after the hard time has passed. During the event we’re usually consumed by the trauma itself, along with the added complexity of wearing a mask so we can pretend that we’re okay. It adds up to overwhelm and burn out pretty damn quickly.

Just in case you need to hear these words today, here are some very effective ways to help yourself through life’s obstacle course…

Can we talk about the R word please? No not respite, although my fabulous husband took all three kids out today, so I did get some of that. The other r… Resilience! ♥️ People like to bandy the term around like it’s a good thing. Ooooh look at her they say, she’s so strong! So resilient! Always got a smile no matter what. I listened to a brilliant Ted talk the other day, about how putting on a brave face can actually do us more harm than good. I’m all for looking for the silver linings and being grateful but in the midst of a truly hard time it can be exceptionally difficult. ♥️ When life is relentlessly piling more shit on to your plate of steaming hot shit, the last thing you need is to be made to feel bad for not being as resilient as you once were. ♥️ The notion that anything can be solved by thinking positively and pretending we’re ok (when the opposite is true) is toxic and needs to change. If someone has honoured you with the title friend, earn it. Listen to them when they’re down. Offer your ear in an unconditional, unjudgemental way. Just be there, because it could make all the difference to them. ♥️ I’ve just spent the afternoon with one of my oldest friends. We ate delicious food, had a glass of vino and a damn good catch up. She said she didn’t know what to say to me, but the fact that she was there and she was listening says it all!

A post shared by Reneé Davis (@mummytries) on In the wise words of Oscar Wilde: “be yourself, everyone else is taken”

I made the decision long ago not to wear a mask. I am unapologetically me, and I absolutely refuse to be anyone else for anyone else. It means I’m 100% authentic, 100% of the time, which in theory is a great thing. It does have its downside though, and at points can feel like I’m a lone voice swimming against the tide. On my winning days, when I’ve had at least four hours sleep and am firing on all cylinders, I’m awesome at putting minor issues into perspective and not taking the knocks too personally. Dramas and drama llamas are water off this ducks back, and there is little that can beat me down.

On my darker days, where I feel lonely in a crowded room, it takes every ounce of my strength not to end up in the depths of despair. I start stewing on past failures and disagreements, and my thoughts can spiral downwards scarily fast. During these moments, alcohol and social media are not my friends. Both have the capacity to make my mood a hundred times worse, and I’ve learnt that it’s best to avoid them as much as I can. Yoga (if possible), deep breathing (if not) and video calls with a loved one are my medicine. Writing has also helped me massively. Getting raw emotions on paper/screen is a wonderful way of channeling the feelings and turning negatives into positives.

how to help yourselfKnow who your true friends are and do not doubt them. Ever.

They say that good friends are hard to find, tough to leave and impossible to forget. I feel beyond blessed to have had so many utterly incredible humans cross my path over the years. These days, with the children to consider, I’m exceptionally fussy about the people I allow into our lives. It would be madness to be estranged from my entire family yet fill our days with toxic influences. As blood isn’t always thicker than water, I consider my good friends to be my family. It pains me when I see my people in pain – I feel it deeply on their behalf. I might not be in a position to loan money, or look after more children (it’s good to acknowledge when our own hands are already full) but I can most definitely lend my ear.

I don’t judge, and I always try as best I can to remain open minded with what I’m being told. Practically I probably can’t do much more than pop over with a nice treat or be on the end of the phone, but I take pride in always being emotionally available for the people I love. Once I consider a person to be a good friend, they have to do something pretty awful for me to change my mind about them.

When the chips are properly down, it can be so tempting to completely shut the world out, but it’s rarely the right thing to do. (We all know what happened to Elsa when she followed this path.) Life is full of bumps and no-one ‘s journey is smooth running. It’s good to remember this.

It’s also vital to allow your friends to help you if they are in a position to do so. Last year, one of my neighbours knocked and said she’d been reading my blog and was concerned about me. She asked if she could take Polly with her on her school run once a week to give me a few hours breathing space. It might not seem like much, but it meant an awful lot and I hope to be able to return the favour to her in some way one day.

Steer as clear as you possibly can from other people’s squabbles  

Social media can be a wonderful tool. On a personal level it’s great for keeping in touch with faraway friends and family. On a business level it’s wonderful for spreading the word about worthy causes, fantastic products and fab services. On the not so bright side it can be a hot bed for petty arguments and vocalising ignorant opinions that folk might have just kept to themselves before the invention of Twitter.

It can be really easy to forget that everything on the internet is traceable and there forever. I am blown away by some of the dumb ass things people say, and share, and honestly don’t think they would be so free and easy with these beliefs if they were sitting in the pub having a chat with a group of mates. It feels like our world is becoming polarized, and how can it not when we live so much of our lives in online echo chambers? If there is something truly worth speaking up against then do it, otherwise help yourself by steering clear. You’ll thank yourself for it in the years to come.

Eat well, it really does make a difference  

I have been a huge advocate for eating to enhance wellness for over a decade now. My real food journey began with a PCOS diagnosis along with the news that I was (apparently) infertile. Eighteen months after coming away from refined sugars and processed carbs, and my eldest daughter was conceived by accident, then two more pregnancies within four years. I’m not a doctor or scientist, but I do believe that eating the right food has changed my life. I would urge anyone who is struggling to take a look at their diet to see where it can be cleaned up.

How to Stop Feeling Meh

How to Stop Feeling Meh*This is not a sponsored post and does not contain affiliated links. There are however many links to previous blog posts that you might enjoy and find useful. Click on the coloured text for these articles.* 

Has anyone else been feeling distinctly meh lately or is it just me? I find myself blaming the weather a bit too much for someone who lives in the UK, and it’s a poor excuse.

For a multitude of reasons, many that I’ve written about before, I have found it incredibly difficult to shake off the funk this month, which has led to some seriously dark thoughts.

I’ve pondered the state of my mental health, fearful that another breakdown might be on its way.

I’ve questioned whether I’m capable of home educating my children.

I’ve almost pressed the delete button on this blog at least three times.

My internal monologue has been driving me more than a little crazy!

As I’ve not been feeling mentally strong, I have found it impossible to simply smile and say ‘I’m fine’ when asked how I am. In all honesty though it’s not doing me any favours, because no amount of ranting about how tough my life is will make it any easier. I’m hoping that me having a more positive attitude towards it will help my cause.

Yes it’s hard, but I’m pretty sure it would be a lot harder if I fall into a deep dark hole, and given my background, I take these warning signs very seriously.

So what am I doing about it, you might be wondering?

An honest assessment of what my friends and enemies are

Note that I said what and not who, because I figured out who the keepers were a long time ago. I don’t have a single friend in my life that I’m not confident will still be around in ten years time. For those reading this and thinking they might have a few toxic influences lingering, I would highly recommend giving them the chop!

I’ll start with my enemies

Enemy #1: Pressure and Expectations

These two go hand in hand and do no-one any favours. I’ve written before about the pressure we heap onto our own shoulders, and stand by my words. It creeps up though, and since taking responsibility for my children’s education, I have come to realise that I have piled lots of pressure on to myself, and it needs to stop.

Although I know that my expectations are far lower than many others that I know, I’ve also been finding myself a bit too disappointed a bit too often, when things don’t progress as swiftly as I’d like them to. My family is not the same as others, and what they do should not even factor into my thinking. It has been though, much to my detriment.

Enemy #2: Social Media

Like many others I have a love/hate relationship with social networking sites. My biggest beef is the projection of perfection, which I know is a load of old bollocks, but still manages to get to me when I’m feeling low. I deleted the Facebook app and stopped getting notifications ages ago, but I found myself ‘quickly checking’ via their website far too much. I had to actively stop myself from doing so, and once I did I instantly noticed a happiness boost. For over a week now I’ve checked Facebook once or twice a day, and it’s been great.

I’ve worked hard to grow my Mummy Tries social media following, but the fact remains that I do not have the time to actively engage the way bloggers are advised to if they want huge like numbers on Instagram. I do things differently, and anyone that is genuinely interested in my blog will know and respect that. In fact, it’s probably half the reason that they choose to read my blog over the hundreds of thousands of other blogs out there.

Enemy #3: Coffee and Booze

I have been drinking way too much coffee, and coupled with the shouting and screaming that goes on in my house each and every day, I’ve been going to bed with a headache and waking up with one. I only drink strong, freshly brewed coffee, and used to cap my intake at two cups, occasionally having a third. Somewhere along the lines that third cup became standard, and sometimes I’d have a fourth. I was needing two cups first thing in the morning just to feel functional, so have started cutting down this week. My aim is to get to a place where I can happily have just have one cup a day, or even none every now and then. This will be the third attempt to cut down/give up in two years, but coffee is without doubt my biggest weakness so wish me luck.

Although I don’t drink even a fraction of what I used to, it’s time for the mid-week vinos and G&Ts to go. I don’t even want to be drinking every weekend. I can convince myself that a glass or two every few days is fine, but I know that I function so much better without alcohol. I don’t want to say that I’m giving up entirely, because that would be setting unreasonable expectations of myself, but cutting down and only drinking on social occasions would be a good thing.

Now for my friends

Friend #1: Good clean diet and plenty of Exercise

I have written so many times about this before, but eating cleanly is my biggest weapon in the fight against feeling meh. My diet is usually free of all grains (not just gluten), all refined sugar and I only eat raw or home fermented dairy. If I have a few days of eating out, and not being mindful of what I’m eating, boy does it make a negative difference. 

I was doing really well with my exercise bike workouts, until they became a trigger for the kids to start kicking off. Subsequently I haven’t done much exercise this month, and am pretty sure it’s helped towards my feelings of meh. As long as they are entertained it’s fine, and if that means they watch an hour of telly on my exercise mornings then so be it.

Friend #2: Good quality supplements

Ever since starting my GAPS journey two years ago, I’ve experimented with various supplementation. Needs change over time, and nowadays the thing that seems to help most with my overall well being is magnesium. The only downside is that it makes me sleep really deeply, which is a killer for the all-too-often night wakings.

I’ve been taking it on and off for months now, and know that it works for me. Everyone is different of course, but I would imagine we could all use a natural boost in some way or other. Ensure you do your research first, and just like you would with food, buy the best quality supplements that you can afford. Cheap supplements are as useless as throwing money down the toilet.

Friend #3: Knowing my limitations

Finally, and perhaps most importantly long term, I absolutely have to have faith that things will fall into place. After last years Brit Mums fiasco I started accepting that there would be lots that I can’t do because of the kids being so young. Rather than feel resentful, I felt that this is exactly how it should be, but when I’m feeling low it feels that I’m missing out.

The sensible part of my brain knows that I’m not, and that blogging will always be here, but the children won’t be this little for much longer. I would be absolutely gutted if I looked back on these days and realised that I was so hell bent on ‘being successful’ that I missed out on their childhood. Plus, hellloooooo, how ironic would that be given the topic of Become the Best You?

I made a big decision at the start of the year to step away from the blog to create space for home ed, and also free up most of my ‘spare writing time’ for getting my second book written. I’m currently in possession of half of a first draft, which wouldn’t have happened if I was blogging every day, joining in with linkies, commenting on tonnes of other blogs, etc.

I’ve known for a long time that cathartic writing helps me immensely with processing my life, and rather than over-share every detail here (which I might live to regret) I’ve used it to write a fictional novel. I blog when I want, and when it suits me, and I’m so much happier for it.

Ultimately I’m saying a big huge SCREW YOU to the supposed rule book, and I’m making my own rules!

Carl Jung:  I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become

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