I love Christmas. I love the food and being together. I love decorating the house and buying gifts. I love the opportunity to celebrate.But.There is a 'But'.All the expectations around what Christmas could or should be can make me anxious.Until a few years ago as December approached I would find myself starting to worry. Would everyone have a good time? Had I remembered everyone's presents? Did the house look festive enough?Pressure and stress built up as the list of non-negotiable (as I saw it at the time) events filled my diary. I would panic about the most bizarre things: would...

A few weeks ago at one of my 'Talking About Anxiety' events, a woman asked a question. This question gets asked in one form or another at every event I run.We were talking about negative mindsets and how they affect our mental health. About how we need to learn to accept the truth that we are enough despite our (lack of) achievements or our (low) popularity or our (too large) dress size, despite our (lack of) wealth or our (poor) health or the (bad) behaviour of our children.Mostly (although not always) these days I manage to speak to my inner...

Travelling can make me anxious.New places, new food, new routines can all trip me into an anxious state, increasing my heart rate and temperature, distracting me and leaving me unable to relax. I have found this very frustrating. The time of the year when I am most looking to unwinding, often ends up being the very time I battle to retain my peace.But this year we went to Portugal for 12 days. And I was not anxious.I was a bit nervous about going: the flight, the drive to the hotel, what the accommodation would be like. But none of these...

May is mental health awareness month. A time to share experiences and challenge stigma.And one thing you are sure to hear is someone to say: it is time to talk.Being vulnerable about your mental health can be beneficial and aid recovery, but to be brave and start a conversation often feels impossible.It did for me.My diagnosis with post-natal depression and anxiety took me by surprise. I didn't know what it meant. I felt ashamed and afraid of how others would react.Better to deal with this in private and keep my friends, than be honest and risk losing them, I thought.But...

An unexpected diagnosis. During my third session with my therapist she told me she thought I was suffering with Post-Natal Depression. Aside from the shock, the shame and the fear of what this might mean, I was also confused. I thought women with post-natal depression struggled to bond with or feel love for their baby. This was not the case for me.Also this was my third child, I loved him as I loved my daughters - unequivocally and from the get-go - if I was depressed now, was I depressed then?(me and my gorgeous boy. 2010)The answer to this un-asked question...

Today I am delighted to introduce to you my friend Phil. Phil has agreed to share his experiences of dealing with anxiety as a middle-aged (his words!) man; how it was for him and what he did about it. Phil is fantastic, I know you'll enjoy what he has to say. I am very grateful to be able to share his perspective here:I’ve never been too concerned about my physical health.I cycle to work, clocking up about 40 miles per week, and apart from my vasectomy have never had more than a day off in 25 years of gainful employment. I’m...

Two weeks ago I sprained my ankle. I was exercising at home and for no obvious reason, maybe I wasn't fully paying attention, maybe I was being a little gung-ho, I went over on my ankle and fell to the ground. As I fell I heard a loud snapping sound, turning my stomach and convincing me it was broken. I shouted, a lot and loudly. Then I tentatively undid my trainer, eased my foot out and removed my sock. I watched, with fascination as my ankle doubled in size before my eyes.I was in pain and I was angry. This was...

Before you can love anyone else. Before you can care for anyone else. In fact if you want to be any use to anyone long term:You have to love you first.I used to think loving myself was selfish. I thought prioritising my needs was self-indulgent. Surely it was better to sacrifice what I wanted to make others happy?I was a classic people pleaser, believing I would be loved and accepted only if I behaved and performed as others' wanted me to. So I morphed and changed according to who I was with. I tried to keep a lid on any...

Last week I was tired. A combination of over-work, broken nights and an increase in the emotional needs of the kids had worn me out.I was physically tired, but more than that I was emotionally and mentally tired. My body and brain had been operating at more than full capacity for a while and I needed a break.There are times we have to over-exert ourselves; a busy patch at work, a friend or loved one falls ill and needs caring for, a house move or other circumstantial change. There are seasons when we all have to dig deep and work...