I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness recently. I mean, we all think about happiness all the time, don’t we? But I’ve been thinking about it a lot more in the last month or so. Trying to work out what are the things that make me happy – and unhappy.
Let’s deal with the unhappy bit first – to put it bluntly, my hormones make me unhappy. I’ve always been a bit of a slave to my hormones, from those FUN teenage years where you hate everyone and everything, slam doors, flush your best mate’s necklace down the loo in a fit of rage (just me?) to my twenties when I discovered I had endometriosis. Poor Mr P had to put up with a lot of mood swings back then – thank goodness he didn’t run for the hills.
But lately, thanks to my hormones, I’ve had a few days each month where I feel really low – there was one day last month when I actually felt depressed, and that’s not a word I use lightly. There was this imaginary grey weight on me, and none of the usual ‘cheer me up’ tactics like lunch out with Mr P or shopping in The White Company made any difference. It actually really scared me. Thankfully, it only lasted one day, and I knew it was caused by hormones.
This has been coupled with something that I have only just realised I’ve suffered from for a long time – anxiety. I didn’t really know what this was before, but I’ve worked out that when I’m walking down a street and feel paranoid, thinking people are looking at me, or when I’m on Oxford Street in central London and I have this awful fear that someone is going to attack me, or steal my bag, or when I just have a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach but have nothing to feel worried about – that’s anxiety. Again – thankfully I only suffer from it when my hormones are doing their monthly loop the loop. Or when I’m hungover and tired, but that’s normal, right?
So – anyway! This isn’t meant to be a ‘poor me’ blog post, it’s actually a post about the things that make me happy. Because in the last few weeks, I’ve been focusing on what those things are, and making sure they are in my life more. Simple!
1. Fresh flowers.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed the sudden appearance of flowers in my photos. I’ve realised how much I enjoy having them in the house, especially since I work from home. Tulips, daffs, hyacinths, roses – I’m not fussy. There was one week recently when I had all of the above and it was like a bloody florists in my kitchen.
2. Scented candles.
I’ve been burning my White Company White Geranium candle or Diptyque Baies while I work (hello, working from home cliché!) and the relaxing scent helps to chill me out and concentrate on work rather than how crappy I might be feeling.
3. The gym.
I’ve actually turned into one of those people who exercises for its health benefits, not because I want to be slimmer. For real. I mean, obviously I’d like to be slimmer. My size 16 ass should really be a size 14, but genuinely, I notice such a difference in my mood when I go to the gym two or three times a week. It’s like a miracle cure. I heart endorphins.
Hmmmm maybe this is the reason for my size 16 ass? But I’m definitely an emotional eater, and having a steady supply of chocolate and cakes makes me happy.
5. Trying to be vaguely healthy.
On the flip side of that, I’m a MUCH happier person when I’m making sensible food choices – salads, smoothies, sushi, Vita Coco drinks rather than crisps, chips and pizza. I spent six months of last year being super healthy and I loved it. Just need to get back into it, don’t I?
6. Taking time off.
I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a ‘workaholic’ (so 80s of me). I love working so so much and I would happily sit at my laptop working and blogging until 10pm every night. But I’ve started putting the laptop away on a few evenings a week, and watching telly with Mr P (The Good Wife and Better Call Saul on Netflix, since you asked). I even went out for the day with my family last weekend and – wait for it – left my phone at home, deliberately. I’m fed up of checking my phone constantly when I’m out and about so it was almost a relief to not have it with me. Switching off and having time away from email, texts and social media is really good for me.
Speaking of which, it’s 7.15pm and I’m going to switch my laptop off…
Quite right too. Ahh I’m sorry you suffer with this. I had dreadful anxiety post natally and it’s horrible. You’re doing all the right things – exercise, sleep, and sometimes focusing on what you personally like, just because you do, and not because you should, all helps with this.
Now if only I could find the time to do it myself! 🙂
It’s one thing to know what helps and another to do it, right? 🙂
You are totally normal. I am also hormonal and have spells of utter darkness caused by them. After a good hot bath, (some chocolate) and a day or two I feel better. It’s always good to remind ourselves what makes us happy 🙂 x
Yes! A hot bath. That also helps massively.
Great post Alison – beautiful flowers really do lift a mood don’t they?! And I know exactly what you mean about the phone and laptop, think I am going to start turning my off too, then I won’t constantly be checking ‘just to see’ if that email / message has arrived! x
I keep telling myself that any text/email/tweet will still be there a few hours later. I don’t have to read it now.
You owe me a necklace!
Anxiety sucks big time. It has spoiled many an occasion for me. The only thing you can do is find ways to distract yourself from it and not get that fear of the fear. I really like looking through old photos on Facebook/hard drive to remind me that the good times hugely outweigh the bad. They make me smile. I’m also with you on the flowers, they are particularly cheering when the weather is gloomy & miserable. I’m also rather fond of an incense stick. I’m an old hippy at heart 😉 I’m glad you’ve found ways to make you feel better. They’re really important 🙂 My friends are really important to me in keeping me sane too. And Mr Nic especially of course.
Looking through old photos is a great idea. And yes, spending time with friends. So important.
Love your honesty in this post hunny and I can relate so much to this. I was the same I had a few days back in January where I couldn’t pin point my blah blah mood and I actually was convinced I was pregnant because my hormones were way out of whack! I am not but the point there is the same. It sucks that we have to battle them but always great to find ways to fight them off or counterbalance them. Fresh flowers is a must in my home and even though some of them make me sneeze and itch eyes half the time I will always have them there. Sushi is a must have I love it and I could eat it all day everyday I am so coming to yours for lunch! Love these Diptyque Baies candles everyone keeps talking about. I need to get me one of those! lol Of course, white company is just down the road. A good and bad thing sometimes. Lovely post.
You definitely have to get on board with Baies Jenny. Glad your hormonal spell has passed 🙂
Great post; I suffer from anxiety and it can be awful. I also love having fresh flowers around the house – currently have pink and cream tulips on the go 🙂 I also find sometimes that a nice, relaxing bath helps 🙂
Ooh pink and cream tulips. Lovely. I have some orange tulips right now.
And knowing that you can talk to your lovely friend Katie whenever you need. Hope you know that. I am sorry you suffer with your hormones every month, it must be awful, I don’t suffer with mine at all- yes I get grumpy around that time of the month, but it’s nothing serious. But I do suffer with anxiety, and that can come at any time of the month, and can strike at any time. It’s horrid and it’s mainly entered around something happening to my family, so much so it’s stopped me going places in the past. I have processes in place that help me try and combat it. All those things you said definitely help- the odd chocolate or cake is so good for the soul, and of course exercise and a good diet help life you out of a funk too. I hope you can get to the bottom of your monthly situation too. Lots of love xxx
Thanks Ellimeister. I do think diet and exercise plays a big part. X
LOVE THIS! I have suffered from anxiety/panic attacks since I had a back accident when I was 18. Post kids? They seem to have gotten worse. I speak to a lot a people and it does seem as we get older our PMS is horrible. I have to literally write a whole week off each month. It’s horrible. Today I went out and brought two new candles and some new boots. Today was a good day x
I can totally relate to this Alison, both the negatives and the things that make you happy, also many similar for me. Another post which hits the nail on the head- as always x
Totally can relate to you here! I have this weird cycle of about four days every month where i slumo into a depression, and again not using the word lightly either eat or don’t get out of bed or not at all and cry. It’s so scary and is only being looked into. Turns out my mum and nanna suffered from extreme swings due to fluxuating hormones so it’s great to think of ways to be happy and remind yourself of them. x
Oh my goodness, you could be describing me right now! I am a dreadful one for anxiety, and it’s made so much worse by my hormones too. I was always a worrier, but it has increased tenfold since I had my kids – I get to the bottom of one panic and another one is right behind it. It really helps me to know that others experience this too, especially someone who seems as ‘together’ as you do! Thankyou for writing this Alison xx
As a fellow slace to hormonal cycles, you have my deepest sympathy! It’s exhausting having hormone related mood swings, and like you they cause me anxiety and depression, not just the occasional bad mood. The two things that help me keep them under control are taking a supplement called Vitex/agnus castus alongside my multivitamin in the morning, and going for a session of acupuncture every 5 or 6 months. The combination of those two things has made life much more manageable. Maybe worth a shot if you haven’t already tried xx
Fresh Flowers deffs make me happy too and brighten life!! I can relate to your words here x
Really sympathise with the depression/anxiety. I think we are all a slave to our hormones. Like you I try to fill my life with happy and exercise. I must get better at leaving the phone at home too. Thanks for sharing this xx
Things that make me happy when I need a pick-me-up: time away from social media / emails, time outside (going for a walk, pottering in the garden), doing projects around the house (upcycle lover, me) and – when all else fails – Zara. Hope you’re feeling better now and those pesky hormones have sodded off. xxx
I really suffer with my hormones too. I swear I am suffering with hormonal moods for more of the month that I’m not. When I ovulate I notice changes in my mood and for about two weeks before my period I’m so moody, tired, miserable, snappy and also get bouts of anxiety. I get paranoid too and think Matt is being horrible and that everything I do is a pile of crap. I hate that I only feel happy and relaxed for about a week each month! I’ve heard agnus castus is meant to be amazing for balancing hormones (it’s natural), it takes about three months to start working and I always forget to keep taking it before that point so I can’t say if it works or not but I might try it again! x
oh gosh… my hormones cause so many problems… I’m a total wreck for a week or two each month :/ Fresh flowers are the best aren’t they?! Esp this time of year when it’s all gloomy, need a little sunshine in the house!
I totally agree with your points. I love working too, and I have to make myself switch off. For example, the half-term holiday was fantastic, and I found myself returning to work with renewed energy and creativity.
I also take a herbal supplement daily, called enhanced rhodiola complex, which helps to ease my anxiety.
Oh lovely A, I REALLY know where you’re coming from with regards to hormones. I never used to suffer from PMT at all before children, but since having the kids I’m a ball of rage a few days a month, to the point where I’m going to the doc because my moods aren’t fair on the kids, or anyone for that matter. Like you, on these days I actually feel like everything is terrible, I’m terrible, the world is terrible etc etc, and then I’m fine, so I KNOW it’s the bloody hormones! Hangover anxiety is also one of the reasons I really curbed my drinking, and if I do have a drink now I make sure I don’t have to go out in public/use public transport the day after, a recipe for near panic attacks! So many of the things you’ve listed give me joy too- you can’t beat daffs, a bit of exercise and switching off! Looking forward to lunch on Thursday xx
This is a really lovely blog post! I’ve found that since having my boys my PMT has really increased. I had PND with both and I think this predisposes you to PMT type symptoms – low seratonin levels apparently.
Your post hit a nerve because I had a day of gloom similar to yours just this week! I knew it was my hormones but it felt like the world was against me. Horrible. I agree wholeheartedly with your list, particularly flowers (my mum is a florist = free flowers!), chocolate and exercise. I think just looking at your cheery photos would perk me up, so I’ll bookmark this post for next month when I feel glum 🙂