The Anxious Girl’s Guide To Isolation

Hey y’all, and welcome to Lockdown. If you’re a fellow kiwi, or whether your country is already in quarantine-mode, you’ll be bunkered down and preparing for several weeks of isolation.

So, unfortunately, today’s blog is brought to you by Covid-19 – and our global battle in fighting it. It’s really important to note, that by staying home, we are all saving lives. Very literally, saving lives.

If you’re anything like me, these last few days and weeks may have triggered a little bit of stress and panic. It’s quite a solemn thing to hear your Prime Minister announce a nationwide lockdown, that shit IS SERIOUS, and when you fully process it, it does bring on some unwanted thinking.

So, today I present: ‘The Anxious Girl’s Guide to Isolation’.

Know Your Sources

First and foremost, keep updated with the news but, be aware of what you’re reading. There are so many journalists and so many opinions out there, so it’s important to read and focus on those official government updates in your country. In New Zealand I suggest sticking to www.covid19.govt.nz and watching the updates on Channel One News – which airs around midday, daily.

I found I got more anxious with the more News Sites I scrolled through. Yes the articles out there are mostly factual and informative, but they are also infested with sadness and distress. When the world is in global crisis, mental health is important, and sometimes leaving these articles be, is the ‘ignorant bliss’ you need to keep yourself safe and healthy.

  • Limit yourself to two official forms of updates.
  • Stay focused on local events and local coverage.
  • Don’t spend all day burying yourself in facts and stats online.
  • This is only temporary.

Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 10.42.56

 

Lockdown doesn’t mean locked in

Make sure you understand, that in lockdown, you can still leave your house. In fact, it has been exceedingly encouraged by the Prime Minister, to do just that. Fresh air, and wide open spaces, are great for mental health. Moving our bodies has been shown to decrease levels of tension, boost our mood, improve the quality of our sleep, and improve self-esteem. I’m sure we can all understand and appreciate how exercise helps our anxious minds when the world is good, so need I say how important it is now that the world is in a state of emergency?

If your anxiety overwhelms the possibility of leaving your gate, or you live in an apartment building where leaving home isn’t an option, please at least open a window. Let the sun and air in as much as possible. Put music on and dance, keep moving that beautiful body of yours. And, please remember, that even though we can’t venture far, physical distancing doesn’t mean social distancing. Talk about what is going on, share your concerns and thoughts about everything with friends and family; you will not be the only one who is thinking these things.

  • Go for a walk/run. Take those in your isolation space with you, or go for a solo walk.
  • Get someone to meet you at the beach or a local park. Just remember to keep your 2-metre-minimum distant.
  • Video-chat your friends and be creative with social media.
  • Do online yoga classes – I highly recommend Yoga With Adriene.
  • This is only temporary.

Keep A Routine

This applies to both those who are working from home during the isolation period, and to those who are not. I cannot emphasise enough, how important it is to try and maintain a normal life as much as you can. I’m not saying set an alarm for 6am, but make your bed every morning, have meals at regular intervals, schedule in your washing, put time aside to workout, and open your curtains!

If you do need to work from home: Designate a space away from your relaxing and sleeping areas, to assure the differentiation between working and having finished for the day. I suggest having a set up in an office or at a table where you work only; get dressed and out of pyjamas before you start, eat your lunch way from this space, go outside and have your afternoon cup of tea. Don’t go near that space unless you’re working.

If you’re lucky enough to not be working from home: Try and put some time aside in the first few days of isolation to figure out things you’d like to achieve over the lockdown period. A few examples:

  1. Learn a new language (e.g. sign language)
  2. Write a book, start a blog, or express yourself through poetry
  3. Organise your photos into albums/clean out your phone’s photo albums
  4. Do some gardening, and some DIY landscaping
  5. Perfect a handstand
  6. Alphabetically organise your books, CDs, & DVDs
  7. Meal prep
  8. Write letters to the grandparents
  9. Read ‘X’ amount of books
  10. Rearrange your room

This is also the perfect time for a solid Spring/Autumn clean – go through clothes, old papers, the cupboard when you throw all the junk, and rid yourself of anything you don’t need. Because, of course, a clean space helps with a clean mind.

  • Shower, get dressed, and make your bed everyday.
  • Schedule your days to optimise time and maintain some normality.
  • Divide your space into work and play – never mix the two. Make sure your clothing also represents what mode you are in.
  • Set goals that you can achieve from home.
  • This is only temporary.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I think if we all follow these guidelines, isolation will become less daunting and more normal with everyday that comes. Remember:

  1. Know your sources
  2. Lockdown doesn’t mean locked in
  3. Keep a routine

It is okay to worry, and it is okay to find this scary – you’ll probably never see something this historic in your lifetime again. However, please remember that this is temporary. You are staying home to save lives, and to stay healthy. We will make it through this, and we – and the world – will resurface better than ever.

If you need to chat, please contact me on Instagram at @paigebolland.

Stay home, stay clean, stay safe, and unite against Covid-19. All of the love to you all.

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 12.37.31 copy 2

The Moon Is A Friend

Today has not been a good day.

I’ve had arguments over space, discussions about my face, and stress caused by money and the lack of its place. I’ve swallowed tears, my head has throbbed and my heart has raced, all in the last 24 hours.

I struggled to fall asleep, over nothing but a mind that won’t switch off, which led to a day where I didn’t even have the energy to smile. You don’t wear make-up anymore; how is your personal life? – I’m happy, and I’m enjoying my days between the nights, but these last 24 hours just haven’t been the best. I guess that is the problem with mental health, it never really leaves you. Like a moon, hidden behind clouds and daylight, it shines brighter some days, and can be invisible the next.

Today I listened to a song, which sang the romantic gesture of moon-giving. But when I look at the moon, I’m reminded of everything I stress about. I am reminded of the nights over the length of my life spent crying to the sky, wishing for a clear head, because where else do we look when our heads feel heavy. We look up, hoping to feel small; we look up, for advice from the universe. So when I see the moon, I see the projections of my past, not the romance I hear through my headphones.

“The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.” ― Carl Sandburg, Poet

Even though I see the moon as a hole in the night sky where, since the age my head starting spinning, I’ve shoved everything to hide it away, I can recognise it’s beauty. A strange beauty. A love-hate beauty of past and future.

I’m merely thinking aloud.

5 Steps To Soul-Saving R&R

If you live in a city like me, you’ll understand how easy it is to get caught up in the hustle bustle and stress. Without noticing you can become just like everyone else, constantly reaching for a deadline that’s zoning in on you way too fast. Have you ever asked yourself Why does stress even exist? Well stress has evolved with us as humans as a survival instinct. Even though the typical work place isn’t a place of literal life or death, stress unfortunately still finds its way into our modern lives. It’s impossible for us to stop stress entirely, but some R&R can definitely help with a soul being suffocated by stress and a busy lifestyle.

As a young adult who suffers from anxiety and stress, here are 5 ways I calm my soul. We all need a healthy mind and body to aspire and inspire.

1.’The’ Trousers This may seem absolutely crazy, but find yourself your holy grail of trousers. These may be sweatpants, leggings, yoga pants, shorts, or designer trousers like me. I have a pair of Oska trousers I thrifted and they have become my ultimate feel-good item of clothing. They’re beyond comfortable, they exert creativity for me, and they fit like a glove. When I feel stressed, confined, or even ill, I wear them and know I’m in my zone of creative calm. They’re corduroy, high-waisted, flair Designer trousers but they work for me. If sweat pants work for you, own it. Wear ‘the’ trousers along with the comfiest of all tees, and you will instantly be set up for serious R&R.

2. Creativity This works for me, anytime. Being a creative soul myself, rest and relaxation is incomplete without a book, music, singing, or my MacBook opened on a new Page document. This may not work for everyone, but find something that does. Your form of creativity might be painting, sketching, colouring in your favourite adult colouring in book. Using your mind for something you love, stops there being space for the stresses of anything else. If you’re still thinking about that uni assignment due next week, blast a song like ‘These Days’ by Take That and groove it away.

3. Clean your space It’s very easy to be convinced that R&R means sitting in front of the TV with nothing but a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, but alas this isn’t the only approach. For me,  when I’m entirely overworked and my soul is screaming out for me to stop for a second, I love to tidy my room. I’m a fairly tidy person anyway, but cleaning my wardrobe, changing my bedding & vacuuming is one of my favourite things to do on a lazy day. It’s a little bit of physical activity which will make you feel accomplished, and having a clean space does aid with a clean mind. It’s fromage, but we all knows it’s true.

4. Treat your body If you’re treating your mind to some paused luxury, treat your body with delicious healthy foods. You will think clearer, and the energy that comes with nutritious foods with make your body feel more alive, and you will go back after a days rest fighting.

5. No-Go Zone If I can, I always make my times of rest and relaxation a ‘no work zone’. I don’t think about work – and when I was at uni, these days were a no go zone for any assignments- and doing this forces your mind and soul to just wind down. If you’re stressed, this may seem like deadline suicide, but trust me, after a day or two away from thinking about assignments or work, you’ll always come back with fresh perspectives and fresh & speedy energy.

If you do suffer from anxiety, make the time to find steps that work for you. It’s never fun to be stressed, but involuntarily worrying is worse. I’ve been there, and it’s been a matter of finding mantras, steps and people which aid in bringing my mind back to reality. Take time for yourself more often, and constantly remind yourself to do things that bring you more joy.

I wish all you beautiful souls the best in your days of R&R. If you have a soul-saving tip, comment down below so we can all include a bit more calm into our lives.

Paige x

 

 

 

 

Café #2 – The Wake Up

I’m sitting in a café.

Through the window before me, I see a church built in 1843 surrounded by trees abandoned by leaves. The darkened stones of the church, and the hibernating trees, allows for an eery painting within the frame. I resonate with the feeling this view perpetrates. My chest feels tight like the claustrophobia I feel when I look at the tall spires of the church. My mind is a spindly and uncontrolled mess, like the branches and twigs stemming of the trunks of the trees. My breathing is short and in sync with the cars that drive past.

I’m sitting in a café.

Everyone else in this cafe seems relaxed, shoulders softening with every sip of their beverages. My spine is rigid. There is a man leisurely reading the local newspaper – every minute, near to the dot, he leans forward, takes a sip of tea and settles back into his armchair to read on. My tea is going cold. There’s a man sat in my favourite armchair duo, with his jacket over one of the seats to deter anyone joining him. I dislike this man for depriving me from one of the most comfortable seats.

I’m sitting in a café.

I am dreaming of the day I get sucked into a book. I wish for a one-way journey into a world where magic exists; where the rockstar falls in love with you; where adventure is freely accessible. When I was a child, I was convinced I was a witch. My name ran in sync with one of the most famous witches on a tv show called Charmed, so who was to tell me I wasn’t blessed with the same magic she possessed.  As a child, barely at 12, I possessed so much imagination and magic within myself that I believed that every potion or spell I created was true. It was creativity at it’s most raw and pure form – unadulterated passion.

I’m sitting in a café.

I have taken a sip of my tea, and it has softened my shoulders. The man sitting in my favourite seat has left. The tall, black armchair surrounds me in a different way to which the dark spires of the church claustrophobically smothers. As I sit down, I feel calm. I find my breathing return to normality, and my chest loosen with every bar of the jazz which is playing. I am now reliant on the strength of this armchair.

I’m sitting in a café.

I am now going to bring out my book. I want to find myself immersed in an imaginary world for a while. I don’t mind that I can’t stay in there forever, I just find comfort in knowing that there is always another place to escape to.


Café Series | Post #2 | Poetry #1

This dream isn’t feeling sweet.

I often take walks late at night. Being alone allows me to consume myself in fresh air and mind. As I  walk I see the exhalations of my breathe form gray clouds before me. These swirling notions are a visual representation of my approach to undesirable emotion; simply expelling it from my body, before I draw a new breathe. I very easily become immersed in negative thoughts. At the start of this year I told myself that I’d be an ambassador of positivity; that negativity would be simply wished away. Walking at night is my way of escaping anything that adds negativity to my life; it’s my time to be alone because there’s no other time in my life that I am so. I was out walking last night, and wasn’t as refreshed by the crisp winter air and lack of sound as usual. The recent concerns about future decision making didn’t simply go.

At what point should you give in to your anxieties? At what point do you have to just tell yourself that it’s time to confront what’s worrying you. Over-thinking into things is something I struggle with immensely. It’s been an ongoing issue that recently has made a bigger impact that initially anticipated.

As I’m sure you’re aware, I recently was in Rome. As much as it was a holiday, it was a chance for me to escape my life that is constantly revolving around others. It was a chance to make it about me again. Sounds selfish, or perhaps over exaggerated, but there is now so little in my life that is just mine. My living situation isn’t powered by my decisions, and I have jobs that require me to live on someone else’s schedule and will; leaving me with the excitement to go out and do things, but the fear of asking for any time off in fear of offending. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have time for myself, but in all reality once I look past the university study, and the time I  spend enjoying the company of my friends, I barely get a second for myself and my own adventures. If I could decide how my life in London was, I would choose to go to a new country every month, I would buy my own groceries, I would spend my time off work seeing new things; I would not be afraid to ask for time off to make day trips.

It all comes back to my anxious mind. Yes, you’re right, I promote the idea of living for yourself, but right now the worry that protrudes my mind tells me that the opinions people have of me are more important than what I want. As a solution to where I’m at right now I’m going to try and take the advice of all the people that I’ve gone to – I’m gonna see if I can live my current worries out, get past the post-holiday blues and continue to remember that you can’t live unhappy – there is always an alternative.

This blog post isn’t like my usual words, I guess I usually try to be pro-life and promote this amazing new life in London, but these types of adventures  will always have it’s challenges that will push you to the point of  breaking. I don’t want people to think that I’ve handled this move to a ‘T’ – this blog is a document of my life afterall; I am purely being honest.

I’m going to attempt to start looking at moments like this as a chance to refresh my mind, a chance to archive the negativity, and start anew.

You cannot change what you refuse to confront.

 

Survival Instincts

From a young age you always hear the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and more often than not people will say this to you as a piece of ‘much required’ wisdom.  As much as I accept this phrase about not holding prejudice based on someone’s outward appearance, I do slightly disagree.

Judgment is an inherent quality that our brain feeds with experience. We have established this instinct for survival; the judgments we make are what permit, or prohibit, things to get close to the core of our lives. Moving to a new country, I found myself surrounded with the unknown in things as simple as a phone shop. I spent the first month making choices purely based off harsh judgment and gut feeling.  There were the initial times of pharmaceutical and grocery shopping, I would walk an extra block to shop at a chain-store over a cheapened corner shop. When I was flat hunting, as simply as talking to a person over the phone, I would judge the landlord on the language they used, and immediately accept or decline the idea. For all I know these are the simple judgements that have extended my life, or have caused me to miss out on opportunities.

So what happens when you take a leap of faith and do leave things up to chance? Once I was settled within a house, had a group of friends, and had all standard life requirements organised, I went through a phase of doing spontaneous adventures; going outside of my comfort zone with relation to cafes, experiences and stores. I think the key point here is that because I was successfully living, not only attempting to adapt and survive to this new environment, I didn’t need that safety net of judging everything as heavily as I once had. I remember phone calls home, discussing this exact topic with my parents.  There comes a point where after the judging and hard work has been done, you do need to loosen the reigns of planning, and live life day by day, decision by decision. Sometimes there are positive consequences to veering away from that planned path of judging things critically. This way of living, or leaving life to serendipity, is what makes for a more rounded life. You come across things you may have never knew existed, you may meet people who are destined to be in your life, or find a new passion.

Judgement is something that is I believe to be socially acceptable when you feel that your life or well-being is at risk. I think that we need to make decisions for ourselves based off our intuitions and personal judgements; ultimately we have to live with our own decisions and choices, so we need to be satisfied with them. Nevertheless, don’t forget to give things a chance; we need judgement to survive, but we need spontaneity to live.

The Motion of Graphs

I haven’t always been a confident person, and I most definitely have days where my usual confident structure breaks away from itself. Quite often I try and analyse what confidence truly is, and why this complex demeanour fluctuates.

Confidence is technically described as:

“A feeling that is due to self-belief and acknowledgement of one’s own abilities or qualities.”

This word acknowledgement, at the heart of this definition, is what interests me the most about confidence. Throughout a discussion with a good friend (Instagram: simon_walsh14), an extremely interesting point was unearthed. I would like to share and discuss this. Confidence, as much as it is within oneself, is due to, and in majority because of, external stimuli. Therefore this acknowledgement may not necessarily be your own, but someone else’s acknowledging of your talents or exterior that creates confidence within yourself.

All individuals, admittedly or not, appreciate compliments as these are the words that assure us most; assure us that we are strong enough, good enough, beautiful or handsome enough; these structured words allow us to keep moving, and delay us from having time to descend and self-doubt.

After this new aspect of confidence was introduced to my already over-analysing brain, I was bemused at how Simon’s external stimuli opinion resonated within me. I always thought it was about self-belief and that you just have to accept and believe in who you are – this is definitely a part, but how can we do this without assurance from someone else. If we are the only ones convincing ourselves we’re strong enough, soon enough we say it to ourselves even when we are vulnerably weak. This self-belief and confidence then has the opportunity to radically weaken to self-doubt, self-doubt to anxiety.

Explaining how confidence turns to self-doubt and anxiety is hard to explain in precise detail. I have, however, experienced this feeling, so the easiest way to put this to word is to use an example from my life. Try and picture my words in the form of a graph on a page. The last 500 days of my life going horizontal, and the three notches going upward on the y-axis being anxiety, self-doubt and confidence. As my London dream began with saving and planning; I began midway somewhere near the level of self-doubt:

 ‘Will I be able to save in time?’, ‘Will I really go through with this?’ 

As the line progresses horizontally it also slowly begins to peak vertically towards the level of confidence; this came with the physical growth of sterling but also the kind words of commendation and encouragement from family and friends. These external stimuli pushed the line to level out for several months. These months were easy, I was so confident within myself and had sureness in my plan to move alone. Then the news of my departure became old amongst my family and friends, it became accepted that I was leaving, so discussions lessened. Negative and doubtful comments stopped my ability to move away from this doubt. Small, unintentional things people said – people doubting the extent of my planning or the level of accumulated savings – all made that line waver around self-doubt. The lack of encouragement and assuredness then caused my brain to self-doubt: forcing the line to descend. I was too ashamed to discuss these feelings with family and friends because I wanted to still appear like the brave being everyone described me as. This absence of conversation then allowed my brain to plummet towards anxiety. I began to have this gut-wrenching fear of failing. As the timeline sped on, the time until I was to leave New Zealand diminished in front of me. Conversations increased with the hype of 18-year old Paige leaving friends and family for a foreign place. This resulted in a vertically increased line levelled midway between self-doubt and confidence. I had assurance in my abilities but I still lacked complete confidence of success.  From those days, to now, my line of confidence has continued to fluctuate.

My line will continue on in that fluctuating motion. So will yours. Such is life.

Reading this blog you may think I’m trying to say that confidence is solely reliant on external compliments, but it most definitely is not. This external stimuli fact is purely a minuscule part of what makes our brains tick. Confidence comes from a range of things – from validation, self-acceptance for who we are, remaining mindful, grounded and humble, amid others. These are the things that increase or decrease our levels of confidence.

So think before you speak, you’re making a bigger impact than you might think.

Words

Why do people write? And what makes a writer’s work ‘good’?

I’ve always had a passion to write. Since leaving New Zealand, and whilst I’ve been on the journey to my own self-acceptance and self-discovery, I’ve found inspiration to write in the oddest of times.

Writing, at least for me, is a way to get things out of mind. As much as I advertise the fact that I have a blog, a lot of what I write I don’t necessarily want judged or even read, hence a lot of ‘raw thought’ journals spread amongst my physical belongings.

This past week has been really hard for me. My mind has been crammed with thoughts and expressionless emotion;  not being able to write this down has truly been one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with. When I am presented with something unfamiliar, or scary, I need a creative release of some kind – it’s usually music, but lately its been my blog. So for me to have these mental images and swirls, and not being able to put them to word, has been more than difficult to process. Being away from family in such a time, has made this even harder to get over.

The continuous failing attempts at writing throughout this time, has resulted in poems, but mostly confiding in the works of others. You can get a very similar result by reading someone else’s raw thoughts and writing pieces – especially when it is so close to what you’re going through yourself.

So this brings me back to why people write, and what justifies titling a piece of work ‘good’. People write, I’m sure, for the same reason I do. This world is a blank piece of paper. We have the beautiful covers being blankets of stars, above our heads, and the sand and stones, under our every step. It’s our job to fill the blank pages that are our lives. I think within every person, whether they write it down physically; in a screenplay or within the musical notes of song, are writers. We all have brains and minds that over think situations, we all experience new and exciting things we want to share perspectives on; we are authors to our own lives. To label a piece of this art good, is when people like me, right now, can’t produce something to explain our own thought. We go to someone else’s work, and it’s ‘good’ because we can relate to it. It pulls out the emotions, whether it be tears or laughter, and it can describe what we’re too afraid or unable to explain to ourselves.

So don’t be afraid to write. Write what comes naturally, and write what you believe. Even if you are your only audience, you’re putting something into the pages of this world. One day, someone will read it and will be thankful to be able to accept their own thoughts. Writing is powerful; single words are just as strong.

YOUR life.

Sometimes living the life I lead, I come across small situations that cause me to get anxious; make me want to leave; remind me of how much I miss the comforts of home and family. It’s so easy for people to say “Your parents must be so proud”, “You’re so brave”, which I guess in some respects are both true, but the majority of the people who hear about my story say,

“but you’re so young”

This small quote reacts with me different ways every time I get it pushed into my ears. For starters, people who say this to me, when has age ever been a restriction? (Obviously apart from all those law restricted purchases). Have you heard about the 77-year-old Supergran who runs 100km ultra-marathons for the pleasure of it? Laura Dekker? She became the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handed, at the age of 16 (Not to mention, a kiwi, you go girl), and let’s not forget about the people like my Grandmother, who moved across the world, via boat not plane, at younger ages than I, in the war times, alone. People get so wound up in ages that they forget to even ask why they’re doing what they’re doing. Yes people ask me about my travels, but the majority of the people are so quick to judging me on my age, or where I’m living; as if a zone puts a stamp on my success.

My second response to this quote is for me to want to pull into myself and not speak to anyone at all. This might seem ridiculous, attention-seeking, or pathetic to a lot of people, but for me it’s the only way that I can regain my thoughts. You don’t realise how hard it is to be away from people, until you actually are. I’ve been in London for just over 5 months, and it’s just about this time that I have fallen comfortable into a routine; of work and no play; I’m beginning to miss my oldest of best-friends at home, and in waves of gut-wrenching sadness I miss my family; hugs from Mum and Dad, but more importantly I do sometimes begin to lose sight of why I’m really here. Losing sight is what makes you want to just give up and go home.

Last night, I had a very similar break down. It was not exactly because of being named young, it was more a build up of small remarks, tones, and attitudes from the past week. I had had enough, and walking home staring up at the full, glowing moon above the London horizon of brick, I had a sudden urge. A sudden longing to leave London, go back to New Zealand, lay all over my parents on the couch like I used to, and just feel truly at home again. I posted a photo to my instagram (@paigebolland) and my Dad,  being the superhero that he is, swooped in to save the day. My Dad, and of course my Mama Bear as well, has always known what to say and when to say it. Now I know my moving here was hard for them, but they always said things that cut the doubts out of my mind, and re-convinced me that what I was doing was incredible; a once in a lifetime opportunity, and that I had to do it. So last night, when I felt like giving up, Dad saw the photo with the venting quote underneath, and messaged me.

“Understand kiwi girl, keep your chin up”

Small, but enough to make me smile just like that.

“Harder than it should be sometimes, but it is the big picture the focus is on”

This, being in the state I was in, I replied to questioning what the actual big picture was anymore. To which he responded,

“YOUR life”

He made me remember than I’m here for my own adventures, and that sometimes to get there you do have to put up with people who are jealous; have smaller dreams; less motivation; people who will do anything to hold you back. Yes living here is hands down THE hardest thing I have ever had to do, but it is also the craziest, most beautiful, difficult adventure.

This is MY life, and if you step in my way, I’ll build a ten mile high tower above that so called “big person” you think you are and sky dive off the roof miles past you.

– Thanks Dad x