Travel Anxiety – Lose the Fight or catch the Flight?…

You may already know that today is World Mental Health Day.

I live with someone who has struggled with mental health issues and I asked him if I could write this post. He had doubts at first but we share the opinion that it is important to talk about these things.

About ten years ago, he went through a very difficult time of not being able to leave the house without vomiting. We didn’t know the cause of it, it was hard to even get him out to see the doctor. His weight plummeted and he couldn’t get to work.

Once we found out what was making him ill, he had to deal with judgement from even his close friends and family, because people don’t always understand what they can’t see – he was suffering with Anxiety and Panic Attacks.

Eventually he was sent to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I don’t know what was involved in the sessions – it wasn’t something he wanted to talk about, and that’s fine. All I know is, we are forever grateful he was taught how to control the Anxiety. Day-to-day we pretty much forget about it now.

The beast does still rear its ugly head every now and then and funnily enough it chooses to do this when we should be having an amazing time – going on holiday!

His Panic Attacks are so extreme when we are travelling. On our ‘worst holiday ever’ he suffered a seizure during the flight, which frightened me and the cabin crew half to death… he, on the other hand, thought he had just woken from a nice nap!!!

Since that time we have figured out, in our own little way, how to best manage it. We have got travelling down to a fine art. He still suffers with the attacks, so we plan and prepare every fine detail to make it go as smoothly as possible, with no surprises.

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Here’s how we do it.

Plan Plan Plan – You might already know I’m a sucker for a list and a spreadsheet. Travelling is no different. I make sure I have sorted every little thing. I do this for the packing; schedules; documents and details for every possible scenario I can think of. It is extreme organisation, but it helps.

Professional Advice – About a month before we are travelling he visits his GP to discuss our plans. They provide him the advice and medication to deal with it correctly.

Upgrades – We upgrade wherever we can afford to. This isn’t to be flashy; it’s purely because upgrades usually mean quieter areas with more space and less hassle.

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Airport Transport – Trains are booked well in advance, upgraded if possible. We allow plenty of time to get to the station.

Airport Hotel – We book a hotel near to the airport for the night before our flight. It gives us time to relax and helps make the morning a bit less stressful, with no rushing for our check in time.

Entering the Airport – This is one of the more difficult times. I handle the majority of the luggage. We get the odd funny look as to why I’m dealing with all the bags whilst he just walks at the side of me, but who cares – He’s busy trying to not be sick! We’ve got four-wheel suitcases and a hand luggage bag that attaches to the case for this reason.

Check-in – I do the talking to the check-in staff, I hand over all the documents. At this point I make them aware that it is a difficult time and explain why. Usually they are extremely helpful and have previously arranged for us to board the plane first to make it easier.

Security – We pay for Fast-Track. I think it is about £3.50 each and means we don’t have to wait in a long queue. We make sure that we have checked the security rules well in advance and have everything ready as it should be, a hiccup at this point would be the worst!

Boarding – As mentioned earlier, in the past we have been able to board the plane first. If this isn’t possible we usually wait until last so that we avoid the rush of people and big queues.

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On the Plane – He has to have the window seat. I’m not sure if he really does, but we go with it anyway, ha ha! With the exception of take-off and landing the flight is usually okay.

One thing that people often confuse his Panic Attacks with is a fear of flying. He is not afraid of flying and actually loves it.

It all might seem straight forward – when I read it back, I guess it is. In a way, it’s just the little things that make it easier. If it wasn’t for working through it like this then I’m not sure if we would still go on holiday. These small changes are what make us able to fly.

It’s not too long now until our next holiday… let the planning commence!

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I don’t want to take the shine off it, but…

There is a new craze and I am totally sucked in to it.person washing his hand

Hinching! – Cleaning the Mrs Hinch way. If you know, you know. However, if you don’t know yet, I am certain it won’t be long before you find out all about it!
Mrs Hinch is an Instagram sensation, she’s bloody good at it too. Her Instagram stories are brilliant – I’ve literally spent hours watching them, it’s almost addictive. Her home is immaculate and beautiful. She’s funny and she shares some great advice.
She has a gigantic fan-base, The Hinch Army – their posts are really inspiring, a cleaning community that shares it’s tips, tricks, photos and success stories.

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Anything that makes me want to clean is useful and when I came across Hinching a couple of days ago, it did just that. I have trampled the aisles of numerous stores searching for her suggested products, Minkeh, Pinkeh, Vera and so on. When I’ve come home I’ve been scrubbing my house to within an inch of it’s life.
Two days on and I’m starting to have some niggling thoughts. I need to iron out some of the kinks that I am personally feeling in the Hinching process. I need to tailor it to suit me… and so I’ll begin.
Motivation – watching hours upon hours of cleaning videos is detrimental to the cause! I need to spend these hours actually cleaning. That’s something for me to work on obviously, only I can change this.
Hoarding – as someone who is trying to minimalize the amount of things I own, being encouraged to buy mountains of cleaning products and gadgets isn’t necessarily a good thing. I need to show restraint and only buy what I need. I don’t have the space to stash away bottles upon bottles of Zoflora!
Over Spending – See above. As well as the storage issue there are the financial implications of unnecessary collections of cleaning solutions. I spend to a budget every month and I’m not willing to sacrifice my savings goals, for a mop.
Being Wasteful – I can’t bring myself to pour gallons of cleaning products down the drains each day. A slight over exaggeration, but I’m sure you get my point. I’m also not willing to clean things that are already clean just for pleasure(?!), it’s a waste of time and money.
Environment – I have to think about the impact to the environment. We’ve all seen the news about plastic waste and most cleaning products are stored in plastic containers. Hopefully with the media coverage plastic is getting it will start to be recycled properly, or packaging will change.
Chemicals from the cleaning products also enter the environment through the water system. They can be damaging to aquatic life, can enter the food chain and could even end up being eaten by us!
Pets – Cleaning products can be harmful to pets, there are reports of burns to paws and cats foaming at the mouth from licking floors cleaned with disinfectant. As a dog owner, I need to be mindful about what I am using.
Health – As with most things in life these days, cleaning can apparently impact on our health. Studies have shown that breathing in cleaning products can be as harmful to our lung health as smoking. There are also the more obvious issues such as skin conditions. I’ve also seen reports that regular contact with cleaning products can cause cancer. We need to be wearing gloves!
I am in no way going to stop ‘Hinching’ and I don’t for one minute suggest anyone else should either; instead I am going to try and tweak the system a little.
I already use some Method cleaning products. If an ingredient isn’t safe, they don’t use it. The packaging is all made from recycled products, and can be recycled. I am going to look into other environmentally friendly companies too, to see what products I might be able to switch to.
Some of these products can be more expensive I will use them sparingly to combat being wasteful!
The rest of it is down to me – don’t hoard or collect; don’t sit on my arse watching Insta stories instead of vacuuming; don’t over spend; wear gloves.

Happy Days! – Happy Hinching!

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Blame it on the dog! Dogs in the home & how not to lose your sh…

Search the internet for information on dogs and stress and you’ll find a knowledge fountain of ideas on how to help your stressed out pooch. How about the stressed out owner?! I couldn’t find anything about that, so I thought I’d put together how I try my best to rid some of the stresses of dog ownership.
Obviously I love my dogs, they are my fur-babies after all… At the same time they can be capable of driving me up the wall. It’s not really the dogs it’s more about the mess they create and the peace they shatter! 20180928_1904396979460261548561809.jpg

I own two hyperactive Border Collies, Beau & Bear. I couldn’t imagine my life without them. Controversially, I’m not afraid to admit that they are often a pain in the arse. I have threatened many a time that they can go live on the farm! I never mean it though, and they know it. How can anyone resist their butter wouldn’t melt faces?

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Dog ownership can be challenging when I am trying my hardest to get my life together and clear out my home, in the hope of one day living in peace and serenity. They shed A LOT of hair. On the flip side of that, dog ownership is great when it comes to me ridding a few pounds – the walking really does help with that!

Here’s the best I could come up with in the form of tips on how I try not to lose my shit whilst owning two dogs…..

Boundaries – I don’t let my dogs upstairs. I’ve heard it all before, my home is their home, blah blah blah. I get it, but upstairs has carpet, downstairs is all washable hard flooring, purposely for my dogs. They have plenty of room downstairs, they have luxurious pet beds to choose from. They are happy with this scenario and it doesn’t cause them any upset.

Storage – My spoiled brat dogs have their own toy-box jammed full. You should see how excited they get when they open it for play time! It just really helps me when I need to clean my floor or people come round. I can throw all the dog toys in there, it takes about two seconds and saves anyone going arse-over-tit on a rogue tennis ball.

I have a second ‘dog-box’ where I keep all other doggy related items in once place, or should. This is where I have their leads, poo bags, old towels, flea & worm treatments and all that jazz.

Lint Rollers – Self explanatory. These are my best friend. I can’t really leave the house without having to roll myself down first.

Throws – On every surface… well mainly just the sofas. To keep the hair problem and the doggy smells at bay. I just chuck them in the wash once a week.

Brush & Scissors – I keep these permanently near-by where we sit in the evening so that I can regularly brush the dogs and cut out any matted fur. I have to keep on top of this as the hair shedding is the main thing that drives me to occasional tears!

Schedules – Vet appointments, flea treatments, worming treatments and doggy walk dates are all scheduled in my phone calendar. This is the only way I can remember when their treatments are due.

Food & Water – All bowls can go in the dishwasher. I have a bath mat under the water bowl… as Bear seems to like to carry his water about a bit before he actually swallows it!

Dyson – Dyson is the only vacuum cleaner I have owned (I’ve had many, it’s a bit of a weird addiction) that copes with the pet hair. The tools are great and the stair tool is the best for the hair that gets trailed upstairs from our socks.

I think I could keep going with this forever! Even trying to keep up with all of the above I still have my struggles, It’s all worth it when I get to see their faces and have those loving eyes gaze at me whilst we cuddle up on the sofa. I’d honestly love to hear of any tips or tricks that you have on this subject. We really are a nation of animal lovers.

Is it too early to start planning for Christmas… or too late?

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Look at me, throwing the C-Word around already. Although I think it’s accepted more these days anyway!

The word planning was chucked in there too and to me that does mean starting early.

In our house we work towards Christmas from January. Is that a little extreme? I just find it easier this way. I mean, I’m not buying the Turkey in January but I do start saving and I also make notes of gift ideas all throughout the year.

I’ve talked before in other posts about using a website called Everydollar for budgeting and this is no different. It’s straightforward for us to save for Christmas, we just put away the same amount each month into an online account called ‘Christmas’ – creative or what?!

This means that throughout the year I can buy gifts as and when I see them as long as I have enough saved to cover it. One of the perks of doing it this way is I can snap up a bargain or two in the sales. I feel less ripped off than I would buying everything late in the year, when things will just halve in price on Boxing Day.

I take a similar approach to gift wrap and boxed cards here too, I’m more than happy to pick these up in the January sales and stash them away. This means I can afford to buy good quality wrapping paper… not the type that tears into a hole on every corner of a box!

Any gifts I do buy early are stored away in a spare drawer. Storage can be an issue in my little house so I have to be careful with this part. I might need to work out a plan B for this bit so that I can stock up more in the future. Any suggestions for this are more than welcome…

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Now let’s talk spreadsheets. Call me a loser but I couldn’t live without my planning spreadsheets, I use them to organise just about everything. I have two just for Christmas.

The Christmas Card/Gift List – this might sound simple but I also use it to track gift ideas I come up with throughout the year; the budget for each gift; the type of card I send and the addresses for each person. I make a new tab each year to allow me to remember what gifts I have previously given.

The Christmas Dinner Plan – This one is only used if I am making the Christmas dinner at home, which is rare. I use this to know what needs to be done at what time and for the oven timings too. I’ll admit this one takes it a bit too far and you’re all probably groaning at the thought… but it works and there are no burnt spuds in our house!

With all that out of the way I can spend more time nearer the big day doing all the Christmassy things I enjoy; like wandering round the local garden centre and late night shopping in Leeds on a crisp night, all wrapped up warm.

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I buy a new Christmas decoration for my tree each year and have an annual trip to a Christmas Market with a friend I only see that one time per year… this year we are visiting the York Markets. I won’t have any gifts to buy by this time though, which means I just get to treat myself!

This leaves me with just one last thing that I like to plan. It’s something that I have done since being a kid. I have to buy the Christmas TV Guide. I know we have it all available online and on the digital boxes now… but it’s just nostalgic to me. I go through the guide and highlight all the Christmas TV that I want to watch. These days I follow it up by adding it in to my Sky planner, so I have moved on from the dark ages a bit!

Perfection Doesn’t Exist

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Why do I put so much pressure on myself to achieve perfection? I don’t even know what perfect looks like. I don’t even think it exists.

If I can’t complete something ‘perfectly’ then sometimes I just don’t want to try at all. Perfectionism causes procrastination!

I’m guilty of this on a daily basis, I don’t even realise I am doing it most of the time… but there is just this niggling voice at the back of my head telling me things – My house isn’t clean enough for people to come over (what on earth would they think of me?), The hallway needs decorating, I don’t look right, my clothes aren’t nice, my make up is rubbish, my hair is a mess, what if people stare at me, what if they laugh behind my back? Have I done me work right, did I word that email correctly, will they take it the wrong way? Did I say the wrong thing earlier, have I upset them?

You get the gist of it.

I think everyone can feel like this at times, It just affects some of us more than others. I can’t help wondering where it stems from. A fear of being judged maybe, or caring too much. The fact is, no one is perfect.

If we could just get rid of the negative thoughts and spend less time worrying what other people think we could spend more time actually sorting the things we are stressing about… such as the tidying up. I’m going to work on that.

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I am still on the path of getting my life in some kind of order. I never got round to that big wardrobe sort out that I said I would do in my earlier blog post but it’s still on the cards. I got distracted by another aspect in my life, my health. I’ve been taking on Sweatember to raise money for Cancer Research and have been completing 15,000 steps per day… ouch, only 7 days to go! I’ve also learned how to watch what I eat properly and I think I’ll write a separate post on that later.

Anyway… I’ll leave this post here and hopefully I can just publish it without worrying what people will think when they read it, or if it’s PERFECT.

A Productive Sunday

Please tell me this isn’t just me?!

Help give me the strength I need to fit everything in to what’s left of this day… I have a laundry mountain to climb, to clean the house (it’s like an episode of hoarders!), get my gym kit together, drink 3 litres of water, do 15000 steps, keep in touch with friends and family, prepare a meal, and try to make my hair look less like a bird’s nest…. The list could probably go on.

I literally have deep envy for people who just always have their shit together.

Do you have your shit together or are you still in your PJ’s?PJs