As I mentioned in my previous post, I have set the goal of leaving the house at least once everyday in order to help improve my mental health. I am aware that there are numerous people in the same position as me, but I thought perhaps some of you don’t know how to prepare yourselves for the ‘outside world,’ so I’m going to run through my thought processes and preparations that help me walk out the front door each time. Some may be helpful, but some may not. You all have your own comforts, so just experiment and see what you find comfortable.
#1 – Planning
This usually only applies if I’m intending to go out for a longer period of time, or to a place in which I’m more likely to feel vulnerable, for example, shopping etc. I like to plan where I’m going and what time I’m going to be there (time is a major trigger for me). I make these plans in advance; sometimes days, sometimes only hours. Occasionally, however, I still need that reassurance and confirmation, just to be sure that I don’t have to change my route or time frame. The main reasons I like to plan my journey is because a) I like to know where I’m going so I can organise myself i.e will I need bags? Do I need to withdraw cash? etc. and b) it’s easier to estimate the time it will take to go to each place. I’ve always planned my journeys for as long as I can remember and I feel it really helps me.
#2 – Going out with somebody with me.
I’m currently at that stage of my anxiety where I can do the little trips on my own, which is great progress considering that around 6 months ago, I wouldn’t even leave my flat to pick up the post from the landing downstairs. When I’m intending to go somewhere that requires a bit more of my time, however, I need someone to be there with me to help reassure me that I’m ok. This is usually my mum or best friend. I find that this helps because they make my mind preoccupied enough to not think about where I am and how exposed I am to other people and surroundings. I feel they do me a favour so I also always offer to buy a coffee or some lunch (which leads me to number 3)
#3 – Stopping for a coffee or a spot of lunch.
This ties in with number 1, in the way that I like to include a stop at the coffee shop in my plan. I like to sit and people watch with whoever it is I’m with because I find it relaxing. I like how diverse people are and if you like writing stories, it’s a good way to develop characters to use. I dont often have lunch out because I like to go out in the early mornings, so it’s generally just a coffee, which allows me to compose myself and think through what’s next on the agenda.
#4 – Take some sort of distraction.
This is quite self explanatory. I always take headphones out with me, because if I’m too overwhelmed, I will listen to music to calm me down and take my mind off why I’m overwhelmed. I try to listen to upbeat songs rather than slow songs because I feel that I get more motivated if the beat is something you can head bob to or tap your feet to. I’ve also ordered a fidget cube and a worry ring to help because I get very fidgety when I’m out. They haven’t arrived yet but when they do, I’ll probably review them on here. Until then, I’ve been taking an elastic band to wear around my wrist to fiddle with.
#5 – Just breathe
This last one is quite imperative because it’s one of the last things I do before I leave the house. I sit in a relaxed state and take some deep breaths in order to calm myself and remind myself that I will be alright. In through the nose, out through the mouth. This, similar to number 3, allows me to compose myself. It helps a lot because I can take a step back and not let myself get too defeated. I would recommend making a habit of taking 30 seconds or a minute to take some deep breaths and then open the front door.
So these are 5 main things I do to prepare to face the world. I hope you can take something from this and make that huge step. Just remember to breathe and there’s no rush; do it when you’re ready.
Peace and love to you all ✌💚