A hand holding a small globe

‘Big Issue Guilt’ and Why It’s Okay to Start Small

The world is a big scary place.

A hand holding a small globe
Sometimes it feels like you have to carry all the problems in the world… Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

 

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of things to feel worried, annoyed or stressed about at the moment, outside of the bubble of our own lives. Politicians are making some pretty dreadful decisions on our behalf, the planet’s falling to pieces and sometimes it feels like we’re taking a backwards step in our battle for equality and fair rights.

I know that’s a pretty negative way to start a blog post, but stick with me if you can.

I know that all the negative news stories and bad things happening around the world can be make us feel really, really bad. I’ve recently deleted the news app I had on my phone, because I found that scrolling through it every day just made me feel sad and overwhelmed. As soon as I deleted the app, however, I felt guilty. Shouldn’t I be taking an interest in world news? Shouldn’t I be educating myself as much as possible so that I can help people to make the world a better place?

Here lies the problem.

I call it ‘big issue guilt’ – that guilt you feel when you can’t single-handedly solve the huge problems that the world is facing. When you feel like you’re never doing enough.

You’re using metal straws and re-usable coffee cups. You buy eco-friendly cleaning products and none of your make-up is tested on animals. You adopted your pet cat from a rescue, rather than buying from a breeder. You avoid ‘fast fashion’ as much as you can within your tight budget. You celebrate LGBT authors and try hard to buy books with diverse characters at their heart. You vote in elections and don’t eat meat.

But somehow, it just doesn’t feel enough.

a thick scarf and a hand holding a hot drink

You can’t fix climate change by using a metal water bottle.

So part of you starts to think, what’s the point? You get overwhelmed by ‘big issue guilt’ and your anxiety starts to spiral.

Sound familiar?

I’m hoping it’s not just me that feels this way! I am always trying to improve my awareness of the world’s issues and see what I can do to help. I am that person I described above, always making sure to vote, educate myself, and change my purchasing habits to try to help. But I quite often get paralysed by this fear and guilt that I can’t ever do enough. And no, I can’t fix climate change by myself or stop the beauty industry from testing on animals ever again. I can’t make politicians see the sense in allowing abortions or gay marriage, but I can do my part.

At the end of the day, all we can do is start small. If enough of us are making small changes to our day or speaking up now and then, it will all add up and, hopefully, start to change the minds of the people in charge, whose changes really matter!

It’s okay to start small. You can’t solve every huge world problem. Your anxiety is not going to thank you for trying. But you can…

  • Make eco-friendly and sustainable purchases where possible.
  • Go vegan, vegetarian or try meat-free Mondays.
  • When you go out for coffee, take a re-usable cup. Maybe even try a non-diary milk alternative.
  • Save up your money for a bit longer and buy from an ethical retailer, rather than a high street store.
  • Recycle what you can, when you can.
  • Eat your leftovers.
  • Sign petitions for things you really care about.
  • Vote in elections whenever you are able to.

If we all do the small things, it’ll all add up. Spending all your time feeling guilty is exhausting, and I promise you, you are doing enough as long as you are trying.

I hope this made sense! Do you feel the same way? Is there anything small that you do to try and help with a ‘big issue’?

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big issue guilt

pumpkins and sunflowers in autumnal spread

How to Survive Halloween as an Anxious Person

I love Halloween! I love the spooky stuff, the abundance of pumpkin-spiced-everything and the cold creepy nights. However, as someone who suffers with an anxiety disorder, I do know that not every Halloween activity suits people with anxiety problems. If you find this time of year nerve-wracking, or want to join in with social events but get nervous doing so, here are a few ideas of how to survive Halloween as someone with an anxiety disorder:

Horror Films

Scary films are a huge part of Halloween for some people and something that I often enjoy. However, on a bad anxiety day, they aren’t ideal, and you may well think that horror films sound like an absolute nightmare! (Pun slightly intended…)

The main thing is that you always feel like you can say no. If you don’t want to watch a scary film, just say no. Any real friends won’t mind and will probably change their plans to accommodate you.

popcorn with cinema ticket

If you feel like you can watch a scary film, there are a few things you can do to prevent extra anxiety. First, watch them at home. That way you can pause the film if you need to, you’re somewhere familiar, and you can leave some lights on too. Also, avoid particular triggers if you know you have them. For example, my anxiety is often triggered by medical scenarios, so I will often avoid films that are set in hospitals or similar. Lastly, have a quick self-check before the film starts. Are you in the right mindset to watch this film? Is there anything you need to make yourself feel more comfortable?

There are also plenty of films that are more ‘comedy spooky’, rather than full-on horror. Think ‘Hocus Pocus’! (Which I’ve never actually seen and desperately want to watch this month!)

Books

If you’re desperate to consume some Halloween-y media, but can’t stomach a horror film this year – why not try a scary book instead? The bonus of books is that you can close them and walk away very easily if you need to.

For a traditional ghost story, I would recommend The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and for a superb psychological thriller I love Misery by Stephen King.*

The Haunting of Hill HouseMisery

Horror Mazes or ‘Scare’ Events

There’s a ‘scare village’ event near where I live that I really want to go to this year, but I sometimes really struggle with live-action horror events. Every year, you will see this style of horror event or maze pop-up. For example, the ‘Fright Night’ events at Thorpe Park. I have done these type of mazes before, but I’ve also avoided them before, so hopefully my advice can help you if you want to go to one of them.

First, remember that the actors are not allowed to touch you. You are completely safe and are in a controlled environment. Keep telling yourself that the whole event is completely fake and the performers and organisers are there to keep you safe, if a little scared.

Calm vs Panic signs with blurred beach background

Secondly, remember that you can always get out if you need toI have, on two occasions, left scary themed events early and on both occasions, staff were really understanding and accommodating. You won’t be the only person leaving early and you can always say you feel sick or unwell if you don’t want to say that it’s anxiety. A few years ago, I was in a queue to enter the ‘Chamber of Horrors’ section of Madame Tussauds in London and I just felt like I couldn’t go in. They had a sign that informed you that this was your last chance to leave before entry (check for these points – there may be some times when you won’t be able to leave, and you need to know that) and I decided to leave. I told a member of staff, told my friend, and we went to get some food instead! No one minded and it meant that I could take time to calm down and try a different activity.

You are always allowed to leave. Sometimes just knowing that escape is possible will be enough to calm you down!

Halloween Parties

If you’ve been invited to a Halloween party, then there are two important things to know:

  1. I’m very jealous of you. I love Halloween parties and no one I know ever throws them any more!
  2. You don’t have to go.

Number 2 is really the important one there, of course. If you’ve been invited to a party, you don’t have to go. Now, if you know that you have a tendency to hermit because of your anxiety, and you will actually have fun with your friends if you drag yourself there, maybe it is good to do just that. However, if you’re really panicking, don’t force yourself to go to a big party that scares you. If you do go, make sure you can get home early if you need to. Drive yourself, walk, or don’t rely on a hard party-goer for a lift home.)

Now… love fancy dress so I love dressing up for Halloween, but I know that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and you might feel anxious about people looking at you. However, think of it this way – if everyone in the room is in costume, and you aren’t – who are people more likely to look at? If you’re not big into fancy dress but want to blend in, I’d suggest something easy and subtle like the traditional witch’s cat. Wear all black, put on some cat ears and make a tail out of black tights and scrunched up newspaper. Done! Also, this would be easy to hide during travel if you need to get public transport – just put the ears and tail in your bag until you get to the party. Similar ideas might be a witch (black dress, hat and broom) a devil (black and red clothes with devil horns and a pitchfork) or a vampire (more black clothes, pale make-up and some fake teeth.)

pumpkins and sunflowers in autumnal spread
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

And if you’re friends really want to celebrate Halloween, but none of these activities are for you, why not suggest one of these:

  • Pumpkin carving
  • Halloween-themed baking (pumpkin traybake anyone? I have to try this one!)
  • Halloween crafts (do you have any young relatives you could do crafts with? most kids I know love Halloween and they don’t do anything too scary!)
  • A board game night with a spooky twist. (I’d recommend Plague Inc. which is a brilliant plague-themed game. You could also play Cluedo for some old-school murder mystery feels!)

And last, but by no means least, keep up your self-care. Perhaps by trying out the #SelfCareTogether challenge that Pigletish is hosting this month. Halloween is a very social holiday and you might be surrounded by triggers for your anxiety for a lot of this month – so make sure you are taking care of yourself, and having moments of calm whenever you can.

Happy Halloween!

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* Please note that Book Depository links in the post are affiliate links. They cost you no extra money, but if you buy a book through my affiliate links I earn a small commission.