According to Anxiety UK, around 80% of people say their worries become out of control at night, and Fearne Cotton – who has focused her attention on becoming a wellness ambassador for fans via the brilliant Happy Place initiative – has certainly found this to be the case.
“Anxiety crept up on me as my head hit the pillow and I just couldn’t get into a deep sleep.”
Now, a lack of sleep, as all too many of us will be aware, can make us feel less able to rationalise worries or irrational thoughts. As such, it can trigger negative thoughts, anxiety and depression – which, in turn, can make it more difficult for us to sleep.
As Mind UK puts it on their website: “Poor sleep leads to worrying. Worrying leads to poor sleep. Worrying about sleep is like your mind trying to fight itself. That’s a horrible place to be.”
And Cotton knows this to be true, continuing: “Recently I have been sleeping so well, so last night was disappointing – but I’m not going to let one bad night set me back.
“If anything, it’s a sign I have more important work to do; more self inventory, more self compassion – it’s a life’s work.”
As the NHS estimates that one in three of us suffers from sleeplessness at any given time, Cotton finished with a few simple, yet resonant, words of advice.
“If you experience anxiety too, don’t compare yourselves to others,” she said.
“It’s easy to do, I know! It’s easy to imagine everyone else copes just fine, but it’s not helpful to use comparison in these moments.
“Be kind to yourself always.”
Cotton’s followers have flooded the post with comments, thanking her for her honesty and no-nonsense advice.
“It’s so much harder to rationalise those anxious thoughts in the dark hours,” reads one such comment, “but one bad night need not make a bad day and going gentle on yourself is the best way indeed.
“Compassion over comparison, kindness over criticism and the generosity to be able to start afresh every morning, hour, minute if needs be.”
Another says: “Your honesty and openness helps so many, Fearne. You just keep being you.”
And one more notes: “I had this the night before last. it’s so annoying when you’re shattered but then your mind goes into overdrive. Like you say, don’t let one bad night/day make you feel defeated. I accept my bad days now as just another part of the illness.”
Of course, Cotton is 100% correct; comparison truly is the thief of joy. And she’s completely right in assuring her fans that they shouldn’t worry about how everyone else is coping right now, too, as that can only heighten feelings of anxiety.
“You don’t have the full picture of the other person’s journey or the reality of their situation.”
Stewart adds: “This is one reason social media can be such a trigger. People choose to share with others what they want to be seen, so it’s important not to judge yourself harshly when looking sideways at others, because you don’t have all the information.”
He finishes: “You can’t compare your chapter five to someone else’s chapter 40. Comparison in this context is disempowering. People curate their lives on social media, they share what they want you to see – don’t let this define how you see yourself or measure your self-worth against it.”
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health, you can find support and resources on the mental health charity Mind’s website and NHS Every Mind Matters, or you can access the NHS’ list of mental health helplines and organisations.
Additionally, you can ask your GP for a referral to NHS Talking Therapies.
For confidential support, you can also call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or email email@example.com.
Images: Getty/Sarah Brick