Social media influencer Maeve Madden: 'A lot of the girls that I work with are quite highly strung'
In a series on how to stress-proof your life in the Sunday Independent, social media star and author Maeve Madden talks to Liadan Hynes about coping with IBS, PCOS, and how stress affects her body
'I would suffer from panic attacks and very bad anxiety. Especially if my morning routine is disrupted, or I have high levels of caffeine or sugar. I've cut down my coffee intake a lot recently and I've noticed it has really helped. I switched from coffee to matcha, and cut the coffee down to just once a day."
When she made these changes, Maeve found the effect was almost instant. "I hadn't had coffee in ages, but about a week ago, I had an Americano and I was literally up the walls. I felt so anxious. I was really nervous; my skin was itching. It was crazy."
The nature of her work - a self-employed social media influencer - brings a certain level of anxiety. "A lot of the girls that I work with are very much the same; they all are quite highly strung. I think it is because you're relying on social media for work and you can feel like 'I don't know what's coming next'. If you have routine in your life, it's so much more relaxing. Every morning I have my breakfast and I go to the gym. That starts my day."
With a social media following of nearly 150,000 people, Maeve is fully cognisant of the pressures and negative scrutiny that the online world can present. "It's very stressful. You follow these accounts on social media and there seems to be pressure to live up to a certain expectation. I know myself I certainly did that in the beginning. You think, 'Why does everybody look like a Victoria's Secret model; super rich, on a yacht somewhere, with a billion Chanel handbags?' But you have to remember that actually that's 1pc of the population. And most of those people are probably living some sort of fake life; it's not reality. By having a social media cleanse, and following people who share their real life, the reality of what's going on, useful tips, that will make you happier."
Maeve recently suffered an injury which meant she took six weeks off training, and became the target of online comments suggesting that she was no longer #fitspo inspo. "I've gained weight over that time, but it's not the end of the world. Somebody did say that they didn't find me inspiring because I wasn't doing my job because of the injury. I feel like you just have to brush those things off. It can be very disheartening, but I know that once I'm better and back in my routine and posting my usual content, things will turn around."
Maeve has suffered from Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) from a young age, but became disenchanted with just medicating the condition, instead turning to nutrition to help her deal with it. She has also dealt with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
"Any sort of stressful situation always made it worse. My weight very much fluctuates and that is due to PCOS. It is very hard to control. In the past I've had people comment, 'You're always exercising, always going to the gym'. I use that as a major stress reliever, I find it really boosts my mood. Nobody ever regrets doing a workout."
Her new book Beat Your Bloat outlines how stress can affect hormone levels, causing bloating. "Whether it's because you're craving and eating food that you wouldn't normally eat, or stress can also just generally disrupt your gut, which is like a second brain. Yoga and mindfulness can really help with that. Just taking that couple of minutes to yourself. Practising simple things like deep breathing, which can activate our parasympathetic nervous system."
'Beat Your Bloat' by Maeve Madden is released on May 17
Try to get in 30 minutes of exercise a day - it has such a positive impact on your overall health.
Practice acceptance and deep breathing.