The little things of 2019 so far (Jan/Feb)

I might not express it too eloquently or obviously but deep down I am one of those people who tries their best to see the beauty in a lot of things and also gets easily excited and cheered up by little things. Whether it be seeing a cute dog when out and about or if the sunset looks really pretty that particular day. Although I suffer from low moods and mental health struggles, which I’m not really going to go into on this post, I do find a lot of things make me happy and cheer me up. One of my personal ‘new year’ resolutions coming into 2019 was to try and buy less and curb my habit of impulsive purchasing, purchasing things I don’t necessarily need and also just buying stuff for the concept of ‘cheering me up’. Although I am a big advocate of ‘treating yourself’, I want to recognise it more as treating yourself in a way that looks after my physical health and mental health first before you know, buying more clothes or something.

This post is going to be some of the things I’ve experienced over the first two months of 2019 that have made me happy, excited me or just cheered me up. You could call it another favourites post if you will. This is not to say I haven’t bought new things or given into that consumerist addiction yet in 2019 because we all fall of the horse sometimes. But this post and future ‘favourite’ posts I’m going to try and revolve them around experiences and habits instead of products.

Switching to loose-leaf tea

My first habit that I’m so glad I’ve brought into my life has to be loose-leaf tea. Now I’ve not managed to empty all my tea boxes I have sitting around both my student house and parents (I like tea ok?!), but I have managed to switch from using everyday breakfast teabags (my old reliable had to be PG Tips or Yorkshire Tea) to instead using loose leaf breakfast tea with a strainer. My main reason for trying to incorporate this switch was to be more eco-friendly. A lot of big brand teabags contain ‘polypropylene’ which is a sealing plastic, so even when you chuck your used teabag in the compost heap or food waste bin – it won’t all be broken down, thus contributing to plastic waste. Although there are some great brands who are making decisions to eradicate plastic from their teabags, I just thought it’d be nice overall to try the traditional leaves and straining. I bought my tea strainer and a bag of gorgeous Everyday Breakfast Brew tea from TeaPigs. Their teas are lovely, and I definitely recommend the switch! It barely changes the taste and it’s a good switch if you want to be a little more eco-conscious!

Next up I’d like to talk about a book I recently finished! My partner is a massive fan of the Cassandra Clare ‘Mortal Instruments‘ book series (most people would know it as the books Freeform TV series Shadowhunters is based off) and he has been very persistent throughout our relationship on getting me to start the book series; he gifted me the first book a while back for my birthday I believe and then gifted me the second one when I had gotten half way through the first book. I managed to finally finish book one, City of Bones, last winter and really enjoyed it! Last week whilst feeling quite under the weather I got around to completing book number two – City of Ashes.

Finishing City of Ashes

Although I have some points I could criticize about the Mortal Instruments stories, I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy City of Ashes. Cassandra Clare does an amazing job of describing the scenes and world inside her stories. Everything she brings to the supernatural world in the Mortal Instruments seems very well researched and is then described beautifully. I enjoyed the main protagonist, Clary Fray, a bit more in this book than I did the first one and I’m glad this second book gave more depth to other characters such as Alec Lightwood and Simon Lewis. If you are a big fan of young adult supernatural book series or perhaps enjoy TV series like Teen Wolf, The Vampire Diaries or even the actual Shadowhunters TV show then definitely consider giving this book series a read.

Lastly, I struggled when thinking of what this ‘nice thing’ should be for my last favourite experience of the past two months. I wanted to add something that might be relevant or relatable to other people, but I also wanted to be honest. My last thing would have to be handing in my dissertation (Sad, I know.)

Handing in my dissertation

The experience of planning, researching and writing this dissertation was stressful. I had weeks where I was scared I’d never finish it. I had times where I’d pick up a book to read and assist my research and it just felt like all the information was jumbled up mush on the page that I couldn’t understand. When my mental health was bad, I felt like giving up – emailing my tutors saying doing this was a mistake and that I wasn’t cut out for it. But when I came out the other end and managed to complete it and hand it in. I was so happy with myself, I was unapologetically proud of myself. This was a bloody lovely feeling.

Removed my university logo for privacy reasons – that’s why it looks a tad weird!

My dissertation was essentially using corpus linguistics to explore the themes in children’s literature over history – so I was looking at traditional 19th century fairy tales and then looking at modern/recently published children’s literature like Jacqueline Wilson’s books. Because I picked a topic that was dear to my heart and interests sometimes I found doing the primary research weirdly fun. Would I offer to optionally write a dissertation again? Probably not. But did I enjoy the process of writing this one and do I buzz with excitement every time I look at my bounded copy? Yes.

Although I’ve had some weeks of pure stress where I’m worried that the anxiety and low mood are being clear indicators of what 2019 is going to be like for me. I’ve actually seen a lot of positive changes and experienced a lot of lovely feelings so far going into the last part of the winter. I’m excited to take on the Spring and possibly have new experiences or see better lifestyle changes in my day-to-day that I can share with you soon! What kind of positive changes have you made so far in 2019 and what little things have made you smile? Feel free to share in the comments.

Thank you for reading,

Header image: rawpixel on Unsplash

Long time, no blog

Something about Spring peeking its way back into everyday life really jumpstarts my motivation. And by jumpstart, I do mean in my own clunky, hectic way. It has never been a nice and simple procedure of one small idea popping into my head and I can carry it out as soon as I can and feel content and happy with it – it’s more as soon as the skies are blue again and I have the slightest bit of energy in my body, I have a million different ideas of exciting things I want to do. I want to redecorate my room, I want to change up my wardrobe, I want to take up a new hobby, start painting again, learn how to bake etcetra, etcetra. My brain works like a switch with one click pushing my brain to go a hundred miles a minute and the other is essentially off but with the basic energy to carry out everyday tasks and meet deadlines, remember to eat and drink water and the nagging at the back of my brain that I should be doing more.

If I had to define the past few months for me I’d describe it as a good balance. Obviously not everyday goes the way I want it to. But I’ve felt productive and I’ve been kept busy, which is what I want. I’m in my final academic year of my degree, I’ve written a bloody dissertation which got a FIRST (still not over it), I was lucky enough to be production manager for a university society-led play and one of the best things that have happened recently is my new job. I’m now a student social media assistant/blogger for my university. My mouth automatically conjures itself into a smug and grateful grin whenever I talk or think about it. I’m really bloody enjoying it, basically.

In the background is a word document of my dissertation, in the foreground is a white and rose gold pen with the text 'Today I am going to... conquer the world' on it.

One of the main tasks in my working day is to plan, write and organise new blog posts for the student blog. A lot of them are student interviews because my main goal is to promote the student experience of our university but don’t get me wrong it’s actually been really nice to learn more about experiences and the opportunities other students get on their course since most of the time I’m just thinking about my course or the courses of my friends. But because of writing blog posts at least 2 days of the 5 working day week, my motivation and love for blogging has obviously resurfaced. I’ve missed writing on here so much. I know I say that every damn time but now I really want to push writing/planning for my own blog into my weekly schedule.

Pastel pink notebook with the text 'Don't be like the rest of them darling' ingrained in a gold metallic colour. On top is a white and rose gold pen.

I have a couple of plans for blog posts coming up and I also have plans for revamping how my site looks as change inspires me. One of my main wishes as a writer, in general, is to just invoke the feeling of excitement, curiosity or gratitude that I get and if I’m sat around procrastinating even opening my blog, then that goal is never going to happen and I’m never going to get better. So I’m hoping to change that soon.

Please keep an eye out for new posts and feel free to pop a comment below of what kind of content you’d be interested in. Feedback and interaction always makes me smile!

I hope you have a lovely day that brings even a slight smile to your face!

Helena

Credits:

Header Image: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

My recent eco-friendly changes (late October/early November edition)

It seems to be a habit of mine lately to spend a week or two not doing any blogging or writing on here, then get really upset that I’ve neglected my writing, plan my next post and then suddenly get distracted and never get round to it. It’s happening a lot recently with the stress of University and other weekly life occurrences and I wish I had a better schedule of writing but, it seems I’m stuck with this.

I wrote a massive post up the other day that’s currently sitting in my drafts where I talked about being more eco-friendly (no surprise there) and the mixed feelings of guilt and inspiration you can get from going on the eco-warrior side of social media and then a little bit about what stuff I’ve purchased or done lately (which I will get to since there’s some lovely stuff I want to share) but I don’t think I’m going to post it. It’s amazing how your mindset or feelings can change so fast. When I wrote the draft I was in a very guilty mindset of ‘I’ll never be able to be as committed as people who go fully vegan or fully plastic free, damn them!’ but over the past few days, I’ve come out with a more mindful feeling about it all and I feel like I can push myself a bit more in terms of being more eco-friendly or eating more vegan and that it will be an exciting journey instead of daunting.

Also, I ended up making my own little instagram to act as a diary of the changes I make everyday or vegan/vegetarian food I eat and my general journey into having a more eco-conscious and compassionate lifestyle. At the end of the day to really make a better change that promotes looking after our planet, it has to end up being a lifestyle change. Your routine needs to change and you’ll find yourself doing stuff everyday that you never did a year ago. If you’d like to follow it, it is here at @earthlingjourney. The name is a placeholder almost as I couldn’t really think of a great username but I felt it was a relevant way of looking at myself and my place in the world right now. I am a part of Earth just as much as all the animals, plants and other humans around me and I want to be someone who thinks more empathetically and with more wonder when it comes to the Earth. If you’re someone who hates the even slight mention of veganism or trying to use less plastic, I don’t recommend following it – but let’s be honest if you hate that at this point you must detest my blog!

So what lovely changes have I been making over the past month or two to be a bit more eco-friendly? Well here are some of my favourites!

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  1. My new plastic-free deodorant! I discovered this from the @brightonfrog instagram who runs a shop named FRoG (Friends of Gaia) and they are a Brighton based online store who sell many eco-friendly and plastic free products. Their customer service is absolutely lovely, they even sent me a cute postcard with my order! The deodorant I bought is the Earth Conscious Jasmine and Rose Natural Deodorant. The tube is made of cardboard meaning no plastic whatsoever! The deodorant is also paraben and aluminium free!
  2. No more makeup wipes! Now I’ve been using a flannel(I have two of these but I grew up with tons of flannels/face cloths in my parents’ house, I don’t know why I stop using them as a teenager) and Lush’s Ultrabland cleanser. This cleanser, although not completely perfect (which I’ll talk about in a second), instantly slides my makeup off and makes my skin feel very soft! It’s not vegan unfortunately because of the beeswax and I was very annoyed to find it’s not paraben free. However, because of this routine change, I am now no longer chucking makeup wipes away and contributing to landfill. When the tub is empty, I’ll be able to return it to Lush for recycling.
  3. Plastic-free shampooing saves the day! You may have seen my past review on BeautyKubes and I’m actually almost down to my last two kubes sadly enough! But using these little things have meant I’ve not used a plastic bottle of shampoo since my last bottle ran out and I mean to go on like this! I also really enjoy Lush’s shampoo bars which are also plastic free and I actually have ordered a plastic-free shampoo bar off an Independent store on Etsy. My hair feels super clean after every wash and nothing is going to landfill!

FRoG actually sometimes stocks both BeautyKubes and Earth Conscious products so definitely check out their website for both these products and many other amazing plastic-free and eco-friendly products!

I’ve also ensured I have two tote bags stuffed in my backpack everyday just in case I need them and I try to remember to pack my reusable water bottle and reusable coffee cup with me when I go to University or out. I’ll share some more changes and products with you in my next blog post.

Thank you for reading!

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Anxiety Battles

Anxiety has consumed a lot of my life in the past year or the past week or past month, maybe, honestly at this point – I can’t tell or remember the difference. It often feels like the same miserable, self-pitying feeling you get when you have a cold. When you’re full of the flu and your nose is blocked, you lie there in bed surrounded by tissues with the stark realization you didn’t damn well appreciate what it was like when you didn’t have a blocked nose and sore throat. Except at the moment I feel like I’m stuck in an occasional limbo of nostalgically looking back to whenever I felt full of confidence, hope and positivity. I earn some days and nights for the last time I went outside and didn’t have intense paranoia about random possible scenarios that had a 1 to 1000 chance of happening or harrowing discomfort whenever a stranger looked slightly in my direction. The nauseating bubbles in my stomach or the tension headaches from staying up with my mind buzzing of ‘what ifs’ and ‘hey what if this happens?’ or ‘what if this thing you think negatively of yourself is true?’ is so draining and not in the way where maybe I’ll get a good nights sleep when I finally hit the pillow because lately it’s been at least an hour or two sometimes before my mind will calm down enough to let me sleep.

Now you’re probably thinking, hey Helena where are you going with this? Is this meant to be a story of anxiety struggles but something marvelous has happened and it has a happy ending? Is this a set up for a post to give advice about anxiety where you act as if you know how to handle it when really you’re probably the least tactful person when dealing with your own anxiety? Is this really a sneaky review for something? Honestly, this is just a chat. From me to computer screen to whoever may feel like reading. If you’ve made it this far, I commend you. The past few nights and especially after watching a video on Youtube, which I’ll mention in a bit, I’ve considered expressing my struggles, my aspirations, my ideas and my hopes and goals a lot more through my blog. It’s almost egotistical in some senses but maybe this will benefit me, maybe this’ll benefit someone else, maybe there’ll be one word or phrase in something that I word-vomit onto this blog that could speak to someone. Two of my current goals in life that I feel that I, honestly, need to do better at is – a) Looking after myself more and b) Looking out for others and helping others more.

Kindness and empathy are two traits I think are so important in day-to-day life and in the world we live in at the moment. I absolutely adore reading stories of people doing random acts of kindness, people setting up charities and movements that they personally run to help others, people creating art and media to inspire others and reflect a positive mental attitude. It’s something that gives me hope and lately I’ve needed hope really badly. On some nights it feels like I’ve been housing a nocturnal, pessimistic demon in my brain who likes to send my brain into a spiral as I’m trying to sleep and the funny thing is, is how I don’t feel I’ve ‘given in’ to this demon at all because deep down I want so much good for the world, I want to be an activist, I want to create things, I want to actively work towards helping others even if its small things like smiling at someone or being there for them when they feel a bit down, or making people baked goods just to see them smile – I want to do better, I want to be the ‘change you wish to see in the world’ and all that cliché, but the catch is my anxiety is almost weighing me down with opposing negative thoughts. Because of my anxiety I feel so much fear, distrust and fatigue. I feel so nervous around other people, I feel so nervous about doing new things, I feel so nervous that going out of my comfort zone will end up with me hurt, people I love hurt or embarrassment or a bigger knock in confidence. Sometimes I feel like I do not trust anyone and my anxiety makes me think everyone is out to get me or doesn’t like me unless proven otherwise.

The video I watched that randomly stirred a new feeling of being absolutely sick and done with this anxiety was weirdly a Markiplier video. Now if you don’t recognise that name, he’s a big youtube name who does gaming videos mostly but has also done quite a lot of charity work and I believe is working on an interactive project? I’m not engrossed enough to know completely but essentially the video I watched is Mark discussing ‘pain’, what some of the worst ‘pain’ he’s been in his life has been and how it’s changed him and changed his perspective. What stuck out to me is how he talked about after having quite a horrible doctor during painful recovery after surgery how a lot of his family were telling him to sue but he talks about how he never wants to be a ‘revengeful’ person even if he feels like he can be quite spiteful. He talks about how if you only ever use anger as a release for stuff, it’s going to be very toxic and damaging to yourself and it spoke to me because lately, especially during at university, I’ve had so many occasions when either things have gone wrong, people have upset me or taken advantage of me and all I’ve felt is anger and stress. Both at other people and then after trying to teach myself to understand other people’s perspectives and take responsibility, I’ve been angry at myself and when you get to that point, there’s never really any letting go of that completely. So now, yes I’m pissed off at my anxiety for how much it’s drained me and taken over my life, my perspectives and my attitudes towards things, but I want to teach myself how to not get so stressed about things, especially when they go wrong.

Being angry is completely valid. Being upset is completely valid. When people hurt you or let you down, you have every right to be upset. What I wish to learn though is how to make that passage or journey after something like that so less stressful and draining. I want to learn how to not let stuff like that be extra building blocks for the walls my anxiety puts up. I want to learn how to feel something, feel the feelings I am allowed to feel as a human, but then communicate with people who care about me and take the steps and responsibility to not let it break my confidence down but instead learn from it, distance myself from the pain and carry on. I don’t want anxiety to be my definition or control parts of my life.

So I don’t really have any happy ending or resolution for all this but that’s kind of how living with anxiety can be, isn’t it? Some times you will actually feel a release or something will happen and you’ll be told by others how much ‘better you’re doing’ and you think ‘Wow, I’ve done it, I’ve beaten anxiety’. But the reality is sometimes it’ll come back and come back hard and honestly that’s what I’m going through right now. I hope maybe as time goes by, I’ll be able to figure out how to live with it and accept it.

 

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September reading goals and blog rambles

According to WordPress today is my 3 year anniversary of blogging! It’s so weird to think about how many blog posts I’ve done, how much work I’ve put into it or things that have gone well for me because of it. It’s almost ironic that the past few months I’ve felt incredibly down and stuck when it comes to my blog – honestly some days I can’t even find the motivation to do a blog post because I don’t think people will read it or I’m struggling to find the topic to write about. Some times I want to write personal posts – I want to share with the lovely people who continue to read my posts and support me stuff that is strange, sweet or a struggle in my life. I want to talk more about mental health or university/work struggles and break any stigma about discussing depression, anxiety and such. I want to talk about what it’s like to have a hearing disability or how I felt at 3am last Tuesday when I couldn’t sleep and the shadow of my coat hanging up in my room looked more like a ghoul than usual.

I want to help people, advise people, I want to talk about my experiences in hope people might relate or find hope or inspiration. But then I feel ‘god, who wants to hear me rant and ramble on about my life?!’ and I consider taking my blog in a direction of it being like a service to people. Reviews, tips and tricks and general advice about simple things that most people have covered before. But it just feels so not-me. So commercialized and through that I lose my real writing voice. I feel I’m focusing more on ‘will my friends share this on facebook?! will this get me noticed by a company?! will this get lots of views?!’ instead of ‘did I enjoy writing this? did I put my heart and soul into this? would I enjoy reading this if it was someone else?’, which at the end of the day is what matters more and the blog posts that come from me wanting to be genuine and the writing that comes from my rambling heart tend to be the posts I have more pride in.

Does this mean I won’t write reviews or tip posts again? As you can see by this title obviously not. When I say I love helping people or advising people, I take that in every aspect of life. If someone even tries a new flavour of tea or watches 5 minutes of a TV show because I suggested it, it makes me smile. Much like if I can make someone laugh after they’ve had the most horrible day at work or if I can let somebody rest by helping them with the washing up or a chore I feel better about myself and feel a lot happier. Whenever anyone even says they like my writing or enjoy reading it – that makes my heart soar. So when I combine advice and writing it’s almost like a very small, itsy-bitsy bit of therapy.

So today I thought I’d share 3 books I’m planning to read and complete by hopefully the end of September and the themes of these books are to help me better myself, help me in a dark mental health time and just in general cheer me up. Reading is beneficial, no matter whether it’s fiction, a self-help book or a picture book.

The first one in my list is ‘How to be a Better Person’ by Kate Hanley. This adorable little book shares 401 simple ways to help you become a better and kinder person as well as make a positive impact on the people around you. Although sometimes these books can feel like you’ve paid money to read something you already knew, the real trick is taking in everything you can from these simple tips. Sure, of course it suggests being more interactive with nature – but this book helps you recognise why this will make you feel better and make you more mindful and present and why simple things like drinking more water, getting better sleep, complimenting people more, smiling at strangers etc. will benefit you and make you a more positive, approachable person in the long run.

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Second is a fiction YA novel I bought a while back that I’m going to try to finally get round to reading this upcoming month and I’m holding out that it’s going to be a book that’ll make me feel good and keep me immersed in a fictional world whenever I need a bit of a distraction and break from real life. ‘Ramona Blue’ by Julie Murphy is a young adult novel that is a story about friendship, growing up, sexuality and family. I’m excited to read this since the description implies a discussion about possibly bisexuality and how sexuality is fluid and I’m really looking forward to discovering Ramona as a character since I’ve found it hard to find books with female bisexual characters (I’m probably not looking hard enough – would love some recommendations!). A lot of people on GoodReads have said that parts of this book stayed with them after finishing it so I’m very excited to have that feeling of absolute amazement and generally be dumbfounded and emotional after finishing a good book because I predict it will happen with this one!

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The final book in my little pile is a book by an author I’ve been following on social media for a while and for ages kept meaning to pick up one of his books and finally I’ve managed to pick up ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’. This memoir is by the amazingly talented Matt Haig and I’ve heard so many positive comments about this book and his other things so I’m very much ready to curl up and read this one. ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ is Haig’s story of dealing with depression and mental illness and how different it can be for everyone but also the tale of how he survived and overcame some of his lowest points in life. I feel this is a book I really need right now as I am at a point in my life where my mood is fluctuating constantly but when I’m down, I’m very heavily down almost like I’m stuck in a well and somebody’s covered up the hole so I’m alone in pitch darkness. I feel ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ is going to help me find something to relate to amidst the stress of starting back at University and other things and I am so excited to start it.

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Although most of my reading these upcoming months should mainly be dissertation related I thought I’d share these so you guys could have an insight to what book reviews might be coming up, plus I would always love to hear what people are reading at the moment or have on their to read list! Sometimes when mental illness is being a bit crap, it helps to push yourself to do a hobby you love (in my case reading and writing) despite how much you want to give up and how you feel you are losing hope. I’ve chosen these books this month because I think they’re good choices if you need a little bit of pick me up or something to reignite that spark of hope in you.

Thank you for reading,

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How to Study Comfortably

It is starting to get closer and closer to the end of the Summer break and depressingly enough that means for some people it’s getting closer to studying again. Whether you’re starting afresh at college or university and you’re full of excitement and curiosity about your new course or you’ve already settled in and you’ll be revising for upcoming exams or you might be in my boat and about to go into your final year and you’ll be having to prepare and study for upcoming projects or dissertations.

It’s not a very comforting thought knowing how much stuff you’ll need to do and how much of your time you’ll have to take out to contribute towards essays, projects or other things related to your college course/university degree, however there is some ways you can make the task of studying/revising a little less daunting and I thought I’d share them today!

  1. Find an appropriate study space

It’s not exactly a lie that cosying up in bed, sticking Netflix on and at least having a text book open in front of you, whether you’re reading it or not, is the ideal situation to be ‘studying’ in, however unless you’re extremely dedicated to the fact you’re going to study and you can promise you definitely won’t get distracted by the interesting documentary you’ve put on or find yourself dozing off in the comfort of your duvet – it’s not going to help you study. If you have your own desk in your room, tidy it up and organise all the essentials you need onto it. Having everything ready in front of you and keeping yourself sat upright will keep you alert and focused. If you don’t have a desk to allocate studying too, back at my parents I always found it useful to bring my laptop and everything downstairs and sit at the dining room table, this also helped keep me far from the temptation of just crawling into bed and napping whenever I got bored.

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  1. Have a nice drink and snacks on hand

My ideal study drink is either a brew or my water bottle as both will keep me hydrated or awake. Preparing a little bowl of snacks and a drink before you sit down to study will help you keep the focus on your work instead of getting a couple of minutes in and using the excuse of being peckish to get up and procrastinate work. BrainMD explains that a proper diet built on protein, omega-3 and other healthy fats as well as high fibre will help your energy and concentration. They also say high sugar, high fat and high caffeine treats only give you a temporary boost in energy and can lead to a crash which isn’t ideal for studying for long periods of time. Snacks like blueberries, apple slices, nuts, cucumber slices or carrot sticks and hummus are great possibilities for a healthy, energy-boosting study snack. (However, I won’t judge you if you have that one packet of crisps or can of Coca-Cola!) Eat and drink what works best for you and your study situation, however listen to your body. If you feel drained, that is not a hint for you to down a fifth mug of coffee – go get a glass of ice cold water instead.

  1. Stick on some good music

The trick here is that music could either be a great motivator and help calm any anxiety or stress when studying or it could be an absolute distraction. I have been in both these situations, so I completely understand but there is a way of combatting the distracting side of it. When you have music on in the background, don’t have the music video on YouTube or the TV. Don’t give yourself a reason to switch tabs to watch the video for the song or to be distracted by changing the TV channel because something rubbish came on. In advance when you have the time, make a long Spotify or YouTube playlist of songs you like. (In Youtube’s case add on lyric videos as it’ll give you less reason to switch tabs to watch the video). See if you can make your playlist the same amount of time as you wish to study each day, so you never have to switch over to change songs. In some cases, people have found music to aid memorizing stuff whilst they study. Because the music creates a positive mood whilst studying, they find remembering the topics they were looking at easier.

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  1. Use an app to prevent you from getting distracted by your phone

My phone is my worst nightmare when it comes to getting distracted whilst studying. I always find myself just picking it up and unlocking it without even thinking whenever I’m waiting for something to open on my computer or if I’ve put my pen down for one minute. Although you can use your phone to aid your studying or perhaps you’ve got a notification for an important email you need to respond to. There is a very cute phone app out there, available on both Android and iOS, to encourage you to not pick up your phone for set amounts of time. ‘Forest’ is a wonderful free app, where you metaphorically can grow a tree by not picking up your phone for a set amount of time, but if you pick up your phone and unlock it you kill the tree. I did a review on the application back in 2015 and it still holds up on how amazing it is.

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  1. Do not compromise your sleep for studying

Studying and revising is going to be extremely important no matter what year of college or university you’re in. If you want good grades you’re going to have to put the extra studying in and you’re going to have to work your butt off for results. But at the end of the day, your health – both physical and mental come first. If you’ve had a long day or you’re ill or it’s 11pm at night and your eyes are literally forcing themselves shut – go to bed. If you have a deadline the next day, I understand you’re going to want to finish and keep going but this is why getting most of it done before the day before deadline is so important. You should never have to compromise your sleep for studying. If something has been going on personally that has affected your ability to get work done for a deadline, I encourage you to talk to your tutors and explain the situation because it might be possible to get extra time and your body’s health is way more important than trying to convince yourself you don’t need extra time. If you are just revising and studying in general and your body is not feeling up to staying up another half hour and you can feel yourself falling asleep – let your body rest and start again tomorrow. Put yourself first.

I hope some of these tips help because they have helped me throughout my second year of University and I am going to try and follow my own advice going into third year and doing a portfolio, dissertation and other essays. If you want me to share more study tips and how I go about preparing for uni/college work – please comment and let me know!

Enjoy your day and thank you for reading!

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Dealing with the world when you feel too small to do anything: part 1 of ?

So it’d be a lie if I said the world isn’t having it’s dark moments lately. Everyone knows what and who I mean. Tyrant leaders, governments falling apart and showing instability, cuts to things that are there to help people live normally, environmental problems, every day there will be a sad news story and at least every month it seems something bad happens.

I decided to start writing this post and maybe possibly turn it into a series of posts, because I know what it’s like to be paralyzed at your computer or phone in fear and scared by the news. The way my anxiety goes about it normally goes like this: I check twitter, I’ll go on the moments and if something dramatic has happened in either the world or politics, I will click on it and read the usual news websites (BBC, Guardian etc.) that come up first. Then I will go onto the tabloids that aren’t known to be trustworthy but in my state of anxiety my brain is believing anything and wants to know every corner of the situation in case it can find something to calm itself down, this goes on and on as people’s comments come in and the situation is drawn out and escalated – people argue, people bring up other things to prove their point, people have conspiracies and different theories and it all vigourously whirls around my brain like a tornado and I normally end up in a state of sitting, physically shaking at my computer, feeling like I’m about to throw up and feeling absolutely helpless and unsafe.

And yet every natural disaster, every terrorist attack, every dodgy thing a world leader does, every joke/meme about the apocalypse, even obvious propaganda – the cycle of anxiety starts. People close to me know about this and the answers I get always dwell to ‘don’t read it/stop reading it/turn your phone off and distract yourself.’. When I’m in my state of anxiety, I’m convinced keeping up to date with not only the story, but every randomers comment on Twitter or response to news articles, is somehow keeping me safe? That whilst my body is in flight or fight mode, that somehow keeping my brain focused on what’s making me panic is preparing my body for any danger. Yes, even over random tweets of politicians arguing about how they feel about Brexit or such. Hell, I’ll admit even the recent satire, comedy Sacha Boran Cohen has released ‘This is America’ (which despite what I’m about to say, I strongly recommend everyone watches it) left me in a spiral because in his show his extremist, pro-gun character he puts on manages to get people in Congress to admit they think arming young children would be a good idea? It’s bloody smart because it’s showing the world the true attitude of these people who are in great power but it left me in a spiral because I felt helpless that there’s nothing I could do to further expose these people or maybe even do anything to push their careers to a deserving downfall? I was scared about how people in the US government think.

But, I know deep down, it is not healthy nor safe to do this to myself. It is also not good for me or anyone around me to just give in and give up. To become a shell of complete pessimism and hopelessness, especially now. And I know there is plenty of people who may not fall into absolute anxiety and panic attack frenzy like I do, but will see news stories and fall back to ‘why care anymore’ attitudes – I can’t explain how sad or cringy it makes me feel when I’ve seen people say they’re not voting because ‘there is no point’, or claim protests ‘don’t do anything’. I remember once I called out an old friend back in high school on littering and she just said to me ‘who cares global warming is happening anyways’. It breaks my heart and spirit. But I refuse to give up completely, I want to help anyone who ever feels like this. I want to give even the smallest bit of hope to someone. I want to encourage people to try and fight the negativity because we need it. Our mental health definitely needs it. Sure, we can’t change the world completely but one day all of our little actions might and what I suggest now might help someone sleep better tonight and better on days when the news just seems like a complete rainstorm.

What I say doesn’t even have to be necessary for being anxious by the news. It’s meant to be for helping you deal with reading scary things online and dealing with a feeling of hopelessness. Whether you’re reading the news, whether you saw something your friends posted online that has made you feel sad, whether something happened to you that has made you feel like it is the worst day in the world. Don’t give in to the hopelessness feeling.

  1. Step away from the computer, put the phone down or close the tab.
    That weird saying of describing something as ‘being like a car crash but you’re unable to look away’ is definitely true and it can be relevant to anything. In my case, bad world/political/environment news or maybe even obviously trash comments online. I start reading something I know from the get-go will upset me but I keep reading and reading and scrolling and I can’t look away even though I know I won’t get full closure because social media is a big, endless hole of different personalities, fake personalities, trolls, fake news, exaggerations and stories. But what you need to do right now is close the tab. Whether it’s an article proving how disappointing our country leader is or that your crush has put themselves as in a relationship on Facebook. You need to close it and take a deep breath. You’re allowed to do this.
  2. Message someone to talk out your anxiety or even just talk it through with yourself out loud.
    Your anxiety and demons can sometimes yell over you and you feel very out of control but when you start to talk your thoughts through, rant, or label what of your thoughts is irrational or unhelpful it can really help you calm down and move on maturely. I always find myself doing it when I tell my mum something has made me scared or anxious. I’ll find myself going ‘then again, that news article can’t be entirely true because of X fact’ or if it’s a personal situation ‘then again this person might not have invited me out because of X reason not because they don’t like me?’. The irrational thoughts and jumps to conclusions start to fade a bit once you talk it out. If you don’t feel comfortable going to someone, I even find it helpful to talk to myself out loud just to hear something and calm myself down.
  3. Put on something funny, heart-warming or silly.
    A cliche tip but it does help. One fun story from when I was younger, my mum tried to tell me about a space story of solar flares or something along those lines and I was too scared to let her explain the story because when I googled it, those predictable conspiracy theories that ‘this solar flare will cause the world to end’ came up like they do every space story. Obviously the moral here, I should have let my mum talk it out to me and calm my anxiety down (I was 13 here, I’ve learnt to deal with my anxiety better since) but what I did was not sleep (stupidly) but to distract myself I watched tons of reruns of Mock the Week and comedy quiz shows until I fell asleep and a day or so later I had calmed down enough to look it up again and realise they were harmless.
    So stick on your favourite movie, stick on a tv show that makes you cry laughing, even google videos of positive stories or funny stories to remind you of the good stuff in the world, play a game without violence or gore in it (or do if that doesn’t agitate anxiety/bad feelings), listen to upbeat music and see if it helps!
  4. Finally, do not feel guilty for needing to look after yourself and consider how to deal with this anxiety
    If like me, this is a common place thing that happens a lot or you find yourself having literally paralysing anxiety like I do just from looking at social media or going online – consider maybe looking into help for your anxiety because I don’t believe(I’m no expert) it is normal at all. It is normal to feel sadness and fear from bad news or from stuff that goes wrong but paralysing anxiety is not normal.
    Secondly, and I need to physically remind myself of this too, do not feel bad for taking time out for yourself or taking a break from Twitter or Facebook. A lot of misinformation gets shared on there and you need to remind yourself now that politicians, celebrities, journalists, world leaders and even just regular people can share their opinions and views online and claim it as facts and if it is causing your mental health to drain you need to separate yourself from it for a bit. If you were holding a burning pan that was burning your hand you would need to let go. This is a similar thing. I always get anxious that maybe trying to distract myself means I’m being ignorant or ‘turning a blind eye’ but you need to remember – as long as you acknowledge something needs to change and that things aren’t all howdy-doody. That there are bad things and views in the world – you aren’t being ignorant.

 

I do want to write more of these posts, to share how to invest in positive news, how to make small changes, share some good causes when I find them and suggest things for myself and others to do but for now I will leave you with that. Just some simple things to remember to start bringing yourself out of the hopelessness feeling.

Go and get yourself a glass of water and stick a funny movie on.

Thank you for reading,

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