Deaf Awareness Week 2019 : What do I, personally, want people to realise about my hearing?

My hearing loss ‘journey’, if you want to call it that, started when I was in Year 2, which in the UK means I was about 6-7 years old. Awkwardly, I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened with my hearing because it’s just a vague memory to me and I’ve never really had the guts or initiative to ask my doctor or audiologist the whole detailed story of how I lost my hearing as a child. I just remember one day in primary school having the most incredibly painful ear ache. The teacher had to call my mum to come pick me up and as I waited for her I cuddled the class teddy bear to my sore ear – the left one. My memory from that after is quite vague but before I knew it I was being taken from doctor appointments to hospital appointments to audiologist appointments and before I knew it, I was being fitted for my first hearing aid.

A teddy bear sits in the road.
Photo by Marina Shatskih on Unsplash

So, I’m not going to bore you with my complete hearing loss journey because, in all honesty, I couldn’t tell you the specifics of it all. I can tell you I’ve been wearing hearing aids for almost 16/17 years. I can tell you it’s been a difficult journey. I decided for Deaf Awareness Week 2019 (6th-12th May) I would share a couple of honest points about how I handle my hearing loss and being Deaf/hard of hearing. I was extremely inspired by an incredible Youtuber and Blogger called Jessica Kellgren-Fozard. Known online as ‘Jessicaoutofthecloset’. Jessica, to me, is a very amazing role model and inspiration because of how she talks so openly about being deaf and disabled. She created a video a while back that semi-inspired me to do this blog post, which you can find below!

Jessica’s Instagram: @jessicaoutofthecloset

Nevertheless, time for me to be honest about my personal experience of being deaf? Let’s see…

1.I don’t know BSL. Yes, I feel like a ‘bad deaf person’ for this.

Believe me, I want to learn! After getting hearing aids as a child, I remember really not wanting to adjust to them. Like, for my child self it was a huge no-no. I already struggled with confidence, making friends and fitting in so I didn’t want anything that, I thought, would make me separate or ‘different’. Unfortunately, because of refusing to wear the things that would help me hear, I struggled even more with communication which lead me to believe my ‘difference’ was the cause. I refused to wear my hearing aids for quite some years and didn’t enjoy acknowledging it or talking about it. Whenever I had audiologist tests to see how my hearing was coming along, I tried and strained so hard to prove I could hear ‘normally’. If sign language was ever offered to me, I probably refused it. It probably wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I started trying to slowly accept that this was who I am, and I shouldn’t be ashamed. However, I still don’t know the language that could possibly help me communicate better! I feel very silly for this and one day want to try and make time to learn it.

Tips for being Deaf Aware: Look at me. Turn your face towards the person with hearing loss so they can see your lip movements. Speak clearly: Not too slowly, and use normal lip movements, facial expressions and gestures. Don't shout: Keep your voice down. It's uncomfortable for a hearing aid user if you shout.
From National Deaf Children’s Society Twitter

2. Yes, I need subtitles. No, my hearing aid doesn’t ‘cure’ my difficulty with hearing.

One of my ‘funnier’ deaf memories is working in a cinema and having to hear a woman complain that the film screening she had arrived to watch had subtitles – asking us to remove them because they would ‘distract her’ and she didn’t see the point. She eventually blurted out ‘who even needs them?’ to which I, without thinking, pulled my hearing aids out and said ‘people like me’. Probably the only power move I’ve made in my entire 23 years of living. She then stammered back ‘yes but surely then you can hear, and you don’t need subtitles’. I don’t think people realise how hearing aids work. I am no expert and can only explain in the bluntest of terms but hearing aids just take the sound and amplify it. If someone on a tv show or cinema screen is mumbling some important plot point that explains their dramatic backstory underneath even louder SFX noises. I ain’t gonna understand it.

My own hearing aids, which are purple Phonak models, sat in their box which has a bright green lining.
My old reliables

3. It can be incredibly isolating.

In the video Jessica made above, she advises particular things hearing people can do in conversations to help deaf people feel more included in conversations and social settings. I empathize with all of them and find myself wishing a lot of the things she requests was just common place. I think sometimes even my friends and family aware of my hearing don’t realise that even with hearing aids on, lip-reading and expression-reading is so vital to helping me communicate. As soon as you turn your back on me mid-sentence or cover your mouth, it’s almost like trying to listen underwater. Noisy bars and social spaces are also the absolute worst. There’s been times where I’ve just gone home from outings because it’s so incredibly draining trying to hear every single word of group conversations and involve myself. I’m spending so much energy trying to understand what’s going on and then asking people to repeat back that I end up barely placing myself in the conversation. It feels like I’m watching it from afar, in some bubble where sentences are choppy and every so often someone talks in gibberish.

People cheering their glasses of wine in a bar
Photo by Yutacar on Unsplash

4. I’m still learning to talk about it.

My brain is one of them silly ones that can hold negative interactions for years but the moments when someone’s been accepting and understanding can easily slip from my memory. I have had some unfortunate times where people, even ‘friends’, have randomly claimed I’m faking my deafness (ah yes, just picked these hearing aids up from the costume store obvs!), that I ‘talk’ about it too much and that I ‘use it as an excuse to not listen.’ It’s unfortunate that, at least 4/5 of these times, I’ve been told to shut up about it just as I was starting to not feel weird about saying ‘I’m sorry could you repeat that, my hearing’s quite bad’ or ‘Sorry, I hadn’t put my hearing aids on yet, could you say that again?’. It’s a massive confidence killer, more than most people even ones close to me understand. That moment when you huff, roll your eyes and go ‘It doesn’t matter.’ when I’ve asked you to repeat something? Literally the worst. Please be understanding with me if there are days where I’m suddenly a lot more confident about talking about it and then the next week I forget my hearing aids. I’m working on it. Yes, I know I’m not the only deaf person (I’ve had this exclaimed at me too when I’ve opened up about a hearing worry – it’s a tad rubbish).

Top Tips on how to be deaf aware: 1) Make sure you have the attention of the person before you start speaking. 2) Places with good lighting and little or no background noise are best for conversations. 3) Use plain language, normal lip movements and facial expressions. 4) Check whether the person understands what you are saying and, if not, try saying it in a different way. Never say 'don't worry about it'. 5) Keep your voice down as it's uncomfortable for a hearing aid user if you shout. 6) Learn finger spelling or some basic British Sign Language.
From Action on Hearing Loss’s Twitter

The best thing to bear in mind if you are a hearing person – not all deaf people’s experiences are the same. Not all disabled people’s experiences are the same. This is a post from my personal view, so someone who has been deaf since birth will have a completely different life story and needs and requirements to me. What works for one person with a learning disability will probably not work for someone who is deaf. What works for someone who is deaf will probably not work for someone who only has one leg.

Thank you for reading, you can find out some more about Deaf Awareness Week and being ‘Deaf Aware’ below!

Everything you need to know about being deaf aware

Tips for communicating clearly

Information on British Sign Language

Action on Hearing Loss’s Instagram

Rainy day thoughts: coming to the end of my degree

It’s still not kicked in that I technically only have two weeks left of University.

Today, I went into University to help as a ‘student ambassador’ for a University Applicant day where we met applicants possibly planning to start their undergraduate degree in something along the lines of English Language, Literature, Creative Writing or Drama come September. I can still remember my own applicant day back in early 2016 pretty well. I remember the Creative Writing taster session involved poetry and me and my mum sat there and had a go at putting prose together on scrap paper. I still have them folded up in my old diary in my room at my parents.

Every so often in the past three years I get the mini poem my mother wrote back out and read it and I just feel so utterly grateful for her and my dad’s support during my degree. Sometimes during these past three years I have worried that I made too much of an impulsive choice to study an English degree. That maybe my writing skills were too mundane and all along I had been kidding myself. That I wasn’t cut out for this. But then I remember that all of my loved ones have hope in me and constantly pushed me and encouraged me and I know that I must have made a good choice.

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

The path laid out for me after graduation right now isn’t a clear one, but I don’t think that scares me right now. If I was to visualise it, I think of myself walking through a forest on a summer’s day. The sun is shining bright and kissing the picking scars on my cheeks. All the leaves around me glisten like dripping emeralds and the air smells nostalgic. I look up and there are several pathways drifting ahead of me, they fade into the distance each with different flowers dotting the sides of the paths. I think if I had visualised this back after college or back in 2015, the paths would have been foggy and dark. Now anything seems quite exciting and I’m open to exploring wherever these paths may take me; especially if I have my family, partner and friends by my side.

Photo by Charles Black on Unsplash

These next two weeks are probably going to slip through my fingers without me even realising but I think it’s so exciting to realise that I’ve almost made it through three years of a degree. I feel in each year I have been a completely different person, constantly growing and changing. University has put my personality and my way of coping with situations in such a pressurized state that sometimes my flaws have come out but also sometimes talents and abilities I didn’t even realise I had have come out. The experience has helped me grow and develop. It’s helped me learn from my mistakes, admit to when I’ve handled things wrong and acknowledge parts of me that I need to work on.

Overall, as I come to the end of my undergraduate degree, finish my last essays (for now, my rambling blog posts might as well be essays) and await my final grades I think it’s good to accept the feeling of nervousness about the unknown but also acknowledge that it can only mean exciting things are ahead of me. I can’t wait to take on the long, winding pathways. It’s going to be strange not thinking about deadlines constantly but I’m excited to use the writing skills I have been taught to begin writing more on my blog as well as creatively in my own time.

Thank you for reading,

Header image: @gaellemarcel on Unsplash

How to take a break from social media

Last night I spent just under a good hour worrying about my Instagram. I used to have better hobbies, I swear. Instagram has become one of my favourite platforms to mindlessly scroll through in the past year or two and it’s the platform that I’ve lead myself to believe I can be more ‘genuinely myself’ on. Last year I told myself to curate my Instagram feed so that I’m only seeing things that make me feel good and inspire me but what happens when you get to a point where you’re not even taking in the ‘positive vibes’ that you’re pushing in your own face and sit bothering yourself for minutes on end about how many of your ‘friends’ are liking your posts or interacting with that dumb poll you put on your story? What happens when you feel literally agitated that your photos aren’t as ‘pretty’ and ‘high quality’ as an ‘Instagram influencer’?

Ridiculous Instagram obsession happens, that’s what.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

I found myself considering deleting all my accounts – to take a break and then if I wanted to come back to Instagram I could start afresh. But even that idea filled me with pathetic stress – but what if I regret it? What about the really nice photos I’ve taken, what if any new account in the future doesn’t look that cool? What if people won’t care if I delete my account?

If I’m worrying that people won’t care if I delete an online account that I literally survived my whole life not having up until like 2014 and that if people don’t acknowledge me deleting it is suddenly an equatable value to people not liking me in reality, then I think I’m having a completely different problem. Social media is both a blessing and literal hell. It can be a great place for sharing your art, sharing your creations, your achievements, building a career or finding people with common grounds to begin long distance friendships and communities – but it can also grind your confidence down until you find yourself putting your own worth into the number of followers or likes you have.

What I’d like to do is give some tips on how to reduce your social media usage. Scroll time, if you will.

Put your phone in the bottom of your bag

Sounds daft but almost everyone now keeps their mobile phone in their coat or trouser pocket. If you stuff your phone deep down into your bag, it makes the mindless act of grabbing your phone and tapping away much more of a chore and you can start teaching yourself to think ‘do I really need to check my phone right now?’ Obviously take safety into account with this one, if you feel much safer carrying your phone on your person when walking down the busy street do so, but when it comes to chilling at a friend’s house or in the library pop it away – it will help you stay more present in the moment.

Check in on a friend instead

Easier said than done from someone as shy as me, but if you are feeling nosey about what your friends are doing and find yourself opening Facebook or Instagram to seek out what’s occuring – consider texting or calling them instead and asking how they are – maybe see if you can meet up for coffee. There’s two sides to this idea; either you’ll start a lovely conversation with your friend and you’ll also make them feel cared for by checking in and you will then be distracted from endlessly swishing through your Twitter feed for gossip. Maybe even buddy up with a friend who wants to spend less time on social media and encourage each other!

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Use the Forest – Stay Focused app

I have mentioned this phone app before but it really is such a good concept for reducing the time someone uses their phone! On the Forest app you pop in an amount of time you want to stop yourself from using your phone, start the timer and lock your phone. As your phone is locked and you don’t unlock it you grow trees and plants on the app to build a mini forest – if you unlock your phone, your tree dies. Using this and turning off your lock-screen notifications is a great way of reducing your scroll time. Perfect for when you need to be studying or you are sat down with a group of friends or loved ones.

Delete your social media apps

Stop panicking I’m not saying delete your accounts! Whenever you feel you’re spending too much time obsessing over an app or scrolling through a platform is just distracting you too often try uninstalling it for a bit. Maybe tell yourself you can have them installed on the weekend but on Sunday night 9pm you delete Instagram and you can’t reinstall it until Friday 5pm. Short breaks from a platform are better than nothing and eventually you might find yourself not even feeling the need to reinstall a particular app.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I know from experience, when you have a bit of a social media dependency, this is all easier said than done but I hope some of these tips help you take a much needed break from social media and it’s fierce grip. Remember to check in on yourself 3-4 times over a day and ensure you are looking after yourself in a way that suits you and your beautiful self. Not the ‘bubble bath and cheeky prosecco’ self care that Instagram shows off. Although there are more and more people acknowledging how fake social media photos can be and claiming they are showing a ‘truthful’ side to their lives, it’s very rare you will see anybody’s properly low days. Never equate yourself to a face, body or lifestyle that you’ve only seen through a screen.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a beautiful week!

Header source: lalo Hernandez on Unsplash

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

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.

betterpersonbook

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!

ramonablue.png

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.

reasonstostay.png

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,

signaturejune18

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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