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

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.

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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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Little Blog Update ♡

Hey everyone!

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted any reviews or pieces on here and I do have quite a few planned, including two book reviews, but at the moment my current day to day situation is that my main laptop in which I use photoshop to create headers and edit photos for my blog is at my boyfriend’s house so when I’m at my family home I, unfortunately, don’t have access to it and I’d rather wait to make a blog post with better quality photos and a header and such instead of typing up blog posts at home and adding in the rest later in an update!

In general I am enjoying the sunshine and coping with the heatwave we are having in the UK at the moment, so in general, on my off days I am lounging about and basking in the free time I have now University is finished for summer. I recently went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach for a day out and had a really lovely time, as well as discovered some nice cafes around my area, tried new cruelty-free/veggie products I think others may enjoy and just in general trying to be more grateful for the things I get to do in my free time and things I discover and see on a day-to-day basis!

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If you would love to read any particular topics from me in my future summer posts please let me know in the comments! Anything from cruelty-free products, wishlist posts, cafe/food reviews, makeup reviews, book reviews, bullet journal updates/how to go about starting them or anything!

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As a little add on to this post, here are some uplifting/nice news stories I’ve read recently I thought I’d share to cheer people up:

Thanks for reading and enjoy your week!

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Some of my Pinterest boards

I first made a Pinterest back in 2013/2014 time whilst studying Art and Design in college to look for inspiration for my college sketchbooks and my final college art project. It was actually a really useful and secretly fun to be able to source many posts and images together in an almost ‘online scrapbook’ to refer to for inspiration and ideas. Pinterest isn’t one of the most reliable websites for keeping art attached to the correct artists since the internet is a horribly unfair place with people rudely reposting art and not sourcing where they found it however when finding art or posts that have kept the creator’s link or name connected it can be such a good website for stockpiling stuff from interesting blog posts, quotes and bringing different images together to create, like I said above, an online moodboard.

I thought I’d share with you my Pinterest and some of my boards that I have muddled together over the past year and a bit. Some of the boards I make can range from an ‘aesthetic’ moodboard where I’ve collected imagery and pictures and quotes or boards with blog posts and tips and charts for things to look back on for help.

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Link to ‘Workspace Goals’

The first one here is Workspace Goals, which basically explains itself in the title. I dream of one day having a really cute little study room or even a desk/work space set up in the way I like it and this board is just there for me to pine over the cute, minimalist photos of other people’s desks and such.

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Link to ‘Journal Inspo’

‘Journal Inspo’ is for pinning other images of bullet journals and such for inspiration and ideas for spreads as well as pinning people’s blogposts where they discuss tips and tricks for starting a bullet journal!

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Link to ‘uni tips’

This board has been super useful for me this past academic year because even the simplest photos on here that give you tips on managing your workload or suggesting more suitable vocabulary and words to use in essays. I definitely recommend checking some of the stuff pinned on there, if you are studying like myself!

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Link to ‘2018: motivation, discipline and self love’

This last one has been very personal and centered to helping me deal with my mental health, productivity and such in 2018. My goals as a person is that I would like to increase my productivity and motivation, keep myself disciplined but obviously learn to love my self a bit more. This board covers a lot of those things with links to blog posts and lists of stuff that discusses ‘good habits to develop’ or how to ‘beat bad feelings’, but also with lovely and empowering quotes and poetry. It’s one of my favourite boards and I’m glad to have found some of the stuff pinned on there.

Please find my pinterest page here; if you would like to follow me and definitely do as I’d love to check out other people’s boards! I hope some of my boards might be inspiring to others or have links and such on there that are useful!

Thanks for reading,

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Working on my blog and online presentation

Back when I started this blog I had quite a bit of time to push out at least one blog post every week or two and since starting University it’s been very easy to let my blog fall through my finger tips and become something I check on and update maybe once a month at the most. University has been an experience that has helped me grow and definitely now in second year has helped me realise the kind of person I want to be and what I enjoy doing and how I want to come across as a person and a writer.

I’ve been lucky enough this year to have opportunities to expand my writing skills both in University and outside. I recently had an article on Culture Calling’s website GoSeeThis where I talk about independent bookshops in Manchester and have been in the works of writing another article for them that hopefully I can share soon! From University I have realised how much I can enjoy writing and researching and studying if I buckle down and find the motivation for it, which is why I’m very interested in the online aesthetic of ‘studyspo’ and the community on websites like Instagram and Tumblr that share their bullet journals and their tips for  becoming more organised and having a better study schedule. All of these little things that have been adding up over my second year have made me realise how I want to put more effort into creating an aesthetically-pleasing blog with articles and posts that obviously still capture a personal approach so I can share my own views but I also want to create posts that can advice people or recommend stuff.

I really enjoy writing recommendations for cruelty-free products or makeup or places to visit and I also enjoy writing about myself and updates about how I’m doing in university and life but I think now I need to focus this blog somewhere in particular or keep a consistent theme. I also want to be able to link my Instagram and blog together so I’m unsure whether to create a new instagram that’s mainly blog-based or not! I’m massively inspired by bloggers such as Lucy Moon, Kiera Rose and Hannah Witton, all of them have assorted outlets whether it’s a written blog, vlogging or instagram. They’re all very talented at focusing their blogging or posting around particular things and keeping it consistent but at the same time they have personal touches and talk about personal experiences and that’s how I wish I could be through my blog.

I am always open to feedback on my blog whether it be what topics people would be interested in or whether the theme is appealing. So, over the summer I am definitely going to start trying to change up my blog and make more posts with consistent themes and topics and if you enjoy the posts shared, I’d love it if you could also share them or show them to your friends! Please watch this space because I am going to try to put a lot of work into my writing and blog over summer.

Thank you for reading my ramble! Look out for some new blog posts soon!

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How I got the motivation back for reading and writing

Long time, no blog!

Two days ago it was my 22nd birthday! It’s mad to think when I started writing this blog I was only 19 and still in the midst of figuring out if I wanted to go to University or carry on looking for full-time jobs, I remember being in the struggle of being made redundant from a dodgy apprenticeship company and just about finding what I loved to do – which is writing. So much has changed and I have changed a lot since being a teenager but I still sometimes feel like my 19-year-old self. However, I’m glad that writing and reading have become such a big passion in my life now whilst being in my early twenties (what a scary sentence to say!) and I feel it’s something that relaxes me and motivates me.

Obviously going back to University and especially doing a course that revolves around language and literature helped me get back motivation in reading and writing, but I definitely don’t find myself reading non-ficiton and textbooks for fun and I do still dread coursework and essays and procrastinate. But now I find that reading regularly definitely improves my concentration and even my writing skills. Last Winter, I got a wonderful opportunity to write poems for a University exhibition and in one of my modules I had to write so many words of my own contemporary novel – when I took the drafts to my tutor to get the feedback he told me my writing has improved massively since my first year and I definitely think reading has helped without me even realising!

I’d recommend keeping track of what books you have enjoyed and read too so you can look back and remember the stories and how they made you feel. I use a GoodReads account to keep track of the books I’ve read but also love posting them on my Instagram and sharing little reviews of what I thought! I’d also recommend maybe trying beloved classics or new genres to mix it up and surprise yourself! Last year I made a start on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and ended up falling in love with it and starting my own little Austen collection which I hope to get through this year! I’m currently in the middle of Emma and have a weird adoration for how Austen writes.

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When it comes to writing and studying, I definitely feel setting up your own little study area in your house or keeping your notes colourful and interesting! For a while, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with a theme on Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest called ‘studyspo’ (Study Inspiration). People post their notes, diaries, bullet journals, desk setups and the different techniques they’ve used and it’s just really motivating because I look at them and think ‘Wow I wish I had my stuff all together like theirs!’. You don’t even need to have the high-end stuff they may have, simply getting cheap colourful fine-liners, highlighters, a pen and a cute notebook and you can transform your boring notes to something you have interest in and keeps in your memory. Another tip that goes hand in hand with that is definitely taking notes by hand. It’s been said that writing your notes by hand and paraphrasing them in your own words helps facts and information stick in your brain a lot faster than typing them up. I personally like to try and scribble down all my notes in class or downloading what tutors have put up on the student access site (e.g Blackboard) and making time to carefully rephrase and write them out again in a cute notebook with pretty handwriting so I can spend more time taking it in.

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Finally, I started my own bullet journal this year. I tried a little one last year and decided to take the plunge and get a gorgeous hardback notebook in London which I have made my bullet journal. These are great because you can design them how you want, make the spreads whatever you want and cater it to you and your priorities. In mine so far, as well as typical weekly diary spreads, I have made pages to remind me what books and films I’d like to discover this year, a calendar where I can colour each day in to match my mood so I can keep track of it and even a pretty page for my dungeons and dragons character! So many people have gotten into this and you can get inspiration off youtube, pinterest and instagram!

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I hope you enjoyed this and that it may even give you a bit of inspiration! I may in the future share some of my favourite Instagram handles and Pinterest boards I’ve made that have inspired me and motivated me!

Thank you for reading,

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