Worried About Lockdown? Us Too.

For those of you who read my blog on a regular basis (shout out to Mum and Dad), will know that this blog is all about promoting the mental wellbeing of my readers by offering inspiring real life content and motivational pieces.

In the flesh, I’m no different. Unsatisfied unless I’ve done something productive in my day, I try and encourage mental wellbeing in both myself and my partner Darren. However, sometimes I need help and Darren, his sister Louise and my family have all been there to support me in this difficult time.

It goes to show that everyone needs help from time to time and just because your friend or family member seems to have their life in order, things may not always be as peachy as they appear.

I have worries and concerns everyday about a whole host of things, mainly financial due to losing my full time job as a product lister for an eCommerce brand, but I do my best to plod through. We deal with the hand we’re dealt and although sometimes it feels like a lot of others have landed on their feet where I keep stumbling and falling over, I keep moving forward because that’s all I can do.

However dark things may seem at the moment, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Watching Darren progress at learning the ukulele and seeing the chord progression finally click in his brain yesterday was super encouraging and I am so proud of him.

It’s definitely true that other people’s energies reflect onto you and vice versa and as we carry on like the good Brits we are, I do feel hopeful, regardless of my worries. We will return to our new normal one day but for now, we should be making the best of things.

Things will have a habit of working themselves out, we just have to believe it so.

Until next time.

Body Dysmorphia & How To Dress For Your Shape

Sometimes when we look in the mirror we see something we don’t like. We see bodies which don’t fit into our personal expectation of beauty and it’s this view of ourselves which causes us to project into our lives, i.e I didn’t get that job because I wasn’t as pretty as the other people there, or I’m single because I’m not thin enough. This is obviously not going to give us the best outlook on life and is definitely going to start impacting our day to day moods.

I’ve seen it across the board. My work colleague wants to get a boob job, a friend who over exercises is forever thinking she’s not doing enough, another who has tried a personal trainer and a meal plan and is still unhappy with the way she looks. It’s something I researched and read about extensively while writing my dissertation on body dysmorphia and frankly it hurts my heart to know people are struggling in their lives because of their personal interpretation of their body.

Obviously, society has a lot to answer for setting our expectations so high and fashion has a lot to do in order to resolve the issue of body confidence, however, for the time being we can do something to combat these stresses: we can dress well for our shape and size as in turn, when we feel comfortable and happy, we feel more body confident.

I have my ups and down days when it comes to my body but overall, I am happy with my shape. Yes I could tone this and that but in all honesty, it doesn’t bother me that much.

I previously wrote about dressing for your body shape which you can read here.

I understand that fashion is not kind to some body shapes. High waisted trousers are not to everyone’s liking and peplum tops really don’t flatter everyone’s shape like they’re supposed to. Personally, the best advice I can give is to break out of the mould. Just because celebrities are wearing a style doesnt mean you need to jump on the bad wagon, however, it is important to try on as many different styles as possible, even pursuing with a few with small changes (like my pursuit to find a bodysuit which fits- and now I have two- thanks PLT), in order to discover what suits us the most and what we feel comfortable in.

I can’t drive it home enough that good fitting clothes will make you feel better about your body, at least until the world catches up and embraces the female form in all its lump and bumpy glory.

Until next time.

Living In Limbo & Starting Again

I said to my friend that I felt like I was living in an emotional limbo of late. It’s the equilibrium of this new chapter which I’m learning to accept but feeling that unwillingness to dive in and move forward with it. Yet I know it’s just a matter of time and I need to give myself a chance to grieve and love myself, however I’m a tough cookie and it’s annoying me that I’m still hashing up stories like word vomit. I can’t help myself but it happens and the minute I talk about my feelings I’m overwhelmed with this sickness, like ‘for fucks sake girl, just get over it’.

But regardless of all this, I am moving forward and today is turning out to be a good day as I’ve caught up with a whole bunch of things I’ve been meaning to do and I’ve had the additional cash to refresh my home because I haven’t been going out as much.

It’s important when you’re feeling crappy to do the things that make you happy, rediscover what makes you tick. For me this is writing, making music, drawing. It’s discovering new podcasts to listen to while I do my chores, or spending time with friends that I hadn’t done prior.

This week I’ve also spent time spring cleaning. I’ve rearranged my furniture in my flat, which involved dragging an incredibly heavy bookcase (yes mum, I emptied it first), as well as chucked a load of clothes which weren’t being worn, yet were cluttering up my already tiny flat.

I’m lucky to have such a wonderful crowd around me. I have people checking up on me, helping me around the house, and generally there for me when I need to vent and I am so utterly grateful for them. However, I don’t want to lose them by repeating the same worries and the same concerns again and again and there’s always that niggling feeling at the back of my head that the person I want the most comfort from is the last person who can give it to me.

So yes, I have my down days but I’m at the stage now where I’m done, for the most part, talking about what’s hurting as it’s all been said before and nothing new is going to come from repeating the same old news.

However, this is incredibly difficult when you bump into your ex’s family while out shopping for self help books as they want to discuss it. Regardless, it was lovely that the family haven’t just disowned me as it would have been incredibly easy for them to just ignore me. I’m grateful for small mercies as sometimes it’s hard to see myself as the victim so when everyone is apologising to me or telling me I’ll be ok, I am suffering with imposter syndrome, as if somehow they’re talking about someone else, and soon they’ll realise I’m a bad guy in the equation.

Obviously, there have been people who have used my situation and my new found singledom as an excuse to get “extra friendly” and frankly, I find it weird that suddenly knowing a girl is single is seen as an opportunity. You shouldn’t approach a crying girl with romantic or sexual propositions just because suddenly she’s available, but that’s a different topic entirely.

This week has been a week of self reflection and retrospective thought. It’s been a bit of a turning point for me as I’ve come to the realisation that I’m a massive softie and some people have used me as a stepping stone to move onto other things. However, it has also shown me that I am a complete and utter lover and even when faced with opportunity for anger or hatred, I find I love people better and I just need to show myself some of that unconditional love and take care of myself a bit more.

How do you look after yourself? Do you treat yourself to new clothes? Maybe you have a tub of ice cream in the freezer you bust out when you’re feeling sad. Or maybe you treat yourself to a home spa day? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time.

Saying “Yes” To Everything?

I’ve found someone who matches my unbridled enthusiasm for life which has meant that the past few months have been jam packed with activity after activity which has been fantastic. However, as much fun as we’ve had socialising and generally enjoying life, it has meant the day to day things have rather lost their scheduling.

As someone who likes to plan, my spontaneous lifestyle of late has been rather refreshing. It has allowed me to let loose, learn that it’s not the end of the world if someone is a few minutes late, or changes plans at the last minute. Life is about adaptation, learning to be malleable and go with the flow and it has transformed me into someone I like very much.

There’s many a film, including Yes Man, which pose the question, what if you said yes to everything. Obviously blown out of proportion into something made for the big screen, the concept is still one worth considering.

Saying yes to more things instead of squirrelling away in my flat, for instance, has led me to new friendships, and exciting experiences. Saying “fuck it” and doing it, i.e booking a weeks holiday in Portugal on a whim, is also a great conversation starter and has been the beginning of a great adventure with Darren.

However fun the adventure is, we have to deal with the monotonous in order to make way for new experiences. We can’t travel the world without fresh pants after all.

We need to balance the mundane and the exciting in order to live a fulfilled and fruitful life and if that means spending Monday evenings washing my clothes and cracking out the ironing board then so be it. There will be other evenings for adventures.

Life, I believe, is about finding balance.

Until next time.

Travel Blog Diaries: Szczecinek, Poland

My hair is a birds nest, my false eyelashes are stuck to the pillow in almost comical fashion, and the loud alcohol induced snores from my partner echo throughout the small room at the wedding reception venue.

This is the first wedding I’ve attended as an adult and it’s being held in Poland. As someone who isn’t keen on flying, I wasn’t looking forward to the journey but it’s amazing what a few drinks and a handful of great friends can do for fear.

As always, the company I keep means that adventure and activity is never too far away, and there’s always a good story to tell.

For example, everyone piling into an eight person outdoor hot tub fully clothed in the highly recommended Sint Ji Design Rooms, loud, proud, and clutching a bottle of Bacardi. (The groom may have been a little bit intoxicated and someone ended up naked but it was all part of the fun).

Speaking of rooms, Jordan and I shared an incredible room that was only 600 zloty (£125) for two nights. For that little, we managed to get a complete suite, decked out with his and hers sinks, a freestanding Art Deco decorated bath, and walk in shower room. It was so plush I felt a bit out of place but what did we expect for five stars?

The only let down with the place was the breakfast. Although ticking a box on arrival of what we all would like to eat, the staff forgot half of what was ordered but they were attentive and the food was continental (cold meats and cheese, bread rolls, etc), so simple and replenishing for our day out on the beach.

I have been constantly surprised by Szczecinek, the beach here by the lake was sandy (hooray!) and the water activities have been hilarious to watch.

The actual wedding was a regimented affair of religious protocol but was fascinating to listen to the language from the priest in the church, listen to the almost lyrical catholic ceremony. I wanted some traditional polish culture and I was not disappointed.

Later this month I am going to be posting the vlog diaries for this trip so when it’s up you’ll be able to see the adventure for yourself, see if Szczecinek will be your next adventure.

I think I may still have a high level of alcohol in my system this morning so I’m going back to sleep. When I wake there’s a high possibility there will be more alcohol and plenty more food. Wish me luck trying to get into my dress!

Until next time.

Tarot Card Readings- Mythbusted

For those of you thinking that I have lost the plot and have turned a bit mystic meg with this post, let me just state one thing: much like astrology, tarot readings are simply something I have been doing as a hobby, I.e, this is something I do for fun.

Tarot readings are a placebo for what your mind is already thinking. The cards show a broad spectrum of possibilities without highlighting particulars, so much like astrology, if you’ve ever read your star sign in the local paper and felt as if it’s relatable, then that is your brain interpreting the words in your own way. I personally don’t think the cards are telling me something from beyond the grave or have anything to do with spirituality, I simply believe that tarot readings allow our brains to interact with the interpretation and develop our own critical thinking.

For this reading, I completed a Celtic Cross spread using the Wild Unknown Tarot cards by Kim Krans.

When we lay our first card in the centre of the spread, this is our present moment card, the heart of the matter. For me that card was the reverse chariot card which is a representative of strong will and triumph. For me personally, I interpret this card as me feeling strong willed and confident in my new flat. I have mentioned to my friend Lucy that I was feeling more confident since everything happened to me last year and I have felt stronger and more fixed on my goals. I believe that with this focus I will be able to achieve these goals.

The second card is our potential obstacles and for this I pulled the lovers card, an unusual card to pick in this position. It is a card that usually means union, desire, or joy but in this position I could interpret these “sins” as distracting from my long term goals but this doesn’t necessarily mean the distractions are bad, simply interrupting the overall goal.

The third card was the reverse hierophant. In this position, the position of our foundations and what has led us to our present, I could interpret this mentorship presence as my friends and family guiding me through my difficult past. The reversed position lessens the importance of this card but since it is a major arcana card, it is still seemingly important to me.

The fourth is another card looking backward at my past. This position is supposed to show the person receiving the reading possible energy that used to be strong and important in your life but is now fading. For this reading, I drew the emperor, a card that stands for protection, stability, and the father. My interpretation of this card is maybe my breakaway from the sheltered life I had been living with my parents as I am learning to live alone with my own responsibilities.

The fifth card begins to take a look at the future and on my horizon I received the empress which is a card that represents creation, nature and the mother. In the words of Kim, “her strength comes from being gentle and compassionate, and loving without binding.” My personal take from this is that I am opening myself up continually to receive a greater deal of love.

The sixth card is another look into the future and is our development position. The mother of wands is a vibrant and happy mother who takes pride in her family. For me this is a simple card that reflects on my constant growing relationship with my family.

The seventh position is the current mindset of the person receiving the reading. For me that was the ace of cups which is a card that stands for new beginnings, a card that feels like the perfect choice for my current mindset as I am loving my new start in my flat.

The eight position is our surrounding environment and was quite negative in my answer from the cards as it provided the devil card, a card that stands for temptation. My interpretation of this card is as a warning not to become too materialistic in my livelihood as this could have negative side effects.

The ninth card is our hopes and fears, a card which I drew the temperance card, a card that means attempting to find balance. This is both hopeful and scary and is perfect in this position.

The final position is the outcome for which, ominously, I drew the death card. Surprisingly this was not as bad as it first appeared, as it did not mean there was going to be a death or a dramatic ending, it simply meant that something was going to come to a natural conclusion. For me this may be closure or a finale to my anxiety which overall is hopeful and positive.

This has been a fun experience.

For some of you, this spiritualistic post has no impact on your interest levels, but you may have an open mind like myself, if that is you then I would highly recommend trying tarot for yourself. You might learn something or confirm something for yourself that had previously gone under the radar.

Until next time, be the best you that you can be.

Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone: Learning To Manage Anxiety

I am not a sports fan but with the football associations annual turnover of £318m its safe to assume that football generates a lot of interest for the UK’s population. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never got the hype. As someone who grew up in a sports-oriented household, I’m pretty sure I have a firm grasp of how the games play out (and yes, that includes the offside rule) but have never really enjoyed sitting and watching the games.

Yesterday, however, I met with a few fans at the local pub and took in the atmosphere.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the afternoon, regardless of the anti-football stance I had previously stood by.

A friend of mine commented that the abundance of testosterone in the room must have been comparable with that of war and how the sheer will and determination of the bodies in the room were similarly buzzing with anticipation. It was an interesting point and made me assess the situation with new eyes.

It is incredibly easy to get locked up in our own bubble of comfort, see the same friends, experience the same situations time and time again but this is how we slip into old habits, anxiety rears its ugly head and some of us slip back into depression. In order to break the cycle, we must ensure to sever the ties to normality once in a while, step out of our comfort zones and try something we were maybe opposed to doing previously.

Anxiety is a terrible thing but with practice we can manage our emotions, learn to control our behaviour and much like exercising to tone up, we can strengthen our brain, become more accustomed to situations that make us uncomfortable.

Obviously, I am not condoning actions that cause us pain or anger or anything that causes panic attacks, what I am suggesting is doing one thing a week that maybe you’ve been putting off because of your worry. For instance, I had been putting off having my hair cut for a seemingly silly reason: I find talking to hairdressers can be a little awkward, forced, and in my eyes there is nothing worse than small talk but I still called up and booked an appointment which I had on Saturday. Yes, it was an awkward experience but I feel healthier for doing it, as not only is my hair feeling more managable but I feel happy that I was able to take that step to owning my own life.

Control takes time and with time we can take back control of our lives.

How will you take control of your life this week?

Until next time.

Living Life With A Positive Mental Attitude

Life wouldn’t be life if there weren’t any ups and downs. No matter how much we plan and save we can never cover all eventualities.

We still strive for balance and contentment but in order to live a full life we need to embrace change, embrace the ups and downs that life provides.

Today I had a nasty surprise when my car failed it’s MOT. It’s an old car so it’s not a complete surprise that it needed work but the financial backing required to do so was over my budget, but still under the price of a new car.

It would be lying if I didn’t say I was upset. After paying a large sum of money for my studio flat, another large sum of money being withdrawn for my car felt like life was somehow cheating me.

If you’re one for believing in karma then you could have assumed that my receiving of a financial bonus this year led to my car costing more than I expected.

It often seems when life gives, it also takes away, whether it’s financial like my situation, or social, or even career related. What we have to remember is that our lives are an extensive list of moments. These moments are a mixture of both good and bad, therefore making it easy to assume that one moment has led to another, rather than accept life for the rollercoaster it is.

I have obviously had a tough month financially but I accept that another month I may be a lot better off. When we have bad moments it can be incredibly simple to slip into bad habits, and assume that we have bad luck when in fact we should feel excited by the prospect of something good happening in the future.

There is a lot to be said about a positive mental attitude and with that under our belt how can we be anything but successful?

Until next time.

Ikigai & Finding Inner Peace

As a young person I often feel like time is slipping away from me and it seems like this is the general consensus across the board. We worry we’ve left it too late to start a new career path, left it too late to get married and have children. The ever encroaching deadline that is our thirties looming over us as if life ends there.

As someone with older friends (I won’t name any names because I would probably end up with a slapped wrist) I realise that it is never too late or too soon to do anything as it is simply our social constructs that dictate our paths in life.

I don’t have the inclination to follow a path set out for me by the rules of society, I am quite content with making this up as I go along, following my heart and my head combined for a complete happiness package.

There’s a Japanese word for this wholesomeness: Ikigai, a word which has no direct English translation that simply means “a reason for being” which I think is utterly brilliant and thought provoking. It’s thought to be achieved when one has balanced what they are passionate about, what they excel at, what positively impacts the world, as well as something that provides an income.

Thomas Oppong puts eloquently that “Millions of people still struggle to find what they are meant to do. What excites them. What makes them lose the sense of time. What brings out the best in them.” Which is completely true, especially when we hear about someone who has succeeded in life, it brings out our inner demons that want to be snide and snap, as if a reaction like this was some how going to cause a positive response.

When I think about Ikigai, I look to it as a final goal, something to achieve, as opposed to something I have in the present moment. Instead of allowing social paths to lead us down a supposed route to happiness, we need to find our own happiness, our own Ikigai.

Ways to achieve Ikigai:

1. Ask yourself what you’re passionate about and what you excel at.

2. Consider how you can plausibly create an income from that which you love doing.

3. Think about what the world needs.

Lastly, never give up the hope that one day you will be content with life.

Until next time.