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Well-being Q&A

So this is the first time I’ve blogged in over two years and it’s only recently that I’ve wanted to get back into writing, and after several attempts at trying to pick something to write about I came to the conclusion that I was suffering from writer’s block. This post is a sort of collaboration idea which me and my sister came up with, as she too wanted to get back into writing but wasn’t sure where to start. We decided it might be a good idea to reflect on our well-being in the last few months, so we came up with the following questions and below are my answers to them.

What morning routine activities help you to start the day with the healthiest mindset?

A pretty key thing for me is avoiding scrolling on my phone for ages when I first wake up. Just checking to see if I have any messages from family and friends is fine, but staying in bed and scrolling through social media doesn’t seem to start my day off with a clear mindset. I enjoy starting my day reading with a good cup of coffee, followed by breakfast. I’d say doing that helps me start my day with a clear, positive and healthy mindset.

How have you been coping with being at home more?

It’s had it’s ups and downs, I felt quite at peace with the idea to begin with, finding ways to occupy myself with online courses, reading and exercise. However, these activities began to lose their appeal after doing them every day for a prolonged period, and I’ve found myself several times getting bored and fed up with not having much to occupy myself with. Since being allowed to go outside for exercise more than once a day as well as visit family and friends, it has been a lot better.

When you are feeling down, anxious or stressed what activities help you to relax? 

Talking it out with others really helps, going for a walk, reading, and taking a bath (not that I currently have one in my flat) are all activities that help me to relax. Even just simple things like being in a room with a lit candle can really help chill me out.

Which books, films and TV shows do you think deal with mental health well? 

In terms of books, Matt Haig’s Notes on a Nervous Planet is really good as it explores different features of modern life that can have a detrimental effect on our mental health, often things we wouldn’t usually think of like visiting a shopping centre. Another book is John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down, which was the first piece of fiction I’ve read that deals so closely with a character who has a mental health issue. It tells the story of a teenage girl with severe health anxiety in a very eye-opening light. I can’t think of any particular films, although that is something I’m going to watch out for now. For TV shows, the one example I can currently think of is the character Jackson in Sex Education, he is shown as being put under a lot of pressure from his mum to succeed in swimming, and it turns out that Jackson suffers from panic attacks and also self harms at one point just so he can get a break from the pressure he is receiving from his mum. 

What is the best book you’ve read recently?

It has got to be Antonia Fraser’s biography of Mary Queen of Scots. It’s a big read as it covers most of her life, but I found it fascinating that although it was a historical biography, a lot of the time I felt like I was reading a thriller. It’s certainly my favourite historical biography I’ve read so far, it’s very well written and clearly well researched, emotionally captivating and a gripping read. 

Has there been a TV show which you have enjoyed the most recently?

I’m a bit late to the bandwagon on this but it has got to be Netflix’s Sex Education. I was sceptical at first, I admit, but I think it’s a very pioneering TV show in the way that it so openly deals with taboo subjects surrounding sex, gender and identity, in a way that is informative and eye-opening, but also light-hearted. I also found it had very well written characters that I slowly found myself becoming more invested in (especially Eric) as it progressed into the second series. The mise-en-scène of the show is also very aesthetically pleasing but also interesting as well, with the use of retro cars, technology, interior design and fashion being intertwined with elements of the modern-day. It’s like the show itself has a nostalgic longing for the past.

Is there any music you listen to that helps you stay grounded or lifts your mood?

I find calming instrumental music nice to listen to when I’m perhaps trying to de-stress, but also to aid my concentration when I’m reading and writing. A recent thing that I’ve liked doing to really set the mood of what I’m reading is trying to match music to it, for example listening to medieval-themed music when reading a novel set in that specific time period.

During lockdown, did you have more negative thoughts and how did you combat them? Was there anything that surprised you about yourself during the situation? 

I’ve certainly experienced periods of worry and overthinking about various things. One example is that I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope with not having work to go to because of lockdown, as I like being productive and sometimes find it difficult being indoors all day. I get sick building syndrome, which is hard to explain to people who don’t experience it but it’s certainly something I occasionally suffer from. I’ve surprisingly coped a lot better than I thought I would have, by finding activities to do and making sure that on most days I go outdoors to exercise and get some fresh air. 

What are some fundamental tips, quotes and advice to live by which you would encourage others to follow? 

  • Be patient, positive and persistent.
  • Talking things through with others is really helpful.
  • A lot of things aren’t as bad as you think they are.
  • Be kind to the environment, make smarter choices.
  • Your body is a home you’ll live in forever, take care of it.
  • Nothing in nature blooms all year round, so don’t expect yourself to either.

What evening routine activities help you to unwind at the end of the day?

I like to watch a couple of TV shows or a film on an evening, accompanied by a snack or something like a hot chocolate. I find having fairy lights and lighting a tealight or two very relaxing also. Just before I go to sleep it is good practice for me to not go on my phone and instead read a few pages of whatever book I’m reading at the time. This always seems to get me into a ‘sleepy’ state and clears my mind before I go to sleep. 

Thank you for reading!

If you can think of any films, TV shows and books that you think deal with mental health well, feel free to leave a comment below as i’d love to hear about them!

Be sure to check out my sister’s answers to these questions over on her blog: https://thespirallingmind17.wordpress.com/2020/09/06/the-well-being-q-a/

Mental Health Awareness in the Digital Age

Something I would like to emphasize is that social media can be used for good. Despite it being a vice for many to spread hate, propaganda and quite rightly utter bull, a plethora of goodness is also out there.

Matt Haig; successful author of books including Reasons to Stay Alive, How to Stop Time, and several children’s books is someone who openly discusses his experience with depression and the wider scope of mental health on social media.

Here are some recent examples of his tweets that I  would like to share;

On developing a stronger understanding: “Mental health is not a niche subject for a few depressed people. Mental health is everyone. Mental health is what we all have. It is our minds. And understanding what impacts our mental health would lead to happier lives and societies. There is nothing more important.”– 24/05/18

On taking care of your mental health in the digital age:

“Got called ‘fragile’ for deleting a tweet. Yeah, I am. Men can be. People can be. It’s okay to use social media the way you need to use it. Delete tweets, press mute, unfollow, edit, block, step away, leave, whatever you have to do for your mental health.” – 27/05/18

On the severity of stress:
“A third of people have felt suicidal in the last year due to stress. It’s time we took stress as seriously as diet and exercise.” -14/05/18

To read more on this go to https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/14/three-in-four-britons-felt-overwhelmed-by-stress-survey-reveals?CMP=share_btn_tw 

On mental health as a valid excuse: “The common idea people ‘use’ their mental health as an excuse for things is a bad one. There are far more times you see someone acting ‘normal’ and silently struggling to do so than you hear the inner context for a behaviour. Listen without prejudice, as George Michael said.” – 28/05/18

On it getting better: “Last time I was in the Balearics I nearly threw myself off a cliff. This time I go running along them. This time is better.”  – 28/05/18

On living with anxiety: “Anxiety isn’t weakness. Living with anxiety, turning up and doing stuff with anxiety, takes a strength most will never know. A trip to the supermarket can mean you defeat more monsters than in The Odyssey. It’s not WHAT you do. It’s what you OVERCOME to do it.” – 26/05/18

It is people like Matt Haig that I think we should be thankful for in what can at times feel like a neverending cacophony of pings, updates and notifications. It can be easy to lose focus and direction amongst the sheer amount of digital traffic. How do we ensure we only see content that we can identify with, seek enjoyment out of and find comfort in? And furthermore, content that can help contribute to a better-informed society about issues such as mental health? We need to be mindful of what we allow ourselves to see on social media. Which I digress, unwanted posts at times are often unavoidable, but when action can be taken to filter out toxicity and filter in positivity; action should be taken.

For more from Matt Haig, check out the following links;

‘ Happy’ – Fearne Cotton’s podcast episode featuring Matt Haig (available on Spotify)

Follow Matt Haig on Twitter

‘Books Save Lives with Matt Haig’ – Waterstones Article

‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’ – Haig’s new book on mental health in the digital age (available for pre-order)

I also can’t recommend enough his books; Reasons to Stay Alive and How to Stop Time

Thank you for reading!

Exploring New Words

Widening my vocabulary is something I am often in pursuit of, as a means to aid me in my writing, both academically and in general. After all, there are so many words in existence: why not make a conscious effort to use more of them? So, I set myself a little bit of a task and chose five words that were unfamiliar to me, and composed an example sentence in which they could be used in.

Abubble

[uh-buhb-uh l], adjective.

Definition:  characterised by intense enthusiasm or activity, or bubbling, as while cooking or boiling.

Example Sentence: Abubble with pride, the young athlete stepped onto the podium.

Instauration

[in-staw-rey-shuh n], noun.

Definition: renewal; restoration; renovation; repair or, an act of instituting something i.e an establishment.

Example Sentence: The instauration of the printing press by Gutenberg in the 15th -century can be seen as revolutionary, as it enabled books to be produced on a much wider scale.

Imbue

[im-byoo], verb.

(used with object), imbued, imbuing.

Definition: to impregnate or inspire, as with feelings, opinions, etc or, to saturate or impregnate with moisture, colour, etc.

Example Sentence: You would think a mystery of such complexity would imbue the detective with motivation to begin solving the crime, but something else was evidently of higher importance.

Ineffable

[in-ef-uh-buh l], adjective.

Definition: incapable of being expressed or described in words or, not to be spoken because of its sacredness.

Example Sentence: As it was ineffable in nature, The Book of Eastwatch was kept securely hidden.

Constellate

[kon-stuh-leyt], verb.

(used with or without object), constellated, constellating.

Definition: to cluster together, as stars in a constellation.

Example: Suddenly all her thoughts constellated together like the greatest epiphany she could have ever imagined.

 

 Thank you for reading!

 

All definitions were taken from Dictionary.com, however, all example sentences are of my own creation.

The Back to University Round Up

So this is going to be more of a chatty post, which I haven’t really done yet on this blog, so here goes…

Moving Out (Again)

Come September the 12th and it was time for me to move back to my university city and into my new house in readiness to start my second year of university. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about this whole process, even though the first time I’d ever moved out from home was last year, when I started my first year of university. My nerves were becoming more apparent the closer the date came, caused by overthinking (completely normal in the human mind, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying) my living situation, as I was moving into a new house with five other girls, and of only two I knew well, the others I’d briefly met over the previous year. ‘What if it doesn’t work out?’, ‘What if i don’t settle in?’, ‘What if I don’t feel comfortable enough to be myself, or in other words, will I have to constantly restrain my weird self?’ But as usual, I was worrying unnecessarily and creating imaginary situations. I’ve been here just over two weeks now and I am absolutely loving it! I settled in almost instantaneously. I’ve made my room super cosy, and have already started decorating it for my favourite season, Autumn (I will insert pictures). My housemates are all lovely, and I’m already making some great memories with them, one being our weekly Bake Off evenings! I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how nice the house is, it was newly decorated for us moving in and is furnished with canvases, giving it that extra homely feeling.

Here are a few snaps of some details in my room;

 

Back to the Grind

September 19th struck the start of my second year of my university course, beginning with a lecture which i’m actually pretty excited about. For those who don’t know, I’m doing a degree in Media Studies, which is possibly one of the most diverse courses, purely being that a lot of what we study is interdisciplinary, as we often cross over into other schools of thought. For example, Sociology, Psychology, Law, English Literature, and the two more obvious ones; Film Studies and Media Production. Because basically EVERYTHING is mediated in some way in today’s society, meaning most fathomable things you can think of can be, and are, consumed through some form of media. Anyway, getting back to my first lecture of the semester, it was for my module titled Popular Genres, which means we will be studying twelve weeks’ worth of stuff about different genres, including fairy tales, horror, science fiction and children’s literature to name a few. This will include studying these popular genres with reference to the historical and cultural context that they were produced in. I also get to the choice to focus on literature in this module which I am very happy about! I’m currently reading Northern Lights by Philip Pullman as suggested by my lecturer ahead of our session on children’s literature, and I have to say, it’s very good so far. As well as my module on Popular Genres, I am also doing two other modules this semester; Visual Cultures (all about the complicated relationship between and creative usage of words and images) and Issues of Taste (exploring ideas of freedom and taste in relation to society, and in reference to the ever-changing contexts, issues and circumstances that occur over time). It is still only early days of teaching for all of my modules, so I feel like I can’t fully judge them, but this far, they all seem very interesting and I’m certainly eager to learn more about them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and I hope I haven’t made you fall asleep by talking about my university course.

If you have any questions about university, or anything else, I am happy to give you some advice!

Don’t hesitate to get in touch 🙂

 

If We Were Having Coffee I’d Say…

That it’s raining right now and we couldn’t have picked a cosier time to drink our coffee.

That I hope you’re well, and that I don’t know about you but i’m feeling super content right now, as coffee shops are one of my favourite places to be.

That you don’t have to do things purely for the sake of saying that you’ve done it.

That the future near and far makes you feel anxious, just like it does me too. But we’ll both be okay.

That we should always try and think of the future through a curious lense, because the world is full of unfathomable amounts of possibilities and we really shouldn’t disregard that.

That I hope you’re enjoying your coffee, and that i’m happy I went with my usual choice of an ordinary latte and not a Chai latte in my attempt at being autumnal, because that was way too sickly last time.

That we shouldn’t focus on things we simply can’t change, because it’s not time wisely spent.

That I hope you’ve had a great summer, because I’ve possibly had one of the best ones yet. Filled with adventure, valuable time spent with family and friends, fulfillment through writing blog posts, reading some really great novels and invaluable time spent on my own which has allowed me to learn more about myself.

And lastly, you really should make time for those you love.

 

 

 

Thank you for reading!

🙂

 

Growing Up

“… And these children that you spit on

as they try to change their worlds

are immune to your consultations.

They’re quite aware

of what they’re going through…” ~ David Bowie

Being a teenager is challenging. The number of subliminal messages and expectancies placed upon young people are countless. Even though most of these ‘so -called’ messages don’t appear to be harmful at first glance, speaking from individual experience, they certainly are.

One of these messages which causes a lot of problems during teenage years, is the need to fit in. Follow the trends, use the same words as everyone else, dress the same, refrain from speaking up in class to avoid being labelled a ‘nerd’, undergo underage drinking just because everyone else is doing it. Peer pressure is something that we can get so caught up in, and it can be distracting from the precious years we have to be young and experiment with who we are. It’s all a part of growing up, it should be fun filled with wonderful experiences, good and bad. But I do however think retrospectively, that learning how you want to spend your time, (including saying no, and sometimes saying yes to things out of your comfort zone) is integral to discovering things about yourself as a person. It’s important to be aware of your limits.

I sometimes feel as though there’s this predetermined path set to follow in society. Go to school, and then onto University, get a job and then what, eternal happiness? But, of course life isn’t as linear as that. Life is like being on a never-ending roller coaster, it has its ups, it has its downs, and you often don’t know what the hell is going on.

Furthermore, individual expression isn’t something that you should hide away inside of you where no one else can see it. Because we’re all unique in our own way, and I believe you’re given a voice and mind for a reason, and to hide away and try to be something you’re not, well you’re only cheating yourself really. Life is beautiful. So go out and chase whatever it is you want and express your personality whether it be through your quirky choice of clothes or the words you use. We need to make a change and encourage others to start embracing who they are, and work towards the world being a more accepting place. After all, as Sean McCabe said,”You will never influence the world by trying to be like it.”

One thing i’ve also come to realise is that a way to feel free, is to be undeniably yourself. Whilst this is probably one of the hardest things to do, because I don’t know about anyone else but as much as you may want to be yourself at times, there’s always that voice is your head talking you out of it, telling you to act a certain way, say a certain thing to adapt to the person or situation you are around/in. But with the right mindset and persistence, and keeping focused on doing things you enjoy as well as surrounding yourself with the right people, it does get easier.

Lastly, a little bit of advice from me for those hard times when things are getting on top of you;

Think of yourself as an individual, and know that it is okay to prioritise yourself over others. Allow yourself time on your own to work on feeling comfortable in your own skin.

During anxious times view yourself as a single star in an endless cosmos, acknowledge the immensity of the universe, and know that you are merely a speck of dust within it.

This way of thinking often reminds me that my problems are not as big as I think they are, and that they will pass, much like day passes into night and sapling turns into tree. Life keeps going.

 

 

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this post!

🙂

 

Student Life is What You Make It

‘Student life is what you make it’, is something I often found myself saying to my friends at university, as I’m reassuring them that there is certainly more to ‘uni life’ then going clubbing.

Don’t like clubbing? Then the simplest solution for that my friend is, don’t go. It’s not always as simple as that I know, there’s perhaps that curious voice in your head that pops up telling you to just try it. And you maybe find yourself thinking things like; you’ll be fine what is the worst that could happen? And that you’ll hate yourself more if you don’t ever at least give it a try. If you want to try it, do it, but make sure it’s because you want to, and nothing else.

Ignore those voices in your head that are trying to make yourself do something you don’t want to, ignore those nosey adults (you know the one’s I mean) who just automatically assume that because you’re a student you therefore must enjoy clubbing. Believe me, there is so much more to the university experience than going out clubbing.

From my point of view, as someone who does actually like clubbing, I know that there’s also plenty of other stuff that I could be doing, and do actually do. I simply wouldn’t go to a nightclub if I didn’t want too. I do it because I enjoy it, and that’s the sole reason why you should do anything, because you enjoy it. Countless evenings of my first year were spent chatting away to my flat mates, about anything from our families and life, to Game of Thrones and Harry Potter themed conversations. The hours would fly by, and the next thing we knew it would be 2am. We literally got lost in conversation, evenings like that are invaluable. Other than that, we’d quite often have our themed TV nights, where we’d watch back to back episodes of Riverdale or Twin Peaks, or we’d watch La La Land for the millionth time and unashamedly find ourselves singing along to all the songs. And not to forget our spontaneous baking sessions, which often involved dancing and flour fights (a great way to break the ice with new flat mates by the way).

How you choose to spend your spare time at university is completely up to you and I can’t reiterate that enough. It is incredibly easy to get lost in what you think you should be doing. But fight it, find your niche, whatever that may be, and delve right into it and don’t become distracted by what everyone else is doing. Always remember that you are fully within your rights to simply say no. You’ll even come to notice that there’s so many other students who will feel the same as you. Find friends who accept you for you (as cliché as that sounds, it’s actually really important.) And you’ll be on track for focusing on you, your studies and making some pretty awesome and unforgettable memories at the same time.

 

Thanks for reading!

Feel free to get in touch, either direct with me via the ‘Contact’ tab at the top of this webpage or by leaving a comment below!

🙂