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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/

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.

Bookish Ramblings & My Latest Reads

As a student, it is not always easy to find a lot of time to read the books that are on my ever-growing to-be-read pile. If I’m not reading something out of choice, it will normally be something associated with an essay that I’m undergoing for my course at university. This often includes academic based books which I’ve scanned the library for and thereafter embellished with many a post-it note, enabling me to keep track of quotes and ideas to integrate into an essay. While this may seem a rather strenuous task, I have come to realise that academic books have been effective in enhancing my vocabulary in general and rewarded my ability to consolidate ideas more coherently. But this isn’t at all too discredit fiction’s ability to stimulate the mind and illuminate the imagination.

Anyway, as of late, I have read a few books which are;

J.K Rowling’s The Order of the Pheonix

Ootp_UK_Children

This took me a little longer to read than usual, but it was enjoyable all the same. It was my first time reading it, although I am undeniably a big Harry Potter enthusiast, I had only ever read the first four books. I am more eager to read the next book- The Half-Blood Prince, as it one of my favourite films out of the franchise.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
sherlock

I have for a few years now been a Sherlock fanatic, discovered through watching the popular BBC series, Sherlock. However, I would say that reading the original stories has certainly expedited my enthusiasm. The Memoirs is the fourth book in the series and is ever filled with short stories of murder, crime and political intrigue. It is also in this book that a certain infamous ‘Napoleon of crime’ appears. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is one of my most favoured writers of fiction, and I can’t recommend his work enough. I am currently reading The Hound of the Baskervilles, the next book in the series at the moment.

Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories

angelacarter

Originally, I was looking at some of the short stories from this book as part of my research for an essay I was writing on fairy tales during my most recent semester at university. Carter’s work is mainly gothic in nature, and she most notoriously takes centuries-old fairy tales and gives them a rather grotesque and some would argue post-feminist twist. I wasn’t too found on her style of writing so I probably won’t be rushing to read more of her work. Nonetheless, It was refreshing to read something of a different nature than what I usually would pursue.

Linwood Barclay’s Clouded Vision

linwood

My decision to read this short novel is definitely proportionate to my mother’s rather recurrent and arguably non-discreet suggestions. I think she would agree with me on this when I say that Barclay is one of her most admired authors. Now I can’t deny that I was somewhat curious to see what all of the fuss was about, so I read this short story of his to get a taster of his work. The story is basically about a woman who goes missing at the bottom of a lake, and I can’t really say anymore without giving it away. Clouded Vision was fast-paced in nature and was undeniably a gripping read, so I am definitely open to reading more of Barclay’s thrillers.

Thank you for reading!

I would love to hear any comments or recommendations!

🙂

The Cacophony of Ignorance: A Short Story

‘Don’t you think it’s exceptional?’ Pete was sat at an almost full coffee bar when he asked this question. And when I say asked, I mean he more like yelled it for the whole of the coffee house to hear, and it was certainly loud enough to prevent the young man on his right from hearing what his business associate was saying on the other end of the phone.

No one answered Pete, so he yelled it again. This time with an even bigger grin on his face, in his attempt at creating a friendly exterior, despite his loud tone. ‘I SAID, DON’T YOU THINK IT’S EXCEPTIONAL?’

The customers probably thought he was high, or drunk from the night before. And again, no one answered. Maybe it was because he didn’t have the cleanest shirt on, and his hair was kind of muffled from when he removed his beanie hat just before he entered the building. Maybe he wasn’t being bold enough, people these days tended to be so engrossed in their mobile phones, they’d rather walk into a lampost than look up. Or maybe his volume was simply no match for the endless whirs created by the coffee machine, the blending of crushed ice, the constant line of voices ordering an array of different types of coffee, most from rushing commuters. Pete’s question was perhaps not a strong contender for the cacophony of his coffee-infused surroundings.

When he was almost out of hope of receiving a response, a girl, who appeared to be no more than ten years old, approached Pete. She asked if she could try on his beanie hat, and Pete obliged. She then opened her mustard coloured drawstring bag, and pulled out a collection of items; an mp3 player and earphones, a pair of earmuffs and a pair of woolen mittens. Pete perplexedly stared at the girl, baffled as to why she had come across to him. She put the earphones in, pressed play and ensured the mp3 player was at a sufficient volume.Next she put on her ear muffs and woolen mittens, and then began to look at Pete expectantly. ‘Hi, can I help you?’ Pete was obtaining a much more soft and quieter tone of voice now. Did she hear him? Pete remembered she had her earphones in, so probably not. He began to look around awkwardly, where where her parents anyway? Then suddenly she stepped on a bar stool as to match Pete in height, being less than five foot tall herself, and placed her hands over her ears. They were now staring right at each other.

Frozen in a state of confusion, Pete didn’t say anything nor did he attempt to move. The girl then said,’I want to hear your question, kind sir.’ So Pete once again said it, although half-heartedly as she surely couldn’t hear him anyway under her music, his beanie hat and her earmuffs.

‘Do you want to know what I think is exceptional? That even though I have music playing in my ears at what is probably an unhealthy amount of decibels, and ear muffs on, that I still heard exactly what you just said? No one in here was listening to you, nor were they going to acknowledge you either because these people are not in this moment, they’re ahead. They’re too busy worrying about getting to work on time, worrying about taking an ‘Instagram worthy’ photo of their coffee, worrying about what they’re going to cook their kids for tea. Thinking ahead,don’t you see kind sir? It’s always ahead’

And in that moment the girl vanished.

Pete walked out of the coffee house and hoped that his pursuit of finding communication would be fulfilled elsewhere.

 

 

This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt: Exceptional 

 

The Three Ws: Bookish Questions

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking On A World of Words.

And these three W’s that the title has so ambiguously referenced are three book related questions;

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I’m not sure how I feel about it thus far, as I only started reading it last night. But it seems pretty gripping. It’s something I’ve had on my TBR pile for a long time so at least i’ve finally got round to it! My mum reckons it is something you definitely have to concentrate on whilst reading it, so I guess no reading it when i’m half asleep!

9780552154017-uk-300

Recently Finished:

One Day by David Nicholls. I absolutely loved this book! So much so, I’m going as far as to say it’s one of my favourites! I completely fell in love with the two characters, Emma and Dexter who the story is centered around. The book is basically separated into yearly accounts spanning across twenty years on the same day of 15th July. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you give this one a read!

one-day_summary

Next read:

So i’ve got three books that I know I want to read in the near future and these include;  The Order of the Pheonix by J.K Rowling, Step Back Into Time by Ali McNamara and Van Gogh’s Ear: The True Story by Bernadette Murphy.  So it’ll be one of them that I will be reading next.

 

 

Thank you for reading! I do enjoy doing these smaller, question and answer style posts but I’ll certainly be writing more in-depth posts like in the style of my Conceptions of Freedom post again soon!

🙂

 

Twenty Questions Booktag!

So, I’ve not actually been tagged in this but I love books and fancied doing a tag post so I thought why not just go for it!

The link to the original tag is here https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18219846-twenty-questions-booktag 

1.How many books is too many books in a book series? 

I’d say more than six or seven, I’ve not really read an entire book series though so I don’t quite know what I’m basing that on!
2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?

They normally result in me shouting at the book because I’m just begging to know what happens! So many unanswered questions just fly around in my head! But as long as the story is going to be continued at some point after said cliffhanger I’m okay with them!
3. Hardcopy or paperback?

Paperback. Simply because they’re lighter to hold.
4. Favourite book?

Can I have four? 1984 by George Orwell, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig.
5. Least favourite book?

A Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare. Purely because I did it as part of my English Literature AS level coursework and I could not even force myself to like it, or understand it. I now only associate AMSND with bad memories…
6. Love triangles, yes or no? 

They annoy me at times I must admit, I used to think that I couldn’t read a book without there being a love triangle in it. But the more I’ve read as I’ve grown up, the less I’ve noticed them.
7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes. I however did finish it, because I hate giving up, but I had to keep re-reading bits of the book multiple times because I got confused and struggled to follow the plot. Interesting concept though all the same.
8. A book you’re currently reading?

A Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin. I’ve nearly finished, 96 pages to go!
9. Last book you recommended to someone?

The Diary of Anne Frank. I recommend it to my sister, as I believe it’s something everyone should read.
10. Oldest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, published in 1597. I read it at school so I’m not sure if that counts. But the oldest book I’ve read for enjoyment is The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle, published in 1890.
11. Newest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

Girl Online: Going Solo, by Zoe Sugg, published in November 2016.
12. Favorite author?

I’m torn. Part of me wants to say John Green, firstly due to the fact that I love metaphors and secondly because he is the only author I can claim to say that I’ve read all of the books of. But I also adore F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing style. I’m not sure, ask me again in a year.
13. Buying books or borrowing books?

Definitely buying books, but second-hand as there’s something wonderful that I can’t quite pin-point about pre-loved books.
14. A book you dislike that everyone else seems to love?

Hmm, I can’t actually think of one!
15. Bookmarks or dog-ears?

I had to google what is meant by dog-ears! But if it means folding pages, I definitely opt for the dog-ear approach when saving my page.
16. A book you can always reread?

I don’t tend to re-read much, as I’m all about finding new stuff, but I’d have to say The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I absolutely love that book no matter how many times I’ve read it before, I re-read it a couple of months ago one afternoon actually.

17. Can you read while hearing music?

I can read to calming instrumental music, especially piano. I did this last week actually on the train to block out noisy passengers.
18. One POV or multiple POV’s? (POV’s = Point of views)

Multiple POV’s. A Game of Thrones, which I’m currently reading is told through alternating character viewpoints, and I love the way it works. As a series which has tons of characters, it can be easy to lose track on who’s who and what all the characters positioning’s are in the plot, so it’s great in this way.
19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

Multiple days normally. However, when I did English Literature at college and I got assigned books to read, I used to spend my Sunday mornings reading the books in one sitting.
20. Who do you tag? (You can invite them to the group to do the tag)

Anyone who wants to do this tag themselves!!

 

I hope you enjoyed this book tag, my mission for the next day is to finish reading A Game of Thrones! I’m really enjoying it but I’m pretty sure it’s the longest book I’ll have ever read!

🙂