Planning The Perfect Day | Personal Self – Care

I’ve talked about self-care a lot on this blog because it genuinely is a topic that means so much to me. Only a few years ago we didn’t even have a sufficient term for being kind to ourselves, which made talking about this topic pretty tricky.

Thanks to other wonderful bloggers, influencers and social media trends everyone knows what self-care is and how important it is for our mental (and therefore physical!) health.

However in case you’re not too sure, here’s what self-care officially means:

self-care

noun

the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.

  1. 1.1 The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

Now self care can be a pretty serious topic sometimes and rightly so! But that’s not the way I’m going to be talking about it right now.

This post is going to be based mainly on the more ‘frivolous’ things I like to do to take care of myself and ensure that I am in a good mental state. To be honest, I could argue for hours how nothing is frivolous if it helps you out in someway but fear not, I won’t today.

Without further ado here is what I like to do on a self-care day:

Please note this is not including work, deadlines or any other commitments. Instead I’m going to be focusing on the things I like to do in my free time because it’s just easier.

EARLY TO BED, EARLY TO RISE

Sleep is such a huge part of self-care and something that I haven’t been the best at recently. However I know how bad I feel, and therefore how badly my day goes, if I didn’t get a good enough sleep the night before.

Although I love a lie in and a lazy morning, I have to admit that I feel at my best when I get up early. I like to be able to tackle the day as soon as possible and I like to make the most out of my time.

Plus the earlier I get up, the longer I can make my morning. I don’t like to feel rushed, especially if I am already stressed or anxious, so getting up early gives me a few extra hours to chill with a cuppa, my current read and some daytime telly.

In order for me to be able to get up early and feel good about it, I know I need to go to bed early the night before. To be fair, these days I am barely seeing past nine o’clock! But I do really like to make an effort to get the best sleep possible when I’m feeling overwhelmed because I know how beneficial it is.

LET’S GET DRESSED

As I said in a recent post, now I work from home I find myself spending the majority of my time in pyjamas. And while I love my pyjamas more than anything, I can start to feel a bit grim if I spend too much time in them.

If I’m trying to be extra nice to myself and really make an effort I will get dressed. Sometimes, depending on what mood I’m in, I’ll take time to do my makeup and might even brush my hair.

Although I certainly don’t think you need to do a full on fashion show every morning and sometimes days off just call for being in your pj’s, I’ve noticed that by getting ready I feel so much better and am more productive.

GOING OUTSIDE

Again, I spend so much time at home that I frequently get concerned that I may be a hermit. I adore being at home and either being with my family or simply by myself, but even I have to admit that it can be bad for my brain sometimes.

I live in an amazing city that I don’t appreciate enough because, y’know, I’ve lived here all my life. Sure going out can cost money sometimes, but it doesn’t have to! When I get some free time or a day off I like to encourage myself to do some exploring around my hometown.

Sometimes that can mean visiting tourist spots, finally trying that indie cafe or even just being in the city centre and experiencing the hustle and bustle.

Of course, nothing feels better than getting a break from the city. If I can, I will go to the beach which is my favourite place to be. I find that walking, fresh air and generally being away from the four walls of my house has an instant effect on my mental health and makes me feel so much better no matter what’s being going on.

MY FAVOURITE ENTERTAINMENT

There are some days where I feel like I can’t escape screens. I am constantly bombarding myself with words, videos and other people’s opinions and that can all add up to a messy brain.

When I feel overwhelmed I really have to force myself to take a step away from my phone and focus on something else. This is where going outside can really help!

On an ideal self-care day, I’d spend most of my time reading. But I have to admit that this doesn’t happen that often and I do normally get distracted by Netflix, YouTube and even good ol’ daytime television.

Nonetheless, a great way to make yourself feel better is to treat yourself to some uninterrupted time doing what makes you happiest. For me that is reading, but also listening to true crime podcasts, watching daily vlogs and editing photos for Instagram.


No matter what you choose to do with your day, the most important thing to remember is to focus solely on yourself. With everything you chose to do, focus on how it makes you feel. As long as it makes you feel good, secure, safe and happy then keep doing it. No matter how ‘frivolous’ it may seem.

At the end of the day friend, you should be your number one priority. I hope you manage to make time for yourself very soon – it’s so important!

Speak soon,

Rachael.

 

 

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Recovery and My Life Now | How Quitting My Job Saved My Mental Health #2

This is the second part of this mini-series. To see part one, the backstory, click here.

As I am writing this I am still unemployed. I have been out of work now for just over a month and this time has certainly had it’s ups and its downs.

I wasn’t sure if I’d even get through my final week at work, after crying a lot (often while working) and generally just feeling anxious all the time. But I did it and the relief that flooded me as I walked out of that building for the last time was unbelievable!

So what have I been doing with all this time off?

I’ve been back and forth with various doctors for a while over the last few months of working. I finally managed to find a doctor who would listen to me and who I felt like I could trust.

I finally found a doctor I could trust

Now I am in no way disregarding the work our health service does, but it can often feel like – especially in cases of mental health – that no one has time for you. If you’re in that situation now where you’re seeking medical help, please do not give up. You are allowed to change doctors as often as you need and I promise the right one will be out there for you.

Anyway, as well as doctors appointments I also starting seeing a mental health consultant through an NHS system. I did this mainly to please my GP to be totally honest with you, but I suppose getting as much help as possible was the right thing to do.

As well as flitting between various appointments I also starting spend a lot of time on myself. Because I no longer had any commitments, I spent my days sleeping as often as possible (something that I didn’t even realise I needed) and watching a lot of daytime TV!

But as you can imagine, this lifestyle wasn’t really working for me. It was fun for the first week or so, where I could kid myself I was just on holiday. Then I found myself still feeling low and unsettled.

Like with everything, I had to start small

As I said in my last post, I am incredibly lucky with the people I have in my life. They weren’t going to let me fade away on my own! I started saying yes to seeing my closest friends; spent a week away with my grandparents and stayed at my partner’s house as often as I could. It took some time for me to feel confident with social situations again but I started small by being with only those I am closest too (ie. spending time with immediate family) and worked my way up from there.

GETTING BACK INTO THE HABIT

One of the biggest issues I still faced was my lack of motivation or enthusiasm for the things I had loved before – in particular reading and writing. Over the course of my low spell I found that I couldn’t concentrate on anything for long periods of time or I simply just didn’t care about doing anything other than mindlessly starting at the TV screen.

With all my time off, being around wonderful friendly faces and getting medical help (which included medication) I slowly but surely started to push myself to do things again. In terms of writing, I started scribbling in my journal again.

Like with everything, I had to start small.

Writing in a journal is something I have done on and off for as long as I can remember, but it had been months before I’d even picked up a pen. I thought that in order to get back into my love for writing I needed to take the pressure off myself. The scribbles and musings I wrote down in a private notebook were a way for me to be both creative and to get some things off my chest.

This habit of writing slowly lead to me posting a blog post and then another until I got to now, where I’m really trying to keep a routine.

THE LESSONS

Now I am aware that I am kind of brushing over all of this. It may seem like I recovered quickly and everything is hunky-dory again now, but there is simply no way I can express everything that has come together to get me onto the road of recovery.

This time away from work has allowed me to really, seriously focus on self – care and for the first time in my life I am taking care of myself properly. I am learning everyday what my triggers are, what signs show I’m having a bad day and how to deal with them in a safe way.

I thought I’d sum up the lessons I have learnt over all of this time to help anyone out there who might need it. Here are the three main things I learnt from falling and recovering with mental health:

  • You have so much support around you and you don’t even know it.

Prior to my issues this year, I thought I could handle everything on my own. I didn’t like opening up to people and ‘burdening’ them with my issues. This year has forced me to be honest and trust those around me and I am so overwhelmed by the kindness.

It can be so scary admitting and sharing that you are not okay, but trust me (and I meant it, trust me) those you hold dear only want what is best for you and everyone will come together to ensure that you get back to yourself again. There is always someone out there who will help (links will be left below if you’re struggling).

  • Everyone goes through it at some point

What made sharing my issues easier was the fact that everyone I spoke to understood. They too had been through similar dark patches, or knew someone who had. Doctors reminded me at every appointment that I wasn’t the only patient that had that was going through similar things – and I certainly wouldn’t be that last.

I know it’s a common thing to read on posts like this: you’re not alone. But you really aren’t! Everyone has a mental health, just as they have a physical, and in the same way anyone can get a cold, anyone can suffer from issues within their brain. The more we open up and get honest about our experiences, the less surprising this fact will be.

  • You need to trust yourself

You will get through any dark patch that comes to you, I promise. One of the most vital things I have learnt over this period is the fact that the road to recovery starts within.

Now not to sound to hippyish or anything, but I do think if I’d listened to myself sooner and paid attention to the warning signs I mightn’t have got sucked in so deep. Really take the time and have the patience to listen to your mind, body and soul. The first step to getting better is figuring out what it is you need. Only you have the answers to that, so how will you find them if you don’t look?

Image 1.jpg


My road to recovery so far has been a difficult and long one, and I know I still have a lot of work to do. But I am so grateful, after everything, that I now understand myself and my mind a bit better.

I want to continue doing things that make me feel good and continue to take actual care of myself.

I wish you all the best, reader.

Speak soon,

Rachael.


Helplines

Mind Mental Healthy Charity

NHS Local Services

Call Samaritans:

116 123 (UK)

116 123 (ROI)

A Geordie Girl’s Take On Alcohol | A Story About Love and Hate

It seems pretty funny to me that I’m writing this post while hungover. But what could possibly be a better time to overthink my relationship with alcohol then now, eh?

Living in the North East of England, and specially in Newcastle Upon Tyne, alcohol has always been around me.  My city, in case you don’t know, is famous (or should I say infamous) for it’s drinking culture. There’s even been a very successful show based on just that, Geordie Shore, where it seems that the only goal of each episode is for the characters to get as ‘mortal’ as possible and cause a lot of drama.

“We’re here for a good time!”

It’s called reality television for a reason. Drink is a massive part of our lives in this city. And I don’t mind that – I love my city, in all it’s glory. It’s something I’m used to now.

As any Northerner will tell you, the stereotypes surrounding drink are something we’re strangely proud of. We like being known for drinking and partying – we’re just here for a good time!

At least, that’s always how it starts isn’t it?

GETTING PERSONAL

Even though drink has always been around me, I didn’t drink myself until I was eighteen and at university. And boy did I make up for lost time with that one!

In the UK the legal age to purchase and drink alcohol is eighteen, which means that people start way younger than that. Especially where I’m from.

My parents never hid or banned drink from me when growing up and because of this freedom around alcohol,  I never thought it necessary to drink until I was legal.  To be honest I wasn’t too bothered about the whole thing then because it had been so normalised for me.

Then I went to university. And the drinking culture at university is insane. Now I’m not there anymore I can finally look at it and feel a bit shocked with how rife it is. It makes sense though  –  this is the first bit of freedom for most young adults and that freedom extends to what they consume. Of course alcohol is going to be a big deal!

And that’s how it was for me. Freshers Week is your first week of university and is basically a full week of parties and getting drunk. I loved it! Every year I threw myself into the festivities and, because this was really the first time I had drunk to excess, I was still excited by it all.

I didn’t really think seriously about alcohol until I was in my third and final year of university. This is, of course, a particularly stressful time and it’s something you’re warned about from day one. So it’s pretty reasonable to imagine that this was when I first started suffering with my mental health too.

“Going out and getting drunk can be a very dull cycle”

I was stressed out all of the time; I felt very lost and I was just generally unhappy a lot that last year. Scarily, I started turning to drink to pick me up.

It was normal for us to have regular nights out all throughout uni, but things had slowed down a little in our third year due to the work load and, to be honest, we were getting a little bored of it all by then anyway.

Going out and getting drunk can be a very dull cycle and my flatmates were getting sick of it. But I still kind of liked it then. I found myself at my ‘happiest’ when I was playing stupid drinking games and chugging cheap vodka.

So I started drinking as often as I could. And most of the time I was alone while doing so.

That’s the scariest bit I think. Alcohol has always been a social tool for me and yet there I was drinking it on my own just to feel happy.

I am proud to say that this spell didn’t last long; I did manage to pull myself away from drinking as a relief.

But that doesn’t mean that all my issues with alcohol have gone with it.

BECOMING BETTER

To be totally honest, I do like the feeling of being drunk. The early bits at least, when you’re so happy and excited and you just want to be friends with everyone. But I know better than most that it never stays that way for long.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve started experiencing blacking out and it’s such a terrifying thing. I really hate waking up in the morning not knowing where I’ve been, who I’ve been with or how I got home.

I also really, really hate hangovers. I can’t cope with the sickness, the shakes and the headache and there’s been more times than not that the morning after has ruined the night before for me.

So why do I still drink?

If there’s so much I hate about it, surely I should just give it up? It’s something I’ve considered a lot. Especially when hungover! This whole blog is basically a documentation of my journey of trying to better myself. Giving up alcohol would be a sure-fire way to put my physical and mental well being first.

But just when I think I’m being reasonable, a million excuses come to mind. I’m frightened that without drink I’ll be boring; I’ll have less friends and certainly less of a social life.

“I’m frightened that without drink I’ll be boring”

In a world that constantly encourages us to drink and be merry; where alcohol plays a massive part in every kind of adult occasion, it’s so hard to try to change your mentality and attitude to it.

But I’m trying.


And that’s where I stand today. I don’t have any answers for this one and it’s certainly going to be something I try to work on for a long time yet but you can bet I’ll be documenting it here.

What’s your relationship like with alcohol? Are you a big drinker or teetotal?

Whatever you do, stay safe and respectful.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

 

Am I A Failure? | A Quarter-Life Crisis / Mental Health Chat

It’s been such a long time since I’ve even thought about writing, let alone had any kind of motivation to open this site up again, that I’m not quite sure what to do now.

Actually, I tell a lie. I’ve thought about writing every single day, but berated myself for not being able to and not doing ‘enough’. And that’s sort of what I wanted to talk about today. This will in no way be my most eloquent post but I have some things I finally want to get off my chest.

Life has been a bit mad for me these past few months – a statement I’ve definitely said many times on this blog! But this time I mean it, officially. To cut a very long story short, I have been struggling with my mental health so much that I am no longer working in my part-time customer service job I’ve had since I finished university over a year ago.

That’s kind of all I want to say on that at the moment, but just know that it wasn’t a decision I took lightly and is something that has caused great anxiety and stress for me over these past few weeks.

However, now everything is official and I am free from something that became so negative to me, I am finally starting to feel hopeful once more. It’s only a tiny glimmer, like a penny at the bottom of the wishing well shining brightly in the right light, but it’s more than I’ve had in a long time.

Along with that hope though is my familiar companions; fear and worry. Now I don’t have a job to go to everyday I don’t have anything to shut them up with. Although the job seemed to only add to my issues, at least feeling like I was making some kind of progress by earning money kept these thoughts at bay every once in a while.

Now, for the first time in my life, I have no plan, no direction and no ‘next step’. I don’t even have any ideas for what I want to do. And this is so difficult because I’ve always been that kid. You know the one, that kid that’s always known what they’re going to do in life. I knew what I’d study at university since the age of nine!

Yet now I have no clue and it’s terrifying. I worked so hard for so long to get good grades and my degree and now I feel like I’ve stopped. I have no where to go anymore and it’s terrifying.

But I also know that I’m not the only one who feels like this, despite what I see on Instagram or Twitter. Not everyone is productive and successful all the time. I think it’s perfectly normal to have lulls and lows in life but when it’s happening to you, you feel so alone.

Take it from me, the girl who has always had a plan and had no previous issues with mental health, we all feel like this sometimes. We all struggle sometimes and that’s nothing to be ashamed about, regardless of what that voice in your head says.

There’s been so many stories of young people in the public eye struggling with mental health issues recently and I think it’s time we all clue up. Mental health isn’t something that only a few people have to deal with. We all have a mental health that needs to be taken care of and some times we need more help with that.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this now, but I just wanted to put some thoughts out there and get myself writing again. Hopefully hearing my story might help someone feel less alone. I may feel like a failure, I may feel like a mess but that doesn’t mean I am and that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with that.

There’s nothing wrong with what you’re experiencing either.

Take care.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

Never Been Heartbroken…? | Love + Life Lessons

What a statement, eh?! Imagine never feeling heartbroken. I don’t think there’s a person alive right now who hasn’t felt this feeling at least once.

My first true heartbreak was probably when the pop-sensation band Steps split up in the early noughties, and this pain continued as every band I loved through my childhood took the same fate.

(Little did I know, years later that most of them would reunite in some way. Doesn’t that feel like a brilliant metaphor for all heartbreaks? Everything that is meant to be, will come back again)

But if you’ve ever watched a movie, read a book, binged a TV show or even just listened to those around you, you might be under the impression that heartbreak can only be experienced by those in love. Like romantic love. Like, like like, you know?

Which is so far from reality! I feel like most of the heartbreak we experience comes from everything else outside of a romantic relationship – yet that’s the only thing we see.

Heartbreak comes in so many different forms and I think the more we talk about it, the easier it’ll be to get through it.

UNROMANTIC PAIN

Some examples of the way I personally have experienced heartbreak, that are not involving a romantic relationship:

(truth corner: I am currently still in my first relationship, and so far so good. I am hoping that I will not have to experience this kind of heartbreak anytime soon!) 

  • Family grief

Not to get too deep, but my family has experienced a lot of loss through my lifetime. Loss can sometimes not even be death, but rather illness or something extreme that changes a person you love so that they will never be the same.

And let’s not even get into the loss of pets!

  • Rejection from work/school

This is my main source of heartbreak at the minute. Getting rejected from a dream job, when you’ve worked so hard and put every bit of effort in is the worst feeling ever. And I’ve faced that a canny bit recently – the joys of post-uni life!

  • Friendship breakups

To be honest, I think a friendship breakup must be as painful as a romantic breakup. When you’re so used to seeing someone every day for however many years, it’s really hard to just walk away. I’m quite a sentimental person and find it hard to just let go of shit even when I know that it’ll be so beneficial in the long run (see my post on toxic friendships here for more).

  • Getting the wrong idea

This one is just a generic one, but sometimes just being in the wrong or getting caught up in the wrong idea is heartbreaking too. When you genuinely thought you were going to get something (it could be a job, a friend, a partner or even a trivial material thing) it can be so awful to find out you’ve been wrong. Especially in this world where we’re told we can get everything we want if we work hard enough.

BUT WHY?

Heartbreak happens when we have passion and expectations. Whether that’s passion for someone else or passion for a project; expectations for ourselves or of others, when there’s a lot of big emotions involved we’re probably going to get hurt.

One of the most dangerous reactions to heartbreak though is shutting yourself down. If I don’t feel it, then I can’t get hurt right? WRONG.

Being vulnerable, feeling things deeply and honestly is the way you’re supposed to be. Sure you might get hurt but you only get hurt if you cared in the first place and that’s a wonderful thing to experience.

I think that anything bad that may happen, including heartbreak, brings it’s own lessons that you needed (but might not have wanted) to face. And that overall is a wonderful thing, and what we’re all about.

HOW TO DEAL WITH [UNROMANTIC] HEARTBREAK

This may also work for romantic scenarios.

  • Allow yourself to be hurt for a while

I think there’s a lot of shame around feeling sad and it’s so ridiculous. If you’re feeling sad, or rejected, or upset, allow yourself to experience that! For a little while at least.

The more you try to push it away and hide it, the harder it’ll be to move on.

  • Talk about it

Or write about it, or vlog about it. Do whatever you feel like you need to do to get these thoughts and feelings off your chest. I do recommend talking to an actual human being about it at some point though, but if at first you don’t feel like it; document it for yourself.

It’ll allow you to reflect and grow and ultimately result in you becoming better.

When you’re feeling down, there’s nothing better to do than indulge in self-care. You should definitely do the essentials, but you can also use this time to pamper and really treat yourself. After all, everything needs to come from within so you might as well take care of yourself.

  • Get back out there

This is the final step. Once you’ve allowed yourself to feel everything; you’ve documented it and reflected on it; you’re all preened and pampered now is the time to get back out that. Start dating again, apply for more jobs or courses, continue creating.

Don’t let heartbreak get in the way of living your life.


You got this.

Speak soon,

Rachael

The Vital Self – Care You Might Forget

When scrolling through social media, you might be under the impression that #selfcare is all about expensive bath products, face masks and a bit of relaxation. Something kind of superficial that you do for yourself when you’re having a tough day.

And although these are wonderful acts of kindness that you should definitely treat yourself to as and when you can, the whole idea of self care has kind of been overshadowed by it’s superficial sister.

I too have often forgotten how to perform this quite frankly vital act upon myself in desperate times. Those times when I feel like it’ll take more than something that smells good from LUSH to sort out my brain or body.

So as a reminder to both myself and anyone else out there who might be struggling, here’s a few of the important things you should consider to do to take care of yourself:

Book and actually go to health appointments

When was the last time you saw your doctor, your dentist, your counsellor, your sexual health nurse…?

With the constant pressure to be busy at all times it can be a scarily long length of time before you realise that you haven’t been checked out. Especially in times of stress or bad mental health it is so important to see professional medical people, yet these are often the times where we struggle to find a spare moment to book an appointment let alone actually follow it through and go.

Do yourself a favour now and book in to see whoever you need to see, and when the time comes, actually go to that appointment. You can make the time. Your body and brain will thank you for it.

Make sure you’re drinking and eating

As someone who is, quite frankly, obsessed with food the idea of forgetting to eat seems a bit alien to me. But when things are busy and stressful, it can be hard to find the time or even the energy to check that we’re taking care of our most basic needs.

Food and water provide us with the necessary fuel to go about our lives. I’m talking literal energy here. If you’re not taking the time to top yourself up it’s going to be so much more difficult to tackle those to-dos, so ensure that you’re eating and drinking regularly. Listen to your body – when your tummy rumbles, or you feel a bit of a headache coming on those are signs that you desperately need to stop and refuel.

Trying to get enough sleep/rest

Sleep is something that I often struggle with these days and I’m only just beginning to understand how much that impacts my day to day life. If I haven’t have enough sleep or a good quality sleep the night before, I am a monster. Honestly. I become irritable and emotional and find it so difficult to even get on with the simplest of things, such as looking after myself.

Trying to get around 7 – 8 hours of sleep at night is important, but also try to ensure that you’re getting a good quality sleep too. Quality and quantity are equals in this game.

Open a window, change your bedding, keep the lights off, meditate; take some time before you head off to bed to make your space as comfortable as possible to encourage a good quality rest.

Taking medication (if and when needed)

If your on regular medication, then there is obviously a very important reason for that. Yet despite how important it is to take medication on a regular basis, it so often falls under our radar when we get busy.

Set some reminders on your phone or computer, write post it notes and stick them on your desk or mirror – have reminders in places that you see constantly to ensure that you don’t miss taking what you need.

Cleaning (yourself and environment)

During my time at university, I developed the habit of cleaning when I became stressed or overwhelmed. My environment effects me greatly and so if my room is a mess, then it’s almost guaranteed that I’m a mess too.

There is something so calming about cleaning and tidying, I find, that can instantly change my mood. When you’re feeling overwhelmed with life, a messy room or an unclean body isn’t going to help you feel any better.

Take some time to lightly clean your room, your desk, your kitchen – wherever you feel particularly stressed and are in regularly – and then clean yourself. This is where you can crack open the bath bombs and lotions, if you fancy. But just getting a regular shower will make you feel more at peace. Show your body and soul respect.

Communicating with other human IRL

We all spend too much time on the internet. I feel like that’s just a fact at this point. And when you’re online, on social media, you feel like you’re connecting with other people because isn’t that the whole point of those apps in the first place?

But it’s so important to actually see and speak to another person face-to -face at regular points. Sure social media is great, but I find that I often feel lonely after scrolling through feeds and reading about other people’s lives.

If there’s no one around you who’s available immediately, simply going to your local shop and interacting with the cashier will boost your mood. Real life, human interaction is so important and it’s something we actually crave. Don’t push yourself away too far.

Saving/earning money for financial and mental security 

Growing up in a working class family has guaranteed that money has always been a huge concern for me.  Even now I earn my own money and, thankfully, don’t have many commitments at the moment, I still find myself becoming anxious over the thought of not having enough money.

Saving is something I am definitely trying to learn myself, but simply knowing that I have a little sum put aside ‘just in case’ takes a huge weight from my shoulders. Even though money is a huge issue for a lot of people, a small, simple solution is often forgotten in all the stress.

If you are in a position to earn money, then trying to put away even the smallest amount regularly will provide long term relief.


What self care tips do you find to be the most important?

Take care of yourself.

Speak soon,

Rachael

Lessons Learnt From 2017 | Festive Thoughts #1

This past year has been a mad one, don’t you think? I know how cliche it is to say this but it has honestly gone so fast – I don’t think I can even process the fact that 2017 is soon to be over!

To be totally honest with you, this year has been full of extreme highs and lows. And although it’s been a strange thing to go through, 2017 has provided me with so many learning curves and lessons to take along to the new year.

So what better way to celebrate the fact we’ve made it through another year, then to share what this one has taught me?

SELF – CARE IS HARD SOMETIMES

Contrary to what Instagram will tell you, self – care isn’t always face masks and Lush products. Of course it can be this, but there is so much more to looking after yourself then the luxury stuff and I think that’s hit me hard this year.

Sometimes, self – care can mean letting go of old friends who are no longer serving you or make you feel good, or sometimes we can lose friends when we put ourselves first. Both are painful and difficult situations to go through but are so worth it in the long run.

2017 taught me that I need to get serious about my self – care and I need to put myself first, or else I can’t be there for anyone else.

YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS IMPORTANT, GODDAMMIT!

On a similar note, this past year has taught me that I need to practice what I preach when it comes to mental health and looking after yourself.

I am often very public about caring for mental health and I am the first to encourage my loved ones to take care of themselves. But for the longest time I didn’t take my own mental state seriously – and how that’s come to bite me on the arse this year!

2017 taught me that, regardless of how you’ve been in the past, you do have a mental health and it is something that needs to be taken seriously. Take care of yourself, be honest and seek help if you need it. We all struggle sometimes.

HARD TIMES = GROWTH, BUT OH HOW IT SUCKS!

Can you tell that this has been a little bit of a difficult year for me? 🙂 But as I said in the beginning, I’m actually feeling quite grateful for it all, as it’s allowed me to grow and learn so much.

Because this year has been so full of extreme highs and lows, I’ve learnt that you only really grow during difficult times. It’s those times that allow you to really get deep with yourself. You’ll learn how you cope, what triggers you, what makes you feel good and so on. But even though I know how beneficial these hard times can be, it doesn’t stop them sucking and it doesn’t stop the negative impact is has on me in the current moment.

2017 taught me how to cope better with hard times, how to lift myself back up and the signs to look for when things start going downhill again.

SOMETIMES YOU NEED THE DULL MOMENTS IN LIFE

Like I keep saying, there’s been some extreme highs and lows this year. One of which was my graduation in July, which was definitely a high! I had worked so hard for so long to get to that moment and although it was wonderful, and I still can’t believe I have a degree in a subject I love, life suddenly got in the way again.

I felt so underwhelmed for such a long time. After all that hard work, effort and fun I was now back at home, working in retail and, along with a bunch of other obstacles, I’ve found myself feeling like a failure for the past six months or so.

But being out of education and being away from creative/productive work has allowed me to relax and get a grip on my life again. University was a wonderful experience for me, but it also came with it’s difficulties and I now understand that I’ve needed some time away just to live. To get back in touch with myself, so to speak.

2017 taught me that there is value to every season of life. Comparison certainly is the thief of joy and just because your journey differs from those around you (or online!) doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Take things at your own pace and stop being so hard on yourself.


So there we have it! This has been a bit of a personal post and basically a summary of my 2017. How was yours?

Happy holidays!

Speak soon,

Rachael.

 

Five Signs To Dump A Friend | Toxic Friendship Masterclass

If you’ve stumbled across this little blog before, you might have noticed that I am majorly into self-care, self-development and all of that wonderful stuff. I mean we spend more time with ourselves then anyone else so we might as well make sure we’re in a good place, right?

However, as much as we can rely on ourselves for a lot of things, there are also some people we like to hold close. Friendships can be such a life-altering thing, for both the better and the worse. Of course the intention is to connect with people who enhance our lives, but sometimes along the way we end up picking up people who may do the complete opposite.

We’ve probably all been in a situation like this and it can be so draining! If you’re anything like me, then your friendships have probably taken a long time to create so you may feel hesitant to dump someone.

As well as this, there’s also a ridiculous idea that because we’ve spent a lot of years with someone, or have shared some good memories or whatever, that we need to stick with these people forever. But I think it’s just as important to consider the fact that things might be not working anymore and that it’s time to move on.

If you’re not sure whether it’s that time for you, here are five signs a friendship is toxic and is therefore unnecessary:

IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THEM

Now we all love to talk about ourselves. It’s just a simple fact of human nature. But a sure-fire way of discovering if a friendship is toxic is if it’s always about the other person. They never ask how you’re doing, or what you’ve been up to. They basically don’t ask anything at all, unless it’s to benefit themselves. They will unashamedly turn every conversation onto them and make sure that their’s is the only voice to be heard.

THERE’S A LOT OF TAKING, BUT NO GIVING

Friendships, like every relationship you’ll ever have, should be a two-way thing. You both should share the attention, the conversation and the responsibilities. But in a toxic relationship, it seems to always be you doing the giving. You can put your heart and soul into ensuring that this person is okay, comfortable and has everything they need without ever receiving the smallest of things back – not even gratitude. Of course, you don’t do things for your friends because you want good things back, but it should be a give/take situation and not one-sided.

THEY’RE JEALOUS / DO NOT SUPPORT

I’m sure we’ve all been in this situation. You’ve finally got that job/grade/partner that you’ve been wanting for so long; your first instinct is to share the good news with your nearest and dearest. But how they react is key to discovering their true intentions. If you’re in a friendship where the other person is never happy for you, or acts bitter about the fact you have something that they don’t, then please leave immediately.

Of course, being jealous is a totally normal reaction at times and it’s not a feeling that makes you a bad person. Friends will be jealous of each other sometimes! But it’s how that emotion impacts your connection that’s key. A toxic friend will allow the bitterness to get in the way of your relationship and may try to hinder your chances. They will not support you on your journey, like you do them, and that’s not fair.

THEY’RE ACTUALLY A BULLY

Now bullying may seem like an obvious sign that a friendship needs to end, but that’s only if you recognise that it’s going on in the first place. And take my word for it, bullying can sometimes be hard to spot! Especially now with this trend of brutal banter and name calling within groups, it can be difficult to spot where the jokes end and the meanness kicks in.

But like I’ve already mentioned, it’s about the giving and the taking. If you’re both having a laugh and taking the micky out of each other then that’s brill. However, if it feels a bit one-sided and maybe a bit too cruel then you need to consider if this is the kind of friend you want around. For example, if you’re always the butt of the joke or they attack things that are actually quite sensitive to you.

A real friend should understand where the line is, and if they decide to cross it constantly without an apology then maybe you shouldn’t be spending your time with them.

THEY’RE SUPER PESSIMISTIC

We can all get down sometimes. And with the way the world is currently, a lot of conversations we might be having with our friends aren’t going to be the happiest. But a clear sign that a friend is toxic is if they’re always pessimistic.

For them, there is never a silver lining – there is never another side to the story. They are constantly trying to bring you down and remind you of all of the bad things that have or will happen. Being a pessimist in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but constantly dragging other people down with bad views is. A true friend should try to lift you up and support you, not bring you down and make you feel bad.


I really wanted to tackle this subject for a little while now, so I’ve decided to do a mini series about it. Toxic friendships are kind of a popular topic at the moment and I’m so glad, because without this trend I wouldn’t have noticed them in my own life.

I hope this helps you in some way. And as hard as it may be to take the initial steps to dump a friend, it’s going to be so worth it in the long run. Your time is too precious and your mental health is too important to waste on people who make you feel bad.

Do you have any experience of toxic friendships? What other signs are there?

Speak soon,

Rachael.

How To Look After Yourself During Autumn/Winter

This is my absolute favourite time of the year. The dark nights and colder weather makes everyone just want to huddle up, drink hot drinks and spend a lot of time indoors and considering this is how I like to spend all of my time, there is no surprise that autumn /winter is when I’m in my element.

Having said that, this time of year is also often the worse for my mental state. It’s taken me quite a while to recognise the patterns, but it turns out that the things I love the most about this season are also the things that cause the most issues within myself.

The dark nights, although perfect for huddling indoors and getting an early night, make the days feel shorter meaning I feel like I have less time to just be. Not to mention a lack of Vitamin D and fresh air – who wants to go outside when it’s cold, dark and damp? – there’s no wonder that my mental health takes a kicking.

I love autumn/winter because it allows and encourages me to fall into the habits that make me comfortable – like staying at home, drinking too much caffeine and basically staying still for days on end – but I’m beginning to accept that it can also be problematic and I need to start taking better care of myself.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this. Online it seems like everyone and their mothers has a love affair with this season, so we’re constantly only ever seeing the good things. And although this is fun and a nice pick-me-up, there are times when we need to get real and make self-care a priority.

So as much as I am willing to throw myself into the festivities that are happening all around us right now, I am also going to start taking some time out to look after myself. Here’s what I’ll be trying:

GETTING OUTSIDE MORE + EXERCISE

It can be so hard to get outside during this season, especially if you live in a cold environment. The damp weather and dark skies are such a deterrent to trying to enjoy the outside world. Like most people our age, I have an obsession with social media and everything online which often leads to me spending the majority of my time indoors attached to a screen. And as much fun as I have doing this, I know how beneficial taking a break and being outdoors can be.

For me, the beach is my happy place. I love nothing more than going for a walk along the coast and just being by the waves. And funnily enough, the colder climates are often my favourite time to be by the sea as it creates some dramatic scenery.

Yet I still put myself off going because it’s too cold, or I’m too tired and so on, which then results in me falling into a rut. I think we could all do with making some serious effort to get outside more in our free time. Take a walk in your local park or if you’re close enough go to the beach. Just make sure you get a few hours outside, with nature and fresh air. You’ll be so surprised with how much of a difference it actually makes.

EAT SOME VEGGIES

One of the main reasons behind my love for autumn/winter is the food. Honestly, I am such a foodie and this season, with it’s various holidays and festivities, is the best time for all that. It suddenly becomes totally acceptable to each chocolate 24/7 and now that summer’s over it seems like all that horrible shaming diet talk disappears a little.

Now believe me when I say I go to town with all that. And as much fun as that is, after days or weeks without eating some decent food or drinking enough water, both my mental and physical health takes a kicking.

The way you eat and what you choose to eat is none of my business, but I’m just putting it out there as a little reminder for us all to try to include some decent (as in vegetables) food into our meals as often as we can. It can make such a difference to how we feel and I often forget that.

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SOCIALISING (WITHOUT ALCOHOL)

With Christmas coming up, this season is often full of social gatherings and opportunities to meet up with loved ones. Unfortunately a lot of these gatherings, if you’re in circles like I am, often revolve around alcohol.

Now I’ve never discussed alcohol on this blog before, but I know that it can be a massive detriment to my mental health and I know I’m not alone in that. It can be hard this season to spend time with friends or family, without a cheeky bottle of bubbly popping up. Of course people are in the celebrating mood but if you feel overwhelmed, make an effort to meet up with friends in ways that don’t involved a drink.

Go to the cinema, see a panto or even have a really nice meal. Of course drink may be involved in some way here, but make sure that it isn’t the main attraction. Take the time to actually have conversations and catch up; ask them how they think this year’s gone for them and get all reflective. Drinking can be fun, but if you’re wanting take extra care of yourself try to avoid it.

BEING HONEST

Alongside meeting up with friends to have genuine conversations, take time this season to be honest. If you’re like me, then you hate to admit when you’re struggling or just having a bad day. I like to think I can take care of myself and I don’t need help from anyone. Which may be the case, sometimes. But I also need support sometimes too.

As we often spend more time with our friends and families this season, like I said at social gatherings or even just as we all huddle indoors for warmth, we might as well make the effort to be honest with them. Let them know how you’re feeling, ask them how they’re doing. Create a safe and open environment where you can discuss serious topics. If we’re all spending a lot of time together then we might as well be honest, right?

EMBRACING THE SEASON

And finally, although it has it’s issues, this still is a wonderful time of the year. Sometimes, no matter what’s going on, you just need to throw yourself into the festivities and embrace what’s going on in the moment. Use the joy and happiness of the upcoming holidays to distract yourself. Or simply use it as an excuse to take some time out to wrap yourself up in a blanket burrito and watch Netflix.

Of course, everything in moderation so ensure that you do get outside and talk to people but sometimes you just need an evening to yourself and now is the perfect time for it.


Do you have any self-care tips? Also, what’s your favourite season?

Speak soon,

Rachael.

Dealing With A Bad Mental Health Day At Work

For the past few months my mental health hasn’t been in the best of places. With dealing with my graduation and impending ‘adult life’; starting a new job and some illnesses and issues within my family, things have gotten on top of me a bit and it’s been evident to everyone around me. Including my new colleagues.

I’m usually the kind of person who tries to keep everything under control and under wraps, but lately I just haven’t been able to hide whatever’s going on. So imagine my shock and embarrassment as I went into work yesterday (which was a better day) and was greeted with sarky comments on my improved attitude.

“Oh, so you’ve decided to talk to us today have you?” 

Now I know my colleagues weren’t commenting from a place of hatred or being deliberately mean. They were simply making a comment. And I guess I’m glad that I’m now in the kind of work environment where people notice what’s going on and will take time to ask how you’re feeling.

But that didn’t stop me feeling a bit embarrassed about my obvious bad attitude over the past few weeks and got me thinking about how I should handle it in the future.

Now I’ve spoken about self-care a few times on this blog, and I love that it is a popular topic elsewhere online. But even though it’s a topic I talk about a lot, I still struggle with it – especially when I’m going to work a lot and have to deal with my issues while still being present for my employer.

Following this conversation yesterday, and in an attempt to pick myself back up again, I’ve come up with a couple of ways to deal with a bad mental health day when you’re at work and can’t just huddle in bed like you’d want to.

FORGIVE YOURSELF 

Whatever happens today, when you’re at work, you need to forgive yourself for it. Treat yourself like you’d treat your best friend or a loved one. If they came to you and said that they were having a bad mental health day and subsequently had a bad day at work, what would you do?

You certainly wouldn’t shame them or make them feel any worse. You’d (hopefully!) be kind and compassionate. So why shouldn’t you treat yourself the same way?

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USE YOUR BREAKS

Although there isn’t much you can do at work to try to make yourself feel better, as you’re too busy doing your actual job, most workplaces are entitled to a break of sorts.

It is absolutely vital on a bad mental health day that you make the most of your break. In fact I’d say it’s vital everyday, but I know how things can be. However when you’re feeling low, make sure you use your lunch break to maybe get out of your work environment – even if it’s just for a walk around the block. Use this time to have a calming cup of tea and eat something nutritious and yummy.

If you don’t get official breaks at work, ask a manager if you can take 10 or so minutes uninterrupted away from the shop floor. Bloody hell, even just take yourself to the loos and sit in there for five minutes! Just allow yourself some quiet time.

BE HONEST 

If you’re really struggling to handle work today, pull aside a trusted colleague or, better yet, speak to someone higher up and be honest with them about how you’re feeling and express what’s going on.

I understand how hard this may be, but if you’re really having a bad day letting those around you know is incredibly useful. This will help them understand why you may not be performing at your best which in turn may give you some peace of mind. Mental health is still something of a ‘new’ topic for workplaces, especially those I have experienced, but by being honest and expressing what you need together we can change attitudes and the way things are handled.

HOME TIME = TIME FOR SELF CARE

Regardless of how many breaks you manage to get throughout the day, it’s likely that you’ve not really had any time for some serious self care. Once you’re home, make sure you take looking after yourself as a priority.

If you have plans for after work and don’t feel up to them, cancel. Although there still maybe things you need to get done in the evening just take it slow. Start your self-care routine the minute you get home. Things to include could be:

  • A long hot bath
  • Several cups of tea (decaff if you’re feeling anxious!)
  • Watching your favourite TV show/Youtuber for a few hours
  • Cooking yourself a decent meal. This can be whatever you feel like you need, but if you’ve been low for a while try include some greens (note to self). If you need comfort, carbs are you’re best friend!
  • Have an early night

Check out my Emergency Self Care Checklist for more ideas

START AFRESH  

And finally, despite everything that may have happened today, tomorrow is a new one. Take this evening to look after yourself, seek some motivation and inspiration so you’re ready to tackle tomorrow.

I’m aware mental health issues don’t just go away, but I know how much of an impact your overall attitude can have on your day regardless. By taking some time out this evening to support yourself, you will hopefully feel in a better mindset to deal with tomorrow.


How do you cope with a bad day at work? I’d really like to hear your advice!

Speak soon,

Rachael.