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.

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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.

How To Get Out Of A Reading Slump

I love reading. It’s been a hobby of mine for as long as I can remember and I love nothing more than getting lost in another world built by someone’s words. It’s something I even talk about occasionally on here too.

If you’re also a lover of books then you’ll understand the upset and torment I feel when I find myself in a reading slump. It’s such an awful feeling to have suddenly lost the joy from one of your favourite pastimes and is, unfortunately, something that happens more often than I’d like.

However, fortunately for this blog, because I have experienced the reading slump regularly (n fact just pulled myself out of one recently!) I feel like I can actually be of some help to those of you who might be struggling!

Here are the ways I work to pull myself out of a draught and bring myself back to where I want to be – reading:

  • STOP READING WHAT CAUSED IT

Abandoning a book can be a difficult thing if you love reading. Trust me I get it. For some reason you feel guilty, because you know that someone somewhere spent hours, days, weeks on that book and the least you could do would be to see it through to the end.

But then I finally saw sense. What’s the point in carrying on reading something that isn’t bringing you joy? There are so many other books out there!

If you’re in a reading slump, chances are it was brought on by something you’ve been reading. That doesn’t mean to say it isn’t a good book or even something that you won’t enjoy eventually, but right now it isn’t working so you might as well stop.

Put the book away and forget about it for now- you can always return later when the time is right. Allow yourself the chance to find something better.

  • FIND A GENRE THAT SAVES YOU

Whenever I’m in a reading slump, I tend to reach for chick-lit because somehow it saves me every time. This is something I only realised recently, but those feel-good, quick reads pull me out of a draught and helps me fall back in love with books again.

Now maybe chick-lit isn’t your thing, but there’s bound to be a genre out there that you love and that you know you enjoy every time. It could be memoir, fantasy, self-help and so on. The list is endless!

Next time you find yourself in a slump, reach for something that’s in your genre of choice and see if it helps. Reading something familiar, that’s still a brand new story, is sure to help you get back on track.

  • TAKE A BREAK

Some reading slumps are so deep that nothing will pull you out in a hurry. So why not listen to yourself and stop reading for a bit?

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that, so take a break. Leave your books on the shelf and dive into another hobby for the time being. Hopefully after some time away you’ll feel fresh and inspired to begin reading once again!

  • WATCH BOOKTUBE

Booktube is the YouTube community dedicated to reading, with countless of creators making content based on their love of books. I personally think it’s a wonderful space on the internet and is one that has helped me from time to time.

When you’re in a slump have a browse through the various vloggers and bloggers out there who are dedicated to books. Their passion and pure joy for the hobby is sure to inspire you.

They’ll show you what you’ve been missing and you’ll begin to see things in a better light, all of which such get you back into reading once more.

Check out the materials at the end for my favourite booktubers who have helped me.

  • RE-READ AN OLD FAVOURITE

Similarly to finding a favourite genre, returning to a once loved book can really help you get back into the hobby again.

For me, I will always return to Jacqueline Wilson who was my favourite author growing up. Sure the books are a little young for me now, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy them any less! Returning back into these stories that meant so much to me years ago reminds me how much I actually enjoy reading and motivates me to do it more.

When you can’t seem to find anything new to grab your attention, I urge you to seek out your out favourites and try them once again.

  • TRY AUDIO BOOKS

Now, I have to be honest here and say this one isn’t something I have much experience with but I do understand how helpful it can be. Personally, audio books aren’t really my thing (yet!) but if you’re just not into reading at the moment, listening to someone read is a wonderful way to still be engaged in the hobby without doing any of the work!

You could even listen to books you’ve already read previously and see if they feel any different in this format. Audio books may also be a great opportunity for you to discover new stories that you mightn’t have even considered before, as things can be more easily understood if someone else is explaining it to you.

Either way I know audio books have been very helpful to others in the past and they may just work the same for you.

Stephen King


Do you have any tips for getting out of a reading slump? Also, what’s your favourite book?

I feel like I kind of went back into my original type of content today and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Let me know if any of these tips were helpful to you, if you fancy.

Speak soon,

Rachael.


Materials:

(Favourite Booktubers)

booksandquills

cozyteareads

justkissmyfrog

Ariel Bissett 

10 Steps To Refresh and Reboot Your Body

Do you know those days where you just feel a bit ‘meh’? For some reason you just don’t feel 100% and it’s getting in the way of everything you’re trying to do.

Well, here are 10 little steps you can take to feeling refreshed, rebooted and ready to tackle that to-do list once again:

  1. Take a shower
  2. Wash, condition and brush your hair
  3. Lather yourself in a fresh smelling soap, my personal favourite scents are citrus ones. They make me feel so clean and ready to take on anything.
  4. Exfoliate and/or shave what needs doing
  5. Moisturise your body, head to toe. This is especially important in the winter!
  6. Wear your favourite PJs or comfies
  7. Put on a face mask
  8. Give yourself a manicure and pedicure. I find it hard to do anything when I feel a mess.
  9. Make sure the space you are in is warm and clean
  10. Get yourself your favourite hot drink

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Then you’re ready to take on anything, my friends. At least this is what normally works for me. What helps you feel refreshed and rebooted?

Speak soon,

Rachael

How To: NOT Stress Out!

It’s that time of year again. When the rest of the world is preparing for Christmas and all that madness, students everywhere are surrounded by deadlines and exam preparation. How are we to cope?

First things first, get some sleep. If you’re stressing over something your sleep pattern will be effected. It’s just when you’re about to doze off that everything catches up with you and circles around your head and stops you from getting the sleep you need.

When you’re preparing for a deadline or an exam, be extra conscious to get that eight hours of recommended sleep you need. It’ll help you think clearer and concentrate easier, which will make your studying that little less painful.

Secondly, as obnoxious and obvious as this sounds, just take a second to stop what you’re doing and breathe. When you’re getting all wound up and worried your body tends to overreact with you. So take a second to stop and focus on your breathing.

Breathe in slowly and gently, hold it for a count to ten and then breathe out in the same, slow way. Taking a second to do this will give you a break and allow you to sort your head out as well as your lungs.

Now, let’s bring someone else into the picture. When you’re worried or stressing, it often seems like the safest option is to keep it all to yourself. But in fact, this is probably one of the worst things you can do. Talking to those around you about how you’re feeling can actually be a big help as it will enable you to get that support you really do need in times like this.

You’ll often find that if you talk to those around you many people are probably going through a very similar situation. This not only helps you realise that you’re not the only one, and therefore making your worries seem that little bit smaller, but it’s also a brilliant opportunity for you to all rally around and help each other out.

Finally, siting in one spot for hours on end stressing over your work and revision is not a good idea. Even if you do everything else that has been suggested, it just won’t work if you’re stuck in the same place where your stress lies.

So, take a break. Physically move away from wherever you are and just stop for a second. Being in the same environment for hours on end will drive you mad and make it harder for you to concentrate, so give your mind and body a rest and walk away from it for a little while.

Taking a break, whether that be going for a little stroll outside; making a cup of tea or whatever it is that will get you to move doesn’t have to take a lot of time. But it will make such a difference. Once you’ve got your head cleared, you’ll find it much easier to crack on and make better use of your time.

University can be a nightmare sometimes. There is always so much going on in both your studies and social life that it can feel impossible to do it all, succeed and have a good time. But you can, I promise!

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DISCLAIMER: This post is a piece I wrote for an assignment at university. All of it is my own ideas and my own words but just to let you know this is something I have also handed in to be assessed. But I thought it worked well here on this blog and hopefully can be helpful to some of you!

Speak soon,

Rachael