Introversion: Learning & Accepting

Realising I was an introvert was a journey that took longer than I could have ever imagined. And even though I’m finally getting towards the end, I still struggle to accept it sometimes.

Being the centre of attention is not really my cup of tea, if I’m honest, and it never has been. Of course, should my time to shine for a small while arise, I’ll of course make the most of it! But generally I prefer the days when people don’t notice what I’m doing; when only a handful of people listen to what I’m saying. As someone who gets embarrassed- note embarrassed here connotes going red, stammering, sweating and just a general sense of ill comfort- very easily I don’t like to have attention because in my experience one (embarrassment or attention) cannot be present without the other.

At school I was pretty bookish and quiet (labelled a teacher’s pet until the day I left sixth form and that sentiment is still with me now as I finish my final year of university) but I was never an exceptionally quiet kid and I think that’s why it took me so long to discover where my energy goes. My introversion is something that has only really come to a head whilst being at university. It’s this strange time in my life where socialising has been considered a priority. As someone with a history of only having a handful of friends who were pretty low maintenance, as we could survive on seeing each other at school and didn’t need much more, getting to grips with these new expectations has been tricky. It’s something I’m only starting to get to grips with now.

Introvert:  describes a person who tends to turn inward mentally. Introverts sometimes avoid large groups of people, feeling more energised by time alone.

Extrovert: describes a person who is energised by being around other people

Spending time with people is something that takes away my energy and leaves me feeling very tired afterwards. And by spending time with people I mean everything from having a class with people, actual social occasions like parties or going for coffee to even mindlessly watching TV with my flatmates. I’ve found that in recent years my energy levels when around people seem to be getting lower- or maybe that’s just because I’m spending more time with others.

Either way, university is often an exhausting experience for me and while I love being around my friends and flatmates generally, it’s important that I have time to recharge.

BEING RUDE

As I’ve grown more aware of how much being alone can benefit my mental health and generally make me a better person to be around, I’ve also grown aware of the issues it causes to those around me. I constantly say no to social events because I need that time to recharge (this is something I aim to work on as it’s not really the best thing. But more on that later); I often hole myself up in my room while at university in order to be by myself and I find that if I don’t have the time to recharge I’m just a horrible person to be around. I’m cranky, snappy and just not interested in what’s happening and that’s just as bad as not being physically present.

But as rude as it may be, I’ve eventually learnt the value of looking after myself first. Because if I don’t take care of myself, there is no way I am going to be present around other people. So although it may be bad for the short term if someone like me disappears for a bit, just have faith that when we return we’ll be better than ever.


Materials (Or How I Recharge):


Speak soon,

Rachael.

*affiliate link used

Important Things To Remember This Festive Season

This season is meant to be the happiest of them all. I mean the month of Christmas and all the other festivities; a time when we’re supposed to be surrounded by friends, family and wonderful food, what’s not to love? But for many people it’s just another month in the year. Or for some, even with all the festive cheer, this month still has it’s struggles and it;s difficulties.

But because we’re all meant to be so merry and bright (sorry) this month, it tends to make our dark days darker as we feel like there must be something wrong with us. To be sad, anxious or just generally not having the best time during Christmas? How can that be possible? Don’t worry, I get you.

If you are really struggling, at this time or any, please speak to someone. But for the most part, here are some important things to remember when things get a bit much this season:

  • Don’t Compare Yourself With Others

This is something I have mentioned a few times in various posts and something I try to remind myself on a daily basis. But I think it’s especially relevant during the Christmas period. It seems that everywhere people are having a perfect festive season; their families are so close and get on so well; they have enough money to buy amazing presents for everyone in their life and even the fact that people have time off is something we can get envious of. But it’s important to appreciate what you have going on and basically ignore everything else. Whenever we look at what other people have in comparison with our own, nine times out of ten we come out on the bottom. We get so busy obsessing about how we aren’t as good as the other person that we lose sight of everything we have and all the wonderful things going on with us. This one doesn’t have a quick fix and I’m still struggling on it, but please spend more time on what you have and less on other people. It’s such an unhealthy exercise to out yourself through.

  • Social Media Is A Highlight Reel

Similar to what I’ve just mentioned, it’s so easy to feel disheartened when you’re bombarded with images of perfect everything 24/7. Now that it’s Christmas we’re seeing images and videos of the ‘perfect’ way to do it, from the best decorations to expensive gifts to even constant happiness. With social media it can often feel like you’re the only one left out, but you need to remember that it’s a highlight reel. Every post on any site has been chosen carefully (in most cases) to highlight something. We all do it. Everything is edited and cut to only show what the creator has chosen to allow us to see. Why wouldn’t you just show the best parts of yourself or your day if you could? Which is all well and good but when it’s a constant thing it’s easy to forget that real life just isn’t like that. Not everyone looks flawless, feels 100% happy or is having the best day all of the time. Just because that’s what you see on social media, doesn’t make it true.

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  • Have Realistic Expectations

We all do it every year, I know. That thing where we big up Christmas and New Year and think we’re going to have the best one ever. We try to do so many things and make everything perfect that on the day nothing is good enough and we’re left disappointed. The key to this is be realistic. You don’t have to be negative, just think about the Christmases you’ve had in the past and the simple things that made them great. Do not try to replicate them or try to plan anything too much. This is really hard for someone like me to do, but it’s really important to try to ‘go with the flow’ a little bit this season. With all the stress and excitement things are bound to go wrong. With people coming and going so much, plans aren’t going to get stuck to. Plan as much as you need (ie. get your presents in before the big day!) but don’t put too much emphasis on everything being the best. Instead focus on having a good time, spending some time with loved ones and taking a break when you can.

  • It’s Only One Day

This is something I think we all forget in the excitement and stress, but Christmas is really only one day of your life. Of course it’s nice to make a big effort and join in with the excitement all month long but you need to remember that it’s only a day. When things feel like they’re getting on top of you and you’re struggling to do everything at once, take a breather because it’s only a day. 24 hours. That’s it, then it’s over. Now I’m not encouraging you to drop everything, become a total Scrooge because ‘fuck it it’s only one day’ but I feel like we all go a bit crazy over the month of December and it is a bit daft. There’s plenty of time to see your family and friends, to chill out and have a laugh. Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean you have to do everything at once.

As always I hope this helped any of you that needed it. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and I hope you’re having a good day.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

Cool Things I Did In November (Alternatively Titled: How To Escape)

I know I said this in my last monthly post (read here) but it’s just been another weird month. I think with the end of the year approaching, workload picking up and the general state of the world (*cough* Trump) it’s understandable that a lot of us are feeling a bit shit right now.

I’m, personally, really looking forward to the end of the semester and the end of the year. Although I hate New Years and January, I feel like we all need a chance to let off some steam over the Christmas and start afresh.

Although this month has been a bit poop and I’m still feeling weird about a lot of things (2016, man) I did some really cool things throughout November. These things, I noticed, helped me escape whatever was going on around me and although I want to share with you the events, because they really were cool, I also want to talk about escaping and looking after yourself too.

  • Bastille Concert

On Remeberence Sunday me and my brother went to see Bastille in Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena and they were phenomenal. Seriously. Bastille are a band that seem to always be there when I’m going through a weird or difficult time and I was so happy to find that my love for them hasn’t disappeared over the years.

The arena was bouncing and the guys were amazing. I’d totally recommend you guys give Bastille a listen, especially if you’re struggling to cope with what’s happening on the news right now. They sing about now and the struggles we’re all facing. Wild World is such a relatable album and sums up all our feelings on this year, basically.

Stand Out Tracks You Need To Hear: Fake It, The Currents, Warmth, Snakes .

  • Rocky Horror Picture Show

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a new love in my life. It’s something I’d seen in the past but didn’t really get. But now for some reason it’s become a great love of mine. In my university flat, there’s nothing we enjoy doing more than watching a version of this weird and wacky show together. And luckily we had a chance to see it this month!

It was hilarious, as expected, and brilliantly performed. It was basically a wonderful excuse to get dressed up and giggle like a schoolkid about sex. And there was something so wonderful going to see it so close to the shocking news in America as Rocky Horror is basically a celebration of all genders, sexualities and, well, species. Ha! It was the perfect escape and just a chance for us all to laugh about silly things.

If you haven’t seen Rocky Horror or have and just don’t get it, then I’d highly recommend you watch the BBC America’s 40th Anniversary Special (you can find it on YouTube). Seeing it live is a totally different experience and I’m sure you’ll love it.

  • Durham

This month I went home for a week which was so lovely. I’ve been feeling really homesick this semester, which is unusual for me, so it was so nice being back home and getting some TLC from my family.

While I was at home, me and my mam took a little day trip to Durham as, despite how close it is to where we live, we had never done that together. It was such a lovely day (as you can see in the pictures) and it was nice exploring somewhere new with my mam, who I don’t get to see much when I’m at university.

Going somewhere new and exploring was such a nice boost and made me feel like a completely different person. I know it did me and my mam the world of good being out of the house and having a little walk around. You don’t have to go far, but dedicate a day to explore and be outside. It’ll make you feel so much better, I promise.

So that was my November. This is kind of a different post for me and I’d love to hear your feedback on it! How was your month?

Speak soon,

Rachael.

What Is Self Care Anyway?

Following Mental Health Day this week (Monday 10th October, FYI) I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole ‘self-care’ thing.

It’s become somewhat of a trend on social media and we’re often surrounded by images of Lush products and bubble baths. Which of course is a part of it, but it isn’t always pretty and so Instagramable.

We all have a metal health just as we have a physical health. It just looks different for everyone.

THE BASICS

self-care 

noun: care of the self without medical or other professional consultation.

It’s pretty self explanatory but it does what it says on the tin. Although seeking help and support from other people is brilliant (in fact the Mental Health Foundation claim that talking to other people is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. You can read that here) you can also take control and look after yourself too.

You can do this in various different ways, which I will discuss in a minute. But the main thing to remember is you have control. When you’re struggling with mental health issues, whether that be a diagnosed problem or not, it can sometimes feel like you have no control over yourself.

But this idea of self-care puts the control back in your hands and reminds you that no matter how bad it gets, there is always something you can do for yourself that can help you along your journey.

(If you are struggling I will put some useful links at the end of this post to help)

HOW TO HELP YOURSELF

Self-care isn’t always pretty. Sometimes it takes more than pampering yourself or working out. A lot of the time self-care covers things like getting yourself out of bed, ensuring you’ve washed your face and brushed your teeth. It’s the effort a lot of people have to put into doing the daily things that most of us don’t even have to think about.

Self-care can also be the bigger things in our lives that may be harder to deal with but have a great impact on our mental wellness.

If things haven’t been feeling to great for a while, Mind, the mental health charity, recommends:

  • Assess your current situation
  • Look at the relationships you currently have
  • Ask for help
  • Take note of what make you happy or sad
  • Spot the warning signs

(You can read more about these here)

These are normally the ‘bigger’ things that have an impact on our mental health. With these it may take a little longer to notice a positive effect. But trust me (and Mind) they’re so effective.

You first need to evaluate what you already have going on in your life and see how these could be effecting your mental well being. Once you recognise the issues, you should talk action to either remove them or change them. Hence why this can take a little time.

THE ‘SMALLER’ THINGS

I don’t really like to downplay mental health or any kind of health issues really. It’s such a personal thing that no one can really judge (or at least try not to anyway.)

However, alongside those bigger, slower steps outlined above there are some simpler actions you can take to improve your mental well being on a day-to-day basis.

The following are things to do when you’re having an ‘off’ day:

  • Pamper night
  • Go for a walk
  • Read a book
  • Play or listen to music (a personal favourite)
  • Chat with friends/family
  • Eat well or cook
  • Do something good for someone else (ie. make them a meal)
  • Watch a movie or TV show

You can check out some of these in more detail in a post I did a few weeks ago.

Also see Mind‘s and the Mental Health Foundation‘s tips.

The key is to try to distract yourself. Take your mind of what is currently happening, even just for a little while.

If you are struggling please seek help either from friends or family or one of the professional services linked below.

Remember that you are not alone and everyone is going through struggles of their own. You can do this.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

USEFUL LINKS

Mind Contact: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/ 

The Samaritans: 116 123 (it’s free)

BEAT (Eating Disorders): Helpline: 0345 634 1414 Youthline: 0345 634 7650

Childline: 0800 1111

Other useful details: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health/getting-help

 

 

 

 

Becoming Unstuck: How To Get Out of A Rut

It’s so easy to get stuck into a rut and feel like there is no way out. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, being ‘stuck in a rut’ describes those times when you feel like you’re trapped. When things aren’t going quite as you’d like but you can’t find any way to resolve that.

This is kind of how I’m feeling right now and I know I’m not alone. Although it seems like everyone and their mother is excited about Autumn (I too am one of those people) it is a difficult time of year and I think we forget that. The days are shorter, the nights are darker and things generally get a little low for a while.

It’s natural for us to feel a little crap during this change of season but it, of course, isn’t the best. We’ve all got things to be getting on with and that’s really hard to do when you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

So for both you and me, here’s a little reminder of some basic things we can do to make ourselves feel better and drag ourselves out of this rut.

  • Go Outside

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This is something that is going to get harder as the season goes on because it’s cold and it’s probably raining so going outside is the last thing you’d like to do. I know that we’d probably all rather be sat inside, cuddled up in something warm watching the weather from a safe place but getting outside is so important for your mental health.

It’s not hard to feel like you’re stuck in a rut when you haven’t moved from the sofa for a while. When you feel yourself getting low or agitated or generally just a bit ‘meh’ try to organise some time to go outside. Even if it’s a quick walk to your corner shop, those few minutes where you’re breathing in some (questionably) fresh air and moving about will make you feel so much better and productive.

  • Make Plans

Planner.jpg

We become stuck in a rut because it feels like there isn’t anything new happening. Everything feels the same, day in day out. I think it’s quite easy to forget that we can change that and we can in fact control our daily routines to some extent.

Although I’m about to advise you to make plans with your friends, your family, your flatmates or whoever you have around you at this moment I am really bad at this myself. I really do think that this is a super important step in getting out of a rut and I know that when I have something to look forward to, even if it’s just a simple movie day or going out for tea, I feel better but I’m really bad at it. I’m one of those people who will change their mind a million times about attending an event and then I’ll probably end up cancelling anyway (sorry!). This is something I want to change (and maybe something I will discuss in a later post) because I know how beneficial it is for me, and you, to go out and do things.

Having something to look forward to will help push you through this strange time and show you that it doesn’t always have to be the same story everyday.

  • Be Creative

creative

In her fabulous book, Big Magic, that I have talked about a million times, Elizabeth Gilbert said:

If I am not actively creating something, chances are I am about to start actively destroying something.

(You can find this quote on her post here too)

And damn can I relate to that. It’s something I’ve realised pretty recently but if I am not working on something, whether that be this blog or university work or even free writing,  I feel crap. I get irritated and stressed because I feel totally useless. And when I don’t work on anything for days or weeks on an end, those feelings get worse and worse.

Whatever your creative thing is, your hobby, past time or passion, try to work on that even if you don’t feel like it. When you’re stuck in a rut and you feel low, the last thing you want to do is be creative (I would like to quickly point out now that creative is a subjective term and can relate to anything from art to sports. You know what your thing is) but it can help you so much.

Force yourself to read, write, run, dance, draw. Whatever it is you enjoy, take even an hour out to do that thing and I guarantee you’ll feel so much better after.

As always I hoped this helped. What do you do when you’re stuck in a rut? I’d love to know.

Speak soon,

Rachael.