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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Is Instagram A Creative Outlet?

I’ve mentioned it before, but I love Instagram.

I’ve been posting so much on it lately and, although I do think I need to take a break from it every now and again, I really enjoy it! In fact I use it so much, I kind of consider it a hobby for me now.

I’ve always loved taking photographs and capturing memories, but now thanks to this app I now have a platform for my work. Yes, I’m calling the pictures I take on a daily bases ‘work’ as they’re something I’ve made.

I’ll admit, photography and Instagram doesn’t really seem creative in the typical sense – picture oil paints, blank canvases or open notebooks – but when you actually think about it, it really is.

Wherever I go, whatever I’m up to I want to document it. Now we all have access to cameras thanks to our smart phones, taking pictures is the easiest and most effective way to document a place, person or event. Instagram is merely the platform I share it on. Like a very basic gallery for my best bits.

I will take photos of anything and everything! Even the smallest thing will be photographed and shared as it makes me happy. Scroll through my feed and you’ll see so many photos of hot drinks, books and pretty trees. Although it’s basic and small, these are the things that make me happy in the moment, so why shouldn’t I document it and share?

No matter what kind of day I’ve had, if I’ve managed to capture a small happy moment, then you can expect to see it on Instagram.

I know that posting too often is problematic and sometimes I have had to force a break from Instagram on myself, as I find that I become too preoccupied with what angle I need to capture, what filters I’ll use and how best to caption the scene instead of just being in the moment and enjoying it. This is certainly some I need to work on, but for the most part I don’t think Instagram is a bad thing or something to be ashamed of having as a hobby.

I don’t think my posting on Instagram will stop anytime soon! Call me a typical millennial who’s obsessed with her phone, but I love documenting and sharing my days. Truly everything I post online, from Instagram to this blog, is for myself primarily and because it makes me happy, I don’t want to stop.

Of course getting feedback and likes is great and something I enjoy, but I’m trying to not focus on that bit and instead just enjoy the creative process.

After going through some tough times with my mental health in the past few years, looking for the good in everyday – no matter how small! – is so important. As basic as it may sound, Instagram is helping me to look for these good moments and for that reason I don’t want to stop using it.

What social media do you love the most?

Speak soon,

Rachael.

What I’ve Learnt Since Going Freelance | New Beginnings

If you’ve been to this blog before, then you may know that I didn’t have a job for a small period of time. I am so happy to report that this is no longer the case!

I’ve managed to get so lucky and land a job that is perfect for me right now. It does mean that this blog may go on the back-burner a little bit, but I’ll do my best.

Anyway, without going into too many details, this job basically gives the same freedoms  I’d imagine anyone else who is in a freelance/self-employed position has. Although I’m having great fun getting back into actual work again (and getting paid again!) I have found myself being faced with a few new challenges.

I’ve only been doing this job for a couple of weeks now but I’ve already learnt some valuable things to know when working for/by yourself:

YOU REALLY SHOULD GET READY

I’ve seen this advice given time and time again, and to be honest I never really gave it much attention. But I have noticed such a difference in my mood and productivity if I actually take some time in the morning to get ready. Even if that simply means brushing my teeth and switching out my pyjamas for tracksuit bottoms!

I don’t really like to waste any time if I have a lot of work to get done, but just taking even ten minutes out of my morning to take care of myself I notice a huge difference. There’s nothing wrong with working in your pyjamas, and sometimes it just has to be done, but when it comes to midday I feel so gross and groggy and that really impacts my ability to stay motivated and get stuff done.

BACKGROUND NOISE IS HELPFUL

This is certainly something that differs from person to person, but I really like having a bit of background noise going on as I work. In most cases I just have the radio on (Absolute Radio is my favourite at the moment!) but over the last week I’ve started listening to podcasts.

Now I love podcasts and I do normally like to give them my full attention. However there is something so soothing and relaxing about other people’s voices, at the right volume of course, that I’ve found myself wanting podcasts on while I work. My absolute favourite one at the moment is My Favourite Murder. I love it so much that I’m repeating episodes as I work, so I don’t get too caught up in the cases!

Finding some kind of material that your familiar with, like podcasts or a particular radio station, can be really comforting and help make your work days a bit more fun.

I’M SUPER SELF-MOTIVATED – THANKFULLY!

In this position, I have to rely on myself so much. Luckily I am really self-motivated and have always got on really well on my own.

I still struggle with procrastination and motivation sometimes (check out my last post about that here) but for the most part I’m pretty good at pushing myself and its so helpful with a job like this!

2018 certainly has been a year of revelations and maturing for me, and it’s great to find out that I still have so much more to learn about myself. Being unemployed taught me a lot and it seems like having a job again is doing just the same. I spend a lot more time by myself now, working from home, and I’m learning more and more about who I am, how I work and who I want to be everyday.

FINDING THE BALANCE IS SO DIFFICULT

I am so grateful to finally have a job that I enjoy and one that gives me the freedom to work how I want. But because I am doing work I like and on my own terms, in my own house most of the time, I’m struggling to find the balance between my work life and the rest of my life.

I know that other people who are either self-employed or are freelance experience this too so if you have any advice I’d really appreciate it! I really need to work on deliberately creating barriers between my time working and my free time; creating a working day routine and a winding down routine to help me determine between the two.

I think this’ll be an ongoing process and one that I’m sure it’ll get easier as time goes on!


What keeps you motivated?

I’m so happy to finally be writing this post. Life has a funny way of working out and although I’m not sure how long any of it will last, I’m in a much better place now than I was a few months ago.

Good things will come to us all, I just know it! Take care friends.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

 

 

 

“I’ll Just Do It Tomorrow” How You’re Holding Yourself Back | A Pep Talk

Procrastination. We’ve all fallen victim to it haven’t we?

Whether you need to get on with an essay, some revision or even your own personal projects it can be really difficult to get started. I know your struggle! Whenever I go to sit at my desk to get on with some work – either professionally or personally – suddenly everything else in the room seems so interesting.

Instead of doing research or writing, I suddenly want to clear out that drawer that’s been messy for years or watch twenty of those pointless ‘top ten’ YouTube videos in a row.

I will do literally anything to prevent myself from being productive.

procrastination

noun

“the action of delaying or postponing something.”

I will say now that I am quite lucky – I am fairly self-motivated, naturally so I try to not let myself fall victim to procrastination that often. But I still know how much of a struggle it can be.

In light of this, I wanted to take some time today to give us all a little pep talk about getting shit done.

PLAN AND PREPARE

A good way to prevent procrastination is to plan. No matter what it is you have to do, whether it’s a personal project, some paid work or an assignment, writing yourself a detailed to-do list can be so helpful.

If you have an assignment to do, make sure you have all of your research and sources ready; write a list that details every single thing you need to do – even the smallest tasks like writing the title or waking up at a certain time should be on this list. Once you’ve started ticking off tasks, you’ll feel so motivated to keep going.

I just think it makes things a hell of a lot easier if you’ve got everything ready to go, so you’ve got no excuses to start!

REWARD YOURSELF

Bribery isn’t the best option, I know, but if you’re really struggling to get motivated it can be so helpful. If I have a lot of work to do and I can’t find the motivation to get through it, I like to bribe myself.

For example, I promise myself that if I get this article finished I can spent the rest of the evening eating cookies and reading. Or when I was at school, I bribed myself to get through all my exams by promising myself a little shopping trip once they were done.

It doesn’t even have to be something that costs money. You can bribe yourself by promising an hour long bath, a walk in the park or even making yourself a nice coffee once you’ve gotten everything done.

TURN OF NOTIFICATIONS/WIFI

Our phones are the biggest sources of distraction. If you’re already struggling to get started on whatever you need to do, you’re looking for something to distract you. And we have these brilliant devices called smart phones that’ll do just that!

When you really do have to get on with something – when that deadline is approaching – turn off all notifications on your phone so you can’t be distracted. If you really need to, turn off the WiFi whenever you can so you’re not tempted to fall into a YouTube black hole (I’m so guilty of this one!)

GET GOING

No matter what advice I or anyone else can give you, the only thing that is going to make the difference is you doing the work.

I know it’s such an annoyingly simple thing to say, but you truly do have the control over yourself. You can force yourself to get through some work and I know that you’ll do it. It may take time, but don’t worry it’ll be worth it in the end.


Just a little post for today. I really didn’t want to miss my own deadline for this site, but I have been very busy recently. Hopefully I’ll get more settled into a routine once again soon.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given with regards to work?

Speak soon,

Rachael.

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)

How Quitting My Job Saved My Mental Health #1| The Back Story

I’ve been trying to write this post for weeks now. It was something I thought about even before I handed my notice in, but the words have just failed me.

As I explained in one of my latest posts (read here) I recently quit my part – time, customer service job due to mental health issues. This has been the first time in my whole twenty-two years of life where my mental health has effected me so much.

I mentioned in that post that I have never previous struggled with mental health – which of course was a lie. Everyone deals with their mental health constantly, but I had never really paid major attention to it. I was trying to deal with some issues like stress and nerves while at university, but – in the same manner as I’d dealt with everything else for as long as I can remember – I managed to just push it all aside to focus on what I needed to get through at the time.

This was probably the worst thing I could have done to myself.

When I finally left university I found myself feeling very underwhelmed with what my life became. I talked about it a little on this blog (here) and with my family occasionally but, once again, didn’t really think what was happening in my brain was anything I should worry about too much.

I thought it was just a form of relief; issues like stress, crying for no reason and being irritable were just the by-products of getting through my degree, and now I could finally relax they were coming out.

“Pushing it all aside … was probably the worst thing I could have done”

Two months after my graduation I finally got to leave the fast-food job I’d held throughout my A-Levels and degree. And although I wasn’t leaving to start a new career or move up in any kind of way, I felt like this was a small step towards progress.

Things started well. This new role offered me enough time to work on my personal writing and projects, as well as allowing me to earn more money than I had before.

But then as time progressed, so did the issues within my mental health. I found myself being low all of the time and unable to enjoy things the way I used to. As you may know, I’ve always been a massive reader but I couldn’t get lost in stories the way I used to anymore. I was far to preoccupied with feeling low, unsettled and anxious.

I’ve also talked about being an introvert on this blog, so it goes without saying that I haven’t always been a social person. But then, for standards that were low even for me, I found myself avoiding talking to or seeing friends; feeling scared whenever the option to go out came up. I just wanted to be left alone more than ever and to be totally honest with you, it was scary.

I just want to take a moment now to say that I am so unbelievably lucky to have such a wonderful groups of friends and family. Even, in the end, the majority of my work colleagues were super supportive too. Mental health issues like low mood, depression and anxiety can make you feel so alone. It makes you believe that no one cares about you, but let me tell you know that it is so wrong. And I’m a little bit embarrassed that it’s took something so low to happen for me to realise how lucky I am to have such amazing, kind and supportive people around me but I guess that’s how it works. 

Anyway, I’m sure you get the picture. I was spiralling into what my doctor now describes as a “really bad case of low mood/depression” and I just couldn’t see a way out. My family, who are literally the most supportive people ever, were becoming increasingly worried about me and urged me to see a doctor.

“I was spiralling”

For some reason, I felt ashamed going to see my GP. I didn’t want to have to seek help from anyone – I thought I could do it all on my own. Now I see how ridiculous this mentality was and, if I’d gotten help sooner I might now have been as low as I was. I definitely want to write more about shame and mental health, but for now just let me assure you that you have nothing to be ashamed about and please get the help you need.

It was a long journey, to be totally honest and there were times where I thought it was all pointless. But my family kept persisting and eventually I went on the sick and then made the decision to leave my job.

I just knew I wouldn’t get any better there.

Once again, I want to make a little disclaimer that I know I am so privileged and lucky to be able to walk away from a job that was my only source of income for a while. Like I said I have a very supportive family and I am so grateful for this time to be able to heal. 


This post is turning out to be a lot longer than I anticipated, so I’m going to turn it into a series. Please come back next Monday at 4pm to see what actually happened when I left my job and how I’m taking care of myself now.

If you are struggling with your mental health right now, let me tell you that you are not alone and there are so many people who want to help. If you want to chat to me feel free to drop me a message, tweet me or dm me on Instagram.

For professional help:

Mind Mental Healthy Charity

NHS Local Services

Call Samaritans:

116 123 (UK)

116 123 (ROI)


Best wishes. Stay kind.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

Who’s To Say You’re Boring? | A Talk About Habits, Self – Esteem and the Wonders of Social Media

I have always considered myself to be boring. For the majority of my life, I have been a (fairly) quiet, studious person who likes my own company. I enjoy reading, as you know, and staying indoors – like any stereotypical introvert would be proud to share.

As I explained in a recent post, where I come from that’s not really the stereotypical habits for someone my age. In a city like mine it’s expected that there’ll be lots of social events, drinking and generally just being pretty adventurous.

There’s been so many times that I’ve wished I was that person and on many occasions I’ve tried so hard to be her. I went through a period in my late teens of experimenting with who I was, what I liked and the friends I held close. And although I’m grateful for this time, because it’s taught me some valuable lessons, when I look back now I just see me desperately trying to be something I’m not.

Now there’s totally no shame if being a party person is your thing – you do you and all that – but today I wanted to talk about the other side of us all, the side that you’ve never really seen publicly until now.

The side that you too have maybe been trying to push aside.

BORING HABITS

boring

adjective

‘not interesting; tedious’

As I said, when I was growing up I thought I was the most boring person in the entire world. I had a close-knit but not large group of friends and, unlike seemingly everyone else, we didn’t go out together all the time. I’ve always spent a lot of time with my family, at home and I thought that was so tragic.

Flash forward to university where I started meeting new people and we swapped stories about growing up. ‘Never Have I Ever’ was a game I dreaded because I never had anything to say – I hadn’t done anything that would appear scandalous or make a good story. 

I started to resent myself and my past decisions because I wasn’t like everyone else. I thought I was boring.

LIFE IS JUST A CLASSROOM

A major issue for me is the fact I still think I’m in secondary school sometimes. I expect people to treat me the same way I was treated back then.

At school I was a geek, a nerd, a teachers’ pet – call it what you want I was one of those kids. And I always have been; it’s just my nature. If you’ve ever seen any teenage movie then you know these kids are the boring ones. The only time they become interesting is if they have a makeover and get noticed by the popular kids.

But being a geek isn’t a bad thing. In fact, as I get older I’m starting to see it as a good thing! I’m starting to see that it’s not as rare as I thought and everyone is a little bit geeky in adulthood. It’s what makes us interesting.

Being excited about something that means a lot to you should never be a shameful experience. If you love science-fiction, for example, then you should love it wholeheartedly. Let yourself be excited about that new book, movie, convention or whatever it is. There is nothing wrong with that! Let’s face it, in this current climate we need a bit of excitement and joy.

THE WONDERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA / THE CLEANING REVOLUTION

There’s a particular influencer going around at the moment who is getting everyone excited about cleaning. You know exactly who I’m talking about, and if you don’t have a cheeky Google – I’ll bet you’ll get sucked in too.

But yeah, cleaning is now a popular topic and people are genuinely getting excited by detergents, powders and scrubbers the same way, a few months ago, they’d be getting excited about a new makeup palette or a celebrity baby. And it makes my heart so happy!

Who knew, eh?

Cleaning seems like such a basic, boring thing. It’s such an old stereotype and yet here we are in 2018 getting excited about it. The same can go for books too. Have you ever seen  booktube? There’s a whole online community dedicated to reading, finding new stories, authors and generally just being excited about words – and it’s amazing!

All these quiet hobbies are taking up space online and connecting people. After years of only ever seeing the highlights of others lives, like when they’re going out for cocktails in their best dress or when they’re at some amazing event, we’re now getting to see the small everyday tasks that we all participate in.

I think that’s the absolute best thing that could ever come from social media – the communities. Literally no matter what makes you happy, there’s an online place for you! Whatever quirky, geeky, funny little hobby you adore there’s thousands of people online loving the same thing and encouraging you to join in.

So please don’t push away that part of yourself. It’s these little things that make us who we are and now we’re finally getting to a time where everyone can be involved.

From one nerd to another, keep doing you.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

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.

 

My Social Media Is A Lie and I’m Proud of It

This title is a little dramatic, but this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. It’s recently come to a head with my sudden burst of love and motivation for Instagram (follow me here).

Everything I post on social media is a lie – of sorts.

Scrolling through my feed, these bright and heavily contrasted images of my days seem to portray a ‘perfect’ life. Alright, maybe not perfect but at least a constant happy and fulfilled one.

And that’s just not the case.

I like to think that I am a pretty transparent person; I’m very honest and try to be as open as possible with those around me. Yet I’ve still managed to curate these images to make it seem like I’ve got my life together and I’m having a great time.

Which is of course true at the time of capture, but I want to take this time now to say that it definitely is not me all of the time. Sometimes it’s not even most of the time. Some of those images may only capture the two seconds of the day where I was happy, or even if I was unhappy I still managed to get a nice picture of the sky or the coffee I was drinking. It doesn’t show the full picture.

Stop comparing your behind-the-scenes with everyone’s highlight reel

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Even though I don’t have many followers and I’m certainly not in a position to influence people, I still know that what I put out there could effect someone – even if that someone is myself.

Sometimes on bad days, I’ll scroll through my own feed and wonder why I’m not happy like I was four months ago, or why I haven’t gone out since last September. It’s pretty self-absorbed I know but hey, that’s just what my brain does sometimes.

I just wanted to put a little note out there to say that my social media does in no way reflect the way I am everyday. I don’t overly edit my own pictures or try to make myself something I’m not, but I do only show the very best bits and that can give off the impression that my life is somewhat ‘perfect’.

It’s aspirational. The person I am on my Instagram feed is who I’d like to be most of the time. The girl who’s happy with her face, her outfit; who’s seeing her friends often and being down the beach on a regular basis. But I also know that it’s just not possible to be that upbeat all the time, and it’s those low or boring moments that make everything else so special and worth sharing!

I love Instagram. I love taking photos and documenting my life through them; I like to cement my memories by cropping, altering and applying an C1 filter to them. And I don’t think that’s the worst hobby to have.

I just think a little bit of honesty is important now and again to remind myself and anyone else who might be reading that we’re doing fine, even if our lives don’t match up to what’s on our social media feeds.

Come see what I’m up to on a good day over on my Instagram here.

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.