Gratitude In A Crisis [Guest Post by The Autistic Panda]

This week I’d like to share a guest post by my friend The Autistic Panda! We’ve been friends for such a long time, since we were 13, and she was the person who initially convinced me to create my blog, so I’m super grateful for her friendship.

And, on the topic of gratitude, she’s here to share her personal thoughts on how gratitude has helped her deal with depression and low moments in her life. I think it’s a really inspiring post and I can’t wait for everyone to read it.

Plus, don’t forget to check out her blog over here and give her a follow 🙂


I’ve suffered with depression for a long time and it is hard to get those negative thoughts out of my mind. I’ve often felt like I’m hanging by a thread in my life, but someone is always there to remind me about the good that surrounds me, and I thought I’d share some ways I’ve learned to appreciate my life.

It took a while to open up to the idea of gratitude at first because, when you’re depressed, nothing seems to make sense. But eventually, I realised that there are some positive parts of my life and I always cling to that positivity when I’m deeply sad.

I have an amazing mum, who cherishes me and I am so grateful to her. I have pets, who need me to be there for them. I am grateful for the many licks they give me, the many times they remind me to stay alive, even if they don’t realise it. I have a future, even if it seems bleak when I’m in the depths of depression. That future is vast and beautiful, even if I don’t see it right now. I just want to remind you that you have a future too, even if you can’t see it. We all do.

I am grateful for existence itself, as the gift of life has allowed me to meet many amazing people, animals, and explore interesting places. Whilst sometimes I hate the very thought of existing, I have realised lately just how cool it is. To be alive, right now, in this tiny span of time, is pretty awesome in my opinion. We may be specks of dust in comparison to the universe, but we have the power of imagination and creativity. That allows me to feel like I’m more than a speck of dust, I’m a galaxy, and you are too. Our own bodies are so interesting and unique, it is almost like we are our own galaxy.

Remembering the good things in life allows me to realise that I have a reason for existing. I have a purpose, even if I do not see it. That purpose is lost in the planet that is my brain; it is just one small atom amongst billions, but it is there, and it is just as important as the other atoms. You have to do a bit of searching, looking through a telescope, but you will find that purpose. Just you wait. You’re important, for you build up the universe just as much as anyone else. The universe would be boring without you.

Gratitude is just one of the ways I keep myself alive when I’m feeling like I don’t want to be, but it certainly helps. When you feel like everyone hates you, and that no one wants you there, it is easy to forget that your mind is a mischievous place. It sets up traps, trying to lure you into the darkness, but you can remember what’s real. Stay grounded. Remembering all the things people have actually said to me, rather than what my mind told me they’d say, makes me realise that they do care, and I’m grateful for that. No one is any more important than you; our value is the same. Forget what you’ve told yourself and remember what’s good in life, however small, because small things do matter. Whenever you think you’re small and don’t matter, remember that I said you do. You matter a lot, just like how bees are small, yet their role in the world is so vital. Your role in the world is vital too. I’m grateful that you exist.

Thank you so much for reading this,

The Autistic Panda

I hope you enjoyed reading this guest post from The Autistic Panda and that it added some positivity to your day.

What strategy do you use to help you overcome your low moments?

Let’s share some wellbeing tips in the comments below.


What is the Law of Attraction and How Can it Change Your Life?

Over the past few weeks I have been reading the book The Secret. For those of you who don’t know, it is a book filled with quotes and stories rooted in the law of attraction. It is so inspiring and has so much wisdom and insight into how we can go about changing our lives.

An overview of the law of attraction:

  • Whatever your mind focuses on most is what you attract in your life (e.g. if you spend time thinking about bad memories and negative thoughts, you will attract more of this, and vice versa)
  • The law of attraction is about taking responsibility for your life – no longer seeing yourself as a “victim” but as someone with enough power to change your circumstances 
  • Removing any “limitations” from your mind – instead of saying “I can’t” saying “I can” – there is no limit to what you can achieve 

 

I find the law of attraction super interesting because it is fuelled by energy, and the belief that we are all made up of energy. We give off positive and negative energies when we interact with others and this can change the way we receive things in return. 

When you think of times of struggle in your life, it’s so easy to focus on what you can’t do and what is causing your pain, but this only makes the pain worse.  I’ve found in my own life that when I started to focus on good and positive and healthy changes I could make, that the bad and negative and unhealthy thoughts went away, because I was actively striving to be better, not dwelling on everything I already was. This is the basis of the law of attraction in action.

The problem is that if you think negative thoughts 24/7, it comes as no surprise that everything in life is seen through a negative lens – your brain doesn’t know how else to function, because that’s all you’ve ever told it to do. However, if you try to focus on what you want (to be happy, to make friends, to get a job), then your brain is tuning in to positive thoughts and you are unconsciously seeking positivity wherever you go. 

You don’t have to already have all these perfect things (happiness, stability, independence) to become these things. You just have to think about having them in the future, to let yourself feel what it is like every moment of your life, until you retrieve it. If you can feel it as real, the universe will make it real. 

 

How do you Reframe Negative Thoughts?

One of the best ways to put the law of attraction into action is to start reframing all your negative thoughts. This way you can change your mindset to one of predominantly positive thinking and attract positive people and events as a result.

Perhaps your internal dialogue looks something like this:

I’m feeling so sad. I am alone. No one understands me.

Try changing it to:

I will be happy and I deserve to be happy. I will connect with people, accept myself as I am, and I will be understood. 

You can even change it so that it becomes a “fact” in the present moment:

I am happy and I deserve to be happy. I connect with people, accept myself as I am, and I am understood.

And yes, it’s not quite as easy as that, because you do have to think these thoughts constantly, reframing your negative thoughts until your brain has learnt to ignore them. But, if you keep repeating it, your brain will start believing it, and you will start believing it. And it’s only once you believe it yourself that you can go out and actually make it happen.

 

But “I can’t do this”?

You might be thinking right now: I’m an exception. You might be thinking: I can’t do this because of [insert problem]. And I think this is where the biggest setback takes place. None of us like to think we are at fault for our unhappiness. It’s triggering. We like to blame exterior things in order to push our responsibilities onto something or someone else. Because that’s the easy option, right?

But, stop for a minute and think: What makes you so unique that you can’t do something? What about all the other people who have that same problem and have succeeded? Do you really think that’s an act of pure chance? If they can do it, why can’t you?

It’s easy to let definitions define you. I think I used to do this a lot with anxiety: “I can’t do the presentation because I have anxiety.”

But you know what?

I can.

Many people who struggle with anxiety have done presentations and that’s proof in itself. I don’t have anxiety; I have anxious thoughts, and that can be changed. 

This is the same with anything – any symptom or problem or issue you have is horrible, yes, and it feels horrible, yes, and it does provide some limitation, but it doesn’t make anything impossible. Why can’t you be an exception?

So break down that thought inside of you that thinks you are a limited being with no potential. No one is limited. We all have things that hold us back, but it doesn’t mean becoming happy is impossible (even if it feels like it at that very moment in time).

Notice your thought patterns over the next week. Perhaps jot them down.

Are you focusing more on the good or the bad?

And what is life bringing you in return?

 

The Secret

 

Have you read The Secret?

Do you follow the law of attraction, or want to?

Let me know in the comments below!

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

What is a Fixed vs Growth Mindset?

The mind is super powerful – more powerful than we often give it credit for. Not only does it allow us to do everything we do in everyday life – speak, walk, make decisions – it also produces thoughts.

The act of thinking is something that comes naturally to all of us. None of us have to think about thinking. It just happens. Or does it?

Turns out, thinking about thinking is probably one of the greatest things you could ever do. Taking time to stop and think: what am I really thinking? And why am I thinking this? And is this productive to who I want to be as a person?

The truth is that thoughts can seem like the truth, but they’re not. They’re not really real. The trouble is that a lot of humans fall into the trap of believing their thoughts define who they are, whilst the others have learnt that thoughts can be changed and overcome.

This is where the fixed vs growth mindset begins.

 

Definition of Fixed Mindset = 

This person often believes that the way they are – their thought patterns and behaviours – cannot be changed. They may see things as “impossible” or use the phrase “I can’t do this”. People with this mindset are often stuck in their ways, won’t accept the idea that a better version of themselves, or a better version of their life, can exist. They might think they will be and feel the same forever, and they often have negative self-talk.

 

Definition of Growth Mindset =

This person acknowledges that whatever is in the mind is a construct. Beliefs can be changed and new thought patterns formed. People with this mindset are often willing to change and learn new things. They are welcome to criticism – it gives them a chance to work towards being a better person – and they see everything as a learning opportunity (even things that are negative/bad). They often have (or actively try to) have positive self-talk.

 

My Story

I think everyone experiences a fixed mindset at some point in their life. We all have times when we feel stuck, as if the world is out to get us, as if we really believe nothing better can happen. However, it is also these experiences that can drive us into growth.

For the first nineteen or twenty years of my life, I believe I had a fixed mindset (I’m currently twenty one), but especially in the last four of those years. I saw the struggles I had as this overwhelming thing that meant I could never do this and I could never do that. I saw this idealistic version of myself as an impossibility. And I was extremely negative all the time. But to myself, not to others. I would beat myself up for every mistake I made and talk to myself in ways I would never dare to speak to anyone else. And I accepted it as reality. I accepted it so much that it only drowned me further and further until the negativity produced more negativity, and I found myself in a lot of internal pain.

Skip ahead to the last year and I’ve begun to really understand the value of a growth mindset. During my journey to overcome the struggles I’ve had with anxiety, stress and fatigue, I’ve realised that there is no such thing as impossible – that is simply your mind creating limitations that are not present in reality. My thoughts have stopped becoming something that control me, but rather I try to control them, reigning in the bad thoughts and reframing them with positivity until they will slowly dissipate. The bad thoughts still creep in sometimes, but I’m learning to push them away with self-love and accepting a new positive reality.

 

Moving from Fixed to Growth Mindset

I think the problem with gaining a growth mindset is that a fixed mindset is so comfortable. It’s so comfortable – and moving into growth seems like so much effort – that it’s easy to just sit and take the easy option. I know I did this for a long time. I think we’re all guilty of doing this at some point in our lives. Why risk everything for growth when you can just sit and accept things as they are?

Because this is your chance at real happiness.

Real happiness.

In my own experience – and I know this may be different for everybody – I only really experienced real and full and overwhelming happiness when I started to move into a growth mindset. This doesn’t mean I never had happy moments before – I had lots of happy moments before! But I never felt wholly happy and accepting and fully myself until now, until after this journey of self-development, and I think that says a lot in itself. Your mindset really does affect your emotions and mental health.

As I’ve mentioned above, I’m twenty one. I don’t know all there is about the world and self-development and whether you can jump between the mindsets like the flick of a switch. I sure hope I never jump back into my fixed mindset! But I think everyone has some sort of value in what they experience, and I hope that perhaps this will inspire you to look a little differently at your own life. Do you let your thoughts limit you? Do you tell yourself you can’t do something, until your mind believes it is real?

 

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Be the candle of positivity in the dark 🙂 

 

I felt a little wary publishing this post, because I think talking about a fixed mindset and reframing negative thoughts can sometimes trigger people. No one can be forced to change their mindset – you have to do it off your own accord. So this post is simply here to give you a perspective, to perhaps enlighten you, but at the very least to make you think.

And if you relate, have something to say, or have a positive story of your own, please share your thoughts in the comments below – I would love to have a longer discussion about this!

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

5 Ways to Focus More When Reading a Book

I’ve seen a lot of comments going around of people struggling to focus on reading, particularly at the moment, during lockdown. I remember, during the times of A levels and the beginning of university, I struggled with reading too. It actually induced a lot of anxiety for me and I felt so restless I couldn’t focus for the life of me!

I wish I had someone to give me some useful tips in those times, so now that I have a little more insight, and have overcome these struggles, I thought I would share some advice.

 

 

Practice sitting still

I think one of the main reasons why it may be difficult to read is because most of us are just not used to sitting still! Most of the times we are rushing about our daily lives, constantly on the go, that sitting still is completely foreign to us.

And now, we are perhaps sitting still more, due to lockdown, but at the same time we’re not. Reading a book actually requires all of your body to be completely still (apart from turning the page), whereas if you compare that to working or eating or using your phone, you are moving your hands or typing or doing something at the very least. Watching TV can also be a good way of sitting still, but often you fidget without really realising it. 

Take a few minutes out of your day to just sit, and be, and breathe. 

 

Start small and make gradual progress

Suddenly becoming a master at reading is not going to happen overnight. You can’t learn a musical instrument that quickly, or learn how to play a sport, so don’t put that kind of pressure on your reading skills!

If you’re struggling with reading (even if you used to always be fine), start at the very beginning again. There is no shame in going back and reading for a mere five minutes and working your way up from there. 

Start with 5 minutes, increase it to 10 minutes when you feel comfortable, and keep going.

 

Use your phone less

Phone? What does that have to do with reading?

Scrolling through your phone, flicking between apps and typing super fast is draining your attention span – a lot!! You are so used to picking up information at a fast speed, that when it comes to reading a seven hour book, where you can’t get to the end of the story in two minutes (like a news article), you easily lose concentrate. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

To reign in your impatience, cut out a portion of your phone consumption and try reading instead. You will be irritable at first, but stick with it. And next time you read an article or watch a video, try not to skim ahead to the end (as hard as it is!) because it is teaching your brain to take shortcuts. And, as I firmly believe, skipping to the end of a book is never okay… 

 

Read before bed

From personal experience, this is the method I used to get back into reading. I think that, in the day, it’s easy to get consumed with other tasks and sometimes it’s hard to find time to set aside to read, and when you do, distractions easily fall into place. No wonder anxiety hits. 

At night, just before you go to bed, there is nowhere you have to be. It is your time. So you are less likely to feel the pressure of reading.

Turn off your phone or put it on silent mode and just sit down with a good book. If you’re tired, just read for 5 minutes. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a bit of quiet time, and I find it’s a great way to drown out nighttime overthinking and lull me to sleep, without the blue light of phone screens and TV. 

 

Reduce your overall anxiety/stress

I believe that the overall anxiety/stress in my life was what made reading particularly difficult for me in the past. And I’m sure, due to the current pandemic, that a lot of people are feeling more anxious than normal, which is having an effect on the ability to read.

A while ago, I shared my own goals for reducing stress/anxiety and I’ve found that they’ve helped hugely in my own journey of self-development. You can check out that post here. And maybe try one or two of them yourself!

 

 

I hope these tips will be useful for anyone who wants to get back into reading, but is struggling to find a routine or overcome restlessness. 

Everything takes practice, so go easy on yourself.

You will get there in the end.

 

 

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Goodreads: mymindspeaksaloud

 

 

 

Weekly Wellbeing Challenge: Week 4

The challenge for this week was… 5 minute meditation!

[ You can find out more details about my weekly newsletter here ]

I’ve been dipping in and out of meditation for a while. When I was first introduced to it a few years ago, I really didn’t like it. But now, I think I have a better insight into how it helps the body and mind.

I chose meditation for this week because I want to start meditating regularly. I find it difficult to get into a routine because often I keep it up for a certain length of time, and then I stop and forget about it (which I’m sure is relatable for a lot of things!)

At the moment, it’s harder to create that routine, now that we’re all at home. As the week went on, I kept forgetting to meditate after my shower, but often I would remember during the day and do it then instead.

What I’ve noticed from meditating:

  • It encourages me to breathe more deeply, which makes it easier for me to relax and not tense up my muscles
  • At times, it’s not easy, especially if I’m already feeling anxious, or I can hear my heartbeat
  • It’s worth sticking out the bad patches because, once I’ve finished meditating, I feel calmer and more present within myself

 

I found that the best times to meditate are:

  • As soon as I wake up (but after I’ve got dressed/showered so that I’m not so tired I will just fall back asleep again!)
  • When I need to take a break from work (meditating genuinely re-energises me so much! it’s like a little nap)

 

Overall, meditating is a good way of acknowledging my presence in the world, living in the moment and noticing when I’m feeling uncomfortable or anxious and making the changes to reduce it (rather than continuing to distract myself).

My aim is to continue to meditate as much as I can over the next week, month and year. Even if it’s only a 5 minute break between finishing my work and grabbing my lunch, it’s worth something.

What are your thoughts on meditation?

Let me know in the comments below!

[ + join my wellbeing newsletter here]

Gaining the Confidence to Speak Up When No One is Listening

Today I want to share more of a rambling post about the act of listening. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why people speak and why people listen and how these traits differ from person to person. I’ve always been more of a listener than a talker myself. I would always read books as a child, observing the characters and their feelings, and I would start reading people in real life like that too, pulling out all this information from people without ever really having to say anything at all. I think this is where my passion for writing started – I just loved observing how the world works and creating my own version of it.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realised the importance in speaking up. I used to be quiet and anxious and this is probably because I let listening become my default – it was the easier option. Now, I’m on my journey to subvert this and becomes confident in the words that I have to say, but one of the things I particularly struggle with is speaking up when I feel like no one is listening.

How many of you have been in a conversation with someone for them to then start using their phone, or diverting the discussion over to something they want to talk about instead?

I find this extremely frustrating, and it’s also kind of rude, but not only this, it knocks the other person’s confidence straight out the window. When someone isn’t listening to what I have to say I start thinking: Am I not interesting enough? Oh, I guess you have better things to do. Why do I even bother?

When it reaches this point, I feel like I might as well be invisible. This is something especially sensitive to me, since I used to feel this way a lot, but I’m sure a few of you out there can relate. It makes you feel like your efforts just aren’t worth the time.

I think the main reason this has become a problem is because of the immediacy of modern society and our want to consume information instantly. It’s as if we must look at our phones as soon as we get a notification. It completely drives us away from normal chats where you just sit and talk with someone with absolutely no distraction. I bet our friendships and relationships would be so much more happy and healthy this way, if we took the time to connect face to face with our undivided attention. I’m lucky to have a few friends and family members who do chat like this with me and I really appreciate it.

It is inevitable that we have moments when we get distracted, because society has taught us to be this way and we don’t know how to live otherwise. I have moments where I’m also not paying attention, and I feel guilty even thinking about it, but I think, due to being a listener by default, I often wish other people would listen to me as much as I listen to them. I love understanding people, giving advice and helping them, but it reaches a point when sometimes I’ve had enough of listening. It reaches a point when, I’m dedicated to having a conversation without phones or any distractions, but the other person just won’t match that, or I have something to say, but no one will listen to it for more than a  minute.

It seems that in society we overlook the power of listening. I wish that listening could be taught in the same way that we are taught to speak up for ourselves (for I was always told off for not speaking at school, but never praised for listening well). After all, both talking and listening go hand in hand.

If everyone is talking, then what is the point of talking at all?

What do you think about the act of listening?

Let me know in the comments below!

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Dear Evan Hansen [Theatre Review]

A week ago I went to see Dear Evan Hansen at the theatre and it was my favourite theatre show I’ve ever seen!

I first became interested in Dear Evan Hansen when I heard someone singing a song from it on Britain’s Got Talent last year. I really connected with the song and it’s lyrics, so wondered who it was by. When I found out it was from an upcoming theatre show I knew I had to see it!

Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of a high school boy with social anxiety. One of his peers at school commits suicide and Evan finds himself lying that they were best friends. The plot follows the fabrication of this lie and the consequences that follow.

The show surprisingly had a simple set, but it didn’t need to be elaborate to make a point. There were various screens dotted about the stage with projections of social media feeds and messages; it was very effective in the way that it made me feel part of the scrolling and the masses of information that come flooding at you when using a phone. I thought the acting was brilliant – it was very personal and intimate, in that most of the scenes were family and friends conversing, and I think they did a great job of making it feel real.

I thought the show was written with so much heart and understanding. I like that it touched on important topics: loneliness, anxiety, drugs, and suicide. It was difficult to watch at times, but it was nice to see something so eye-opening and honest. I think in a world of social media, where we should feel more connected, we actually feel more lonely than ever, and so Dear Evan Hansen has come at the perfect time – to remind us that people care even when we feel like they don’t, and that none of us are ever really alone, even when we feel like we are.

This show hit particularly deep for me because I used to really struggle with social anxiety. I used to feel like I was invisible and that every time I tried to speak up anxiety would cause my hands to sweat, voice to shake, just like Evan’s. I felt alone because I couldn’t share my voice in the way I wanted to. It felt like being stuck behind a window, tapping on the glass (exactly like in the song on the show). And that’s partly why I created this blog in the first place. I’m glad to say that I’ve worked hard to overcome this and I’m in a much better place now, but in my heart I still remember what it feels like to be that person. It amazes me how well they’ve put this feeling on stage, and I think if I’d watched it at my lowest, it would have reminded me that people really do care. I hope it helps a lot of people out there.

 

Have you seen Dear Evan Hansen? What did you think?

 

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You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

fighting the dark clouds. [flash fiction]

I wrote this piece a few days ago. It was one of those moments where I just felt down for no reason at all, despite everything going so well lately. All my blog posts have been happy and positive recently and I love that, but I always want my blog to remain wholeheartedly me, even on the days when I’m not so happy. So this is something a bit more personal. I don’t know why these feelings came back – maybe it was the weather or starting uni or hormones or an array of reasons – but, regardless of any of this, feelings are always valid. And I’m learning to trust in my ability to overcome them. 

 

 

I know when that dark cloud is falling over me. I know that now and you’d think it’d be easier because I know, but it isn’t.

It’s something I can never pinpoint, but it happens. I know it happens when suddenly I’m a distant star, staring at this galaxy of blended people like I’m not really part of anything. Like I can be seen, I can be heard, but my wails only rattle inside my chest and all you see are my smiles. Nervous smiles.

I know it happens when I start to feel empty. Neutral. A feeling that isn’t really captured by either of these words but I just can’t find the right one. The feeling of just being stuck inside one stagnant emotion in a moving world, like suddenly I’ve lost the control to move about the world like a functioning being. Physically, I can. Emotionally, I’m too far gone.

I know it happens when I wake up and I sit here and I want to write things like this when two weeks ago I was in a world of summer and fun and real smiles and a happiness I hadn’t felt in a very long time, if ever. And in contrast, I feel stupid.

The reality is that if the world and other people and the climate can change, so can I. The reality is that you have to live in the moments in between before you find your footing again and that’s what I’m doing; that’s what you’re all doing even if you don’t know it yet.

When I sit here and I feel myself sinking into the ground it’s easy to let it happen. It’s easy to live my life like a ghost walking through crowded corridors because that’s what I did. That’s what I did at my worst and I don’t want to be my worst anymore.

Instead, I’ll put on my shoes and I’ll walk. I’ll walk until my feet hurt instead of my insides. I’ll walk until the beat of the music in my chest is out of happiness, not fear. I’ll walk until I’ve walked until I walk until the walk comes to an end. And I just have to trust the end will be bright.

My Goals for Tackling Stress/Anxiety

As some of you know, I shared a personal post a month ago about post viral fatigue. A lot has changed since then so I’m here with an update, as well as my plan and goals for the future.

After a lot of doctor visits, I eventually got referred privately to see a consultant. I finally got a chance to share all my struggles with no interruptions and a listening ear which was exactly what I needed. I had multiple tests – ultrasound scan on my neck and a lot of blood tests. It ended up being more blood tests as I would have liked since I’m a bit of a “mystery case” as the phlebotomist put it (they can never seem to get blood out of me!). I had 1 on the arm, 2 on the hand and 2 on the foot and they still got nothing! So that was a fun journey of returning to the hospital the day after with my warmest hoodie, a hot chocolate, gloves and some spontaneous jumping around. Got some interesting looks.

Once it was completed, I got all the results back and turns out nothing is wrong. I didn’t really know how to feel at all. I was so relieved there was nothing majorly wrong but I also didn’t have an answer to my problems. I’ve been told by the consultant that it could have been a virus that’s thrown my system completely off, or it could be the result of chronic stress/anxiety that’s manifesting itself in a different way.

The way forward is for me to now tackle my stress/anxiety and live the best possible healthy lifestyle I can, in the hope that my symptoms will fade (which they already are, so that’s progress!).

 

Here are my goals for 2019/2020! 

 

  • EXERCISE MORE

Over the last two years at university, I’ve been exercising through badminton club and the occasional walk around the park/lake. On reflection, this isn’t really enough. Aside from the fact I probably spend most of badminton sitting around chatting and not actually playing, when I do participate in exercise it’s not intense enough, nor is it a good duration. As much as I love badminton, I’m thinking of quitting it this year to focus on other forms of exercise that will be more beneficial (and I don’t want to overcommit myself to both). I’m planning on doing yoga and zumba classes, as well as possibly joining a walking group/club. I’m actually really excited to try something different and I’m feeling positive about the effects it will have on my stress levels.

 

  • DRINK LESS ALCOHOL & CAFFEINE

I say drink less, but to be honest I’m going to try not to drink any at all if I can. Both alcohol and caffeine are stimulants which means anxiety/stress feeds off of it. Realistically, if I ever want to reach a consistent stress-free state, I will have to cut out things that will purposefully cause spikes in my progress, so alcohol and caffeine has to go! I think cutting caffeine will be easier since I love chamomile and sleep teas so I will live off of them! In terms of alcohol, I normally only drink it socially anyway, but I’m aiming to avoid clubbing this year because that’s the only time I feel as though I have to drink.

 

  • SCHEDULE IN SELF-CARE

I am the worst person ever at self-care. I spend way too much time working, I get too invested in other people’s problems, and I have a habit of just ignoring how I’m feeling in order to make others feel better. But I’ve decided that now I need to be a little bit selfish, otherwise my health will suffer. I’ve created a list of self-care ideas (which I will probably share with you all sometime) and I’m aiming to complete at least a few of them each week.

 

  • DIVERSIFY MY DIET

In terms of the average uni student, I’d say my diet is pretty good. I eat 3 meals a day, I remember to eat a good portion of fruit/vegetables and almost always buy fresh food. However, I do get into a bad habit of repeating the same meals. To improve my digestion, but also for a little excitement, I’m going to switch around my meals and try some new things, as well as replacing my go-to vegetables (onions, peppers, mushrooms) with ones I don’t have so often (aubergine, carrot, green beans). I love cooking so this one should be pretty fun!

 

  • USE MY PHONE LESS

Since my phone/social media detox on holiday, I’ve learnt I need to live in the moment more. I’m so much more relaxed this way. I’m going to create more of a distance between myself and my phone and check it less throughout the day (maximum 15 minutes on it). I know there will be times when I break these rules because I can’t instantly change myself, but it’s something to work towards and eventually succeed at.

 

  • PRACTISE DEEP BREATHING

For some reason, I’d got it into my head that deep breathing just wasn’t working for me. My body naturally reacts to it with a faster heart rate and I instantly assume that it’s just making things worse. However, I think this is because I don’t breathe enough; my body is constantly stressed and it’s used to breathing shallowly. The only time I notice my breath is when I’m anxious so it’s no wonder I associate focusing on my breathing with anxiety. To change this, I’m going to focus on my breathing more, regardless of my body’s initial reaction. I’ve found that after 15 minutes or so of breathing, my heart rate does eventually drop. If it doesn’t, I grab a hot cup of chamomile tea instead and that normally does the trick.

I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away from all of this is to listen to my body more. I’m starting to notice more and more when my body gets stressed/anxious and instead of ignoring it, I am now doing something about it. It’s easy to feel as though you have no choice but to plow through, but a few minutes out of your day to just breathe, or have an apple, or do yoga, is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

 

My goal for 2019/2020 is to live a healthier and stress-free lifestyle – what’s yours? 

 

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

My Views on Body Image

To end Mental Health Awareness week, I wanted to write a more freeing post on my views on body image. There might be a bit of ranting and some personal stuff thrown in, but I think it’s important to share your opinion to help change people’s perspectives.

I feel like there’s so much out there that focuses on “the perfect body image” – there’s no denying this. It’s all over the media and the internet and advertisements. There’s no escaping it. I hate that the world has come to believe that someone should look a certain way, as if personalities are not important at all. Phrases are thrown around like “oh she shouldn’t be wearing that when she’s so overweight” and it makes me so mad because who decided there had to be a set of criteria for a body to wear anything? Everyone is always saying “don’t care about what anyone else thinks” and yet when people who may be considered overweight wear what makes them feel happy and confident, other people judge it and make them feel like they need to fit their rules of “appropriate clothing”. This means that they end up wearing clothes based on what they know other people will deem acceptable, rather than what they honestly want to wear themselves. And this is not okay.

It is understandable that people want others to be healthy and this is why they advise people to lose weight etc. but there is definitely a limit to what constitutes genuine, kind advice and full on abuse. I think that the person whose body it is has a choice and if they want to be healthy they can be healthy and if they choose not to then that’s okay too, as long as they’re willing to take the consequences. You can’t decide that someone else should be a certain way – they make that decision.

There are many people out there that don’t love their body and it’s easy to think that all of these people fit the stereotypical overweight person, but this is totally not the case. In my personal experience, I’ve always been super skinny and I used to always feel really self-conscious about myself. People would make remarks like “wow, your legs are so thin” but I never really took it as a compliment because I thought, if I was just an average weight, then surely no one would comment at all? Sometimes I tried to put on more weight but because of my high metabolism, nothing ever made an effect. When I was around 14/15 years old a teacher sat me down and asked me what I ate for each meal every day. I know they had good intentions, but it made me feel really bad about myself. I knew they thought I was starving myself but in reality I was eating totally fine. I went home and looked in the mirror and thought: do I really look that bad that someone had to ask me that?

Now, I don’t feel nearly as bad about myself. I still have days when I dislike certain parts of my body but I know that I’m at a healthy weight now and I shouldn’t worry about it. The thing is, no one else notices your insecurities but you always notice yourself. And so you should focus on other people’s perceptions of you. They don’t care about what you look like because a) they’re too busy worrying about how they look themselves and b) they only care about your personality and the way you’re interacting with them.

With this in mind, I really want to reiterate how body image does not matter. The world makes it into something that should matter through media and stereotypical remarks, but it does not. It’s good to remind yourself of this every time you look in the mirror. You are so much more than what you look like and you are so much more than what you think of yourself. 

You can view my other posts for Mental Health Awareness Week here:

How Would You Define Anxiety?

help me see the real me. [poem]