Are you caring for someone with depression?



I wanted to pop on quickly and let you know that one of my most popular blogposts was spotted and picked up by a UK mental health charity this week. The lovely people at Heads Together asked me to expand on my experience and write a more detailed post which I was over the moon about! I’ve been overwhelmed with my friends who have shared it on Facebook and would love it if you would go take a look.

It’s perfect for anyone who is struggling to communicate with someone they know who has depression. It offers a few simple phrases and an explanation as to why these things seem to help. I really hope you enjoy reading it, and if you do please share it with others.

You can read the full article here.

10 things only a diet addict will understand 

break free from dieting binge healthy eating

I’m done with dieting.

I’ve been on a diet for the last ten years and I’m so exhausted from it all. I got thin. Now I’m a bit chubby. Life goes on. There are so many worries in the world that I don’t have the will power to count calories and fight cravings any more. I’m free.

The hard truth is that it’s not that easy to free yourself from dieting. I’ve trained my brain to see foods in a certain light, to view exercise as punishment and to see clothes size as a way to categorise beauty. I was a serial dieter for such a long time, and looking back now the habits that I formed were very strange indeed. I know I’m not alone either; because magazines, books and slimming clubs everywhere have created little subcultures of calorie-counting women who all practice similar behaviours. Here is a humorous look at the things that only a serial dieter will understand…

1.Buying two miniature bottles of wine instead of one full sized bottle because it’s the only way you can exert self-control on a Friday night. This almost always results in a late night dash to the corner shop for a full size bottle after consuming said miniatures. Cue hangover.

2. Eating only vegetables throughout the day so that you can eat a very specific amount of cheese later on. This means being hungry all day as well as bloated and gassy from all the vegetables. At least you get your romantic moment with 40g of cheddar.

3. Spending money on diet magazines because you need ‘motivation’. You may also seek so-called ‘motivation’ from buying clothes that are too small in order to give you something to work towards. This never works.

4. Buying branded diet ready meals to make life easier when you’d rather eat a piece of cardboard smothered in peanut butter. The ready meal will undoubtedly be chucked in the bin in favour of some Warburtons Thins which are equally as disappointing.

5. Knowing the exact number of calories in a tablespoon of peanut butter and knowing that you could never just have one. Smirking with glee when you see the peanut butter sachets now available and shamelessly licking the packet clean on several occasions.

6. The obsession with stocking up on things that are labelled 100 calories or less. Muller Light Yoghurts and Special K Bars are your favourite, and your blood sugar levels are being carefully controlled hour by hour by these bad boys.

7. Living on diet drinks and espressos in between meals to distract from hunger pangs and keep your energy up. This leads to the odd migraine but you find more caffeine tends to sort that out in a jiffy.

8. How exciting it is when you’re going out for dinner, and you find that the restaurant’s website provides calorie information for every meal they sell. Obviously you can’t eat a full meal, but an interesting combination of two starters and a side salad with no dressing should just about suffice. Then a good long sniff of your friend’s chocolate pudding.

9. Refusing to buy clothes from H&M because their sizes come up small and you KNOW you’re no bigger than an 18. New Look are more forgiving so let’s stick with them.

10. Looking in the mirror and thinking you look pretty good today, only to have a rude awakening when you step on the scales to find that you weigh exactly the same as yesterday. How can this be? The detox starts today.

All joking aside, isn’t it time we all started forgetting about the calories in our food and instead concentrated on nutrition? Shouldn’t be be eating fatty avocados and avoiding sugary cereal bars? Isn’t it obvious that ‘diet’ foods are often void of the amount of energy we need to sustain a healthy lifestyle? In fact, the low calorie plans most of us try to stick to are destined for failure from the outset. Maybe not instant failure, but inevitably these crash diets are unrealistic for most people. Let’s all rejoice in the fact that we live in a part of the world where we actually have enough food to eat, and work on retraining our brains to pick the best of the bunch.

What’s your worst ‘dieting’ habit?

How to make friends when you have social anxiety 

I had two bad days this week. Sweaty palms, a huge knot in my stomach and shortness of breath were just a few of the symptoms that followed me around whilst I tried to appear normal to the rest of the world. I try not to bother people with my anxiety when it crops up; firstly because there’s not much anyone can say to make it go away and secondly because I don’t like drawing attention to myself. I guess I should work on that.

I did overcome one fear this week though; I went to my first blogging event on a day where my anxiety was really bad. Seems impossible right? It was all down to making some new friends, something I never thought I would be able to do since I started suffering from anxiety and panic attacks a few years ago. Here’s how I did it…

Make a few close friends 

The biggest thing that helped me get through those few hours of socialising with strangers was already knowing a few people attending. It meant I didn’t have to turn up on my own or find anyone to talk to! If you’d asked me six months ago what I was most looking forward to about moving to Birmingham the last thing on my list would have been making new friends.

For me, going out and meeting new people is like asking someone with a fear of spiders to go on “I’m a Celebrity” and eat bugs in return for their dinner. I would rather just go hungry. It’s something I’ve feared so greatly for over four years now, that I can’t quite believe I’ve built my own little circle of friends all on my own. I only have a handful of friends but I personally think that’s better because I can explain my mental health problems better in a small group, which is means everyone is aware of when I’m not feeling 100%.

Use social media 

I didn’t have a clue how to even start meeting new people, and to be honest it wasn’t something I was planning on doing straight away. My main focus when I moved to the city was to find a job and work on my blog. I found a job within two weeks and started building my Twitter followers to get more blog traffic. Whilst I had some extra time on my hands I followed every Birmingham Twitter group I could find (Brum Bloggers, Brum Hour, etc) and got talking to other followers. I noticed a few other bloggers tweeting things like “I’ve just moved to Birmingham and I don’t know anyone” and felt compelled to speak to them, even though it made me really nervous. Leaving the comfort of Scotland where my friends and family were always on call meant for the first time in my life my loneliness outweighed my anxiety, so I reached out to a few girls in a similar position.

My advice to anyone looking to make friends on Twitter would be to make as many connections online as possible, and don’t think about the actual real life meeting until it happens. I talk to lots of people online that I’ll probably never meet in person, so I just enjoy the conversation for what it is; a brief meeting of minds over a funny GIF or a relatable comment. Over time you’ll strengthen some friendships and these are the people you should meet in real life. The girls I met on Twitter actually talk more to each other via text than we do online, I think that’s a good thing because it feels more genuine.

Be honest

This one is hard, because it can be really scary to tell people you’ve just met that you have mental health problems. I urge you to mention to at least one of your new acquaintances that you have some anxiety issues, so that they understand if you flake out last minute or don’t seem your usual self once in a while. In fact, social media is perfect for this because you can tell them about it – in as much or as little detail as you desire – via direct message instead of actually having to go through the horror or mumbling the words out loud. Go on, be brave. It’s so worth it.

Have you struggled to meet new friends because of social anxiety?

What you need to know about my period 

period tampons sore boobs truth

If you consider this post TMI then that’s exactly why you need to read it. Periods are a natural bodily function for half of the world’s population so they deserve to be spoken about. Read on for an honest snapshot of my monthly flow! 

1. I don’t use tampons. I’m nearly 30 and I had my first period aged 10, so I’ve had ample time to try out the blasted things but goddamnit they’re just not for me. I can barely get them in, I can’t get them to stay there and I just don’t like them. Maxi pads for life. 

2. I can’t wear light coloured tshirts in fear of – you know – splashbacks. Same goes for pale underwear, jeans and bath towels. I also can’t comfortably go to the toilet, if you know what I mean.

3. I eat my feelings. This month has been sponsored by Dairy Milk Oreo, Five Guys fries and a milkshake (weirdly no burger though), flapjacks and Heinz Tomato Soup. 

4. I fly off the handle. I bought web hosting and instead of paying for it monthly I paid for 3 years worth in one go, resulting in me being almost £300 out of pocket. Of course, it was entirely my fault but this didn’t stop me blaming the rest of the world and sobbing uncontrollably for 20 minutes. 

5. I wear what is essentially a training bra for 2 weeks, due to sore boobs. I know all you females have been there. Under no circumstances should my breasts be touched, tapped, rubbed or squeezed intentionally or indeed in error or I WILL explode with rage. The tender little ladies need as little disruption as possible just before and during the period; so a wireless, seamless stretchy bra is the only option during this time. 

What’s your period like? Have you got any tips to share? 

What it’s like to be a 30+ blogger

blogging over 30

People are going to say I’m a liar, so let’s get that out of the way first of all.

Technically, I’m not actually 30 years old yet; but I feel like I’ve been mentally preparing myself for the big three-oh so much that it’s like I’m there. In my head I’ve already blown out the candles on the cake. I’m no longer a twenty-something, so as blogging categories go I’ve bumped myself up to a higher grade. With that said, I consider myself to be a writer of the ’30 plus’ variety. A rare breed of online influencers who are grossly underestimated, but steadily growing in numbers.

I started blogging when I was about 26. Zoella, Anna and Fleur were all rising stars at the time and I was certainly interested in what they had to say about budget beauty, hair and fashion – for a while. After a year or so of trying to emulate their success with a few basic ’empties’ posts and ‘make-up favourites’ I realised I was too old for that stuff. Obviously I still wear make up, buy clothes and drag a brush through my hair now and again (I’m not an animal) but the subject matter doesn’t thrill me from a writer’s perspective. I have no authority on the subject for a start so I knew there was no longevity in it for me. I was flogging a dead horse when there were plenty of other perfectly preened – and very much alive – horses on the market. There are plenty of 30 plus bloggers who have found their niche in the fashion/beauty world (e.g. Mikhila, Emma and Becky) but I’m comfortable enough in my own skin to say that its not my forte. These ladies are doing a fabulous job on their own.

It seemed to me that young women were idolising the likes of The Kardashians and Beyonce. They wanted to know how obtain the perfect make up, hair, interiors and style that clearly takes a small army to create but appears totally effortless from the outside.  When I stared to blog I was unemployed due to ill health so I couldn’t afford to live that lifestyle, never mind advise others on how to do it too. I had spent most of my adult life focused on my career, enjoying a long term relationship and was looking forward to getting married and buying a house. I was approaching 30 and my priorities were so incredibly different to the ‘popular’ bloggers out there, that I wasn’t sure if I should even try to make my mark in the blogging community. I assumed my words would be lost in the ocean of lovely ladies who were punting the latest PR samples whilst I babbled on about nothing important.

I started writing about food and fitness because I was basically obsessed with being thin. I also love exercise, so am glad I’ve used the internet to spread that message to people who think working out has to be boring and torturous in equal measure. Now that I’m less meticulous about my diet and exercise regime I talk more about mental health and body positivity. I believe blogging should be flexible, we shouldn’t feel forced to find a ‘niche’. It’s our notepad where we can scribble down ideas and then hold it up to the world.

The great thing about blogging at my age is that I’ve been on this earth for a little longer than my teenage counterparts. I can’t share their excitement for the new Kylie lip kits, but I can offer some insight into being married, losing weight, gaining weight, anxiety, depression and important life decisions like having babies. My content isn’t aspirational but it’s wholly relatable, and I think that’s what gives us 30 plus girls the edge. I’m more confident now in my own opinions than I was 10 years ago. I’ve spent a lot of time self-reflecting to the point where I know myself better now than I ever have. I procrastinate less. I really don’t worry what anyone else thinks. This is my time!

Do I feel under-represented in the blogging community? Absolutely.

Although I’ve already mentioned a few of my favourite 30+ bloggers, I wouldn’t say I’m overwhelmed with choice. I’m not sure if this is because these women aren’t promoting themselves enough, or if they aren’t being celebrated because of their age. All I know is that their voices are important to me. What they have to say is still relevant and I hope to find more bloggers through simply sharing this blog post. If you’re thinking about starting a blog, or you already have one and you feel like what you have to say is boring, I beg you to reconsider.

If you’re looking for content that resonates with you and you can’t find it – create it yourself. Be it beauty, fashion, crafts, knitting or whatever the hell tickles your fancy; together we can show the world that our seemingly boring lives have meaning and we can start a worthwhile conversation online with like-minded women.

Are you a 30+ blogger? Share your blog in the comments below!



Why I had to lose my career to save my mental health 

had to quit job lose career because of depression

“Do you want a sick line?” the doctor asked me, and as she did so I breathed a sigh of relief.

I had been considering speaking to a doctor for weeks at this point; repeatedly lifting the phone to my ear, dialling the number and then slamming it down in protest, adamant that I’d be laughed out of the doctor’s office and told to stop being so dramatic. I can’t remember exactly what tipped me over the edge and forced me to make the appointment, as a lot of it went by in a blur. I vaguely remember hiding in toilets at work, losing my temper with a team member over something incredibly insignificant and crying uncontrollably on the bus home every night. Not exactly the behaviour you’d expect from a manager who is overseeing 4 supervisors, 20 team members and running several retail outlets and 2 departments simultaneously.

I knew I was stressed. My workload had increased dramatically over the 6 months leading up to this and I was feeling troubled following the death of a grandparent. I knew I wasn’t coping very well. I remember looking at my ‘to-do’ list and thinking that it was too overwhelming. My brain couldn’t process the list into actions, and it was like I was trying to read hieroglyphics. There seemed like no good place to start. I didn’t want to start. I needed a break, but asking for it felt like a sign of weakness. I’d always got promoted on the basis of saying ‘Yes!’ to more work and more responsibility. For a proud career woman like me, saying I couldn’t handle it felt shameful.

When the doctor heard my symptoms she very kindly suggested I take a few weeks off to recuperate and prescribed be some beta blockers as she thought I was having some anxiety issues. Being given that ‘permission’ by an authority figure was just what I had been looking for. I felt reassured.

There was certainly no talk of depression.

I left that day happy in the knowledge that I just needed some time to relax, gather my thoughts and was certain I’d get back to my career in no time at all with the support of my boss to help ease the workload. Just a short break.

After a week, having given my mind and body the rest it had been silently screaming for I was suddenly overcome with the feeling of hopelessness. Darkness. The kind that feels like a dense, damp storm cloud enveloping your whole body to the point of suffocation. From the doctor’s waiting room I stared out at the beautiful summer sky and all I could see was my desolate, pointless existence. Nothing mattered any more. The beta blockers were quickly swapped out for something new and a fresh sick line was scribbled on to reveal the worst. Patient is suffering from depression. 

After 3 months off work I had exhausted the generous amount of sick pay allocated to me and I had to make a decision. I had tried going back to work a day here and there; the HR department were very accommodating and let me try a ‘phased return’ but doing my job seemed incomprehensible. How was I supposed to lead a team? How could I adhere to health and safety standards, deliver award-winning customer service, and control a department budget when I could barely find the energy to take a shower everyday? How could I sit in meetings and listen to company objectives when in my head I was contemplating the very worst, every moment of every day? How could I performance manage staff when I couldn’t see the point in doing my own job? I felt backed into a corner – not by my employer – but by my illness. My job required a certain level of attention that I physically was not capable of offering.

So, I quit.

I had spent 5 years in the industry; on my feet for 50+ hours a week, doing all the shitty jobs, late nights, early mornings, working for pennies, and finally I had landed the highest earning job of my career. I was in a desk job with sociable hours, stability and lifelong prospects. Then I lost it all.

Through no fault of my own, all of a sudden had no ability to do the job I had worked so hard to secure. Even now – 4 years later – I feel totally incapable when it comes to the tasks I used to complete with ease. There is an entire skill set on my CV that I may as well just delete. I have the experience, but I believe I’ve lost the capacity.

I’m not trying to encourage people to quit their jobs as soon as they’re diagnosed with depression.  Not everyone will be affected the same way that I was. A lot of people find their job is the one constant in their lives during a depressive period, and it gives them comfort to focus on something other than their own mind. I just want to be completely honest about my experience and what I personally had to do to get better. Of course I feel angry that I had to lose my career to save my mental health. I feel like I had this enormous setback in life where all my hard work had been for nothing. This stupid illness came along and it took over my life. The honest truth is that it still does. I’m almost certain it’ll control me for the rest of my life. Is this the way it should be? Should we feel forced to be unemployed, feel unable to contribute to society because of our brain chemicals? Absolutely not, but it’s the situation many of us find ourselves in.

Today, I have no confidence in my ability as a manager. I’ve worked in middle management roles during my recovery (which is ongoing, by the way) and although I can do it, I seem to have a finite amount of energy for jobs involving leadership. It eventually takes its toll on me and I either have to quit, reduce my hours or hand over some responsibility to others. So unfortunately at the moment, I only feel capable of doing a job which as no responsibility and pays minimum wage. Some people would find this humiliating, and I did too at first. The alternative is to earn more money and compromise my future and I’m just not willing to go down that road again. Its simply not an option.

There’s a certain freedom that comes with working in a less pressured work environment. My job no longer defines who I am, but that’s a good thing. I’ve learned that it’s OK not to have the career I thought I once deserved. What I actually deserve is a healthy, happy, fulfilled existence. My career did give me that for a while, but I couldn’t continue. Now I’m on the road to discover what else I can do, what else I can create, experience and give to others in order to get some sort of satisfaction whilst maintaining a balanced head. Having a less stressful job has given me the thirst to explore the creative talents that I always thought I would pursue after university, but never did.

Creating content for my blog is one thing that I really look forward to doing. This thing came to exist because of me. Does it pay the bills? No. But I’ve learned stimulating my brain is incredibly important to my own well being; so if waitressing everyday allows me the opportunity to share my thoughts on here the rest of the time, then I think their are worse things I could be doing, don’t you?

Turning 30 and I still don’t want kids – what’s wrong with me? 

turning 30 dont want kids

Now is the perfect time for me to get pregnant.

I’ve been with my partner for almost 12 years, we got married in 2015, we just moved to a new city where he’s got a good job and I work part time. Apart from owning our own house, we are in a good state of affairs at the moment. I’m turning 30 in December. If I haven’t got a bun in the oven in the next six months then when will I? That’s the burning question on everyone’s lips.

OK the truth is, no one actually cares that I haven’t had a baby yet. None of my friends have mentioned it, my parents are silent on the matter and my husband – like me – is more or less certain (never say never, right?) that he doesn’t want kids either. I don’t want a baby. So why do I feel obliged to have one? I can’t stop thinking that I should want one. Am I crazy?

I was brought up as the middle child and only girl in a happy family. Looking back I’m certain I was a normal kid. Nothing unusual happened that I could possibly blame for my strange fear of having babies. I played with dolls, wrapped them up in blankets and soothed their cries. I stroked their shiny little heads and held them tight to keep them warm. As I got older I cut my Barbie’s hair, changed her outfit and sent her off on her first date with Ken in the hope of starting a family in their wooden doll house that resided at the end of my bed. The notion of a family is something I am 100% comfortable with. I love having siblings, I’m close to my parents and I understand the importance of having a loving support network. But for as long as I can remember, whenever anyone asked me about having children I’ve always been confident in my answer. Thanks, but no thanks.

Throughout my life everyone has told me in a very patronising manner that I will change my mind. I’ve never really questioned myself on the subject, it’s always been something I’ve been so certain about. But in the past year or so, I’ve been starting to wonder. Every other female on the planet seems to have this motherly urge bursting out of them but I can’t seem to identify it within myself no matter how hard I try. There’s no denying that my age is playing a part in this ‘pressure’ that I’ve started to put on myself. In fact it’s not even really pressure. I just feel so acutely aware that my body is primed to do this thing, and if I don’t do it soon I might miss my chance. I’m turning 30 at the end of the year and although I’ve always been adamant that I don’t want to have any children, I suppose I always knew I could try if I ever changed my mind. Assuming I’m able to physically have children, then I’ve always known I could do it if my heart desired. When you’re young you forget that there is a bit of a time limit on the task though. You think you have all this time to decide, but I feel like the window is getting smaller. I know there are plenty of women over 30 experiencing happy pregnancies and giving birth to healthy babies but for me, now is the time where I need to start thinking seriously about what I want and planning for the future. What do I really want?

I find as a woman I’m generally expected to do one of two things; have a career or have a baby. Since I’ve concluded quite firmly (kind of) that I don’t want a baby then I should be focusing on my career, right? Well, how about no. If I don’t need a baby to complete me then I certainly don’t need a job to do the same. I’ve spent too many years wasting my life on jobs that drain me to continue down that road. My mental health has suffered so for now, I’m focusing on living a fulfilled and balanced life. In fact, my mental state is another reason why I don’t feel great about having a sprog.

I am so uneducated on the subject that didn’t even know until recently that if I was to get pregnant I would have to stop taking my anti-depressants. This is not something I’m ready to do yet. I tried about a year ago and I failed miserably, so I’m really not in a place to go through that at the same time as having my womb inhabited by a new human being. If that wasn’t enough, I’ve actually read some posts from health professionals advising that us ladies with depression should seriously consider our decision to have a baby. The reason being that we are statistically more likely to suffer further mental health issues during and post pregnancy. I can’t imagine feeling strong enough to put myself in such a vulnerable position. I admire any woman who does – and to be honest mental health issues are so common that it seems unrealistic to give out this advice to everyone – I just don’t feel like I’m quite stable enough yet to take that risk.

So what now? Maybe I’m destined to be the quirky aunt or the weird godmother that every kid needs. Maybe if we get too old to have babies we’ll adopt. Maybe I’ll not be 100% sure until it’s already happened. Maybe I need to worry a little less….

10 awesome ways to improve your social media

make social media better get followers


If you follow me on Snapchat you’ll already know about this exciting blog post I’ve been working on! I spent the whole day on Monday at Social Day where I was treated to a wonderful array of speakers who all specialise in social media. As you can imagine there was a lot of Twitter talk, marketing mantras and Facebook philosophies. There was a hell of a lot of information on offer too. There were 12 speakers in total so it was really good value for money and would highly recommend catching an event in your area. But now for the good stuff; I’ve skimmed through my notes and I’m going to share some of the best tips I learned from the day

1. Create video

This was the most prevalent but also the most daunting tip from the day. I love watching girls on You Tube who chat away to the camera whilst doing their make up, but the thought of doing something similar just seems terrifying. What if no one watches? What if I have nothing to say? The indisputable truth is that video is our preferred way to receive information online so if you haven’t considered dabbling then you need to think about it. It’s what people want. Chances are if you have a following on Twitter and Instagram then people are generally interested in what you have to say, so just go for it. The experts recommended Periscope, but I’ve been using Snapchat to begin with as it’s broken into short chunks which seems more

2. Be kind

This might seem like a strange tip if you’re aim is to grow your business and make more money, but being ruthless on social media is a big mistake. One speaker gave a great example about how she went out of her way to help a client, and months later was offered to use her holiday home as a way of saying thank you. Although this was obviously a friendly gesture, you never know when a person online with specific skills might come in handy and save your bacon when it comes to your business.

3. People like recognition

Online it’s really exciting when you start to get new followers and comments online, but be sure to remember to personally thank those who go out of their way to follow you or share your content with others. It’s a quick and easy way to show your appreciation to all of the people who are helping you grow your presence online.

4. Creating helpful content is essential

You can write the funniest blog post about your trip to Blackpool, but if it doesn’t help anyone then it’s probably not going to get noticed. Simply changing a title from “A windy weekend in Blackpool” to “How to entertain young children when the weather is bad in Blackpool” will change your content from OK to totally shareable.

5. Use your own voice

One key piece of knowledge I took away from the day was the importance of speaking in a personal voice on social media. This means being sympathetic to others, using colloquial terms, offering support and using your own personality when you Tweet or create a status update. Even as part of a large company, signing off with your own name creates a more intimate relationship with the customer and gives your brand the human touch.

6. Remember that people buy people

Following on from the last point, you should focus on creating a likeable brand online before you start flooding your followers with links to your website. Get to know them, talk to them, offer tips, share helpful information and then when they need your service, they’ll already trust you and want to connect with you.

7. Create an Ebook

If you really want to win over your followers before you sell them anything, you should be offering them helpful content completely free of charge. Creating an Ebook is actually incredibly simple; the most basic ones are made in Microsoft Word and can be put together in less than a day if you have most of the information collated already. Simply offering a free document that contains valuable information is enough to obtain your potential customer’s email address which is helpful later when you need to target people interested in your product.

8. Use LinkedIn

I’m still working on this one. I’ve never used the website but apparently it’s a great tool especially for building good business to business relationships.

9. Create a call to action

This is actually quite a common tip, especially for bloggers. I always sign off my blogs with a question, inviting readers to share their opinions or experiences on whatever I happen to be talking about. But I’ve never really considered doing the same on other forms of social media. Once you decide what your aim is, it’s pretty simple. For example, my aim is normally to get people to visit my blog so in my Snapchat videos I’ve started giving sneak previews about my topics to get people to check it out, or I’ll ask them to go follow me on Twitter for regular updates.

10. Own a hashtag

I’m not sure exactly how I would go about this myself, but it’s a great idea for local businesses who want to connect with customers or other small businesses. Essentially, you just create your own hashtag and encourage other people on Twitter to use it as away to find information and users. The example Samantha Kelly used was a solicitors firm in Belfast who created the hashtag #BelfastHour. They now host their own Twitter chat every week and bring together a community of potential customers and other businesses in a way that is helpful, friendly and they don’t have to openly “sell” their services, the hashtag has pretty much done that for them.

So there it is; my top 10 tips to get you started on improving your social media. Which ones will you be

Add me on Snapchat for more info!






Going from blonde to red at James Bushell Birmingham

blonde red hair colour new james bushell

Moving to a new city comes with so much excitement. There are new restaurants and bars to visit, sites to see, friends to make and hidden gems to seek out. But finding a new hairdresser? Nah mate. I’m not up for it. I don’t need to tell you that the relationship between a woman and her hairdresser is a sacred one. They have the power to make you feel revived, rejuvenated and ready to take on the world. The best hairdressers will listen, give you advice and tell you what you need to hear – all part of the free therapy session that comes with the best haircut.

So, with that in mind I did my research to try and find a good quality salon in my new local area. Living in Birmingham means I have endless options. With so many to choose from it seemed wrong to simply choose the one that was most convenient for me (close to where I work) but true to form, I went with the lazy option and did it anyway. James Bushell has two salons and the branch I visited is located just outside of the city centre, on Calthorpe Road. It has a huge glass front meaning if you have anxiety like me, you can walk past awkwardly several times and look at the layout before you pluck up the courage to actually walk in.

I knew I was onto a winner as soon as I made my appointment, because within minutes I was in the chair with Advanced Colour Technician Allan who gave me a free consultation to discuss my colour. Planning to go from blonde to red, I knew I might be met with some hesitation as I know it can be hard to get the colour to stick to bleached hair. However he explained to me that dying it orange first would solve this problem and then he spent time helping me pick the exact shade of red I wanted. I’m no colour expert, so having someone suggest which colour might look best along with using celebrity examples for reference was super helpful and put me at ease with my final decision. He quickly did a patch test and I booked my appointment for the following week.

As soon as I sat in the chair I was offered a cup of tea, and Allan went through the colour chart again to make 100% sure I was happy with my choice. This was great because after a week I honestly had forgotten which one I’d picked. He warned me that the first shade of orange would be close to neon (it truly was magnificent) but not to worry, it would be dyed over with the right colour straight after. Everything he said was true, and the final colour was exactly what I’d asked for – a warm copper that looked like it was my natural hair. Even if my colour had turned out a disaster, having my hair washed whilst sitting in a vibrating massage chair would have been worth the hassle. No joke.

I opted for a simple trim and my stylist Kim was happy to oblige. She could tell my hair was thick and heavy and took little off the length but loads of weight out of the ends – just what the doctor ordered. Whilst she got to cutting my new ginger mop I took in the atmosphere in the salon. Juniors were busy cleaning, sweeping up and helping stylists with odd jobs. Every client was tended to with either a cuppa, a glass of wine or some much-needed relationship advice. An elderly lady with dementia was having her colour done and I heard the staff dealing with her needs with with decorum of a family member. Another lady was feeling faint and two stylists sat with her on the front step until she was ready to come back in. The place was buzzing with activity, but I still felt like I was taken care of intently from start to finish. No customer was ignored, but in the same breath no staff member seemed stressed or spread too thin. After my cut my final colour was reviewed by Allan; another personal touch that really made me feel valued as a client.

The prices are really reasonable considering the standard of service that you’re guaranteed to receive. I can’t recommend these guys highly enough and can’t wait to go back for my next visit. Now for the important bit – before and after shots:

dying blonde hair red


dying blonde hair red

Have you ever been to James Bushell ?

How to deal with negative people and feeling drained

dealing with negative people what to say feeling drained

I ran a poll on Twitter asking how to deal with negative people. Overwhelmingly the response was ‘avoid them’. Pretty harsh don’t you think? Everyone’s allowed a good old moan once in a while; in fact I think it’s healthy to get your grievances out in the open. Letting them fester and grind you down only breeds resentment and unhappiness, so I think we should all feel free to talk about what’s pissing us off without fear of being deemed ‘the negative one’. But when you’re faced with someone who is so continually unhappy, when every word that comes out their mouth is a ‘poor me’ sob story – how should you deal with it? I know that it can personally leave me feeling drained, lifeless and in need of an energy boost. Here’s my advice on how to stay happy whilst dealing with this…

Establish if it’s a one off

You should first of all, go into the situation completely open minded. It’s easy to presume you know what someone is going to say before they’ve even opened their mouth, but try and ignore how they may have overreacted in the past and listen carefully to what they are complaining about. Is this something that they complain about regularly? If not then maybe it’s just a one off. If that’s the case then they should be allowed to get it of their chest, be a good mate and listen. You never know when you might need them to listen to you whinge about losing your bus pass on the way home. Whatever is bothering them might not seem important to you but it clearly is to them.

Let them vent

This can be hard. When someone wants to highlight everything bad that has ever happened to them from primary school to present day, it will test your patience. However, it is helpful to let them vent. Shutting them down or trying to change the subject will only make them feel insignificant, giving them more reason to feel sorry for themselves. Take time to let them get it all out of their system and then you can offer and advice or pearls of wisdom you have hidden up your sleeve.

Have a moan as well

Fuck it. Screw positivity and seeing the silver lining on every cloud. Sometimes we all need to wallow in our own unhappiness for a few hours whilst eating peanut butter straight out of the jar. If you’re friend is complaining about something that you identify with -or something that you simply can’t seem to comfort them about – get stuck in there too and bitch about life.

Be active

If you know you’re going round to a friend’s house and they’re destined to be in a stinker of a mood, try and entice them into doing something to take their mind of it. Using up nervous energy is great way to release your natural endorphins too so exercise is a great option! You could suggest swimming, yoga or even a walk around the shops to help act as a distraction. I would also recommend getting them to try something out of their comfort zone as the feeling of satisfaction you get after doing something you’ve always avoided is exhilarating. Even something as simple as baking a cake together can lift someone’s mood. This will also help keep your mood elevated if you’re starting to feel the weight of acting as agony aunt 24/7.

Don’t let it affect your mood

OK, granted this is easier said than done but try your best to not take on other people’s baggage as your own. You can be a wonderful friend just by being available and lending a shoulder to cry on, you don’t have to solve anyone else’s problems for them. Take it all in and afterwards try to forget about it as much as possible. This might seem insensitive but it’s important to keep your own head straight. Practising mindfulness is a great way to do this as it forces all thoughts out of your brain, leaving you with nothing but empty space and time to breath, relax and feel ready to create your own happiness.