10 random acts of kindness you can do today

random acts of kindness

February 12th sees the start of Random Acts of Kindness Week. I don’t care much for these types of campaigns – although I’ll admit National Doughnut Day has made me reconsider – but if there’s something to raise awareness about, being kind to one another does nothing but good things in my book.

From a mental health perspective, showing kindness to a stranger is incredibly powerful. You’ll never know how important a welcoming smile could be to a person with anxiety, or offering your parking ticket to someone who’s so stressed that they forgot to bring change for the meter.

As someone with depression and anxiety I also take pleasure in being kind to others. It can lift my mood, make me feel productive and worth something on days when my brain wants me to feel otherwise.

1. Give to a homeless person

Since living in Birmingham I’ve become very aware that homelessness is a real problem in this city. I pass a homeless person almost everyday on the way to work and I try and give him something to eat. If you can do this today then I know it would help.

2. Give a stranger a compliment

I work in a customer service environment so I meet hundreds of people everyday. I regularly have an inner dialogue which goes something like this, “She has a lovely smile. I love her top. She’s so friendly”. Then I go on with my day and forget all about it. The few times where I’ve actually vocalised a compliment to a stranger have always ended well. People love to receive compliments!

random acts of kindness blog mental health blogger

3. Buy someone a coffee

This is my go-to act of kindness when I’m feeling generous. Who doesn’t appreciate a free coffee? Ask your mate out for a drink and don’t let them pay or simply take a hot drink into work for someone who needs it. You won’t regret it.

4. Listen

We all have those friends or colleagues who can talk for Britain. If like me, you tend to zone out when they speak then try and spend today really listening to what they have to say. It could be that you actually find it interesting!

random acts of kindness mental health bloggger

5. Tip your server

As a cafe worker I’m obliged to ask that you consider us who prepare your food and beverages everyday with a smile. OK I don’t smile all of the time but believe me, I’m making a huge effort not to look grumpy when we make eye contact. I can guarantee you that a generous tip does not go unnoticed to us minimum wage earners, so consider popping an extra few coins in the jar on your way out today.

6. Send someone flowers

Valentines Day may have passed, but giving someone fresh flowers never gets old. It might be an elderly neighbour who helps feed your pet or the childminder who always goes the extra mile for your little ones, but whoever it is you can be sure a surprise bouquet will put a smile on their face.

random acts of kindness mental health blogger

7. Giveaway something you don’t need

Cleaning out your closet is a great place to start if you’re looking for something to giveaway. I recently gave away a few brand new t-shirts that were too small for me and I was glad they went to someone who wanted them. You might find you have something of use which you can give to a friend, if not just fill up a box for charity.

8. Offer your services for free

If you run a business then why not run a competition where someone can win something that you would normally charge for? Or you could simply pick one of your customers at random and give them a special discount. These little freebies are also a great marketing tool that give your business the human touch.

9. Give to a charity

Instead of buying a sandwich at lunch, why not bring in a home made meal and put a fiver in the nearest charity box? You could also donate a box of unwanted clothes or household items to your local charity shop or sign up to a fundraising event like a run or walk.

random acts of kindness mental health blogger UK

10. Make the call

Remember, you don’t need to spend a penny to be kind. Promise yourself that today you’ll make that call you’ve been avoiding. It might be your mum, a sibling or an old work friend that’s gone off the radar for too long. It only takes a few minutes but it can make someone’s day.

Tweet me and let me know what random act of kindness you performed today!

10 things you should stop doing just to please other people

mental health blogger UK stop pleasing other people

When I was 17 I grabbed a box of the brightest red hair dye I could afford and went from blonde to copper one Friday afternoon in my parents’ bathroom. It was the first time I’d thought ‘fuck it’ and done something on a whim. I kept it that way for a few years, but as my career progressed I returned to my natural shade of blonde in the hope that I would appear more ‘professional’ and ’employable’.

Since turning 30 have had a few more ‘fuck it’ moments; including going back to that copper shade I was when I was 17. I’ve decided it’s time to stop doing what other people expect of you. Here are a few examples…

  1. Playing it safe with your hair colour

If you like to experiment with your hair then good for you. Pink and blue hair is kind of trendy right now, but if you want it that colour until you’re 60 then rock on. Some people think bright coloured hair looks unprofessional but nothing says, “I get shit done” like a mermaid inspired bouffant, in my opinion.

2. Settling for a job you hate

For years I climbed the corporate ladder in an industry I hated. I didn’t have any other skills (or so I thought) after doing the same type of work since I was 17. I spent years getting promoted, taking on extra responsibility and earning reasonably good money for what I did. I had an office and my own department and it looked like I had it all together. Really I was terribly unhappy and it took a mental breakdown to realise my career wasn’t making me happy. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough to try something different.

3. Eating something you know makes you feel shit

Sometimes only Oreos will do. I get it. But when you’re sat in a restaurant and you know that eating dessert is going to make you feel overly-full and bloated then don’t do it. You don’t have to order burgers and fries when you know you’d rather have salad (those days DO exist, I promise). You don’t have to keep up appearances for fear of looking like you’re a stick in the mud – eat what makes you feel good.

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4. Drinking alcohol

A glass of bubbly to cheers to someone’s new job or 30th birthday is often seen as obligatory. Just because someone hands you a free glass of cheap cava doesn’t mean you have to drink it! If, like me you know that alcohol brings out the worst in you; why bother?

5. Going for the healthy option

Similarly, it’s easy to feel like you have to eat what people expect you to eat. So you told people at work you’re on a diet and the next day you want a cheeseburger. You probably don’t want to eat it in front of those same people in case they comment on how you’re diet didn’t last long, or they talk about you behind your back. I felt like this for a long time and I would regularly eat ‘healthily’ in front of others and binge on junk food in secret. This often meant that I would overeat when I was alone because I felt so panicked and ashamed of what I was doing. Eat that goddamn cheeseburger.

6. Wearing something conservative

I spent my life trying to dress appropriately according to my peers. Hearing the dreaded phrase “What’s everyone wearing?” before a night out used to put me on edge. I probably already had an idea of what I wanted to wear and if not, I didn’t need a panel of gorgeous ladies giving me suggestions. Wear what’s comfortable. Wear what makes you feel fierce. Wear whatever is clean that day cause it’s not really that important.

7. Agreeing with someone’s politics

I’m the ultimate ‘nod and agree’ person in any social situation. I hate confrontation (who the hell doesn’t?) so I tend to just go along with whatever the general consensus is on a topical subject and hope that we get back to talking about the weather before it gets too complicated. I’ve realised though, that my opinion is just as important as anyone else’s. If I hear someone saying something that I think is racist, sexist or morally wrong then I think I have a responsibility to question it. If they can see my side of the argument that’s great; if not then at least I can say I tried.

What do you do to please other people? Are you willing to try and stop?

 

 

Why I’m not dieting this January (even though I’m a size 16)

no dieting mental health January body positivity

A few years ago I would’ve planned a fresh new blog post ready to go live featuring my favourite fat-loss tips for January, or how to ‘get back on track’ after Christmas. Now, I can’t be f*@ked with all that. 

I still love eating healthily because it gives me the energy to do the things I enjoy, but apart from that I’ve kind of given up on weight-loss. I’ve been there, living the ‘fitspo’ life, and I’m done with it. Here’s why…

I’ve been thin and it wasn’t all that

A lot of people look back on pictures of themselves when they looked different and have distorted memories about how they really felt at the time. When I look back on pictures of myself aged 18 and weighing approximately 200lbs, I was overweight but having the time of my life. I had just moved away from home, started university, was meeting new people everyday and learning who I really was. I was socialising like mad and I was incredibly happy. When I was at my leanest – aged 27 – I was battling depression, anxiety, obsessively over-exercising and following a very low calorie diet. I was still happy but I was very tightly wound and had strict rules about what I ate and was constantly hungry, leading to poor brain function and irritability. I’m not saying that you can’t be thin and happy; but don’t put all your eggs in one basket thinking that it’s the answer to all of life’s problems. You’ll still have problems no matter what weight you are.

Restriction isn’t sustainable

It took me years to understand that pretty much every diet is destined to fail. It’s not your lack of will power that lets you down; it’s the fact that you’re restricting yourself so much for so long that your mind and body inevitably cannot do it any more. The penny started to drop when I read a book called Intuitive Eating, although I still did a few years of crash-dieting before what I read began to make sense in my head. I’ve tried to explain to people that a)learning to love your body as it is will stand you in better stead than trying to change it and b)dieting is almost 100% guaranteed to fail in the long term. The truth is, I didn’t believe it myself until I’d dieted for 12 years, lost approximately 60lbs and gained it all back in the end. Sometimes you have to live through that to see that you’re not the one person that’s going to ‘stick to the plan’ and prove everyone wrong. I get it. Just take it from someone who has restricted food groups for most of my adult life; IT DOESN’T WORK.

You’re not defined by your aesthetic

I’ve written before about how when I feel really low about my body image, I like to remember how I look at other people. I very rarely look at someone and think much about what they look like in a typical sense. I’ll perhaps notice a nice necklace they’re wearing, the smell of their perfume, how friendly they were, if they smiled or held eye contact with me. When I look at my friends and family I see their personality traits; I genuinely don’t think about what they look like in a negative way whatsoever, so the chances are no one else is giving a crap about what I look like either. No one is noticing my double chin, my muffin top and my hairy legs and if they ARE then frankly, they need to get a life. I know that what I bring to the table is more important that a thin body, so why fixate on that small, insignificant part of me?

Your brain can do so much more than just count calories

When I was fixated on counting calories it honestly didn’t leave time for much else. I was always on my phone figuring out what I could eat that day and scrutinizing food labels to see which had the fewest calories. I was always trimming calories at every opportunity, but never eating a proper meal to compensate. I ‘had to’ exercise for a minimum of 60 minutes per day (ideally double that) so my mind and body were both exhausted. I didn’t realise the perpetual use of will power combined with a low calorie diet was draining away all my brain power. Since I’ve stopped fixating on food and exercise I’ve had the energy to socialise and write everyday, which are two things I don’t want to give up.

Food is amazing

I’m sure you’re aware of how flippin’ fantastic food is. We can’t survive without it and we are lucky enough to have almost any kind we desire at our fingertips in plentiful amounts. It’s a great way to socialise, show gratitude, celebrate and commiserate. We don’t need to overindulge but sometimes it’s nice. It’s such an important part of our world that it seems wrong to cut it out and stop ourselves from enjoying it. I’m not saying we should eat what we want, when we want all the time; but maybe its time to loosen up and appreciate what we have?

Have you given up on dieting?

 

 

3 ways the beauty industry has affected my mental health

mental health blogger UK beauty industry

I’ve spent years rejecting the idea that the beauty industry can have a positive affect on my mental well-being. How can a lipstick make you happy? Why are young girls caking their faces in concealer when they don’t even need it? It’s taken me until by thirties to understand how the beauty industry has shaped the thoughts I have about my own body, and how I can reclaim them and make them positive.

It helped me develop a self-care routine

I don’t believe that possessions can make you happy, and for years I refused to spend money on beauty and skincare products because I believed I didn’t need them to feel beautiful. I definitely DO NOT need them to feel beautiful; but taking care of my physical self is something that I’ve done more in 2016, and something that’s sincerely helped me feel less worthless when I’ve been going through a bout of depression.

When I spent weeks primping and preening myself for my wedding day in 2015, I remember thinking there was no way in hell I could keep up this level of attention to my body. Who has the time? When I stepped out in my wedding dress, I felt so happy with myself from the inside out, that I could finally see the value in carrying on a few of the beauty routines I have developed in the run up to the day. I don’t spend much money on make up, but I do have a favourite cleanser, serum and moisturiser that I use religiously and a few face masks that I reach for when I need that extra special care. I don’t think this is the only way to practise self-care, but for me it’s a daily addition to my coping strategies that I do without thinking and gives me a regular lift.

Make-up can help me feel confident

There’s no denying that wearing make-up can make you feel more confident. In the same way that a new haircut and your favourite dress can make you feel like you can conquer the world, I’m not ashamed to say that a smokey eye and bangin’ highlighter make me feel sassy. But I also feel confident when I DON’T wear make-up and I think that’s important.

Washing my face and slapping on some moisturiser is all I do when I’m going to the gym. I like to look in the mirror and see my true self. For me, the gym is a place for honesty. It’s where I’m alone and focused with my own thoughts, listening to and observing my body to see how far I can push myself as well as when to rest. I find it’s healthy to have time without make-up, to appreciate the impact it can make when you really want it.

I realised need representation in the media

I grew up reading the same magazines as everyone else my age – Mizz, Shout, Smash Hits, Bliss – so I believed that to be beautiful I had to be white, thin, blonde-haired and blue-eyed with big breasts. I began dieting around 15 and didn’t stop until I was approaching 30. The penny dropped for me when I saw Ashley Graham on the cover of Sport Illustrated. She’s by no means a fair representation of the millions of ‘plus-size’ (whatever that means nowadays) women who look to the media for inspiration, but for me she’s an inch closer to that dream. In that cover I saw someone with a body shape vaguely like mine, and I’d never seen that before.

That’s when I realised I’d been conditioning myself to believe that my body shape, hair and face was all wrong by consuming the images that were handed to me. Now, I actively seek out women who have bodies I can identify with and a style which I can understand. I feel You Tube is particularly helpful when it comes to the beauty aspect of this, because it’s really relatable for me to watch a woman by age talk about what skincare and make-up brands they use in their everyday lives instead of relying on magazines which are heavily biased towards advertisers.

Check out this podcast called Unsorry, in particular their recent episode talking about feeling beautiful.

 

 

An ode to anyone with depression this Christmas

coping with depression at christmas blogger mental health

It’s Christmas day and everywhere, people are smiling. Children are grinning from ear to ear as they tear open their long-awaited gifts, and parents look on with pride, feeling accomplished after a long year of working hard to provide for the family. Grandparents fall asleep on the sofa whilst the dog nibbles the leftover mince pie that has fallen onto the floor. Mum finally puts her feet up after feeding the entire family without stopping for a break.

To most people Christmas conjures up similar images of warm, familiar sights involving traditions that have gone on for years with family and friends who don’t often see each other. It’s a time to put work aside and focus on relationships, socialising and eating a little too much; all in aide of the festive season.

For anyone with depression, this scenario is unlikely to create a feeling of happiness. I know it’s not my favourite holiday, that’s for sure. If you have depression I want to tell you something.

You’re not a party-pooper.

You’re not The Grinch.

You don’t need to ‘grin and bear it’ for one day of the year because let’s be honest, it spans way longer that one day and you’re expected to be in the party mood for almost an entire month without showing a sign of unhappiness. This is unrealistic and it’s cruel to expect mental health sufferers to somehow put their illness ‘on hold’ for an extended period of time.

Can you just put your nut allergy, diabetes or heart murmur on hold for Christmas day?

Can you not have an epileptic fit or have a broken leg today?

That’s how it feels to be told to ‘cheer up’ when you have depression. We cannot simply choose not to suffer today because it’s inconvenient and makes others uncomfortable. It makes us feel guilty that we can’t, but we genuinely can’t. We want to pretend with every bone in our bodies that we’re ‘OK’ but we can’t.

This is to all the people who went back to bed after opening presents. To all the people who didn’t even want any presents because they feel unworthy. To all the people who would rather skip to December 26th and avoid the big day altogether. To all the people who are crying, screaming and hurting on the ‘happiest day of the year’… I understand.

To us, making it to the end of the day is the biggest achievement we can hope for. If we manage a smile, even a fake one, then today as been a success. If we go to bed without having shed a tear today then that is progress. But if today has been sad, lonely and scary then that’s OK too, because we experience that a lot and we’re learning to cope with it. Better days will come but they doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to live through today.

Merry Christmas

How to survive Christmas day as an introvert

being an introvert on christmas day mental health blogger uk

Christmas Day can be pretty intense. Even for the most outgoing person, the idea of being cooped up with your nearest and dearest for 12 hours straight with nothing but food, alcohol and polite conversation to pass the time can be a little daunting. For someone like me – a textbook introvert – the frivolities of the big day are my worst nightmare. I’m not hugely looking forward to it, but I do have a few techniques up my sleeve to help the day go as smoothly as possible….

Get enough sleep

It’s tempting to go out on Christmas Eve and have a few too many drinks to ease your nerves about the following day, but make sure you still get a good night’s sleep after you socialise. I find my temper is shorter when I’m tired and I have no patience with anyone. It also makes me gravitate towards the Quality Street to keep my energy up, which then makes my anxiety worse as I ride the unpredictable sugar-high whilst trying to remain calm in front of relatives. I’ve heard people say that you often wake up in the frame of mind you had when you went to bed, so try and have a relaxing evening to keep yourself level-headed.

Keep busy

Although I’m a firm believer in keeping my calendar as clear as possible, I also find I’m happier when I’m distracted with day-to-day jobs. OK not always happier, but I’m definitely less anxious and that’s the path to happiness in my world. This doesn’t mean socialising for hours on end but simply keeping my mind and body occupied with enjoyable tasks. For me these include blogging, reading, cooking and exercising. Offer to help chop the vegetables, set the table, clear away used wrapping paper and keep everyone’s drink topped up as a way to keep busy.

Get outside

With that in mind, you may want to take your exercise to the outdoors. Getting some fresh air whilst the turkey is cooking is a nice way to relax before sitting down to a formal meal where the conversation can get heated. Offer to take the dog a walk, or get the kids away from the TV for an hour and you’ll find yourself refreshed with a clearer head, ready to enjoy the rest of the day.

Plan time with people who understand

We all have those friends you just get us. They let us be ourselves and there are no awkward silences when we’re together. They let us vent endlessly about our problems and often have the answers to them too. These are the people that should be by your side on Christmas Day. If you can, try and plan to see them in the evening once the festivities have died down, or at least keep in touch via text message or Face Time. Even if you’re feeling terrible, they’ll listen to what you have to say and help ease the burden of a busy day.

Are you ready for Christmas Day?

 

10 dieting habits I’ve given up in 2016

giving up unhealthy dieting habits and learning to live a healthy balances lifestyle

One thing that went unnoticed when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety was my fixation on food. As my condition got worse I was obsessed with fitness and eating healthily, two obsessions which are often seen positive factors in someone’s life. For this reason I’ve never had my eating problems medically diagnosed, and have struggled to get my eating habits back to what I consider normal. In the past year I’ve come on leaps in bounds in this aspect of my life, as well as working towards a more positive body image. Here’s what I’ve stopped doing in 2016…

Tracking calories

I used to have My Fitness Pal on the homepage of my phone screen so that I could input everything I ate throughout the day. Ideally, I would record all the food I was planning to eat the night before so that I could plan exactly what I would eat and what ‘treats’ I could fit in throughout the day. The problem with calorie counting for me was that eventually fitting in treats became the main goal, so I would eat very low calorie foods like salad and vegetables in order to eat a bar of chocolate straight afterwards. Fat has more calories per gram that protein or carbohydrates so I would avoid most fats to keep calories low. Little did I know that fat consumption is extremely important for maintaining a healthy body and it started to affect my hormones and brain function. Ultimately I became too focused on calories instead of the quality of the food I was eating, so I gave up.

Eating clean

No one can actually define what ‘clean eating’ is, so why the hell should I try an emulate a vague statement that so many people are hailing as the next big thing? Some people include honey, sweeteners and cereal bars and others don’t even allow the use of salt or heaven forbid, shop-bought products. They would have you grow everything from scratch in your own garden and eat it raw, whilst others are publishing books packed with ‘clean’ brownie recipes. It takes way too much brain power to figure out the rules never mind actually abide by them.

Always choosing the ‘healthy’ option

After years of reading tips on how to eat low calorie meals the go, at work or in restaurants I became a seasoned pro at selecting the ‘healthy’ option in any given scenario. This meant substituting fries for salad, bread for more salad and dessert for a cup of tea. I still try to eat a well balanced diet most of the time but when I’m in a restaurant or in a rush I don’t stress as much as I used to. I try to listen to my hunger cues and eat to satisfy those instead of making a ‘perfect’ meal.

The ‘all or nothing’ approach

I’ve had those bad days which involve eating family size boxes of biscuits, pot noodles and peanut butter straight out of the jar. I’ve even planned for those exact days after weeks of restrictive eating where I munched on only carrots and chicken to get my goal weight. I would load up on all the junk food I wanted and cram it all into one massive binge session happy in the knowledge that I would be back on my low calorie, no junk plan the next day. The guilt associated with this was extremely upsetting, as the binge never made me happy in the way I thought it would. Days later I would be sick of restricting and be planning another mammoth eating session and the cycle continued. I’m now a firm believer in “a little bit of what you fancy does you no harm”.

Eating less than 1000 calories per day

This is just stupid, and anyone who advocates this type of meal plan should be avoided like the plague.

unhealthy dieting habits I've given up in 2016

Meticulous meal-planning

Obviously planning your meals is a great way to get organised and helps with creating shopping list and sticking to a budget. I still like to batch cook meals in the form of soups, chilli and cottage pie and have them in the freezer for when I’m in a rush or have nothing fresh in the fridge. I am however, totally over the idea of planning every single meal and snack for the entire week. A meal plan which is that detailed is perfect for someone who needs educating on portion sizes and which foods are best in a balanced diet. I feel like I know enough about food and how my body works to make those choices myself. It also means I can eat more when I’m hungry, less when I’m full and go ‘off plan’ without feeling like I’m a total failure.

Relying on caffeine

When I was creeping towards my goal weight (just writing that makes me feel slightly sick) I was at the tail end of a year-long diet which was starting to take it’s toll on me mentally and physically. I was constantly tired, hungry and cranky whilst nervously counting down the hours to my next meal. I would stay awake with black coffee and caffeinated diet sodas only to find I would crash an hour later. If it wasn’t time to eat I simple cracked open another drink and waited nervously. I dread to think what my body was doing to cope with the lack of calories and the excess caffeine. Now I have one or two coffees a week, sometimes none at all.

Cutting out carbohydrates

Not happy with cutting out fats I tried to limit my intake of carbohydrates too. I considered them ’empty calories’ as protein is supposed to help you feel satisfied for longer so I decided they weren’t worth worrying about. I would eat bolognese without the spaghetti, a bacon sandwich without the bread and roast dinner without the roast potatoes. I’ll never go back.

Exercising to compensate for over-eating

I used to exercise everyday for at least 90 minutes and up to 3 hours per day. I was so terrified of gaining weight that I would factor in extra workouts before or after a big meal to try and burn off the extra calories. This is reasonably sensible but probably not essential when my idea of a ‘big meal’ was a slice of toast. Now I exercise a few times a week and try to fit in classes like yoga to help with my mental health.

Avoiding eating out at restaurants

The prospect of eating out at restaurant was extremely stressful when I was in a severe calorie deficit. On one hand I knew it was safer to eat the food I cooked myself to know exactly what was in it, but on the other hand every fibre of my being was screaming out for a big plate of something delicious. The cravings were so intense that I would normally go but I had to know in advance exactly where we were going so that I could plan what I would eat, ideally with a look at the menu beforehand. It really took the joy out of what is supposed to be a fun, sociable experience. Nowadays I eat out 2-3 times a week and eat until I’m full with whatever I’m craving at the time.

What diet habits have you given up? Are you ready to start 2017 with the aim to love your body more?

 

 

10 little luxuries to help boost your mood

little luxuries to cheer up boot your mood depression anxiety

Dealing with low moods and the physical effects of depression and anxiety can be a full time gig. I feel lucky that I don’t deal with my issues on a daily basis any more and I’m currently going through what I would call a ‘good spell’. I am however hyper-aware that this situation could change at any moment. Depression can appear like a dark cloud without warning and anxiety symptoms can pop up out of the blue. My way of staying on top of my moods is to allow myself a few little luxuries on the regular, as it keeps me happy and relaxed. It’s not a cure by any means but it’s what keeps me going! Here’s how I boost my mood with little luxuries…

Face mask

This is such a cliche but I can’t talk about boosting my mood without mentioning face masks. I don’t actually do them often enough, but when I do I basically use it as an excuse to do as many treatments as possible. I like to cleanse, exfoliate and then use either a moisturising or deep cleansing mask depending on how my skin is that day. I will then cleanse again before applying my favourite moisturiser and serum. I also love using the Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate oil before bed as has that soothing aromatherapy scent that gets my mind ready for sleep.

Bath bomb

I don’t make time for a bath very often as I’m definitely more of a shower-and-go kinda gal. I believe taking time to select the perfect bath bomb from Lush is a fine art, and one that should be savoured for as long as possible. I have sensitive skin so I tend to go for the simple ones like Butterbear and I also love the massage bars for soothing aching muscles.

Scented candle

OK you get the idea. I like to pamper myself in order to boost my mood! Lighting a scented candle is something I do almost every evening. I love knowing I’ve created a welcoming atmosphere for myself and any visitors and scented candles do that so well. I love sweet scents like vanilla and cinnamon, as well as fruity flavours like lemon and cherry. I’m also partial to a musky scent like Yankee Candle’s Midsummers Night.

Fresh fruit

I am pretty consistent about eating vegetables everyday but I tend to avoid buying fresh fruit because it can be so expensive. When I’m feeling low I like to treat myself to my favourite healthy snack to avoid or at least delay my urge to eat junk food. I love fresh blueberries and strawberries topped with coconut yoghurt with a drizzle of honey, or a home made fruit smoothie with oats and Greek yoghurt.

boost your mood mental health

Handmade chocolates

I recently tried some handmade Belgian chocolates that my good friend bought be as a birthday present and I was blown away by the quality. I won’t be giving up my Dairy Milk anytime soon but when you want something a little special a handmade chocolate is hard to beat. If you’re ever in Glasgow make sure you hit up Kimbles in Princess Square and sample a cappuccino truffle.

Double cleanse

The feeling of being ‘clean’ is something that instantly makes me feel more alive when I’m tired and feeling like crap. Once I’ve been for a shower I like to do a double cleanse as a special treat for my skin when I’m feeling a bit rough. I remove all my make up with a cream cleanser like the Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser and then the Elemis Cleansing Balm to remove any dirt that’s been left behind. Finish off with a refreshing toner and my favourite moisturiser and I generally feel a little better than I did before.

Colour refresh

When my hair colour starts to fade but I can’t afford to get it done, I often book myself in for a refreshing toner treatment. It basically acts as a semi-permanent dye to inject some life back into your colour in around 20 minutes instead of having to get a full colour which takes so much longer. My salon charges around £30 and that includes a blow dry which also means I don’t have to worry about styling my hair for the next few days!

Coffee from your favourite place

Sometimes we forget to take ourselves out for coffee. Whether it’s with a friend or alone I like to enjoy my favourite beverage – currently I’m all about the chai latte – once a week as a little pick-me-up. It gives me time to relax and watch the world go by, something I often forget to do when I have my head pointed at my phone or laptop for most of the day. I find this is particularly helpful when I’ve been writing all day and I need some time away from work.

little luxuries boost your mood self care mental health

2017 planner

Nothing gets me excited quite like stationary does. The idea that this little stack of paper can hold all my grand plans and ideas makes me so very happy. I like to scribble my thoughts and ideas down in various notebooks, but at this time of year it’s a great excuse to start the hunt for a new planner for next year. I love the Brilliant Ideas Launch Pad which looks perfect for bloggers like me, and this cute little Dinosaur Diary is adorable.

New bed sheets

I love nothing more than getting into a bed which has fresh sheets, so investing in a brand new set is like heaven to me! I like to have them washed and all ready so that once I hop out the bath I can just get straight into a beautiful clean bed. For me it’s the perfect end to a long day and the best way to guarantee a good night sleep.

10 positive intentions for a better state of mind

positive intentions better state of mind fiona mental health

How do you shift from victim to survivor?

How do you cope with the life-long repercussions that result from being abused as a child?

This is something that Lisa Cybaniak has dealt with personally, but over time has learned to value her own existence and prove to her abuser that she isn’t a victim of her painful past. So much so that she now coaches others on how to overcome their past, have a positive outlook and have improved self-esteem. One thing that she believes strongly in is the power of positive intentions. Here is a an excerpt from her latest blog post on the subject:

“Positive intentions are a great and simple way to begin shifting your mentality. You can begin by using one intention per day and repeating it whilst you get ready in the morning. Eventually, you should try to find time to meditate each day on several different intentions. If you have instantly giggled at the thought of ‘finding time’ each day, then I’ll gently remind you that shifting your mind set begins with you. You are worth it, and you deserve this. People always make time for the things they really want to do.”

Here are 5 positive intentions that worked for Lisa:

1. I am a strong, vibrant man/woman who deserves the best life has to offer

2. I see the beauty in every part of my day, wherever I am and whomever I’m with

3. I have survived my past and am proud of my accomplishments. I honour past accomplishments and recognise new ones as they occur

4. I will recognise opportunities to grow, and take them

5. I am worthy of success and abundance

positive intentions

This got me thinking that maybe I should start incorporating positive intentions into my own daily life. Although my blog is focused on mental health I do try hard to make this a positive place and avoid negative talk as much as possible. So here is a sneak peek at a few of the positive intentions I want to start honing in on to improve my mental state.

  1. It’s OK not to do it all

2. You are stronger than you think

3. Do good things and good things will happen

4. Don’t be afraid to fail

5. What’s for you won’t go by you

I’m going to write these down and look at them every morning. I also like to put positive thoughts in my notes app on my phone, so that whenever I open it to type in a reminder I catch a glimpse of them. It’s a great way to subtly reinforce the words without having to do too much work. To read more about the positive intentions that Lisa has used to overcome negativity read her blog post in full HERE.

A final note from Lisa:

“These are all suggestions to get you started. As you begin with these intentions, you will gain the confidence to adjust them, and add to the list, to suit your needs. This is just a step along a path to shifting your mentality. If you’d like help along your journey, visit Life like you mean it for more information on the wide range of services Lisa offers. Better yet, book a complimentary call so we can chat!”

Why it’s absolutely OK to cry about stupid stuff

ok to cry mental health blogger UK

I’m a crier.

I like a good sob, normally in private and more than likely about things that are really not important.

I’ve been known to weep uncontrollably when I’ve fucked up my make up, when the bag splits on the way home from the shops and when my parents’ dog ate £100 straight out of my handbag. I know you probably think I made that last one up but I can assure you I really didn’t.

The thing with me is that I tend to sit on my emotions. I’ll let thoughts get trapped in my head, they wear away at me and grind me down for days or weeks until they finally surface in the most unexpected manner. I regularly find myself in the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ scenario, whereby it only takes something small and seemingly meaningless to send me into a fit of rage followed by the waterworks explosion. I can cry that sickening way, when you feel like you might hurl because you have so much sadness bubbling over and you just have to get it out.

The great news is that I normally feel better after a good old strop and a tear-fest. No matter what has pushed me to boiling point, my mind is clearly in need of some sort of release – so it finds its own way of getting it. It sounds like I’m a dramatic person (OK maybe I am at times) but I only have these little tantrums because I’ve remained so calm and collected on the surface for so long. I have been in that situation long term and it seriously isn’t good for your health. I’m trying to work on keeping my mind relaxed and de-cluttered but it’s a work in progress.

My advice is to cry when you need you. Even when it seems unreasonable, even when you can’t explain what you’re upset about; cry away and you’ll feel so much better in the long run.

its OK to cry about things that aren't important mental health