Saturday, 8 July 2017

10 easy ways to look after your mental health

We all go through hard times in our lives, as well as just bad days where it's a little harder to get out of bed. Whether you have a mental illness or not, it is important to have time to yourself and prioritise doing little things every day (or every few days if that is more manageable) to look after mind, relax, and feel good about yourself. When going through a difficult time in your life, little positive things that can make a difference tend to be overlooked, and it's easy to get swallowed up in your problems and feeling less positive about your life.

During hard times, i think it's more important than ever to look after your wellbeing and mental health. I have found it surprising how doing something small like taking a shower, can make me feel slightly more positive about my life (That sounds ridiculous but it's true.) I have put together a list of things that help put me in a better frame of mind when i am struggling to feel good about myself and my life.

Photo from pinterest here.
1. Have 'me' time

If you don't already take time out of your day yourself, please start prioritising it into your day. Try to have at least one or two hobbies you can do at home to relax and chill out. You can start scheduling this hobby into your daily routine, or just do it when you feel like it - It depends on what the hobby is and how busy you are. I have three chill-out hobbies i engage in when i want time to myself and these are reading, watching episodes of pretty little liars, and watching my favourite youtubers on youtube. I read every night before i go to bed, so that's part of my daily routine, and i watch pll or youtube whenever i feel i want to have time all for me. It is really nice to know i can turn to doing these things, to switch off from my day, and feel distracted from my thoughts.

2. Establish a routine

This point may seem really daunting, but by 'establish a routine' i just mean to know roughly what you will be doing some days or certain times of every day. For example, i have a part time job every weekend, so i know every weekend afternoon i will be at work. By knowing this, i know to get other things i want to do done on other days. Also, i know i like to have evenings to chill out by myself, and by doing this, i know to try and get chores and other priorities done earlier in the day. Being aware of when you will do important stuff, and when you will have more free time, will help you fit more chill-out 'me' time into your day and help you feel more in control of your life.

3. Tidy your space

This might seem like a strange point, but i really recommend doing this more often. I am naturally quite a tidy and organised person - you just have to look at my bedroom to know that. But whether you are naturally a tidy person or not, having a declutter or reorganisation of your bedroom or another area of your house can help increase your mood. I have been known to tidy things in my bedroom late at night for no reason at all, but i realise now that tidying things calms me down and makes me feel good. I can't really say why this helps me, but it does, and it certainly worth trying this out on a rainy afternoon!

4. Avoid fast food

Don't worry, I'm not saying you should ban fast food out of your diet completely (Thank goodness, that's a bit too much pressure.) I just mean to try not to eat it as much. I have recognised that after eating a McDonalds, although i love the taste of their food and the convenience of a McDonalds meal, i usually feel bloated and generally not good about myself after eating there. Don't worry, i don't actually feel unwell, but i just feel not as healthy as i could due to what i'm putting into my body. I have tried to include more fruit into my diet by having strawberries and banana for breakfast some days, as bananas include a neurotransmitter called serotonin that has been proven to increase your mood. Try to eat less not-good stuff, and more good stuff!

5. Use your voice

Friends and family are in our lives for a reason - they can make a difference and they are there to support us. If those close to you don't know you are going through a hard time in your life, or having a bad day, reach out to them. They will want to support you, be there for you and make you feel better. Also, the internet is an amazing resource - don't take it for granted. Write a blog post about what you are going through, and help inspire others. Talk to people online going through similar things, and seek advice for yourself. Comment on a friend's new profile picture. Put out good into the world, and you are sure to get it back.

6. Read, read, read

For me, reading about people - read or not real - who feel similar things to me can make me feel comforted and less alone. If you don't often read, it can seem daunting to start but it doesn't have to be. Thanks to websites like bloglovin, you can follow hundreds of blogs at a time and have recent blogposts all in one place. You can follow my blog on bloglovin here. Goodreads is a website where you can review books, keep track of books you would like to read, and easily discover new books. You can check out my goodreads profile here. It has been shown that reading for as little as six minutes can reduce your stress levels by a large percentage, so if that isn't enough reason to read more often, i don't know what is.

7. Plan something fun

Having something to look forward to in your life, big or small, can help you to feel more optimistic about the future. This could be a small thing like going out for lunch at the end of the week, or going on holiday at the end of the year. It doesn't matter if it is far away or near, looking into the future and knowing you going to be doing something exciting can help you to remember that there are better days out there. For example, i'm looking forward to a concert i'll be going to in a couple of weeks, and going out with my friends at some point this summer when my friends are back from holiday!

8. Follow posi accounts

If you are a social media addict like me, i recommend following and unfollowing accounts depending on how they make you feel. Unfollow accounts that often make you sigh, or decrease your self esteem. Follow accounts that inspire you, make you smile, and encourage positivity. In recent months i have discovered several accounts on twitter and instagram called 'posi' accounts, which are cute accounts that post encouraging tweets, quotes and words of wisdom. Some of my favourite accounts on twitter are here and here. Some of my favourite accounts on instagram are here and here. They brighten up my feeds and help me feel positive throughout the day.

9. Seek some support

Sometimes, we may need a bit of guidance to start feeling better about ourselves and that is perfectly ok. I have recently decided to invest in counselling for myself to help me get through this part of my life and to help make positive changes to how i view myself. I am planning to make a future blogpost all about my decision to start counselling - please let me know if you would like to see that. There is no shame from seeking advice and support from a doctor, a counsellor, a therapist, or anyone in authority. You could go to your gp, and they may refer you to additional services, or you could pay privately for a counsellor/therapist if you don't want to wait on a waiting list. If your problems or feelings seem too big and they overwhelm you, there is no shame in asking for more help. In fact, it is very brave and admirable.

10. Don't lose hope

Finally, always keep it in mind that your situation can only improve and that brighter days are coming. The brighter day may not be tomorrow, or next week, but it is coming, and you will be glad when you have got there. One day, you may be laughing about something or may be in a happy moment, and you stop and suddenly remember about the time in your life when things seemed bleak and things were tough, and you will feel proud that you maintained a positive outlook. Don't ever lose your hope for the future, and things will be sure to only go up for you. Your future self will only thank you for it.

I hope this post has helped you to feel better, and i'd love if you could try out these tips. Do you have any other tips that help to improve your mental health and make any day slightly better? Feel free to comment below!
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Monday, 26 June 2017

My summer to-read list 2017

I feel that the summer months are the ideal time to wind down, relax and open a book. There are so many books nowadays out there, and you are bound to find something that interests and you keeps you hooked! Whether you are new to reading or are looking for some inspiration, i have put together a number of books i'm hoping to read in the upcoming months. I have a mix of YA and women's fiction, as well as poetry and self help - hopefully you find something you might like to read as well! Below i will go through each of these books in turn..

1. I'll Give You The Sun - Jandy Nelson

I read 'The sky is everywhere' by Jandy Nelson in May, although i found her writing style a little hard to get used to at first. Despite this, i appreciated her portrayal of grief, and her unique writing style had tons of character and spirit which has made me eager to read more by her. 'I'll give you the sun' is a story about two twins who, after separating, somehow find their way back to each other. This book is award-winning and sounds intriguing to me. If it is anything like 'The sky is everywhere' i'm excited to read this already.

2. All That She Can See - Carrie Hope Fletcher

In April, i read Carrie's other fiction book 'On the other side' which i didn't particularly enjoy. I thought it was well-written but the story didn't greatly appeal to me. At the end of this book, there was an extract to 'All that she can see' and it sounded really good! In 'All that she can see' a girl Cherry has a bakery and has a unique ability which helps people in a special way. This book isn't released yet, but i will hopefully read it when it is because this seems like a really nice feel-good book!

3. My Heart And Other Black Holes - Jasmine Warga

My favourite kind of fiction books are those that are deep and though-provoking. 'My heart and other black holes' is a story about a girl who wants to end her own life although she can't do it alone. She seeks out for a suicide partner, however they become closer that expected and she soon has a hard decision to make. This book is probably a potential trigger to those who are suicidal and/or depressed. Although i may find this book a bit difficult to read in places, the story line fascinates me and i for sure need to get round to reading this.

4. Paper Towns - John Green

One of my favourite books EVER is Looking for Alaska by John Green - i absolutely loved it. At the time of writing this blog post, i'm currently reading The Fault in Our Stars. I feel that i may as well read Paper Towns at some point too! John Green is an incredible author.

5. Wilde Like Me - Louise Pentland

I am a fan of youtubers, including Louise Pentland aka. Sprinkle of Glitter! She is bringing out her first fiction book very soon, and i feel i need to pick it up. As far as i know, it's a chick-flick women's fiction book about a single mum looking for a lover. Although i can't personally identify with the protoganist in this story,  i'm hoping this book will be full of personality, humour and cringe. Louise Pentland has a blog which i love, and her blog posts (as well as instagram posts) are light-hearted and joyful. Hopefully this book will be too!

6. Start Where You Are - Meera Lee Patel

I received 'Start where you are' for my 19th birthday, and i've already filled in a couple of pages! This book is an interactive self-help journal type book, full of different pages for you to fill in and write down your thoughts. This book is colourful, positive and full of quotes to inspire you as well! Although i technically do already own this book (unlike the others mentioned in this post) i have yet to fill in the rest of mine. You can pick it up and fill in any page when you like which is great.

7. Milk And Honey - Rupi Kaur

No doubt you have seen a picture of 'Milk and honey' posted on Instagram somewhere. This book contains many different poems, about many different topics. I had read only a few of the poems, and they were beautiful. I love the idea of having a book with heartfelt poems in, for me to pick up for some inspiration when i need it, or to make me feel better when i feel bad.

8.  The Forever House - Veronica Henry

Last but not least, The Forever House looks like a really lovely, pleasant fiction story to read this summer. I have read a few books by Veronica Henry now, and i really liked them. They were very easy-to-read, relaxed and are set in really nice environments as well. The characters do go through some real issues though, and it's nice to see how things come together and work out in the end. This may be one to read whilst sitting on a sun-lounger on your summer holiday!

Have you read any of these, or are you planning to? What books are you going to read this summer? 
I'd love to know!
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Thursday, 1 June 2017

5 part-time job interview tips

Hey! Everyone loves the idea of having a job, to have money or to begin a career path of your dreams. The part everyone dreads (yes, even the most confident person you know) is the job interview. It helps to be prepared, however if you haven't had previous experience with job interviews, or you are applying for a different type of job, it can be easy to feel a bit flustered. I have put together 5 top tips on how to ace a part-time job interview. I have followed these tips myself, and feel quite confident now with part-time job interviews mainly through practice, and i know how to prepare now and how best to present myself.

1. Be early

It goes without saying, but you're less likely to bag the job if you are late. Being late gives a bad impression, and i expect your chances of getting the job reduce massively if your interviewer is there before you are. Setting your alarm an hour or two earlier than normal is worth it, to ensure you can feel prepared before, feel confident in what you're wearing, and be at the interview at the required time.

2. Present yourself well

You could argue that this is not an important factor when it comes to your interview, but it depends on the job you are hoping to get, and also the type of person you are. If you're applying for a job at a makeup counter for example, the sky is the limit on how you do your makeup, to best showcase your make-up skills. Personally, i like to where make-up on a daily basis and a job interview is no exception. When it comes to makeup, where what makes you feel good, and i also recommend highlighting your best features (if you have small lips - where lipstick, if you like your eyelashes extenuate them by wearing mascara.) Think about your outfit also. I typically tend to wear the same smart blue top from New Look for every interview - it helps to always know roughly what top i'll be wearing. I wear this top with smart black trousers, nice plain black flats and my black Topshop satchel. Wear what you like, and what is suitable.

3. Do your research

My first ever job interview was for a fashion brand in Debenhams. I'd been told the name of the brand when i heard i'd achieved an interview, however i stupidly didn't research about the brand before the big day arrived. I was asked several question such as the desired market for the clothes brand, as well as what the recent trends were at the time. I improvised my answers although i did feel a bit flustered and unconfident. Ultimately, if you don't know the company well, do some research until you feel you know your stuff.

When it comes to being prepared, it's important to bring required documents with you. You'll be informed when you receive an interview offer whether you may need to bring anything with you. In my most recent interview, i needed to bring my passport, as well as my national insurance number. If you don't bring required documents with you, you may start receiving your pay late, and it gives the impression that you are passionate about the potential job, if you've listened to your potential employers and provide valuable documents.

4. Use what you knowI feel that this point is often under looked, but can differentiate job candidates. You may be asked questions such as "Can you describe a time you have been a team leader/worked as part of a team?" or "Why do you want to work here?" When answering these types of questions, as well as throughout your interview, you want to point out skills you've learned from previous jobs, and the duties you had undertaken in previous jobs. If you haven't had a job before, think about things you have achieved at school, from clubs you've been part of for example. If your new potential job is different from previous jobs you've had, still describe the duties and things you've learned in the past and indicate that you are adaptable to learn new things and have a variety of skills. I like to prepare answers in advance to potential questions like above, as well as for questions like "What are your strengths?" Having scenarios in your head for potential broad questions about past job experience, can make you feel a lot more prepared, and can take pressure off. Using what you know to your best ability continues on to my last point...

5. Be confident and act interested

This is a tip that i always remember. I naturally lack confidence and self-esteem, but i know that an employer is not likely to employ me if i act scared, shy, or unprepared. If i have followed all the steps above, all i really need to do is make sure i convey myself and my abilities/experience as best as possible. Positive body language is powerful. Sit with your back straight, make eye contact with the interviewer and speak clearly, loudly and confidently. If you make a mistake with an answer, keep going and focus more on what you say, rather than how you say it. In my interview i almost put on an act (but still act like myself) but i try to pretend i am the confident, best version of myself. Also, act more interested in the job than you probably are. Using the "do your research" point, use what you know about the company to make the company sounds great. If you do this subtly, the interviewer will appreciate this.

That's it! I hope you find these tips valuable, and i hope your interview is successful. If not, you'll be better prepared for next time and at least you'll have learned something from the experience!
Be sure to leave a comment below if this post has helped you, or if you have any other tips to ace the dreaded job interview.
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