Trying Something New

It is no secret that 2020 was an abysmal year all together. Covid-19 happened, and all our worlds stopped turning. Though, we are making progress with new vaccines being rolled out to our most vulnerable and front-line workers, life is still vastly different. Normal doesn’t really exist anymore, and it hasn’t done for a while. Were having to take every precaution and limit our social lives.

However, despite how awful it has been, I am grateful for the year we’ve just had, because it has opened my eyes like no other. For the last few years, I have struggled more and more with my mental health, mainly with anxiety, self-love, and motivation, which noticeably worsened during the pandemic. For the most part of those years, I wasted my time not doing anything about it and now I realise the impact of that. Before 2020, I had always been in a position where I could distract myself by seeing friends, going for drinks, just being a sociable young adult, I suppose. As a result, my mental health was spiralling, and I was completely oblivious to how bad it was.

So yes, 2020 has been the most difficult year of some of our lives, mine included, but it has also made me aware of where I am going wrong. It has pushed me to realise that you can’t just push your insecurities, darkest fears and so on to the back of your mind, because it will ultimately manifest itself and cause you more detriment in the long run. You never know what can happen. For instance, the whole world could be put on hold and all your distractions could be stripped away in a blink of an eye.That is what happened to me and I’m sure so many others too.

With that in mind, I have set myself some goals for 2021 to improve my overall perception of myself and my outlook on life. I guess you could call them resolutions, I just prefer the term goals (mainly because I have never stuck to a new year’s resolution in my life.) These are just small changes/additions to my day-to-day life but hopefully they’ll have a huge impact on my happiness.

The first one of these being…

Journaling:

Now, journaling may seem like the easiest thing to just start doing, but let me tell you… I have tried time and time again to start journaling consistently and it never goes to plan. It sounds crazy but I wound up putting so much pressure on myself to write an entry everyday that it becomes a chore. Though I know I never needed to write an entry every day because it was only ever going to be for me, my head said otherwise. So, to solve that problem, I have decided that my journal for 2021 is an ‘as and when journal’ which means I don’t have to write in it every day. I can pick and choose when I feel the need to make a note whether that be to vent, to remember a great day or just to spill my emotions out on a page frantically.

In all honesty, I thought I would end up sacking it off but were currently ten days into 2021 and so far, so good! Now I’ve got it out of my head that it needs to be consistent, I am thriving. I think one of the main reasons I enjoy it so much is because I look forward to reading it back (and hopefully be able to see my progress within it.) I like that I can look back in ten, even five years’ time and reminisce on my life and all the ups and downs that come with it. I guess you could say I see it as my own little auto biography and who doesn’t want that.

If you feel like you need a safe space that remains private and personal, a journal can be that place. I would highly recommend this as release of any internal stress’ or worries.

Meditation:

Again, meditating is something I have struggled to get on board with. Despite being told by friends and even doctors that it is so beneficial for the mind, I am just a very impatient person and I find it to be too slow paced for me. It sounds shallow but I just get bored and switch off.

However, when you think about it logically, meditation is literally there to take a time out and slow down. It is something that I struggle to do but I realise that it is necessary. Due to my anxiety, I am in constant need of a distraction to feel good, but I know that is no healthy way to live. So, I’m giving it another go. I’ve set myself a goal of meditating at least two times a week. I know this isn’t much, but if you’re a beginner I think it is more than enough to start with.

I do still have my days where my mind won’t allow me to shut off, but when it does, I do feel so much calmer both physically and mentally. The tension leaves my body (even if it is for a few minutes) and my thoughts seem clearer.

If this is something you haven’t tried, I do think it is worth having a go. Maybe you have tried it, but it doesn’t seem to work. To that I would say be persistent. I am still trying to be better with it myself. All I know, is that it’s a great way to train your mind to rest when it is very much needed.

Year in pixels:

This is such a small thing that I’m planning to do daily throughout this year. It requires no effort at all, but I feel it would be rewarding/interesting to look back on at the end of 2021. Before I go on to explain what my year in pixels is, I do just want to say… I have completely nabbed this idea from one of my best friends who did it last year. I know that she really enjoyed doing it and i wanted to give it a go myself.

Essentially, this is graph of everyday of the year with boxes I can colour in with a key for each colour. For example, my green boxes represent my stressed days, and my purple boxes represent my normal days. This is proving more difficult to explain than I thought, but that is okay because I have added a picture below of mine so far.  

The reason I wanted to do this is because it is not only interesting to look back on, but it will also hopefully put things into perspective by the end of the year. If my completed graph shows me that I have way more good/normal days than bad (which I already know is likely), I think that will do wonders for my mindset, just to know that the positives outweigh the negatives…you know. I think it’ll be a great way to work on my gratitude.

If this is something you want to try, all you need is a notebook/bit of paper, some coloured pens, or pencils and that is literally all.

As I said at the beginning of this post, these are just small additions to my routine that will hopefully improve my mindset. Whether it will work or not is a different story, but i am feeling positive about it. Trial and error is still progress and progress is better than nothing at all.

If you have any tips to kick start the year right do comment below. I hope you have an amazing 2021!

Birchbox First Impressions and Favourites

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.

Not only is Birchbox my first beauty box subscription, but it is also my first ever paid subscription to anything other than your basic streaming service. It’s not that the idea never appealed to me, but it is just an unfamiliar way of shopping for me. I have always been the sort of person who knows what I want, and if I want it enough, I will buy it. It is as simple as that.

However, for a while now, my friends and I will film hauls of items we have recently tried or purchased for each other and almost review them, I guess. (If you don’t already do this with your friends, definitely do.) It is so much fun and it can lead to the discovery of some great new products that you may not have heard about elsewhere. That is how I came across Birchbox.

A couple of my friends had subscribed to it, and they started doing monthly haul to show us what they had got. I won’t lie and say that it appealed massively to me in the beginning, but as we were limited on things we could do and spending a lot of time indoors, online shopping became my dose of excitement. Thus, the idea of receiving a box every month with five completely surprise products became quite enticing, and so I bit the bullet and subscribed to Birchbox. I guess you could say this is my review of the brand and the products they include from what I have received so far!

Pricing:

I want to make sure that I look at every single aspect of the brand and not just the products because it’s all equally important in my eyes. So, let’s start with the price! I think it is only fair to note that the original price for a Birchbox subscription is £12.95 per box and I only paid £19.42 for a three-month subscription as there happened to be a deal on at the time. I personally remember the price drop being the main reason I decided to subscribe to this box, and If I am being honest, I don’t think I would have subscribed if it weren’t for the deal I received at the time.

However, since receiving all three boxes worth of products, I have done some research and found that most of the products are quite high end and, in many cases, are worth more than the full price of the box, so in that sense you are getting your money’s worth. Equally, it’s the experience you’re paying for as well as the products! It is an exciting and fun way to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, something that you may not necessarily reach for usually which is always a plus.

Packaging and Delivery:

I would be lying if I said it was all smooth sailing when it came to the delivery or packaging of the boxes that I have received. My October box arrived before my September one did, and so I had to contact the customer support team to have a new one sent out. However, the customer support service was quick and speedy with a polite and apologetic response. As well as this, the delivery of my lost box was very quick and efficient after I had queried its whereabouts. When I did receive it, it was packed in a simple but lovely pink recyclable cardboard box and I was overly excited to try the products I had received!

The October box that I received prior to this arrived in much less intact packaging. It was in a plain brown cardboard box that has been crushed somewhere along the way and dumped on my doorstep. I do just want to point out that this is something that was clearly down to the delivery service and not the company itself, but I’m trying to be as honest as I possibly can. I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of disappointment as it was the first box I’d ever received. As you can imagine, first impressions were not great, but we can blame the delivery service for that.

The Products:

Okay so here is the thing… I for some reason just didn’t clock that these products weren’t going to be full size, and that most of them were tester sized. So, I’ll admit I was a bit shocked upon first look, but once I’d come to terms with it and thought about it properly, I started to realise how naïve I was to think I’d be getting all these full-sized products for the price I was paying. I would argue that the box is still worth the money for what you receive, but just be aware that a lot of the products are tester sized, because I was not.

In terms of variety, Birchbox do pretty well to make sure that you get a little bit of everything. In only three months’ worth of boxes, I’ve received products for hair, skin, lips, eyes and even wellbeing so I’m more than content with the range of different things I’m going to be able to try with this subscription.

I will hold my hands up and say that I haven’t tried every single product yet. There are so many and we’re barely going out at the moment, so I have less opportunity to make use of them. However, I thought it would be a fun idea to give a little shoutout to one product from each box that I am loving and would recommend to you guys!

The first of these being…

Balance Me Beauty Sleep Hydraulic Mist:


This product came in a 10ml tester bottle but can be purchased in a 45ml bottle here: https://cutt.ly/IhP0kEd

So, this is a mist that is essentially supposed to help make you feel more relaxed and ready for a better night’s sleep. The key ingredients that achieve this include Hydraulic Acid, Chamomile, Lavender and CBD oil. I am a massive fan of all these ingredients, so this immediately intrigued me, and I was looking forward to giving it a try.

If you have read my recent blog post on anxiety, you’ll know that it has severely affected my sleep pattern in the past, so any product that is meant to help in that area is welcome, especially as I know it contains ingredients that I already use and love. For instance, I use a CBD oil paste nightly and both myself and my partner will often put lavender oil on our pillows to help with our sleep.

Thankfully, the product has lived up to my expectations, and has definitely made me feel a lot more relaxed when I use it. I simply just spray it on my pillow, wrists and neck before I go to bed and it instantly soothes me. Of course, I cannot guarantee that this will work for everyone, especially as I already associate the scent of lavender with comfort and relaxation. However, if you’re someone who struggles with sleep or even just stress, this could be something worth investing in. From my own personal experience, id rate this product a 9 of 10.

Nuxe Paris Moisturiser:


This product came in a 13ml tester tube but a 50ml version is available to buy here: https://cutt.ly/thP19Vu

I’ve recently run out of my go to moisturiser and had to restrain myself from purchasing a new one because I was certain I’d get one to try with this subscription, and I am so glad that I did wait it out, because low and behold, I received this product!

This Nuxe bio-organic moisturiser contains a combination of brown Algae extracts and Hydraulic Acid. It is honestly the most perfect consistency and density if you’re like me and have quite demanding skin. Unfortunately, I was not blessed with clear skin and so a product with the slightest amount of too much or too little of something will cause me to break out or enhance my blemishes.

As if that wasn’t enough to deal with, I’ve also found my skin either be too oily or too dry. There is no in-between. I didn’t quite realise it was possible to have both, but here we are. It gets particularly dry after I’ve washed it, until I apply a moisturiser which then results in it feeling too oily and a little too heavy on my face. I just can’t win. Does anybody else have this struggle? I’d honestly love to know.

Anyway, back to my point, this moisturiser is so light that is doesn’t create that overwhelming sticky feeling on my face, but it still has enough moisture to prevent my skin from wrinkling up like a deflated balloon.

It has been a genuine challenge to find a moisturiser that really works cohesively with my skin type, but I think I may have finally got there. The only thing I would love more, would be if the moisturiser contained SPF. I can’t stress enough the importance of wearing SPF daily to keep your skin healthy and protected. It’s so simple yet makes such a significant difference to both your appearance and your skins health.

All in all, I really do love the moisturiser and the way it makes my skin look and feel. I have seen a genuine significant improvement and a lack of breakouts since using it. However, I am still keen to find one that does all these things but also protects my skin from UV rays. If you know of any that might be worth trying, please comment below! Overall, I would rate this moisturiser an 8 out of 10 for that reason.

Vitamasques Super Blossom Hydrating Facial:

Let’s be honest, we all love a facemask, and with the world being put on hold, it’s the perfect time to have pampering sessions. As I mentioned above, my skin can be difficult, to say the least. Thus, I must be incredibly careful with what facemasks I use because some will result in my skin being worse off than it was before applying the product. I have learnt from experience, that most peel off facemasks that must be left to dry on the skin tend to dry my skin out way too much. In turn, I end up with itchy skin a lot of blemishes/rashes for a short period of time.

The reason I loved this one so much is because it’s a hydrating mask, so It doesn’t need to be left to set. Therefore, my skin didn’t suffer from any dryness, in fact it was the total opposite. It felt very refreshed and hydrated. The product itself contains ingredients like Hydraulic Acid, Electrolytes and flower and fruit extracts.

Another great thing about the mask, which differentiates it from your average facemask, is that it’s a hattrick product. It includes a face scrub, a biodegradable sheet mask and a moisturiser to finish. Not only does this give you the fall pamper experience in one product, but it also provides a moisturiser to finish off which I feel is quite rare. If your skin is anything like mine, you’ll understand the importance of applying a moisturiser after a facemask. For that reason, I would rate this product a 7 out of 10. The only reason it is not a 10 is because it hasn’t made a significant difference to my skin long term, but then again not many facemasks do.

I could not find this product anywhere! A similar face mask, from the same brand can be purchased here: https://cutt.ly/3hP0dt1

To conclude my review…

I would say that overall, I have really enjoyed the experience of receiving these products and trying them out. Of the many that I have got round to using, I would say that I liked 90% of them, and the ones I didn’t I gave out to friends, which has been nice to do as well.

There are a few products that I have been introduced to that I will continue to purchase from the brands themselves. I would argue that this is the best thing about having a subscription like this. Yes, it allows you to experiment with lots of different products, but it also supports and promotes a variety of different beauty brands and I really love that idea.

For that reason, I would be up for trying a couple of other boxes like this and making a bit of a series out of it. If this is something that you want to see, or if you feel it could be informative for you, then please do let me know in the comments, and if there are any boxes that you would recommend, I’d also love to hear them!

Thank you for reading. It is greatly appreciated, as always x

5 Ways to: Feel Festive

I think it is fair to say that most people look forward to Christmas. Even if it isn’t your favourite time of year, there is always something in it for everyone, whether you’re the type of person who lives and breathes Christmas or you’re solely there for the food and drinks. Maybe you’re just excited to have some time off work and spend time with your loved ones. Regardless of what it may be, Christmas is generally enjoyable for all.

With that being said, I am yet to figure out if I enjoy Christmas or not. I am sure I can’t be the only one in two minds about the whole concept. Don’t get me wrong, some years I’m so eager to start listening to the classic songs that we’ve all heard thousands of times before. I cannot wait to decorate the tree, and stock up on all the best snacks that are sold exclusively at this time of year, but sometimes I’m just not feeling it. I guess that is expected in adult life. Christmas does inevitably start to lose its magic, well for me it has anyway, and these “unprecedented times” (as our government would say) have certainly not helped the matter. As a result, it’s been more difficult than ever to get into the festive spirit this year.

However, not much else has gone on since March, and so Christmas is likely to be the highlight of my year, for the pure fact that I’ll get to see my family and live a day that seems semi normal. So, I have decided that I want to make a real conscious effort this year and enjoy the entire Christmas experience while it lasts, not just the day itself. This year has been so filled with uncertainty and anxiety; we deserve a bit of Christmas magic. We finally have something to look forward to and so of course, I want to make the most of it, as I am sure many of you do.

To make this Christmas as special as I would like it to be, I needed to make myself excited. I needed to make sure I was feeling festive. Yes, there are a lot of limits on what we can do this year. We can’t go to Winter Wonderland or go to the pub with our oldest pals. We can’t even Christmas shop as we usually would, but putting all of that aside, we can focus on the simple things that make Christmas a special time of year.

I have tried a lot of different things to uphold the festivities for my own happiness. If you’re wanting to do the same, here are my five ways to feel festive. I hope you enjoy!

  1. Making a Cheeseboard

Christmas is all about indulging in good foods and beverages, right? So, it seems to me that a cheeseboard is absolutely essential. Not only does it provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy food and wine, but it is also a great feature for a social gathering during the festive season. (I know that this isn’t necessarily possible at the moment, but if you live in shared house with friends or family it’s a great way to get everyone around you in the mood, as well as yourself.)

I personally live in a shared house with friends and so I haven’t been able to see much of my family, hence why this Christmas is super important to me. So, I decided that as a little bit of a pick me up, I would put together an extravagant cheeseboard for us all. I am extremely proud of the outcome of this, and quite frankly shocked by how well it went. I think it’s important that I point that out because to some (myself included), this idea may seem quite daunting. Not only are you putting together a cheeseboard, you’re essentially hosting the evening, but I can assure you that it is super fun and easy to do.

My cheeseboard was completely tailored the personal preferences and dietary requirements of my friends, so I included a variety of different cheeses, including vegan cheese. At this point, I do just want to give a shoutout to Sainsburys because I am thoroughly impressed by the amount of vegan cheese options they had, including vegan blue cheese and chilli cheese. If dairy free is your preference, they have got you covered!

As well as all the cheese you could possibly think off, I also added a few extra nibbles for more variety. We had the full works. Everything from pickles, olives, breadsticks, chutneys, jams, crackers, fruit… The list is endless. As I mentioned before, this was all based on personal preferences. It can be altered completely to suit you and your guests. There aren’t really any rules to what you can and can’t include in your cheeseboard so experiment with it!

I would highly recommend putting a date in the diary to do something like this with your friends/family. Have a drink together, enjoy each other’s company and have a good old time. You’ll soon start to feel festive and hopefully your company will too.

2. Secret Santa

As mentioned above, I live in a shared house of adults’ and I think we all mutually agree that we don’t receive as many gifts at Christmas time as we used to. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that and it is to be expected. However, it is still a nice feeling to be gifted something and to give a gift too.

Thus, I thought it would be a lovely idea for us all to do a Secret Santa this year, so everyone gets a little something. Unsurprisingly everyone was pretty up for it. We’re yet to do our gift opening, but again it’s just another thing to be excited about in the lead up to Christmas. We all need things to look forward to in a time like this, and I personally cannot wait to make a day/evening of it!

Secret Santa is a great and simple way to involve everyone. It assures that nobody gets left out and it is also something that can be inexpensive. There is no pressure to pull out all the stops or go above and beyond. It’s just a great opportunity to treat your friends and have it reciprocated. For instance, my friends and I have agreed on a £10 budget, so nothing too extravagant. However, there is room to push the boat out and up that budget if you wish. This again, can easily be altered to the suit everyone involved.

If like me, you’re missing the fun that comes with receiving and giving presents, give this a go!

3. Lighting the Fire

I am aware that not everyone has a fireplace in their home, but in the area that I live in it seems to be quite a common thing. Christmas is of course the perfect time to make good use of this advantage. The days are getting a little colder, a little shorter and a little darker, and I would argue lighting a fire is the perfect solution to all those things.

Having a fire lit on a cold and dark night will inevitably provide you with warmth and comfort, especially paired with a hot beverage and a cosey blanket. Not only does it make you feel super snug, it also instantly creates a festive atmosphere in the home. I can’t explain it, but we all know that Christmas and a lit fire go hand in hand.  I don’t know, maybe my subconscious just associates the two because it is the most cliché setting in your average Christmas film. All I know, Is that this my first Christmas with a fireplace and it has definitely added to the Christmas atmosphere in my house.

4. Lighting a Christmas Candle

This is a great alternative if you don’t have a fireplace. Lighting a few Christmas scented candle will still give you that extra warmth but also make your entire house smell like all things Christmas. I personally have been loving the scent of cinnamon this year, which is odd because I’m not usually the biggest fan of it. Nevertheless, I’ve been burning my Cinnamon sparkle Christmas candle since the middle of November and I cannot get enough of it. It is pretty much a dupe of a Yankee candle. It burns just as well, and the scent is just as pungent. The only difference is, I got it for a fraction of the price.

So, if you are looking for a Christmas scented candle, mine was purchased from Aldi, which you’ll know if you’re from the UK.  It was under £5 which just goes to show that these things don’t have to be expensive to be good quality. Equally, If you’re not someone who really likes to spend a lot on Christmas decorations, You can still invest in minor things like a scented candle to get your home feeling more festive.  

5. Decorating the House

I’d argue that this is the most obvious and effective way to feel festive, and that’s because it is a widely celebrated tradition at this time of year. It is undeniable that decor instantly changes the vibe of a room. We see this with day to day décor/interior design and Christmas decorations are no different. They really do make a massive difference in my opinion.

One of the great things about decorating the house, is that it’s not just about the finished product, but also the process. A lot of families will see this as a bonding session, a time to get excited and prepared for Christmas together! And once they’re up, It does really make you feel like Christmas has arrived.

I personally prefer the minimal and simple look when it comes to decorations, so I have opted for some holly branches, a couple of basic figures, some gold lanterns, gold candle holder, warm fairy lights and lit candles to pull it all together. It isn’t anything too out there, but it still gives the house a Christmassy feel. If this is your vibe, you’ll be happy to know that I spent under £10 on these decorations and they were all purchases from Poundland bar the holly branches. The holly branches cost absolutely nothing as they were picked, yet they really complete the look that I wanted to achieve.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It just goes to show that a little goes a long way.

Why am I writing this post? Because I want to prolong the enjoyment of Christmas for as long as I possibly can, for myself and others. It is supposedly the most wonderful time of the year, so why not make the most of it? After all, we all deserve to enjoy what is left of this shit show of a year.

If you have any festive suggestions for me and others to try, comment below! I would love to hear your suggestions!

Lastly, I wish you all a very merry December! x

Let’s Talk Anxiety

I guess you could say this is me introducing the deeper aspect of this blog. It is where I take a bit of time to focus a little less on my exterior and more on what goes on inside. I must admit, I debated back and forth in my mind on whether I would ever lay it all bare on this blog , let alone in one of my first few posts – but, I think it is important that we strip it all back sometimes and focus a bit more on what goes on inside of the mind. After all, it plays a pivotal part in who we are, even more so than what we wear or what interests us.

There were a couple of things that pushed me to talk about this in more depth. The most prominent being the year 2020 as a whole. Let’s be honest, it’s not been great and that’s an understatement to say the least. For me, personally, it’s been a year of internal conflicts and challenges and that is predominantly because of anxiety. I won’t for a second sit here and say that I’ve experienced the worst of it or that I know all there is to know about it. That is because I am aware that I don’t know the half of it, and I never will. The reality is, no two minds are the same and we can’t read what one another are thinking or feeling. That isn’t to say that I haven’t had my own struggles with it though, and that has most definitely been heightened by the chaos we’re all experiencing in this world.

This year has enforced a lot of abrupt changes to all our lives in one way or another. I would like to take a minute to say that the effect it has had on me does not compare to the effect it has had on those who have lost loved ones or experienced life changing medical complications due to Covid-19, and my heart goes out to those in that position.

I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been a struggle for me, by far mentally more than any other way. I’m certain that I am not the only one in this boat and so I thought it would be worth talking about, even if it only comforts one person reading this.

Another thing that really pushed me to post this was something that a friend of mine told me. She had mentioned that someone said to her, “Your generation is too needy.” And this has really stuck with me. I wish I could say it took me by surprise, but it didn’t. That is where the problem starts. I’m no stranger to seeing people mock this generation for being ‘too anxious’ or ‘too weak’ or ‘too needy.’ Until we lose this attitude altogether, we will never get rid of the stigma around mental health. It is one thing to be so wrapped up in your own mind that it can sometimes seem like it is taking over, so to have that paired with the judgment of others takes it to a whole new level of difficulty.

I think it is so necessary to discuss topics like this and I want it to play a pivotal part in my blog just as much as the things I enjoy, maybe even more so. I’ve learnt to accept that being an anxious person is a part of my character and the purpose of this blog is to be a reflection of that – it is no bad thing and nothing to be ashamed of. And so, I think it is only right that I include all the raw parts amongst the fun and light-heartedness.

The purpose of this post is not to advise on how to deal with anxiety because in all honesty, I wouldn’t know how to, and I am not a professional by any means. I know how difficult it is to take any advice on this subject when you’re in the thick of it. I’ll be the first to say that when I’m experiencing an overwhelming feeling of anxiety, all the methods that I’ve tried to instill in myself go out of the window. In spite of this, I do want to share a few of the ways that have worked for me. I do want to preface this by saying that these do not always work in the moment, but when they do it really makes a difference for me and can hopefully make a difference for others too.

Here are some of the ways I calm my anxiety…

Headphones:

For me, listening to or watching something through headphones can be extremely useful if I’m trying to divert my mind away from negative thoughts. It is taking the classic ‘find a distraction’ method that little step further in my opinion.

When I first started to experience bad anxiety, I tried to find a distraction by sticking something enjoyable and easy to follow on the tv, but this didn’t really work for me. I could still feel the presence of impending silence daunting me when that particular show or video was coming to an end, so much so that I would put all of my thought into how long was left of the thing I was watching and not enjoy it at all. If anything, I would say this heightened the negative feelings in my experience.

So, I started to listen to podcasts instead of watching videos and I started to do this with my earphones/headphones in instead of out loud. I know it sounds like such an insignificant transition, but it was a game changer for me. Instead of checking how long was left of what I was watching every ten seconds I just listened, lying in bed scrolling through my phone and sometimes just with my eyes closed. I think trying to focus on watching and listening and diverting my negative thoughts all at the same time was quite an overwhelming task. Even though all I did was cut out one of those focuses, it took away the pressure to calm down, and in turn it started to happen with a lot more ease.

It sounds a little ridiculous when I type it out, but I also view my earphones as a bubble. A bubble that both literally and metaphorically blocks out silence. Picturing it this way is essential for me because silence is my worst enemy. I associate silence with having too much alone time with my brain and that is when I start to think up all the worst-case scenarios that could possibly take place.

Focusing on a Hobby or Project:

Purchased from https://www.amazon.co.uk/

Since entering my teen years I’ve not been that into immersing myself in new projects or hobbies. As I briefly mentioned in my first post, reigniting my interest in writing and creating this blog has been the pivotal part in the improvement of my motivation levels and my anxiety. This is because it allows me to focus and write about the things I enjoy, but it also allows me to vent if needs be.

Although this blog seems to be the most enjoyable and distracting project for me, there are plenty of other things I’ve given a go that do not require so much commitment. Sometimes you just want to try something different that doesn’t need too much effort and that is ok!

One of the things I found to be super easy and fun to try was candle making. My partner, being the thoughtful soul he is, knew that I needed a new hobby and so he got me a candle making kit with everything you could ever need to give it a good go. The kit comes with the wax, scents, containers, wicks and more. It also comes with a manual to guide you through the process but it’s so easy to grasp that once you’ve done it once you probably won’t need to refer to the manual again.

I must admit, when my partner first gifted me the set, I was a little underwhelmed and saw it to be too much effort, but I eventually gave it a go, picked it up very quickly and happened to enjoy it a lot. I have since made so many cute candles for my family and friends.

I know it’s a niche thing and some people may find it more enjoyable than others, but this is a great easy to follow activity that can be done alone or in the company of others. On top of that, there is a usable finished product at the end of it! I would highly recommend!

Walking:

Walking has always been something that I have enjoyed. If it is not a steep uphill journey I’m down for the adventure. I think the reason it works so well for me is because I love creating scenarios in my head and acting them out. I guess you could say it is thinking out loud because I will genuinely have a conversation with myself whilst walking up the street. Yes, it may make me look a bit mad, but it is the best way for me to see my thoughts for what they are and understand them a little bit better. You know that feeling you get, like you’re about to explode because your mind is so cramped up with blurred thoughts and concerns? Well when I say them out loud, I can almost visualise them leaving my mind and giving me more space to process them in a calm manner. I would argue that this is the only method out of the ones listed here that works for me every time. It is just a case of taking the time for myself to go on that walk.

I’m also a firm believer in having specific places that bring you comfort or peace when you’re feeling overwhelmed and for me, these are all outside of the home, the primary one being the beach. There is something about walking beside the sea or just being near the sea that puts me at ease almost instantly. It brings me joy and serenity and I think that is because it makes me feel like I can let go of all my worries. I guess that’s because the sea is something that I’ve always been able to associate with good memories in my life.  

I’m lucky enough that I live somewhere which has beautiful scenic places to visit or walk to, and so I find myself doing this a lot. Not only am I taking time to really listen to and control my thoughts, I’m also getting outside and doing something productive at the same time. It is just really refreshing and definitely worth giving a go if you’re in a limbo of feeling trapped in your head.

CBD:

Maybe it is just me, but I feel like CBD goes under the radar a bit. I personally knew absolutely nothing about CBD up until 6 months ago, but since my discovery of it, it has changed my life for the better.

I won’t babble on and pretend that I know the science behind it or why it works, but I will take a minute to give credit where it is due and talk about how much it has helped me. CBD has helped me in so many different aspects of my life and I’m still in awe at how multipurpose it can be.

For instance, I think it is fair to say that the main reason I use it is because it takes the edge off and makes me feel a whole lot more relaxed. I needed this because I went through a stage of my body being in constant hypertension mode, to the point where my muscles ached all the time and my body felt drained constantly. Not only does CBD ease the tension in my body but it also acts as a great pain relief. I experienced a lot of back, shoulder and neck pain as a result of muscle tension and stress and CBD worked really well for that aspect of things in my experience.

I have found that above all these things, the most significantly improved part of my life due to CBD has to be my sleep. I went through a long phase of sleep deprivation and fatigue because my mind would not rest, and my heart always felt like it was racing so fast before bed. As we all know lack of sleep only heightens feelings of anxiety, so I found myself going in circles until I tried CBD. It by no means takes away my negative thoughts but it does calm the overwhelming sensations in my body that comes with them, and in turn allows me to fall asleep a lot easier. I now have a rice grains worth of CBD almost every night before bed and it has improved my quality of sleep and life tremendously.

These are just some of the things that have helped me get to a better place when it comes to managing my anxiety. It has been a full-on process that I would not have been able to begin if I weren’t surrounded by people who are willing to have open conversations about mental health. I really want this post and this blog to spark that conversation amongst others who may need it. With that being said, it is important to reiterate that no two people will experience anxiety in the same way, and so the methods that I use may not work for someone else. Even if the methods mentioned are not necessarily beneficial to you, my hope is that the transparency of this post will be.

My Outfit Staples for Autumn/Winter

I just want to preface this post by saying that I really debated discussing my ideas about fashion on this blog. It was one category that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to ‘do justice’ because I’m no style icon. I’m by no means a big spender on designer shoes or bags, I actually hate shopping, like a lot. (In real life, online shopping is the dream!) I own one pair of GUESS jeans. I found them in a sale at Topshop for £99, and have probably worn them four times in the last three years. That is as spenny as it gets for me.

So, fashion is not something I’m ‘good’ at, but I like the way I dress and I like the way clothes and accessories can make me feel like a completely different person. If I am feeling extra confident and sassy, I can style myself to match my mood or if I’m not having the best day, I can style myself to lift my mood. There really isn’t any limit to what you can do, that’s the reason I enjoy it so much. Fashion and beauty are a type of therapy for me. During the UK lockdown I would constantly sit at my desk, style my hair, have fun with makeup, get dressed up, just to feel like I was  doing something, and that really worked for me.

I also just love how subjective fashion is. What looks good to me may look awful to others and what looks good to someone else might not by my cup of tea.  However, when you begin to say to yourself, who cares? that is when it becomes the most fun. If you like your style and it makes you feel good, then just do you. Equally, if you like someone else’s style don’t be afraid to experiment and make it your own. Most importantly, don’t let yourself feel confined to one style or trend, be a baggy clothed hipster by day and then throw on an elegant heel by night if that’s what you’re into.

With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my favourite pieces that I reach for most during the colder seasons. For me autumn/winter fashion is the best kind. I cannot speak for everyone, but being able to get dressed,  feel productive and retain that sense of cosiness is what does it for me. 

And that leads me to…

The Corduroys:

Find a similar pair here: https://bit.ly/3kwcjkX

I am in love with my cream corduroy jeans which I purchased from a lovely seller on Depop second hand. I was looking for a pair of jeans that had an edge, something a bit different and then I came across these, they really caught my eye, so I instantly purchased them. I purchased them during the summer, which was not a great idea because I barely got any wear out of them. Unfortunately, they’re just too thick to wear in the warmer weather.   

However, they have been my go to bottoms for the last couple of months for so many reasons. Firstly, they’re just so comfortable and warm because they’re not a classic denim material. I think most will agree that there is nothing worse than putting on denim jeans when it is cold, because the jeans themselves take time to warm up once you’ve put them on. These, however, literally feel like you are putting on a pair of jogging bottoms and I am here for that.

Also, the fit… they are slightly stretchy which means they are more roomy when you first put them on and allow for a hefty meal. None of that suffocating your legs and waste in the way that a pair of skinny jeans sometimes do. Equally, with a stature of 5’2 it’s hard for me to find a pair of jeans that don’t need to be rolled up two or three times at the bottom, these jeans fit my legs perfectly. I bought these with no real expectations, but they have seriously impressed me, so much so that I would say they’re my favourite pair of jeans for this time of year.

I would highly recommend a pair of corduroy jeans if you’re looking for something a little cosier than your basic pair of jeans this winter.

Classic Black Bodysuit:

Find a similar bodysuit here: https://www.zara.com/uk/en/ribbed-bodysuit-p00858056.html?v1=70961983

This on its own is not a showstopper. I’m sure most people have one in their wardrobe and that is because a long-sleeved black bodysuit is a great staple item for when it starts to get colder. Mine is from Primark and so very affordable but the quality is still pretty good. It’s a comfortable base layer and has held together well thus far, considering how much I’ve worn it.

I reach for this so often because I can style it in so many ways. The diversity of a basic bodysuit is what makes it one of my favourites. I could wear it on its own with a pair of jeans and trainers or dress it up by chucking on a skirt and tights if I was going for dinner or drinks, already I have two completely different looks. If I want to, I can even chuck a strappy vest top over it to modify the look once again. 

And on top of all that. Layering. (No pun intended). This top is the one for layering. I’m one for adding a baggy t-shirt over it to achieve a grungy casual look. Sometimes, I’ll just wear it with a jumper over it, that way I can still keep warm but not have to wear a huge coat out. All in all, I’m warmer than I would be without it and it gets ridiculously cold in the UK, so warmth is always welcome.

 A bodysuit or similar long-sleeved black top is a great staple to include in your wardrobe, it keeps you warm and provides a good foundation to experiment with  different styles.

Black Biker Boots:

Find a similar pair here: https://www.boohoo.com/croc-lace-up-chunky-hiker-boots/FZZ50680.html?color=105

I bought these boots in winter last year and I wore them constantly. They are just amazingly comfortable and ideal for warmth. I didn’t reach for these as much throughout summer, but only because the opportunity just didn’t really arise with festival season being cut out this year. I love them so much so that I’ve purchased another pair in a similar style recently.

I spend a lot of time wearing trainers, so these boots are a fun change. I’d say that my favourite thing about these is how surprisingly versatile I found them to be. They can be paired with so many different pieces and not look mismatched in my opinion. I have worn these with skinny and straight legged jeans, and with skirts and dresses of differing lengths, they always pair so well. The list is endless.

I also just want to point out that although I don’t quite remember where they were purchased from, I do remember them being no more than £30. I can confirm that you do not need to spend an extortionate amount of money to get a pair of biker boots that don’t break their shape or fit right. These fit perfectly and they have lasted very well.

Biker boots are great if you want a shoe that is a little bit more out there but still subtle, giving your outfit a bit more edge.

Reversible Parker:

Find a similar coat here: https://bit.ly/32NkhQK

I went on a mission this autumn to find an affordable but good quality parker. It had to look good, feel good, keep me warm and dry. For some reason, this task is always harder than it seems. For that reason, I hate coat shopping more than anything. Every year I throw a tantrum and settle for something that isn’t really doing it for me because I can’t find one that meets all my needs.   

I will admit this may be because I am not prepared to invest a lot into a coat. I always feel there are more exciting things I could spend my money on and that is just me to a T. Essentials are never my priority. Nevertheless, I walked into Primark dreading what was about to come and low and behold I saw a coat instantly that from a distance looked like exactly what I was after. As you can imagine my eyes lit up and I grabbed it as if it were the last one in stock, even though there were at least ten more in my size.

Long story short, this coat met all my requirements. It was under £30, not a lot I know, but to my point above. It felt weighty and good quality but not too heavy, so this was an instant steal for me anyway… THEN, to add to my already excited state, I realised it was also reversible. On one side it has that cool sort of wax effect and then just pure fluff (faux ofc) on the other and I fell in love with it.  I love a fluffy coat but they’re just such a chore when it rains but this is revolutionary. Imagine wearing a cute black fluffy coat on a winter evening out and at the end of the night it starts inevitably pouring down, well now I can just reverse it to become something more suitable for the weather. This way it doesn’t leave you looking like a drowned rat. I think it is also worth noting, it has pockets on both sides, needless to say  I am so impressed with this coat and I know it’ll be worn a lot.

So, if you’re looking for a good quality coat on a low budget for the coming winter, I would recommend looking in Primark.

 These may not be the most exciting of pieces, but they are my staples because they’re so easy to work with. I can pair all these pieces together or match them with other items in my wardrobe to create a whole different vibe,  that is my take on fashion. I like to get enough wear out of my clothes to ensure good value for money, but I also love to change up my style and these basics help me achieve that.


 

5 Ways to: Find Your Creative Spark

I feel it makes the most sense to debut this blog with this ‘5 ways to approach’, because the blog itself wouldn’t exist without it. This approach is by no means the holy grail to achieve this, but the steps below are a true reflection of my journey, getting to this point of putting my thoughts and ideas out there and awakening my creativity.

It is undeniable that this generation admires creativity and art. We long for good aesthetics and meaningful words and to be honest, why wouldn’t we? It is a natural human instinct to be drawn to things that are pleasant to the eye and mind. And so we follow artist, bloggers, influencers, musicians, and that is our gateway to a sense of serenity, to an idealistic reality.

Though it may sound like I’m being a little pessimistic, I’m really not. I actually think this escape is a beautiful thing. It provides hope in dark times, it motivates and sparks the imagination, and I would argue that in many circumstances it keeps us sane. How many of you really needed to cry so you put on a sad song by someone like Lewis Capaldi or Coldplay and poured your heart out into a pillow? How many of you follow pages dedicated to inspirational quotes and poetry to keep you going on a bad day? How many of you follow Instagram blog accounts that nail the concept of aesthetic and portray a perfect version of life? My point is, this stuff is in everyday life and boy do we need it.

One thing that remains prominent to me about this creative world, is that we all aspire to be a part of it. It is made to look so inviting and effortless. Inviting it may be, but effortless not so much. It is not always as attainable as it seems. We might begin to think that we are not all naturally gifted with a creative mind or that we don’t always know how to express it. I am one of these people, and to be honest if you were to ask me which one, I’d say I have no idea. Sometimes I burst with creative ideas, but it overwhelms me and I don’t know where to take them. Its that whole concept of all the gear but no idea. That eventually leads to overthinking the ideas, so much so that I doubt them. I doubt their inventiveness and originality. Eventually, I’m sat there thinking, Is my mind creative at all?  

This is a topic so close to me because it is a personal daily struggle of mine and has been for so many years. It is equally a controversial topic. Should we be so heavily influenced by this false sense of reality? Should we be trying so desperately to be a part of it? I’ll be the first to say I absolutely wish I were able to consistently capture beautiful photos, have a captivating way with words and I look up to the people succeeding at it. Is this always good? Absolutely not. Why? Because to constantly compare your work to that of someone else will unavoidably be detrimental to your confidence in your own work, especially if you’re just starting out. Can it be a good thing? Absolutely. Every writer or musician or artist was inspired by the work of others and sometimes in the most unexpected ways. For example, Banksy’s art is often inspired by the controversial world of politics. Without it, would Devolved Parliament exist? Most definitely not.

Without the influences we have in the world, we would have nothing to take inspiration from and everybody needs a little inspiration, whether that be to persevere with everyday life or build your very own creative outlet. I’m aware that not everyone strives to develop their creativity but for me, it has played an integral part in staying sane during a global pandemic. As someone who enjoys socialising with friends to keep busy, I struggled to know what to do with myself when it was taken away. That is when I realised the importance of having a creative hobby for me and for my mind, even if it was something that didn’t come naturally to me. I started to properly invest my extra time into coming up with blog ideas and photos to go with them. I explored logo designs and colour schemes to create a personalised aesthetic that I feel fits my concept. The truth is, we are all creative or have the capability to be. It is just a matter of changing your perspective.

Here are just a few ways I found my creative spark:

  1. Allow yourself to be inspired

One of the main struggles I had when starting this blog was trying to be original. I knew I wanted to write, but I didn’t want to write about things that everyone else writes about. As a result, I found myself reading other blogs to find out what had been done and what to avoid rather than taking inspiration from it. Eventually I found myself trying to force a niche that I didn’t really care for.

It is natural to want your idea to be innovative and unique, but it is important to realise that someone having the same interest as you doesn’t make your interest worth any less. Choosing how you express it is where the opportunity comes to explore your creative side. You wouldn’t stop loving your favourite band because so many others love that same band. Use the same mindset to start this process.

If you have a genuine interest in health and fitness, write about health and fitness and enjoy it. If you love fashion, start your own fashion magazine, and thrive. Yes, so many have already sparked a conversation in these areas. But think of it less as being competition and more as a collection of works to be inspired by. This way, you’ll feel less pressure and in turn have a lot more fun doing it.

2. Find your passions and run with it

Before starting this blog, I of course googled tips and advice for starting one. One of the main tips that stuck out to me was ‘find your passion’ or ‘write about something your passionate about.’ My issue with this was that writing is my passion, hence the blog. I thought to myself, ‘now what to write about? I can’t just write about writing and to be honest I don’t want to.’  That’s where I hit the creative wall and had a mini meltdown.

It hit home for me that I don’t have many passions so to speak. Not when you look at the word passion for what it actually means. I can’t lie and say I have a strong enough and incontrollable emotion towards fashion or food or health to make one of them the singular topic of my blog  but I certainly have an interest in all of those things and so I want to write about them all.

And so, initially the word passion made me feel limited in what I could write about. Now I’m starting to realise that the blog itself showcases my passion, but my interests are what shapes it and there is no limit to that. That is the beauty of having a creative outlet. It allows you to follow your passion, whether that be photography, or art and so on. But, equally as important, it allows you to portray your interests.

So just take note that your passion doesn’t always have to be the be all and end all your creations. For me, its my interest that will shape my content. My passion is the way I choose to express them. For others it may be different. No two creative outlets are the same.

3. Trial and Error

In the process of my slight mental breakdown during the UK lockdown period, I realised a hobby was what I needed to keep me motivated. A creative hobby to keep my mind occupied.

I’m the type of girl who enjoys seeing my friends, going to events and nights out. That was my hobby. That was my outlet. Under the circumstances, all those privileges were suddenly taken away and in turn I completely lost my sense of self and routine.

I lived in a house full of creative minds invested in arts and music and fabrics and quickly realised that they all still had what I didn’t. This absolutely terrified me. In a frenzy, I found myself panic looking for a hobby, looking for my creative spark.

This process was genuinely traumatising for me. I tried drawing, and although it calmed me down it bored the hell out of me, I tried candle making which was great fun but became repetitive rather quickly. I tried reigniting my interest in music and failed terribly due to lack of confidence. Long story short, it took me seven months to find my creative hobby. To find this blog.

My point is trial and error is your best bet at finding what works for you and what you enjoy doing the most. Don’t see it as a failure when you absolutely hate something you’ve tried. See it as trying something new and learning more about yourself and what stimulates your mind.

4. Enjoy what you are doing

I cannot stress enough the importance of enjoying what you are doing. I took so long to pluck up the courage and launch this whole thing because I was so scared of not giving any potential readers what they want.

I was and still am worried that the things I write about wont spark joy or interest in everyone. Although it still scares me, I’m conscious that it is impossible to impress or tailor to absolutely everyone.  For example, I know I won’t write on the topic of knitting or cars because I don’t care for those subjects, and so people who have an interest in those things probably won’t be intrigued by my words. And that is okay.

There are plenty of other things that I enjoy writing about that will interest someone else somewhere. And that is a key reason why I am keen not to limit what I talk about on this platform to one thing. Why limit the subjects I write about if they all spark joy for me?

If it doesn’t bring you joy or excite you, your spark will inevitably go out.

5. Be confident

Yes, it is the most cliché tip of them all and one that is always easier said than done but it is so important. If you lack confidence in your creativity you will subconsciously limit it. The beauty of creativity is it should have no limits, it is a way to reflect your interests and explore them in the ways you enjoy most.

If you’re feeling a little sad and you want to draw an something that reflects that, you should do it with confidence. If you want to vent about something in a post that happened that day, you should go ahead and do that with confidence. If you want to post a really extra posey Instagram of yourself then do it with confidence. Don’t let the fear of exposing yourself too much get in the way of that.

So long as doing it is going to lift a weight off you and/or contribute to making you happy then do it with confidence. It is helpful to remember that our best work is often a reflection of our emotions.

I’m posting this because 2020 has been a difficult time for all of us in so many ways. But, if there is anything I have learnt from it, it is that we should all learn to enjoy our own company, make time for a creative outlet and develop ourselves in the process.