self care tips for when getting out of bed is hard

2021, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

I’m not qualified to give advice on mental health, but I have been living with a mental health condition that has been somewhat deteriorating as the pandemic goes on, so I thought I’d collate a list of tips and tricks I’ve been putting into practice over the past few months that can make day to day life a little bit easier, when life is already hard enough.

  • if you need to shower, have a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner so you only really need to use one product and it feels less intimidating. It’ll only take a few minutes (depending on how efficient your shower is) and hopefully you’ll feel better for being all fresh and clean (clean, new pyjamas are always wonderful after a shower too).
  • sticking with the theme of washing, doing dishes is one of the things I find so hard when I’m feeling low but the longer you leave it, the more it piles up and the worse it feels. If you do feel up to do anything (no judgement from me if you don’t), fill one washing up bowl, fill it with hot water and some bubbles and make your way through that one bowl. Put on some boppy music, get the washing up gloves on and just get through the one bowl. I find having a definitive end makes something much easier. If you’d rather, set a ten minute timer and do whatever you can in ten minutes – even doing a little bit is better than nothing.
  • You’ve got to eat even if you don’t feel like it, but this one is worth a bit of preparation on a good day in advance – either, batch cook and freeze a portion of something easy that you can defrost and microwave or have some microwave meals or easy frozen food like chicken nuggets in the freezer, that way you know you can feed yourself without it becoming a big hurdle to climb over. If it’s got vegetables in, that’s a bonus, if you just need some oven chip potato-y goodness, you do you.
  • Download a habit app for the basic things – not only will it serve as a physical reminder to do them every day, but ticking it off can be a great hit of endorphins when you really need them! I have reminders every day for brushing my teeth, moisturising and taking my medication and it’s useful not only to remind me to do those things, but it lets me know when I’ve stayed up too late as well.
  • Little tasks like watering any house plants, painting your nails or writing a new to do list are smaller things (at least for me) that feel more achievable and avoid doing the ‘big scary tasks’ for a little bit. If you’re feeling a bit more motivated (or want to do another one of those productive procrastination tasks like making lists) maybe you can take the ‘big scary’ task and break it down into smaller ones to make it feel more manageable. Then if you want, set a timer for an hour or so to work on whatever it is you need to do, but know that end he end of that hour you’ve achieved something and that’s enough!
  • Change your clothes – even if it’s from pyjamas you’ve slept in to clean pyjamas and taking your hair down, brushing it and putting it back up again can make you feel so much fresher.

These are only little things, but on days where you can’t bring yourself to get out of bed till the late afternoon, little things like this can make all the difference. The psychological impact of feeling like we need to be on it 16 hours a day is so damaging and so hard to get out of.

When I drafted this post I wasn’t working a 9 to 5 job from home and now that I am, this kind of self care on bad days is much more difficult to implement. But I think taking it slow, communicating with your managers or whoever when you need to, and just doing what you can is enough to get through it.

Being gentle with yourself is the only way anyone can get through a pandemic – take it one day at a time, do what you can and advocate for yourself when you need to. You can to this – this will end.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

New Year, No Plan

2020, goals, mental health

Hello,

Like many of us at this time of year, December often gets my thinking about setting goals for the next year – call them New Years Resolutions, 2021 goals or anything else, a lot of people really like the turn of a new year to be able to adopt a fresh new mindset and try and make lifestyle changes.

If you’ve read any of my goal blog posts, you’ll know I’m a massive goals person and won’t be surprised that I’ve been thinking about and making notes about what I want to achieve in 2021 for a few months now. When inspiration hits I have to write it down, or I will not remember!

And whilst setting goals and the New Year can be a great new start and a chance to refresh, it can also be really intimidating if you don’t know what the year is going to hold. When I planned this post I’d been applying for jobs with no reply (though I’m now in discussion about potential work starting next year… but I don’t want to speak too soon) and not knowing what could fill each day can be daunting, lonely and hopeless.

And after the year we’ve all lived through, lonely and hopeless have a whole new meaning.

People throw around phrases like ‘it has to be better next year!’ but if we’ve learnt anything is that we don’t know what’s coming and we can’t expect it to be better. 2021 can’t be this beacon of hope where we expect everything to return to ‘normal’ – this week, the British Government have announced a lot more places moving into Tier 3 (very high risk) measures and despite a vaccine being given, there’s a whole lot of talk about things getting worse before they ever get better. So putting too much hope on 2021 is the kind of optimism my realism can’t get behind.

So 2021 is a mystery, like every New Year is, but with the experience of 2020 behind us it feels a bit different this year. Thus, going into the New Year with no plan feels impossible.

Granted, there’s always things to be grateful for – having our health, a roof over our head and food in the fridge has meant so much more this year, being with someone who’s not lost their job and is still working is a privilege and even just living with someone and having company feels like a luxury. But that doesn’t make not knowing what could come in 2021 any less scary.

Not knowing is the worst kind of not having control and for the control freaks among us, that’s where a lot of feelings of intimidation come from. But there are ways to make it easier – I’m a huge advocate for to do lists, setting yearly and monthly goals to help with consistent progress, adapting how daily to do lists are made to suit what makes you feel productive and learning to check in with yourself to learn what makes you feel calmer and happier and working on it.

Looking ahead is always scary, whether it’s a year, a decade or a lifetime, but being able to reign it in, take it a week, a day or even an hour at a time feels more achievable. Working on mindfulness to tune into our psychological and physical needs and intuitively get to know our bodies can be hugely beneficial to our wellbeing. Even things like a skincare routine and a healthier diet are short term things that are worth focusing on.

I’m not saying this from a position of someone who’s ‘perfected’ any of this – my to do list today is about 14 tasks long because I’ve been feeling a bit low this week and not sleeping well, I’ve not opened my meditation app in months and I 100% do not regularly use any of my skincare products, but I know that when I feel ready, spending time on these things will be good for me. And I will be okay.

New Year’s is a strange time of year – it can be incredibly sad to end, excited for a new beginning, grief for those we may have lost, anticipation of plans for the coming year; a whole host of emotions, good and bad. When I was younger, I hated New Years because I was so depressed I couldn’t see my life getting better, then when I was at uni I worried that things would get worse and the evidence of the passing of time scared me. But now? The New Year is going to come and go anyway, so I’m learning to accept that the year will bring whatever it brings and I can only control what is in my power.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

December Goals

2020, crafting, goals, mental health

Hello!

Somehow we’re on the last month of the year, even though many of us are still mentally stuck in March! This year really has been a whirlwind hasn’t it? If you’d told anyone last year we’d spend half the year cancelling plans, wearing face masks to the shops and constantly being told to ‘think of the NHS’ while the government chronically under funds them and doesn’t value the true key workers in this pandemic, they’d laugh in your face! No way would we believe anything that drastic.

But here we are! The last month of the year; the home stretch!

Personally, I’m still taking things slow – this year has put a massive strain on everyone’s mental health and I need to take things slow for my own sake right now. I’m applying for jobs since finishing my masters and having had the worst luck after my undergrad in 2018 (hundreds of jobs, rejection emails basically every day for months, not a good time) I’m taking a much more gentle approach this time around. Rather than going all out putting lots of pressure on myself to ‘achieve’ by the end of the year, I’m going to try and achieve a better relationship with myself instead!

But as always, I’m setting five mini goals to focus on in December!

  1. Vlogmas! – I started my YouTube channel on December 1st 2013 doing Vlogmas – the challenge of making a video every single day of advent. Many YouTubers make daily vlogs, some do 24 days of content but either way I decided to give it another go this year – this is where it all began for me and I’ve not been making a lot of YouTube videos recently, so I thought a challenge like this will help me figure out what I want the content on my channel to be and can try to redirect some of my creativity into video making. I just published the first video – a little life update – if you’d like to have a look!
  2. Plan New Year’s Resolutions – I love goals and I’ve learnt a lot this year about being flexible with my goals (looking at 1. travel, 2. putting pressure on myself to save money with no income and 3. developing skills I wanted to make myself have, rather than what I’m actually interested in) and I’ve been trying to make much more realistic goals. An acronym I heard a lot from careers departments is setting SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound – to help set goals that are actually a step in the right direction, and not a mountain that seems impossible to climb.
  3. Read gardening books and prepare for next year’s garden – I really enjoyed growing my own flowers this year and my dad bought me some gardening books in the summer that I said I would learn from in the winter ahead of next year’s gardening season! I want to figure out the best vegetables to grow when you can’t plant anything in the ground and go into it with more of a sense of what I’m doing. I might even start a brand new gardening notebook! I’m actually unironically really enthusiastic about gardening!
  4. Christmas crafts! – and from one granny activity to the next, I’ve loved my chilled afternoons cross stitching, knitting and crafting in the last few weeks – from making Christmas presents to fixing some clothes, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed making crafting part of my daily routine to make more of an effort to switch off and relax. I want to get some paper chains, I want to sew some festive things and I’ve got a stack of cardboard boxes I saved with intent to craft so I better use them!
  5. Read one book – in the first 8 months of the year I couldn’t stop reading, when my mental health declined I didn’t have the energy and I got out of the habit. Sleeping and my bedtime routine has been something I struggle with recently, so I don’t want to put any pressure on myself to get back to reading every night straight away again, but if I can finish one book this month that would be amazing.

And my other monthly goal is to have a date night with my fiancé at some point! He’s really busy with work at the moment, but hopefully we’ll find some time to get take out and watch a movie or something!

I was really excited about Christmas in November and now December’s here I think I’m more intimidated by the end of the year than I thought I would be. But I’m making the most of not working right now to try and look after myself, any tips are more than welcome!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

trying to maintain a routine with bad mental health

2020, mental health, organisation

Hello!

Small disclaimer – this post is about mental health and although speaking from experience, I am not a trained professional and what works for me will not conclusively work for everyone. If you are concerned about your mental wellbeing, please book an appointment with your doctor or if you’re in crisis contact one of these support agencies or call 999.

When someone says they’re going through a low period with their mental health, the stereotypes suggest that person is finding it more difficult to find joy, doesn’t leave their room or house and doesn’t want to socialise. Whilst these can all be true, what people don’t often talk about are the more physical responses that make mental illness incredibly difficult to live with – stress headaches that painkillers don’t help, digestive issues, constant feelings of nausea, not sleeping well or sleeping too much at the wrong time, alongside the lack of motivation to even to basic things to take care of yourself including showering, cleaning and making food.

When someone is in this state of mental illness, one thing they often crave is feeling normal again – wanting to feel more productive, wanting to not feel the need to burst into tears and the thought of the washing up; wanting to feel like themselves again. Creating a normal routine when you’re not in a normal headspace can be incredibly challenging and needs a lot of patience and gentle encouragement that someone feeling that ill often doesn’t give themselves.

But there are little changes you can make that are small enough to not feel overwhelming but big enough to hopefully make you feel a little bit better each day. I’m still figuring out what works best for me, but these are a few things I’m trying to make part of my new routine.

  • make a list

I’m a big list maker and I appreciate that not everyone needs to write down everything to have a sense of what they’re going to achieve each day, but when your brain feels like absolute mush, having a list can help take circling thoughts and make them feel more concrete. Even if that list is brush teeth, eat breakfast, shower, eat lunch, eat dinner, brush teeth then it serves as a visual reminder to do those things and you know that you’ve taken some basic steps to look after yourself even when you really don’t want to. Good job!

If those kinds of things don’t work for you (personally it makes my list feel way too long and overwhelming), try making a three point to do list – one high priority task, one medium priority task and one low priority task. For me at the moment, my high priority task is job hunting (but I only spend an hour doing this otherwise it gets too much), my medium priority task is doing my daily writing for NaNoWriMo and my low priority task is a craft activity, because doing something physical but inevitably inconsequential is really relaxing for me!

Making lists that work for you can be a massive learning curve, but give yourself permission to learn from what doesn’t work and start small and build up – things will get better!

  • turn that list into a schedule

Again, potentially a little niche, but the one reason I find myself continually going back to education is that I like the structure of having a timetable and knowing when something will start and end. When I was working on my dissertation I found it really useful to schedule an hour or two and know that after that time I could stop but I’d still done an hour of work and that actually made me work better in that hour.

If I’d done this the five months before my diss was due I definitely wouldn’t have needed an extension, but we learn from our mistakes or something.

But a schedule works really well for me! I’ve started using an app called Tiimo, as recommended by Paige Layle on tiktok, which is a scheduling app that has cute little icons and is really easy to use, as well as sending notifications to both my phone and my smart watch about what I’ve planned for when.

My favourite thing about tiimo as that I don’t see it as a concrete schedule – I get notifications about what I should be doing things but sometimes I need to laze on the sofa and play Animal Crossing and maybe have an accidental nap. But tiimo just assumes I’m doing what I’ve scheduled and congratulates me when I’ve finished a task! Having a schedule that doesn’t feel concrete and feels more like gentle guidance I’ve found is really great for me mentally and gives me the freedom to choose whilst also giving me the structure of a routine if I feel ready for it.

  • don’t spend all day sitting in the same place

Speaking of spending all day on the sofa – if you feel mentally capable, try and move and do different tasks in different places. Even if you just sit and watch YouTube or Netflix in different places, I guarantee that not sitting on the sofa all day will make you feel less sluggish by the end of the day.

I try and start my day sitting at the table I use as a desk, maybe sitting on the sofa for lunch or in the afternoon and then even going up to bed early with my laptop and sitting up there for a bit I feel much better than if I’ve sat on the sofa in the morning and not moved until I go up to bed.

Obviously if you live somewhere bigger than a one bedroom house, it’ll be easier to find some variety but make the most of what you’ve got – if you feel up to it, rearranging your space can be therapeutic too!

The step up from this is actually going for a walk outside or maybe even doing exercise, but when you feel physically ill with headaches and tummy aches the thought of doing anything too physical can just make it worse. Work up to it.

  • have regular mealtimes (and try and eat at least 3 fruits/vegetables a day)

Having regular anchor points throughout the day can break it up a little bit and making getting up in the morning feel a little less intimidating. I’m a creature of habit and though I don’t always eat breakfast, I usually start making lunch at 12pm and aim dinner for 6pm not because I’m hungry (though I usually am) but because that’s when I expect to do it.

Listening to your body and knowing when you’re actually hungry is a difficult skill to learn, especially when your body can tell you you’re hungry when in fact you’re bored, thirsty or procrastinating.

Eating healthy and preparing food isn’t always easy, but things like peas and sweetcorn can be done in the microwave, many green beans only need to be boiled for a few minutes and most vegetables can be laid on a baking tray in the oven for 20 minutes and taste amazing with a bit of seasoning. There are lots of ways to eat healthy with little preparation and cheaply and although chucking more chicken nuggets and chips in the oven or a ready meal in the microwave feels easier, if you can, putting in a little effort will do wonders in the long run, even just to prove to yourself that you can do it.

  • give yourself time for a routine before bed but don’t put any pressure on yourself to sleep

Many people have trouble with sleep regardless of their mental state, but when you’re low and you can’t sleep, everything feels worse and it becomes this awful cycle of looking at the clock, wishing you were already asleep, lying with your eyes open and starting the circle again.

Having a routine and giving yourself time to wind down, whether it’s a skincare routine, reading a book, watching YouTube videos or playing mindless phone games, the change of pace will hopefully help.

When you do eventually settle down to sleep, don’t put pressure on yourself to fall asleep by a certain time and if you don’t have to, let yourself compensate in the morning. I know I’m fortunate, in a way, at the moment to not be working or have any reason to get up at a certain time, but sleeping until my body needs me to even if it’s much later than I really want to is more important for my mental and physical health in the long run than forcing myself to pretend to be this super productive morning person I can’t be at the moment.

 

Mental illness is unpredictable and bloody inconvenient at the best of times – but it doesn’t last forever. It is an episode and it will end, however much it feels like it won’t. Learning to deal with your new ‘normal’ in the present, especially in a pandemic – is all anyone can expect from you, including yourself. You are not alone and things will get better.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

why I’m obsessed with animal crossing: new horizons…

2020, lifestyle

Hi!

I’m not one of those people that’s been into video games since they were a kid – I played Wii Sports, MarioKart, a bit of Harry Potter on my PC, occasional Sims and I loved Nintendogs, but I’ve never been an avid gamer.

Then I met my boyfriend. After a year and a half I bought my own X-Box to play Overwatch. Now I’ve had a Nintendo Switch for over a year, I’ve played enough Pokemon Sword to justify having numerous Pokemon plush toys in our living room and I’ve played Animal Crossing: New Horizons every day since my birthday weekend (over two months).

But how did we get here?

When my fiancé (still have to force myself to call him that, it feels weird) first got excited about New Horizons, I didn’t get it – it looked like a weird Sims with these animals villagers and doing menial tasks to pay back debts to a raccoon who really does have financial leverage over everyone on the island. I didn’t get it – there was a turnip stock market, the animals have weird catch phrases and some Dodos run the airport.

But it did come out at the perfect time – just as the world started to lockdown, Animal Crossing: New Horizons released and made it almost impossible to buy a Switch anywhere, selling out all over the place. My fiancé bought a digital copy and started to build his island – as I was pretending to do uni work I would watch him play and I felt like we were building the island together; I knew who all his villagers were, we’d decide when was the best time to get a profit on those turnips (I realise if you don’t know animal crossing this sounds insane) and I was really invested in this kids game.

But I decided I wasn’t going to get my own copy until I’d finished my dissertation because I didn’t need that kind of distraction, but then my lovely fiancé bought me a copy for my birthday and I started my island a couple of days later. Since then I have checked in on my little island every day, chatted to all my villagers, decorated my island, planted flowers and crafted my little hearts content to make an island I adore.

Especially in another lockdown, having something to tune in to every day and tasks to achieve is the closest thing to a routine I had for a long time – I’d go and tidy the weeds and talk to my villagers and expand my little community. It’s a bit like Sims but with more direction and definitely for a younger audience, but it’s addicting and just so cute!

Having something to focus on that in the long run really doesn’t matter makes everything feel a bit lighter – it’s nice to have something insignificant to focus on outside of the world of pandemic, politics and adulting. Having a space where I can pick up twigs and collect materials to make furniture for my house and live outside the real world for a bit makes it all a little easier to process.

So I’ve been playing a dumb game every day for two months and it’s got me through two of the most emotionally difficult months of my life. It’s so dumb, but I’ve got to check in with all my animal villager friends, I’ve got to check my turnip prices to try and sell them at the best price, I’ve got to clean up all the weeds and finish decorating my islands; it’s so good for my brain, I feel creative and I feel like I’m accomplishing something, even if it’s in an inconsequential video game.

Where my dissertation is finished and I’m currently applying for jobs, there isn’t a lot that I ‘need’ to be doing every day and I’m trying to give myself the freedom to relax and spend time on things that aren’t ‘productive’ like playing on my Switch, doing a bunch of craft activities and watching films! In the last week I’ve watched the first two Harry Potter films and Avengers: Age of Ultron because I could and it felt great!

Conclusion: Animal Crossing is really great. If the fact that its release meant that Switch’s sold out all over the country didn’t convince you, this blog post will definitely do it.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

life after my masters degree (in a pandemic…)

2020, lifestyle, student

Hello!

I think this might be the first time I’ve intentionally taken a month off blogging since I started in 2014! With my masters degree dissertation deadline looming and the dire state of my mental health (that I feel like I’ve mentioned too many times) I decided to take the pressure off just a little bit by not making myself feel I had to upload for a little bit.

I thought it would be a more difficult habit to break but in all honesty, it was nice to have a break! I’ve come back now excited to write again because I love blogging so much and I’m so ready to get back to what ‘normal life’ feels like for me.

So I finished my masters! I took a one week extension on my deadline because my stress levels were making me physically ill (lol) and it ended up that everything fell on November 5th – my dissertation deadline, a second national lockdown in the UK and my fiancé and I celebrated out 5th anniversary! I cannot believe it’s been five years but it also started the countdown of 2 years till we get married which is exciting. Our wedding contract confirmation from our venue came through the letterbox on that day too which felt very significant!

I spent most of the day formatting and double checking my essay and waiting for massive media files to upload so we didn’t get to celebrate too much, but we ordered Chinese just like we did on our first date and the next day we spent two hours together building Lego Hedwig which he’d picked up for 99p in Game a few weeks ago (it retails at £35!) which had mechanical flapping wings!

It may have come with a very simple instruction book that was over 100 pages long but we felt much cleverer than we are to have made something out of Lego that moves!

It was a great way to start life after masters. In the few days it’s been I’ve mostly been playing the new Pokemon Sword DLC The Crown Tundra with my Pokemon obsessed fiancé and doing all the little bits and bobs round the house I’ve been ignoring to give my little mental energy to my degree. The house is tidier than it’s been for months, everything is clean and I feel refreshed despite it being grey and rainy outside (though I’m loving snuggling up with my blankets inside).

Looking ahead, I don’t know what’s next. If the world wasn’t in a pandemic, I’d definitely be looking to get a job as soon as possible but 1) I imagine a lot of companies that would usually hire graduates aren’t hiring because they have to prioritise paying the staff they have and 2) I’m exhausted from this year. Finishing a dissertation in any situation is a huge mental and emotional toll but doing it when the world is upside down, the US election was taking days and my fiancé is still driving all around the country in high risk zones for work, I’m absolutely shattered and need to take this time to be gentle with myself.

Whilst I’m still recovering and trying to figure my body out, I don’t know what the future holds, which probably doesn’t help my mental health but I need to rest – this year has had a toll on everyone and everyone is handling it in their own way, I just need to find mine.

I am still looking for jobs, because I can’t rely on my fiancé’s income to pay for everything, we have a wedding to save for and I want to start my career! Most of the people I finished my undergrad degree with are two years into their careers and I feel like I’m a little late to finding my footing in the professional world (not that I am, there’s no one timeline). But I’m not going to spend all day every day looking for jobs when I know what a negative toll so many rejection emails had on me two years ago.

So right now? Life is very slow, I’m focusing on making myself a routine and taking care of myself because I’ve been ill for nearly three months now and I have to change something, because I never want to feel like this again.

I don’t know when I’ll get my degree results, I don’t even know if I’ll still be able to attend graduation in 2021 with the state of the pandemic, but I’m grateful to have finished my degree, I’m grateful to have a roof over my head and a partner who makes me feel like a million bucks, I’m grateful to have friends and family to turn to when I feel lonely and I’m grateful to have my health, whatever state it’s in, in a world where nothing is certain anymore.

Things are scary and uncertain, but the year is almost up, I’m seeing Christmas joy everywhere I look and there is hope for the future with the new President-Elect of the US – things will get better, just one step at a time, no matter how small.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

spending more time offline

2020, mental health

Hello!

With ‘I Am Whole’s Digital Detox Day earlier this month and mental wellness online being a growing conversation in lingering pandemic times, spending time offline can feel necessary and simultaneously overwhelming when we’re all racking up hours and hours of screentime.

Sometimes when we think about wanting to spend more time offline, the biggest question is ‘what would I do instead?’ – in theory you could fill the time you’d usually spend procrastinating and get more work done, clean the house properly or do all the decluttering and organising that always gets put off, but if we’re thinking about mental wellness and wanting to really relax without putting the pressure on productivity, it’s a different kind of spending time offline.

Here are a few of the things I do to help me feel more present and stop reaching for my phone!

  • turn it onto silent mode – it sounds silly, but if I turn off the sounds and the vibrations and turn it upside down and put it out of sight it’s much easier not to think about it because the notifications aren’t intrusive. Whether I want to get some focused work done or spend some dedicated time in the moment with friends or family, getting rid of invasive notifications really helps.
  • tactile hobbies for evening TV viewing – if you find you can’t just watch a TV show and you just can’t concentrate without doing something with your hands, take up an offline hobby! I’m a fan of knitting because at the moment I’m just doing rows and rows of the same thing and I can do it without really thinking, but something like colouring would be great or even a fidget toy can keep your hands busy without scrolling through instagram.
  • go for a tech free walk – the concept of leaving the house without a phone can be daunting, I know that I as a woman don’t feel particularly safe in my area on my own, but even if it’s listening to a podcast and walking or being with someone and leaving your phones in your pockets, being present especially in nature can be so beautiful. Even walking somewhere more industrial or suburban can be wonderful – people watching is always fun!
  • use ‘zen mode’ – my phone has an app or a mode or something where it essentially becomes a brick for an hour; it doesn’t give you any notifications, I don’t think it’ll even let you unlock it (except for emergencies) and having that dedicated tech free time can be useful in a work environment but also when you want to spend time with people and not be checking your phone. There’s plenty of apps that do this too, I remember one people used when I was in Sixth Form was one where you would grow a tree the longer you didn’t touch your phone and it would get chopped down if you closed the app. Whatever the theme or how it works, having time where your phone literally won’t let you in can be helpful.
  • spend time journalling or reading – I’m all about the pen and paper and I’ll always suggesting writing things down or making a list if you feel overwhelmed, but thinking about wanting to spend time offline and being more present, journalling is a great way to physically anchor yourself to a moment (however pretentious that sounds) – there are loads of prompts online or you can even buy premade journals with the prompts written in, but I think it’s a great activity both for mental health and getting offline. And I’ll always suggest reading! Getting lost in a good story, especially if you can sit outside and get some fresh air too is always a lovely way to spend an afternoon!
  • dedicate more time to cooking – whether it’s learning a new recipe or cooking with a new ingredient, I find time in the kitchen is a great way to do something offline, especially if you live with other people – kitchen catch ups are a great way to debrief at the end of the day and have a bit of social interaction! I find cooking really therapeutic and I know it’s different for everyone, but having something that you’ve made from scratch is so rewarding!

Just a few ideas of things that work for me! I definitely need to work on scheduling more phone-free relaxation into my week but it’s all a learning curve I guess!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

mental health in a pandemic – 6 months on

2020, mental health

Hello!

Writing about mental health is always incredibly subjective – there’s such a broad spectrum of symptoms and each person who lives with mental illness handles it in incredibly different ways that often contradict each other, so bear in mind that when I write about mental health I’m writing about my experiences of mental health and cannot speak on behalf of anyone else.

Lockdown has been a ride, hasn’t it? In the UK more and more places are going into local lockdown, thousands of new cases are being diagnosed every day and ‘young people’ are getting the blame for eating out to help out, going back to work and supporting the economy. Amongst so much uncertainty, it’s not surprise that the anxiety that craves control is going haywire.

At the beginning of lockdown, personally I flourished – all of my uni assignments got pushed back and adjusted so I had plenty of time to work on them, my boyfriend was home from work for the longest time since he started and I felt so in control of everything that was going on.

Then the first ‘three weeks’ of lockdown turned into months, I had less assignments to work on and the ones that were left feel big and intimidating and overwhelming, my boyfriend being home meant that he just played video games all day and gazing out the window felt too much like wishing for a life we couldn’t have anymore.

Normal has changed. The uncertainty of not knowing what ‘normal’ is anymore is the worst feeling. And we have no idea how life could ever get back to a ‘normal’ where we don’t wear masks and we don’t sanitise at every opportunity and glare at people who don’t understand the concept of 2m apart or following arrows on the floor in public places, especially in a world where there are people who ‘don’t believe’ in vaccines (which will never cease to baffle me); ‘normal’ feels like a very far away concept.

On the surface, I’m doing okay – my boyfriend (fiancé? He’s put a ring on it now so I should really get used to calling him that) has gone back to work and whilst at first I was nervous to be on my own, I now make the most of being as productive as I can whilst I don’t have the background noise of video game commentary and too many 5 minute crafts videos (he has an obsession). But underneath, I’ve been getting these ‘nausea attacks’ (I don’t know how else to describe them) and there’s this tight feeling in my stomach and I don’t know if it’s anxiety or a bug or a new intolerance and it keeps me up at night and wakes me up at ridiculous times in the morning. I’ve had more panic attacks in these moments in the last few weeks than I’ve ever experienced in such a short time frame before and it’s really hard, to be honest.

But assuming it is subconscious anxiety and not anything physical, I’m doing all I can to keep my mind occupied – I’ve been listening to a lot of instrumental music to fill in the silence without distracting me from whatever I need to be focusing on, I’ve been making more of an effort to meditate using the Headspace app and trying to make a sense of routine with my daily to do lists and regular meal times.

With no end in sight to this pandemic and a looming second wave in the UK, coping mechanisms are always changing and however much it goes against everything I know, we just have to ride the wave. The waves are going to wash over us anyway, resisting them won’t change the tide.

Well that was potentially a bit deep for a random Tuesday in September, but I’m a bit pretentious like that – I love a water related motivational quote!

Whether or not you suffer with mental illness, living through a pandemic that has touched every single one of our lives was never going to be easy. I hope that you are feeling okay, because okay is enough! It’s okay not to be okay, but it’s okay to just be okay too.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

there’s no songs about turning 24

2020, lifestyle

Hello!

Two years ago, it was 22 by Taylor Swift, one year ago it was What’s My Age Again by Blink-182 as I was reminded that no one likes you when you’re 23 (I beg to differ) – what’s meant to be my anthem this year? Have I officially entered the realm of boring ages because I’m too old to have a song?

(Have I spent too long on tiktok and now I’m writing in a really melodramatic storytelling method with a fancy accent in my head?)

It was my birthday! 24 years ago today the traumatic event that was my birth (emergency C-section crew, always a drama queen) happened to my parents and nothing has been the same ever since.

And my birthday is September 11th… 9/11… Take from that what you will.

In the past I’ve made videos and written posts about things I’ve achieved in my years and what I hope to achieve in my next rotation around the sun but this year, I don’t really have anything to add – 23 has been a weird one, because I don’t feel like I’ve achieved anything particularly significant but it’s definitely been a year of change.

My friendships has definitely been the thing that stands out to me – just a week after my birthday in 2019 I met four girls on my masters course that made me feel like I was in an American high school romcom and I had the ride or die friends that I could turn to for literally anything. The worst thing about lockdown was not being able to see them multiple times a week. Then during lockdown I got to meet some of the people my boyfriend works with and now I actually have friends in the town I live in! They’re the sweetest people I’ve ever met, I don’t know if it’s lockdown or if we just get on really really well but I feel like I’ve known them so much longer than just a couple of months and I’m so grateful for them. I actually have people that I love and I know that they love me too and I can rely on them and trust them. And I don’t mean to say I didn’t have friends that I love, rely on and trust before I turned 23, but this was the year of meeting a surprising amount of amazing people – I feel like I have the best support network with everything from my oldest childhood friend from when we were 6, from my undergraduate degree to the family I grew up with – I feel more supported and loved that I ever have before and I’m incredibly grateful.

I have no idea what 24 will bring – I thought 22 would be the beginning of my career and that didn’t happen so I’m trying not to have too many expectations from this year.

When you’re a kid, I think you think that by 24 you’ll know what you’re doing – you’ll have a place, maybe with friends, maybe with a partner, a job, a car, maybe a pet, the freedom of socialising whenever you want, money, travelling! The future seemed so open and freeing, things like school and exams and fake friends and having to spend at least 30 minutes on public transport to get anywhere are the things I longed to get away from.

Going back even 10 years, I don’t know what my 14 year old self would think of me. With mental health problems and generally just being a bit weird, I’ve never been able to picture myself growing older – not in a job, with a person, even things like wanting kids but I just can’t imagine what my life would be like with them – I don’t know if I ever really thought I’d get this far. I still can’t picture the future – turning 30 or 40 or having children or taking them to school or being employed all feel so far from my reach; even getting married and wearing the white dress and walking down the aisle doesn’t feel real, and that’s one I’m actually planning!

Life is weird, the future is weird, time flies and age is just a number. Everyone’s journey is different and we all get there at different times – 14 year old me never would have thought I’d have (nearly) three degrees, a nearly 5-year relationship (with someone who is significantly taller than me!) and be brave enough to shave my head, but she’d also wonder how I let myself put on so much weight, why I haven’t started a career yet and how my mental health could be so much worse.

But I’m working on not being disappointed in where I am – everyone has good days and bad days; some days I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved and other days I  I’m getting cross because finishing my masters is becoming a daily battle with my own brain and productivity.

Conclusion? I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. But what getting older has taught me so far is that no one does! And accepting what I don’t know and being prepared to learn is always going to be one of the greatest assets I have.

24 is going to be interesting. But for now, I’ve got a whole weekend off with the love of my life and I’m going to let myself relax and be spoiled. I’ll save the existentialism for another day!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

using my bullet journal to create routine

2020, mental health, organisation

Hello!

I’ve been writing about my bullet journal for a long time now – flip throughs, monthly set ups, weekly spreads, why everyone should bullet journal etc etc… but you’d think in a pandemic lockdown I wouldn’t put an effort into maintaining it, right? My uni is closed, I have no deadlines to meet for anything (pretend the dissertation isn’t real…), no social plans, so why am I holding my bullet journal closer than ever?

Do I sound like a melodramatic Buzzfeed article or what?

I’m someone who craves routine – the longer lockdown goes on the more lost I feel because it gets more difficult to motivate myself to maintain a consistent routine, but that’s where the bullet journal comes in! Having a to do list every day and a meal plan every week gives each day just a little bit of structure.

I’ve not been waking up consistently at all (this morning I woke up at 7.30am, then fell asleep until 10.20am – I’ve not slept that late since I was a teenager!) but I have lunch at 12, start cooking dinner about 5.30 to eat at 6 and aim to go to bed at 9… sometimes I don’t notice the time but generally I’m in bed by 10 at the latest! (I’m a granny, I need my sleep!)

My to do lists generally have 6-7 things on them every day and include things like washing my hair (because ya gal cannot keep track of the last time I washed my hair), doing my daily Headspace meditation and recording a clip for my 1 Second Everyday video – that’s three things already! Then I have 4 other tasks that generally include a form of exercise (I know! Who even am I anymore), something uni related, something craft related and then whatever else needs doing whether it’s cleaning the house or going to a pub quiz!

The system works pretty well for me most days – sometimes I get everything done by lunch time and I’ll either start the next day’s tasks or have the afternoon off, sometimes when my brain’s not doing so well tasks will start to pile up but after a day or two of feeling low I’m getting better at recognising that I don’t want to do that any more and just tackling one task at a time (then writing them off at the end of the week because no one needs to start the week with a bucket load of tasks from the week before – reassign them to the new week!).

Sometimes if I’m feeling particularly unmotivated I’ll even set myself a properly timed schedule – this can be super helpful with bigger tasks because then I know I only have to work on them for a set amount of time then I’m done with it for the day. Even setting a timer so you get that proper sense of conclusion is great. I used our Alexa to set a one hour timer to do uni work, then my sister called so I paused it and when it resumed I carried on where I left off and after an hour I’d made really good progress and I felt really good about myself!

Obviously there are some days where the thought of even sitting at my desk is too much, but it’s working with your mindset and your emotions to make this time work best for you. We all have good days and bad days, especially when you’ve got mental health in the mix as well, but it’s listening to your own mindset and pushing yourself where you can. It’s all a balance!

I’ve been using the phrase ‘gentle productivity’ for a couple of weeks now and I really like it – lockdown is a breeding ground for bad mental health and being gentle on yourself (whether it’s giving yourself a break or pushing yourself back to your desk) is the key to having a bit of routine and normalcy and protecting your mental space.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram