Monday, 10 November 2014

what I've learnt

After almost two years in my current job writing about various health and wellness industries, I'd like to think I've learnt a fair bit. So, unsurprisingly perhaps, quite a few of these lessons have seeped into my personal life. I am certainly not an expert, but I thought it might be nice to share the few things that have gone from 'tips' I wrote about in a blog at work, to life-long habits. Let's see.

Mental health

1. Talking to someone always helps

Whether it's your family, a good friend, your boss or even a counsellor - when you're feeling low, talking is the best medicine. Don't feel embarassed or ashamed, we all have demons and mental health issues need to be discussed. 

2. Writing it down does too

If I'm feeling anxious or 'all in my head' about something, I find it incredibly helpful to write about it. This works especially well when you're trying to sleep but your brain is all "la la la, isn't thinking FUN?" give those thoughts somewhere to go - on paper.

3. There is little a long bath and a good cry can't fix

I always fall into the trap of trying to be "OK" even when I'm really not. And this isn't just in front of other people, this is to myself. So sometimes I need to remind myself that it is OK to not be OK. We all need to feel our feelings and burying them will do more harm than good. I recommend running a bath, having a good cry, feeling the pain and listening to Damien Rice. When you're done, wash your face, take a few deep breaths and write down everything you are grateful for.


1. Chewing gum can help stave cravings

I always crave sweet things after eating a meal, so I always carry gum and chew this instead. It gives me a sweet fix while being good for my teeth - winner! 

2. Snacking on fruit is where it's at 

I always have a punnet of fruit on my desk at work (usually blueberries) to snack on when hunger strikes. This usually stops me reaching for the biscuit tin and makes me feel better all round.

3. Giving in to temptation (occasionally) keeps you sane

I eat well during the week, but weekends are fair game. Chocolate brownie with my coffee? Hell yeah. A cheeky burger at the pub? Why not. I think eating everything in moderation is the best way to eat.


1. Finding an exercise you enjoy is like looking for the 'one'

It may take a while, but when you've found it you'll know. Yoga is the only exercise I truly enjoy it and while I do other cardio bits to keep things ticking over, yoga really is the one.

2. Listening to your body is key

I try to break a sweat, build strength and stretch out a few times a week, but there are times when my body just can't do it. Tonight for example, I have a sore throat, my body is aching and all I want to do is sleep. So instead of my usual spinning and yoga routine, I've had a long bath and when I've finished writing this I will be lying in bed watching TV until I fall asleep. 

3. Exercise makes you feel frickin' awesome

This has only really kicked in recently, but I'm finally getting that endorphin rush everyone always harps on about. I feel calmer, more confident and generally happier when I'm exercising.


1. Moisturising is essential, whatever your skin type

I cannot tell you how much clearer my skin has got since I ditched the spot treatments and moisturised instead. I have combination skin, but I was treating it like it was oily and tried to strip it of any natural oils. Now I use gentle products and moisturise morning and night.

2. Investing in skincare is worth it

I never used to be that into beauty or skincare, but since I started writing about it for work, I've become a tad obsessed. Now I spend more money in Space NK and relish my weekly face mask habit.

3. Being a girl is fun, take advantage

Again, in the past I never cared about nail varnish and I rarely experimented with my make-up, but you know what - it's really fun. Now I have two (yes TWO) bright lip colours (planning to get more) and a whole box full of nail varnishes.

Wow, that was quite a long one, hope I didn't lose anyone there. What have you learnt at your job?

Sunday, 2 November 2014

talking to strangers

If there is one thing I would like to change about myself, it would be to be better at talking. As anyone who has ever met me will (probably) testify - I can be difficult to talk to. At first. Once I warm up and shake off my social awkwardness, I love a good chat. But even then, I don't talk for the sake of talking, I only speak if I feel I have something to contribute. This can come across as shyness, or even rudeness, but it isn't either.

There are days when I barely speak at all. Choosing to get lost in my own thoughts, read or listen to music instead, I can go from feeling desperately sad to hopeful in a day, with no one else being any the wiser. This isn't intentional, I don't actively shut people out - sometimes I just need to be quiet.

It therefore surprises me when circumstances lead me to talk to a complete stranger, and I feel strangely revitalised. On Friday night when myself and a friend found ourselves at Clapham Junction waiting for a delayed train, a burly looking chap made conversation with us. His name was Charleston and he was a pop artist by day and a doorman by night. He showed us his art on his phone and mocked my friend's fear of a nearby zombie-fied Ronald McDonald (it was Halloween). 

Now, I'll never see Charleston again - but this snatched insight into another person's world was fascinating. If I had a camera around my neck, I would have felt like Diane Arbus, roaming the streets of New York taking pictures of strangers. She was socially very shy, but with her camera she felt invincible and came to life when she entered other people's lives, no matter how briefly.

Fuelled by rum and boredom, on that platform I felt like Diane. I wanted to meet everyone in the world and find out what life looks like to them. I've been thinking about myself a lot lately - what does my future look like, where will I end up, what the fuck am I doing - so I think the reason I enjoyed this random conversation so much was because it got me out of myself. I burst my own security bubble and saw a world outside of my own.

I want to do that more. Maybe I'll take up a new hobby, or travel somewhere by myself. Maybe I'll take a camera and start my own Arbus-inspired anthropology project, who knows. All I know is that while a certain amount of introversy (is that a word?) is nice, it's time to take a deep breath and head into the unknown with the curiosity of an explorer and the bravery of a warrior. 

I'll let you know how I get on. 


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