Some ways to look after yourself when you’re feeling anxious or low

The experience of anxiety and depression is so personal and so individual .

The physical and emotional manifestation of these conditions and the intensity of course differs between people but importantly, can also be a completely new beast for an individual each time a phase of anxiety or depression rears it’s ugly head.

Feelings of anxiety or depression can vary from feeling slightly worried and low to being completely debilitated and wishing that you could just disappear because you’re just exhausted and tired of fighting and don’t see a future ahead….and all kinds of shades and combinations in between.

I thought I’d share my own personal strategies that I’ve developed over these last 18 months to deal with periods of anxiety and depression.

Anxiety in particular is the little blighter that stalks me each day and so a lot of my personal reflections are more driven by tackling this particular condition.

However, it’s unfortunate and almost inevitable that for someone suffering with anxiety, the more anxious they feel, the more they get annoyed at themselves and the feelings of worthlessness kick in leading to self loathing, guilt and ultimately depression.

That’s why these two monsters are perfect and deadly partners in crime.

Therefore, I do have some experience of depression that I can draw on in this post.

I appreciate that some of this is very simplistic and will not work for everyone.

What works for you when you’re battling your demons?

  1. Know yourself and recognise your triggers

Intense periods of anxiety and depression used to sneak up and engulf me from the shadows, seemingly with no warning.

However, I’ve now learnt to pick up on the first subtle signs of changes in my behaviour and the way I feel….small nuances that cause ripples and alert me to early warning signs that trouble may be around the corner.

My friends are so insightful they often notice before I do and swoop in to help like the angels they are!

AnxieteaHowever, I’ve learnt that my things to look out for are:

  • Intense tiredness and lack of energy (from an over production of adrenaline)
  • Obsession/over thinking/ a specific narrowing of focus over elements of my life that at any other time I’d consider trivial or mundane
  • A lack of perspective on what’s important
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Feelings that people don’t like me/would be better off without me with no real incident, evidence or in fact any rationale to support this
  • When I’m quiet!!!

When I start feeling any of these, or when my friends spot these, I know that I need to implement some of the steps below.

2) Listen to your body

Constant to do lists or negative thoughts looping in your head, constant worrying and overthinking leads to high adrenaline which leaves you completely shattered.

I’ve often tried to push through this before when the irrational voice in my head tells me to keep going or the world will collapse!

Stop. Slow down.

If you need to sleep, sleep.
If you need to relax, relax,
If you need to talk, talk.

Throw the to do list out the window or if you can’t do that, challenge yourself as to what really is important, or ask a friend to help with gaining some perspective.

And don’t feel guilty.

3) Learn what makes you feel better

I’ve learnt that the only times I am present and in the moment and therefore not thinking or fretting about the past or present is when I’m enjoying music or enjoying a good book.

If I need a little pick me up, I like to listen to the Defected Glitterbox Podcast and dance around my room!

If I am feeling really anxious, I like to light candles, turn off my phone (constant social media checking does not help when you’re not feeling particularly great) and completely immerse myself in a book.

There have been times when even the J.K. Rowling’s of the world can’t transport me out of my anxious brain and I’ve found that reading books about dealing with mental health or spirituality very helpful.

Some of my favourites that I’ve read again and again are:

  • Reasons to Stay Alive- Matt Haig
  • Happy- Fearne Cotton
  • The Power of Now- Eckhart Tolle
  • How to be Mindful- Anna Barnes

These books not only help me feel like I’m taking some practical steps but also help me understand some of the physical and emotional responses that are happening in my brain and, importantly,  help me realise I’m not alone.6d148240c1f00bbf7ecde9d18b39e688.jpg

I am a social person and I know I’m feeling low when I really can’t face socialising- not only am I exhausted, the thought of either having to pretend to be normal or to have to try and explain how I feel to someone who may not understand how I feel (when I don’t really understand how I feel myself ) feels like actual hell.

Sometimes you may need time on own and that’s fine. But my experience in the last few months has taught me there is a fine line between giving yourself some recovery and isolating yourself- I’ve learnt feeling this way is alienating enough.

During periods of intense anxiety or depression, I usually give myself an afternoon of lying in bed and then make myself get up, get showered and visit someone I love, even if it’s just for an hour.

4) Kindfulness and gratitude

Bear with me on this one as I know this may be a little too ‘fluffy’ for some but kindfulness and gratitude are my 2 new favourite super tools for fighting the little demons when they get too much.

I was a massive fan of mindfulness and I still am, but what I’ve found is that when you’re feeling anxious and down you can already feel a little insular or even selfish and therefore guilty about this behaviour. Mindfulness and focussing so intensely on yourself and your feelings, I’ve personally found, has further exacerbated a feeling of selfishness and to a degree alienation.

So I’m favouring kindfulness and focussing my energy on being present but also on being kind to others.

staygrateful_thumbI’ve found that this projection of positive energy towards others in trying to be more compassionate, helpful and friendly has helped me to overcome some tough times.

I’ve also started writing down 3 small things I’m grateful for at the end of each day. Every day. On days when I’m feeling positive and sassy and like a girl boss that can conquer the world and on days when it seems like I’m stuck in a fog of self doubt and misery and can’t get out of bed.

What this has done, has taught me that there are beams of light even in the darkest of days. And that’s powerful.

5) Exercise

Ok I totally would have (and did!) roll my eyes at this suggestion 4 months ago. It seemed like such a generic thing to say.

But what d’ya know , the experts are right! Exercise totally helps with your state of mind.

I, a girl who skipped every sports day in her life and was definitely more GIN than GYM started regularly exercising in the morning during the summer and the endorphins are a total game changer in terms of boosting my day and my perspective.

I don’t know what I’d do without it now.

6) It’s time to talk

Talking is important.

I’m not saying you have to tell everyone (or choose to bare all in a blog!) and it’s important in some instances to choose your confidents wisely as not everyone will understand and having to explain, defend or justify can be emotionally taxing and damaging.

But there will be people who you can talk too, and for those angels, let them know you’re feeling unwell and let them know what you need.

If that’s to chat- they’ll be there.
If that’s to lock yourself away for a bit, that’s fine too, but I find having a little text at regular intervals asking if I’m ok means SO much.

And importantly, it’s so important to speak out if your depression and anxiety is at an intensity level where you’re unable to use the kind of tools above or self manage because that’s when professional help is needed.

Talking honestly to your family/someone you trust, GP or other health care professionals if you’re feeling in crisis is so important.

7) The most important advice:

Never, ever, suffer alone.

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10 of my favourite podcasts

I, like many people I’m sure, was introduced to the wonderful world of podcasts when I stumbled upon Serial.

I was lying in bed with tonsillitis at the time. I was in that delicious phase whereby I was about 3 days in, completely exhausted yet completely bored. My eyes were too tired to focus or read or to look at the TV screen for too long given the pounding headache that kindly kept my poor throat company.

I scrolled through Instagram and saw a friend post about how they were completely hooked on this podcast called Serial and I thought, well, this will be ideal as I can lie in bed with my bleary little eyes closed but gently listen to the storyline and keep my mind occupied.

Before that, I’d heard Greg James mention podcasts on Radio 1 and just assumed they were radio recordings that you could listen back to.

I didn’t realise when I downloaded that first podcast that I’d be introduced to such a rich, wonderful selection of topics; from true crime, to comedy, to panel quiz shows to political debates. Podcasts really are ear candy and good for the soul!

It probably goes without saying that Serial (Season One) is still one of my favourites; for those who are thinking of jumping on to the podcast train I’d highly recommended starting with this.

Released in 2014, this innovative piece of investigative journalism about a real life murder case quickly became a global phenomenon. Producer and presenter Sarah Koenig introduces the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old high school student from Baltimore county, Maryland, whose body was found six week after her disappearance in a shallow grave in a local park. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed was convicted of her murder based on what many consider thin evidence and is now serving a life sentence.

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Koenig skilfully takes us through the twists and turns of this case, and through expert story telling , supported by a chill inducing original soundtrack, creates tension and intrigue in a way that makes this 12 part podcast insanely gripping.

CHECK. IT. OUT.

Thanks to Serial, podcasts are a massive part of my life. I listen to them every morning as a now essential part of my morning routine, they help me through loooooong car journeys and keep me company through walks in the park or whilst I potter around the house with a coffee in hand.
I’m going to share with you 10 of my favourite podcasts, almost half of which were recommended to me by my wonderful spiritual and cultural advisor Kate Hammond (thanks hon!) You can check out her awesome blog, Cwtch Up Books, here.

Take a listen to the suggestions below and let me know what you think!

1. My Dad Wrote A Porno
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Season 1- 13 episodes
Season 2- 16 episodes
About 30 minutes per episode

Ok, seriously, this podcast is THE single most hilarious thing I’ve listened to. Ever.

I once made the mistake of trying to listen to an episode on the train. Apparently people look at you with a slightly concerned/pitiful look on their face if you’re crying eyes emoji lolling every 3 seconds between Lisvane and Cardiff Central. Whatever.

In a nutshell, Jamie Morton, accompanied by friends James Cooper and Alice Levine, reads out chapters of a porno written by his 60 year old Dad who goes by the pen name ‘Rocky Flintstone.’

The book is called Belinda Blinked, and I cannot put in to words how clunky, cringe worthy, badly written naff and HILARIOUS this little gem is. Good job that Jamie and co can though, as they pull apart each chapter with commentary filled with wit, quips and friendly banter galore. This one is a MUST!

Word of warning; Don’t listen in front of your kids/parents!

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2. Optimal Living Daily

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Average 7 minutes per episode

Justin Malik reads out a different blog post each day on productivity, minimalism and personal development.

I always start my day with one of these beauties as they really give food for thought and have given me some practical tips I’m definitely going to use such as starting the day with big important tasks that add value to avoid procrastination, how to prioritise your To Do list against the rest of your life, the practice of mindfulness and gratitude and the importance of kindness.

These little  bite size reminders really help set the tone for my day.

3. They Walk Among Us

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At the time of writing, up to season 1- episode 15
Between 18-35 minutes per episode

I always make sure that I listen to this podcast when it’s light outside.

The reason being is that each episode focuses on sinister and surreal accounts of UK True Crime.

All the crimes covered have been headliners, such as the Shannon Matthews case or Mick Philpott, found guilty of causing the death of his 6 children by arson. Each case is explored with calm objectivity and is underpinned by immaculately thorough reason.

Listener caution is advised for this one, as the details of the cases are extremely disturbing.

4. Words Unspoken: The Hills Podcast

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Weekly (but currently at a hiatus!) 

At the time of writing, up to episode 16
Between 30-40 minutes per episode

This podcast is created and narrated by two southern sisters, Jem and Susan, who are re watching The Hills and chatting to us about each episode.

This podcast makes my soul happy in so many ways.

Firstly, I used to be absolutely OBSESSED with The Hills in my youth and so listening to and remembering the storylines filled with friendship, romance and drama gives me a lovely warm pang of nostalgia.

Secondly, it actually feels like Jem and Susan are your new American best friends and that you’re chatting with them over a coffee (by coffee I mean  a wine, obvs) and being a true girls girl, I am all for that.

They are sassy, witty and their commentary is so spot on. Hilarious hons!

Lastly, the theme song is just the one.

5. Accused

636108317047441592-Accused-Teaser-with-Reporters-Email9 episodes
Between 35- 60 minutes per episode

The tagline of this podcast is ‘Was the right guy charged, or did a killer walk free?’

So, if you loved Serial I’m sure you will love this!

It tells the story of the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Andes, who was found stabbed to death in her Ohio apartment in 1978. Much like Serial, the podcast gives a platform to journalists from the Cincinnati Enquirer who wish to reignite the cold case.

6. Modern Love

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Weekly 

Around 20-30 minutes per episode

Ahhhhh, this one really appeals to the romantic in me.

Notable American personalities narrate reader submitted essays from the New York Times based on the trials and tribulations of modern love. These stories can be extremely deep and touching through to light and thought provoking and explore the topics of romantic love, friendships, family and breakups. One of my recent favourites was about a guy who refuses to use small talk and now immediately enters in to meaningful conversations with everyone he meets.

I may try this out on my next victim, I mean, date 🙂

7. Under the skin with Russell Brand

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Just over an hour per episode

This is a new podcast from Brand, and even though only 4 have been released so far it’s already becoming one of my favourites.

Brand sets the scene by acknowledging that in the last election campaign, he rallied for revolution without fully understanding the issues or without being “fully armed for the battle.”

He’s therefore gone back to uni to study for a 3 year MA in religion in politics and this podcast sees him discussing significant philosophical questions, such as ‘Can we really stop terror?’ and ‘Feminism- can it change the world?’ with academics and experts in the field.

Brand holds his own throughout these discussions, coming across as strong minded yet inquisitive, philosophical, compassionate and empathetic. He also manages to be extremely funny, as always, without compromising the sensitivity of the topics he is discussing.

I love it.

8. Love and Radio

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Monthly
Length can vary from 30 minutes to over an hour

Love and Radio focuses on stylised interviews with intriguing characters.

Two of my favourite episodes are called The Silver Dollar and How to Argue, which both feature Daryl Davis, a black musician with a keen interest in the subject of extreme racism, and who befriended members of the Ku Klux Klan.

His story and his perspective on life are both truly fascinating.

9. Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4

 p03fy1mhEvery Friday

Each episode is just under 30 minutes 

The format rotates between:

  • The Now Show- Comedy sketches from Huw Dennis, Steve Punt and co
  • The News Quiz- Topical panel quiz show taking it’s topics from the week in the news
  • Dead Ringers– Impression show taking the mick out of celebrities and politicians
  • The Museum of Curiosity– Another panel show with a twist

No matter the format, this is satirical HEAVEN and is the best way to get the weeks news summarised and digested!

10. S-Town

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And, here it finally is! S-Town.

The long awaited podcast from the makers of Serial.

I’m a few episodes in an I’m engrossed already.

There are 7 episodes posted and I cannot wait to cosy down with a cup of coffee and binge listen to this intriguing story on Sunday evening.

No, YOU’RE getting old.

So, those are some of my favourites! Let me know if you like them? And please throw any recommendations my way.

Happy Listening!

10 of my favourite podcasts

The 11 stages of a hangover

So, as a 27 year old,  I’ve probably spent at least 15% of the last 14 years of my life hungover. And each hangover seems to be getting progressively worse, so that’s nice. Gin…why do you hate me so?!

I’ve now just began to accept the magical 11 stages of a hangover,  which I’ve listed below…….

1. Confusion

You unpeel your sticky, groggy little eye lids one at a time and slowly…very slowly… try to take in your surroundings.

Where am I? What day is it? Why am I still in last nights clothes, wearing cat ears and covered in glitter?

Why does my mouth feel drier than a really really dry thing??

So many questions. You know the answer must be hidden inside you, if you just search hard enough. It’s just within your grasp but alas! every time you feel it’s on your fingertips, it vanishes, just beyond reach.

2. Realisation

Oh, f*%k.

 I’m hungover. Again.

3. Hope

It’s ok, I’m just a bit dehydrated. I’ll go and down a pint of water, sleep it off and it will be fine. 

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4. Cockiness

You fall back asleep for an hour, wake up and miraculously, you feel ok.

Ha! No hangover for me!

You scroll mindlessly through Facebook and Instagram for half an hour and drop a message in your group whatsapp chat.

Hi hons. What a funny funny night. I don’t know how, but I’m fresh as a daisy! No hangover for me *sassy emoji x 10* 

You fall back asleep with a smug half smile on your face, you sassy little hangover avoider you!

Not even 3 tequila shots can get me. Watch and learn amateurs.

5. Regret

You wake back up an hour later and you feel AWFUL! Like…horrendous.

You realise you were in fact still drunk when you first work up😷

You spend the next half hour googling “can you die of a hangover”.

6. Self loathing

Flash backs. Cringe conversations. 10,000 card receipts in your bag. Awful dancing. Talking about your ex boyfriend for 45 minutes straight to anyone who would listen. Requesting Club Tropicana 5 times. Crying when they wouldn’t play it.

Those. Text. Messages.

As Celine Dion said, it’s all coming back to me now.

I HATE MYSELF, MAKE IT STOP!

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7. Optimism

This is ok. I’ll get up and have a shower and go for a walk. This can’t last all day. I’m over the worst of it surely. All I need is some coffee , a shower and a positive mental attitude. It’s going to be fine.

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8. Acceptance

After sitting and crying on the shower floor for 20 minutes, you crawl out and admit defeat. You are in it for the long haul, so you’d better just strap on in.

9. Hangover limbo

You’re too weak and lacking in energy to do absolutely anything but you are also THE most bored you’ve ever been.  In your life. And you once sat through the whole of Seabiscuit.

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You count down the hours until you can legitimately order a Dominos because it surely cannot only by 10am?!

10. Repentance

I promise I’ll never drink again. Ever! 

11. Recovery

After a day of slothing around and feeling like a zombie, you finally feel ok. Thank God.

Shame it’s 11:30pm and you have work in the morning.

The 11 stages of a hangover

10 things I’ve learned about dating

I used to be kind of curiously jealous of my single friends.

Their single life seemed so invigorating….so empowering….so intriguing.
They were young, gorgeous and free, and the world was their oyster. They could go wherever they wanted with whomever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Who knew who they might meet next and where their adventures may take them?

So when I was faced with the prospect of dating again when my long term relationship ended, I have to admit I found it strangely exciting.

Ok, ok….maybe after the whole constantly crying for a few weeks solid until my eyes were so swollen they looked like the puffiest puffer fish in puffer fish land (or indeed….puffer fish sea). Oh and the being completely unable to sleep due to being unable to shift that immense feeling of self doubt and the OH MY GOD HAVE I DONE THE RIGHT THING ?!?!?! thing.

But once that super fun and cheery period passed over I was like…hey you know what? This is going to be fine; I’m young, I’m sassy, I’ve comfort bought £200 worth of Benefit makeup and I have cheek bones for the first time in 5 years due to living off a heart break diet consisting only of my own salty tears. I’m so ready to be taken on dates and getting back out there.

I’m not going to lie, I pictured myself as Cardiff’s answer to Carrie Bradshaw, sitting in cool bars, being approached left right and centre and having to pencil potential suitors in to my busy social diary.

Fast forward four years and what I’ve learned is, well….the dating scene is a minefield. And I’ll tell you for why….. (in list format….because obviously).

  1. Getting asked on a date isn’t as common as Sex and the City would have us believe

Sarah Jessica Parker, I hold you personally responsible for misrepresentation of the dating scene.

No man has ever approached me in a bar and asked to take me out.

No beautiful stranger has ever handed me his number in a coffee shop.

I’ve never crashed into someone’s trolley in Asda and looked straight in to the eyes of a slightly geeky but incredibly handsome young man who simply has to make it up to me by “taking me out for a drink sometime.”

It’s all a massive lie girls…don’t be fooled!

I’ve got 615 tinder matches and I think I’ve been on about 3 dates in 4 years.

DATING.IS.HARD.

And while we are on the subject…..

2. Men on tinder usually only want one thing….

….even if their profile says they enjoy long romantic walks on the beach. Actually, ESPECIALLY if they say they enjoy long romantic walks on the beach!

3. Dating is terrifying….

So you’ve managed to score yourself an actual date after 10 tinder conversations that have ended with agreeing to go on a date and then hearing ABSOLUTELY nothing since (right?!)

The run up to the date is terrifying. Like I literally feel like I’m going to break out in hives and vom everywhere an hour before I leave the house. Sexy.

From trying to decide what to wear, to fretting about what you’re going to actually talk about to wondering how much of your personality you should give away in one go…..it’s stressful.

Like, will they find the skinning of the sausages story hilarious, endearing or horrifying?!

What are they going to think when I turn up and they realise I look nothing like my extremely filtered Instagram pictures? What then?!

4. Men: getting the nice vs aloofness balance is really hard

Compliment me too much; …..urgh you melt! I’m going to walk all over you and this will be no fun for anyone.

Don’t compliment me enough; who do you think you are?! You’ve only told me my hair looks nice 8 times. GIVE ME ATTENTION NOW!!!

5. Getting the balance of sober vs drunk is also hard

If you’re like me, you’ll need a cheeky gin to take the edge off.

If you’re also like me, it only takes one drink for me to flip from nice, social, life and soul Ashleigh to an Ashleigh that no one needs to meet until date 5 by which point I’ve tricked you in to liking me and you’re too invested for it to be a game changer. LOL.

Equally, I’ve also been on a sober date and that was Not Ok Hon. The right level of slightly drunk is essential to help through the tedious first date chat….

6. First Date chat is the definition of boring

Do you REALLY care that much about what my brother does for a living and the name of my first pet?

Let’s keep those questions where they belong- i.e. Barclaycard security log in.

You just want to know how long I’ve been single and therefore what’s wrong with me. Just come out with it.

7. It’s harder than you might think to decide if you like someone on a first date

Sex and the City, Disney and basically every 90s romcom starring Jennifer Anniston has basically taught us that when you meet someone you like, fireworks burst in the sky, a choir of birds serenade you, you do the leg pop thingy when you first kiss and float off on a pink cloud of love i.e.there is a spark.

So you spend every date wondering why you haven’t been completely blown away by someone you’ve only just met- is there a spark ? Do I fancy him? Does he fancy me? He may be growing on me as the night goes on but is that because I like him or because I’m 4 gins down? And do I actually care?
8. Post -Date Anxiety is nearly as bad as Pre-Date Anxiety

You’ve both had a lovely old tolerable and mediocre time together and are wondering whether you should go another date to see if you can up this indifference to something verging on attraction.

But what now?

Do I text? Do I wait for them to text you? What if I come across as too keen? Or not keen enough? Am I overthinking this? Did I say something I shouldn’t have? Did I talk about my friends too much? Or not enough? I didn’t even really fancy him that much but WHY DOESN’T HE FANCY ME?!

I know…I’ll send the details to my what’sapp group chat to ensure we all give this the level of extreme over-analysis it deserves.

9. Ghosting is a thing

You’ve been on 3 dates. You’ve hit it off like a house on fire. You’ve been texting each other all day errrr day. You go out one weekend and text Monday to find out how his weekend has been….nothing.

Strange….. he must be tired/dead. You’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

One week later and your deleted off Facebook and snappy.

You’ve been ghosted my friend.

Ghosting, as urban dictionary explains, is “the act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating but no longer wishes to date.”

Because being polite and kindly explaining you’re not in to it is so uncool obviously.

(No YOU’RE a bitter single 27 year old )

10. Dating does give you good stories…

I’ve had some wonderful dates and some truly AWFUL dating disasters (watch this space) but whether good or bad, putting yourself out there and trying new experiences with new people if nothing else gives you some hilarious stories to share on wine Wednesday with the girls.
So there you have it…dating is hard.

I think possibly in the not for me box next to Michael Ball and Star Trek. There’s gotta be a better way of getting to know someone, right?!

Don’t bombard me with dates requests all at one now hons…..girl be busy.

10 things I’ve learned about dating

10 things that happen during every airport visit 

Ahhhhh holidays!
The excitement and anticipation of jetting off somewhere new and exotic is hard to beat. And the holiday begins at the airport, right?

Ummmm, personally I’m not quite convinced by that one given that I predictably get a degree of airport anxiety. However, as I always say, you can’t please everyone all of the time.

Love it or hate it, there are a number of things that happen during every airport visit and here are my top 10; good, bad or indifferent!

1. Compulsively checking your passport is still there at least 9764 times 

To try and lessen this particular passport related anxiety, I’ve bought myself a bright turquoise and gold travel wallet with tassels which is so brash, there is no way that it could inadvertently hide in my bag thereby giving me a borderline heart attack whenever I check for it. However, even this hasn’t done the trick.
Like, even though I’ve checked it 5 times on the way up in the car and another twice before baggage drop, what if my passport has evaporated into thin air? 

I’d better check it another 30 times before passport control and panic every time my hand misses the wallet on first go, just in case. 

2. Forgetting the security rules 

Can I take electricals in my hand luggage? What are the rules about liquids again? Do I need to take my shoes off? Do I need to take my earrings out?

And WHY do I forget this rigmoural every single time I travel?

Yes, I hate me too.

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3. Feeling REALLY guilty walking through security for no apparent reason…

What if I am actually carrying a weapon and I just, like, forgot?!

DID I pack my bag myself?!

DID I leave my bag unattended?

Am I the head of an international drugs cartel? 

Look natural…act natural….WHY AM I SWEATING UNCONTROLLABLY?! 

Real smooth AOC. Well done.

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4. Getting tipsy before your flight, no matter what the time 

After the stress of the above/ relief that you were in fact innocent of the criminal scenarios you made up in your head and didn’t need to be felt up by a stranger and exiled, it is always essential to start off the festivities with a stiff drink (to take the edge off), even if you’re flight is at 6am.
5. Getting judged for being tipsy at 6am

Listen Janice, I’m on me ‘oliday. Leave the disapproving look out hon.
6. Walking around shops looking at things that you definitely can’t afford

I know what I need to purchase last minute before my holiday…a cheeky lil 8 grand Cartier watch. Treat myself!

Like, airports no longer exist solely for the use of elite bankers and Russian oligarchs….where is River Island when you need it?!
7. Queue rushers
We all have allocated seats on this plane Marlene. Rushing and pushing is not nessecary so let’s all just put our boarding passes away and chill for 5.

8. Ladz on tour

Literally wearing the Ibiza starter pack i.e. permed hair, Nike airs, short shorts, abs, an insufferable level of energy , excitement and youthful optimism.

More often than not they will be sat next to me.

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9. Carousel hoggers 

It’s not like we ALL need to get our bags. …..

10. Slow walkers/ fast walkers

I don’t know what’s worse really….those who just stand still on the moving walk ways (it’s not like I have a flight to rush for or anything….) or those who run across it full pelt like they are racing up the Gladiator travellator to beat Storm’s personal best time.
So as you can see I’m an absolute joy to be around at the airport…don’t all rush to take me on holidays all at once now!

10 things that happen during every airport visit 

5 things I want to tell anyone suffering with anxiety and depression

1.You are not weak

You’ve just been trying to be strong for too long.

We often say to each other “you’re so strong” or “be strong”.…but it’s ok to not be strong. It’s ok to be vulnerable. It’s ok to be human.

Asking for help and facing your demons is not a weakness. It’s one of the bravest thing you can do.

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 2. It is not your fault

You have a chemical imbalance in your brain. Whilst we talk about mental health, anyone who suffers from anxiety and depression knows all too well that they manifest themselves in extremely physical symptoms.

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Accepting that you’re not feeling very well is very difficult but very important.

If you broke your leg, it would get put in a plaster.

If you had an infection, you would get antibiotics.

If you had the flu, you would be asked to stay off work you contagious little thing, and you would rest up.

There is no shame in getting help, getting medication, or simply needing to rest.

3. Sadly, some people simply will not understand or recognise anxiety or depression as an illness

“Why are you sad?”

“Worrying will get you nowhere”

“Pull yourself together”

“Stop panicking!”

“What do you have to worry about?!”

“There are people worse off than you!”

“I’ve been through so much worse than you”

“You should be grateful for your life”

“Mind over matter!”



There is still such a stigma around mental health issues.

This needs to stop and we need to educate  people.

If you’re struggling to help people relate, send them this link or similar to try and articulate how you feel.

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If they read this and they still choose to dismiss anxiety and depression….they are not misinformed but are choosing to be ignorant.

So ignore them.

You do not have to explain yourself to these people.

To those people: 

Would you tell your friend that they didn’t have a broken leg?

Or that they don’t have diabetes?

Or that they don’t have an infection?

Even though a medical professional has diagnosed them?

More importantly, even through your friend/family member is telling you that they are suffering first hand?

Would you tell them not to take the medication for the heart condition because they are stronger than that? 

Do not trivialise or deny other’s truth.

I don’t know what it’s like to have asthma….that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist as a condition.

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4. Find your rocks…

Being inside your own head can feel like the loneliest place on earth and it can feel like nobody could possibly understand…

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…however, around 1 in 4 people suffer with some form of anxiety or depression in the UK.

You aren’t unique in that sense.

There will be someone around you who will understand because they’ve been through it themselves.

Let them help you.

There will be some people around who will try to understand even though they haven’t been through it themselves because they have empathy.

Do not feel guilty or indebted to them.

Real friends want to help you.

You are not a burden.

Find your rocks.

Trust them.

They love you even when you can’t find it in you to love yourself.

5. Try to start to treat yourself like your own best friend 

You know your best friend? The fabulous one? The super sassy one who you adore, who you would defend to the death and wouldn’t let a bad word be said about them because ….DO YOU NOT KNOW HER? She’s fantastic!!

Would you ever tell her she isn’t good enough?

Would you let her doubt herself?

Would you hear her put herself down?

I didn’t think so. 

So why do we do it to ourselves?

The reason is because silencing the inner voice is so hard for many of us. It’s a daily (minutely!) struggle.

This one is the most challenging of all.

However, this is the one we really have to try and tackle.

Recognise that this destructive voice isn’t the truth.

Challenge the voice. 

Whenever you hear it, even though you may not be able to stop it, even though it fills every space in your brain with negativity, try to ask yourself, “what would my best friend say to this criticism in my defence?” 

Be kind to yourself.

Don’t beat yourself up.

Practice this over and over and over until that voice recedes, even if only for a little bit, even if only for a few minutes at a time.

It’s ok not to be ok.

(OK…I know I’ve ended this on a Jessie J lyric….sorry about that).

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If you’re looking for help or support regarding mental health issues, or if you want to understand how to help a loved one who is suffering, these links are really useful:

Mind.org.uk 

www.anxietyuk.org

time-to-change.org.uk

NHS choices 

 

5 things I want to tell anyone suffering with anxiety and depression

10 things that happen at every Hen Party

If you’re a twenty-something like me (ok…ok….late twenty something),  you will have found that your summers have started to become absolutely jam packed with weddings.

You may have had the odd one or two in your early/mid twenties, and then all of a sudden, the flood gates are open and you don’t have a free weekend until 2072 because… weddings.

And with weddings, come the Hen Parties.

Oh Hen Parties….you classy affair!

As my mother likes to remind me prior to every Hen Party I have ever attended, a Hen Party used to be a single night out in your local town, having a cheeky few halves with your nearest and dearest. Now, Hens are A Big Thing.

I mean,people are now having multiple hens each.

An abroad hen

A home hen

A family hen

A works hen

A friends from primary school hen

A people who I bump in to shopping in Asda on a Thursday hen.

However, whether the Hen Parties you have attended involved a night in the local drinking hole or a 2 week extravaganza in Marbs, they are always carnage/an absolute scream and tend to be made up of the following 10 components…..am I right ? Or am I right

 

  1. L’ plates, slogan t-shirts, white veils, sashes, willy straws, willy deely boppers, and inflatable willies are compulsory

Basically anything with a penis on it/ in the shape of a penis will do.

If you don’t have a combination of at least one or more of the above, then I’m sorry, your hen is null and void, no matter how classy you may be.

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Like, surely even Kate Middleton must have walked around Chelsea with her gal dems,wearing a white veil from Claire’s Accessories on her head, a shot glass around her neck, drinking champers from the bottle with an inflatable naked man strapped to her and a ‘Keep Calm I’m Marrying the Duke of Cambridge’ t-shirt on?

And if it’s good enough for our Kate hon, it’s good enough for you.*

*I don’t know that this actually happened. But I really really hope that it did.

 

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2. Everyone gets a *little bit* over excited early doors

You get on your mode of transport and like literally as soon as it pulls off there is gin in a tin flying around, prosecco exploding everywhere and the poor driver is being harassed to put the mix tape you have made on full blast and on repeat (or if you’re my friends, the cabin crew are being harassed for a drink BEFORE the plane has even taken off the tar mac).

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If you’re on a bus, you’ll have to stop 70 times to use the ladies room, at intervals of approximately every 2 minutes meaning a 45 minute trip takes up to 2 days and 5 hours.

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Basically, everyone is wrecked before you get there.

By the time you reach your destination, you have all peaked way too soon, and have to have a cheeky nap in the hotel room /on the floor of Spoons before trying to desperately shift the mid day hangover and psyche yourself up for the Organised Fun Activity of the day (please see number 8).

3. You learn facts about your family that you never, ever wanted to know. Ever.

Why oh why does every Hen Party spiral in to a game of ‘ I have never’?

Because lets face it, at some point, somebody is playing I have never with their mother/aunty/sister/sister in law. And we all know the nature of the standard ‘I have nevers’ which usually come up.

And if that isn’t bad enough, you will probably end up drinking at the same time as a family member……..CRINGE.

Avoid eye contact at all costs.

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4. There will always be 3-4  bridesmaids looking extremely stressed at all times 



Brides be like:

“Gurrrrrl, you my best friend.

You now have the honour of arranging my Hen party.

Please don’t tell me where it is going to be though because I want it to be a surprise.

But I want it to be THE BEST most Instagram worthy hen doo to ever go down in Instagram history #HenGoals.

Like…. I want to go somewhere AMAZING but not at all cliche.

And I want THE BEST fancy dress idea, but like, nothing that anyone has ever done before ever.

And I really want every single one of my friends to be able to come, so I can you try and balance up THE BEST PLACE EVER with affordability?

Like, preferably keep it under £12.50 per head.

And don’t forget the home hen for my friends that can’t come.

And if you mess this up, essentially, by proxy , you have ruined my wedding day. The day that is meant to be the most perfect day of my life.

You’ve ruined my life. MY ACTUAL LIFE. Don’t you know me AT ALL?!

But don’t worry, I trust you, I’m sure whatever you arrange will be great. No pressure”

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5. Someone will always slip up to the hen regarding the surprise location

And we were all doing so well.

 

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6. The single girls in the party will always maximise on the fancy dress opportunity

For example, at one Hen Doo, I managed to incorporate the shorts I’d always wanted to wear but didn’t have a legitimate reason to wear, in to a robbers outfit.

Because robbers be all about the leather hot pants.

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For another, I managed to use the opportunity to dress up as Katy Perry for a Miss Pageant theme. (Katy Perry= Miss California…DUH!!! #Tenuous)

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Single ladies……use the opportunity to live your dreams, that’s all I am saying.

P.s. Yes I’m now using this blog as an opportunity to put up a picture of me dressed as Katy Perry…..it’s the gift that keeps on giving. What ya gonna do about it?! 

 

7.  Stags

Lads Lads Lads!

Our should I say Stagz. With a Z.

No Hen Party is complete without men coming over in dribs and drabs taking on various dares….

“Can you give me your bra? If I don’t go back in half an hour with 5 bras, I’m going to have to drink 70 shots of jaeger and do 2 naked laps of Mill Lane whilst singing Shania Twain That Don’t Impress Me Much whilst being snap chatted with the puppy filter on …on my story. My story!”

I mean, it’s best to double check said person has a printed slogan top on before you consider complying….there are some weirdos around.

Keep safe, it’s a jungle out there Hons. Or should I say …Hens?!

LOL….soz not soz.

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8. Organised fun

Think Karaoke. Dance classes. Cocktail making. Strip shows. Dares. Mr and Mrs.

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EEEK. I have to be honest, basically, organised fun normally gives me THE FEAR.

 

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However, I did recently attend a cocktail making class at Missoula Cardiff. And I have to be honest it was the best cocktail making class I’ve been to.

Why?

Because there were some games but not too many which is just great for me when you’re almost 30…more drinking and grinding to old school Ja Rule…less relay races with a blind fold around my head please hon!

And there wasn’t any going up behind the bar alone (which gives me stage fright because I am so shy…LOL). There was food and lots of it, endless prosexy and you went up in groups to make cocktails together.

The manager who led our session was really laid back and friendly and let us pour as much of the spirits in to our cocktails as we liked (however with the warning that our drinks would actually taste minging if we didn’t follow the recipe and measurements….and he was right).

And ….it was super cheap….I’d really recommend it hons!

 

9.You practically kill off the bride to be…

…possibly with 30 shots of jaeger…possibly with a surprise foam party (HA!)

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However…

 

10. The Brides to Be are always absolute legends 

Every Hen Party I’ve ever been to has seen the Hen let loose, get in the spirit, get involved with whatever is being thrown at them but still end up looking completely lush and sassy and glowing  because they are having the best time like the little legends they are.

Who run the world?!

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10 things that happen at every Hen Party