Saturday, 21 September 2019

Dear Younger Me 2.0

   A couple of years ago, I wrote a collaborative post with a friend. A friend I met at university who I most definitely have not done a good job of keeping in touch with, just like all of my other friends. I am terrible at keeping in touch. Actually, I feel a deep inner wince every time I hear the phrase "keep in touch" because I fail at it so successfully. Anyone who knows me will know that they will inevitably see me at some point, though. It will be at a random event (at the pub, someone's house, a Christmas Light Switch-On), at which I repeatedly state to the group, "it's so weird that I'm out the house" (for a social reason, obviously). Usually I will have a completely different hair cut and/or colour that people will be shocked to see because the last time they saw me I was definitely settled on keeping the last one for a long time. That's because it will have been a long time.  At this event, I will continue to vow to leave the house (for social reasons) more often and arrange to meet up with everyone more frequently. Everyone around me will listen and laugh knowingly, because they are all aware that they aren't going to see me again for another six months. I truly appreciate and admire my friends and their ability to make me feel as though not a single second has passed since we last spoke. Thank you all for understanding this part of me.

   The best part of time passing is the experiences you have, the lessons you learn and the feeling of growth you have when you look back on who you were. I used to hate that horrible sinking feeling of remembering a past self and cringing at the things I thought, the things I said and did, and even the things I felt. However, I have learned a very important lesson relatively early on in life - that if you look back on your younger self and cringe, it means you've done a lot of growing, which can only be a good thing. I look forward to one day looking back on this post at my 23-year-old self and thinking about how much growing I had in front of me, and maybe even cringing a little bit too. It's also worth mentioning that everyone who has seen the meme with a fluffy dog sitting under a white board which says "if you look back on your younger self and cringe, it means you've grown", or words to that effect, have also learned this lesson as well. Just so we're clear about my methods of growth.

   At this point, I got halfway through writing quite a detailed letter to myself at various ages until I realised that this is all I need to write.

Dear Younger Me,

No matter what happens, you will make it through the other side. I am evidence of that. I trust that you will do your best, and make the choices you feel are right at the time. None of it is your fault. None of it. Don't give up on yourself, it gets better.

Future Me.

   No matter what painful experiences have taught you, and how much you've grown through them, you can't go back and give yourself a list of "things I wish I'd known". Take comfort that you know them now. Don't be frustrated when you can't save others from the same thing, they have a right to learn things for themselves.

See you soon, saplings

Monday, 22 July 2019



There is something comfortable about anchoring yourself in one spot and allowing the space around you to hold you. Sinking your roots into a warm, safe place and sighing deeply as the warmth and the damp seeps in and consumes you. You become one with your surroundings. You can look around you and decide that now is most definitely better than before. You can look back on all the glorious growing you have done. You can be proud about how far you have come. You can become comfortable with the person you are because the person you were was so far from where you wanted to be.

   The thing that I am now trying to remember is that I would not have the satisfying experience of looking back on my growth if I had not had the drive to change, to progress, to mature, to develop. When I'm worried about how badly I'm coping with something, it helps immensely when I can say, "but look at how far you have come".

   I'm trying to remember today that I am not done growing. I am still sprouting in every way imaginable. I am still learning about who I am. I am still recovering from hurt that I once thought unimaginable. I am still spreading my roots into every corner of myself and discovering new things. I am still closing doors on parts of myself that I am done with. I am trying to uproot my comfort and to stop standing still. To know that I can't settle for just being better than before. I don't want to settle for anything less than my best self.

   Soon I will stop thinking about growing and just start growing instead. I will say goodbye to parts of myself which are hurting me and I will lovingly wrap them up, thank them for serving me when I needed them, and lock them away. Sometimes you need to let go of things weighing you down so you can continue to grow towards the warmth and happiness that comes with change. Sometimes you need to stop trusting the feelings that used to keep you safe, and begin to trust other, new feelings that keep you safe now.

   I used to firmly believe that people never change. I believed that they will always be who they were. But who am I to deny the change in others that I have seen in myself? Who am I to deny my future self this change?

Keep growing, daisies. I'll see you there.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Of Pain

Hello daisies,

Several months ago I began writing a post which I never finished. Today, I feel inspired to re-write it. 

In December 2018, I decided that motivation, as a force, never shows up when I need it. It is, of course, remarkably present when it's time for me to go to sleep or when I log into Netflix. This being so I can binge a series that I would have no interest in watching if I did not have work to do. 
It is an oddly specific problem which I think nearly everyone has. 

So after my realisation that motivation was not on my side, I decided that I would force myself to start reading again. For reasons which are too complicated to address today, I stopped reading for quite a long time. As someone whose identity was summed up consistently as "bookworm", this was a weirdly disorientating thing for me to do. Upon arriving at my undergraduate induction, I did not feel particularly well-read. By this, I mean that the last things I had read were children's and teenage literature, and some Danielle Steel novels. Thirteen-year-old-me sobbed uncontrollably over rich middle-aged people getting divorced. 

Turning up to studying for my degree in English Language and Literature was daunting because evidently I had never read any 'classic' literature. I hadn't even heard of some of the authors. I have no doubt that this is true for most new undergraduates, but I felt especially alone and behind. I felt I was amongst true academics who would eventually find me out. The abstract, giant shadows of these novels convinced me that, un-read, they were the reason I was feeling so unaccomplished. 

Perhaps it will comfort those of you who are just embarking on your degree that I still feel like that now. I've read Dracula and Frankenstein and other "classics". I've carried out independent, academic research. I'm teaching undergraduates myself as a graduate teacher. Despite all of this progress that past-me would be in awe of, I still feel very much like an academic imposter. Someone is going to find out I don't know what I'm doing! But it turns out that I did not need to have read every classic novel by the age of eighteen to be worthy of my degree, and neither do you. Not only will there be ample opportunity to read these novels during your study, but you will hopefully come to the same realisation that I have. Some of them are brilliant, some of them not-so-much, and none of them are worth feeling paralysed over. At this point, I'm not sure we are entirely sure about what "classics" really means. There are the culturally ingrained ones (see above), but there is certainly always the argument of subjectivity. I know incredibly successful academics who dislike the work of Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens, and others who are bewildered by Austenmania. 

The point I am trying to make is don't feel pressured to be a stereotypical academic. You can be an academic and exclusively study an area of your interest. You need only read what you want to read (and what's on your required reading list if you're a student, I'M SORRY). Although we must also remember the huge importance of reading texts you hate, texts that you might feel are objectively terrible, and texts you would never normally pick up. There is a lot of interesting insight to be gained by reading your literary hell. I think my real point is that not having read particular books does not contradict your identity as a reader, as a student, as an academic, as a teacher or as a person with valuable contributions. There is something terrifying about a mountain of books we feel its absolutely necessary for us to have read, and if you really feel that you need to check some off the list, don't wait for motivation! Motivation will not come and save you from book-mountain-related paralysis!

Since my decision in December 2018, thirteen books have been read. This might not seem like a lot, but it's a large step for me in finding time and concentration for reading. One of the books I decided to pick up was inspired by my own book-mountain-paralysis (read: don't die before you read this!): 1984 - George Orwell. The most wonderful thing about finally reading a book with a repuation like this is that you realise it is not the huge undertaking you imagined it to be...and you finally understand a lot more pop-culture references. 

In the middle of all of this, though, I made a connection which I did not expect to make. I felt a strong reaction to the quote which reads; 

"Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes". 

As someone with chronic pain, physical pain is never far away. I am in pain every single day to some degree. Sometimes it's so faint that I can distract myself and nearly forget about it. Other days it is at the forefront of my attention and there is nothing I would not do to take it away.  

I know there are so many people out there who are experiencing their own pain, and so many who share the unusual, frustrating and so-awful-I-need-to-laugh-experience of having migraines. Needing to laugh because they are so awful might sound strange, but when you dramatically flee goalkeeper-style from anyone spraying perfume, you gotta laugh.When you find that the nausea and flashing lights only cease when you bend at an exact right-angle, so you walk around like that all day and your mom catches you emerging from the bathroom hunched over and grunting, you gotta laugh. When you're hanging out a car window, vomiting, wearing obnoxious yellow glasses and a bright purple ice-pack-hat on your head and you stop at traffic lights and you're valliantly ignoring everyone in the car beside you, you just gotta laugh. 

In the face of pain, there are no heroes. Nothing and nobody in the world exists that can instantly take it away. However, George Orwell reminded me that I am not alone, and I don't know how soon another reminder of that kind would have come along. 

It's okay if you put down the books, but take comfort in knowing that there might be something there waiting for you if you decide to pick them back up.

Take care saplings x

Friday, 16 November 2018


img (c) ClipArt

   I started this blog on the 7th of February 2017 with a post called Sprouting. This was at a time where I felt better than I had for a long time, but also much more uncertain and insecure than I feel right now. When I look back at the journey I have made throughout this blog, I feel like I'm growing and stretching out. I feel like moments of contentness are weaving their way through my life at a higher frequency than ever before. My circumstances haven't changed that much, but my mindset has. This is not to say I don't still have my bad moments, but they are much more fleeting.  I am more confident in who I am and who I don't have to be. I'm still a shrInking violet, and what is so wrong with that?

   I currently have a lot of things going on, and I plan to write more specifically about those things in the future. I hope to write a post for undergraduates currently embarking on their first year and I also want to address fellow migraineurs. Although I'm happier right now, the migraines are getting worse and an outlet is very much needed. I haven't been able to draw for a long time and my crocheting has also taken a bit of a back-seat (don't even get me started on books and video games), because in September I started a PGCE and my new job as a graduate teacher. The concept of free time has been slightly out of reach since then, but now that I'm more settled I'm finally finding a routine which helps me find pockets of time for myself. Today is one of those days. I'm celebrating a successfully completed observation by having a relaxing day (ignoring the fact I have a dentist appointment later).

   This morning I watched the new trailer for Dumbo (2019), a highly-anticipated remake from Tim Burton. I cried watching it. Despite my degree giving me handfuls of reasons to be highly critical of Disney, and believe me I am, I still find comfort and happiness in the stories because of the nostalgia they bring. They are such a big part of my childhood, and just hearing the music from Dumbo brings tears to my eyes every time.

   I took a break from writing this to make some lunch. My stomach was growling unbearably because I couldn't eat much yesterday. In the spirit of healthy eating, I'm now eating a cheesy pasta Mugshot because it took 5 minutes to be ready to eat. It's not grate (ba dum tsh), but it'll do the job.

   I think my desire to write a post today is because today I feel really good. Today my head isn't sabotaging itself. Today is a day I want to note down as a snapshot, a checkpoint. Sometimes I hear a song I haven't listened to for a while, and it transports me back to that time. All the feelings I was having at that time come flooding back to me, and it's a powerful experience. I'm going to document my current life landscape in music right now so I can look back and feel this time again in the future.

Love It If We Made It - The 1975
I have an on-and-off/hit-and-miss relationship with The 1975, but I have been listening to this song on repeat for days. I literally cannot stop. If you can, watch the video but BE WARNED: video contains bright, flashing colours/lights and could trigger seizues.

This Is Me - The Greatest Showman
I haven't even watched this film yet, but my partner showed me this knowing that I would love how cheesy and uplifting this is. 

Why Can't We Be Friends? - The Academic

This Is America - Childish Gambino
I never want to forget this.
Warning: violence and mad dance moves

Buttercup - Hippo Campus
This just makes me feel fluffy and wanna dance and wanna lie in the sun.

Clementine - Sarah Jaffe
Clementine sparks a lot of emotion in me for reasons that I will never share, but are so important to my recovery.

She - Alice Phoebe Lou

Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken - P!nk
Need inspiring? Say no more.

No Halo - Sorority Noise
Um this whole album but I'll just post one

Take care tulips x

Monday, 25 June 2018

When One Book Closes, Another Opens

Hey daisies,

Hope you're all comfortable.
I wanted to say that I hope you're all well, but maybe you're not doing so well. I always think that if you're going to feel sad, you may as well do it comfortably. If nothing else, I like to control my atmosphere. So sometimes clean sheets and a cup of tea are the strings that make everything feel like it's going to be okay.

This theory has served me well this academic year, as it's been a particularly stressful time. My final year at university was t o u g h. This year has been rewarding and enjoyable and exciting at times, but so, so tough. Life Happened, and I was left wondering what it could possibly do to me next. My personal life and my academic life both presented me with many challenges, and I'm very proud to say that I overcame them all.

Another thing which has guided me this year is the support of those around me. I am incredibly lucky to have a loving and supportive network of family, friends and my amazing partner. I appreciate them all so much. In addition, the staff at my university have been nothing short of wonderful and I truly would not have done as well as I have without their help.

A close friend of mine recently shared with me that they re-read my blog often and that it helps them to feel better when they are anxious. Similarly, other friends have expressed that they sometimes come back and read my blog to ease their fears. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all so much for encouraging me to keep going, to keep working and to keep pushing forward. It is a dream to know that my words help others. This has inspired me to start thinking about new ideas for blog posts this summer.

I have so much planned for the future and I can't wait to get started. University Vol. 3 closes, and a brand new adventure opens, which someday I will close and name as another book of my life. A year ago I was so scared to leave university because I didn't know what the future would hold, and now I couldn't be happier to explore something new.  In the mean time, before my new adventure begins, you will find me reading, crocheting, watching films and hopefully playing some video games too. A very much needed break! Hoping to start blogging again soon ready for a relaxing summer.

Take care tulips.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The Highly Sensitive Person

Good evening, saplings. 

   The last time I contributed to this blog was exactly two months ago and it strangely feels both a long and short time ago. Whenever I think about time I imagine a timeline in my head which is a year long, with the name of each month stamped on each of the twelve sections of the timeline. When I think of previous or future years I just move backwards and forwards along the series of boxes and mentally acknowledge it's a new year. The ends do not join in a loop. If I mentally zoom in, weeks appear, four in each month. If I zoom in further I situate myself on a particular day of the week, which has its own rectangular box. I also mentally dissect my days into time slots which begin at the bottom of the box and ascend, depending on the events of that day. If you want an interesting conversation, ask others how they visualise time in their minds. I remember feeling strangely humbled when I realised that, of course, there is no objective way to imagine time and that your slice of the world is really just a sliver. 

   In my particular slice, I was roaming the internet (read: obsessively Googling what the fuck is wrong with me) and I stumbled upon The Highly Sensitive Person. Before you make a snap judgement about this, or after I'm not gonna tell you what to do, this is different to "personality tests". I used to put quite a lot of weight into personality tests. Myers-Briggs, the Big Five, the Enneagram etc. you name it, I had categorised myself, and those close to me, in it. I think the reason why I did this is because I have always yearned not only to understand the psychology behind my motivations, my needs and my emotions, but to also understand those things in others. I want to know why there are things that bother me and not other people, and things that fill me with pure joy that others could not care less about. 

A Thing
before I promote the benefits of exploring the HSP scale

   I don't think I will ever come close to fully understanding these things in myself, and I will be even less successful in understanding them in other people. This is a healthy conclusion, because there are far too many complexities in our lives for there to be a complete set of personalities that everyone fits into. Actually, if we could, for a minute, please ignore the fact that I identify as a Hufflepuff, that would be great. 

   It's important that we do not attempt to squish people into boxes, even if they place themselves in that box. Someone might say they're sensitive, or insensitive, or convince you that they care or that they don't (care and sensitivity do not always necessarily coexist). It is not up to us to try and decipher the thoughts of other people, because if we put them in a box we stunt their growth or become unable to see them clearly. If, for example, we categorise someone as unreliable, we might then not give them the credit for all the times they are reliable. Adversely, we might refuse to see harmful behaviour because we have already categorised them as a someone who would never do anything like that. There are so many biological, psychological, cultural and other -als that combine to create the people that we are, and it is unhelpful to ignore the behaviours that do not fit our ideas of people and ourselves. A quote that I will always share is, "when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time" - Maya Angelou. 

   If someone hurts you, it's easy to become embroiled in your beliefs about who they are in comparison to what they're telling you. A helpful way to navigate this is to say; "Okay, it doesn't matter if you're this type of person, you're just doing this type of thing". What matters is the pattern of behaviour, which in essence is who they are but without you having to smush them into a personality box. I read somewhere that if you tell a child they're "naughty" from a young age, they will believe that being "naughty" is who they are, and they may continue behaviours you have tried to discourage. Attributing the "naughtiness" to their actions makes it easier for them to grow from it without identifying too much with the label. This, of course, is a technique discussed in the context of talking to children, and it is important that if an adult is behaving badly towards you, it's not your job to educate them, you are allowed to move on. 

Disclaimer because I worry; this topic is so complicated and complex I always feel it's important for me to say;
- I am not a professional, anything on this blog that isn't attributed to someone else is my opinion. 

- Blogs can be really self-indulgent for the author because we're in control of the content, so keep this in mind. I'm going to tell you I'm sensitive, but this is for the benefit of understanding myself, and not me telling you how to see me. 

Now the Thing is said

   Highly Sensitive Person Self-Test; click

   For most of my life, others have described me as "sensitive", "overly/too sensitive", "delicate", and occasionally "weak", "childish" and "silly", because of my behaviour. These behaviours include;

- very easily startled (no really, I jump if someone starts talking and I wasn't expecting it).
- get very emotional if I'm hungry, cold, or physically uncomfortable in any way.
- emotionally-driven in everything.
- always stressed.
- scared of conflict
- perfectionist (this does not mean I'm perfect, it means I am never satisfied with anything I create).
- being terrified of violent images in tv programmes and films.
- cry very easily at almost anything.

   These are just a few things where I have been pulled up about being "too/overly" sensitive. When I was a very young person, I thought I was strong, unstoppable and I had so many ambitions for my life. So when people started to describe me as "too" something, and that something was associated with being weak, my whole sense of self was transformed, because everyone seemed to agree. Yes, Lauren is a sensitive child. Lauren is quiet, Lauren needs to toughen up a bit. Thankfully, my parents didn't say any of these things and they nurtured me as I was which meant that home was a safe place for my sensitivity, and still is. I just had to figure out how I was supposed to toughen up for the outside world. 

Long story short, I never "toughened" up, and the sensitive child grew up to be an even more sensitive adult. When I Googled "sensitive", this is what came up;

   Yes, the only purple link is "kid-glove" because I had to understand what that was. It literally means gloves made from baby goats and I would just like to say that is the complete opposite of what I want. 

   Dr. Elaine Aron, who lead this research into HSPs stated in a lecture that HSPs can be thought of more as "highly-responsive-people", which does not carry the negative connotations of sensitivity. HSPs can be easily offended, defensive, paranoid and neurotic, but so can everyone else. HSPs are, according to Aron's research, roughly 15-20% of the population, and we are capable of using our sensitivities to the environment for empathy or for manipulation. It is not a statement about who we definitely are, but the emotions that we experience in reaction to stimuli around us. 

   I wanted to share this because I spent a long time believing that there was something wrong with me, or that my emotions were somehow wrong. However, learning about HSPs helped me feel less alone, and less like I needed to change how I felt. I don't think it would be useful for me to repeat everything that Aron eloquently explains herself, so please do explore her website and blog. A three-part talk she gives on HSPs can be found here. Part 1 is the research, part 2 is more about living as a HSP and part 3 is like an FAQ. 

   Discovering myself in this way has helped me to take down-time when I need it, nurture my work requirements, approach conflict in my own ways and ultimately accept my feelings as real instead of wondering if there really is something wrong with me. I am happy to identify as sensitive (or a weeny, as my boyfriend affectionately calls me).

This is a call to arms (like a hug or something not like weapons and shit) to my sensitive friends. We are not abnormal, we are just not as common, and there is nothing wrong with being a highly sensitive person. Aron discusses in depth the pros and cons of feeling this way and I think that we must find ways to appreciate the good, because the world already has the bad covered.

Sleep tight lily pads. 

Friday, 15 December 2017

Worrying Means You Suffer Twice

"Worrying means you suffer twice" - Newt Scamander.

   Whatever you think of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, this quote is pretty spectacular. I love it because it humours the anxiety sufferer. It plucks "what if...?" from your brain and weaves it into an inevitable reality. The thing with anxiety, at least for me, is that it works very closely with the fear of the unknown. I'd prefer to feel pain instantly than to dwell on it, like the cliche of pulling off a plaster. The idea that "worrying means you suffer twice" implies that the thing you fear will happen. It will happen and it will hurt and you will suffer - so why suffer up until then?

   It might not sound like a good idea to imagine that the thing you are afraid of will happen. I understand that for a lot of people this kind of thinking will be impossible without panic attacks. I once convinced myself that a loved one had died because they didn't reply for a few hours, and I was checking news outlets in my area and was contemplating calling the hospital when I finally heard from them - they were having a nap. I wouldn't blame you for laughing, I laugh at it now. I think this is a good example of how most things we worry about will never become a reality.

   However, my point, which is in relation to the quote, is so what if they do become a reality? I told a counsellor recently that I was worried that x would happen. I went to continue rambling about how the thought that x would happen made me panic but she stopped me and said, "so what if it does happen? What would you do?". Even though my mind had run through approximately 101 scenarios that could occur thereafter, everything was focused on the out of control events of the situation, and not on my own agency. It was Class A Catastrophic Thinking. She didn't try to reassure me that it wouldn't happen, because anxious brains say but what if it DOES, she taught me to assume it would, figure out what would be my plan of action and then to compartmentalise this and put it away for when I need it. Just knowing that my plan is there is comforting because instead of adding to the 101 scenarios when my worry arises, I just open the compartment with my plan inside it and rehearse it until I feel comfortable that I could carry it out, and put it away again. Instead of cowering away from a perceived threat, I can say "you know what, you're not happening right now so I'm okay, but when you do I'm ready for you, gimme your best shot".

   What I wish I could do is offer specific advice, but we're complicated beings with our own set of circumstances, and I'm sorry if this does nothing to help you. If it does, that's wonderful, if it doesn't, hopefully my tips below will at least be of some comfort.

It's fair to say I've had a difficult few months, and my lack of activity here is definitely a result of that. However, I wanted to take some time here to share things with you and to sign off again for a short while whilst I spend Christmas with my loved ones (and writing all my essays).

I know that for a lot of you, what I have written above will feel frustrating. Frustrating because anxiety is an involuntary condition which is very, very difficult to control and I appreciate that fully - I know. Though I have long given up the idea of curing my anxiety, I am a strong believer that you can put up a good fight by making good choices and looking after yourself. Our mindset often makes us do terrible things for our health, maybe we deliberately hurt ourselves, or maybe we neglect our well-being because we're too frazzled to pay it any attention. The "don't worry until it happens!" advice is all too familiar and it usually feels completely unattainable.

   But I never said it wouldn't be hard work. Never write yourself off as a lost cause, because you're not. We can all achieve moments of happiness, because it isn't linear, it isn't a goal that we attain and keep. There are moments of it scattered everywhere and accepting that the bad will come will remind you to appreciate them.

To wrap up this post, like a completely not fun but practical Christmas present, I'm going to leave you with a smattering of comforting things which have helped me recently. We can't do all these things all the time, because it's hard, but I've found that looking after myself is sometimes hard work and does not come naturally.

⚘ Ambient Music
   Ambient music has long been suggested for sufferers of anxiety (and also migraines for any fellow migraineurs our there), and I personally love ambient music mixes because they don't contain any lyrics, so I can listen to them when I'm working too. My personal favourite is this Harry Potter themed one, but this channel does other film-related ones too like Lord of the Rings and stuff. I recently heard of a song called Weightless by Marconi Union which, according to a completely unreliable google img, reduces anxiety and causes drowsiness. Happy listening.

⚘ Art therapy
   If you don't draw or crochet or have a craft like I like to do, get some of those colouring books. I refuse to call them "adult" colouring books because colouring is not age-specific. Creativity and fun are not exclusive to children, and anyone who tries to tell you they are need their own colouring book.

   Additionally, you could doodle, buy a Wreck Journal, make slime, cut the pictures out of old greetings cards and magazines and cover something with them, or find out how to make crafts from old newspapers or household clutter. Having the motivation to craft something isn't easy when stressed, so having a timetable, like I mention below, may help. If you have books to read for your course, see if you can get them as an audiobook (as well as your physical copy for when you need to study) and listen to it whilst you craft.

⚘ Bed Time Routine (and morning routine) ANY ROUTINE
   Sleep deprivation or too much sleep are exacerbating factors and symptoms of mental illness. Putting technology away at least an hour before bed and reading is a great way to get your body ready for sleep. Throw in a bath and brushed teeth, taking your makeup off and getting into a made bed will also help.
Additionally, a morning routine of making the bed and brushing your teeth will also help set the tone for the day, even if you don't really feel like it.

⚘ Comfortable Clothes
   Do not wear a bra if you don't want to/don't feel it's necessary. I stopped wearing bras daily years ago and my lungs feel they can expand properly. (I appreciate that this won't be possible for everyone)
Wear what makes you comfortable both emotionally and physically. Dress up or dress down depending on what you want. There is no need to be uncomfortable at home - invest in warm, fluffy socks.

⚘ Forgive Yourself
   There is a common belief that you should forgive people in order to move on from things. Although I am not inclined to suggest that we always forgive people who hurt us, because we are allowed to protest the way we have been treated, I do think we should forgive ourselves. If you start blaming yourself, spell "S.T.O.P" in your head, and forgive your younger self, even if it's just your minute-younger self. Always try to learn, and make every mistake a new lesson.

I was watching Saving Mr. Banks with my family today and a quote which stuck with me from this film is "life is a harsh sentence to lay down for yourself".

⚘ Kindness
   Always be kind. Being anxious makes it incredibly easy to be irritable with others and want to avoid social interaction and to just hide away and be grumpy under a blanket. And you know, there's nothing wrong with this. If that's how you feel, feel it and take that time for yourself. But don't forget to reach out. There are good people in the world, no matter how many past experiences might make you worry that the opposite is true. There are people worth knowing, and people you will want to make smile. Whether it's finding the spare change for someone on the street, smiling at someone, writing someone a card or sending someone a message to catch up and ask how they are - it is all worth it.

⚘ Self - Care (personal hygiene)
    Because if we're being real, mental illness doesn't always care about brushing our teeth, washing our faces or taking showers. Push yourself to wash yourself and brush your teeth daily. Go all in and treat yourself to some body spray or perfume. Smelling good makes you feel less self-conscious if you haven't felt like washing.

⚘ Timetables
   I don't really know how to explain how I do it, but if you have a lot of shit to get done, write it all down so you can get it out of your head. I have a whiteboard in my room for long-term goals, a notebook to remember important dates, a calendar on my laptop for an electronic copy of these dates, and an app called Carrot for short term goals. Carrot gets annoyed with you if you don't be productive for a certain amount of time, and it rewards for you getting things done. You level up, and it has lead me to believe that I will get a virtual pet cat. I have essentially tricked myself into being productive for the prospect of a pet cat. Yes.

   On that note, treating yourself for being productive is a really good tactic. My genuine advice is to get up early, have a good breakfast with your preferred morning beverage, begin work at 9am, have a 20 minute break half-way through the morning, an hour for lunch and continue working until 5pm. After 5pm enjoy a meal and do what you want to do for the evening, and you hopefully can do so guilt-free because you worked during the day when you were supposed to. This routine can be difficult to get used to, but I promise it is immensely helpful if you get like me where you feel guilty for sleeping and eating instead of working. If none of this works for you, tweak it until it does - you know how you work best.

Stay safe saplings x