Scrolling with intention

Are you scrolling to connect? Or to switch off?

You can’t do both at once. Not meaningfully, anyway. Your relationship with your social media apps will be different from anyone else. The pressures, joys, frustrations – they’ll all vary. There are some things you can do, though, to create a healthier interaction with the apps and, by extension, other people.

Identify your motivation

We all love scrolling mindlessly on a lunch break, of an evening, maybe while we’re supposed to be getting on with work that has a deadline looming over us and the pressure is too much so please just let me escape via the adventures and filtered views of other people’s less stressful lives please.

But if that’s the case, you can’t consciously commit to learning new things via educators, content creators, or your friends. You brain isn’t going to retain the information you consume. Are you going to consider it a win because you liked or shared a post about a Big Issue, despite not taking time to actively reflect on what you’ve learned or what you might want to look into next?

Curate your consumption

Instagram is curation central. Whether you post to the grid 3 at a time to maintain satisfying rows of similar colour palettes, use the same filters to edit every image for that chic filtered-not-filtered aesthetic – you’re actively considering the organisation of your images. Use that skill and apply it to your Following list and your Saved pics.

Routinely checking on your Most and Least Interacted With accounts might help you understand which accounts you’re actually benefitting from following. Checking the accounts that have appeared most frequently in your timeline and asking yourself if their content is what you want to be seeing on the reg will help you lessen any frustration or sadness from seeing content that doesn’t benefit you. Liberally use the Mute button – you can mute Stories, grid posts or both. Of course, there’s a line with building an echo chamber that only serves you up squares of pretty confirmation bias, but it’s important to be aware of whose content you’re seeing and how it makes you feel.

You’re bookmarking resources, holiday destinations, outfit pics, dinner inspo and cute animals to bombard your boyfriend with later in the hopes he’ll agree it is actually the right time to get a pet (just me?). How often are you going back through those saved pics you bookmarked? How easy is it to find the educational resources you bookmarked intending to go back and read all 10 slides when you didn’t have that deadline/were feeling more energised for learning? Create different buckets for different content types. I have an Antiracism bucket, a Pole bucket, a PhD bucket, and an Interiors bucket.

I still need to go through my main All Saved set and create more themed sets so it’s easier to find things. But it means that on days where I have the time and energy to spend on some learning, I can go back through the bookmarked posts; learning, reflecting and then researching some more into the topics I’m learning about.

Time out

Have you tried setting a timer for the length of time you can spend on an app in a day? I did, and then found myself logging in via an internet browser to circumvent my own system without adding to the timer. That’s when I truly realised my habit was more problematic than I had been willing to admit.

The thought of No Phone Days gives me anxiety. What if there was a catastrophe? What if someone desperately needed to get in touch? What if… I ~missed something~? So I don’t have No Phone Days, just No Phone time. I am trying to leave my phone in my drawer while I’m working so I don’t end up scrolling through Insta for 20 minutes and ruin a good mood.

I’m practicing asking myself “Do I need to be doing this?” while I’m in mindless-scroll phase. If it turns out that I don’t need to be scrolling, I exit the app and place my phone, screen down, beside me – or in the drawer. There’s so much time I am claiming back – now I’m getting into the habit of reading for enjoyment’s sake (something I struggle to do with my PhD reading being so brain-intensive). Physical barriers and distance will help map your scrolling habits. It might be an affronting realisation, it might not. Either way, at least you’ll know and be adding more intention to your scrolling time.

Beyond the grid

You can’t do all your learning via Instagram. There isn’t enough nuance, context or scope. It’s a great starting point, it’s a useful way to bring attention to issues that people aren’t aware of or engaging with meaningfully. It’s not the start and end of your education. But you already know this. So why not practice asking yourself whether Instagram posts are where you should be learning about the issues you’re educating yourself on. Or whether you should be heading to the internet to find documentaries, podcasts, websites, books, news articles, or whatever other medium you best engage with, to expand your knowledge.

Intention in your scrolling is so important. If you’re scrolling to switch off, don’t even think about ticking your Educated Myself box on the To Do list. It’s disingenuous and it does nobody any favours. There’s nothing wrong with switching off when you’re scrolling – if it’s done in a healthy way that doesn’t leave you feeling depressed or with the impulse to engage in unnecessary behaviours ( e.g. shopping fast fashion or ignoring government advice on staying safe during the global pandemic, as a chill couple of examples).

Healthy habits

These are just some ideas you can try integrating into your social media activity. It’s not an exhaustive list, nor is it necessarily going to work for you. Our relationships with social media apps being so personal means our intentional engagement will look different person to person. But who cares about what anyone else is doing, as long as it works for you.

Scrolling through social media apps with intention, whether that be to actively engage or to switch off, is the key to a healthier relationship with the people we connect with through the platforms, and our expectations of the ways our interactions will make us feel and behave. There’s no right or wrong here – only harm reduction ideas to keep you healthy as you consume content online.

My inability to rest

I’m on holiday. Since starting my holiday I have written 2 blog posts, signed up for an antiracism education course, created a list of my publications to date, and entered numerous in-depth discussions on – among other things – sexual representations in gaming, the impact of lockdown on mental health and body image, queer appreciation and allyship versus appropriation, navigating public spaces post-pandemic.

Not really what you’d consider resting.

I was ill in June with a fairly nasty kidney infection and while still on antibiotics and having only felt somewhat ‘better’ for 24 hours, I went back to work for a full day. That ended in a migraine and my recovery being set back. In reality, I’m still recovering. I lost a lot of strength from several weeks of little activity and eating. My endurance has plummeted – a 4 mile walk on Monday had my hip flexors screaming halfway through and the backs of my knees are still pretty grumpy with me for making them go so far on my first proper trip out in a month.

My last conversation with the mental health advisor I meet with at uni went something along the lines of “Your professionalism and work ethic are some of your biggest strengths, but they can also be your biggest weaknesses when you let them become more important than your wellbeing”. It’s safe to say I cried a lot on that phone call.

It’s absolutely true that I don’t know how to rest. My time dealing with the kidney infection was pretty miserable – on top of the pain, nausea, side effects from the medication and generally feeling low, I was unbelievably bored and guilty. I didn’t know what to do that wouldn’t drain what little energy I had. Trying to find shows that weren’t overly energetic, bright or brain-heavy was a challenge. In 3 days I watched 2 seasons of QI. Even then, I caught myself analysing the tired jokes, the (lack of) representation on the panels, just how bland a show it is. Easy watching? Absolutely. An exemplary showcase of comedy talent and diverse panelists? Not so much.

See? Even when I was sweating buckets, vomiting daily and crying pretty much every 40 minutes after I’d nearly drowned myself in another bottle of water, my brain was still picking things apart. It’s exhausting.

There’s also a firm hand of guilt gripping me when I even think about taking time off. Which I recognise is entirely hypocritical because I always preach that rest is revolutionary and it’s impossible to give to others if your own cup is empty. But internalising that, not holding myself to an impossibly high standard because I Should Do Better, seems somewhat unattainable. It’s pretty narcissistic, really. I’m not sure why I consider myself more special. I think it’s partly a worry that I’m not doing enough – that there’s so much more I could be doing to use my privilege and power to support those who need it. I can’t help everyone, but I can surely try – and in doing so reach more people than I would otherwise. It’s flawed logic, but it’s a hard belief to shake. I live with an abundance of privilege. It feels wrong to not do everything I can with that privilege to even the playing field for others where possible. It’s not healthy or the best motivation. I’m working on it – and in doing so, I’m adding more to the mounting pile of Things To Think About, but what’s the alternative?

I don’t know how people do it. Rest, I mean. Enjoy things for enjoyment’s sake. How does ‘switching off’ even work? I don’t know how folks sit and watch a show or read a book and not analyse the creative decisions and characterisation and wider social and political contexts or implications in real-time. That sounds ridiculous and makes me uncomfortable to admit (probably because I’m worried people will read it and take it to mean this is somehow better or more than when I don’t mean that at all), but it’s how my brain works. It has been a long time since I just *existed* without the wheels turning at a hundred miles an hour. Honestly, I don’t remember what it’s like to not think, overthink and get a little dizzy from the constant thoughts.

None of my usual pass-times or hobbies at the moment feel like rest. I haven’t had the motivation to get back into embroidery but I’m going to try and force myself to give it another shot this week. I have a week and a half to get myself to a place of understanding what rest means and how I achieve it. Hopefully it’ll be bubble baths, face masks, podcasts and other grossly stereotypical “self-care”. Honestly, I’m not sure I have the energy for the harder stuff at the moment.

It was important for me to blog about this so I don’t forget how I’m feeling down the line when the stress levels do ease off and my brain calms a bit. I’ll wonder why I made such a drama out of feeling this way. But it’s okay to be realistic and frank about how what I’m experiencing right now, even if it seems small, unimportant, cringeworthy or too self-absorbed later.

My Mental Health – A Reflection

It’s World Mental Health Day. More than just a hashtag, for many it’s the one day a year that provides open dialogue they rarely get to experience otherwise about their mental health.

Today, I thought I’d share 6 things I learned (sometimes the hard way) about depression, anxiety and self-perception.

Until I started experiencing it, I had no real clue what depression was. I had friends who’d lived through it, or who were experiencing it there and then, but I never really understood it. I certainly wasn’t prepared to face the embarrassing truth that I believed much of the stigma and prejudice and stereotyping that I hated in other people’s uneducated rhetoric.

Happiness

This is probably the most ridiculous one, but I didn’t know that I could be depressed and happy. I didn’t understand that depression could still allow me to genuinely enjoy things. I didn’t think the anxiety tearing my brain apart would give me time for laughter.

Looking back, I’m pretty ashamed to see how deeply ingrained some serious prejudices were in my understanding of mental health. Hopefully, with more open discussion and better education on the subject, others won’t have this realisation smack them in the face the same way I did.


(credit: Veronica Dearly, one of my fave artists on Instagram)

Sex

I didn’t know that I could be depressed and horny.

Despite feeling trapped in a pit of despair and emptiness, I could still want and enjoy sex. That took some getting used to. It does make sense, though. There’s a rush of endorphins released during sex. That feeling is addictive.

I was definitely not prepared for my anxiety to kill my libido, though. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t orgasm because my brain was too busy running so fast I could barely understand all the information it was throwing at me. I couldn’t switch off and just enjoy being in the moment. I’m lucky to have a boyfriend who is incredibly understanding and who refuses to let shame enter into that mortifying conversation.


(credit: Gemma Correll)

It’s not a conversation many people are comfortable having, but it needs to be talked about more. Like every other aspect of your life, mental ill health will very likely affect your sex life. Coming to terms with that can be frustrating, embarrassing, upsetting and a million other things. Give yourself time and allow your mind to catch with the horn your body is throwing down. You’ll get there. And then you can get back to doing the sex.

(I would apologise to any family/friends/strangers who feel weird about this section, but I’m not sorry. Sex happens. We’re adults. Your discomfort feeds into the lack of discussion. It’s time we get over our discomfort around sex and get honest.)

 

Energy

I’ve been tired before, but depression doesn’t make you tired. Depression leeches every iota of energy from your being and leaves a husk of a human behind. A human who still has to get up in the morning and function and go to work because there are bills to pay. Depression left me feeling empty a lot of the time. Spoon theory can apply to mental ill health and sometimes this accurately explains how my days go when I’m not well.


(credit: Gemma Correll – a brilliant artist with endlessly relatable Instagram uploads)

Filled to the Brim and Endlessly Empty

I didn’t know I could feel more than just depression. I didn’t know that I could feel nothing but depression. I didn’t understand how my head and heart could be a cacophony of emotion and feeling and mess and noise that would overwhelm me to the point of tears.

The way I describe it is a runaway train where you can hear and feel all the passengers’ thoughts and feelings, while your heart keeps in time with the ever-quickening wheels. And there’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop it.


(credit: Gemma Correll)

Self-care

It took me a while to get to grips with self-care. Understanding that calling devouring a tub of ice cream is not necessarily self-care, but it’s also not something to agonise over for hours after. Finding healthy routines to practice as self-care took a while and I’m still bad at keeping up with them. There are days where getting in the shower seems so arduous the thought reduces me to tears. But I know that taking the time to wash and condition my hair and use my yummy-smelling body wash always makes me feel better. I have to push through the fog and continue the routine.


(image source)

Cross stitching, reading, adult colouring in books. They all give me a little time to be productive while also contributing to self-improvement in some fashion, reducing the guilt I’d otherwise feel for not spending my time doing more “worthwhile” things.

Getting back into musical theatre has been incredible too. Pushing me out of my comfort zone again, forcing myself to socialise and surround myself with music and activities I love.


(credit: Gemma Correll)

One thing I wasn’t prepared to have to do, though, was to step back from friendships that weren’t good for my mental health, no matter how much I loved the people. It’s hard accepting that someone is bad for you, but you have to make yourself the most important thing. Toxic relationships only work to undo the effort you put into your wellbeing. Assessing the health of your relationships is difficult, but can be incredibly freeing when you are able to lessen the strain that relationship had on your health.

Love

I wasn’t prepared for the good days to feel so damn incredible and my heart feel like it could burst because it was so full of love. I certainly couldn’t imagine that people could still love me despite me not loving myself. It can be hard not pushing those people away in a fit of shame and anger – how do they see something worth loving when I can’t? I’m learning that my perception of myself and the world can be skewed by depression and anxiety. That, no matter how real it might seem, Tam is in fact just sleeping and not silently fuming at you for not saying “I love you” 9 times instead of 8 that day. That, despite the many niggling thoughts of unworthiness I have, I am really worth people’s time. I actually do have a lot to offer. I’m a lot more capable than I sometimes give myself credit for.


(credit: Veronica Dearly)

While I don’t always feel like I have fight left in me, I don’t want to be this way forever. Especially when there are other, far more important things in my life I’d rather focus my energy on.

At the end of the day, regardless of the state of my mental health, I’m still me. And I think that’s the thing I was most surprised to learn.

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Personal Space – The Importance of Self Care

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week and social media was abuzz with hashtags, conversations and motivational memes on the subject.

Be kind to yourself every day 🤗💗 #MHAW17

A post shared by The Young Women’s Movement (@youngwomenscot) on

With my hyper-active brain, neverending list of projects to get stuck into, reliance on lists to keep some semblance of order in my life, whacky sleeping pattern and a bunch of other quirks you all associate with my kookiness, I often get run down. Like last week, which put publishing this post on hold until today. Kinda ironic.

But now, I’m feeling brighter and more on top of everything, I’m going to take a bit of time and run through my self care routine.

Self care is something I started intentionally practicing about eight months ago. Far from a social media soundbite and tool to get more love on Insta, this has become a necessary part of my health routine and often saves me from slipping down the rabbit hole and ending up in a dark spiral leading to exhaustion.

The usual candidates in a self care checklist do exist on mine – a decent amount of sleep, an abundance of vegetables (I love making myself a Greek-inspired mezze platter of raw peppers, olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and a variety of dips when I feel depleted and in need of a clean, fresh boost to the system) and an indulgent shower or bath.

Some of my other self care activities are maybe slightly more obscure, but important to me nonetheless.

Firstly, I cut my nails. It’s a chore I am forever pushing down on the to do list until my poor nails can take no more and snap painfully close to the nail bed. So, when life is starting to get on top of me, I make sure to spend some quality time giving myself a speedy mani.

Usually just cutting them down, a quick file and a thirst-quenching moisturiser. One of my nervous ticks is picking at the skin on my fingers, but pretty nail polish is a great incentive for me to leave the poor skin alone.

This self care technique requires enough concentration to distract me momentarily from any outside stresses and is a productive use of time so I don’t feel guilty for procrastinating from the ironing pile. Double win.

I also write. It might be teen angst inspired, embarrassing awful poetry, a to do list or an overview of what I’ve done that day.

As my blog posts indicate, I’m a good rambler. I purge my thoughts until I cry, sigh or reach some other state of release. It’s incredibly important for me to get my thoughts and feelings out in the world by writing or typing away until I have fully purged.

Usually I reach a solution by writing, or can reach a place where my rational side negotiates my emotional mess down from teetering on the edge.

Another self care love of mine is colouring in.

While my doodles don’t tend to end as violently as Deadpool’s, I do own 5 adult colouring books, 3 sets of colouring pencils and a steadfast opposition to venturing outside the lines.

Snuggle puddles are also a total self care necessity.

Teddy (original, I know) and Piglet have been with me since birth, Alaska Bear was a slightly later addition.

Bunny, Toothless and Rocky flopping after a long day of whatever it is toys do.

I am currently sharing my bed with 9 teddies of all shapes, sizes and animal types. Some are as old as me, others are more recent additions. All are equally adored.

Apart from my raccoon, Rocky, who has been through the best times and the worst times with me. A dear friend of mine who understood my trash panda obsession gave me him when I was 16 and have rarely gone a night without him in my bed ever since. He even comes with me to my boyfriend’s sometimes.

Rocky and a lizard friend he made at Tam’s, along with Mr Fox and an equally foxy hot water bottle.

This bunch of cute and cuddlies are the perfect counter-offer to human contact, when I just want to be left alone but am in dire need of affection. They are the real deal.

Sidenote shout out to my boyfriend who makes a great substitute to the snuggle puddle on nights that I do want human contact. That boy is a hot water bottle load of snug – seriously, his body temp runs higher than most saunas.

Finally, the most important ritual of my self care routine is self-acceptance.

I often find myself buried under a mountain of guilt, frustration and a slew of other negative feelings when I start to get run down and feel low.

Reminding myself that the low point isn’t going to last forever and that the world will not end if I can’t make myself smile once that day is really important.

As a perfectionist, I get caught up in my own head, obsessing over everything, especially my perceived shortcomings and what I think others expect of me. I take this time to acknowledge that I’m not feeling 100% and realise what I expect of myself.

Whether that’s getting myself into the shower, socialising or just enjoying my own company; it’s a vital exercise I need to keep myself feeling more grounded and less like the world is slipping through my fingers.

Self care is exactly that – for yourself. You might read my list and scoff. You might run or bake or cry or knit or host a dinner party as part of your self care. Those are all legitimate forms of looking after yourself.

We all have different aspects of ourselves that need a little more attention than others. Recognising, accepting and acting on those needs are what keep us happy, healthy and able to live our best lives.

Look after yourself, you deserve it.

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I have cried at every yoga class I’ve been to so far

Since accepting that I am less than happy with my body and general well being, it has been something of a conscious decision on my part to start exercising.

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Healthy eating has gone right out the window since I found out I needed to start job hunting again. I’m a comfort eater, so sticking to vegetables and cutting back on carbs hasn’t quite gone to plan. All too often I’m binging on pasta and garlic bread and ice cream and chocolate and maybe a packet of crisps later on in the evening. It’s not healthy, it’s not helping and it’s got to stop.

In terms of exercise, then, yoga seemed like a good place to start. I’ve done it before and enjoyed the deep stretches. It is one of the few forms of exercise that doesn’t trigger my asthma. There’s a class round the road from work that’s 2 hours of Ashtanga practice which offers a good workout as well as meditation. The meditation seemed like a good thing to try and get into the habit of too, for maintaining good mental health.

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But yoga isn’t helping. If anything, so far it has only succeeded in making me feel even more self-conscious and defeated by my body’s inabilities and limitations. Despite my teacher maintaining the mantra that “yoga is a practice that can always be improved upon”, I can’t get past the shame and the upset of the situation here and now.

Now I am overweight, I have a belly I can’t stand the sight of and thighs bursting out my jeans. My double chin is back and I don’t look or feel like me. What I see in the mirror isn’t what I see in my mind. I expect something different, something more.

Changing, becoming a better version of myself, is such a big aspiration for me. To see myself and think Yes, I am happy and comfortable in my own skin. Getting to that point seems to be impossible though.

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It all feels so hopeless sometimes. I have no motivation to get myself to a place where I’m happy, but I’m desperate to already be there. I suppose it doesn’t help that my hormones are running haywire just now and I’m exhausted from a week of less than stellar sleep (read: next to none).

This leaves me in a place of real confusion. I am a firm believer in body positivity, but feel like a fraud because I struggle with my own body image. I champion people everywhere to love themselves the way they are and accept themselves, but am a hypocrite when I cannot do the same.

Yes, body positivity is a journey. It is a mindset that can only be achieved through hard work and tenacity and love. Keeping up with that can be exhausting and it can feel unattainable. For someone who can be a bit of a perfectionist and hates hypocracy, this can make my dealings with and understand of my own body image all the more difficult and confusing. But body positivity is an empowering force in my life and I do desperately want to arrive at a point where I can happily stand up and appreciate my body for all its flaws and deviations from societal perfection and constructed beauty ideals.

I suppose I felt the urge to share my experience because I know I’m not the only person in this position. I’m not alone in feeling unhappy with my body and frustrated with its limitations. Shameful of the lack of breath climbing stairs, embarrassed when I squat down to the bottom shelf in a shop and struggle to get back up. Mortified when a pair of jeans a size bigger than I’d normally buy won’t button over my belly.

Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and the rest of them are filled with motivational messages, success stories and aspirational healthy lifestyles. Like what was highlighted with the See Me “My Unfiltered Life” campaign, what people rarely show is the true struggle it can be to get to that place and just how difficult it can be to maintain long-term.

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Where are the selfies of red-faced, tear-stained men and women who have left a gym session early because their bodies couldn’t cope with the “beginner’s class”? Where are the Insta photos of the unhealthy meals – sans #cheatday – instead captioned with the truth, that sometimes you just can’t ignore the cravings or the need to hide behind junk food or not having the energy to prepare a healthy, filling meal after the day/week/month you’ve had.

Yes, these are all excuses for unhealthy behaviour. But we’re all human. Even the healthy stumble along the road. They just dress it up as a cheat day or a treat or over-emphasise the slip up to the point where it just feels fake.

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Finding motivation doesn’t really seem to be enough. I’m not too sure yet what is enough, but when I find it I will be holding onto that thing for dear life because serious changes need to be made. I will, however, remain real about my situation and realistic about my expectations. No more searching how to lose 3 stone in as many weeks, no more lemon and salt water fads and definitely no more obsessing over social media accounts.

I’ve cried at every yoga class I’ve been to so far. If I cry at every yoga class I ever go to in the future I can at least be proud that I’m still going.

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New Year – New Approach

Happy 2017!

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It’s been a bustling start to the year for me, work came round pretty quickly and there was no easing back into the routine. We hit the ground running with a live stream to prepare for and a huge research-and-write project to get stuck back into.

With life being pretty hectic, I hadn’t really had the chance to put much thought into my New Year’s Resolutions.

In the lead up to Hogmanay, I had thrown the usual remarks

“I’m going to get skinny”

“I’m going to stop eating so much”

“I’m going to exercise more”

But as expected, January 1st rolled round and I didn’t touch a single vegetable. Quelle surprise.

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A few days later, I had a really interesting conversation with my flatmate. She told me she doesn’t believe in New Years Resolutions because they’re damaging. At first I didn’t understand, but for some people – myself included – it makes perfect sense.

New Year New Me is a slogan cashed in on by many a brand. It’s everywhere in the run up to Christmas. People lamenting how much food they ate on Christmas Day, but it’s okay because they’ll start being healthy again in the New Year.

This is a problem for 2 reasons.

Firstly, it can breed illness. This sounds a tad dramatic but for lots of people the build up and quasi-determination and nothing-but-lettuce diets and extreme exercise regimes are unsustainable. This is an exaggeration, for sure, but you get the idea. This punishing and super strict mindset ends in disappointment and – more often than not – a negative self-image. I know I’m guilty of it. For some, this will result in illness, poor mental health and often poor physical health too.

The second problem is the now societally-accepted ‘festive overindulgence’. There are articles all over the news just now about sugar being the most readily available drug on the market, but as we draw closer to December 25th, we throw all good intentions about healthy eating out the window in favour of Chocolate Oranges, Christmas cocktails and fancy nibbles.

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This “I’ll be good in the New Year” mentality makes excessive overindulgence not only acceptable, but expected. This is almost worse than the gung-ho diet and exercise overhaul people put themselves through afterwards, because their minds and bodies have gotten used to the sugars, fats, alcohol and unnecessary treats they’ve allowed themselves. This makes falling off the bandwagon so much easier.

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These are both things I have been guilty of in the past. The very recent past. But it gave me a lot to think about. I still wanted to be healthier, but maybe I didn’t have to buy into the whole overhaul-your-life philosophy? While it fits some people and they see real, sustainable results from their new resolution efforts, it obviously hadn’t been working for me, so why not take a new approach?

My flatmate gives herself goals without a specific deadline. They are achievable processes that won’t mean she goes into the following year having ‘failed’, because instead of completely changing something, she focusses on improving or learning more. So I decided to do the same.

I have decided to focus on kindness (thanks to a wonderful colleague for giving me the idea).

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I want to be kinder to myself, especially with the nonsense my brain has been putting me through recently. I will actively give myself more time and patience to work through things, and focus on relieving stress in productive, fun ways.

To keep up the self-kindness, I’m going to carry on doing things that make me happy. One thing I am absolutely determined to do is to pour more attention and energy into my blog. I enjoy it, similar to journalling, and it’s a good way to force myself into new situations so I have things to write about. (As a side note, watch this space for some teenage-angst-born creative writing that I’ll be sharing with you next week. Trust me when I say they make me cringe.) I do struggle sometimes to think of things to write about, but I’ll be getting my planning cap on over the weekend to map out some potential convo topics. I say convo, but it’s really just a one-sided ramble…

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Crafting is another thing I want to get better at. Hobbies are a soothing, productive passtime and provide the downtime I need to maintain a healthy work/play balance. The repetitive, but brain-engaging nature of my chosen activities will be kind to my mental wellbeing (although at times, perhaps not my sanity…). So far I have knitting, calligraphy and photography to be getting one with. There is definitely huge room for improvement on all creative fronts and I’m determined to take up my passions again and fill my evenings with little rays of sunshine in crafty forms.

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Finally, I have a goal with a deadline. I want to, after 6 months, be able to say that I’ve sustained a manageable exercise routine. Kindness to my body is as important and works in tandem with my kindness to my mind. I sounded so sage and wise there…I think.

I have signed up for a 2-hour Tuesday yoga class and am hoping to drop into a dance class every Wednesday. For someone as unfit and asthmatic as me, that’s enough to get me started. Plenty of achievement and progression to be seen from those activities if all goes well, so sticking at them when the going gets tough is the first hurdle!

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So, there you have it. My first post of 2017. Kindness through happy thoughts, crafting, exercise and a hell of a lot more writing appear to be on the horizon for me. I hope you have big dreams and high expectations for the year ahead – no matter what form of resolution, goal setting or planning you subscribe to!

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