Showing posts sorted by date for query Mental health. Sort by relevance Show all posts

National Vegetarian Week With Haribo.

Vegetarian Haribo
*This post contains gifted items, however, this does not impact my opinion on this post or the items which were gifted to me* 

May 13th-19th is National Vegetarian Week as well as Mental Health Awareness week, two things which are close to my heart. Being a vegetarian for the majority of my life and seeing the huge shift in the opinions of those around me who are also now living or trying to live a vegetarian life. So this week is about celebrating us vegetarians and embracing the lifestyle. In recent years I've seen the number of vegetarian options in restaurants soar from 1 or 2 basic choices (it's always the veggie burger) to a massive variety, some places even offer a menu packed full of goodness. It's not just restaurants who have upped their game either. 

There are plenty of companies who are taking the step to offer meat alternatives, most supermarkets now have their own range of vegetarian/vegan food, some of the bigger chains are stepping up too and offering meat alternatives to their well-sold meat products. I'm sure most of you know about the Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll that took the nation by storm and even had Piers Morgan 'throwing up' in a bin *eye roll*. Quorn who has been the meat alternative from the start have started offering so many more products than their sausages and mince, they're offering bacon, scotch eggs, chicken nugget and many more alternatives which is amazing. 

Vegetarian Haribo 2019
Vegetarian Haribo 2019

Recently Haribo has released a huge range of vegetarian sweets! When I think of sweets my brain instantly goes to gelatine and for those vegetarian sweets on the market they just don't have the same taste as their non-vegetarian siblings. However, Haribo has managed to change this, I wouldn't have believed it either without trying them. But I'm actually shocked how good they taste and you'd never be able to tell the difference. Haribo have offered Strawbs for a long time which I didn't realise were vegetarian either, but with a ton of new exciting options in their collection what will you pick. With everything from mini strawbs, to new and exciting flavours of Jelly Beans and a twist on their classic star mix, which they have named their funny mix.

I'm excited to see what is in store next for Haribo and their vegetarian range as it keeps extending to new products and also improving previous products. I appreciate being able to enjoy more sweets now as the range was super limited prior to this. My favourites are the Jelly Beans as they have some amazing flavours such as candy floss and popcorn, yum.

Vegetarian Haribo  
Vegetarian Haribo Funny Mix

Thanks, Haribo for sending me these goodies, I am enjoying munching my way through them whilst writing this post. I am loving the miniature versions of their vegetarian sweets too, it allows you to snack easier whilst on the go. I'd love to know in the comments if you're vegetarian and what your favourite meat alternative is.

The Ugly Truth About Body Image *TW* | #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

This post may be triggering, so please read with caution. 

Society tells us we should love ourselves, we should be happy with the way we look and embrace our flaws. We are also told by society we need to be perfect, look a certain way and be a certain size to be accepted. It tells us that if we are "fat" we are going to die and if we are "too skinny" we may also die. No matter how we look, we are fighting a losing battle and it's no wonder we are struggling with body image now more than ever. With photo editing regularly used by the majority, it's easier to show ourselves in a different light online. You can hardly go throughout a day without seeing something regarding our appearance or way to improve ourselves. Vitamins, new clothes, weight loss aids, the perfect smile, the latest skincare you NEED in your life to look younger, or the easy ways to conceal your acne and ultimately becoming the best version of yourself. This impacts us whether we are 13 or 93. Yet we are still told to love ourselves as we are all beautiful and it's about what's on the inside that counts. I'm not sold on that concept.

This week is mental health awareness week (13-19th of May) and this year it's about body image. This is an issue that most of us have struggled with at some point in our lifetime. The mission this year is to create a more positive image around our bodies, as after all our body image and the way we feel about ourselves impacts our mental health. On a massive scale. For those who struggle with the way they look it does put them off doing things, whether that is meeting up with friends, going out on a date or going on holiday, body image controls these situations. For me, body image is at the forefront of the majority of my downwards spirals. Regardless of whether it's my acne playing up, feeling fat or disliking my facial features, it's an exhausting battle to work through, especially in a world where appearance is supposedly one of the most important things.

To my dismay, this will never change. But taking baby steps towards feeling good about the way you look is a fantastic place to start. The way in which you arrive at this conclusion will vary dependent on each person and there isn't a right way to do this. Whether this means deleting the social media which you feel affects you negatively, not watching model shows, ditching those friends who make you feel unhappy about your body or not going on dating sites like *ahem* Tinder, which can drag you down. It can take a long time to figure out what really is the root of the problem, as a lot of the time we don't realise the ways in which we are actually affected by until we take a step back.

Growing up around Tumblr, throughout my teens I didn't realise it was having a negative impact on me, I met so many people that I could talk to on there, I gained a pretty large following and loved answering questions. It wasn't until I took off the rose tinted glasses and realised how much I envied the girls on the site, whether it was because they were allowed long hair extensions and I wasn't, or the bright hair colours which changed every week or if they were super skinny (even though I was at the time, I didn't see it) they always looked amazing in their baggy shirts, fishnets and backcombed hair. I felt like I was constantly comparing myself to them and when I stopped using the site I felt 3000x times better about my body image.

So many people wish they looked like somebody else, and then that person wishes they looked like somebody else, you see where I'm going with this? Nobody is ever truly happy with their body 100% of the time, but you deserve to love your body as much as you can. Your mental health is much more important than the way you look.

I often use humour to deflect how I feel about my appearance and it tends to make a situation feel comfortable as it gives us something to laugh at. As a result, I've ruined pretty much any self-confidence I've had over the years. Plus, if you say the terrible things about yourself, it feels like when others say it, it feels a lot less painful. Amiright?  But it's about time I aim towards making myself feel good, well... about me, rather than becoming the joke. I am going to take the steps towards loving myself instead of hating myself. The way I look doesn't define me as a person and I'm starting to realise this more and more each day. It starts by finding the parts of you which you "don't mind" and turn that into a like, then from that into love. The more you tell yourself you like something about the way you look, the confidence will continue to grow. A final piece of advice to end this post, don't say anything to yourself you wouldn't say about your best friend, that tends to make us think twice about what we are saying, as nobody really wants to hurt their best friend.

To find out more about what the Mental Health Foundation is doing this year for Mental Health Awareness week, check out their site here. I've done a variety of body confidence posts on my blog as well as a selection of mental health posts throughout the years so feel free to check those out too.

How sleep impacts your mental health.

*This post is in collaboration with TEMPUR®, however, all thoughts within this post are my own* 

I have an on-off relationship with sleep, it's been going on for years. There are nights when I struggle to get any sleep, like I will be tossing and turning for hours and then there are other nights where I can hardly keep my eyes open and I'm straight to sleep. Like most of us, our lack of sleep can be attributed to worries around everyday life. In a survey conducted by TEMPUR®, 20% of the participants reported that they struggle to sleep due to family worries and a whopping 27% struggle to sleep due to stress. The survey also found that on average Brits get 6 hours and 42 minutes of sleep each night which sounds about right for me. Sometimes less, hardly ever more. Only 35% of the survey participants rating their quality of sleep to be good/excellent. As the TEMPUR® survey was conducted on 2,000 adults in the UK, the number of us rating our sleep as poor or inconsistent really isn't good. So what are some ways to improve our sleep?

Creating the perfect sleep environment: 
I've been reading into ways to help improve my sleep and one of the items on the list is comfort. For those of you who are in need of a new mattress now is the time to treat yourself. A new mattress can do amazing things, not only for your physical health but your mental health too. Alongside a new mattress, I often find purchasing new pillows and a duvet which works well for your body heat (thinnest one ever for me please) is essential for being able to get the best nights sleep all year round. I often sleep with a fan on as it allows me to feel cool enough to drift off, as nobody likes that humid feeling when they're trying to get to sleep. You should try to sleep in a pitch black room if possible.

Switch off the gadgets: 
Trying to get into a routine is key for getting optimum levels of sleep, going to bed at a variety of different hours and then waking up too early or too late can impact the following night's sleep. If you're like me, my phone and TV keep me up until after midnight and then I feel completely awake as I've been so interested in my devices when it comes to chilling out, it's almost impossible for me. As someone who regularly uses their phone late at night and early in the morning I do often find myself engrossed in scrolling through social media for hours at a time and not actually realise I am doing so. In aid to make me less likely to do this, I've started to put my phone on charge away from the bed so I actively have to move to go get it instead of it just being next to me.

Keep a sleep diary: 
Keeping a sleep diary can be a great way to find your sleeping habits and if there are any patterns within your sleep. If you have a smartwatch that you can have on during your sleep without it disturbing you, I'd recommend using this to monitor your sleeping pattern and start to pull together any links in your sleep cycle. Is it a certain time of day? Or can you remember what happened on that day? Jotting all of this down can be beneficial to work out what is causing you to have a poor night's sleep.   

Writing a to-do list for the next day:
I don't know about you, but whenever I can't sleep my mind wanders to all of the things I need to do the next day and I want to make a note of them in my phone. If you get into a habit of taking the time each day to write down any tasks left over from that day or new ones you need to do, it will allow you to have fewer things to worry about on your mind. Plus, it means an excuse for a new notebook.

I'd love to know your thoughts on getting the perfect nights sleep in the comments. If you have any further advice feel free to share it too! 

Why is mental illness still a taboo topic?

2019: the year of the pig, the year in which Tic Tacs turn 50 and 10 years since Avatar first hit our screens. 2019 is also the year in which mental illness still remains hidden away by most. If it is invisible, it doesn't exist, right? Wrong. Suicide still accounts for the highest number of deaths in the UK for men between the ages of 20-49. More of us are recognising there is a problem, but for most, the problem isn't enough to cause a major concern. Each time we click on the news and see another death in a celebrity not known to have any health problems, it has become what seems to be normality to assume what the cause has been, especially within males. The truth may be that we ourselves don't even see we are struggling and if we do, we feel too proud to admit it and for those who do reach out, can often be knocked back or made to feel guilty for reaching out in the first place. Those struggling can often be called an attention seeker for speaking out about their struggles. To me, this seems alien. 

Whether we choose to admit it or not, there is still a huge amount of stigma which comes alongside the term 'mental illness', most people are then deemed as unfit, unable to cope and some would even go as far as to say they're insane. Living in the 21st century often feels like there is no escape from people with most of the world connected via a click of a button. We put ourselves online for those to see as this is what we are trained to do, but when something goes wrong, everything can change in an instant and you feel so alone. Long goes the days where to insult someone you had to go find them in person and tell them. The internet allows the world to constantly engulf us and not let us escape. Logging into social media can often feel like quicksand, you take a quick look at suddenly your drowning and can't get out. 

With us all expected to keep within these standards set out by society about how we should live, act and be as people, no wonder we fall below par. We are often made to feel like our illnesses aren't important and that we could have it worse. I mean if you can't see it, that means it's not real? We as people need to do better, we need to start understanding it is real and a lot of us do suffer. If we are struggling at work, we need to be able to take the steps like any other illness to say you need some time off. With mental health problems contributing to 12.7% of illness in the workplace, we need to get better at figuring out how to deal with it. We need to be able to discuss medication and take the steps to be able to get medication for our conditions. We need to be able to go to our GP and ask for help without the fear of it being on our record and others seeing it. 

Too many people are afraid to reach out and we really don't know what is going on in someone's head without them telling us. We can pick up the warning signs but when somebody doesn't want to talk about the way they're feeling, they won't. We need to start opening up the conversation, we need to ask each other more, are you ok? Then we need to believe it is ok to say no and tell others how we are feeling. As too many of us say I'm good, I'm fine, I'm great but how many of us are really telling the truth. With fear of rejection from the people, we are reaching out to, a lot of people sugar coat their feelings. After all, what upsets one person might seem stupid to another. 

We all promise to do better every time we click on the news and see another tragedy in front of our eyes, but how many of us actually take the time to do better? This is a vicious cycle and nothing ever changes. If we all made an attempt to reach out more, this world would be a better place. Mental illness doesn't discriminate but those around us do. With the right support and in some cases medication our conditions can be managed. This doesn't mean we are going to be OK 100% of the time, but it is a start. Having that safety net around you when you feel like you're falling is one of the best feelings, knowing you'll be able to pick yourself back up and carry on is an amazing sense of determination which some of us are able to feel. For those who don't have that net, the fear of falling never actually disappears. Our brains are our biggest critic and we already have that between our ears without needing to hear the negative comments of others, for most there isn't really anything you can say that they don't already feel about themselves. One day, I hope to see change, but for the future, I'm not too sure how likely any sort of big change is. 

Reach out to your loved ones, send them a message, go see them. Keep people close and make everyone aware, you can ask for help and it doesn't make you any less of a strong person. We all have our issues and shouldn't be judged for them, no matter who we are. How much money we have or what our social status is, we all function the same way and we sometimes just need a little love and an ear willing to listen to us. You can be the change, we don't need to wait until another person decides to end their life, we need to act fast and begin working towards the change. 

Tips to stay motivated when working at home.

Working from home is one of those things which sounds like a dream, getting to work from your bed, not even having to get dressed for a day of work and you don't even have to leave the house at all if you don't want to. Communication doesn't even need to happen in person, which is great for those days in which small talk doesn't seem possible. If you're working as part of a job role which allows home-based work it can be easier to stay motivated as you have set tasks to do, but when you're self employed it is a whole different ball game, you pick your hours, you pick what you do and most importantly you need to keep your motivation levels high to be able to stay focused and keep producing a high standard of work. If you're like me when I'm having a bad day I find it almost impossible to remove myself from my bed unless I am booted out of bed by my other half (which doesn't ever happen) so I've been finding ways to motivate myself whilst working from home, as it is not all fun and games like it may first seem. Last year I wrote a post called "working from home, what's the deal?" which is one of my all time most popular posts so I thought I'd share some more working from home-based posts and it would be great to hear your thoughts in the comments. 

Make a plan:
One of the things I've found most helpful when working from home for myself is writing a list of the things which I need to do on a sticky note and then crossing them out throughout the day. I like to make a plan of what I need to do and at what times too, like similarly to being in a workplace there are set times to do set things for most of us. Like having breaks and going to meetings. It can be easy to find yourself not doing a lot when you're working alone. You can find amazing desk planners online which are great for this, I always find having one in front of me allows me to see what is left to do for the day. Paperchase has a "hit list" one which allows you to prioritise your goals and also tick them off when you've completed them.  This gives me that extra push to keep going, especially when I can see the list going down throughout the day. 

Limit distractions: 
This one is easier said than done, especially if you live in a household with lots of people around. I don't have this issue, however, my phone does give me a constant stream of contact with the 'outside world' and as much as I enjoy Twitter and Instagram they're one of the biggest distractions on my phone. I find not having my phone around when I'm working makes it easier to get things done. I always have my phone on silent so this doesn't distract me either. I'd recommend putting your phone out of sight, you know what they say, out of sight, out of mind. I allow myself to use my phone during breaks but for the rest of the time I try to have it as far away as possible and if I do have it near me for a particular reason, I have it face down, there is nothing more distracting than the constant flashes of notifications. 

Set yourself working hours:
I hold my hands up to this one and admit I am not good with setting work hours. I'll work at random times in the day and then go back to things a few hours later. Allowing yourself to figure out when your most productive is a good start. I know the evenings are when I work best, so for me, it does often make more sense to work through the evening instead of early mornings. But deciding how many hours you are going to work that day is a great way to split your day up and keep to the hours you've set. That will also allow you to fit breaks in around those hours. 

Create the ultimate working space:
Out of the list, this is one of the tips I think are most important to follow as it can really affect your mental health if you don't have the correct working environment. As much as it can be OK to work in your bed for a treat. Working in bed for me makes me tired, makes me ache and I can confirm I am a lot less productive. If you've got a spare room turn it into your own office space. There is nothing worse than spending all day and all night in your bedroom without really anytime out. Plus if you're creating yourself a work space it means you need new homewares and stationery. Who doesn't need an adorable Watermelon Planter or Pastel Cat Highlighters, amirite? 

With that folks, that is it, those are some of my best tips, I have so many more I could share with you but I didn't want to make this post too long, but I am happy to write a 2nd part if this is something any of you would find useful.

*This post does contain affiliate links, however, this does not impact your sale in any way, if you choose to purchase the item via the link I will gain a small percentage of money* 

The truth about my ex relationships.

I read an article which states people usually fall in love 3 times in their lifetime, which got me to thinking about how many people I've been 'in love' with. I've had relationships which have lasted a few months to a few years, and now I think my search for the 'one' is finally over. Sadly, people change, people do things to hurt other people and dating can lead to heartbreak. But it can also lead to knowledge and you know what they say about knowledge, it's power. I always find it great to be able to reflect on past relationships and think about what went wrong, and if there were any common factors. Most of us have a type, and I feel like it takes most of us years to stop searching for 'our type' and start searching for the right kind of person. The reason I am writing this post primarily is to let you guys know, there isn't a set number of relationships you should have, nor a set length these should be, despite what society likes to make us believe. 

It can take 100 people (or even more) to find the right one, and that is completely ok. Just because it has only taken your friend only two relationships to find the right person doesn't mean this is the correct number. Once you stop caring about what others think about you dating and date for yourself you're more likely to find happiness and locate the right person for you. I hope you enjoy this post and if you like my dating/relationship posts, do let me know in the comments as this is something I'd love to feature more in the future. 

My first 'serious' boyfriend:
I met my first 'serious' boyfriend through my best friend at the time, she knew him from a Christian retreat and I remember her showing me the pictures of him and I was amazed by him and she put us in touch and we began to talk, I can't remember what actually happened from then on, but I remember we got together pretty quickly and we fell in love (or so I thought we were back then) it was a great feeling. I was 15 at the time and I thought we all had it figured out. The few times I met his mum she decided she didn't like me, and from then on, it really didn't work. I was naive to think it would be ok, that we'd fight against his mum and make it work, the whole Romeo and Juliet sitch without the ending. Then one day, we broke up. There was no going back, I thought I was never going to get over it, honestly, my first heartbreak was awful and I didn't think I'd get through it. You'll be shocked to know, I did, in fact, get over it.

The one who wanted us both. 
It was around 8 months later that I met my next boyfriend, through another friend. He was so different from the last, a lot more my type at the time. We both dressed in alternative clothes had similar music taste and he was in a band. Our relationship somewhat was kept a secret and on the down low from his friends and I never knew why. Like it wasn't a secret but he didn't show me off with pride like I had once hoped. It turned out he was in an off relationship with somebody, although they had ended this time for 'good' He'd told me they were over and I believed him, but when things went bad with us, he'd go back to her and visa versa. Eventually, I took myself out of the situation, I wanted someone who actually wanted me and not someone who used me and another girl. Weirdly though, that girl became one of my close friends for many years. Although we don't really speak anymore, I am glad I gained a friend from such a rubbish situation.

The one who couldn't decide: 
I met my next boyfriend in college, which in hindsight wasn't a great idea as we had to spend 4 days a week together and every fight would involve my friends and his and would cause a divide. The whole situation was a mess, we were both going through huge problems with our mental health and we didn't help each other at all. He'd break up with me and then get back together with me a lot, one time he broke up with me 7 times in the space of two days and it confused me. He, in the end, decided to drop out of college, I'm not sure if it was totally linked, however, I wonder what would have happened if we didn't date. We've not spoken at all since we broke up, and for a while, that was hard as we were sort of friends before it happened.

The one I fell out of love with:
Although this post does seem to include me being broken up with a lot, I did end up breaking up with someone who to this day is still my longest relationship. We met through friends at a party, you were so laid back you were basically horizontal. A few years went by and we were happy, but things started to come between us. We didn't share the same hobbies, they'd end up changing our plans a lot to suit other people and the one tragic event changed you as a person and it felt like you just pushed me away completely. Day by day it felt harder to cope with, so I had to walk away. We've since met up and do make better friends and he's now been travelling the world which I am super jealous of, but I know it wouldn't have happened if we were still together. Oh and I still love your mum and stepdad for taking me under their wing and making me feel like part of your family. 

The one who wasn't a perfect match: 
This relationship was one of the weirdest ones I've actually been in, as everyone from the outside could see what we were failing to see from the start. We really didn't go together at all, the majority of our relationship was doing things we both hated. He hated what I wanted to do and I hated it what he wanted to do. We moved into a student house together which for a while was all fun and games, then he became somebody totally different and didn't like the student life anymore. We'd argue more and more until I called time on the relationship. We had moved in together separately so the break up was so awkward as we spent 6 months in a house we both lived in as we had no money to go our separate ways. 

The one who wouldn't commit: 
My last ex isn't one I shouldn't really class as an ex, as he would never admit I was his girlfriend unless he was drunk. He wanted the whole girlfriend thing 70% of the time and the other 30% he wanted to act single. This situation went on for about two months and then it finally came to an end, with him cutting off all communication with me. Which at the time, felt like the worst thing to happen ever, however, now I am so glad he did. Oh hindsight you are a truly beautiful thing, aren't ya? 

The one who is my forever? 
2017 was when I met Will, we hit it off straight away. We went to the same college and university, we didn't know each other as he was the year younger, but we knew loads of people the same. We went our first date to Starbucks and the rest is history. In November of 2018, we got engaged and I couldn't be happier. 

"We can't change the past but we can start a new chapter with a happy ending"

Things they didn't teach us growing up: The Money Edit

*This is a collaborative post*

Growing up like most people I hated going to school, I felt like every day was so pointless and constant bullying made my days at school hell. However, now as an adult, I can respect the amount I did learn at school, and wish that I could have worked harder towards my goals instead of counting down the days until I left. Looking back on what we learnt at school and the skills most of us are lacking now is a huge downfall in the education system. We needed to know more about finances, relationships, how to cope with our mental health, sex and how to communicate better with others. 

As when we are in school it is when we develop most as a person as these are our younger years leading on to our teens. We needed to learn more about real life, instead of what was in books and although I may know basic algebra, I lack in knowing about actual real life money skills. Such interest rates, money management, credit cards, how to save and even credit scores. Those things are real life and they're what we need to know. So I've decided to share my own personal knowledge on the subjects, the best I can and hope to help others learn more about the topics. I am in no way claiming to be an expert in any of the fields, this is purely my opinion and based on what I've learned along the way. I recently wrote the confidence chronicles and how self-confidence can go a long way. Let me know in the comments what topic you'd like to see covered next.

Credit cards aren't always bad:
I was always made to think credit cards are bad, that they are there for additional bills or things you can't afford, so they add them to their cards to pay back at a later date. Which to some extent can be true. However, credit cards can be great for your credit rating, they allow you to buy something on them, pay them back each month (in full if possible) and then your rating will grow as it allows you to show you are responsible with money. Luckily for me, in college, our tutor told us about this when we were learning about freelancing. It's worth going through a comparison site such as Money Supermarket who offer a credit card comparison service based on the information you provide they advise the likelihood of you being accepted for a card without doing a credit check which can damage your score. Most people I know who are attempting to build up their score, usually by their weekly/monthly shop on their card and then pay it back at the end of the month. 

Loans are fine, as long you can pay it back:
Sometimes unexpected bills can crop up, like an emergency dentist appointment or an expense which is unavoidable and you can end up needing to borrow money. Most of us have been there and although it's not a great situation to find yourself in sometimes you have to do it. With things such as payday loans to get you through to payday, the interest can be higher than the amount itself dependant on the time frame in which the loan is going to be taken out for. Finding the correct lender for you is always important, in the past, I've gotten a loan with a company I didn't know much about, and went in a bit blind and went for it, which ended up with me paying back so much more than I owed. With iLoans they help you find the perfect lender for you, with the best APR for your loan. With all loans, there is a cooling off period, so it is worth finding this out before taking out the loan in case you change your mind.

Set up a spreadsheet to budget:
It's often easy to get away with spending on payday, but it's worth creating a spreadsheet which has your earnings on and all of the bills you have coming out (be honest else it won't work) then it will allow you to see what is left. I include my food shopping on the sheet due to this being a pretty big expenditure each month, I find out the amount to add in monthly by doing an average of the last three months and that way it gives me a rough estimate. With the remaining funds I like to spend on things I may need each month e.g. food out and makeup and then any left over should go into savings. It's easy to create a spreadsheet and I enjoy to add colours into mine to make it less daunting. 

What are your top tips for dealing with your finances? 

The confidence chronicles.

*This is a collaborative post*

"Confidence is a superpower, once you start believing in yourself the magic happens."

Confidence can take a lifetime to build and be knocked down in a matter of seconds. The truth is, most of us aren't confident in ourselves. The reasons for this vary on a huge scale and sometimes, sadly, some people don't ever build the levels of confidence in themselves that they need to feel good. For me, no matter how confident I can feel on the inside, the way I look always seems to drag me down. We all have our 'flaws' and things we wish we could change about ourselves and some things we will never be able to change. These things take over our brains and often turn us into someone who we don't want to be.

If you're like me, you will change other things about yourself to make you feel better if you can't change that thing, as much as you want to. I often feel uncomfortable about my acne, and I usually attempt to show my confidence via my hair colour. However, I do often worry about my hair and possible hair loss with the amount I dye it and the stress and depression in which I deal with. I had no idea until recently that depression can actually cause your hair to become dry and weaker, from low moods, a lack of energy and feeling drained which can eventually lead to hair loss!With my weight, my tattoos and bright coloured Dr Martens tend to give me that boost which I need. It's crazy to think what we see about ourselves that others don't see. Even those who seem the most confident, still have their struggles. 

Sometimes people don't struggle with their exterior appearance and more to do with what is within. I know that I struggle with talking to new people and groups of people in the fear that I come across boring and people don't actually want to know what I have to say. In some ways, this can actually be harder to overcome than the physical appearance side of confidence as it is you fighting against yourself. Although we can mask what we dislike on the outside, trying to lie to ourselves on the inside can often prove to be harder than it seems. Mind who is a mental health charity has some great tips about coming to terms with your low self-esteem and how you can get to the bottom of the issues to be able to allow yourself to continue to heal. Blast out those negative thoughts and fill the spaces with more positive ones. 

To me, my confidence does build every single day, week or month of the year. I've started to learn how to celebrate my successes, think about the 'good' qualities which I have and why they're good to have. I've also learnt how to stick up for myself more and become more assertive that includes everything from saying no to stuff I really don't want to do to taking control of your thoughts and not letting someone else do this for you. I totally understand this is not as easy as it seems but there a huge variety of resources in which you can use to help build your confidence on a daily basis and hit back against those negative thoughts.  

"Confidence is not they will like me, confidence is, I'll be fine if they don't"  

Confidence is about celebrating the little things you do, rather than focusing on what you weren't able to do. Making note of these victories for when your confidence is meter is a little low can be a great way to keep building rather than knocking it back down again. Spend time with those who make you feel great and who love you for you. My final piece of advice to those of you who feel this way is to reach out. Whether it is to a professional or a loved one, it's worth talking these things over, as often they can give you a whole new perspective on things. 

Would You Have Counselling Online?

When you’re experiencing a mental health issue, it’s important to seek therapy or counselling. There are many ways to do this, whether you decide to work with a counselor in your local area or someone online. It’s a personal decision. Seeing a counsellor face to face has its advantages. You get that face-to-face interaction, and it can feel good to talk with someone in a physical space. However, for some people, online counselling is an option that feels more intimate to them than going to see a therapist. Let’s discuss some of the reasons that online counseling could work for you.

Online counselling is exceptionally convenient. You can see your counsellor wherever there is a reliable Internet connection. It’s convenient in the sense that you can choose where and when you look at your therapist online. You’re able to speak with them via video chat, messaging, or over the phone. You get to pick whatever modality works the most efficiently for you. Your counsellor is adaptable and will work with your schedule. Plus, you won’t get stuck in traffic on the way to therapy!

Remote Areas and Accessibility
People who have disabilities or live in remote areas where there is not a large selection of therapists or counsellors tend to gravitate toward online therapy platforms. It’s a great alternative when you don’t have a large variety of mental health professional you'll find in the database of an online therapy site that there are more options than you might imagine, making it easier to access a specialist. Sometimes, your mental health needs are highly specific, and there are not people in your area that can cover those concerns.

Social anxiety
Sometimes one of the barriers to getting help is social anxiety. People who struggle with social interaction might have difficulty connecting with a therapist, so online counselling is an excellent alternative to sitting in a therapist’s office and talking with them in person. Online therapy provides a sense of intimacy that isn’t necessarily there when you’re working with a counsellor in a physical space. The person who is speaking with their counsellor feels connected with them because they are using their own devices - whether that’s a tablet, phone, or laptop. They get to choose how they communicate with their therapist, and that can relieve a lot of anxiety.

Communication styles
Every human being expresses themselves differently and has different preferences for how they like to communicate. Whether that is through voice, seeing somebody visually, or text. With online counselling, you can choose which modality of communication will work best for you and your counsellor. It helps because you can dictate the treatment, in a sense. You know your learning style, and you understand what makes you able to grasp the concept of new coping skill. Therapy isn’t just a place where you talk about your problems; it is a teaching place as well. You want to make sure that you get the information you need in a way that you will understand it. Maybe you’re not sure which mode works for you yet. You can try out different kinds of communication, such as text, video, and messaging. It’s helpful to experiment to see which of those gives you the best results. You and your counsellor can work together and decide what the most optimal communication style is for you.

Getting help is easier than before
Before online counselling, people may have hesitated to get help. Technology has made it easier than ever before to seek out a therapist and find someone who you connect with to get mental health services. Companies like BetterHelp offer a variety of different counsellors to choose from, so you’ll be sure to find one that meets your needs. It can be anxiety-provoking to try and get mental health care, but online therapy can relieve some of that stress by making it easier to find a therapist who specialises in your needs. An online mental health professional is dedicated to helping you stick to your schedule and to accommodating your needs. You have the right to get the help that you need in the way that you need it, so give online counselling a shot.

*This is a guest post written by Maria Miguel on behalf of BetterHelp, however, I had full editorial rights over this post. 

University, the unknown and what to do when you can't cope.

It's now been over a year since I finished university which feels like such a long time ago in some aspects and like it was yesterday in others, yesterday, I was invited along to speak on BBC Radio 5 live about mental health awareness whilst at university from the perspective as someone who has made it through university (by some miracle) whilst having a mental illness in tow. The experience of the radio was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed having that verbal platform, I also decided it would be great to share my experiences on my blog as there is so much more which needs to be spoken about and as you've probably guessed from my blog and my huge section on mental health, it's something I am passionate about. I have previously touched on my experiences on What Uni and decided it would be great to expand on this on my blog too. Let me know your thoughts and feelings in the comments below your experiences around mental health and university. 

The pressures of going to university: 
University can be a difficult experience for anyone who goes, whether you're the most outgoing person around or the quietest. The picture painted for most of us around university is one of the best times of your life, no parents, a ton of alcohol and parties, making new friends and for most of us love interests too. Oh and that *small thing* of work, lectures and learning new things. I went to university on a whim, which is definitely not something I'd recommend, during college, I felt like I was talked into going to university, it was never something that massively interested me, as I didn't know the career path I wanted to go down. I remember when everyone was at college, applying to UCAS and choosing the universities they wanted to go to, I felt like I wasn't ready to go or if I was going to go at all. Although we are all considered adults at 18, I don't feel like many of us are in the right place to make the decision of what our future could hold and for £27,000+, it is a pretty important decision to make. I was told to apply by my tutors and then if I didn't go then all I'd lose is the application fee for that university. So I did. I applied to the local university as at this point the idea of moving away and living with strangers was not something I could deal with. 

For anyone who isn't sure about the route to take, after college/sixth form it can be extremely difficult to decide as it one of the first times in your life you have to make that choice yourself, but it is important to remember that if you decide you no longer want to be a part of the course which you've joined you can drop out within 1st year and then go on to start a new course and get full funding for the three years. Which is something I wish I had done as I knew from the early days the course is not something I wanted to carry on doing. 

Change, so much change:
I remember the first few weeks of my lectures were absolutely awful as I struggle to take the information in, let alone write it down as I was convinced my stomach might rumble (like really loud) or that I might not be able to get a seat despite there always being way more seats than people. It feels somewhat like going back to school as you're in a whole new place, on your own and you don't know how to feel. Then comes the workload and for me that felt like it was never-ending, you'd get work for each of your modules and were told you needed to put like 40 hours study in at home a week which in reality isn't really possible and to top it all off, making new friends involves having somewhat of a social life. Of course, with that much change, the majority of us are going to feel floored by that, but it is important to remember that other people will feel the same as you and you can talk to people about it. I often found myself taking to the internet mainly Twitter to talk about my anxiety around university and I found a lot of other people related to how I felt.

I'm struggling: 
Whether it is you or a friend who is struggling, there are platforms of support out there for them. I know a lot of university students don't reach out to their parents for fear of feeling like a failure. Others struggle to reach out to their friends due to what they're seeing on social media and for me, that was a huge part of the FOMO I was feeling, as all of my other friends were meeting new friends, partying and I struggled to keep my head above water. Most universities offer counselling on site to help those struggling and in the last few years, the support keeps getting bigger and better. There shouldn't be any stigma in needing to reach out for further support, no matter who you reach out to. I ended up needing to be signed off university for a while, which meant I needed a sick note from my doctor which is when my university became aware of my struggles and told me all about what they offer on site. I was assigned a note taker for those times in lectures when I wasn't able to cope with coming in or when I was struggling to take focus. I remember feeling really embarrsed when the note taker would hand me my notes as from the outside I look and act 'fine'. Before my sick note, I wasn't really aware of my university offering these services, so it is important to speak to your lecturers to find out what is available for you.

This is not your fault:
It's easier than said done to believe in situations of crisis that you are not to blame. But the same as any illness physical or mental you cannot help it. I remember thinking how pathetic I am, surrounded by a room of people who are doing the exact same thing as me, but yet again I am the one struggling to come to lectures, not being able to make friends and finding it hard to comprehend the 40 hours of work I am due to do after this. But now I am starting to understand these situations aren't my fault and can't be helped. Whatever course you are studying, in whatever town or city or even country you are allowed to feel overwhelmed and shouldn't feel guilty for doing so.

P.s. If you don't feel like you can talk to anyone around you in real life, remember there are people you can call to talk through your feelings such as Samaritans who are free to call  and you can reach them on 116 123
 and they're open 365 days a year 24/7 and are happy to talk through just about anything you're struggling with, as someone who has used them previously, it is great to be able to talk about your feelings with someone who doesn't know you and can offer an ear. Mind also offers a lot of amazing services, including resources if you're in crisis. Finally, if you or someone around you is feeling distressed it is worth ringing 111, who can offer you the best advice and services that may be needed. 

I am thinking of creating a series of posts around mental illness/health and university and I would love to know if this is something you'd enjoy, let me know in the comments and I hope you found this post somewhat useful. 

Here's to 5 years of Dungarees & Donuts!

When I think about how long 5 years is, I can't get over the length of time it is and what I've achieved in that time. I launched Dungarees & Donuts back in college and since that time I've completed a degree and I am now working a full-time job. I've changed my name via deed poll and had two relationships. Like, a lot has happened. I remember talking to my best friend at the time about her blog and YouTube, she would speak to all of these really cool people on Twitter and it was like they were real-life best friends despite never meeting. Her blog was full of book reviews, colourful pictures and posts about makeup and I wanted to get in on the action. I set up my blog which to this day don't know why the name Dungarees & Donuts stuck, but I did eat a lot of Donuts in college and Dungarees goes well with it, plus when I first launched my blog I wanted to talk about fashion. Over the years my blog really has taught me a lot and I've made some great friends, gained some confidence I know I would not have without my blog and have been able to share my passion for writing with the world.

Since I was younger I've always wanted to be a writer, even in Primary School, I'd create these 'books' which were essentially a lot of folded paper stapled together and a drawing I'd done on the front and in reality the book was only around 5 pages, but it felt like a huge deal to me at the time. In early high school, I decided to go down the route of creating children's books and although I never shared them with anyone bar, my family, I think it gave me, even more, drive to get my writing out there. 

I get asked a lot what I blog about and sometimes it feels easier to say what they want to hear e.g. beauty. But in reality Dungarees & Donuts is me, on a website. It's full of colour, quirky clothes, ramblings about everyday life and tons of posts about my own mental health and it's a huge part of me and although it's been 5 years I couldn't see myself getting bored of it anytime soon. I take small breaks from time to time and do often get frustrated when it comes to writers blog but I manage to come out of it stronger and as long as you guys still want to read, I will keep posting. For me my blog was once about constant scheduled content, 5 times a week to posting weekly once or twice and loving the content I am putting out. Each post full to the brim of photos I love and each piece of content I actually feel proud of, whereas before I created the content because I felt like I had to. 

The blogging community has changed over the years too, I was forever wanting to fit in with everyone else and what they were doing and over recent years there have been more alternative blogs making a stir within the community and they're who I aspire to be like. I love to read makeup blogs and learn new things which I would otherwise have been clueless about, but I know it's not my forte so it seems pointless trying to make it what my blog is about. The blogging community has shifted from a ton of chats each night to just a few a week, I am glad they're still going somewhere. Blogging feels like it is mostly now about making it someway in the industry, YouTubers, as we know, have HUGE incomes and get invited to lots of events and it makes us jealous, me included, but although bloggers may not get as much of the industry as YouTubers do, it's still great to know we have that kind of influence. It's amazing that normal people such as you and I can have such a big influence from anywhere in the world. 

I still pinch myself each time I get an email in my inbox about reviews and sponsored content and each time I still wonder why they'd want to work me, but at the same time, I feel eternally grateful and I doubt that feeling of wow, will ever stop for me. I feel privileged to be where I am today with my blog and have such a supportive readership. For the future of Dungarees & Donuts, I hope to keep spreading awareness around mental illness and it makes me feel great doing so because I know that during my struggles, so many of you have had my back and helped me through the tough times. I promise to keep making you proud and on to the next five years. 

I feel like I totally need to hold a glass of champagne and this point. 

Lets talk about: Relationships and Mental Health.

Without a doubt, being in a relationship when you suffer from a mental illness makes it 10x more difficult especially for me as someone who has BPD I previously wrote a post about dating when you have BPD and I thought it would be interesting to delve more into what it is like when you get past the dating stage. I find the start of relationships the most difficult part as it's so new, and I wonder what is ok to tell that person without scaring them off, as well as struggling to comprehend my own emotions in these new situations. That new person doesn't know about your triggers, how to cope with you when you're having a bad day or may not even be aware of the condition in itself. Each relationship is different and in some relationship, one person has a mental illness or both of you might, and the severity of each persons illness may vary and that's where it gets complicated. If you both suffer from different issues it makes it somewhat easier in real life situations to deal with, especially with anxiety as most of us know that some people struggle with situations more than others. My boyfriend struggles with things I often don't and vice a versa. I do think being in a relationship with someone who has had a first-hand experience of mental health does make them more empathic towards you and your situation, but also those who have been around others suffering as they understand somewhat what you are going through.  

Emma from Emma Jots says: 
I suffer from anxiety, depression and extreme stress. I also have chronic IBS which is brought on by all of the above. I have suffered with self-harm in the past and always felt extremely vulnerable because of my mental health issues. But my husband really understands and he gives me time, and he looks out for me all the time. We get through it and come out stronger. I do feel like I am a drain on him at times but he gives me the caring side I need.

Like Emma, I do often feel like I am draining on Will and it can be hard to get over the hurdle of them wanting to be with you because they want to and not because they have to, and in my head, this will always be something that I worry about. The care that is shown to me by Will does really help with my mental health and even when I end up getting unwell and taking my feelings out him, he is understanding of why. 

Alice from Danity Alice advised:
Communication is key, and someone who is supportive and understanding is great as she knows even on her bad days she can rely on him for support.  

Like Alice, I agree that communication is key, without it, it does often cause issues in a relationship, trying to keep a front on things is often when I find out that it causes issues within a relationship. 

Alice from Alice Loyallaloen shared her personal experience on the subject here:
For me, I think a positive way to approach this type of relationship is it’s about understanding the triggers that another person has and realising that to you it may not mean much but to another person I may mean a lot. Patience and compromise and realising that nothing is a direct reflection on you and your relationship. Mental health is at times irrational and illogical so it’s about being supportive and understanding the realities of what someone else feels. I have been in relationships that have been sooo toxic because of misunderstanding my mental health. There were horrific arguments all because of a complete disregard for support and kindness. I even had issues with a previous partner thinking that I did not have a problem and that anxiety isn’t a thing. If someone does not understand and acknowledge your mental health issues then there is no point in a relationship with them in my opinion.

Alice gives a great point in this about stating that mental health is at times irrational and illogical and it is, it takes away any of the feelings that a 'normal' person would have and amplifies them and this is often hard to deal with, a small argument can turn into a huge one, and unless it is spoken about it will keep spiralling out of control, I do find it hard to admit when I am wrong and often when I am struggling as it makes me feel weak. I am starting to learn a lot more about myself and with the help of BetterHelp who is an online service who offer help from trained therapists as well as a huge range of articles to help you along your journey, I am starting to learn how to function better as part of a couple After being on your own for so long and being with someone who doesn't really understand what you are going through, it can be hard to let your guard down. 

Finally to finish off the post I thought it would be interesting to get Will to share his thoughts on Relationships and Mental Health. 

Will says: 
I think being able to understand and communicate mental health issues is really important in relationships. Without those two things, it could cause conflict and tension. It can be really hard to open up about mental health issues but when you're with someone who gets it and understands things can start to look up. I think since I've learnt about what mental health issues Olivia suffers from it's helped me to be able to make things better for her. We've been able to talk about it and we have both made lots of progress together.

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in this post, it is great to understand from other points of view from what it is like to suffer from mental health issues in a relationship and how you overcome it.

*This post was sponsored by BetterHelp and always all thoughts are my own and they're a great company who do some amazing work.