Sunday, 31 August 2014

August Favourites 2014

Hello my Leaves, How have you found August? :)

I can't believe a month has gone by so quickly! I've been working for three weeks now and the time has FLOWN by!

Have you been making the most of the sun? A lot of my friends have been buying jumpers and cardigans and it just makes me a little sad that summer is ending. But, you know me, I'm also really happy and excited because from tomorrow it is officially AUTUMN :D :D

I can't wait to see what an Autumn is like in a slightly warmer climate. With less rain there will hopefully be more, longer lasting, crispy leaves days :)  And the COLOURS oh....

Anyway, I'm digressing and disappearing into Chezland!

Here are my August Favourites!

1. Card Organiser


My hand trying to show that there are slips for you to put the cards each month :)
What with moving away and working full time my memory is becoming leaky! This handy little Card Organiser lets me write cards in advance and prompts me to remember people's birthdays and special occasions :) All I have to do now is remember to check the book and send them :P I have it on my desk in my room so hopefully I will continue to check it often!

2. My Blog Whiteboard


Another productive item! I have been writing down my blog post plans so that I have a visible reminder that they need to be written. I don't know about you, but I get a lot of joy from being able to tick things off once they are complete! From looking at the picture I can see that I haven't ticked the last post so guess what I'll be doing once this is written....I couldn't wait, I've ticked it :) I'm planning my September posts at the moment so I'll be moving them up on the board and removing the August posts this evening. This sits next to my desk and has lots of fluffy, cuddly animals around me that all have little memories attached to them :)

3. Teenage Dirtbags CD


I don't know where to begin with this. I have become borderline obsessed with the Teenage Dirtbags CD. I was given it as a gift for my birthday last year and I don't think I've stopped listening to it since... My commute to work is longer than my previous jobs was so I've been playing this in the car to while away the time. I could recite the song order and most of the lyrics at this point xD It raises lots of nostalgia from my teen years and makes me feel so happy after listening to it! No matter what mood I'm in when I get in the car, I will happy when I get out! :)

4. Chocolate!


I feel like I have spent this month INHALING chocolate! In particular the plain Dairy Milk bars by Cadbury. I keep trying to eat dark chocolate as it is better for you and I would eat less of it but milk chocolate is still too scrummy! I've taken to melting them and then dipping fruit and biscuits into the melted chocolate... It's a bad habit and I'm trying to reduce intake by hunting for alternative snacks but it's failing xD


5. Innocent Fruit Juice (particularly the apple and berry juice)



I figure that with all the chocolate I've been eating lately I should probably make sure I get fruit into my system too ^^ (my distorted view of a balanced diet). I have been loving  this Apple and Berry fruit juice by innocent! I have a glass once a day and it's yummy! I also love that it is never from concentrate and that it is really sweet :) It's also motivated me to munch on Cucumber, Carrot and Celery sticks at work to try and get all five of my five-a-day xD

Book Club!!



So I have finished 'The Alchemist's Secret' by Scott Mariani! It was actually a really good book that had several 'can't-put-it-down' moments :) Without giving too much away this story follows an ex-military man, Ben Hope,  who finds things/children for a living. He is given a new job but it turns out to be a lot more complicated than he first thought. A must read for people who like the 'DaVinci Code' in my opinion as, once again, religious groups get involved and make the whole task a lot harder for poor Ben Hope!

The book that I will be reviewing in my September favourites is.... 


'The Kingmaker's Daughter' by Philippa Gregory. I've read quite a few of her books previously so I'm hoping that this will be another good read! Make sure you check out my September Favourites to find out!

**** **** **** **** ****

And there we have it. Another month of favourites complete. I hope you all enjoyed my August Awareness posts and have taken something away from them. I had a range of emotions writing them but like I say, if it's helped one person, then my job is done! Join me on Wednesday at the usual time when I release 'what inspires me?'

You can also subscribe to my blog by clicking 'follow' and you can register to follow by email too :) If the posts aren't enough, I tend to post the odd ramble on twitter too @ChezAutumn :)

Make your own choices!

Toodlepip x



Friday, 29 August 2014

Weekly Update | 29/08/2014

Hello my Leaves how are you today?

Are you excited for Autumn?

There are so many things I enjoy about Autumn but I’m particularly excited about all the new TV series that will be out (you can only rematch covert affairs on netflix so many times!)! I don’t suppose any of you watch ‘Great British Bake Off’? Wednesdays episode was crazy! I know people are siding with Diana in that she could have genuinely forgotten but surely you wouldn’t take someone else’s cake out of the freezer in the first place? Just find another freezer…

…phew anyway

This week at work was good as it was only a four day week! (Got to love bank holidays) The only downside was that my anxiety has been getting bad again :/ I’ve been struggling to drive to and from work and I’m hyper alert to my surroundings until I’m under my duvet :/ On a brighter side I have better tools to cope this time and it’s not as bad as was last time. So many people have been ill at work lately so that probably hasn’t been helping my mind to keep calm! :/

I think it’s at the time again where I book an appointment at the opticians as I’ve been starting to get headaches whilst at work! I’m going to end up being as blind as a bat by the time I’m 30 at this rate xD

Speaking of appointments, Mr Houdini had his first visit to the vets this week because he had been walking funnily. Everything was OK, just a little bruising, but he is getting very old now and each day continues to be a little blessing :)

In other news, I’ve started the first post for September Inspiration this week and I’m so excited for what’s in store for you all! :) I hope you are too!

How have you found the last week of August? Have you had a good summer?

Make good choices.


Toodlepip x

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

August Awareness | Cyberbullying/Harassment

Hello my Leaves,

How are you today?

We've made it to the final August Awareness post! (Sunday's post will be August Favourites!) The final post for this month's theme is about cyberbullying/harassment.

This isn't really a topic that I experienced in my 'growing' years, partly because I didn't have much access to the Internet until I went to Uni. I do know that this is becoming a growing issue and that it is gathering pace as more and more kids are opening up and beginning to talk about it. That being said, I think it is important to recognise that cyberbullying/harassment isn't something that only children are subject to. There are a lot of 'grown ups' that have to face heavy, demeaning criticism too. Look at those on Youtube. They receive so many threats and negative comments just because people can post them. They could talk about something amazing and there will still be people out there who see it as fun to bring someone down. I find it both baffling and ridiculous that people get glee out of this and it really makes me question their lives and upbringing if they get pleasure out of making people feel bad.

So, what is Cyberbullying/Cyber Harassment?

Cyberbullying/Harassment (to the bets of my knowledge) is when someone is tormented, threatened and/or embarrassed by another person via the internet and its plethora of sites. Cyberbullying is when the circumstances involve minors. Cyber harassment is when Adults get involved. The results of this activity in the worst cases has led to death, some by suicide, of the victims. The horrible reality is that, as long as someone can access the internet, there really is no limit to what they can do. Some people try to gain your trust and then share your secrets with the internet to make you feel humiliated. Others persistently give you negative comments to bring you down and make you feel worthless. They can hack your network sites and insult people you know and love to alienate you. It really is limitless, as long as it can be imagined, it can probably happen.

How to deal with Cyberbullying/Cyber Harassment.

Whilst looking at ways to deal with this kind of harassment I cam across a site led by Wired Safety called STOP Cyberbullying. It begins with a presentation intro which gives you a brief overview of cyberbullying in action. Their dominant advice for the campaign is Stop. Block. Tell. and I couldn't agree with them anymore. Don't respond to the instigators. Where possible block them from your sites. Finally, tell someone! The more you remain silent, the more damage they can do as they are fuelled by you not speaking out.

If you are a parent, keep track of what your children do when they're online. If they seem upset by texts or after they've been on the computer, investigate. Encourage them to talk about anything that bothers them and if you do see something, take initiative. Don't assume it's kids being kids or that it will blow over soon. If your child has a webpage then check it out. See what comments they are getting. With things like this, I don't think you can be overly cautious. For the sake of annoying your child you have also made sure that they aren't be targeted for any form of bullying. Children hide things, it's a fact, but you need to make sure that they know you are there no matter how embarrassing the situation or how long they've been silent.

Remember, you know you better than anyone else. Don't take on board the negatives that people give.  You should be a believer in yourself because the rest of the world doesn't and shouldn't matter!

On that note I'm going to end the last post of August Awareness.

Have you enjoyed August Awareness? Comment below which post was your favourite :) As always feel free to subscribe to my blog and my google + page :) You can also find me on twitter @chezautumn

Make your own choices!

Toodlepip x

Sunday, 24 August 2014

August Awareness | Time to change campaign

Hello my Leaves how are you today?

Welcome to the penultimate post for August Awareness! How have you found the previous posts? Is there anything that you would like me to talk about in future?

As you know from the title today's post is about the 'Time to Change' campaign which is run by two charities, Mind and Rethink. I am completely on board with this campaign and have been supporting it for a few years now. I can already see differences, especially in the aftermath of Robin Williams' death. A lot of you are showing awareness of mental health as a legitimate concern instead of a way of seeking attention, I'm proud of you.

The whole reason for this campaign is to spread awareness and change the attitudes of the population.  By doing this we are reducing the discrimination that people with mental illness face and we are also increasing the volume of support available, despite frequent cuts by governments. We are becoming the support without needing individual funding. I'm not saying that the governments are doing nothing and this isn't the only area facing cuts, but a lot more could be done and until Mental Illness is widely accepted and recognised, it will continue to be one of the worse off for support.

As I mentioned early, you can become the support behind this campaign. By visiting the Time to Change site you can increase your knowledge on Mental Health and also discover lots of different ways in which you can help. One thing I recommend you do is sign the pledge wall so that the campaign know you are there. Don't just sign it for the sake of it though, make sure you follow through on your pledge! They don't ask a lot of you and by taking time to check in on others is good for both them and you. After this you could also volunteer and complete a whole load of activities. This isn't just a solo affair either, get your friends and businesses involved too!

If you don't believe that Mental Health is genuine then click the links I've posted throughout and brush up on your attitude. I haven't been posting about Mental Health awareness this month for no reason. You don't have to take my word for it either, why not check out these blogs and then evaluate your thoughts. If you're still not convinced then that's fine but I would hope that this post has at least swayed you a little and I'm happy that you've never had to see this in action yourself. (I'm making a massive assumption that you haven't had loved ones suffer or that you haven't gone around telling your loved ones that they're not really ill and need to stop seeking attention!)

I hope this post has helped and I'm going to leave you with some facts and stats that you can share with others :)

If you have liked this post or any of August Awareness then let me know in the comments and share, share, share! Also, be sure to follow my blog page as well as my google +!

Make your own choices.

Toodlepip x
'

1 in 4 people are affected by Mental Health at some point in their lives.

We probably all work with someone experiencing a mental health problem.

1 in 10 young people will experience a mental health problem. 

Nearly three in four young people fear the reactions of friends when they talk about their mental health problems.

9 out of 10 people with mental health problems experience stigma and discrimination

People with a mental illness are more likely to be a victim of violence

'

Friday, 22 August 2014

Weekly Update | 22.08.2014

Good day my Leaves!

How has this week been for you?

I've completed week two of my new job and it is still going well :) Lot's more insight and understanding into my role and I'm looking forward to my future tasks. I think I enjoy work too much sometimes...

I can't believe we're two posts away from the end of August Awareness! It's gone so fast and, whilst I've found the posts challenging, I'm really glad that I have done them :) I hope that you have enjoyed them too!

I've spent a lot of this week getting very muddled with HTML code. My blog doesn't look how I would like it to at the moment but I am determined to learn how to change it :) Do you have any useful sites or videos that I can try? YouTube is getting very confusing for me but I have found a few 'for dummies' type videos xD

In other news, some of my friends have been holidaying near me this week so I've been able to have a good catch up with them which was lovely, I've missed them so much! It has made me more determined to try and keep in touch with everyone up North despite not being able to see them often! As you are probably aware by now, I'm not the best person at travelling ^^. I am working on this now especially as it almost got in the way of me being able to catch up people this week, something I am honestly ashamed of. (If you follow me on twitter you will have seen that Wednesday was a high anxiety day :/)

I've been spending this week trying to tie up my final posts for August Awareness and have been beginning to plan what I am going to do for September's theme...

DIY and Inspiration
My Desk...
I'm really excited to start these posts and want to include a lot of what I've done for my room (which will hopefully be finished by then!) I've changed my mind a few times about the layout but the theme and colours have always been the same. 

I also want to squeeze in my work wardrobe haul too as I went on a massive spree, it may even class as a haul ^^. I didn't have many clothes that could be worn in a warmer climate and the dress code is different to my previous work. I don't know when I am going to add this post but I will find a place! I may even make it a part of my weekly update for next week, hmm...

On that note I'm going to say goodbye for this week and I hope you enjoy my final two August Awareness posts :)

Don't forget to add me to your google circle so you don't miss out and I can say hello :) and on twitter! @chezautumn let's see if I can get past 25 followers :P


Make your own choices.

Toodlepip x



Wednesday, 20 August 2014

August Awareness | Things that make me happy! :)

Hello my Leaves!

Happy Wednesday! How are you today? Are you enjoying August Awareness?

After all this talk about fears and phobias (see last post) I decided it was time to cheer up again :) As well as knowing your weaknesses, it’s always good to be aware of your strengths and what helps you to maintain/strengthen them :)

Today’s post is, quite simply, about things that make me happy. These are my top 5 things that are ALWAYS guaranteed to make me perky again :)

1. Houdini

An obvious one to start with… my hamster!!

Houdini at 2 months :)

Houdini was born in January 2012 and has lived with me since he was five weeks old! He has his own personality and loves to snuggle up in between hunting for food and exploring my rooms (we’ve lived in at least four different places in the last few years). He always seems to know when I need a chuckle and I’ve walked into my room countless times now to find him sat on his ladder staring at me with his cheek pouches stuffed full of food! He shares my love for cucumber and has only bitten someone twice in his life! :) He reminds me that, at the end of the day, life doesn’t have to be about possessions. As long as you have food, water and shelter you can be content. Focus on the bigger picture, not the the infinitesimal details. 

2. Autumn




As my blog name suggests, I love Autumn. I find the wind very refreshing after a stuffy summer and feel as though it takes all my worries and fears away from me. I love watching all the leaves change colour and try to get plenty of photos whilst they’re still crispy! Autumn also brings Bonfire Night in the UK and I love nothing more than going and watching the fireworks with the people I love. It’s so satisfying to see something hold the attention of a vast crowd. Where adults revert back to being children, just for the display. Houdini isn’t the biggest fan of the fireworks but he gets extra treats that day so it’s all good in a hamster’s world :)

3. My Laptop




I know this is, perhaps, a strange thing to have on my top five but I really do love my laptop. I had always told myself that once I had saved up x amount of money I would treat myself and buy a macbook. My laptop reminds me that I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it. It also reminds me not to give up and give in to impulse buying, the reason I was struggling to save in the first place. I love having a motivational, achievable goal and my laptop motivation helped me to feel a bit more financially secure despite the changes I’ve had in my life this year. It’s also how I write all of my blog posts, so without my laptop there would be no Chez Autumn!

4. Being Creative



A perfect distraction, stress reliever for me is to have an outlet. The most favoured for me is to be creative! It doesn’t matter the time or materials I have to work with, I just go into my little world and get creative. I love to draw, sew, organise, dance and learn instruments. I’m not particularly good at any of them but I get a lot of satisfaction from doing any of the activities. I also like to try new things too and I’m currently trying to understand crochet… I’m failing abysmally but it’s still good fun to me!

5. Hugs

Last but certainly not least is hugs. Hugs can say so much in such a small time frame. Hugs can tell you someone’s feelings, when they may not be able to express them. They reassure you that everything will be OK. They remind you that there are priorities in life and you should always live for the now. I love hugs, I’m a tactile person but no matter how stressed I am, a good bear hug will take a large chunk of it away! 


So, those are my top 5 things that make me happy, what are yours? Do you have any goals that you want to achieve at the moment? How are you finding it?

As always you can contact me on here or send me a question/comment on twitter (@chezautumn) :)

Make your own choices!


Toodlepip x

Sunday, 17 August 2014

August Awareness | Phobias & Fears

Hello my Leaves,

This August Awareness theme hasn't been the easiest one to choose if I'm honest. But, I hope it is helping at least one person out there on the world wide web!

Today's theme is Phobias & Fears. Those horrible little thoughts in your head that do their best to prevent you from doing things. I am a firm believer that, 'that which is not spoken, increases the fear' (Chez 2014 ^^), so, today, I am going to share some of my phobias/fears and what I am doing to overcome them.

1. Being Alone
2. Food
3. Illness
4. Travel

I don't know if these are common fears to have, but they are mine, and I have named them.

I am in no way an expert on dealing with fears, all methods are my own choice, and I by no means want you to do things just because I am doing them.

1. Being Alone

My Fear: When I'm alone for a long time I get sad and lonely, kinda like a puppy... I start to think negatively about things and this becomes and increasing spiral until I reach a misery party for one :/
What I'm doing to overcome it: When I know I'm going to be alone I make plans. I make a to do list of things I'm going to do either at home or with people. I put on the TV/Radio/Music so that the sound is a comfort. I'm not trying to fill my time so that I'm not alone but instead I'm finding a way to enjoy it. I have extra long showers and spend time getting ready. I sing aloud...badly, I dance around like a crazy fool. I make being alone a positive thing. One thing I'm notoriously bad at is eating healthy when I'm alone so I make a meal plan and do a shop so that I have no excuse.  A healthy body is a healthy mind! :)

2. Food

My Fear: Trying new things will make me ill/ I won't enjoy them/ it's not safe to eat. Chicken is my current challenge after I had food poisoning in October... 
What I'm doing to overcome it: I have always been a fussy eater but I don't want people to feel they can't invite me over or eat out because I won't like anything. I've started to challenge myself by eating new things on a Friday or Saturday. This way if I am ill I have the weekend to recover, and I don't miss any work. I know that the fear is winning to some extent as it is restricting when I eat, but, it is encouraging me to try things. If nothing bad happens then I can eat during the week until I don't consider it threatening. With regards to chicken, I cut it up into smaller bites so I can see it is cooked. Eventually I won't check every bite but, it's baby steps!

3. Illness

My Fear: Being ill. It could be a headache, it could be something to be hospitalised for. I hate the thought of having to go somewhere ill because I'm that much further from home (safety).
What I'm doing to overcome it: I carry hand sanitiser and tissues with me along with ibuprofen. I don't use them very often but I know that I have them in case. Almost like a security blanket. I'm trying to kick the habit of holding my breath when I walk past someone coughing, but it's something I've done for so long it's a reflex. I am also reminding myself that being ill doesn't mean being weak. Everyone is allowed to be ill, in any capacity, and not be judged. I eat healthy and get plenty of sleep so that I have a stronger immune system. I go outside when I can to get fresh air too. All the little things help and the more I fight, the more the fear lessens.

4. Travel

My Fear: Being trapped and away from safety. I get almost claustrophobic when travelling and in some cases it leads to panic/anxiety attacks.
What I'm doing to overcome it: I plan a lot of my journeys now. I make sure I have an idea of where I am going and that I have plenty of time to get there! The tighter the deadline, the more anxious I will be, so I avoid it. I take a drink and some sweets with me as a distraction if I feel anxiety rising. If someone is driving me I make them aware that I can be an anxious traveller and advise them to talk to me or wind down the windows, (if possible), if they see me becoming anxious. If I'm on public transport I sit in the aisle and have my music or a book to pass the journey. I am determined not to miss out on opportunities because of this fear but, I know I currently have limitations, and I am pushing the boundary a little at a time.

These phobias/fears do not define me. They currently provide obstacles but life would be dull without hiccups! Quite a few of my fears relate to each other so I'm tackling them at the same time e.g. travelling somewhere and eating food there in the mindset that I won't be ill. By travelling with someone I have someone there if I do fall ill.

I want to encourage you now to list some of your fears below and how you are/going to overcome them. If you have twitter then name them with the hashtag #Ihavenamedthem :)

Support yourselves and each other and we WILL quash those fear/phobias! :)



Toodlepip x


I am in no way an expert on dealing with fears, all methods are my own choice, and I by no means want you to do things just because I am doing them.


#Ihavenamedthem

Friday, 15 August 2014

Weekly Update |15.08.2014

Helloooo there my leaves!

How are we all today? Have you had a good week?

I have some excellent news for you all! I got a call late afternoon on Friday (after I had written the weekly update) to say that I had gotten the job that I interviewed for! I am now employed again! It makes me very happy to say that and, as a bonus, it's a job role that I can see myself really enjoying!

I started on Monday and already feel like a part of the team! I must stop making comparisons in my head against my previous job though because sit is entirely different!

Anyhoo weekly update...weekly update... I haven't done so much this week apart from sleep and work but I have got a few plans for future posts. The theme for September will be announced soon so watch this space :) Also, how are you finding the August Awareness theme? I've had a few messages from  you, particularly about the anxiety and panic attack post that went up on Sunday. It's good to know that this is actually helping some of you :)!

Ooh gardening! That's what I've been doing :) We've decided to increase our driveway as we have three cars and only one space at the moment. I spent a lot of Saturday rehoming frogs who had decided that the bushes in the front garden would be their home. They've now been upgraded to a pond complete with lily pads and other dark hiding spots :)

Sunday's post will be about Fears and Phobia's. I've gone out a bit on this post and have actually divulged some of my fears, not a pleasant experience, but to make it less about the fear I've also told you how I'm overcoming them. We can't let our lives be controlled by our fear!

I'm fairly excited for the post and I hope you are too! :)

I would like to finish by saying thank you to you all! I have my first two followers this week so a big thank you to Eric and Katie!

Much love!

Make your own choices.

Toodlepip x


Also, it's raining sooo much today! Bertha has been by now surely?! It does remind me of Lancashire though :)

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

August Awareness | Mental Health and Education



Results.


It's the reason people choose to study. It's not to socialise or because they get a kick out of waking up early and going to a place where a lot of the day is decided for them. It's results. It's about getting a step closer to where you want to be. It's about being able to say, 'I've achieved this'.

What happens when it becomes too much? What happens when you place so much pressure on yourself that your drive for results becomes an obstacle in your own life, affecting the results?


You fracture. You break.
(Amazing photo, I know!)

By fracture, I mean that you face increased anxiety, you find yourself being ill more often, you become sleep deprived from stress, you can't concentrate as well in your classes, your results dip and this just places more stress on you. It's a vicious circle but you need to know how to get a handle on it. If you don't, your mental and emotional health will deteriorate and no one wants that. It should NEVER have to get to that point! I've chosen to tackle this topic by doing a list of things you can do to improve/have a positive mental health with your education.

Be realistic.
I know that at the start of the school year you feel pretty invincible and you spend a lot of time on each assignment because the workload isn't so bad. You sign up to every activity going and spend a lot of time with friends. I call this the honeymoon period of education. Whilst it's good to try out lots of different things you need to be realistic and honest. How many of these commitments can you do, alongside studying, and having time for yourself? The amount of time you spent on your first assignment was impressive but are you going to be able to commit that level of time for every assignment? Give yourself the same time frame you will give future assignments. It will help you to become more productive in the future! Evaluate everything you have going on in your life. As nice as it is to go out and every day of the week, can it be reduced whilst you're studying? You may need a job to help support your studies but how many hours do you need to do? The recommendation when I went to Uni was to not go over 15 hours employment if you are studying full time and even then that's the absolute limit. Don't get greedy with money. Earn enough to support yourself and use the other time studying and balancing your life!

Don't compare.
I can't stress this enough. You only need to know your own situation. Don't compare what you do to others. Their life is different. They may spend more time on each essay, but this could be for many reasons. They may need more time to research than you do. They may have a different learning style that requires them to spend more time doing the exact same thing as you. It's not a competition of who can study the longest. Everyone has different aptitudes so don't assume that because someone has understood something that you haven't, that you never will. You will understand; you may just need to approach it a different way. Once you're comparing yourself to others, you're focusing on their life instead of your own. This won't affect them but, it will affect you.

Plan.
Know when you're at your most productive and take advantage of it. If you work better at night then do your chores in the morning and study later. If you work best in the morning then get up a little earlier and make sure you go to sleep at a time that gives you enough rest.
Lists are beautiful things for me. If I have everything written down then I can work out what to do and when. I don't stress last minute because I've forgotten something. When I studied for my degree I also had a job so I planned my studying around it and made sure that after work I had time to socialise, because I had already done my studying. You don't need to plan every second of your day but you will be much more productive if you have some form of plan.

Be healthy.
A healthy, balanced diet can improve your concentration. This means you will be more productive. You will achieve more accomplishments. You won't feel as stressed. Keep hydrated whilst studying and have a little healthy snack within reach so that you're still receiving energy whilst you learn. Make sure you give yourself 'brain breaks'. If you're inside, go for a little walk outside. Some fresh air will do you good, honestly. You will be more productive with frequent little breaks than if you sit down and study for three hours without a rest. Exercise is also a great idea whilst studying! I don't mean flat out sprinting or completing a Tough Mudder obstacle course. Just try to do at least 20 minutes of gentle/moderate exercise a day. This could be a brisk walk around the campus or maybe meeting with a friend and doing yoga, it's up to you.

Balance.
Make sure your life isn't just study and work. Make time to balance your day by seeing friends and family. Go and do something fun! I know exam time is stressful and you feel you have no time to do anything other than study but it will help to have these social breaks.

Seek advice and support.
If it has reached the point where you are beginning to fracture don't stay silent! Seek advice and support. There are lots of options available these days for students so use them! You are not weak for wanting support! Every building needs foundations or it will crumble! The more you struggle on, the more likely you will affect your health overall. Education isn't supposed to be a stamina test to see how long you can last. Talk to your school advisory team/staff. If it becomes tougher then speak to a counsellor or your GP. Talk to your friends and fellow students, they may have developed their own support that you hadn't considered.

I hope these tips have helped you and have you given you the motivation to keep achieving. I'm not saying this is what you need to do to succeed but it will certainly help! If you are keeping a balance but are still struggling with your health then maybe a break will help? A lot of institutes have the option to have a term/semester out and then return to study so speak to your advisor about it. If that doesn't work then consider returning to study at a later date or switch to part time if possible? Just because it's the right time for some, doesn't mean that it is the only time for you.


Make your own choices.

Toodlepip x




Sunday, 10 August 2014

August Awareness | Anxiety and Panic Attacks

This blog post isn't designed to cause any upset, I hope it's going to give you some tools that I use myself so that if you or anyone you know experiences anxiety or panic attacks you can get a handle on them sooner. I'm not saying that I have the answer to prevent panic attacks, still fighting them myself I'm not the person to do that, and maybe there's no such cure. I am not a doctor either so you should always seek professional help before/if things are going beyond your control.

This post was not easy to write. Nor was it written in one go. I actually started writing this post at the beginning of July but I never had the guts to click 'publish'. I'm not one to bare my soul to strangers but I hope that by doing this I help at least one person. This blog isn't well known but if you know of someone who would benefit from this post, let them know. If you thinks it's rubbish then click next blog, don't go criticising people if they comment, thank you.

***

Imagine you are in a room full of doors and windows. Around you are lots of people and they're happily walking in and out of the doors, chatting to each other through the windows and generally having a good time, and so are you. Then there's an emergency, for the sake of the example I'll say it's a fire. Everyone in the room starts to leave through the doors, slightly hasty, but feeling safe in the fact that they can get out of the area before the fire comes anywhere near them. You try to follow but you find that you're stuck. Your fight or flight response is kicking in but no one around you has noticed and they're all now safely out of the situation. You can feel the heat rising through your feet to your cheeks. The oxygen from the air is disappearing and you're finding yourself struggling to breathe. You can be stuck in this situation for what feels like a very long time but, in reality, can be up to ten minutes at the worst point. 

This is how I feel when I have a panic attack.

***

A lot of people struggle to understand what this feels like if they haven't experienced it for themselves. Of course, in the example above the response is perfectly reasonable. But imagine that you're in the middle of a shop, or on a train, or at a meal with friends and your body begins to go through the scenario's motions. To most people they see no response. To them you've just gone a little flushed and aren't really engaging in the conversation. But, to you, it feels like an overwhelming pressure on your heart and your head as your brain and body try to process and deal with it's perceived fight or flight scenario.

Don't let the attacks get the upper hand.

My biggest obstacle at the moment is not letting the thought of having an attack get the better of me. There was a time, not so long ago, where I would be in tears at the thought of having to leave my house, when just two weeks earlier I was driving to work, seeing my friends, going to the shops and generally living my life. I had let the fear of an attack get the better of me. I became so afraid that I would be in a situation I couldn't get out of that I wouldn't let myself do anything. Now I actively try to tell myself to go and do things to push my mind. To take me out of my comfort zone. It's baby steps but, if you've read my earlier posts you will know that, I've moved across the country and away from a large chunk of my support system. I had all my tools at hand and I didn't panic for the entire journey (5 and a half hours, plus traffic and driving in multiple lanes). You can't let them get the upper hand. Once you start stopping yourself from doing things it is a spiral to the point where leaving the house becomes a much bigger challenge than it used to be.

Accept your emotions.

Personally, I feel a lot of anger towards myself when I feel my hesitation to do something. Particularly if it is something that I used to do without thinking. I feel embarrassed and ashamed when I see the faces of those around me going off to do things that I chickened out of. That's why I push myself. If I panic then I panic, but it doesn't mean that I will panic in the same situation if I do it again. Granted, there are days when I feel drained and I don't push myself, but I do tell myself it's just one day and then I treat the next as though the previous wasn't there. Don't feel like you have to act differently to how you feel. This is your experience and your life, you're entitled to feel your emotions.

Mind over matter.

I know this isn't easy, I can feel you rolling your eyes. The amount of people that have told you to just go out there, or man up or stop attention seeking, and live life is likely to be numerous but, it is about mind over matter. When you feel the anxiety building ask yourself 'where is the danger?', 'Where is the threat?' or 'what is making me anxious?' For the first two questions, you will hopefully realise that there is none. For the third, start to work out what you could do to remain in the situation but be more comfortable, if that fails then leave the situation and repeat the questions for the new place.

Distraction.

There isn't always the opportunity for you to remove yourself to somewhere else, or it may be that that isn't helping you. Another method to try is distraction. Personally, if I focus on one of my senses it helps me to 'reset' my brain by asking it to focus on something other than it's fight or flight response. I tend to always have something edible in my bag, or a book, or my iPod. Each of these things help to distract me. If you can't do any of these things in your environment then look around you.Use your eyes to work out the pattern on the floor, or watch birds flying around, people watch, anything to use the senses. You could even trace small circles on your hands, or temples, to see if that helps. For me, touch, smell and sound aren't as effective as it tends to be an overload of these senses that trigger me. For you, it may be different. See each anxiety attack as an opportunity to test your senses. Find which ones work for you and remember it.

Trust those around you.

In the majority of situations you won't be alone. To prevent the panic from escalating, trust those around you. If they're close friends or family, let them know how to read the signs so that they can help you. If they know how to distract your mind, or how else they can help, then you won't feel as alone. A few people close to me know me well enough that they can even tell from entering the situation how I might react, and they distract me from the beginning until I feel comfortable. Don't be afraid to tell them what you need. It could be that you like to be near a door or window until you feel calm, if you don't ask, they don't know.

Breathe.

I can't emphasise this enough. Breathe, take deep breaths. Prove to your mind that it can feel oxygen. If you have a particularly happy memory in your mind focus on it as you inhale and exhale all your anxiety.

Don't do it alone.

  • You're not a superhero. Everyone needs support and that includes you. There are countless resources available now that can help. Your local doctor will be able to refer you to someone to talk to. You may do a course in CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy), they may give you some medication to help, they may do something else. You're not the first person they will have seen and you won't be the last. By going to them you are proving that the training and resources are required to help people including yourself. 
  • There are also several websites that can help too. My favourites are MindAnxietyUK and Time to Change which is run by Mind. 
  • You may already have the resources but want an outlet. At this point you can talk to your family, a therapist (of which there are a variety) or you can write a diary. Why not buy a notepad and for each feeling of anxiety you have you can write it down and then explore it further at a 'safer' time.


I hope this has helped you, whether it's to help your own anxiety or to help you understand someone else's. Everyone is different so always remember that what works for one person, may not work for another. Find your own tools too and share them in the comments. If you have any questions for me then I can be contacted via email, the comments and twitter @chezautumn.


Make your own choices

Toodlepip x


Friday, 8 August 2014

Weekly Update | 08/08/2014

Hello my Leaves,

How have you been this week? :)

I had my first views this week from Hong Kong & Belgium! I'm adding them to my list of viewers (UK, USA, Germany, Poland, Russia)! World Domination here we come ^^,

I have also been borderline obsessed with Emma Blackery's song this week: The Promise. Click here if you haven't heard it already :) She has an awesome YouTube channel and other songs can be found there amongst other amazingness! If you're in or around London then go say 'Hi' to her at Summer in the City this weekend :)

This week has been pretty good. I've gotten the Sunday post up (Anxiety and Panic Attacks) and that will be up at 8pm BST on Sunday! It was a tough one to write and I almost changed the topic to avoid it, but I'm glad I didn't! What did you think of the first post, Beating Low Moods?

On the job front: I had another interview this week for a company that I have fallen in love with! The team seem genuinely bonkers and I feel like that's the spirit I'm after right now! I'll keep you up to date on this :)

I'm not too sure of my age range (audience) but I wanted to have a little ramble about 'the boomerang generation'. Children that return to live back at home after a period of study/employment. As one of these 'Boomerang' children I found it quite amusing and enlightening to see the parents point of view, but there was little on the "child's".

From my own experience I can understand how the parent must feel. Finally not having to worry about having their children home, enjoying having visits instead of residents returning. At the same time I am experiencing the child's. 

Trying to find the balance when returning home is a struggle. I have lived away for six years and I want to retain most of my independence but at the same time I don't want to appear ungrateful or aloof from the rest of the household. Where possible I contribute and try not to raise costs, once I'm employed I will be paying rent and bills and managing my own food bill. I do my own washing and currently hoover and dust the house as I'm unemployed. I want to live as another adult and it is a constant challenge not to fall into the role of dependent, but we're getting there. My household are very keen practitioners of open and honest communication and that is helping all of us with this adjustment. This situation isn't permanent but nor is it short term. We will adjust as best we can and eventually we will be seamless.

If you are a parent experiencing boomerang's, be patient and honest. We can't read your mind but at the same time require some adjustment period. We don't want to be a burden on you but we still want to be recognised as adult and independent. If we don't socialise as much it could be that we're trying to give you some space, or that we need it. If you do feel that you're being taken advantage of then tell us, be honest, but also be specific about what you would want to see. Just telling us to be independent is hard because we don't want to feel as though we are a lodger instead of family, help us find that balance.

If you are the child/boomerang, breathe. It's not fun or easy to find the balance of being family under the same roof whilst also being less dependent. Remember that whilst it will be your home, it is not your house. Be courteous and check that members are OK with you having people around. See what their routines are and adapt, you're not a kid anymore, be responsible. Most of the time this isn't permanent so be patient and lastly be grateful for the opportunity to spend more time with your family and have the assurance of a roof over your head.

Are you a Parent of a Boomerang or the Boomerang? How are your experiences?

I'm going to leave at this point now! It's quite cool at the moment so I'm going to take advantage and get some gardening done! I hear storm Bertha is on her way this weekend! I hope she behaves and doesn't ruin your plans!

Make your own choices.

Toodlepip x


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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

ASOS and Yesstyle Spree

Hello my Leaves, how are you today?

Now, I'm not someone who buys a lot of clothes but when I do I tend to get a bit overexcited and want to share my purchases with everyone... you guys are so lucky :P

I'm more of an online shopper than an actual go and walk around shops person, partly because of the whole crowded place issue, and partly because I can never seem to find anything I like in shops.

I have four things to show you today and I'll let you know where I got them so you can get them too, if you want, there's no pressure ^^,


1.  Denim Cycle Shorts - ASOS

These are the most snuggest, comfiest shorts I think I have ever purchased, ever. They have loads of flexibility in the material so I can sit at the desk and sew for ages without feeling uncomfortable. They come to just above my knees as well so there's none of the awkward noises when you've been sat on a plastic chair for too long ^^. 

2.  Peacock Dress - ASOS (again)


This dress is another good find :) Do you know what I mean when I say this is a swirly twirly dress? It fits my form so well and it makes me feel good despite it being so bright! I normally avoid the bright items as I like to be in the background, but this dress...
I also love that the sleeves finish above the elbow. It really makes the outfit without having to accessorise too much, I just added my usual charm bracelet and necklace and then I was good to go. This is the outfit that I interviewed in for my dressmaker role too, I got the job :D (hopefully because of what I said and not the outfit but it made me feel very comfortable and boosted my confidence).
I have slightly altered the neckline to make it a bit higher as it did show my bra but for the little tweak it is still worth the purchase :)

3. Swallow Jumper (One Size) - Yesstyle


I am in love with Yesstyle at the moment. I love that the fashions on their site are quite different to the UK sites but they also have a wide range of choice when it comes to how much you want to spend too! This jumper is lovely and warm and will become a staple for me during Autumn/Fall as I can throw it over whatever I'm wearing if I'm out at different times of day. This only had one size option but the site does offer returns if it doesn't fit how you would like! (I'm a UK 10 and it fits just fine :))
Yesstyle also have a lot of miscellaneous items too so it's definitely worth a browse :)

4. Ribbon Shoes - Yesstyle


Finding shoes is always a challenge for me as I have quite wide feet and the back will always rub if it's too firm. I hear you telling me they just need to wear in but believe me, my feet just don't toughen on the back! When I saw these shoes I thought they were a nice change to my standard black flats and I loved the ribbon. They are described as pink on the site but they are a very muted, almost dusty, pink patent. They are super comfy and with the ribbons you can change the style depending on how you tie them. 
The picture may make them look heeled but they are definitely flats ^^.

And that's it :) I did order another dress but that's been returned as it did not fit my body shape whatsoever! Do you know of any sites that I can try that have something a little different?
Also, let me know if you like these kind of posts and I shall endeavour to let you know when I brave the online shops xD.

Make your own choices!

Toodlepip x



All of these purchases were made with my own monies and I am in no way bribed or coerced into making a review :) 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

August Awareness: Beating Low Moods

Hello my Leaves, how are you today?

As you may have noticed, my Sunday posts are going to be the ones that focus on the slightly more serious things. Today's is all about beating the blues!

Now I'm sure all of you at one point or another have been in a low mood or a bit of dip and it can be very frustrating and challenging to pull out of. I normally feel these dips when I'm feeling particularly anxious or isolated as I'm quite an introverted but still need a dose of socialisation every once in a while as a boost. There are a few things I can do, and you can try, which help me to ease the dip or to pull me out of them altogether.

1. Shower/Bath


Taking a long shower or bath is such a great way to perk up. For me it feels as though I'm washing away all my negative feelings and can start my day again afterwards. Take your time after as well. Moisturise, paint your nails, do your hair different to how you would everyday. I like to put some music on and ignore any social media during this time. It gives you a chance to ignore the world for a bit and just focus on yourself. Think about the positives that you've had from your day (you will find them!).

2. Music


As I mentioned above I find music a great release for negative feelings. The trick is to work out what music makes you feel better and which music maybe won't improve your mood. I have a playlist that contains purely upbeat and happy music. It works pretty much every time, especially if I go for a walk with it on full blast in my ears :) NB: I'm not encouraging you to deafen yourself...

3. Movies


If you're not feeling like walking or having a shower then get into your comfys and watch a feel good film :) My particular favourites are Easy A, Pitch Perfect, How to train your dragon, Legally Blonde and Despicable Me. If I don't end up laughing during one of these then I put on another until I do :) Again, leave this time for yourself you can watch them with people but try not to sit on your phone throughout!

4. Treats


I'm not saying you should eat your feelings, not a good habit! A treat could mean anything. It could be going to your favourite place/shop, it could be having a pamper day or going to a taster session for something you have wanted to try for a long time. Find something that you enjoy doing, take the time out, and go do it!

5. Socialise


I realise the previous things have been quite solo things but I really do recommend going and talking to one of your friends or family. Even if you don't feel up to meeting them there are so many forms of media these days that you can catch up with someone and still see their face :). I have a few people to go to even though I'm living away from them it still feels like I've seen them and had a good catch up after. Be honest with who you choose to talk to. Don't just chat to someone without actually being honest about how you're feeling or you won't feel any better.

I hope these things helped, let me know if there's anything I haven't mentioned that I can try :) This isn't intended to bring anyone down but more to give you ways to avoid getting into a funk. You may be a permanently happy person who never feels low, if so, good for you and by all means keep doing whatever you're doing to feel that way, except drugs, don't do drugs!

Keep your chin up!

Make your own choices!

Toodlepip x

Friday, 1 August 2014

Weekly update w/e 1/8/2014

Hello my Leaves,

Can I just take a moment to express how proud I am of you for actually reading my posts and following me on twitter! This whole experience is still in it's novel and new phase but I'm really enjoying it and I hope you are too!

How has your week been?

I've been trying to get organised for my August Awareness posts and it's been, challenging. I didn't have much sleep monday night as my body decided 1am was the time to have a panic attack and the 'aftershocks' decided to stay with me for the entirety of Tuesday :/ Instead of putting me off writing the posts it's almost encouraged me to keep going and hope that maybe I help one person out there?

I have a few spaces still for August's posts but I've made a few fun ones to try and lighten the tone!

As a distraction, I've been working on how I want my room to look, (see the New Bedroom post to know what I'm on about ^^), and it's at the point now where I'm just waiting to have the money to make it a reality :) What do you guys think? 


I'm not a technical artist but hopefully you get the gist :)

I've also been trying to take advantage of the sunshine whilst job hunting which has been good fun but I seem to have four furry distractions! I live on a row of houses and for some reason all the cats like to meet up in my garden :D I have no issue with this as long as they don't fight/poo everywhere/yowl at all hours ^^,


This one reminds me of one of my best friend's cats. S/He has a lovely white and golden fur and reminds me of a reverse of Houdini (his fur is mainly golden). S/He's quite shy but when s/he's with the tabby below s/he's quite happy to run around.


This Tabby is definitely the boss. S/He has four white socks and a lovely mix of oranges and browns for the main body. S/He is always the first to greet people and acts as a bodyguard to the white and golden.


Now this cat reminds of a very fat cat that I used to see when I was growing up! S/He doesn't usually patrol with the two above and prefers to be in the shade than to sunbathe. I lured him/her out of the shade for the photo and a tummy rub!


Finally we get this little one. A lot more skittish than the others and not seen too often! I only spotted him/her today because his/her eyes were reflecting in one of the bushes! S/He did come close enough for a tummy rub but jumped when I reached for my camera.

I'm sure the four of them get up to lots of mischief together and watching them all lie in the shade today made me very envious of a cat's life! They can come and go as they please, don't have to pay bills, have as much affection as they want and generally do whatever they want! If you could be any animal for the day what would it be, and why? :)

On the more grown up note, I've been job hunting quite a lot this week! I think I definitely want to return to administration and support so hopefully something will come up soon :) *crosses fingers*

I think that's a wrap for this week but I will add anything I've forgotten in the comments or on twitter :)

Make your own choices.

Toodlepip x