Things That Help Me Stay Positive

Stay Positive

Stay PositiveIt can be hard to stay positive. It can be hard for us all. This week’s posts have been about mental health but I’m quite conscious of not being too negative or seeming like I’m just having a good old whinge. But, in the same breath, I want to keep the Mental Health Awareness series going. So today I thought I’d share with you some of the things that can help me to stay positive when I’m not feeling great:

1. Family and Friends

Let’s face it, they’re the best for pretty much anything. But all it can take sometimes is just a simple message saying “I love you” or a text out of the blue asking how I’m doing. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that there are people out there who care about you when you don’t really care about yourself.

Copenhagen

2. Running

Well, exercise generally. One of the first things every doctor I’ve ever seen about depression and anxiety has asked me, is how often I exercise. Now I’ve heard people saying that they’ve been to their doctors for help only to be “prescribed” a nice, long walk. This is unbelievable and not an acceptable way to treat people. Mental illnesses need to be taken seriously and certainly aren’t something that can just be “walked off”. But, sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly anxious or I’m worried about something, running really does help. It’s by no means a cure but it can take the edge off the overwhelming feelings sometimes. Regular exercise also helps with health and energy levels generally which is always a bonus. Even more so when one of the things I struggle with most is low energy with depression.

3. ASMR Videos

I came across these by reading a random blog post about them. I can’t remember which blog but I want to say thank you to that person for introducing me to them. ASMR itself is an odd one to explain and I don’t fully understand it. What I do know is that I can put a video on, with my headphones in and be asleep within 30-45 minutes. They have an unbelievable calming effect on me (I’m a big fan of the make up ones, as well as the Reiki ones too). A word of warning though, they’re really not for everyone and I know a few people who really cannot stand them. The beauty is that the variety you can find on YouTube is huge so there’s plenty to choose from.

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4. Writing 

It probably comes as no surprise to you that I love writing. I have two blogs that are up and running. I have three major projects in the pipeline – two books and an online course. The books are years off being finished but there’s something very cathartic about picking up my notebook or laptop, finding a nice cafe and writing bits of an imaginary story whenever I need an escape. Writing more seriously, like for Flourishing Freelancer can be great in a different way. I have to focus on research and the content being correct so much that I can often forget about other things.

5. Travel 

It makes me sad to write this as one of the things that helps me because I don’t get to do it anywhere near as much as I used to or would like to. But travelling is amazing. It really helps me a lot. I think partially it’s getting away from everyday things. It’s also partially the distraction of exploring somewhere new and partially the space it gives me to think and figure things out. There’s something about travelling that’s eye opening, humbling and exciting all at the same time. I know a lot of people who fight depression and anxiety (particularly the latter) worry about travelling. Especially travelling alone in case their symptoms worsen whilst they are away. Like everything mental health related, it’s personal – what works for someone, might not for another. But, for me, packing my bag and setting off on an adventure, whether alone or with someone else, brings me so much happiness. AdventureSo, there you have it, the top five things that get me through the tough times. Let me know what yours are.

Where Have I Been??

Hey there.

I’m sorry I haven’t been on your screens for a while guys. In all honesty, time has just flown by (I feel like I say this at some point almost every single month). I mean seriously, I have no idea how it’s almost September already?! More importantly, how is the Bank Holiday over already?!

Bank holiday weekend!

Where’ve I Been?

I looked over by blog earlier this week and realised that the only blog posts published this month were recipes that I wrote and scheduled out back in July. I’ve actually written nothing new this month. I’ve worked on several draft outlines but I’ve not been able to finish anything – I’ve been so indecisive. My lack of posting (and general interaction with you guys) has shown on my stats – they’ve been seriously bad this month! I’ve been struggling with motivation and there’s nothing worse than staring at a blank screen, or even a half written post. It’s kinda demoralising and you start doubting yourself as a blogger.

So, I chose to ignore the blog for a week…well I thought it was a week…turned out to be the best part of a month. It was a conscious decision not to work on Brighteyed and Bewildered for a little while for two reasons. Firstly, to give my blogging brain a bit of a break; trying to finish off my draft posts clearly wasn’t going to work. Secondly, to give myself a bit of down time. One thing people don’t realise about blogging is that it’s pretty much a lifestyle choice. Now I know that sounds crazy but it really is. I’m constantly looking for inspiration, scheduling social media posts, reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, writing and editing posts, don’t even get me started on photos! So having time to chill out in an evening, watch a film, even go to a pub quiz has been awesome.

Finally, I’ve been focusing a lot on my new project which I can tell you a bit more about now! Yay!

Flourishing Freelancer

Flourishing Freelancer

So, you probably know that I’ve been blogging for a little while now. What you probably don’t know is how tough I’ve found it! There’s so much to learn from building your blog and creating content to choosing the right plugins and deciding on the best ways to monetise your blog.

The more I researched into building a better blog and growing my following, the more I realised how much the “background stuff” interested me so I started reading and researching more and more out of interest.

The main thing I found when I was doing that research was just how much information is out there. And, rather frustratingly, how conflicting and confusing it all is. So, I decided to help people like me and create a little bit of the internet where you can find information and advice on building and growing your own blog. And that’s where Flourishing Freelancer comes in. It’s about having a community of creative minds, writers, bloggers and generally awesome people. It’s about giving readers a place to find answers to their blogging questions.

You might have also guessed from the title of the blog that freelancing will feature heavily too. It’s something I’m just starting out on and, similarly to blogging, there’s a whole world of confusing information out there. I figured that the best way to help people starting out as a freelance writer is to document my journey.

The Flourishing Freelancer site will consist of a blog, free downloads (such as plans and worksheets to help you out) and, eventually, some webinars and the Flourishing Freelancer Course. 

The site isn’t live just yet so don’t get too excited and start looking for it! I’ve got a week booked off in early September which I’m hoping will give me time to tidy up the basics and get the site launched.

So What’s Next?

I feel a bit rubbish for having neglected this blog for so long. On the plus side, I have lots of works in progress which, once I have my motivation back, will be easy to turn into new and exciting posts. It might be that I just leave it til my week off in September. I’ll see how I feel after work tomorrow!

This weekend I’ve been working on my super geeky schedule which covers this blog…I have a separate one for the new project…so hopefully be back on track shortly. 

For now, I’m going to end my bank holiday Monday by watching old episodes of Sherlock Holmes in bed (the BBC ones with Benedict Cumberbatch in), eating cheese on toast.

Sublime Sundays Part Eight: A Weekend With Friends

A Weekend of Food, Drink andFriends

I took my own advice this weekend and, following my 2016 goals, made this weekend about spending time with friends.

On Saturday I went up to Manchester to see an old work colleague, Sam, (actually my old manager) for lunch. I took the slow train so that I had plenty of time to do some writing – I also saved myself £50 which was an added bonus. It’s strange to think that I left Manchester almost a year ago, it felt like I’d never been away. Walking from the station to meet Sam just felt like my old route to work.

I ended Dry January with two glasses of Prosecco over a delicious lunch at Cicchetti. A couple of Sam’s friends were there too which was really nice; it’s always good to meet new people! I only had a couple of hours in Manchester before it was time to jump back on the slow train back to London but those few hours were wonderful.

The journey home was very productive. I hadn’t planned on doing any writing but about 45 minutes into the journey, I started to feel very anxious so I stuck my headphones in, hit play on my Ghanaian playlist (a failsafe way of cheering myself up) and got my laptop out. In just under 2 hours I managed to write another 2,000 words in my draft eBook. I read somewhere that the best way to write long pieces of work is to speed type – you just type everything that comes into your mind without stopping to correct typos or re-order sentences. It really helps with the flow of creativity and you can go back over it later to organise paragraphs and rephrase things if you need to. It worked really well for me so hopefully the book will be ready much quicker than I had planned. Watch this space!

Today has been all about catching up with my bestest friend. We met a few years ago in Ghana and bonded straight away. We don’t get to see each other anywhere near as much as we should but, when we do, it’s amazing.

We met for lunch in Guildford which, in itself, was nice as I used to live there and haven’t been back for a long time. It was really good to catch up, gossip, bitch, eat and drink (with no judgment). Time went far too quickly though. The great thing is that we’ve both realised it’s really easy to meet in Guildford so hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other. Zoe also got me some flowers and I had made her a wedding planner as she’s just got engaged (congrats again my love!) – surprise gifts are the best!

I headed home for an afternoon of more writing and some boring housework – I hate being an adult sometimes. The weather is really miserable outside so it’s looking like an early night snuggled under the duvet with our usual Sunday night horror movie (we’re currently considering Deliver Us From Evil).

I can’t believe how quickly the weekend has gone but I’ve loved seeing friends; it’s definitely something I need to do more of this year.

But for now it’s back to Monday and trying to make the best of the week again!

Sublime Sundays Part Seven: A Round Up of A Productive Weekend

A Round Up of A Productive Weekend

This weekend has been fairly productive; I finally feel like I’ve achieved something and been able to tick not one, but two things off my to-do list.

I know these posts are usually about how I spent my Sunday but I haven’t posted for the past couple of days so thought I’d just do a little round up of what I got up to this weekend.

As both me and Sean are working on blogs at the moment we’ve decided that on one day of the weekend we are going to spend a few hours in a coffee shop doing some work. We’ve done some research into the best coffee places in London to work in – comfy seating and a good internet connection is pretty important so we needed a bit of guidance. The aim is to try out a new place each weekend, occasionally going back to our favourites.

So, first on our list was Timber Yard on Old Street. We got there just after they opened at 10 on Saturday morning and it was a good job we did because it filled up pretty quickly. We bagged ourselves a sofa and an arm chair downstairs (upstairs is street level and got quite loud later on in the day, so not an ideal place to work but great to hang out with friends).

The coffee was really, really good (over the four hours we were there, I had a flat white, a latte and a chai latte), the only criticism I would have is that I wish each cup had lasted longer! We also had a caramel brownie between us for breakfast which was amazing and some pastries around lunch time (don’t judge!). There was more substantial food on offer such as sandwiches and soup which looked really good but both of us were far too tempted by the sweeter treats on offer.

Timber Yard

The internet connection was fast (and free) which meant that we were both able to get a lot done. It seemed like almost everyone downstairs was working which I think contributed to my productivity. The atmosphere wasn’t dull and serious though which is what I had been worried about before we got there. People were still talking to each other and laughing so it didn’t feel like we were in an office. The staff were really helpful and friendly too.

Timber Yard might have been the first coffee shop on our list to try but it’s also the first on our list of places to go back to!

We stayed at Timber Yard until mid-afternoon and I managed to get two blog posts written, I read an eBook on writing eBooks (clever, eh?) and I added another chapter to my draft book. All in all, a productive few hours. 

When we got home, I did a little more work on my book and then took some time out to hang out with one of my best friends and watch Grown Ups. By the time I’d come home, made dinner (home made lasagne, go me!), it was bed time.

Sunday started a little slower and has mainly involved me sitting on my bed. But, I have done a third blog post as well as this one and I’ve also finished reading an eBook on freelance writing. When I’m reading educational/how-to books and articles I like to make notes for three reasons; 1. it helps me remember what I read; 2. I have the key points handy for future reference; and 3. it means I have a use for the million notebooks I own.

Etsy are also running an course called Etsy Resolution, which is a four week course on setting up and getting the most out of your Etsy store. I’d kind of set one up before but never really put any effort into it so I’ve signed up for the course and completed the first lesson this afternoon.

So, as you can see, this weekend has been very productive and I actually feel like I’ve started to make progress in a number of areas. All I have left to do this evening is to finish off next week’s schedule and edit and schedule my draft blog posts for later this week. And, with leftover lasagne for dinner, I don’t even have to cook!

How was your weekend? Did you get much done or just enjoy a relaxing few days?

12 Things That Make Me Smile

Things That Make Me Smile

I’m sat in the dark because the bulb in my bedroom has gone and I’m too flippin short to change it! Sometimes being short is awesome, mainly because you can fit into small places, but sometimes it’s a nightmare. Like right now.

I decided I’d pass some time by reading other blogs which I love doing anyway, but haven’t done much of lately, and I started thinking about other things that I enjoy but haven’t had time for recently. As many of you know, I’ve struggled with depression for a while but it’s been much worse over recent months. Sometimes it’s nice to stop for a moment and think about things that make you happy and, in my case, how you can do more of those things.

So, I went for a list of 12. I almost always do lists in 12. Why? Because 1 to 10 is good but what about those things that are better than good? Well, they get the 11th and 12th spots. Having said that, these are in no particular order.

1. Reading – As I was reading when I decided to write this post, this one should come as no surprise! But I do really love reading whether it’s blog posts or books, I love to get lost in someone else’s words. At the moment, I’m reading “Reasons to Stay Alive” by Matt Haig which is an amazing story about how Matt overcame depression from the brink of suicide. I think part of the reason I’m enjoying it so much is because I can relate to pretty much every single word but I’d highly recommend it to anyone. The downside is that, at the moment, I only really get to read it on my way to and from work which, if you’ve ever travelled on the underground during rush hour, you’ll know isn’t always possible.

Reasons to Stay Alive

2. Crafts – There’s something about drawing and making things that I find really therapeutic. It’s something I can completely immerse myself in for hours on end. Plus it means I get to buy pretty things like paper and washi tape!

3. Running – Ok, ok, I hate running. The physical act of running is painful and cold and sweaty all at the same time. But the feeling it gives you is amazing. There’s something so satisfying about setting yourself a goal and then pushing yourself to beat it, even if it’s just a small goal like not walking until you get to the next lamp post/street/mile marker. And then there’s the obvious health benefits of it too, even if you do feel like you’re dying at the time.

Running makes me smile sometimes

4. Stationery – I guess this stems from my love of arts and crafts but I have an unhealthy obsession with stationery, especially notebooks. On Tuesday night I had some time to kill before my belly dance class and spent a good half an hour (yes, a full half an hour) in kikki.K looking at all of their different notebooks and diaries. I’ve made a little list of what I want to buy on pay day! Top of the list is the wellness planner and the Be Brave daily thoughts book.

5. Food – I love food. Probably too much but it makes me so fucking happy!

6. Friends and Family – It’s so nice to catch up with people you haven’t seen for a while. To forget about your immediate problems and just talk about the good things that have happened. Sure you might bitch a little but, for the most part, when you’re catching up with friends and family you focus on the good things and share funny stories that make you smile.

7. Films – No matter what kind of mood you’re in, there’s a film for it. Sometimes you just need a silly comedy like Step Brothers to make you laugh and other times you need something uplifting and inspirational like Eat, Pray, Love or The Theory of Everything (which is what I’m watching as I write this post). The point is, film is something else that you can lose yourself in and become completely drawn in by the characters and stories. Apart from those I’ve already mentioned, the other film than never fails to make me smile is Beasts of the Southern Wild, it has to be one of my all time favourite films.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

8. Learning – There’s nothing better than learning something new. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t studying something, even just an online course with no actual qualification at the end of it. There’s so much information at our fingertips that it seems a complete waste not to try to take some of it in. I also think that this one relates to my experience of depression because learning new things gives me a sense of purpose and achievement.

9. Photography – From both angles. As much as I enjoy taking photos, there’s so much talent out there to appreciate and make you smile. Sometimes I just Google photographers based on countries or subjects and spend hours marvelling at their portfolios.

10. Writing – Blogs, lists, things that make me smile, working on my book, whatever it is that I’m writing, it makes me smile. Writing, especially blog posts, can be cathartic and help clear your mind. It can get rid of the bad things in your mind and make you focus on the good things.

11. Travel – At the moment it’s more about planning future travel than actually travelling because I’m really poor at the moment! You probably already know that love travelling and there’s nothing better than exploring new places, or as I am at the moment, planning new places to explore.

12. Making Lists – Yes, I am a major nerd. So what?

There’s lots of other things that make me smile but these are my “go to” 12. What makes you smile? I’d love to know.