Book Review: Depression in a Digital Age

Book Review: Depression in a Digital Age

I feel like I haven’t written a book review in a while so to start the year off on the right foot I’ll be reviewing Fiona Thomas’ book, Depression in a Digital Age.

This book has everything you need from Spice Girl references to Fiona’s rambling thoughts that help ground you and make you feel a little less alone.

Depression digital age
Taken from Fiona’s Instagram

I really felt like I was taking a journey with Fiona while reading this. I felt sympathy for her when she went through her mental health breakdown and couldn’t work.

I myself have left countless jobs for mental health related reasons which has led me to a life of freelance work.

I completely emphasized with how she felt so overwhelmed with her workload and there’s a chapter in the book that really spoke to me.

Fiona talks about taking a break from work because it’s making her so stressed. However, she also stresses out when she takes a much needed break, worrying that people will miss her and need her.

I really resonated with this when I took a week’s holiday from freelance work to go to Morocco in November. Although I was so glad to get away I was worrying about money, about whether my clients had sent me thousands of emails, etc. Turns out when I got back and switched my work phone on, I had one email, and it was a promotional one. I felt a little disappointed no one had needed me and I’d wasted precious time on holiday worrying about my workload.

I think a good lesson to take away from Fiona’s book is that you can stress as much as you like but it won’t change the outcome or how quickly you can complete a task. Take a step back, breathe and relax. Everything will get done in the end.

Overall, Fiona’s book taught me it’s okay to let others help you. It’s okay to speak out about your mental health and not everyone wants the same thing.

Depression digital age
Taken from Fiona’s Instagram

While some people are perfectly happy working 9-5 and getting home to get ready for the next day, not everyone feels the same. Sometimes our mental health stops us from doing the mundane tasks. Sometimes it prevents us from working on ourselves.

Not everyone’s journey is the same and that’s what I’ve learnt from Fiona. While our paths may be different, we share one thing in common. We just want to be happy. We want a life full of adventures. We don’t want to be bound by our mental illnesses. And that’s why Fiona’s story is so inspiring; she used her mental illness to help others.

In the book Fiona also talks about feeling like an imposter. That she isn’t qualified to do her job. The thing is, as a child I always thought I would grow up to feel so big and confident, like I could do anything. But I’m still little old anxious me. That won’t go away. We grow up to think adults have their shit together, when really we are all in the same boat, trying to paddle upstream to get to where we want to be.

Have you read Fiona’s book yet? She is currently writing another book all about being freelance which comes out later this year and I can’t wait to read it.

You can follow Fiona on her socials:

Instagram: @fionalikestoblog

Book: Depression in a Digital Age

Twitter: @fionalikes

5 New Year Goals to Improve Your Mental Health

5 New Year Goals to Improve Your Mental Health

This time of year is always a weird one for me and a lot of people I know. As someone with anxiety, it’s even worse. Not only do I not know what day it is but I also feel an overwhelming amount of dread about the New Year and what it will bring.

5 New Year Goals to Improve Your Mental Health

When you think about it, it seems so stupid to worry because time is a concept we’ve created and really it’s just another day. However, with everyone making New Year resolutions, I feel even worse.

A lot of people I follow on Twitter and Instagram have been sharing what they’ve accomplished this year. Compared to them I feel I have accomplished very little. Some have bought a house, had a baby, got married, traveled the world. I feel like my achievements are small compared to theirs. However, deep down I know that’s not true and I’ve had an extremely lovely year living with my partner, going on holiday and working hard to save for a home.

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One thing I want you to take away from this post is that you should not compare your journey to others. Your achievements matter, you matter. Everyone has a different version of what success means to them and it doesn’t always have to mean having a house, baby and marriage.

So without further ado, I’ll get on with my list of New Year goals you could set yourself and your mental health.

Cut Out Toxic People

One thing that happened to me a couple of years ago that involved a falling out in my family was actually a small blessing in disguise. Although I’m deeply hurt by what has happened, I feel like I can be my own person now. I haven’t cut my family or friends out of my life but I do limit what I say and how long I talk to them for so I don’t feel anxious or depressed. 

If you feel like you have toxic friends or a family member in your life that is affecting your mental health, speak up. It may be hard if it’s your immediate family but talking it through with them and voicing your concerns is the first step to a better relationship for everyone.

Limit Time On Social Media

Now this may seem like a difficult one to do. It definitely is for me considering I’m a social media manager and blogger. However, I do think it’s important to limit your time staring at screens because it tends to keep you up at night and whenever I’m on my phone at midnight my head is whirring with ideas and worries.

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Set yourself a timer; there are plenty of apps which allow you to set a limit for social media time. Some phones even have this in their settings.

What I usually do is set myself a goal if I’m desperate to grab my phone. I’ll read three chapters of my book, spend ten minutes on my phone and then go back to reading a further three chapters and so on.

Take Up A New Hobby

Taking up a new hobby or skill is a great way to channel your anxiety into a new project. You could attend a weekly group, pay for a college course such as a photography course or take up a hobby at home such as crafting or writing a short story.

Keep A Journal

Your journal could be like a diary or it can be a bullet journal where you can let your creativity run wild. There are loads of bloggers and YouTubers that create blog posts and videos for inspiration. It’s a great way to release some anxiety while getting creative.

5 Mental Health New Year Goals

Create A Self Care Box

I’ve seen a lot of bloggers and YouTubers create self care boxes for times when they feel really low. They can have anything from practical things such as nail clippers and bath bombs to trivial things such as magazines. There are so many things you can put in a self care box. You just have to find out what makes you happy when you’re feeling down. It may contain your favourite book, an emergency chocolate stash or some candles and face masks.

I hope these were helpful! Let me know what your mental health goals are for the year!

Boycotting Black Friday

Boycotting Black Friday

If you’re anything like me you’ll love a bargain. Black Friday is the ideal time to get that new dress or make up palatte or console you’ve had your eye on. But when we take a look at the facts, will we really want to be spending our hard earned money on unsustainable items?

So, before we take a look at how unsustainable Black Friday actually is, let’s take a look at how it effects you as a customer and as an employee.

Over a 100 injuries occur on Black Friday and 12 people have actually died since 2006 while shopping. Can you imagine being so desperate for a sale that your life actually depends on it? Not only is this horrific for the customer but imagine what the staff have to go through; late nights, early mornings and dealing with bloody rude customers.

Now that we’ve had a look at the cons for customers and staff, let’s take a look at the unsustainable side. It’s averaged that the UK will spend around £5.6 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year. Think of the amount of Fast Fashion retailers taking part in this. The amount of clothes that will be bought and thrown to the back of the wardrobe without another thought; or tossed into landfill after one use. Think of how much time has gone into making these clothes from workers who aren’t even paid a minimum wage. As a country we have bought into this mindset of how we need the latest staple piece from Topshop or we need these amazing shoes from Missguided. The amount of clothes bought in the UK alone is astonishing.

However, there are some fashion retailers who are abandoning the tradition of Black Friday such as Monki. On their website they have written a statement about how they will not have any deals and they’ve called it “Black Fri-nay” which is kinda cliche but catchy if you ask me. To me, even though Monki is only rated as “It’s a start” on Good On You, I would much rather buy from a brand such as this than I would Pretty Little Thing, one of the worst fast fashion companies there is.

Did you know more than 83% of Black Friday shoppers say they would buy their items and gifts via mobile? It may be great for people who work or don’t want to be trampled by crowds, but in reality, it’s scary to think that a new pair of boots or a new tee is only a click away. Fast fashion retailers have so much power over their customers. There’s always a sale section, but Black Friday is their day to shine.

But why are we conditioned to want the latest item of clothing or the newest accessory? I read an interesting article recently about the Diderot Effect. “The Diderot Effect states that obtaining a new possession often creates a spiral of consumption which leads you to acquire more new things. As a result, we end up buying things that our previous selves never needed to feel happy or fulfilled.” It makes sense that we buy items we don’t need, we just think we need to have them. This, to me, is how fast fashion retailers get us.

So, what can we do to boycott Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year?

For a start, do not give in to the deals you see pop up on your Facebook feed or click on a link to Boohoo deals that your best friend sent you. As hard as it can be if you’re new to the sustainable approach, you have to have some willpower.

Unsubscribe to retailers emails that will undoubtedly be sent to you today and Monday.

I recently noticed I still follow some fast fashion retailers on Facebook and finally got around to unliking the pages so there’s no temptation to look or support them in any way.

You can also create your own blog posts or share your thoughts on your social media channels.

There’s even events going on you can take part in. My sustainable friend Becky is speaking at an event this weekend. You can find the events here.

You can also support small businesses hosting black Friday deals such as etsy businesses or buy on depop or ebay. There’s still ways to get the deals you want, you just have to be more eco conscious!

What are you doing to boycott Black Friday?

Sources:

https://www.finder.com/uk/black-friday-statistics

https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/what-buy-what-skip-black-friday-ncna1091706

https://jamesclear.com/diderot-effect

Guest Post: Overwhelmed

Guest Post: Overwhelmed

I asked a fellow blogger if she would kindly help me write a blog post for mental health awareness and I can’t wait for you to see it!

That dreaded overwhelming feeling

Writing this blog post, I have had so many ideas that I have went back and forth between yet I felt like it was best to write about something that I am currently dealing with. I want to use this post to share tips, a story or two and a few of my favourite quotes.

Overwhelm
‘Have a strong emotional effect on’
‘Bury or drown beneath a high mass of something’

Feeling overwhelmed is not something that can be easily described, it’s a tightness in your chest, exhaustion and mood swings. It is something that is so similar to anxiety that it is difficult to see the difference between the two. I label my anxiety and the feeling of being overwhelmed ‘the two devils’.

As of lately I’ve been trying to mentally work out which I am feeling at each point in the day. Mostly at the minute it is a constant overwhelming feeling that seems to tick my anxiety off. I have recently just began my second year of journalism and I’m putting so much pressure on myself to get a first that I am overwhelming myself with so much extra work load that really isn’t necessary. This in turn then causes me to get that dreaded overwhelming feeling surrounding the workload of uni which then has a knock on effect that flicks my anxiety gauge to high. Once I begin to feel anxious and overwhelmed everything becomes a problem; the workload, grades, the degree itself, my future, failure, just absolutely everything.

That dreaded feeling is a combination of wanting to stay in bed but making yourself physically sick with how worried and anxious you are that you haven’t done anything. That dreaded feeling is best friends with your rocky mental health. That dreaded feeling wants to be in control. That dreaded feeling will get in the way of everything and everyone.

When life gets hectic and you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to focus on the people and things you are most grateful for. When you have an attitude of gratitude, frustrating troubles will fall by the wayside.

Now, if you ever feel yourself losing control and that dreaded feeling taking over these are the few times that help me most times!

Set boundaries – In my example I have used university as my example, however, that dreaded feeling can creep up over anything. It is important to set boundaries on what times and how long you are going to spend trying to focus on the particular thing that is causing that dreaded feeling.

Plan – use your time wisely yet don’t be too ambitions or disheartened. Mental health is unpredictable and some days you need to recover after a mentally draining day by recharging your batteries and not worrying about what needs to happen.

Talk – taking is one of the hardest yet most valuable thing when it comes to any form of mental health.

That’s it, just three times to help fight back at that dreaded feeling. You got this! I believe in you!

Links:

Blog

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Ways to Practice Self Care in the Winter

h1 {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 20pt;} h2 {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 18pt;} body {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 15pt;} Hey guys! So we all know that our mental health can go downhill in the winter months because of the nights drawing in and the cold, rainy days. This post gives you some insight on how to take care of yourself and your mental health during the winter. Self-care isn’t just about face masks, eating chocolate and buying your favourite magazine (although I sometimes do this). There’s a lot more to it! Read below for some ideas on how to practice better self-care!

Take a Bath or Shower

I personally hate having a bath because, as Chandler puts it, you are “sitting in your own filth.” And that just does not relax me. However, I absolutely love showers and when I’m feeling really low I like to take longer ones and just feel the water hitting me; it keeps me grounded when I feel like I’m floating away. If you like showers like me, why not

But if you’re a bath person, one way to practice self-care is to have a long bubble bath, buy some Lush bath bombs or read a book in the tub. Do whatever makes you feel more relaxed. Light a few candles and pamper yourself! You can even get a stand like this one so that you can read/watch TV in the tub.

Start a Bullet Journal

If you’re having trouble with figuring out how you feel or just want to document your journey, then bullet journaling is a great idea to keep your mind active and to also be creative. You could use your journal for drawings, paintings, calendars or even a mood chart. You can even download bullet journal spreadsheets and printables for inspiration.

Journals are an excellent way to keep track of your mood for your mental health and gives you a good idea of how you’re dealing with certain situations. The journal below is an example of a bullet journal (not mine). It’s not only for self-care but it’s also a great hobby to have and really lets your creativity shine through.

Declutter

Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or I’m struggling, I like to sort out my wardrobe and have a clear out of things I don’t need or use. It helps clear my mind and keeps me busy. I tend to feel relieved and a little less confused after I’ve had a clear out.

Declutter your wardrobe and get rid of clothes you don’t use or items you don’t want. Winter is a great time to throw out the old for the new year ahead!

Take Up Meditation or Yoga

Meditation isn’t for everyone, but it can be a very relaxing technique to practice for your self-care. Take ten minutes to reflect, think or listen to some tapes. I used to listen to Paul Mckenna to help with my anxiety.

Yoga is also great for relaxing and releases endorphins. If you aren’t a fan of yoga, you could take up a different sport or exercise such as running or cycling. I cycle to work each morning and it really makes a difference. Make it a routine – whether you get out of bed and do the sun salutation each morning or go for a run after work in the evening.

Read

Have you got a favourite book? One that you’ve read over and over again? On days where you need a bit of TLC, why not read your favourite book or pick up a new read, maybe even a winter one to take your mind off things?

If reading isn’t for you, then why not watch your favourite movie? My favourite is Bridget Jones and I always watch it when I need cheering up. You could watch a Christmas movie to get you into the spirit.

Go Shopping

If the cold is getting you down, then maybe you should go out for a coffee date with yourself to try a new spiced latte or hot chocolate. You can learn to be in your own company and try something new at the same time. It’s good to be by yourself sometimes and to treat yourself to something new, whether you’re buying new clothes for the season or something simple such as a face mask, some chocolate or a hot drink.

Make a Quotes Jar

If you’re feeling down, why not ask your friends, family or online friends if they would send you a positive quote, compliment or note for you to write down on a piece of paper and keep. You can create a jar of positivity and look at these words whenever you feel down.

Alternately, create your own quotes or happy memories and read one to yourself every day to keep a positive mind.

I hope this post has given you some self-care ideas! Until next time, love, Vee x