I used to be the girl who would ignore her feelings, who would shrug her shoulders when someone asked me ‘why I was crying’ or lock myself away for days in my room, without talking to a single soul, because I didn’t know how to process my emotions and the anger I would feel at being ‘sad’ scared even me. I remembered the jeering faces looming over me,with malice in their eyes, the bullies, the abusers,the demons that lurked in the shadows. There are times when I have to force myself to smile, hoping that the low lighting conceals the tears that are forming in my eyes. Or that noone will notice if I lock myself away in the toilet for half an hour, because I am sobbing and have no idea why. Because this is the reality of living with social anxiety disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder,Depression and PTSD… the tears will fall, the rage will engulf you in its scorching flames and the sadness will make you wallow in the deep blue ocean, submerged underwater. But (and its a big but),being diagnosed gave me answers that I had been searching for my whole life and one of the most key lessons that I learned from being more ‘aware of my mental health issues’ is A. it’s ok to cry.Don’t be ashamed. Bottling up your feelings will make you feel worse. B. Just because you have a diagnosis doesn’t make you ‘abnormal’. Be proud of who you are and don’t seek to be someone else.Be You. and C. create a happy list or a gratitude journal that you fill in when you need some ‘happy-inspiration’. Which is where my mental health toolkit for beating the January Blues comes in…
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Like many people who have depression and anxiety, many of my low points are characterized by the ‘weather’ or season,with winter months making me more prone to being upset, frustrated or angry.Of course, there are other factors involved like PTSD from childhood abuse and bullying throughout my teens, but unlike my 16 year old self,if I am upset, I don’t pretend that I am ok if I am not. Granted I am not going to tell a random stranger why I am crying, but I know that I can talk to loved ones if I need to, rather than keeping problems to myself. Which is where my new mental health toolkit comes in; I have had a touch of the January blues this month and while I have been working on having a more positive mindset,there are times where in the middle of having a shower my mind goes into overdrive and I have a panic attack, or at night, my heart races because I am worried about f**king something up. It was one night at 4 AM where it came to me, building my own personalized mental health toolkit would be another way of combating the January Blues, and alongside the 10 things that make me happy, would be a great outlet for me to laugh, cry and let all my emotions out, without needing to ‘filter my feelings’. After all I know that it is ‘ok to not feel ok’, it is ok to need to cry and it is ok to cancel plans if you need time out to focus on your mental health.
Treating Yourself To Some ‘Me Time’
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Learning to be comfortable in my own ‘company’ has been something I had struggled with since I was a young girl and yet at the same time social occasions would leave me with a pit of dread in my stomach,particularly if it was events or parties. It is a conundrum that I find difficult to deal with at times but learning that it is ‘ok to be alone’ or cancel events or plans because you are not feeling ok, shouldn’t be something you should feel guilty about. I had a friend who used to ask me why I would go to things that would make me feel deeply unhappy and my answer would usually revolve not wanting to ‘let people down’ or to an extent trying to ‘push myself outside of my comfort zone’, to which she would reply ‘but it makes you unhappy’. And she is right, as much as I want to push my boundaries and go to environments that challenge me i.e. parties where I like to dance, but am often sick with anxiety because I find it hard to meet new people in that kind of environment and being left out is something that makes me very upset- at the same time I don’t want to spend my evening doing something that will make me anxious or upset.
So yes,I am a little bit of a social hermit and I am ok with that. I am never going to be the most popular girl nor am I someone who is entirely comfortable with attention. At the same time,I am friendly and do go up to people at events, especially if I see someone that is on their own, because I know what it feels like to not be part of a ‘clique’ at certain occasions and wouldn’t want them to feel as uncomfortable as I do.But I digress; treating yourself to some me-time is one of the biggest assets of my mental health toolkit and here is why…
- Learning to be comfortable in your own company feeds your soul.It teaches you to appreciate yourself more as a person and has a calming effect on your mental health.
- When you indulge in self-care it sends positive images of safety and security into your mind, a good image to have in an age that is conditioned by anxiety.
- When we take care of ourselves we feel ‘worthy’ and increasing our self worth and self-esteem has a positive impact on our mental health
Ideas On How To Make Your Me Time ‘A Happy and Positive Experience
Have a snuggly PJ and Netflix session
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While most people might spend their Saturday nights going to parties and drinking, I would much rather snuggle under a cozy blanket, watching Netflix in my Pajamas and that is ok. Don’t be afraid to turn down a party invite if it makes you feel anxious, especially if your only reason for accepting is because ‘you don’t want to let someone down’. No. Stop it, it will only end up making you feel worse and besides I much prefer eating out at restaurants than a ‘party’ any day. So welcome to Faded Spring’s cuddly PJ and Netflix session, an entire evening dedicated to what you-and only you- wants to do. So whether you find that comedies like ‘Crazy Ex Girlfriend’ or Rick and Morty turn that frown upside down or would much rather dig into thrillers like ‘Stranger Things’ pop on an episode and two and enjoy being temporarily transported into a different world. While I don’t recommend ‘avoiding’ any emotions you may be feeling,taking time out of our day to relax, can help us unwind and has a calming effect on our state of mind.
Happy Shows That I Recommend
2. Crazy Ex Girlfriend (although Season 3 is quite dark. Stick to Season 2 if you want ‘laughs’)
3. American Dad
5. Fresh Meat
6. Rick and Morty
Happy Films That I Recommend
- White Chicks
- Bad Education The Movie
- Inbetweeners The Movie
- Anything with Adam Sandler In It
Create A Solo Date Night
Yes you heard that right… a solo date night. Whether you are a singleton or have a partner, what better way to treat yourself to some me time than with a ‘solo date night’. From treating yourself to a home cooked meal or your favourite takeaway and taking the time to ‘truly enjoy’ your meal to indulging in a bubble bath, while reading a good book, who says that date nights have to involve other people?
Ideas For The Perfect Solo Date Night
- Order Your Favourite Takeaway and snuggle up in bed, in your onesie or dressing gown. For example I would order a margarita pizza, cheesy garlic bread and chips,while having a good ol’ Netflix binge because that is my idea of a perfect night in.
- Treat yourself to flowers to brighten up your home, buy yourself delicious chocolates and put the music on to put you in the feel good mood. For me I like to dance to rap, hip hop and house music, but for others the soft croon of ‘Micheal Buble’ might feel more ‘soothing’ than a guy rapping about all the sex he has been having.
- And speaking of sex… granted you can’t suck yourself off unless you do a ‘Marilyn Manson’ and remove your ribs. but how about some good ol’ fashioned alone time.And by that I mean foreplay. Whether you want to treat yourself to some alone time with sex toys or prefer a bubble bath with ‘saucy treats’ then a subscription box service like Love Drop is guaranteed to turn your solo date night, into a pleasurable moment to remember.
Have a bubble bath & book session to make you feel good…
When I am feeling anxious, sometimes nothing calms me down more than taking time away from technology and relaxing in a warm and welcoming bubble bath, complete with treats like macaroons, a good ‘guilty pleasure book’, bath bombs from Miss Patiserrie or Lush, while lathering my hair and body with cruelty free products for the body and hair. Because nothing makes me feel happier than products that make me feel good, without hurting the precious animals that I so adore. From a relaxing bath oil scented with lavender that helps ease the tension in your back to sulfate free shampoo that is kinder to your hair and the animals you love, find out what cruelty free goodies you should be adding to have the perfect bubble bath and book session.
- Olverum Bath Oil
This vegan friendly,chemical free bath oil is what I like to call ‘magic in a bottle’. After a stressful day, which ended in tears, I hopped into the magic land that I like to call my ‘bubble bath fantasy’ and sank into a steaming hot bath, with a drop of bath oil scented with lime, geranium and lavender. While Olverum might not be a household name just yet, thanks to a cult following,the bath oil has helped transform many peoples baths into a relaxing haven, away from the stresses of modern day life. So next time you feel like life is getting you down, pop a bath oil into your mental health toolkit and fight back against the January Blues.
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2. Drop A Bath Bomb And Unleash Your Inner Child With Lush
Nothing brightens up a gloomy day, more than a bath bomb that is bursting with colour. And who better than cruelty free animal loving brands like Miss P and Lush to bring the happiness factor into your life. Whether you want happy sprinkles like confetti and glitter or love watching rainbow bath bombs explode in your bath, sometimes it is the ‘little things’ that can make our bad days turn into something that is ultimately more positive.
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3. Pamper Your Skin With Urban Veda
One of five cruelty free brands that I recommended my readers should try in 2018, Urban Veda is an incredible eco-friendly, cruelty free brand who cares as much about protecting the environment as it does for animals. With a range of skincare products like body polishes, day creams and body scrubs, turn your bubble bath into a cruelty free pamper session that will make you feel as good in the inside as you will look outside. What I love about Urban Veda is not only do their range of products cater to all skin types but they also have a fun quiz that determines your ‘dosha’, which enables you to pick cruelty free products that are ‘Catered To You’. For example as I have oily, congested skin, my dosha is ‘kapha’ as you can see by the range of products above. And believe me when I say this, never has my skin felt so smooth and ‘spot free’. As someone who has high levels of ‘anxiety’ it tends to manifest through my skin, where I get flaming rashes,acne and spots, especially when I am at my most stressed out but my skin has become much better in recent months, since using Urba Veda. And the fact that they are cruelty free obviously makes my heart sing, because the more animals I can protect with my choice of products, the happier I will feel.
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4. Be Kind To Your Hair With Sulfate Free Hair Products
When TOTM, my favourite intimate health brand (and badass period powerful pioneers) recommended Tints Of Nature to me, I was immediately hooked. Cruelty free, sulfate free and priced at a budget price point, I had been looking for a ‘hair brand’ who could tame my wild mane, without pouring a whole load of chemicals in my hair and Tints Of Nature was what I like to call my ‘hair champion’. Committed to being vegan and kinder to our scalp, they offer a range of products including dry shampoo, sulfate free shampoo and structure treatments that are guaranteed to breathe life into your hair.
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5. And Don’t Forget About The Men. Keep Animals And Your Skin Happy With 31ST State
All too often men forget that they are in as much need of ‘self-care’ and me time, because of societies ridiculous conception that to take take care of yourself is to be ‘feminine’. No matter what gender you are, you deserve to feel special, whether that be through face masks, manicures or getting a wax. Which is where 31st State comes in , a vegan and cruelty free skincare brand that is catered for teens and young adults, as men deserve to have skincare that makes them look and feel good as well. With items ranging from 2 in 1 hair and body washes to overnight clearing pads, 31’st States ethos is that ‘simplicity and quality’ over quantity matters every time, inspired by the ‘effortless aesthetic’ of a Californian lifestyle. But where do all our furry friends fit into this brand I hear you ask? Well its simple, alongside the concept of creating skincare where animals are not used for testing, the items do not contain animal derivatives and all of their ingredients are naturally sourced, with no space for chemicals like parabens, meaning happier skin, happier animals and a delivery of feel good happiness all year round.
Don’t Be Afraid To Take Time Out To Masturbate
Yes I said it, the elephant in the room. So many of us are afraid to be talk about sex because we view it as something that is private, or something that ‘shouldn’t be spoken about’. Now I am not saying that you need to talk about your sex life, but at the same time don’t be afraid to admit that you masturbate. There is this stigma perpetuated by the media that women who’watch porn’ or masturbate defy convention or are abhorrent when in reality both men and women masturbate get over it. And yes even those who have partners watch porn or wank. Besides taking the time out of our day to have fun with sex toys like the Lelo Drop, a vibrator that stimulates the clitoris, or using something as simple as a candle or lube to ‘turn us on’, can be an incredible way of beating the January Blues.
After all sex and foreplay are great mood boosters,providing important psychological and emotional benefits like a boost in self-esteem and correlate with an increased satisfaction in mental health.So regardless of whether you have a partner or not, using toys or more traditional ways of ‘getting yourself’ off can be a great way of relieving stress, which is where Love Drop come in, a subscription box dedicated to couples and singletons, who want to focus on making their mental health a priority, by using sex or foreplay as an outlet. After all,while I might find writing to a positive outlet that helps me deal with ‘negative emotions’, I also find that spending some time each day getting to know ‘my body’does help me feel more confident and powerful in the bedroom.
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Eat The Foods That Make You Happy
Whether you are a mac and cheese fanatic,or dream about curries that waft deliciously throughout your fantasies, eating good, nutritious foods like fruit and vegetables are not only great aphrodisiacs but also can boost your state of mind. Its like the difference between eating a delicious soup and a tasty pizza; granted the pizza gives you an ‘instantaneous boost’ but the soup on the other hand not only helps you feel fuller for longer but also has more nutritional value, meaning that it is packed full of nutrients that will stimulate your mind and your body. That being said, even if the foods that make you ‘temporarily happy’ like a pizza is on your wishlist, then that is ok, just make sure you also put food into your diet that will help you feel happier too.
‘Treat Food’ That Makes Me Happy
- Mac ‘N’ Cheese
- Chickpea Curry
New ‘Snacks’ That I Have Tried & Loved
As someone who is prone to tucking into unhealthy snacks like chocolate that only gives me a ‘temporary high’,I have been looking for snacks to have both on the go and when I am working that is actually good for me. Which is where Crazy Jacks comes in, an organic food brand that is dedicated to creating mood boosting snacks like soft apricots and dried mangos, among savory snacks like whole blanched hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds, among other delicious snacks that are all vegetarian friendly. Out of all the snacks I have tried from Crazy Jacks so far, the nutritional heavyweight aka the humble apricot is definitely my favourite. With a treasure chest of anti-oxidants like non-heme iron which helps aid against anemia and high potassium content which balances the electrolyte levels in our system, keeping our heart muscles in order, thanks to Crazy Jacks I have found a new snack that helps make me feel good, without a ‘temporary high’.
Vegan Easy Egg
While I love eggs, I find that eating too much dairy triggers my IBS and acid reflux, which means that having ‘cooked breakfasts’ don’t always have the best impact on my stomach. I end up feeling bloated, crabby and nauseous, which has an impact on my mental health as I can feel a bit s**tty about myself. Granted it is not just too much dairy that aggravates my stomach, but as a vegetarian who has been incorporating more vegan food into my diet, I have found that a more plant based diet does help with my dietary issues.Which is where Vegan Easy Egg comes in; equal to 15 eggs per pack, these vegan eggs are also free from gluten and are the perfect alternative to normal eggs, if you have dietary issues like myself.
Be Open To Trying New Things ( But At The Same Time It’s OK To Stick To Old Favorites)
More of a ‘life mantra’ than a ‘toolkit item’, when it comes to mental health, I know from personal experience how hard it can be to try new things. After all planning my first blog event scares me shitless because I A. worry too much about what people think, B. I am terrified of failure and C. I am my own worst critic and a self-confessed perfectionist. But regardless of what your mind ‘might be telling you’, there is no such thing as failure, only mistakes that we can learn and grow from. Furthermore ‘trying something new’ no matter how big or small can help us feel more confident,self-assured and positive because we show that our mental health does not stop us from doing anything, as we and we alone have the power to make a change.
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Faded Spring’s New Things To Try Bucket List
2. Design A Fashion Line
3. Organize a campaign against animal and child abuse
New Things I Have Tried In 2018
- Organizing my first ever blogger event and aiming to create an inclusive and friendly community who are there to support each other.
- Vegan Snack Boxes
- Learning A New Language. I can speak Portuguese and English but have signed myself up to learn Italian as I think it is a beautiful,lyrical language.
So you see trying something new can be as simple as trying a new food,but just taking the time to step outside our comfort zones can be a great confidence booster. I know that when I started to blog, I found a outlet to deal with my emotions that I had not found before and you can too!
Put Yourself First ( Don’t Feel Guilty)
When you have kids or other commitments like a business to run, learning to put ourselves first is almost an ‘alien concept’. But here is where you are wrong, feeling run down because you focus so much energy on others can have a negative impact on your mental health and leave you down in the dumps. But listen to me, don’t feel guilty because you need some time away from loved ones. There is nothing selfish about being ‘devoted’ to self care and in fact it is necessary to need some time out from our responsibilities, even if our mind is telling us something different.
How To Put Yourself First
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1.Don’t ignore your emotions. If you are feeling sad, angry or miserable, acknowledge that you need to deal with your mental health.For years I ‘ignored my mental health’ because I thought I was just sensitive, when in reality I was recovering from childhood trauma and abuse,which had an impact on the way I viewed myself and how I perceived others were viewing me as. Until one day,I sought help, I had counselling, I cut toxic people out of my life and began focusing on the things that made me happy, instead of letting negative influences into my world. I have a saying ‘sending rainbow unicorns and happy sprinkles your way’ which means focusing on and surrounding yourself with positive influences. For me that is good friends, animals and good food but for others that might be their partner, clothing and makeup.
2. TREAT DAY! Don’t forget to treat yourself to things that make you happy. It can be anything from a £1 nail polish, right through to a designer handbag you have been coveting, just remember that sometimes it is ok to spend money on yourself. Don’t feel guilty.. own it.
3. Tick off activities on your ‘happy list’.Whether you find that you are at your most happiest when you are eating out with friends or love snuggling up with your partner on the sofa, don’t let your happy list go unnoticed.
Just Treating Yourself Full Stop
Speaking of putting ourselves first, when it comes to treating ourselves, it is guaranteed that we would much rather spend time and effort on others and neglect ourselves in the process. Well not today satan, from treating yourself to new cruelty free make up, to buying that fluffy cardigan that you have been coveting, here are my top picks to bring the sunshine into your life.
A Spa Day At Home
Sure we have already got the ‘bubble bath’ down pat, but what about a a spa day that can be done at home and best of all, won’t break the bank either?Whether you fancy instructing your imaginary boyfriend to give you a deep tissue massage or want to look like you have joined the cast of Shrek, with a soothing face mask to treat your skin, then a spa day will help you feel like a mermaid who deserves to be treated like a princess.
Feel Good Clothing
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Nothing makes me happier than finding clothes that help me look and feel good. Whether you want to chill at home in a super comfy jumper or want to dress up in a beautiful dress, our interpretation of what ‘constitutes’as feel good clothing is personal to our style and who we are as people. For example I feel at my happiest, when I am dressed up in pink and blue, in a dress with heels and ‘fully glammed’ or ‘Princessed Up’, because I love putting make up on and feeling like I am on a night out. Which might seem ironic considering I like to dance but don’t like to party but at least I will look good and that is all that matters right?
Feel Good Jumpers
Feel Good Dresses
Since going cruelty free last June, I have made it my mission to introduce my readers to cruelty free purchases that can ‘make you look and feel good’, without harming our precious animal friends. As I mentioned in my feature on ‘International Animal Rights Day’, as an animal lover it did not sit right with me that the products I used contributed to the torture of animals, so I decided to overhaul my lifestyle and throw out make up, skincare, perfume, clothing and accessories that had used animals in some sort of shape or form, replacing it with kinder, cruelty free alternatives. Which is where Neek Lipsticks come in;100% natural and vegan lipsticks that are made on a base of jojoba, shea oil and avocado then coloured naturally with mica and pigment, with natural nude, satin sheen and pink shades at the forefront of the collection.
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Other Things You Might Like To Include In Your Mental Health Toolkit
- A soundtrack of all your favourite artists
- Pictures Of Loved Ones
- Fresh Air & Activities Outside
- Feel Good Books & Comedies
What Would You Have In Your Mental Health Toolkit To Feel More Positive?