Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Here's why you should step out of your comfort zone

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Over the past couple of years, since I have started to recover from my depression, I have really started to step out of my comfort zone.

I have started to say 'yes' to things that I perhaps wouldn't have done before. I have started to be myself more around people that I don't know so well. I have done two skydives and travelled around the world for 2 months. I have tried lots of different food and made so many new friends. I have become more creative - my blog here is an example of this. I just seem to have put more effort into life in general.

Previous to this, I would have spent most of my time in bed, watching TV, or chilling out only with people who really knew me, who I knew wouldn't judge me for being myself. And yes, I still do all of these a lot of the time, but occasionally I like to push myself a little bit - I guess scare and challenge myself. But in a good way.

Your comfort zone is the routine that you have on a day-to-day basis, where you carry out behaviours that minimise stress and risk. You will feel secure and comfortable in your comfort zone, and it will be the most familiar place for you to be.

So why step outside of it, I hear you ask? Well, I truly think that one of the massive reasons that I am happier now is because I stepped out of my own comfort zone. I strayed away from my normal pattern of behaviours that had become part of my depressive nature and attitude. I started to challenge myself and become the real me, a person that I am proud to be. And to be honest, my comfort zone had just become a little bit boring and unsatisfying.

I think it is so important that we step outside our comfort zone so that we allow ourselves to grow. Even if it's just small changes, such as saying 'yes' to that drink with an old friend, or going on a spontaneous weekend trip away. How are we ever going to grow as people if we don't challenge ourselves once in a while? A little bit of risk taking and a small amount of anxiety can be good for you.

After breaking out of habit and challenging my repetitive behaviours, I now feel so much more fulfilled in life. I have done things that have made amazingly happy memories that I will remember for the rest of my life - I guess the sort that I'll tell the grandkids. I can say that I have truly been myself, and I have learnt a lot about the person that I am along the way. I've also learnt what I want from life, and that I need to challenge myself and satisfy my ambitions to be truly happy. Although a few days in bed with Netflix and chocolate for company won't go amiss!

The moment I stepped out of my comfort zone was the moment that I really started living and appreciating life for the beautiful thing that it is.
I didn't come this far, to only come this far.

Monday, 30 January 2017

MH Monday: My depression made me unpredictable

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When I was in my teens, my depression use to make me very unpredictable, to the point where I became reckless. When I got really down I would take myself off for walks late at night, not letting anyone know where I was going and not picking up my phone when they called. I would lock myself in the bathroom and just cry despairingly for hours. My behaviour was very spontaneous and completely depended on my mood. I think I just stopped caring about what happened to me; almost hoped that something bad would happen to me when I was out late at night, although thankfully it never did. I felt like I deserved to be punished, and it was probably a small cry for help.

Gradually, I became more rational, and with that my behaviour became more predictable. When I started university it was more difficult to take myself off on walks, because I was in a new city that I knew nothing about - I started to be scared of what might actually happen to me. Over the last couple of years, when I have been low in mood, I have tended to just stay in bed and cry. This perhaps isn't the best coping mechanism ever, but it is predictable and safe for me. I can't hurt myself, or be hurt, whilst lying in bed and trying to sleep it off.

This perhaps shows the progression of my depression, and how I learnt to cope with it better. Part of it is probably because I wanted to stop worrying people so much, and another part of it is because I was starting to gradually overcome my illness.

I actually had a bit of a low day today for the first time in a couple of months, and I'm not entirely sure what triggered it. Maybe it was because I haven't been sleeping that well recently, or maybe it was just the Monday blues. But I found myself stuck in bed, crying, and not being able to function as I should or get myself out of the house and into placement. However, I now know exactly how to deal with it - I emailed my consultant explaining that I wouldn't be in today, got back into bed, and had a long sleep. When I woke up, I put on Gossip Girl and made myself some lunch. I haven't pushed myself at all, and I've made sure that I have looked after myself - and it was exactly what I needed, as I feel much better, if a little fragile, this evening.

I now know to listen to my body and its needs, as if I had pushed myself today it would just have made it worse, and instead of taking one day off I would have had to have taken a few off, just to recover.

I may have recovered from my depression, but there is still a small ingrained part of me that will occasionally need a day off and some TLC. And that's okay - as long as I listen to my mind and body I know I'm going to be alright, and will most likely be my happy self again tomorrow morning.
I'm proud of the woman I am today because I went through one hell of a time becoming her.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Chinese New Year in Liverpool

Yesterday was Chinese New Year, so China Town in Liverpool had various events on today to celebrate. My friend Sarah and I caught the bus to town at about 1pm, and there were loads of people wandering around China Town. We walked through the archway and underneath all of the colourful lanterns, and ended up near a stage where we watched a Chinese dragon dancing.

I love how colourful everything is! Of course, we had to get some Chinese food, so I got some noodles and some prawn crackers, which were delicious and only £3 altogether.

We then decided to have a look around the shops in town, before returning to the archway when it was starting to get dark.

The archway and the road behind it looked beautiful all lit up in the dark.

When it was fully dark at around 5.30pm, there was a light display projected onto the archway and the two buildings either side of it. This was the best part of the events for Chinese New Year - it had moving images of flowers, water, people, and birds, along to some music. It looked beautiful and was quite spectacular to watch.

One of the things I love most about Liverpool is how proud the people are to live here. After the light display everyone started clapping and it was so lovely to feel a part of that community. Scouse people are so proud of their city, and after nearly 5 years of living here I can definitely see why - I feel proud to call myself an honorary Liverpudlian.
Once you become fearless, life becomes limitless.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Friday Favourite: Makeup Revolution Retro Luxe lip kits

Makeup Revolution Retro Luxe Matte Lip Kit in Glory and Grandee review

Everyone has gone mad for lip kits since Kylie Jenner introduced them in 2016. The idea is that you receive a liquid lipstick plus a matching lip liner in a set, so that your lipstick lasts for longer and is more defined on your lips.

Makeup Revolution have recently released their own range of lip kits, starting with 8 matte lip shades. I don't have a Kylie lip kit but have always wanted to try one, so when I saw these Retro Luxe lip kits online I quickly ordered them. They are £6 each, which is a tiny fraction of the price of Kylie's.

I bought Glory, a dark brown, and Grandee, a bright light pink. Both are matte shades, and my favourite is definitely Glory - I love the 90's vibe brown lipstick gives off. They apply really nicely and the lip liners are really creamy, and they quickly dry into a matte shade with no stickiness. They also last for ages - I wore Glory for an evening of drinking and only had to top it up once, after I'd had a few drinks. Plus it was difficult to get off when I got home!

I'm actually really impressed with these lip kits and would love to get some more shades. They are currently available in selected Superdrug stores and online (although they keep selling out very quickly). Superdrug are also currently doing a deal where you spend £12 on Makeup Revolution and receive a free Love the Revolution palette, which has a highlighter and some eyeshadows. So I spent £12 and got two lip kits, plus a palette!

I think more brands will also get on the lip kit bandwagon and they will start being produced all over the place over the next year (Lottie London also brought some out this month). It's a great idea, because you receive a matching lip liner with the lipstick. Plus I love matte lipsticks, and find liquid lipsticks sit really nicely on the lips.

Kylie who?!
Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.

Thursday, 26 January 2017


I haven't been swimming since I was in Italy in the summer, so my housemate and I decided to go to our local pool this evening. Obviously this pool isn't quite as serene as the one we had on the Amalfi Coast, but it made me remember how much I enjoy swimming, and how relaxed it makes me feel.

I'm already aching all over, but I feel really, really good after a chilled out swim. I feel like I'm going to sleep much better tonight, and I also feel really relaxed. I think I'm going to start trying to go to the pool a couple of times a week (although this has to fit in with hair washing days, of course!), and I'm hoping that it will help settle my sleep, as I haven't been sleeping well at all since Christmas.

I also think that swimming is really good for your mental health. It's a form of exercise, so makes you release endorphins. But it's not really a competitive sport if you just go to the pool for a swim, so it doesn't stress you out in that way. It makes you tired, so you sleep better at night. And it's really relaxing - I guess a form of mindfulness, if you focus on the feel of the water and the smell of the chlorine. I love it, and I can't wait to go again at the weekend!
I am learning to love the sound of my feet walking away from things not meant for me.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Collecting homeware bits

As I'm going to graduate in the summer and stop being a student, I am really looking forward to being able to put my own stamp on a place more so than you can with student houses. So I have been collecting a few homeware bits recently, and have really enjoyed thinking about decor ideas. I love places that are really bright, but very colourful, with lots of textures and atmospheric lighting.

I picked up this cute fake plant from New Look recently, mainly because I loved the pot that it comes in. Over the weekend I also bought some plates and bowls from Sainsbury's, which have a brightly coloured Moroccan pattern on them. They had one third off and were too nice to leave behind!

I have also collected various posters and prints, as I really like the look of gallery walls with lots of different pictures hung up. I got these ice lolly cards in IKEA the other day, and I also have some vintage-looking Disney posters that I bought at a university poster sale. And the other thing that I have collected a lot of is candles - I can't wait to spread them out more as at the moment they're all cramped up in my tiny bedroom!
The greatest risk any of us will take, is to be seen as we are.
                  - Cinderella

Monday, 23 January 2017

MH Monday: Pets and mental health

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I started a psychiatry placement today and I met a lady who was severely depressed. However, she had very recently bought a puppy for her son, and since then she had been feeling a lot less low in mood, and was smiling a lot more. The puppy gave her a purpose - even just down to the fact that she had to move off the sofa to clean up its puddles of wee. Over the weekend she actually left the house to take her dog for a half hour walk. When we got to her house, she was outside cleaning up after the puppy; apparently previously she wouldn't even move off her sofa. She was engaging a lot more with her son, and would readily talk about the new dog when asked.

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I honestly think that pets, especially dogs, can work wonders for people's mental health. They give people a purpose, and a reason to live. They provide lonely people with unconditional love. They force people to get out of the house, and think about something other than negative thoughts about themselves. They have even proven to lower stress levels and blood pressure (although Bruce definitely increases my blood pressure when he chases after people on a lovely Sunday run).

My dogs have been great for me during my lower times. They always seem to sense when I'm feeling sad, and will sit with me (or Bruce will jump on me and lick me... we all show affection in different ways, I suppose!). On the days that I just wanted to lie in bed, they would force me to get up and take them for a walk, which would help to clear my head a bit. They greet me at the door after a bad day, and give me unconditional love when I need it most. Bruce has even prevented me from hurting myself, by just sitting with me and giving me support in his own little way. I couldn't hurt myself when that little face was looking at me adoringly.

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That's not to say that people with mental health issues should go out and buy a pet, and they are not going to cure a mental illness. Obviously pets require a lot of care and attention, but if someone is willing to give their time to do that then I think they are an amazing addition to have. Even a hamster - you would have to take the time to go out and buy it food, or clean out its cage. My pets have definitely helped make me feel better during my depressed times, and they make me even happier when I am feeling good.

Dogs are the best!
Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one.
                  - Pocahontas

Sunday, 22 January 2017

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda book

As you may well know, I have really got into psychological thrillers lately (Lucy Dawson's Everything You Told Me got me hooked). So when the chance to review All the Missing Girls came up, I was very excited to receive it and start reading as the blurb sounded very intriguing.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda book review

All the Missing Girls follows the story of Nicolette, a girl from a small town in rural America. 10 years ago, her best friend Corinne disappeared and was never seen again. Nicolette returns to her hometown when her father's health deteriorates, after receiving a letter from him saying, "I need to talk to you. That girl. I saw that girl". Whilst Nicolette is home, another girl disappears, almost 10 years to the day since Corinne went missing. All the Missing Girls slowly unravels the mystery behind the two girls' disappearances, and reveals some shocking secrets about Nicolette's family and friends.

The book is told backwards, from day 15 to day 1 of the second girls' disappearance. I thought that this was so clever and original of Megan Miranda, because it could easily have been written in a normal order. Being told backwards kept me guessing the whole way through, and I did not predict the ending at all, unlike other thrillers. The novel is really well-written and it left me really fond of certain characters, and strongly disliking others - plus all of the characters were really relatable. It contains some massive twists, and I found it difficult to put down - the way it is written in reverse kept me wanting to find out what happened the day before so that I could continue to put clues together. I definitely had some nights where I was up until 4am reading this!

I enjoyed this just as much as Everything You Told Me, and think that they are both very clever books. Definitely add this one to your reading pile - it's out February 2nd.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Bug shirt

Shirt - ASOS
Jeans - New Look
Leopard Print Belt - Pieces via ASOS
Silver Mules - Primark
Scarf - H&M
Star Clutch Bag - New Look via ASOS

I have worn this outfit a couple of times now and I absolutely love it. I love the bug print on the blouse and the way that the leopard print belt sets the whole outfit off. And this bag is just gorgeous, plus the silver shoes tie in with the silver belt buckle.

I have spent the majority of today with my grandparents, which was lovely. They took me out for lunch to a garden centre where I was spoilt with a cheese and onion toastie (although they forgot the tomato!), and a huge slice of chocolate cake.

This evening I'm going to the pub with my friends, and I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend spent with my sister, as my parents are away.

Happy Friday!!