Thursday, 22 March 2018

Learning to live with Procrastination

March 22, 2018 0 Comments

As I sit up my kitchen side, staring at my laptop screen while desperately trying to make a start on an assignment, I felt like now was the best time to write a post about procrastination.

Procrastination is something I am almost certain that everyone experiences at some point in their university lives (or life in general), and for some of us, it happens on the daily. This can cause a bit of a tricky situation, where that inability to force ourselves to do an assignment only ends up causing a huge amount of stress in the long run. At the time, it's so difficult to convince yourself that you'll be suffering much more from the decisions you are making now. Even if you're aware of that fact, for some reason, your brain just doesn't want to process that fact and take action. So instead, we continue to sit and stare at a blank word document and waste a whole day doing absolutely nothing, out of guilt for doing anything but that.

It doesn't really make sense when you think about it. So fair enough, it's going to be one of those days where you just can't produce a single sentence without checking your phone or staring out of the window. However, why should that mean that we waste a whole day doing absolutely nothing because of it? I don't know about you but when I find myself procrastinating, I'll find small and useless things to do while just sitting in front of that piece of work. For some reason, I feel guilty if I step away from my laptop screen and do something a little more productive, because then I'm no longer paying any attention to the assignment that should be in front of me. So as a result, I just end up wasting a whole day sat in front of my laptop screen, doing absolutely nothing, but still manage to feel a sense of achievement at the fact that I 'tried', when in actual fact, I just wasted a day.

That's where learning how to deal with procrastination can really come in handy. Being able to notice when you're doing it and pull away from the guilt you experience by not doing your work, and distract your mind by doing something else instead.
It's about learning to pull yourself away from that blank word document and teach your mind that it's okay to step away if you're incapable of being productive. It's okay to take a couple of hours off, or even a whole day because as a result, you'll be allowing yourself time to do something more enjoyable and also productive with that time. In addition, that time away may even provide you with a little motivation to sit down and get a few paragraphs written over a few days. Or it may even give you enough motivation to get the whole thing finished way before the deadline date, and escape all that last minute stress.

Procrastination can be incredibly difficult to live with because it consumes you with guilt, which leads to frustration, which ends up adding to the procrastination you are already experiencing.
Learning to accept you're having an off day is the key to overcoming it.
Learning to appreciate writing a few sentences as a success when you're really struggling, is the best way to remove the guilt and to keep on going.
Learning to allow yourself some time away from those deadlines to refresh your mind, can really help avoid those few days of stress as you reach a final deadline and still have a tonne of the assignment left to complete.

Procrastination can be difficult to live with, but it is possible to learn to live with it too. It's all about training your mind to remove the guilt you feel and instead, feel that time with something else productive that you're going to gain a little more enjoyment from until you regain your motivation!


Monday, 19 March 2018

Studying a Masters Degree in Psychology: What to Expect?

March 19, 2018 0 Comments

Before starting my masters degree, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I didn't know how much the difficulty would compare to undergraduate, I didn't know if the workload would be the same, and if they would grade it the same. I had so many questions as it was fairly daunting to wonder what I was signing myself up for.

I had managed to survive undergraduate but how would I manage getting a second degree?

I am half way through my second trimester of Masters therefore, I feel like I can now share my experience to provide some idea of the differences between masters and undergraduate degrees.

How does the workload compare?

This was something I was incredibly worried about and it was a very justified worry. Although we no longer have any exams (which is great!), our coursework has doubled (or maybe tripled). I have been used to doing one piece of coursework per module however, at masters we're doing 2-3 pieces instead. To add to this, the word limits have increased dramatically too, as most of the assignments are portfolios rather than just essays.

On top of this, we have our dissertation to work on too, but coming straight from 3rd year meant I was used to this balance.

How does the grading compare?

Our work is graded more harshly but this was expected. We were given a new grading scheme and there has been changes in terms of which percentage fits what grade, meaning achieving a 2:1 or a 1st will take a bit more work.

The aspect that I still struggled to understand though was what was expected of my work and writing style. I was incredibly nervous when writing my first piece of coursework as I felt like I was still producing something similar to undergrad level and I was worried it wouldn't be enough. However, at the same time I wasn't sure how I could improve it.

Although I did struggle with this, when getting the grade back I had managed to get a 1st, so I must have done something right. That did make me relax a little and feel as though in terms of writing style, they were not asking for much more, as the actual work has become more challenging. However, I am still a little nervous that the work I am producing isn't quite enough.

How does the difficulty compare to undergraduate?

To sum it up - I have found every piece of coursework we have done so far incredibly difficult and at times, really lost any belief in my capabilities in studying this degree. I did find our undergraduate work difficult but now looking back, I realise how much of a step up Masters is.

Of course I expected this and I didn't think it would be easy but it really has been a challenge. I have experienced huge amounts of stress and it's most definitely been the most difficult semesters I have had since starting university. If you're planning to do a Masters degree, just be prepared for this!

What are the modules like?

I have absolutely loved the modules we have studied at Masters (besides statistics but that's another point). Undergrad is very broad and we tended to study a range of different topics, many of which I wasn't interested in. However, it's now amazing to just focus on the ones that really hold my interest (clinical psychology) and to gain knowledge of them at a much deeper level.

What don't you like about studying a Masters in Psychology?

Statistics is the simple answer. As part of undergrad Psychology you have to study research methods and statistics, and the same applies for Masters... you can't escape it! We have a module of statistics each semester and it has been a huge challenge. It's not something that comes naturally to me however, I am trying my hardest in hope of it not dragging my grade down.

Is it best to take a year out before starting a Masters?

If you're finishing undergraduate feeling a little overwhelmed, it may be useful to take a year out before starting a Masters. It will be an incredibly intense year and that may not be what you need. Part of me wishes I had taken a year out and done some travelling or something fun before jumping straight in, however at the same time I love studying so much that it just felt natural to go straight into it. I have also found it super useful coming straight from undergrad as I have all the knowledge pretty fresh in my mind (that's been even more useful with statistics). I worried that if I waited a year, I may struggle a little more when I did finally go back.

Overall... what can you expect when studying a Masters degree in Psychology?

Lots and lots of work... but I'm sure that's already assumed. Masters most definitely is not easy, it has been a challenge but it is so much fun too! I love learning and I have loved all of my lectures (besides statistics). I can't pinpoint a single one that has lost my interest. It's amazing to finally focus on one topic within Psychology which I absolutely love and gain a more in depth knowledge of it too.

Having a Masters degree will be incredibly beneficial, not only as it's another qualification but because of the extra knowledge I have gained from it too.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

University: End of Semester Stress & Putting Your Mental Health First

March 17, 2018 0 Comments

If you are a University student, you will probably be able to relate to that huge mood changer that comes along when the end of a semester is in sight, whether that be the build up to the Christmas holidays, or the month of May when final deadlines are handed in and exams begin.

It can be very easy to get caught up in the panic and stress of how much work you have to do and then in return feeling like your head is going to explode. The idea of working through essay after essay and then having to spend the few weeks building up to exams shut away in your room revising can become very overwhelming. However, amongst all of this, it is so important to always put your mental health first.

If you don't feel right in yourself and you're not in the right frame of mind to focus, then it's only going to make matters worse. Until you begin to look after your mental health, you're never going to be able to put your best self forward, to finish off the essays and revise for those exams. Therefore, it should always be your primary focus, guilt free.

Stress is something I have always struggled with throughout my academic years and it has also linked closely with my anxiety. Therefore, around this time of the year my whole body becomes extremely sensitive to every little thing that's happening around me and can trigger the worst at any point.

The overload of work and things to be thinking/worrying about can all get a bit too much and with each year of University I have always experienced that sudden break down, where I just want to cry and give up. However, each time this has happened I have always been able to look back and feel extremely glad that I never did.

Although it is very normal to get stressed over exams/deadlines, it's not okay to let it consume your mind and take over your life. Your mental health is much more important than getting a good grade. You need to focus on getting yourself well, happy, and in the right mindset to continue.

I may not have it all figured out just yet, but I have learned that when I begin to feel overwhelmed, it is time to take a step back. I don't feel guilty for taking some time to myself, whether that be taking a walk in the fresh air or taking a few days off from work completely. Either way, I know it's so important to allow myself that time, so I can come back and feel ready to tackle those deadlines once again.

If you ever feel like you're struggling and feel overloaded with deadlines that you can't cope with, take a step back. Speak to your housemate, a close friend, or even contact your university's wellbeing service for a bit of support. You are most definitely not alone, and I can assure you that so many people will be able to relate and will be very willing to help you out.

You shouldn't ever have to feel alone through these critical moments in your degree. Make sure you are looking after yourself and getting the help and support when you need it. You're fully capable of reaching the end and finishing your degree, and you will do it.

When people say you can only do your best, that doesn't mean working yourself so hard that it leads to a breakdown and puts your mental health at risk. Instead, do your best while being aware of your limits and take a steadier approach to success. Always put your mental health first.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Loose Women: Taking a Mental Health Day

January 24, 2018 0 Comments

A topic was brought up on Loose Women the other day regarding children taking mental health days off school. There was debate on whether or not this was a good idea and although I can understand both arguments, I didn't agree with all the comments mentioned.

One of the arguments made was the following...

“I don’t want to underplay mental health, but personally, for me, I don’t think this is a good idea. Look, life is life and we have to know how to cope with mental health in everyday life. You can’t just take time out from school.”

This comment is problematic for me because it instantly lessens the struggles individuals can face with mental health difficulties. It is suggesting that these people should just get out and get on with it, as though it's really that simple. This highlights the bigger issue surrounding mental health and the lack of understanding that comes with it. These kind of comments create that stigmatised view causing those suffering to be too scared to speak out, with fear of their struggles being seen in this way.

I don't believe this was a fair comment as if this were a physical illness being spoken about, it would be seen as acceptable to take a day off. Someone with the flu who doesn't feel like getting out of bed, wouldn't be told to just get up, get out and deal with it. We wouldn't expect them to just 'learn how to cope with being ill in daily life' and instead, we would tell them to rest and get better. So why when it comes to mental health do we still take this unfair view? How can we expect someone with a mental illness to just 'learn to cope' and get on with it, when someone with a physical illness is given sympathy and is cared for.

Although conversations regarding mental health are increasing and it is making a positive impact on the way it is viewed, comments like these do highlight how far we still have to go. There is still a looming stigma and lack of understanding surrounding mental health, that leads people to hold these unfair views. I believe that the more we talk about mental health, and the more we share experiences of it, the more education it will bring. Hopefully this will allow people to emphasise a little more with those struggling, rather than telling them to just 'get on with'.


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Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Graduation Nerves: What's Next?

January 23, 2018 0 Comments

Rewind a few years ago, I never thought that the day would come where I would be finishing my undergraduate degree, let alone starting a Masters. The past few years have been a complete whirlwind, with every plan that I've made regarding my future, falling apart when something else comes up instead.

Although I am the type of person who loves to plan and has some sort of idea what the future may hold, I've enjoyed the unexpectedness of how each year has played out for me. It has made me realise that sometimes it's better to take a step back from trying to control every aspect of your life and let fate take the lead. It has ended up allowing me to take up some of the most amazing opportunities and experiences of my life.

It can be incredibly daunting to be a 3rd year student going into the final semester. I remember feeling exactly like that last year when I wasn't sure what I wanted to do once I had finished university. I knew that I wasn't ready to leave it behind and I still had so much more to learn, but I still didn't have the faintest clue of what to do next.

It can be incredibly tempting to spend your final semester planning every aspect of your life for once you graduate, but this can be unhealthy. It can make your final few months pass so quickly without giving you chance to fully appreciate them. Although some degree of planning is needed, as you may have to send off applications or figure out what kind of career you want, you must not let it consume your final semester.

It doesn't matter if you don't have your whole life planned out. It doesn't matter if you don't know what kind of job you want or whether you want to extend your education for a little bit longer. Nobody expects you to come out of university and suddenly achieve every dream that you had originally set out to accomplish, so you shouldn't put that pressure on yourself either.

Finishing university can feel like you're finally stepping into the huge and scary adult world, where you suddenly need to grow up and get a lifetime career. Although a lot of people do jump into careers they have been working so hard for, this doesn't have to be the case for everyone.

Leaving university doesn't have to be a scary time: it can be exciting too! It's down to you to make it that way.

There is no rule book that signifies that you have to leave university and immediately start working towards your long-term career goals. Instead it can be a chance to do everything you never had the chance to do before you headed off to university. Perhaps you always wanted to take a gap year and go travelling but had never had the confidence before. Now is your time to try it! Maybe you just want to get a short-term job and experience living in another city for a year. Now is your time to try it! Or maybe you want to further your education and get a Masters in the topics that interest you most. Now is, also, the time to try it!

Whatever it is that you really want to do, you should give yourself the chance to finally experience that, completely guilt-free. Graduating from university doesn't have to be the start of that mature adult life, where you feel like you need to suddenly grow up. Instead, it can be a continuation of how you've spent your past three years at university - a time to have some fun and find out who you are as a person.

Don't let the end of university be consumed with fear and pressures to suddenly pursue the career you've been working towards. Let it be a celebration of what you have achieved and take the next few years to do the things you've always wanted to do!

Friday, 27 October 2017

Group Therapy for Anxiety: My Experience

October 27, 2017 0 Comments
So this is something I was incredibly reluctant to share however, I then realised that the fear was me sinking into a mindset I work hard to help people out of. All of my volunteering is based around helping to remove the sigma surrounding mental health and giving people the confidence to speak up and seek support! Therefore, I thought it would be silly of me not to share my own experience in hope that it gives someone else the confidence they need to get help too.

How it all started:

So a month ago I started group therapy for my Anxiety and this was a massive thing for me. I had originally been offered therapy when I was in sixth form however, was very quick to shut it down as the mention of it terrified me. However, fast forward a few years and I finally bucked up the courage to head back to the doctors and accept it, knowing that I couldn't put it off any longer.

When I stepped into that building on my first session, I didn't know what to expect. I had already stood outside for a good 20 minutes, debating with myself if I should just turn around and leave... however, I didn't. I pushed myself to do it and I am so glad that I did.

My expectations & experience in a group:

I know for many (and for myself) the mention of group therapy can feel incredibly daunting. Why would anyone want to sit in a room with other people and have to talk about all of your problems? I hate even mentioning when I'm feeling a little low to my own friends and family so why would I tell strangers?

This was a thought that continued to run through my head right up until the end of my first session when I came out feeling so high spirited and like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Sitting in that room with 5 other people (and two therapists) was not as scary as I had built it up to be and instead had been incredibly reassuring. I went from feeling alienated and as though I was the only one feeling that way, to feeling much more reassured.

Every session I grew more and more confident in what I was doing and more sure that my fear of group therapy had all been for nothing. It felt great to listen to what other people had to say and to see that we were really all in the same boat.

The mention of a group had been the aspect that had put me off for years however, it ended up being nothing to worry about. Instead, it had been something I enjoyed and looked forward to every week instead! Therefore, if group therapy is something you're put off about, then just give it a try and I promise that you'll be pleasantly surprised.

The Course Content:

In the 4 weeks we covered a range of different material but nothing got too personal. That was my biggest fear when it came to the group as I wasn't too keen on sharing my personal life with anyone (little lone strangers). Therefore, I was reassured when the aim of these particular sessions was to provide tips and resources to help deal with the anxiety, rather than our own experiences.

They were always so open for us to share our own personal concerns however, this wasn't forced on us either. It was the perfect balance.

The course was based around CBT and every week we were provided with a booklet full of information and useful ways to help ourselves. Some of the topics/resources that were covered included:

  • The vicious cycle (ABC)
  • Worry Diary
  • Setting goals
  • Classifying worries
  • Worry Time
  • Autonomic symptoms and managing them (briefly covering panic attacks)
  • Refocus practice and abdominal breathing
  • Problem solving

Each session was only 1 hour long so everything was covered fairly briefly however, we were always given 'homework' tasks. This just gave us chance to work on anything they had talked about in the session and practice using the resources they were providing us with.

To conclude:

I completely appreciate that group therapy isn't for everyone however, it is definitely something I would advise trying out. Although everything we covered was incredibly brief and on a very un-personal level, this can be enough for some people.

I found everything I learned in these sessions incredibly useful and will definitely be using them from now on. However, they were also very aware that after 4 weeks of group therapy you were not going to be 'cured', it doesn't work like that.

Therefore, don't think that group therapy has to be it. If you do try it out, you can always move on to one-on-one afterwards to touch on topics that are a little more personal to you.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Anxiety: Your Own Worst Enemy

September 19, 2017 0 Comments
Making plans and getting excited. Dreading them the day before or chickening out and changing your mind. Reaching for opportunities but turning them down when they are passed your way. Constantly battling with your anxious self that ruins every chance to have fun or do something different. Constantly feeling angry that you are and will always be your own worst enemy.

Anxiety comes in lots of different forms and falls in a range of places on a spectrum however, one thing they all have in common, is that you are always your own worst enemy. One day you can make a plan that you'll feel so much joy and excitement for but when it very quickly comes around, you feel nothing but fear. It doesn't make sense and there is no logical explanation for it but that anxious part of your mind is on high alert and nothing you do can control it.

Trying to explain to someone why you suddenly don't feel up to doing something can feel utterly impossible. How can you explain something that you don't even understand yourself?

The idea of getting up, getting ready and heading out and spending the day away from your comfort spot, suddenly feels like the worst and most terrifying experience. You could be travelling 5 minutes down the road or you could be travelling an hour. It doesn't matter. The fear will feel the same.

There may be many occasions where you have been incredibly excited about something, whether that be a day out or an opportunity being passed your way however, it doesn't take long for that excitement to be destroyed. You start to feel physically sick and overwhelmed with dread. Your heart begins beating so fast and you suddenly feel a sense of danger.

Nothing has changed, everything is as safe as it previously was but you just feel anxious. You start to fear it and start to only see the negatives and potential dangers - your mind becomes consumed as it considers every possible risk associated with whatever it is you're doing.

This dread leads to avoidance and avoidance is one of the biggest issues when dealing with anxiety. It's a safety behaviour used to to feel secure and in control again, to help you cope however, in reality it does the total opposite.

Feeling anxious about general life is another one of those issues that just never makes any sense. Waking up every single day with a feeling of dread about nothing in particular and not being able to comprehend what is even running through your mind. Not being able to sleep at night because you suddenly remind yourself of everything that is wrong and everything that you should be worrying about rather than soaking it up and making the best of it.

One thing that is consistent though, is the constant buzz in your mind which never gives you a break. The ability to relax and to just take some time to yourself becomes utterly impossible when you can't block out the many thoughts bouncing around and trying to cause you worry.

It's a constant battle with yourself to try and push them away, only to make them come back harsher and more terrifying.

That overwhelming experience when you are sat in a silent room but your mind just won't rest. You try your hardest to think of nothing and just block out every single thing that pops into your mind but it becomes impossible.

It's unbearable because all you want and need to do is rest but even if you're not physically moving you still feel so exhausted. Your body may not be working but your mind is on full alert and it never seems to stop.

Although it's so difficult to comprehend and explain as you can't quite make sense of it yourself, that just highlights the worst part of the whole experience. You are always going to be your own worst enemy. Nothing is happening around you to cause the dread, fear and panic, it's constantly in your own mind; they are your own thoughts that surely you should be able to control?

It sounds like the solution should be simple when you look at it that way. 'Just stop thinking about it. Stop letting the thoughts drop into your mind.' But it's never really that easy. Thoughts are dominant, whether they are good or bad. Your brain is incredibly powerful. However, it is possible to take gradual steps to gain control of your own mind and worry once again.

Anxiety will have its high and lows. You will have good days and bad days and that's okay. You may go a week or more, feeling amazing and in control. You may suddenly feel like you could never feel as bad as you once did.

But dealing with anxiety and recovering from that consistent panic and worry is not a linear progress. It's going to have it's ups and downs so it's about persevering and trusting yourself. Try not to beat yourself up about it and remember tomorrow is a new day to try all over again.

We will always be our own worst enemy and the one who will give us the hardest time however, that is never going to be productive and only make things worse. Be patient with your mind, reach out for help and know that you are capable of gaining that control back. It just takes time.


If you're currently struggling with Anxiety, please make sure to reach out to your GP or local mental health service. There is support out there, it's just about taking that huge step to getting some help.

If you have a story or experience to share regarding your own Anxiety and you're currently a student, check out the Student Minds blog. It's the UK's national student mental health blog and we're always looking for more people to join the team and write for us!

For more information click here or email us at and we'll get back in touch!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Mental Health - The Importance of Supporting Others

July 26, 2017 0 Comments
I believe that one of the biggest struggles when it comes to Mental Health is due to embarrassment and the stigma surrounding it. I think the fear of talking about the difficulties can feed into an endless cycle of someone feeling more and more isolated, which can lead to things becoming ten times worse.

This is why I strongly believe that there should be an incredible emphasis placed on the support of others, and not just our own friends and family, strangers too. Being tolerant and accepting of how other people feel and what others are going through, no matter how well you know them can have the most amazing affects on mental health related difficulties.

At University, I volunteer for a charity called Student Minds, whereby we run support sessions for fellow students who have mental health difficulties. We have two support groups; Positive Minds (for low mood and mild depression) and Eating Difficulties.

The idea of these support groups isn't for us to hand out a diagnosis or provide any sort of counselling and instead, it is to provide support and a safe place for people to go to let off a bit of steam. By doing this, it really opened my eyes to how beneficial simply listening to someone can be.

The kind of feedback we received from those who attended the groups was based around how good it felt to have somewhere to turn when they felt most alone. Some would explain how they just couldn't talk to their own friends and family about what they were going through because they didn't understand. Some emphasised how good it felt to talk to like-minded people as they felt less judged. All in all, those who attended came because of the support and because the atmosphere made them feel accepted rather than the odd one out.

It felt amazing to provide something so important for people who felt like they lacked that support beforehand. It really made me aware of the importance of supporting others whether they are your friends, family or complete strangers.

The more we make sure those suffering with mental health difficulties feel included rather than isolated, the better they can begin to feel in themselves. We sometimes don't realise how our own actions and our own words can affect someone else who is going through a tough time.

It's crazy how many times someone has said to me 'I can't tell my friend because they just won't understand' or 'my family just doesn't get it'. It's heartbreaking to hear but I can totally relate to that feeling where it just seems like they couldn't possibly know what you are going through.

Sometimes, this can be inaccurate and it's more due to your own fears of the stigma that lingers in society. A lot of the time your family and friends probably would understand but your own fear of speaking up can prevent them from being able to give you the support. However, for those who are surrounded by people who truly do not understand, it can be incredibly difficult and make things so much worse.

Therefore, if you take anything away from this post, it is that your support and ability to understand is so important. Whether the person is your best friend, brother or even a complete stranger, showing them some empathy and that you are willing to listen if they reach out can make all the difference to their struggles.

Maybe you will be the one to reach out to them and ask how they are doing, or maybe they will show signs that they want to open up to you. Either way, providing them with that safe space and reassurance that even if you don't fully understand you'd never judge them for it, can make a huge positive impact on whatever they are going through.


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Mental Health Awareness Week: Empathy!

May 09, 2017 0 Comments

Considering it's mental health awareness week I really wanted to write a post dedicated to such an important topic of conversation. Firstly, it's amazing to have days/weeks like this whereby the time is dedicated to opening up and talking about a topic that is still so heavily stigmatised. It's not just the act of doing something to make a change, it's encouraging the conversations and for it to be talked openly about so people no longer feel so alone.

I read something the other day which really stuck with me and it was frightening how true it really was. The quote read...

'I will never understand why every organ in your body gets support and sympathy when it is ill except for your brain'

It's sad how true and accurate this is. If you have a broken leg or come down with the flu there will be some sort of help immediately present with people around you providing care. In comparison, the moment something is a little out of place in your head, it suddenly becomes something to be embarrassed about and ashamed of. There is the fear of people judging you for being 'pathetic', 'making a fuss' or 'putting it on' and it all comes down to the fact that people just don't understand.

Looking back to my school years, I never remember being educated on mental health and this probably plays a huge influence in why it's so badly misunderstood. If we are not educated in it as children/teenagers and if it is always hidden as though it's something to be ashamed of then soon enough, that's what it all turns into.

I believe that education is the key to kickstart the improvement in mental health as the more people understand, the easier it will be to open up. People will no longer feel ashamed to admit they don't feel okay, just like they aren't ashamed to admit they have the flu. People will no longer feel like they have to suffer in silence and they will soon realise that it is okay to not be okay.

There is support out there (although it still has a long way to go to be as equally accessible), it's just all about taking that brave step to go out and get it.

As part of my volunteering at University, I help run student led support groups for those who feel like they need someone to talk to. We are not trained to give therapy and not there to give advice but we are there to just provide some support. It's a place whereby people can feel safe and secure to not feel alone and vent how they are feeling. I think things like this are such an important first step as not only does it start the conversations but these conversations can be the start of a recovery.

Talking about something with like-minded people or just people who are willing to listen can make all the difference. It can make you feel as though you are no longer alone or make you feel as though you do have someone to turn to in times of need. Therefore, I think it's important to always be open to the conversations.

It can be scary as you may feel as though that person is looking for you to give them the advice and all the answers but you don't need to provide that. All you need to do is be able to listen, it's that simple. By listening you are already making that person feel as though they are not alone. By listening you are already giving them a place where they feel safe and can free themselves of the thoughts that may be consuming their mind for a little while.

Of course you can give them a little guidance of where to go to seek help, as that push may be what they need however, they won't need you to cure them. Just being open to listen and let them know you are always there to do that is the most powerful thing.

Empathy is such a crucial thing when it comes to mental health. In our training this was something that was stressed to us but it is also something that can sometimes get very mixed up with sympathy. Below is an incredibly useful video we were shown which highlights the difference and encourages a way of approaching someone in a way that will prevent them from feeling alone.

I hope this post sheds some light on how easy it is to just be there for someone experiencing a mental health difficulty. Sometimes it can seem quite daunting and I think this may be a reason some people hold back from supporting someone going through it. You can worry about saying the wrong thing or not being able to give them the right advice to make them feel better however, it's much simpler than that. You don't need to have all the answers, you just need to be willing to listen and ensure that person that you are there and that they are not alone.


(image from:

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Truth About Being a Third Year University Student

March 17, 2017 0 Comments

When in first and second year, I heard so many people say how tough third year is however, I never realised how different things would be by this point. University has definitely been a journey but third year has been one in it's own right and below I have made a list of nine truths that I have picked up from it so far.

1. Early nights will be an everyday kind of thing -

Since being in third year I have rarely been able to stay up past midnight. I don't know if it's the earlier mornings or the mental stress that has increased over the years but I am always extremely exhausted by dinner time.

While in first and second year I could easily stay up well into the early hours of the morning but I have now resorted to my elderly self and end up in bed by 10pm.

2. No one prepares you for the stress and pressure you will feel 24/7 -

First year is a breeze, second year is when you start to take things a bit more seriously however, when third year arrives, you'll find yourself having nightmares about the extensive amount of work you have to do.

All of the work you do in third year (minus one module for us) counts towards your degree and therefore, that means you instantly feel the pressure to work hard and get your best grades. However, this doesn't come easily when you have deadlines, exams, a presentation to prepare for, a dissertation to write and volunteering on the side. As you tick things off your 'to do list', you're only adding more things on and it becomes an endless cycle of feeling constantly behind.

3. You will continue to deny the existence of your dissertation for as long as possible -

When you don't have weekly lectures to attend to regarding it and the whole thing is down to your independent scheduling, it is so easy to pretend it doesn't exist. The stress of carrying out a research project, analysing the data and then writing 8,000 words on it, doesn't sound like a lot of fun. Therefore, it becomes a repetitive cycle of pretending you have all the time in the world when instead, the clock is ticking down fast.

4. Your dissertation process is nothing like you expected it to be -

As a Psychology student we carry out a piece of independent research for our dissertation and then produce a write up of it. A huge part of that is obviously the data collection aspect and when I was a first and second year student I thought this would be the super easy however, that is so far from the truth. 

Getting participants to take part in your study is a case of begging and pleading people who are reluctant to do it just so you can scrape the target number you put on your ethics. This results in spending a lot of your time wishing you had picked a different idea or chosen a much smaller target sample number. 

Unfortunately though as a second year student planning your idea, you were too enthusiastic for the following year to ever understand how much stress you were placing on yourself.

5. Your overdraft will become your best friend -

The idea of going into my overdraft during first or second year was absolutely terrifying and I did everything to ensure I stayed well clear of it. However, fast forward to third year and I have spent the whole of semester 1 and 2 just sitting comfortably in a sea of negative numbers. It no longer feels like the end of the world and just becomes the norm.

6. You will realise that although you have gained a good set of 'adulting' skills - cooking probably isn't one of them -

After a couple of years experience of having to cook for myself, you'd think I'd have the whole cooking thing perfected by now - or near enough anyway. However, it is most definitely the opposite and I feel as though I am getting worse. Although I always have good intensions and tell myself I will follow a real recipe one night, by dinner time I am usually too exhausted to cook anything fancy and opt for something like pasta instead.

7. You will have learned to deal with the most random situations over the three years of living away. Nothing will ever faze you again!

Here are a few personal examples...

1. Using outside as a fridge for a week when our one decided to break on us
2. Finding the biggest slugs sitting under the fridge at night yet not knowing how they got in
3. Having a leak dripping from the kitchen ceiling which was coming straight from the bathroom
4. Having to collect water from a broken washing machine with a beer glass and it taking about 20 trips to and from the sink
5. Constant power cuts due to the mystery electrical item triggering the the main switch
6. Having unwelcoming visits from bed bugs in my friends room and figuring out how to get rid of them
7. Living with eight plus different people within only two semesters - not knowing who will be coming or going next becomes the norm
8. Realising the way to fix a squeaky door is to use hair serum spray!
9. and living in a loud building site throughout an important exam period and still managing to get some of my best grades

8. You will find friends that will last a lifetime -

In my opinion, the key to a successful and happy university experience is finding people who you can share the experience with. When moving away from your family, creating a 'university family' will make getting through those tough times so much easier. 

These will be the people you tackle the stress with, learn all the adult skills with and enjoy all the happy times with too. They will be the strangers you met for the first time a few years ago and chances are, you will probably remember that first awkward conversation too! They will feel like a family and as though you have known them all your life and that's because you have experienced some of the most crucial skills and life lessons alongside them.

9. You will look back and realise how much you have changed over the past few years -

One of the biggest things I have gained from attending Uni is confidence. 

If I look back at the girl who arrived on her first day of first year, she is far from the person I am now. I have done some things since being here that I never would have done a few years ago and it's given me the confidence to tackle the big and the small hurdles I have faced.

Although third year may be stressful, it is the happiest I have been in a very long time. I feel like I have learned so much and grown as a person over the past few years that I'm much more content and confident in my self and abilities.

There is still a long way to go with a lot of deadlines and exams to complete but all the stress will definitely be worth it on graduation. Alongside being awarded my degree, I will also be able to appreciate and reflect back on all the life skills I have picked up along the way.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Why any sort of comparison is never healthy!

January 24, 2017 0 Comments
Whilst reading some articles for my dissertation, I came across a bit of information about social comparison. It suggested that comparing yourself with your peers is just as likely to have a negative impact on your body image as comparing yourself to media content (such as models/celebrities) does. I then read something that suggested that peers have a stronger effect on body dissatisfaction than a professional model and this is because the 'thin-ideal' is seen as more attainable in someone you know/know of compared to someone in the public eye. In other words, you feel as though you are more likely to be able to look like a friend than you are a model/celebrity.

We're all constantly told that comparing ourselves to images in the media is unhealthy as they are unrealistic and not a true representation of men and women in real life. However, I also think it's so important to stress that comparing ourselves to those around us or friends/people we follow online, is just as unhealthy. Features you pick out about someone else that you claim you want or are striving for, are unrealistic, whether or not that person is a photoshopped model or someone you are friends with on Facebook. Just because you know someone in real life does not make comparing yourself with them, anymore rational than comparing yourself to someone on the TV.

We are all different due to a number of different factors but I think one thing that people tend to forget is that these differences are what cause comparing ourselves to one another, such an unhealthy way of living. You will never have the same body as one of your friends, you will never have hair like the person you follow on twitter and you will never diet and exercise enough to look the same as that girl did in an outfit on Facebook.

We can't compare ourselves to peers and friends around us as much as we can't compare ourselves to the models we see in magazines because they are all unrealistic and unattainable. Your body is the way it is due to your genetics. Yes, you can do certain things to adjust your dress size or copy a hairstyle by getting your own hair cut in that way, but it's never going to be the same as that person you compared yourself to.

You can only reach goals that your own body will allow and if that means you have slightly bigger thighs than someone else you know or if that means your stomach isn't as flat as one of your friends, that's okay because that is how your body was designed to be like. You can work so hard to become someone else and to look like someone else's picture you saw on Facebook however, that's never going to happen.

The moment you stop and realise that by comparing yourself to other people only ends in a cycle of endless misery due to how physically impossible it is to achieve, the moment you'll become so much more content with yourself.

Therefore, comparing yourself to a model in a magazine is just as unhealthy as comparing yourself to family, friends or peers you have on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is. You are never going to look like that person, you're only ever going to be able to achieve what your body allows you to achieve. So instead of comparing yourself and constantly trying to change everything about you, focus on appreciating the body, face and hair you do have. Focus on the way your body is shaped and only pay attention to yourself when you are setting these goals and aspirations to make a change.

With January being that month where everyone is making resolutions to change themselves, take a step back and really think what goals you are setting. I recently watched a video by Lucy Wood on youtube where she emphasised the issue with New Years Resolutions. She mentioned how once she had proposed her own list, she soon realised that she had just picked out all of her insecurities and was claiming she wanted to change them. I agree with her that resolutions should be more focused around positive goals and should be more realistic in terms of making yourself happy, rather than picking out all of the negative things about yourself and insisting you need to change them.

Remember that when you are making those comparisons with celebrities, people online or your friends that you will never be them and they will never be you. Comparing yourself to other people is irrational because you are striving for something that is unattainable. Instead, be happy with the body and traits you have been given and be grateful instead of picking, comparing and trying to change everything.

(photo credit link is here)