Thursday, 18 May 2017

Falmouth Fun

 Last week I decided to take a break from final year uni stress and visit Meg in Falmouth. The train from Plymouth took about 2 hours but was so cheap and SOOoo worth it (!)

 Luckily for us, the day I visited was so sunny and warm it felt just like being on holiday by the seaside.

 Because neither of us had been to the Gardens of Heligan before, we decided to take a lil' road trip to St Austell. I had actually meant to go to the Gardens when I was in St Ives last year, but sadly it was too rainy; so this seemed like the perrrfect day out.

Before setting off, we stopped for brunch at Good Vibes Cafe (which was uhh-mazing btw) and bought a disposable camera to document our trip.  The camera made all of our photos so spontaneous and in-the-moment, I just love them (scroll down for a peek!).

The Gardens were like a tropical paradise, hiding plant-made sculptures, lakes and even a rope bridge (yay!)

We finished the day off by having a mini picnic at Penryn beach, watching the sunset - a perfect end to a perfect day. (I had so much fun that Meg convinced me to stay a night longer!)

Have you visited Falmouth / The Gardens of Heligan? x










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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Oxford Life Coaching: Cheryl's Top Tips for Happiness.




Health is wealth. 
Always take control of your life - don't let it control you.
 Put negativity away. 
Practise gratitude and kindness. 
Yesterday is in the past - tomorrow is a new day. 

 
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Happiness Starts from Within: How to Let Go of Your Insecurities and Feel Good from the Inside, Out

Megan Hemsworth Photography

The UK ranked nineteenth in this year’s World Happiness Report. The report ranks countries according to factors such as equality, GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, ‘perceptions of corruption’ ,‘freedom to make life choices’ and how people rated their personal lives on a scale of 0-10.

Whilst 19th place isn’t something to dismiss lightly – in fact, the UK leaped up four places – it is far from the likes of ‘the happiest place on earth’, Norway which took 1st place, closely followed by former champion Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland.

According to the Happiness Report, all of the top four countries rank highly in the main factors to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance.

But how are these ratings achieved?

According to Denmark – one of the happiest countries – happiness can be found through Hygge. Derived from the Norwegian term, ‘hugga’, which means to comfort, The Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 ‘Word of the Year’ finalist, Hygge embraces all things ‘cosy’. Associated with taking pleasure in the gentle, small things in life, such as a cup of tea or cashmere socks, the term is renowned for relaxation, indulgence and gratitude.

British-Danish author of Book of Hygge, Louisa Thomsen Brits, says that hygge is derived from a state of mindfulness. She says that it is ‘a quality of stillness born of contentment and awareness. It is a feeling of connection that surfaces when we stop whirling for long enough to enter our present experience by doing something as simple as eating a piece of cake on a park bench’.

An Oxford University study has found that out of 273 people who completed a ‘Be Mindful Online’ course, 58% experienced a reduction in anxiety levels, 57% experienced a reduction in depression and 40% experienced a reduction in stress. Meanwhile, The Oxford Centre for Mindfulness has found that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy reduces the recurrence rate in those who have experienced depression three or more times, by 40-50%.

As the article, ‘The Sad Reality behind the Smiles: The Pressures behind Social Media and the Desire to Fit In, notes social media is often the cause of depression and anxiety. 

With mental health problems becoming all the more common, it is unsurprising that the act of being mindful has seen an increase.

Author of Growing Up Mindful, Christopher Willard says that: ‘Noticing how social media makes you feel can help you discover how to use it more mindfully'. 

'As you become more aware of the emotions you’re actually inviting into your day when you visit social media sites, you’ll be able to make better decisions about how often to visit those sites’.

But meditation isn’t the only cure for anxiety, depression and stress.

The initiative, ‘This Girl Can’ developed by Sport England, encourages women and girls to ‘get active, whatever their age, size, background or ability’, without the fear of being judged.  

Jessica, says that sport is now ‘an integral part of how [she] manages depression’.

‘My poor body-image was a big problem for me growing up, which led to me using exercise as a way for me to control my weight’. 

‘I needed something where I didn’t feel under pressure to perform, as I found was the case with team sports’. 

‘[Now] I’m definitely on my way to reclaiming exercise as something purely positive for myself’.

In 2012 a mind-blowing 40 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were prescribed throughout England. 

Stress, anxiety and depression are the price many pay for attempting to juggle life. 

Medication will always be required for some, but for those with less-severe forms of depression and anxiety, studies suggest that yoga may be the magic cure.

A 2013 study by Massachusetts General Hospital says that the deep psychological state of rest induced by the yoga elements, posture, breathing and meditation causes an instant positive change in immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion – known for triggering the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin.

Blogger and yoga teacher, Annie Clarke says that ‘the key thing is to get in touch with your body - to listen and learn from yourself and to just go with the flow’.

‘If something feels good then the chances are it is but if your intuition says no, then perhaps that is the guidance you need to take a step back and have a day off’. 

‘We are all so different, so only your body can teach you what will work for you’.

Annie's book, Mind, Body, Bowl is centered on what she believes are 'the three pillars of wellness', although she believes that food takes center stage. 

'[Food] is just one pillar in the 'trio of wellness', but in some cases it is the most essential one in terms of feeling our best'.

'The food that you eat has a big effect on how you feel. By choosing to fill yourself with healthy fuel that you respond well to, you can help your body to be its most efficient, enabling you to feel energetic, light and clear-minded'.

The Mental Health Foundation has also seen positive links between diet and mental health, as evidence suggests that food is important in managing depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Alzheimer's disease.

The website states that ‘Nearly two thirds of those who do not report daily mental health problems eat fresh fruit or fruit juice every day’.

Even chocolate can give you a more positive life as it is packed with chemicals such as serotonin, caffeine and phenylethylamine which trigger our 'happy hormones', studies suggest.

Now that is something to be happy about. 

For more information on how to live happily, physically, mentally and emotionally, visit: Oxford Life CoachingMind Body BowlNHS: Live Well, Mental Health , This Girl Can, Cheryl's Top Tips for Happiness.
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The Sad Reality behind the Smiles: The Pressures behind Social Media and the Desire to Fit In


 Megan Hemsworth Photography


The 21st century has seen an explosion into the online world of social media. No longer are people picking up the phone, writing letters or even texting. Rather the socially savvy among us are Tweeting, Facebooking, IM-ing, Instagramming and Snapchatting our way across the globe.

Sound familiar? With over 2.34 billion people signed up to at least one social media account - Facebook in particular has 1.94 billion monthly users - online presence has never been so prominent.

The appeal of social media is overwhelming - the opportunity to upload photos, messages, videos, podcasts, tweets and statuses, all at the touch of a button is endless.

With so many online profiles portraying #lifegoals, it would appear that social media only enhances a person's life; but is this necessarily the case?

An online poll has found that over one quarter of social media users actually feel worse than they let on.

Over half of the 100 people questioned admitted that social media has caused them to feel sad / upset / suicidal 'a couple of times', whilst just under half said that they felt pressured by celebrities to look good.

The sad reality is, such statistics are far from uncommon and with society constantly striving to keep up with the latest 'trend', it is easy to see why. 

In 2015 Kylie Jenner's voluptuous lips spurned the extravagant social media sensation, the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge - the idea being that you put a bottle lid over your lips and then suck out all the air, making them swell up - the reality being that many received painful bruising.

Meanwhile Protein World sparked widespread controversy in the same year when the self-proclaimed 'premium online health store' was responsible for the advertising campaign, Are You Beach Body Ready?

Using billboards to 'motivate' young women to look 'beach body ready' like Protein World's toned model in a skimpy bikini, legs akimbo, caused campaigners to accuse the company of body shaming and sexism. 

Feminists were keen to show their disgust by defacing the posters in the London Underground, while an online petition to remove the advertisement gathered over 70,000 signatures.

Twitter user, @amyd1987 tweeted: 'New Protein World advert only aimed at women. No wonder so many girls have body hang ups when adverts like this are made #sexist'.

According to a new study by Weight Watchers, 'an average woman criticises herself at least 8 times a day', whilst 60% of women admitted to 'having days where they felt they criticised themselves constantly'.

The Daily Mail reported that 'Women are bombarded with images of perfection while at the same time expected to balance both working lives and family lives, which experts concluded led to women's critical relationships with themselves'. 

Sadly, women's low self-esteem can lead to more than just bruising of the lips or hitting the gym in order to get beach body ready. All too commonly, young girls are being groomed via social media by porn-enthusiasts and paedophiles. 

Lulled into a false sense of security by men (and women) who reassure their victims that they are 'beautiful and special', young girls - such as thirteen year-old Kayleigh Haywood - fall into the trap of exchanging 'innocent' texts with such perverts. 

School girl Kayleigh exchanged 2,643 messages over three days with paedophile, Luke Harlow before being lured to his house, sexually assaulted, raped and eventually killed upon trying to escape Luke and his porn-obsessed neighbour, Stephen Beadman.

Talking to MPs in the House of Commons, Peter Davies, Chief Executive of Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre said that half of all exploitation occurs via social networks, whilst there are approximately '50,000 people in the UK who commit offenses at least to to a level of possessing indecent images of children'.

'Victims are getting younger and younger and the level of abuse portrayed appears to be getting worse and worse'.

Alarmingly problems associated with social media aren't just limited to strangers.

Over 50% of people 'occasionally' feel pressured to appear happy on social media, with over 60% saying that Instagram takes the lead in causing such feelings, with Facebook taking second place.

It would seem that much of this pressure is nonetheless born from friends and the idea of missing out, as 25% of people admitted to 'occasionally' attending an event purely based on the thought of post-party photos that will be uploaded online.

It is no secret that social media displays a facade of smiling faces, perfectly toned and tanned bodies and endless socialising, but many forget this in the whirlwind of the internet.


For many, Facebook and Instagram depict 'reality' - a rose-tinted haven, where things always work out, the sun is always shining and there isn't a care in the world.

Talking to The Guardian, Laura, 28, admits that her 'social media feed isn't a true representation of real life'.

She says, 'I experience anxiety and often use my accounts as a way to reflect on my life and remind myself of all the good things in it. It's not real life, it's an edited version'.

Heather, 28 also comments on the lack of transparency on social media.

'I know lots [of people] are probably having a miserable time, but there's no way to know that from a glossy photo'.

Similarly, Lynne, 50 says: 'I like social media and being able to see what's going on with my friends, but I do feel exasperated at how it's only the gloss most people portray'.

'Life is not all about infinity pools, glamorous places and happy, shiny people. Life can at times be cruel, raw and difficult and I don't see many posts about that'.

Although these women appear aware of social media's masqueraded face, they still continue to upload and contribute to the false reality of social media - and that is exactly the problem.

Are you guilty of masquerading behind a screen and /or does social media make you feel anxious or depressed?

Don't worry, help is available.

For more information on how to deal with depression and anxiety, visit: 'Happiness Starts from Within: How to Let Go of your Insecurities and Feel Good from the Inside, Out' or if you are worried that you or someone you know is a victim of online grooming, visit: Parents Protect: Online Grooming  NSPCC: Preventing Abuse

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Sunday, 26 February 2017

Sunday Evening Reminder


 It's Sunday evening and I am snuggled up in freshly laundered PJs, drinking lavender tea and watching television. Blisssss.

However I know that many people will not be relishing in the chillness of Sunday evening but dreading what Sunday evening brings: Monday morning.

So many people are so obsessed with focusing on the future, that they forget to focus on the present. Stop worrying about Monday morning and what's to come - it hasn't arrived yet. Don't set your week up for negativity simply because you are pre-determining  that tomorrow will be a bad day.

I haven't blogged for a couple of months now and I think it is because nothing has jumped out at me; I have had no particular inspiration and I don't want to publish anything that is meaningless. It was only just now - I have been working away all day stressed about future job applications and university deadlines - that it occurred to me that it really is nothing to get worked up over.

Whilst it's important to meet deadlines, it isn't worth compromising happiness for stress. Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath, relax and remember that you've got this.
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