Revision Break

Revision Break

Best way to cope with revision stress? Animals!

I took a trip with my best friend to Woburn Safari Park and it was amazing. My favourite thing about it was seeing animals free to run around in huge enclosures – a nice change to zoos in which animals are often seen pacing in cages that are not fit for them.

Here are some of my favourite photos taken on the day!

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Mental Health & Uni

Mental Health & Uni

Brief background: aged 15 I suffered from depression and this lasted for 5 years. Whilst it never fully leaves, I learnt to manage it a lot better and due to many lifestyle changes depression no longer had such a hold over me.

Now I am 22 in my final year of university and I have found that depression and stress related symptoms have been creeping up on me once more. This is almost 100% due to stress caused by the seemingly endless essay deadlines.

Last November I decided to seek medical help (this was the first visit to the doctor re stress in 6 years). I was given advice and a letter that I could submit to my university, which advised that due to my mental health it may be necessary in certain circumstances to provide me with an extension. I had 8 deadlines in total before Christmas and only requested an extension on 1 of them.

Whilst I have been coping with stress pretty well in 2017, I had a week in which everything fell apart. I got a knee injury on the Sunday night, visited the doctor on Monday to find out that I had arthritis, had to withdraw from the London Marathon on Tuesday and then on Wednesday I was working Parliament whilst the Westminster Attacks happened. Safe to say my mood rapidly decreased and I spent Thursday and Friday uncontrollably crying, unable to eat and too anxious to go outside.

With the support of my wonderful family (and a pair of crutches) I soon managed to resume my daily activities. Despite carrying on, inside I was crying out for help and jumping out of my skin whenever somebody shouted or ran past me. But in my head I knew the reason for being so jumpy – being caught up in a terrorist attack is bound to encourage feelings of anxiety, nervousness and suspicion. Whilst trying to behave as “normally” as possible, this period of time massively knocked my confidence and I know that my concentration at university was damaged because of this.

Now, getting to the point! I had an essay to do about my time in Parliament which included a daily journal and portfolio. I found it near to impossible to write about the terror attacks but it was a huge part of my experience in Parliament and I wanted to write about it to reflect upon it. I managed to do this … but submitted it 12 hours after the deadline. Due to this, I applied for extenuating circumstances and submitted my doctors note, assuming the senior tutor would understand.

Well, I was wrong. Now, I do not rely on preferential treatment and would not normally make a fuss but the reason that my extenuating circumstances claim was denied was because the letter from my doctor (November 2016) did not cover the period of time in which I was claiming the extenuating stances for. Essentially, because the letter was not dated April 2017 for my submission date, it was invalid. Here are my arguments for why this is ridiculous:

  1. Mental health issues do not have a timeframe. It is not as if I have submitted a letter to say that I had a broken leg in November and was still using this broken leg as an excuse months after it has healed. Mental health is an ongoing battle. I could feel absolutely on top of the world all week and then have a weekend where I want to curl up into a ball and not talk to anyone. In my opinion, a letter dated November 2016 in which my mental health had been acknowledged by a doctor should have lasted throughout the academic year.
  2. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Why didn’t you just go to the doctor after your terrible week?” I knew that week was an anomaly. I think that it would have been tough for anyone to go through, whether they had existing depression or not. At the time, I tried to be rational and thought that a trip to the doctors would not have any impact because nothing had actually changed. The doctor would not have done anything differently other than give me the same advice as they had done in November 2016.
  3. Finally, as a student funds are tight. My letter from November cost me £25. If I had visited the doctor in April to receive a copy of the exact same letter with an updated date, then I would have spent a total of £50 on two letters which discussed the exact same topic and would be read by the exact same person at my university.

At a time of feeling my most vulnerable, I had hoped that university would be more understanding. Even if they had responded identifying my reasons for the late submission and politely advised I visited the doctor again (or they could even phone up my doctor in order to hear my medical history and then they would maybe understand that my mental health issues were not limited to November 2016).

Situations like these remind me that there needs to be a better understanding of mental health. Claiming that my doctor’s note is dated is ridiculous – I am fully aware that it will take me a long, long time to overcome my current issues and learn to manage my stress effectively. Mental health is not something that you can stick a plaster on. It isn’t simple.

True Life: Food Confessions

True Life: Food Confessions

I’ve always had a healthy appetite – not healthy in the balanced diet aspect but more in a cake for breakfast way. However, recently I have suffered from constant hunger. I’ll eat dinner and then have a second dinner and maybe even a third. I’m not even classing it as glutinous, I’m just REALLY hungry. I thought that by confessing my food sins on the internet it may teach my appetite to start being satisfied with a normal person’s portions rather than eating enough to sustain a small village.

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  • The other day I reached an all time low. I went to Subway and immediately after leaving (with a 6 inch turkey sub in hand) I walked straight into McDonald’s and ordered a McChicken sandwich meal… and a cheeseburger.
  • Oh, and two weeks after that I went to Byron Burger for a meal and then stopped off at Nando’s for a takeaway cheesecake. I AM SO ASHAMED.
  • When I went to Creams (a restaurant dedicated entirely to ice cream and desserts), I couldn’t decide between a banana split or pancakes so I decided to get both.
  • … & after consuming my pancakes and banana split I stopped off at a McDonald’s drive thru. I couldn’t decided between a hamburger or mayo chicken so I got both. A pattern seems to be forming…
  • I go through phases of craving sweet things and then going on a savoury rampage, hence the post-Creams McDonald’s. Anyway, two days after that I was heavily craving crisps. I couldn’t decide between Wotsits, Tyrrells or Hula Hoops so I decided to give them a rating out of 5 to try and come to a firm conclusion about what crisp was most necessary to me at the time. Hula Hoops scored a 2, Tyrrells a 3 and Wotsits a 5. A normal person would see this and think “Wotsits it is then!” My logic? I’ll buy one packet of Hula Hoops, two packets of Tyyrells and 3 packets of Wotsits.
International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day

Yesterday, I was at university and arrived early for a seminar. My seminar tutor and a fellow student were already in the room so I said hello and began writing some notes. Whilst doing so, the male student announced “it’s International Women’s Day today!”I waved my hands in the air and theatrically let out a “woo!”, then continued writing. Out of nowhere, my MALE tutor announced “I don’t want any of that thank you! If you’re celebrating something as ridiculous as that then you’re in the wrong room.”

Safe to say I was absolutely shocked by this statement. Unlike many other women I know, I took the concept of International Women’s Day in my stride; I didn’t post inspirational quotes, I didn’t tag my female friends in photos thanking them for all they do for me.. It’s a day that I acknowledged but I didn’t place particular emphasis on. But the moment my lecturer responded in such a small-minded way, my blood boiled. Why shouldn’t women (& men) be able to celebrate International Women’s Day?

My Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat was littered with girls showing solidarity – incredibly refreshing considering we are often stereotyped to be bitchy. My male friends took the time to post about the admiration that they had for women too. But equally, there were sexist, small-minded jokes also flying around Facebook. I have two things (amongst many) to rant about.

  1. Sexist jokes. First and foremost, they are not funny. No, I’m not on my period – you’re just a dick. Get back to the kitchen? How about you go to a library and try to educate yourself. I get the fact that it’s a joke but the dangerous underlying issue with these jokes is it makes everyday sexism seem acceptable. Normalising these behaviours is a catalyst for further discrimination.
  2. My lecturer (& others with similar viewpoints) need to know their audience. One of the main reasons for getting so worked up about his comments was largely due to the fact that he does not know what it’s like to be a girl. I try my best to avoid walking alone at  night in fear of being attacked, I get cat-called in the street which is incredibly intimidating, men touch my bum when I’m out at a bar, I’m insulted if I decline giving someone my number… I understand men also face issues similar to this (the threat of fights breaking out, being told to “man up” etc) but I would never make disparaging comments to a man regarding his gender as it is something that I have no experience in.

I hope more than anything that through each generation equality will no longer be an issue and will become an everyday norm. In some ways, I’m glad that my lecturer said what he did. It’s made me be even more determined; I will be paid the same wages as my male colleagues, I’ll be feisty, independent, ‘unladylike’, witty, angry, intelligent.. Don’t let somebody else dictate to you what you can and cannot do. From now on, I am going to celebrate International Women’s Day and I will be vocal about it. Men, thank you to those of you that support us. Women, don’t stop celebrating. Everyday we should celebrate our existence because we are fucking fantastic.

5 reasons why Netflix binges are good for you

5 reasons why Netflix binges are good for you

We’ve all been there – you’re three episodes into a new TV series on Netflix and swear to yourself that once you’ve finished the next episode you’ll seize the day and go outside. Three more episodes later and Netflix asks “Are you still watching?” At this point, you’re probably staring at yourself in the reflection of your screen and questioning what you’re doing with your life. But fear not! I have experienced this myself but now I’m choosing to embrace my Netflix binge watching days.

1.It gives you something to talk about. 
There is no better way to break the ice when meeting a person than to talk about a TV show you’ve both watched. Double friendship points if you’ve both reached the same episode and can discuss the entirety of a series. Most of my day at my old job consisted of discussing Breaking Bad and potential storylines that we thought may arise. Now just imagine how rubbish it was for the one person that hadn’t seen one episode and couldn’t join in the conversation. Netflix binges = friendships, it’s basic maths.

When someone doesn't have Netflix
When someone doesn’t have Netflix

2. You feel as though you’ve accomplished something.
Yes, in reality you’ve just spent the day in a horizontal position whilst eating snacks. However, finishing a TV series or a trilogy of films gives you so much satisfaction. You’ve battled those cliffhangers and come out as the champion. No longer will you have to worry about Gossip Girl and whether Dan Humphrey ends up with Blair or Serena, or wonder if Michael Scott will ever return to the US Office. You’ve got your closure and now you can carry on with your life (or just start again from season 1).

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3. It makes you appreciate days that you actually leave the house.
As much as we all love a Netflix Binge, there is an inevitable sense of regret that you haven’t done anything deemed as “productive” that day. But this is a good thing! 1 day spent with Netflix can result in the next day being twice as productive to make up for any time wasted.

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4. You learn new facts about a variety of topics. 
There are a huge amount of genres on Netflix so whatever your brain is craving to learn, there will be a programme to teach it. What have I learnt so far? Breaking Bad – Drug cartels are dangerous. The Blue Planet – There are some weird alien fish in the sea. American Horror Story – No matter how twisted Evan Peters’ character is, you’ll still find him loveable.

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5. Netflix Binges are a great excuse for laziness.
Netflix Binges can be classed as an activity and a valid excuse for not going out. Telling your friends that you’re staying in tonight to finish watching Narcos is far more likely to be accepted over telling them that you’re staying in bed. Friends understand the importance of Netflix and won’t try to talk you out of it, whereas having an early night will quickly be criticised. Perhaps we’ve lost sight of what we truly need to be fully functional human beings but for the foreseeable future I’m happy to swap sleep for Netflix.

A day of Yogalates

A day of Yogalates

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Yoga & pilates have never been classes that particularly interested me, I really enjoy fast paced classes such as kick boxing and spin. However, I have been converted to the yoga and pilates life!

My usual classes the other week were fully booked so I decided to book a lunchtime dynamic yoga class, followed by fitness yoga and pilates in the evening. The first yoga class was painful! I was sweating and stretching muscles that I didn’t even know existed. As soon as I got home I had to jump into a hot bath to relax but this didn’t deter me from trying my evening classes. The second yoga class was still challenging but already I saw an improvement in flexibility (not to mention the fact that I actually knew what part of my body to move at what time so I was keeping up with the rest of the class). By the time pilates came I was bending and stretching in all sorts of new, fancy ways!

Despite not being the fast paced, out of breath exercise that I’m used to, both pilates and yoga really push you to your physical limit. By concentrating on specific target areas for a long period of time I noticed my body felt as though it was working even harder than usual. All exercise is good for stress relief but I have never benefitted so much mentally from an exercise class. I bumped into a friend in the gym lobby post pilates session and couldn’t string a sentence together – I was so relaxed and calm! I’m so excited to carry on with both pilates and yoga because I can’t wait to see the change in my body with regard to both flexibility and strength.

Are any of you avid yoga/pilates fans? Or are there other gym classes that I should try out? Please comment and let me know your thoughts!

5 Reasons why dogs are the best

5 Reasons why dogs are the best

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I am obsessed with my dog, I’m one of those dog mothers that throws birthday parties for their canine child and smiles are dogs more than people in the street. Here are my top reasons for why dogs are the best things on this entire planet.

  1. They are always happy to see you. One of my favourite things about coming home is seeing my dog because I know he’ll always be over the moon to see me! It’s great coming home to your family but they’re not going to bound up to you every time you step through the front door. No matter how bad the day has been, seeing that hairy bundle of joy race towards you makes all of your problems disappear for at least a little while.
  2. When they do something remotely human it’s the best thing ever. From wearing clothes to eating from a fork to travelling in the car – if it’s not chasing a ball or sleeping in a dog bed, it’s fascinating to see.
  3. Dogs will celebrate anything with you. There is no other creature more enthusiastic than a dog and that’s why they are so loveable. You could just be curled up on the sofa and then start cheering happily and your dog will celebrate with you. No questions asked! Happy human = happy dog.
  4. They can read minds. My dog can pick up on my emotions all the time. He’s usually quite excitable but if I’m ever stressed or sad, his characteristics will change entirely and he’ll just settle his head on my lap. I’m pretty sure my dog is more capable of picking up emotions than most humans I know..
  5. Dogs will never cancel their plans with you. Have you got a walk through the woods scheduled for the weekend? A dog will never cancel because of a hangover or a Netflix binge. Truly man’s best friend. Equally, dogs are great for motivation. If it’s you in a hangover state, your dog will encourage you to actually leave the house and get some fresh air.
  6. They are all comedians. Who needs a TV when you have a dog?! They’re so fun to watch whether they are chasing after a ball or just having little dog dreams. Also, it’s hilarious watching dogs when they try to be mischievous (you’re pretty much guaranteed to let them get away with whatever havoc they are causing.)