Maintaining Wellbeing at University…

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Bonjour!

So taking care of your mental health may not be on the top of your list of priorities at university. However, having recently graduated, looking back, I wish I had known when I started uni that my own mental health should have come before anything else.

At the start of my final year at university, I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder, having frequent panic attacks which affected every aspect of my life. I found that I was missing lectures regularly due to the fact that I just didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. Throughout university I always felt as if I wasn’t good enough and that I was the worst performing on my course, actually I always felt this way at school too. But skipping lectures made me panic even more about this in the long-term. I won’t try and tell current students how to be mindful and offer advice on how to be the least-stressed and happiest student that ever lived, because I was never that. However, I will tell you what worked for me and how I managed to get from duvet-cocooning on Monday’s to my graduation day.

  1. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Your academic ability can only stretch so far, just like your physical and your mental abilities. If you feel like your workload is getting too much and you’re on the verge, then stop. Take a moment to focus on what is important and what you need to do to make it right. If you don’t understand a topic, work through it slowly, get help or just leave it! It’s not the end of the world.
  2. If you feel like you need to take time off to unwind, do it. Preferably do this when you haven’t got lectures to attend, but studying and writing 24/7 is not the way to properly take care of your mental health. You need time to reflect and relax, and don’t feel guilty about it!
  3. It was important to me to have another aspect of my life that wasn’t uni. I worked full time as a secondary school teaching assistant whilst at university. At times it definitely want easy but it gave me an escape and another reason to get up in the morning. When I was at work (I love my job so that helps) I was able to forget about the mountains of coursework I had to complete at home and focus on a whole other side to myself.
  4. Sleep! Sleep is one of the most important thing you can get when at university. Set up a sleep schedule, for example, going to bed at 11pm and waking up at 7am. NOT grabbing two hours at 3am!
  5. Organisation is SO important. I discovered in my first year that a wall planner is a life saver! Write down all of your presentation dates, when things are due and lectures. Having a diary or planner (and things written in it) to refer to means that you’ll never miss any imporatant dates and nothing will come as a shock. Also, on the topic of organisation, packing your bag he might before is, granted, a bit secondary school, but you’ll be glad of the extra ten minutes in bed in the morning. And you won’t be rushing out the house, shoving who-knows what in your rucksack.

Really, to me, the most important thing to make sure you’re doing whilst at uni is to take care of your mental health. If you can do that properly, then everything else can fall into place. Taking time out and being aware of how you’re feeling is super important. I think awareness is key to keeping happy and healthy. Actually stopping, reflecting and asking yourself ‘how do I feel today? What is my frame of mind?’ And then being aware of days when you’re feeling particularly delicate or on-edge and addressing it.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of with regards to feeling low or stressed out or just plain frazzled. The stigma that comes with mental health is disappearing and speaking out and making, not only yourself, but people who care about you aware of your mind-set will only help to put you on the right path. Hopefully these simple little tips will help to maintain or improve wellbeing during arguably the hardest, but best, years of your life.

Emily

Xoxo

Graduation And How I Got There!

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When I was in school, I was always the ‘middle of the road’ student. I wasn’t particularly clever or not, but looking back, I doubted myself so much. Actually, I was in top sets for most of my classes, I wasn’t getting A*’s but I was getting B’s. My problem was, my friends were all so clever and they were getting the top grades. I found myself clinging onto them and relying on them to tell me when our next test was, the answers to the homework and how to plan an essay. This only got me so far and by sixth form they’d become pretty fed up of me. My grades were falling from B’s to D’s in A Level and I gave up completely on the idea of university while my friends were still maintaining their straight A’s. My tutor and some of my friends were telling me to apply for uni, but I was just so convinced I wasn’t good enough. Okay, I thought, I might be able to get in, but I would no way be able to pass any of the work. 

Looking back, I wish I could tell myself how much better I was than I thought. I really underestimated myself and there is no way I ever imagined I would be standing up on stage one day being handed a university diploma with an upper second class honours degree in Creative Writing with English Literature.

Although I continued with my old habits in the first year; relying on friends to get me through. It wasn’t until I passed first year with a similar grade to my friends that I realised I could do it myself. Okay, so maybe I only just scraped a 2:1, but so what? who cares? The fact is I did it and 15 year old GCSE-fretting me cannot believe it.

The graduation ceremony was amazing. My parents cried, my grandparents came too, and my sister, and I was the first Hull to ever go to university and get a degree. I am so proud of what I’ve achieved in my time at university, as well as my friend too. I have made the best, life-long friends at uni who I know will always be there for me. If you can go through that together, you can definitely get through anything together, is what I say!

University was no easy feat for me. I had to work full time as a Teaching Assistant in order to fund my study, as well as attend lectures and undertake the course full time. Balancing a potential career and high level education took its toll and in early 2017 I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and panic attacks. My anxiety has really changed who I am as a person. Whilst I used to be travelling all over the country to see bands and camp out to meet them and go on day trips to London, I don’t do any of that anymore. Panic attacks have stopped me from doing the things I absolutely love and once considered a hobby. Whereas now I feel that all I do is go to work, sleep and repeat, I hope that one day I will be able to overcome this anxiety in the same way I overcame my self-doubt about university.

So really, what I’m saying is, if you ever feel like you can’t do something, just give it a try. And then, when you manage to do it you’ll look back on yourself and regret doubting yourself so much…

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Emily

xoxo

p.s. I’ll leave you with some pics from my grad!

Concerts and Anxiety…

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Between the ages of 15 and 22, going to concerts was pretty much my hobby. I have been to around 60+ concerts in my life and when I look back on some of them, honestly, they were some of the best times of my life. 

Often, I would go and see a band or artist I completely and utterly adored (these included The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg, The Script, Kaiser Chiefs etc etc…). For these kind of concerts I would queue outside the venue for hours on end just to get to the barrier. These were also some great times- I met some of my best, life long, friends in a queue! And then the frantic squish and elbowing to get to the front was ruthless, but somewhat enjoyable. (Legit had my ankle fractured by a girl stamping on my foot in Docs to get to the front at Jake Bugg). 

The barrier experience was always magical. To be honest with you, I’d forgotten this feeling until very recently, and now I’m yearning for it again. 


Here’s the issue…

My anxiety has become a real problem to me in the last year, and some of my worst anxiety/panic attacks have been at concerts. Because of this, I’ve completely lost my confidence to even go to concerts, let alone queue for hours with strangers and squash myself amongst them all, with no quick exit at the front of the barrier. I just don’t trust myself to not have a panic attack. 

Having recently gone to a concert, (The Script- who I used to LOVE) I’ve rediscovered the absolutely amazing feeling I used to feel when at a concert. However, enjoying it from the back, or a seat, just isn’t the same. 

I really hope that one day I’ll be able to get my confidence back and be as fiesty and care-free at concerts as my 16 year old self once was! For now though, I will be enjoying The Killers’ November tour from a seat. Which sucks tbh…. DAMN YOU ANXIETY. 

P.s. Can we please bring an end to that thing guys do when they try to pass you in a gig crowd and put their hands on your waist?! Like, dnt touch me pls. 

STAY COOL.

Lots a’ love,

ElectricEmily

Xoxox

Holiday-woo! (And anxiety-boo!)

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Bonjour!

I’m sorry it’s been sooooo long since my last blog post, but this month has been super busy (work- I know!) 

Anyway, as you probably know from my holiday clothes haul post, I went on a lil vacation. It was about a month ago now, but hey, it’s as good a time as any to blog about it! 


So I went I Kos, which is a Greek island and I found that I’ve had to add that on every time I tell someone, because no one has any idea where Kos is apparently. So it’s Greek but our hotel actually looked over a tiny piece of ocean onto Bodrum, in Turkey. Weird, huh? Our hotel was a TUI Sensimar, (if you want to know it was the Oceanis Spa and Beach resort) which is adults only, and let me tell you, it was amazing. We had screaming kids on our flights there and back and it was hell. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids- I work with them! But THANK GOD they weren’t around in the hotel. Because I work in a school, I can only get school holidays off which means I can NEVER avoid kids, so this really was a luxury. We had one of the junior suite rooms which comes with a private pool- an absolute MUST! It was so nice just to escape everyone and have a bit of privacy to relax by our own pool. Some days we even just stayed by the pool and only left the room for food… living the life. 


However, before the holiday, came the travel and I am NOT good at travelling. I’m fine with flying but it’s just the airport and the whole travelling thing that gets me very anxious. So the night before before the flight (which was at 6am!) we stayed in a hotel at the airport. We set our alarms for 3am and off to bed we went, very early. However, I’d been feeling very nerv-y all evening and barely touched my chicken linguini. The prospect of an early start began to get the better of me and I found myself having a full-blown panic attack that I just couldn’t shake. I could not stop myself from crying for a good (not good) hour and even considered the prospect of going home. It sounds very dramatic, but when I’m in that situation and frame of mind, all I want more than anything is my mum and my bed. I’m a massive home-bird and love my home comforts, and I get very uncomfortable when I have to stay away from home. With the prostect of the next 8 nights being away from home, I just couldn’t picture being home soon and that was a bit too much for me… I didn’t sleep all night (knowing I had to be up at 3am) and thought about calling my mum to come and get me, and giving up on the entire holiday. 

But I didn’t! If you’ve ever suffered from anxiety you’ll know that functioning on 0 hours sleep is a thing we can do! I bucked myself up (easier said than done), got dressed and went to the airport, anxious as HELL and just wanting my mum (I know- sad!!) 


Anyway, that was pretty much the end of my holiday anxiety! I was a bit iffy on the plane because of the screaming kids, but as soon as I got there I was fine! With my anxiety in this particular case, it was the getting there that was tricky, but I think once I got there I came to realise that this was home for the week and there was no option going back like there was at the airport. 


All in all the holiday was really what I needed. It was so relaxing and stress-busting. A lot of poopy stuff was going on at work whilst I was away, but this was a much needed break from it. And I’ve never eaten so healthily in my life! Does anyone else go on holiday and eat all of the fresh fruit and yogurts and massive healthy meals?! Honestly haven’t felt that healthy in such a long time. People even commenting on how healthy I looked! As much as I love being at home and own lil world, it was a great week away in the sun. 


Disclaimer: I didn’t wear half of what I bought in the haul! I needed another week!!

Thanks for reading, 

Au revouir! (I don’t know it in Greek- soz)

ElectricEmily xoxox