Month: November 2016

26 Nov 2016

Practicing Self Care

In an age where things are becoming progressively more tumultuous for young people, it’s no surprise mental health issues are on the rise.

55% of children who are bullied suffer from severe depression as adults. Among children and teenagers the number of those suffering from anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years and more than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils have experienced bullying.

These worrying statistics show how challenging life can be for our younger generation and brings to light how crucial it is that we preach anti-bullying and anti-harassment at the same time as teaching self care. While it may seem self explanatory, those who suffer from mental health issues or are subject to bullying often find the latter immensely difficult. Instilling self care practices from a young age can really help give those who feel they may have hit a wall, something to fall back on. While this is no blueprint for preventing mental health issues from arising, learning to cope with them or even the weight of everyday life can be invaluable.

I think we can overlook very basic acts of self love such as keeping our bedrooms and home spaces clean and tidy, keeping our clothes clean, taking pride in our appearance and doing things we enjoy on a regular basis, and brand them as mundane, ‘everyday’ tasks or even chores. I wholeheartedly disagree with this sentiment and think we should take pleasure in the little things; chasing the big end goal, the grand finale, the show stopping firework is necessary at times but so often unattainable in our daily lives. We must learn to appreciate the little things and show others that, although not every day many be good, there is something good in ever day.

Indeed, warning signs for mental unrest can often be a lack of interest or care taken towards basic hygiene, an inability or lack of clear cognitive function, dramatic mood swings or changes in eating habits. In younger children, issues may manifest in things like frequent temper tantrums, changes in school performance or persistent nightmares.

If you think things have begun to spiral out of control please do not put off asking for help purely because you think it’s ‘taboo’, ‘embarrassing’ or an act of worrying over something silly. Your concerns are valid, you need to be listened to and you will thank yourself in the long run. Of course if you’re fearing for the health of a loved one or friend, this can become a little more tricky. Try broaching the subject in a non confrontational way and try to use reflexive questioning for example ;

“Can you tell me how … makes you feel”, “So what you’re telling me is…can you help me understand how that…”

Remember crisis management is ten times more difficult than prevention or catching and treating issues early. We must accept that taking care of our mental health is just as important and indeed feeds into our physical wellbeing. If we are prepared to encourage those we love to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables every day and exercise regularly to benefit them physically, we should be prepared to help them manage their mental health. Doing simple things everyday such as making to-do lists, meditating or taking time to focus on a creative outlet, can make a huge difference. As well as this, we must start and maintain an open dialogue surrounding mental health so to give those suffering, or those who believe someone they love is suffering, a place to turn to.

Please find below links to charities which help those suffering from mental health issues for more detailed information and contact details.

24 Nov 2016

London Living- My Experience At A London Based University And Advice For Undergraduates

“London is a roost for every bird”- Benjamin Disraeli

Before moving to London just over three years ago, the longest I’d ever spent in the capital was 48 hours. For me, London was a city brimming with culture, packed with undiscovered worlds such as Camden Lock and Richmond Park and a place full of surprises on every corner. Amongst many others, these were all reasons that I was drawn to the city.

I’d always known I wanted to go to university; from the onset of my GCSE’s I was certain that I wanted to read English Literature and Language at degree level. It was something I set my sights on and proceeded to work towards for the following four years. I know this is the case for a lot of people and tends to act as a huge incentive to get through the arduous examination processes. I was certainly clear on what I wanted to study, the only problem was deciding where. A lot of my friends chose to study at universities fairly close to home; coming from Liverpool meant that York, Leeds and Manchester were all popular choices, but no one seemed particularly sold on The South, especially London. There could have been many contributing factors as to why this was the case, however I believe one of the strongest deterrents was cost.

The first thing that often comes to mind when you say London is ‘expensive!’ I can understand how elevated prices can put you off visiting a place for a long weekend, let along studying there for three years. While I totally understand that this very real concern for a lot of people, including myself initially, I will say you’d be hard put to find a student who’s rolling in cash. My rationale was simple, if I’m going to be broke I may as well be broke in one of the best cities in the world! I would strongly advise anyone, regardless of where you’re planning on studying, to look into the bursaries, grants and loans that are available to you. I understand times are tougher than ever, but be aware universities want you to study with them, more often than not they are willing to go the extra mile to get you in their lecture theatres.

While there are a whole host of amazing universities to choose from spanning the length and breadth of the country, the aspect of studying in London which really gave it an edge for me, were the resources available on my doorstep. As I was an arts student, the array of world class theatres such as The Globe, Old Vic and National, were invaluable. Being able to see text in performance so frequently and to be given such a vast choice, was truly wonderful. In addition, London not only plays host to so many fantastic libraries such as the British Library and Senate House, it also offers world renowned research centres and hospitals. As well as the superb academic resources, London really is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines and hotbed for events, ensuring you’ll always be spoilt for choice on Friday evening. Discovering the hidden gems of the city were just as rewarding as making use of everything else at my disposal, which is something I will forever remember about my time at university.

Attending an open day is the best way to ‘try before you buy’. Doing this will certainly give you a flavour of what’s to come. I knew, almost as soon as I set foot on the campus of my chosen university, that I was in the right place. Much like buying or renting a new home, once you know, you know. My advice here is to go with your gut instinct; remember it’s you who’ll be studying and potentially living, in the city of your chosen university, so what you think takes precedence over all other opinions.

I truly believe that studying in London equipped me with so much more than a degree in English Literature and Language; it heightened my awareness of living and woking with different types of people, broadened my horizons and gave me a real thirst to fulfil my true potential. While this can be true of any university experience, I strongly believe these skills were intensified through living in the capital; the environment is one which nurtures and challenges inquisitive minds and certainly pushes you to discover more about your academic and personal abilities.