Voices

I get asked fairly frequently “is it ok to hear voices in your head?”. I always say it depends on what the voices are saying. You have good voices and bad voices.

We constantly have conversations with ourselves/ conscious whether in our minds or saying things out loud. They appear more when we are stressed, depressed, or anxious. It could be a voice telling you to get out of bed, giving you reminders, telling you to calm down in angry situations. Those thoughts are ok but when people say “I hear voices” it automatically implies they’re seeing ghosts, possessed by demons, about to enter the dark world; but realistically that isn’t the case, and there’s more to it.

Yes, we can look into Schizophrenia and if that is something that concerns you, please see a doctor however, I’d like to keep this post as light as possible. Linked to Psychosis, Schizophrenia is briefly described as seeing things and hearing voices usually due to beliefs and delusions. When I am questioned, people ask if it’s ok for them to talk to themselves. I always say if the voices are harmful to you or others or negative in any way please speak to someone professional and visit the hospital as they will run particular tests and bring in the mental health team, even section you if necessary. However, in a positive way our conscious is considered our personal hype man. We can all Google, speak to someone, research what to do in life but we need that voice as inner motivation. That voice that tells you to go for that promotion, text your crush back, visit your family over the weekend. You need your thoughts to be your cheerleader and these voices can sometimes be comforting especially if you live alone or have been alone in general and can help you understand your emotions and way of thinking.

Importance of sleep

On average we need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for it to be considered as a good night’s sleep. In addition, going to sleep between 8 pm and midnight is seen as the best time to fall asleep. Personally, I NEED 8 hours of sleep and struggle to stay awake past 11 pm, even on a weekend; however, some people work best at night and some genuinely have no choice but to work during the night. I’ve done a few night shifts during the past and can very much confirm it isn’t for me. Regardless of when you go to sleep, do you understand the importance of sleep?

For mental health reasons sleep is a good way to detox/unwind the brain. Your brain goes through so much during the day (remembering, learning, adapting) and still works at night but it’s the sleep that gives your body a break and allows your brain to restore. Sleep is a good stress reliever; with less sleep, your energy levels, mood, sharpness, and movement reduces.

With less sleep, you could wake up and drag yourself out of bed to start the day but with the average amount of sleep you will have more ‘up and go’. Basically, you’ll have more of a productive day.

During lockdown I can say my sleeping pattern slightly shifted; I was still working but working from home so didn’t care so much about staying up late and waking up early however, I struggled to keep my eyes open during the day. It took a few weeks to get my body back into the correct sleeping pattern for me and by the end, I was more alert, able to concentrate, and work to my full ability.

In terms of health, sleep is important to help your immune system and reduce other illnesses (eg. The common coat, flu, etc) but overall I think you have gathered how essential sleep is. If you struggle to sleep or need 7-9 hours work on slowly adapting your routine. Put your phone on silent, put it aside 40 mins before you go to bed, have a bath, do things that help you unwind.

Find your something

I found my something is working out/fitness however, we all have to admit home workouts are not the same as going to the gym or working out outdoors. Being on lockdown has made me realise I need an additional something especially as a backup in case there happens to be another pandemic or lockdown in the future occurs.

Without realising, I found my something else is cooking. With restaurants being closed for most of lockdown and not be able to get what I wanted, I sent a lot of time between work, experimenting with dishes and getting creative during lunchtimes (as seen on my Instagram). Now… I’ve always been able to cook well but I spent this time making things I would never make and not sitting around bored or wasting away. This way my days at home weren’t all about work and I felt myself getting more creative each time. I had/have something that makes me feel self-accomplished and makes self-care more of a priority. I only tend to get creative in the kitchen once a week; having a hobby or trying something new doesn’t essentially have to be every single day.

Find something new and see how it makes you feel. Even if you try and hate it, at least you can say you tried it and can move onto something else.

Just think, if there is another pandemic in our lifetime, do you want to sit at home doing nothing for months on end or do something to keep you physically and mentally occupied?

Switch it up!

Sometimes you will find your environment has a negative impact on your mood, lifestyle and the choices you make in life. Just think about how long some of us have been on lock-down/in isolation for; being in the same rooms and environment constantly could drive the best of us mad.

You may find, especially if you have spent a lot of time in your bedroom or living room during lock-down, that you are too familiar or bored with your surroundings. In previous blogs, I’ve mentioned making small chances, eg. Changing your room layout or lighting candles to refresh your mind but sometimes it really just takes an added a personal touch.

By this I mean: creating your own area for indoor plants, creating and showing your own art work, making something new (a sculpture or piece of furniture), decorate photo frames or lighting, making your own candles or soap. Do something to add your own unique spirit to your room; something you can look at and think ‘wow I did that!’. Whilst keeping your mind busy, you are creating the environment best for you and whenever you need to switch It up again, you’ve got that new project, that new hobby to keep you on your feet.

Black Lives Matter

I am a black woman,

2020 has been emotionally and mentally tiring. During lockdown I have been quiet as I have had a lot going on personally and I have been trying to juggle helping people and work at the same time but yet again we are now dealing with a constant global issue- racism. During this time it’s not in my nature to keep quiet.

The impact of covid-19 and now the protests, news, murders, to say we are in a crisis is an understatement. The current events haven’t just impacted my current opinions and life but they have also brought back memories of racism in the past that I have handled and moved on from. From that I am a stronger person but I can’t help but think about others in the black community suffering with past and current circumstances. Not everyone can take to the streets and protest and not everyone feels comfortable speaking out but there’s also something that could be done.

  • Reach out- ask questions such as: how are you feeling? How’s your mental health? Do you want to talk about it? What state of mind are you in today? What impact does this have on you? Engage in this conversation; it’s important to listen but also acknowledge there is a problem and it’s time for conversations about race to no longer be considered as uncomfortable or awkward or aggression.
  • Petitions- sign petitions but also gain understanding on why petitions are create and why they’re necessary. Understand why donations are necessary and what they’re going towards. This week I have not only seen petitions to get justice for the victims but I have also seen and signed petitions linked to education. From my own experiences I can say the things I learnt about my culture and black history, it didn’t come from school. It came from family, resource, books, documentaries. That’s just me, I don’t know if other children/teens purposely seek out this information and it’s not up to children to make this decision. The education system especially in the UK has failed the black community. We briefly learnt about black history in terms what happened in the US but we don’t talk about the overall history; we don’t even talk about UK black history.
  • Educate- Linked to the point above but education doesn’t just stop when you turn 18. An element of racism stems from ignorance. You are never too old to pick up a book, to seek out resources. You are never too old to genuinely speak to a black person and ask them about their history and ask questions to educate yourself. Don’t be afraid to challenge what you thought you knew or what older generations in your family once told you about black people. I cannot stress education enough.

#blacklivesmatter

Quarantine diaries

My time indoors hasn’t been that bad.

I say it’s not bad because its good being in my own space sometimes, however, I was annoyed during the beginning stages by two things; and I say the beginning because these are things I can’t change and therefore had to get over very quickly.

1) Not knowing how long lockdown would last resulting in not being prepared.
2) Having to work during this pandemic.

By preparing, all I did was tell everyone I’m close to I’d see them soon (assuming we’d only be in 4-6 weeks) and I froze my gym membership a week before lockdown started. During lockdown I think it became apparent to all of us that we weren’t prepared (unless you are one of those people that ran out and purchased trolley loads of toilet paper and pasta). Never in a million years did we think we would spend days on end at home. Having a TV, laptop and yoga mat is ideal but I ended up searching the house for weights (which I don’t have) and ended up ordering needed distractions such as a book, puzzle and clothes (clothes due to celebrating my birthday during lockdown). I’ve been grateful for my health and what I do have. I’ve been doing daily workouts, cooking, binging on Lost but of course, we always desire more.

As for working to home, its no fun being a key worker but luckily I’m able to work from home. With the NHS working night & day, people losing jobs and businesses not knowing what’s happening, I had to get over my feelings quickly because I felt guilty for complaining but, it is hard seeing friends and other people off work and enjoying time off.

A lot of people have also struggled with mental health during lockdown but its the exercise that has kept me going…and also watching Come Dine With Me in the mornings every day. This works as my morning motivation and during this time motivation is the most important thing. Another thing that has been keeping me busy is planning for the future, and looking forward to things to do when everything is over.

How’s your lockdown going?

Guide to being financially stable

The first thing to do is to list what you want and forget about what you need. For example- It is easy to say you want to move out of the family house and buy a house, however, if it’s your friends birthday on Saturday night and you are all going on a night out, do you need to buy a new outfit? This doesn’t mean you can’t live your best life and buy things whilst aiming to get a house but if you have a wardrobe full of clothes and shelves full of footwear, it’s up to you to think about whether that £50 needs to go to buying an outfit similar to what you might already have or whether that £50 can go towards a ‘help to buy’ or savings account.

If you’re in the position to buy luxuries and save at the same time due to maybe having a good-paying job, stability, inheritance, investments etc and you remain organised, then do as you please but if saving and financial knowledge for you is slacking, well this post is for you.

Make a list once a month or what you want in life; because your goals are important. When and if you go off track this will work as a reminder. Write your financial plans and goals down. If you have bills to play or need emergency money, food money etc write down your budget. If your wage allows you to put 75% into savings, go for it but never dip into your savings to take it out; therefore you need to be sure you can afford to keep putting in 75%.

Do your research and get that knowledge up! Bonds, investments, stocks, learn about different ways to save and invest and see what works for you. My financial goal is to be able to buy my own place before the age of 30, so I have investments and goals that work towards it. However, if your goal is to be able to buy a certain car or do be able to put a certain amount of money aside for your child, my plans and what I do to save and invest won’t necessarily work for you. To be financially stable and to set yourself realistic goals I will always say research is key.

Talking of goals. To write them down, you must first set them. You want that house, you better set goals to work towards it. How are you going to get that house? How are you going to fund keeping that house? How much can you put towards a mortgage? How much are bills going to cost you? Will you need to make cut backs? Can you do this alone or do you need a partner? All these questions are important and will help you to create a budget and a financially stable foundation.

Stick to these goals. Don’t just calculate money and write it all down on a piece of paper you’ll lose. Action it. Be sure to see it through. This might mean saying no to some financially heavy events from changing your holiday budget to changing your mobile phone plan (saved me £18 a month by the way). Speak it into existence.

And last but not least in connection to actioning goals, leave behind distractions. The road to success and becoming financially stable means having to prioritise. How will you do what you need to do if you spend £200 in the club every Friday night but you get paid £18k annually? Consider options. Nights in, a more cheap and cheerful motive or something as simple as not spending as much money when you’re out. Think about your life choices and get organised.

For further information on how to save or to get yourself started, please visit my contact page or Instagram Solobutterflyy.

Stuck at home?

Don’t think of it as being stuck in the house. Like me, you may need to work from home or cancel events. I’ve even had to cancel my birthday! But think of this has an opportunity. We spend our lives busy studying, working, looking after family and friends but now we have time to take care of ourselves. I have seen a lot of people over recent days talk about how being at home has negatively impacted their mental health but there is some good from it. Travelling to and from work, focusing on other people, having distractions, distracts us from our mental health issues but being on lockdown with reduced distractions gives us from to focus on what is important. The lockdown itself doesn’t mean you can’t go on one walk a day or sit in your back garden and reflect. A lot of people are taking it to literally mean stay in your bedroom or living room. Staying in one place and doing nothing different is what will mess with your mental health.
There’s so much that can be done in the house. From cooking, knitting, art, even following makeup tutorials on YouTube. Don’t just think about social distancing but think about distancing yourself from social media. Since being at home I have found myself bored with social media. I usually go on social media when I am bored at work, during lunch breaks, travelling on public transport, but now being at home and having constant access it has become draining.
At a time when there’s ‘not much to do’ there is always something that could be done. Leaving your phone aside for an hour to relax and have peace of mind or to gain a new skill will only better your mental health and your outlook.
Some of you might have children at home but now you can either focus more on family time or set tasks to distract the children while you fit in little daily breaks for yourself.

List of things to try

Meditation
Gardening
Social time with family
Writing
Artwork
Puzzles
An hour of relaxation (peace and quiet)
1 walk a day
Job search
Cleaning
Cooking something new
Reorganising rooms

For anyone that is at home suffering from anxiety due to the lockdown, please make use of my service.

Finding you

It has taken nearly a whole year to find myself and I could honestly say, time well spent. After spending years doubting myself personally and professionally, I decided to give myself a break. In order to live without fear, I had to look fear in the face and say enough is enough. Fear of not being where I wanted to be in life, fear of failing, fear of not having enough time. I had to take a mental break and focus on what was holding me back. Now that 2019 is over, I can look forward and say I know understand what I should be doing with my life and accept what my mind didn’t want to accept before.

This break wasn’t just mentally. If you’ve seen my previous post you will know I left a full-time office environment back in December 2018 and haven’t fully been back since. Now I’m in a flexible working environment and spend a lot of my working days travelling. I needed this. I found the office environment to be somewhat toxic, negative and unproductive. Professionally I needed the break to acknowledge I had to spend 2019 releasing myself from that negativity and finding my happiness; resulting to me realising office work isn’t for me and I want more for myself. In years time or due to circumstances, you never know I may end up going back into office work but for now, being in 20 something I can’t do this to myself.

You might not need a year to find you, you might need two weeks, two, weeks, twelve years but finding your feet and taking a break before you have a breakdown is necessary.

Balanced Diet

It is so hard to live a healthy lifestyle sometimes.

We are surrounded by fast-food restaurants, adverts, people around us with unhealthy lifestyles; making it hard to stay on track.

I’ve tried every diet you can imagine, from fasting to no/low carbs to using supplements for metabolism. With pure determination and a set goal, I have managed pretty well whilst trying these different dieting methods and I’ve lost weight with all but it is hard to keep going and to stay motivated. Temptation is around us constantly. To not come completely off the diet and to not feel as if dieting is a restriction, it is ok to simply have a balanced diet. The no carbs diet was the hardest for me, and I discovered after two weeks it was best to move to low carbs. There were times when I wanted fries with my meal or wanted to add noodles to a stir-fry purely to make a meal more enjoyable. I went from just eating to survive and losing weight to actually, losing weight and enjoying what I was cooking. Because I had added carbs back into my life and went a step further by allowing myself to eat however I wanted whenever I was out for dinner with friends but still remaining healthy during weekdays and at work. That’s my balanced diet and that works for me, my body and my state of mind but I can’t say that will work for everyone. I know I can eat healthy all week long but if I get invited out for cocktails or dinner with friends once or twice a week I don’t want to feel guilty for eating unhealthily, which is why I have given myself wiggle-room.

Keeping active and understanding your lifestyle and what foods work for you is a good start at creating a healthy lifestyle. When I had just started a new job and was going through a busy period I knew my limits and knew activity-wise, I could manage to go to the gym twice a week or on weekends as long as it was morning time. Now that I have settled into my role a few months later, I know can remain going on weekends but once or twice more during the week after work. In addition, due to being used to my work routine I know I can prepare meals for the week on Sunday Afternoons if I am not busy and can afford to wake up slightly earlier to make a cup of tea and have a smoother morning. As I said before all this works for me and I can’t speak for anyone else.

With body image being such a thing in today’s world, a lot of us forget about body positivity. By having a healthy relationship with your lifestyle and finding the balance you should be able to lose weight, gain weight, feel healthier, eat guilt-free, basically do whatever you want!