And Breathe…

Finding different ways to switch off and relax your body is important. It’s important to make time for yourself, and let your body relax. And what’s our favourite way to revitalise ourselves, and recharge? Sleeping. But when the stresses in our lives, and anxieties cause us to loose sleep, we can’t manage to face our days to the maximum because we’re just so tired and anxious. So what do I like to use to help me get a good nights sleep, and relax myself when I’m feeling anxious, that really do work?

img_3267_fotor

First up is one product I’ve written about before. The Deep Sleep Stress Less roller ball. I got my hands on this product around a year ago, and I’m still loving it. It’s a really great travel friendly product, which once applied to your pulse points, releases a cooling and calming oil onto your skin, which just oozes tranquility. I really like to carry this with me in my bag, just to help deal with those anxious moments. For a more in depth review, head over here.

img_3259_fotor

Next on the list is the Deep Sleep Pillow Spray. I’ve had my beady eye on this product for a good while now, and after grabbing a small sample in the latest Marie Claire magazine, I was also able to get 20% off my order at This Works. I really like this product. When I get into bed, I like my routine to be smooth, and I want to be able to get really comfy in my nest. There’s nothing more agitating than not being comfy and not being able to sleep. So I spray this a couple of times onto my pillow, and on the top of my duvet. The super blend of lavender and camomile really help to relax me and ease me into a nice calming sleep. Definitely one to purchase if you’re an agitated sleeper.

img_3253_fotor

And lastly is one to definitely pair up with the Pillow Spray. The Deep Sleep Breathe In. This one is very similar to the Deep Sleep Stress Roller Ball. However, it comes in a longer white tube, and works really nicely with the Pillow Spray. It comes in a roller ball form again, and is recommended for your pulse points. The essential oils combined with the natural therapeutic ingredients of Lavender, Vetivert and Patchouli are really calming, and allow that extra pinch of anxiety melt away. I also like to use this on the go, because the tube feels more durable in my bag, I really find this helps when I’m out and about and I can feel my anxiety taking over. I just rub this on my neck and my wrists and breathe in the beautiful aromas, which really help to calm me and keep my anxiety levels to a minimum.

img_3257_fotor

So there are my natural products which help to keep my anxiety at bay, and allow me to get a good nights sleep. Which we all know is one of the biggest tips of beauty. If you are struggling with anxiety, I really would recommend these products to keep at your bedside or in your bag. And remember, to just take it easy. With me anxiety feels like everything is happening to quickly all at once. Take a breath, take each day slowly, and maybe give these a rub on your pulse points when you need to.

Social Sickness…

2016. The year of Tweeting rather than taking time to converse in conversation with your loved one. The year of finding appropriate filters for Instagram, just so you look that little bit nicer. The year of sharing horrific videos on Facebook just for a little giggle or two. We live in a Social Sickness Bubble. We’re constantly scrolling through our phones for justification that people like us with how many likes we get on our latest Instagram selfie, or how many retweets our ‘funny’ tweet will get, even though it’s probably rude or offensive to somebody. When was the last time you shut yourself off from your phone? The last time you woke up and didn’t check your phone for notifications? The last time you actually felt at peace from this sick little world? I’m trying to remember too.

Why must we fill our lives with this bubble which we feel we can’t live without? We can’t see through or out the bubble. Does it even exist?! Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for situations like these, or when you want to share something so important with the world like animal extinction, or being able to catch up with your beloved over the ol’ messenger when they’re thousands of miles away. But why do we feel the need to post inappropriate things for people to see and to offend? To use it as a battle ground of who’s better by the like counter going up? The constant competition between others on how many followers they have? Or how pretty they feel with their latest picture. When in reality, none of that compares. It doesn’t compare to the people you see face to face every day. The people you talk about your feelings and emotions to. The people you spend time with and create beautiful memories together in person. You can’t really capture those beautiful moments and share them truly. This bubble makes us all create this fake account of ourselves. We create this filtered sheen over us, to let everyone think we’re okay, we’re losing weight, we’ve done our make up pretty today, we’ve done all these things, look at me. I’m going to show you I’m okay… But in reality, we’re not even those people. We’re photoshopping ourselves through fake tweets, stupid nashville filters and preposed uploaded profile pictures that took longer to snap than to actually upload… Why not look at the tagged photos on Facebook. They show a little more truth… Why are we so afraid to let people see how we’re really doing? Why can’t we post a picture of ourselves saying we feel like shit? Or writing a tweet explaining all the emotions your feeling? Because it’s just simply not cool. Because you’re too scared what people will say or think to themselves or others in this sick bubble. We let everyone else living in this bubble with us dictate what we can and can’t do.

And what about the pressures we feel in the bubble? The pressure to be a certain way because that’s seemed accepted? If you scroll through Instagram what will you see? Will you see all the popular ladies and gentlemen getting all the ‘bubbly’ attention for their excellent portray of themselves? The portrait which then enables others to then feel they have to be that way. And so then they feel bad, they hate on themselves, they cut, they cry, they starve and they constantly question why they don’t look or act like that? Because they see this acceptance with all this attention that this pretty tiny lady will get, and they refuse to see the attention they get with the people that truly matter. So they continue to hate themselves, and change themselves until they feel accepted. They wear more make up, change the way they dress, try and lose weight, opening a mind field of different mental health issues, just so they can feel as pretty as that girl in that photograph with hundreds of likes, comments, reblogs, everything. Heck knows, social media is the main reason I suffer with my mental health issues. Wow a controversial subject?! Mental health. Am I allowed to say those two words together? Online? Is that accepted? Or should I hide that too? But if I had a broken arm, or a heart condition that would be okay to write about right?

Or what about the need to hate on others through the internet? The need to single people out, and comment rude and disgusting things on pictures to make others feel shit about themselves? Does it make them feel any better? What is the ultimate gain when you put someone else down either on the internet or in real life. Ha, real life! Like the internet is this other world where people leave their real lives for a few hours or so and then return when they have to. Oh wait… All this hate you see on the internet. People calling others out for faults, ‘ripping’ into them for sheer joy. Just to make another human being feel less than they should. Social Media can tear people apart. It gives individuals this fake throne which they feel they can shout and spit cruel words onto other human beings because their face is covered. What gives one human being the right to be hurtful to another?! To bring someone down, and make them feel worthless? It’s such a sick environment to put yourself in. Constantly paranoid that a tweet is about you, or a quoted Instagram picture is about you because passive aggressiveness still exists. People feel the need to make people worry and feel anxious through passive aggressive posts. Liking and retweeting disgusting tweets and pictures that you just know are about you. So you sit there panicking, discovering a whole new feeling in your stomach and that terribly fast heart beat in your chest. Anxiety. Oh god. Another Mental Health word! Why is there so little encouragement? Why is it so hard for people to not express a positive thought to someone else? Why and how on earth is it easier for someone to pass on a negative thought instead?

This bubble does share some light. It allows people to speak up, to write about and stop stigma and to express their thoughts and opinions and channel them into articles, blog posts, photography, and many other beautiful artistic ways and share it to the world. It can reach to many different people across the world and maybe, just maybe help one person. That’s pretty beautiful. And that’s how we should use it. To promote health and happiness and important messages to each other. Through that many changes can be made. We may hate and be addicted to this bubble of sickness, but in some respects, we can’t live without it. Could you live without your mobile phone and twitter for a week? Could you restrain yourself from Instagramming your delicious lunch, or checking your location in for your online friends to see…and actually talk to the person opposite you instead of checking the amount of likes coming your way?  Take a break. Turn off the wifi, the mobile data, put down your phone, your laptop down and live and embrace the moment around you, not online. This is the moment that matters. Look up and just live. Break the bubble, and leave.

The Anxious One….

So in a day or so I’ll be on a long haul flight to Hong Kong…again. I’ll then be there for a while to then find myself on another plane heading for Thailand. After some time researching and looking into voluntary programmes, meditation escapes and yoga retreats…I found an opportunity to work with my beloved spirit animal back in Asia. Elephants. Since coming back from Vietnam I’ve found myself with this love inside me and this wandering heart needing to travel, to learn different cultures, to meet different people and to live in all of that and take it in and soak it all up and learn from it all. And so with that bug inside of me, I was desperate to book another trip. But here comes the catch. Anxiety.

Living with anxiety I would say has been the toughest thing I have to live with. Some days it’s just in the background, other days it pulls me down making me want to make a nest in my bed and not face the day or anyone for that matter. That constant churning in your stomach, the feeling of constantly treading water, getting ready to drown again. As hard and exhausting it is, you shouldn’t let it stop you from doing things you want to, like in this case travelling.

It’s so easy to stop yourself and think ‘nope, there is no way I’m getting on that bus, train or plane’. It’s so easy to just not experience and just dream about the places you want to go and let your anxiety build up that wall in front of you instead of you knocking down that wall and freeing yourself. I’m not going to lie to you, it takes a lot of strength, because that wall isn’t made of straw. That wall is solid brick, and it’s high. Very fucking high.

Finding that strength is bloody hard too. Because, well, you’re anxious. And you’re anxious you’re not strong enough, you’re scared on what’s on the other side. You’re scared you’ll crumble, or lose your footing in that water and begin to drown again like you have in the past. Even if that happens, that’s okay. Remember that. It’s okay to fall. It’s okay to lose your footing.

When travelling, I’ve learnt many things on how to overcome my anxiety. Taking small steps is the biggest one. Don’t do everything at once. If you do this, you’ll become overwhelmed, you’ll go too deep and you’ll feel like that waters coming in to drown you. Give yourself time. Time to gather yourself, to calm and find your peace, before heading onto your next step. I hate not having time to get from one place to the other. I like knowing once I get to one place, I have the time to prepare myself for the next phase otherwise I become agitated and stressed which can make me lose myself in those waters.

Be organised. If I’m not organised, this makes me feel anxious. So eliminate that factor. Have your documents with you ready to travel. Tickets, passports whatever you need to get from A to B. Have a watch or clock handy at all times. Plan your route, plan your timings. This really helps me stay calm and relaxed. Check in with people. People back home who are probably tracking your every step… Notify them where you are. You’ve just gone through check in, you’re about to board the plane, or you’ve just landed in your first stop. Then think about that. Then tell yourself you’ve just done that. And not only that, but you’re okay. You’ve achieved so much already and you’re still okay. Maybe you’re a little shaky, a little nervous or disorientated but you are okay. Always. Don’t feel stupid congratulating yourself either. Hell I was pretty much having full blown conversations with myself in toilet cubicles keeping my cool, or walking to different gates in airports, casually talking to myself to remain calm and congratulating myself on what I’ve just overcome. People thought I was insane, but that’s okay. Because it made me okay.

After being physically and mentally able to travel to Asia on my own in February was a big deal. Yes, I broke down on occasions, I had to be escorted onto the plane from Manchester to Hong Kong because it was visible to the flight attendants that I was loosing it. But I still got on that plane. Something I never really thought about. Even though I was in the midst of a mild panic attack, I took that ladies hand and crossed over from the Terminal tunnel onto the plane. I crossed over my anxiety and basically told it to fuck off. And I’ll do the same with this trip to Thailand. I know I’ll get anxious thinking about different things, and being there on my own, travelling all that way again on my own, being safe, meeting new people. But that’s natural. I just have to control that crippling anxiety. If I had let my anxiety stop me from experiencing all I did in Vietnam I would never have forgiven myself. Not like I’d really know what I was missing…but still. The life I felt there gave me such strength that I forgot for just a moment what it was like to feel that cloud over me.

This constant battle you are fighting is all you. No one else. It’s the battlefield in your mind that you’re fighting, and my god its exhausting. You see people buckle into their seat on the aircraft, not even wincing. Then there’s me shaking too much to even fit the buckle of my seat belt together. But that’s not the people around me. It’s not the aircraft itself. It’s the battlefield in my head constantly telling my body I’m afraid. I’m afraid of these situations. I’m afraid that I’m trapped, and I see no way out. I’m afraid when I say something to someone, which I then mull over for hours thinking how bad or awkward that was, when in reality that person has forgotten or didn’t even notice the awkward situation. It’s this constant battlefield in my head which tells me to curl up and run because I’m not good enough. I’m not strong or brave enough to fight, because well, it’s just me, I’m only Lottie, I’m nothing. That’s the fight that you constantly deal with. And it’s fucking hard to charge from the opposing side on your own with no weapons or back up. Because it just feels like too much. And it’s just too bloody exhausting. And it’s a part of you now, that’s made itself at home for so long, you don’t even now when it really started, or if it was there all along…So that makes it pretty hard to imagine it not being there. Almost like the sickest comfort blanket you’ve ever held onto. Or that holds onto you…

I can’t tell you things will be okay, and it will be sorted soon. I can’t tell you to just calm down, and stop worrying. I can’t tell you to cheer up and smile either. But I can say that you can deal with this. If you accept it first. Accept that things aren’t okay. But you are. It’s not something to be ashamed of. If you had a chest infection, or a broken limb, you wouldn’t be ashamed of that, so don’t be ashamed of this, just because it’s not visible to all. It’s still there eating inside of you, constantly nibbling away. Don’t let it finish its meal. Speak out and tell someone. Anyone who you think will listen. Confide in a friend or relative and find comfort in that release that at least someone knows and can try and understand that battlefield. Hey they might even join your side and help you fight. There is so much help around you and inside of you that you are oblivious to. This might even help. But don’t let it waste opportunities either.

Recently I’ve learnt that this anxiety within me isn’t going away any time soon. So in the meantime I’ll embrace it. If I feel anxious, I won’t let it consume me or take over me, but I will ride it out. And if that means embarrassing myself with the uncontrollable sweats, the tears, the shakes and the hyperventilating then fine. This is me for the moment. Maybe people will describe me as the anxious one. But in a couple of years time, hopefully people will describe me as the one that travelled and helped so many people and animals, and did these amazing things despite having crippling anxiety, which she overcame.

I’m not letting my anxiety stopping me from doing all the things I’d love to do. So don’t let experiences fly past you, let yourself fly with them…

Vietnam…

IMG_2509

IMG_2512

So I’ve been back from Vietnam for a week or so now, and it’s safe to say I’m missing that beautiful place. Writing posts was difficult whilst I was there, not just because they blocked the server with it being quite communist there, but whenever I tried to write something I constantly found myself in a block. But how do you write about something you can’t really understand yourself? How do you really write about sights you’ve seen like poverty, which you think you know about, but it’s only until you’re really there in the thick of it, living it you feel your heart snap in two. How do you write about how you’ve found more of your spirit and soul, when you’re blind, and the feeling of it bleeding around your body only makes you aware. How do you write about energy and spirit in other people? I knew this trip would test me in lots of different ways, but I never really thought about how and when. But I guess that’s the beauty of travelling and leaving your comfort zone back in your comfy bed. Nothing you do will really prepare you for travelling to somewhere completely unknown, to a completely different culture, to a heartbreaking poverty, but so much life.

Culture shock is a thing. Really. Whenever I heard about it, me being little naive me thought okay, so you have to use chop sticks instead of knives and forks, it will be okay. Oh Lottie. Let’s just say my first day put me in my place. Being a Westerner, we’re so used to our home comforts which we don’t really think about. Like the warmth of our bed, with hugging duvets and inviting pillows. The warmth of our water from our shower head, the comfort of having an actual kitchen with worktops, and a sink and a clean cooker. The comfort of actual running water and working toilets. But not in Vietnam. After travelling for two days, I found myself in my accommodation, a house rented by a buddhist lady, sat on what I would call my bed for the next two weeks curled up in a ball, disorientated, exhausted and incredibly lost. I wanted my bed, my pillow, my safe space, my little escapes but I couldn’t have them. I had to make them myself. I woke up to a Vietnamese lady who was shouting at me, apparently telling me dinner was ready. With her being Buddhist, this meant she only ate food that was non meat, this settled me. I was joined by two other volunteers in the house and we all sat round the dinner table eating this beautiful food, awfully with my new knife and fork. Chopsticks are hard to use let me tell you!

Working there was also difficult. I was so lucky to meet and interact with some of the most precious children. Children whose eyes would light up when they saw you walk into the room. They’d give you these hugs which would melt you. The way they touch your face with wonder, the way they hold and look at your hands and trace the lines within your palm. How do you not melt at that? These children deserve nothing but love. Simple. But not simple  for the teachers that work there. They’re not working there because they love the children. They’re there because they just are. They don’t care when a child begins to cry in distress. They don’t care that a little autistic girl is crawling around looking for someone to hold her and rock her gently. Instead they think she’s a contagious poison, and they gesture us to get away from her before we catch it, so to keep everyone safe they trap and lock her in a room for a couple of hours or so because she’s just too much to handle. They don’t mind hitting the children. They don’t mind pulling down the pants of the children and smacking and hitting them on bare skin, making the children scream in pain leaving marks on their body. They don’t mind doing that. And they certainly don’t mind doing that in front of volunteers. If there’s one thing that I’ve brought home with me, it’s the images left imprinted on my brain of those horrible teachers being emotional and physical abusers. But it’s also the life of the children. Their pure and precious souls and their happiness when you give them love. The twinkle in their eye when you give them just an ounce of your time. When you hold them in your arms and they hold you back. When a little girl is able to learn how to count in English, and each day she will show you how. That’s why I went to that country.

IMG_2307

This beautiful lady let the three of us onto her tiny little boat to sail around a little part of the bay for an hour or so. She was the kindest, sweetest and warmest local I met there.

I also never thought about the other volunteers I would meet on my travels. I met people from Mexico, Canada, Africa, all of the States and even some from back home. I never thought how I’d deal with these people either…When you go away on your own, you find yourself having to trust strangers. You find yourself having to start the conversations and making a big effort because these are people who are going to see you at your worst, and at your best. I was so fortunate to get a long with these people so well, and I know that I’ve met friends for life here. They’ve shown me parts of myself I didn’t know I had, and they helped me find more of my spirit and my balance for nature. They showed me I can climb mountains and return safely.

IMG_2460

IMG_2340

I’m not going to write about every detail of my trip, because even when people ask me, I always hold back because there’s always parts I’ll keep for only myself, and I’d be talking about the experience for days. They say travel broadens the mind. They’re right. It does open your mind, but it also opens your soul, especially when you see people with the same rights as you, but they have nothing. They’re walking down the street with just the clothes on their back, yet they still walk over to you and they talk to you. They want to interact with you. And they’re so so happy. They are thankful, and kind and warming. Vietnam isn’t just a country, it’s the biggest family I’ve ever met.

And now chopsticks are second nature to me now ha!

 

Travel Essentials For a Long Haul Flight…

IMG_2188F

It’s suddenly dawning on me that I’m going on a pretty big trip in the next day or so. I’ll be enduring 18 to 22 hour non stop flights, which suddenly gave me the realisation…oh snap that’s gonna do some nasty things to my skin as well as other nasty realisations. So here’s a little post on some products I’ll be taking to help defend my skin against the nasty cabin air, keep me calm, pass the time and make me comfortable for these flights ahead.

One thing I will definitely be taking is my This Works Deep Sleep Stress Rollerball. This is going to be my savour on this daunting trip. The gentle and calming aromas are sure to take the edge off the worry when I roll it on my pulse points and inhale the calming scents. If you want to read more about this product read the full post here… Another product I will be taking is the Avene Spring Water spray which will not only refresh and care for my skin but also freshen me up and bring me back down in moments of calmness.

IMG_2185F

I will also be taking a deep moister mask, which I can apply and leave on my face for a good while. I’ve made sure I’ve got a clear one which doesn’t need much attention after applying. Because let’s be honest no one wants to be walking back from the loo and see a little green monster sat on an aisle, and the poor person next to me definitely won’t want that either as they do that awkward sleepy head roll and wake up with some green mask on their face too… So I picked up the clear Avene Moisture Mask which is travel size friendly too!

I’m also taking my small Emma Hardie Cleansing balm, which I know will instantly relax me and cleanse my skin beautifully. It’s also a good excuse to get up stretch my legs and wash it off. Moisture moisture moisture. My skin is going to dry out so much, so I’m making sure I’m taking a moisturiser that I know works deep into my skin, so I’m taking the Avene Hydrating Cream. I’m also taking the Clinique All About Eyes Serum, just to brighten and hydrate my eye areas. I’m also taking the one and only Elizabeth 8 Hour Cream. I love this stuff. It has too many uses, seriously from a lip balm, to a nail moisturiser, to a highlighter to bloody elbow cream…Honestly, if your elbows are dry, wack this bad boy on. I wonder if my elbows will get dry on the flight…

IMG_2190F

And then obviously the other less fancy essentials: Passport, Visa, Purse, Toothbrush, toothpaste, tissues, hair ties, hair grips, paracetamol, chewing gum, kalms, etc etc…

Moving onto the not so beauty items, I’ll be taking a good set of headphones [a definite must] which will help to cancel out the engine noise of the plane. Books books and plenty of books. I’m gonna try and read so much to pass the time, but also to let me escape and forget where I am so I can relax and keep calm throughout the flight. I’ve downloaded podcasts and apps so I can use this time to learn some of the Vietnamese language too! Portable phone charger in case I can’t find any areas to charge my phone in between flights. Blanket/scarf… I have a safety/comfort thing…Is it a thing? I just love scarves, but I also love how safe and comfortable I feel when I wear one, so I’ll definitely be taking one that I can turn into a throw and blanket as well as wrap around me.

Hello head pillow…This guy is great! I’ve been trialling him out getting used to the neck and psyching myself up, and he’s really comfy and the fabric is really soft and comfortable too! I got this one in Muji, and it comes with a nice little sock which you can put it in to keep it compact when it’s deflated.

So there we have it. A little look into my survival kit for my trip. Hope this also helps you if you find yourself travelling somewhere soon!

Vietnam…

image.jpeg

So about half a year ago I had a mad moment and I booked a trip to Vietnam to volunteer with children and young adults with additional needs. And now it’s pretty much here. AH.

Yes I am absolutely shitting myself, yes I am the most nervous I have ever been in my life but yes I am so overwhelmingly excited. If you read my blog post a couple of months back about how I travelled to London on my own, you will know I am pretty pants at travelling, especially on my lonesome. I hold my hands up and admit it, travelling is a major trigger for my anxiety. But it’s okay. I’ve got this. Ish…

I will be leaving Manchester and heading to Hong Kong which will take me a brutal 18 hours in a metal tube with recycled air. How can anyone not feel nervous? After that, I will spend the day in Hong Kong and wait for my connecting flight to Hanoi, the Vietnamese Capital. After spending a night there, I will then head to my final destination of Halong Bay where I will work for two weeks with children and young adults.

One factor that has kept me feeling okayish is keeping organised. Thankfully I have had great support with the organisation I am travelling with, [IVHQ] you should definitely check them out if you’re looking to volunteer anywhere! They gave me plenty of information about the country and checklists to do to organise me for my trip such as visa’s, safety checks and vaccinations etc. When I don’t feel organised, everything I know I need to do hangs on me like wet washing slowly pushing me down. Once it’s done, the relief is great and relaxes me. So get everything you need done and let that washing dry people!

When I feel myself loosing control of keeping it together, I think about the people I will be helping, and how I may even get the chance to change their lives even for just two weeks. That very thought alone makes me almost banish all of my anxious thoughts, and makes me even more excited and motivated to go. I am so incredibly lucky to have found the opportunity to catch that metal tube hurdling enormous amounts of speeds through the air just to help individuals less fortunate than me.

It’s going to be terrifying yes. But let’s do it! See you soon Halong Bay…

Tam Biêt…

Perfectly Parisian…

There’s something seriously gracious, majestic and elegant about the Parisian style. One which I absolutely adore and aspire to have even just the slightest hint of, whenever I throw an outfit together. It is an art. The artfully rumpled hair, the stylistic wardrobe of basic staples which look effortlessly tailored every time, along with that divine red lip finishing every single look. These Parisian women, not girls, have this down. There’s no doubt about that.

Of course there’s the ultimate French staples that everyone knows about. The trench coat, striped tee, a simple black dress, the perfect blue jeans, a crisp white oversized shirt, and the trusty ballet pumps or stilettos. Maybe add a slouchy jumper along with a tailored suit blazer and some heeled boots and you’re on to a winner…But what is it about these women that really pull off this Perfect Parisian Style? Is it the clothes? Is it the artfully rumpled hair? Or that signature red lip? Or maybe everything put together that makes these women radiate Paris, and sheer chic’ness… Or maybe there’s something in the pastries? Croissant anyone?

But it’s something else. It’s not the clothes. It’s the way they wear them. With these women, it’s not about fitting into the clothes…it’s about the garments fitting them. And that’s the epitome. That’s the inspiration. That’s Parfaitement Paraisenne. That’s Pefectly Parisian.


Au Revoir Belle Dame