2019 Life Lessons

via...@quotesbychristie

2019 was a hard year but sis got through it! Without strong faith, you will never see the light that awaits for you at the end of the tunnel so here I am, holding onto faith knowing that God will never put me through things I cannot overcome. I want to focus on how grateful I am to see another year, to be breathing and to be typing this post in this very moment! To even think we're entering an entire new decade is crazy. I hope this new year will bring us all love, prosperity and success.

What four important lessons did I learn this year?

1) You Either Learn to Love Your Own Company or Hate Your Loneliness

I've spent so long feeling sad about how lonely I am when instead, I could have invested this energy into learning to love my own company. Don’t get me wrong, being isolated for a long period of time isn’t healthy at all but you need to swallow your pity and just get on with it. Without solitude, I wouldn’t have found clarity in my life and developed new ideas/goals.  I wrote down my mission statement and it truly aligns with who I am and what I am meant to do.

Now that I know what I’m trying to achieve, there are so many reasons why I should enjoy my own company because I have more time to focus on my blog, work on my goals and fulfil my purpose in life. Rather than depending on people to do things with, I found the confidence to do it alone and I love it! I took myself out for dinner and I watched two films at the cinema alone - talk about progress eh? A solo trip abroad is definitely on my bucket list too.

I kept affirming that I’ll manifest new friendships into my life, towards the end of this year I did! I still haven’t found "my people" but I know one day I will. I just need to keep believing I’ll meet them. In 2020, I am attracting like-minded people who are ambitious, supportive and encourage me to be better.

2) When the Time is Right You'll Find Someone

”Where’s your man?”. I've had the same response for 5 years now. I-don't-know.

I guess this is the period you date, you have fun and you experiment, even my uncle pointed out "YoU shOuLD bE dAtINGg nOW". Patience is a virtue and I’ve always said no company is better than bad company. Sometimes I feel like I'm missing out, I haven't experienced the excitement of talking to someone new for 4/5 years. It'd be nice to spend time with someone who is "romantically interested" in me but you know, we move. My friends tell me you're not getting yourself out there and I guess it's kinda true. I barely went out this year so how can I expect to meet anyone? In 2020, I'm going to make more of an effort to go out more and enjoy the last few months of being a student.

I hate wasting time which means I would hate to waste my precious time on someone who doesn’t truly value me. Self love hasn’t been my strongest point but I believe that I am worthy of being loved. Even if I'm not the prettiest girl in the world and I have insecurities about myself (don't we all) that I can't change, this doesn't mean I am any less worthy of finding someone who will accept and love me for who I am. Only God knows how long it'll be before that "special someone" comes along but I know it'll be worth the wait. In the mean time, I'll enjoy the single life.

3) If You have Strong Faith, Good Things will Happen

The first few months of this year was the lowest I have ever been. In "You Got Egsma" and "My Mental Health and University I spoke about my mental and physical health being in a really bad state. I am so grateful that my overall health has improved during this year. I prayed, repeated affirmations, listened to my self-love playlists, cried a lot and hoped for a breakthrough and it occurred.

My face is better (thank God for the Abido cream!!) but I can't exactly say the same for my hands, neck and arms. The Abido cream acts like a miracle cream, it relieves the symptoms really well but it doesn't stop the eczema from coming back. One of the ingredients is a steroid so I need to reduce how often I use it because I'm quite dependent on it. My food sensitivities are kinda frustrating even though I am now more aware of my triggers, it seems like I get random flare ups. I'm praying in 2020 I will find a cure so I can live normal life and eat whatever I want. In February, I will be seeing my dermatologist again (it's been about 8 months to get the correct appointment but let me not even start-). I really hope this will be the start of my healing journey.


4) Without a plan, your dream is merely just a DREAM

When I remind myself of my vision and purpose in life, I ask myself, do I have a clear defined plan that will allow me to get there and to be honest the answer is no. You can dream all you want but without action your dream is just a dream. Without a plan, again your dream is just a dream. Often we need to take a step back and ask ourselves whether our current actions is aligning with our vision. You can't keep doing what you've always done because the result will be the same. I'm tired of stagnating, in 2020 I am going to fulfil what I am capable of.

I've written my 2020 goals with actionable steps, I reviewed them every morning just to remind myself what I'm working towards. Next year we're making solid plans and executing them! When I set goals in the past they were too generic. There wasn't a time frame or a way to measure success, this prevented me from achieving them. Each month, I am planning to set specific goals that will get me closer to my yearly goal.

2019 has increased my strength. I am entering 2020 with an open heart, courageousness and ambition. With God anything is possible! I won't anticipate what is to come, instead I will live and enjoy the present moment.


"2020 Will Be My Year" | Guest Post by Jeffna



But will it?

As the new year’s approaching, everyone’s running around screaming that 2020 will be their year of success, claiming it will be different from previous years and how they plan to do things differently. One thing I’ve learnt, particularly during this year is that you can talk about all the things you hope to do but all that talk will be in vain if your actions don’t match your words. You know that phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’? That applies to so many things in life including your goals and plans. We can all say that we’ll do this, that and the other but it’s all really down to what we do behind closed doors; the amount of time we dedicate to the goal we plan or hope to achieve.

I won’t act like it’s easy to work towards your goals though, especially when life throws so many obstacles at you, fear and self-doubt grips you and makes you think that you’re incapable of fulfilling your goals or makes you downplay your achievements. However, making small progress daily can slowly bring you closer to achieving your goals without feeling overwhelmed and losing all motivation.

This year, I had to accept that I was a professional procrastinator (PP for short) who’d delay things until the last minute. Fortunately for me, although I often procrastinate, I am well-organized so this helps me to get things completed before it’s too late to. As the year went by, I had to accept and challenge this flaw of mine and have made every effort to use more of my day to do more productive things. I managed to achieve all but one of my 2019 goals (yay me) but I’m still slowly detaching from my dear friend procrastination who’s the biggest dream killer that exists- i’ll explain how I’ve managed to do so.

The five tips listed below are effective measures which have increased my daily productivity throughout 2019:

  1. Having a personal planner/ yearly planner – I have purchased a yearly planner for the past three years and honestly, this is one thing that keeps me in order. I use this to plan what I hope to do every day , to note down my weekly spend and budgets and obviously, to keep note of any upcoming meetings or link ups during the month. I recently purchased one from Amazon which allows you to break down your goals into smaller goals to make it less overwhelming: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07WFQ9XCW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=
  2. Having a notepad – Alongside having a planner, a notepad is also very helpful for noting down your goals for the year, your achievements and any other ideas you have for the year. This can help with reflecting on how close you are to achieving your goals and remaining focused.
  3. Monitoring your screen time/ how long you spend on social media– I started doing this from last month and noticed that when I’m not busy, my time is usually spent on social media such as Youtube and Twitter (my guilty pleasures). To reduce the amount of time I spend on such platforms, I have set myself a time limit of 6-8 hours a day depending on the day of the week to increase productivity and to encourage myself to fill up my free time with more wholesome activities e.g: Meditating on the Bible, reading a book or cooking.
  4.  Finding new hobbies ^
  5. Asking for God’s help – As I was completing my final year of uni this year, I found it very difficult to stay motivated to complete important tasks at times. However, God continually used the people around me and his word to remind me that so long as I trust in him, ask for his help and don’t rely on my strength alone, I can overcome anything. By God’s grace, I graduated with an upper second class and achieved a first for my dissertation and for me, this was only possible with his help. In the same way, I’ve noticed that by asking God to help me manage my time more effectively, there’s been an improvement and I can do this with ease/ Proverbs 3:5-7. 
Overall, my 2019 has been an amazing one, full of growth and many life memories. I’m going nto 2020 with the plan of being more productive in everything I do and I hope you all manage to do this also. I wish you all a productive and joyful new year.


With love,

Jeffna x


Socials:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jkm_xo Insta:https://www.instagram.com/jeffs_corner1/ Personal blog: https://jeffscornerblog.wordpress.com/

Applaud Yourself


We always beat ourselves up when we make mistakes, yet we rarely give ourselves praise for the good things we do. You have so many things to be proud of; getting into uni, making it into third year, finding a job, being offered an interview, being a good friend etc. The list is endless so never forget about the great things you are doing or have done.

Be Grateful


“You attract what you think about” is not an understatement. It’s important to focus on what’s already present in our lives rather than what we lack. How can we expect to receive more if we fail to acknowledge everything we should be grateful for?

Life After Uni | Guest Post by Azeez Kukz



Who knew adulting would be so difficult? As in…you’re officially an adult adult. Bills and bills. No more university or lectures to attend (or sleep in and miss). No more netflixing all day or waking up at 2pm in the afternoon...are you ready to be thrown into the deep end and take on real responsibility?


If you're in your last year of uni, congratulations for making it this far because not everyone did. Be proud of yourself, before you know it you'll be preparing for graduation! I recently finished university in May (on my 21st birthday in fact) which was a bittersweet experience because university itself was challenging and mentally draining. However with that being said, I met great lifelong friends and enhanced my skills. University taught me a lot. My time management got better, working towards deadlines improved and working with others I didn’t know or liked changed how I completed the work. You may think that it’s nothing right now and its cliché but in the real world, these are the skills you need in any job you work in.

The best thing to do is to start applying for graduate schemes as early as September because third year can become quite hectic and you might struggle to complete them. If you didn't start that early, don't worry. Many of the deadlines are in November - December so try to apply to at least 3 a week. It’s easy to procrastinate and say you will do it later, then you keep longing it out and it doesn’t get done. Start what you finish, because it will be too late when you realise. Find the role you want to go in for and then research the companies you may want to work for and get your cover letter/cv perfected before you submit any application. 

All universities have a careers department so use this to your full advantage before you leave. Book those sessions as they help students with interview tips, CV writing and loads more. They can even help you get a job! Take as much as you can from your lectures, lecturers, seminar leaders etc. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. No question is too silly and remember you’ve taken out a loan so you better start asking! 

It’s a harsh reality but you are going to classed as another graduate with a 2:1/1st. The competition out there is TOUGH, you need to think about what makes YOU different from the 100,000 other students that will graduate too. Up and down the country. From London down to Norwich. It is so easy to get comfortable in your part time retail job that you’ve been in since studying but snap out of it. Come out of that comfort zone you rely on and start applying for graduate roles/schemes or any jobs within your chosen field. Even if the pay is whack, think about the experience and what can be added on your CV. Most entry level jobs are always going to be shit but it will push you to want to learn on the job and move on.

Be prepared for rejection but use it to your advantage and ALWAYS ask for feedback if you’re not successful. This way, you can work on yourself to do better for the next interview. What I find was helpful was researching the roles I wanted to go into, finding what those top skills needed in those roles are and teaching/adapting myself. I’m pretty competent with the use of MS Office but wasn't great at using Excel. Now in marketing, its essential to be able to use excel and I didn’t have a clue what pivot tables were and why they were needed. However, I taught myself. I knew this is what I wanted to go into, so I had to at least learn some of the basics and be confident with that. This allowed me to mention in interviews that, ‘I’m not 100% good with Excel however, I am teaching myself and learning in my spare time’ which sounded much better than a cold ‘I don’t know’ and looking clueless in the interview. Saying this shows you’re a self-starter which employees love to hear and you’re serious about wanting the role by showing you’re doing the extra work in your spare time. 

Let your personality show through interviews and be confident. The best way for you to stand out is to be you.  For the skills needed, you can teach yourself what you have access too. YouTube is there, so instead of watching your favourite influencers or whatever, teach yourself the necessary skills that you need to. Google is there too, download worksheets online for free and do them in your spare time. In this day and age, we have access to pretty much everything, use everything in your reach. Follow some industry leaders on LinkedIn and reach out to them. Ask them questions and their tips/advice on getting into the field. Don’t bombard them and make sure you keep it professional at all times. If you don’t have a LinkedIn already, make one! I don’t know how you’ve gone so long without one. It’s the best place as a graduate to get jobs and show employers who you are and what you’ve have done.

Someone could sit down and tell you word for word what to do but it’s always going to be down to the individual and how hard you want the challenge, the change and the job. You have to be confident in interviews, show you’re eager to grow and learn. You have to show them you can work there, you understand the company’s culture and work ethic and you love the work that they do. Hard work always pays off. Getting a 1st or a 2:1 in your degree is amazing but you need to have other skills to back yourself up. Employers want to know what you done outside of university whilst you’ve been studying. Have you been an ambassador for something, have you been a part of the community outside university, do you have a blog or If you have a YouTube channel? They want to know what your hobbies are. They want to know who you are. It’s hard to explain that within a CV but try and sell yourself as much as you can but also leaving some doors open for them to speak about when they interview you too. There’s no how to guide but here are a few things I did to land me in my first job:

1) Research into the field you want to go into. Write down all the skills and responsibilities that is being asked and match them with your existing skills / begin to work on them skills. 

2) Then create a new CV or update your existing one where the main focus is on the key skills that your role is asking of you. Bear in mind, your CV will need to be altered depending on the job role you apply for. (Example: If you CV is about business management – don’t use the same CV for a marketing assistant role) 

3) Create a cover letter template. A generic one you can always copy and paste and adapt it to the job specification. Main points:
- Introduce yourself- Mention the job you’re applying for- Show that your skills and experience match the skills and experienced needed for the job = important. Don’t blag just make your point, explain and move on.
- Encourage the read to read your CV = “Attached with the cover letter”
- Finish with a call to action = “Look forward to hearing from you soon to discuss my application in more detail.”

4) Create a LinkedIn account, update your profile, follow your classmates, industry leaders etc. Ask fellow classmates and old employees to write a recommendation for you and also endorse your skills.

5) Start looking for some jobs. The best place to look for is: Indeed, Grad Touch, Grad bay, Sphere, Milk round, inspiring interns and prospects.ac.uk. 

Remember, this is a tedious process so be prepared to hear “Unfortunately you’re not the right candidate”. Keep applying. The application process is long and overbearing but always remember to give yourself time to complete them. Again, don’t start one and say you’re going to come back, just finish it. Try and aim for at least 3-5 applications a week, depending on how badly you want to leave your current situation. 

Despite not getting a graduate scheme/job, I got an entry level job that was in my field. The job specification was everything I wanted to do and more. I’m currently a communications coordinator and I manage the social media and write up weekly newsletters (in general terms), the role allows me to be creative, think outside the box and meet great people! I’ve worked on a few projects and I am excited to work on some more. Unless I knew I was going into something I loved, I didn't plan on leaving my part time job. I wanted to come out of my circumstances and with prayer and hard work, I got there in the end. Most entry level jobs don’t expect a lot but its always about learning something new everyday and motivating yourself to do better. It will all make sense soon. Just keep doing what you’re doing and pray for the best!

Again, be proud of yourself for making it this far. You're almost at the finish line, good luck and all the best guys!

Special Thanks to Rashidah for letting me share my experience on her blog!

Feel free to follow me on twitter @AK_B100.

4 Exercises to Practice for Positive Thinking

(via Caleb Wright)

We all have the power to guard our minds and increase the quality of our thinking. Reprogramming our mind takes time, if you're stuck in a bad habit it can take a while to get out of it. By having good practices in place, you are developing the mental strength to turn your thoughts around which is harder than it seems. In How to Become Unstuck from Negative Thinking, I reflected on Tony Robbins' useful approach that helps us understand how we should shift our perspective and focus on the emotions we want to feel rather than the emotions that are dragging us down. From the books and articles I have read, there are many helpful exercises we can use to deal with mind chatter and overthinking. When you find yourself in a never ending mental chatter episode, have a notepad near by and try one of these exercises.

Here are four helpful exercises we can use for positive thinking:

1) Blocking Cognitive Distortion



In an article I read by Dr Nicole Lipkin, cognitive distortion refers to the beliefs we convince ourselves that are true. This leads to negative thinking, making it difficult to break this negative bubble we are in. Dr Lipkin suggests that it is essential that we challenge distortions in order to reframe how we think.

In her example of how to block a cognitive distortion she uses a flight delay:

What is my problematic belief? Bad stuff always happens to me
What evidence supports my belief? The flight delay is an inconvenience
What is a better explanation for what happened? It's not just happening to me, it's happening to everyone
What are the consequences of this belief? Anger and stress have sent me into a tailspin
What would happen if I changed my belief right now? I could enjoy a nice dinner and catch up on work and calls at the airport
What are my new core beliefs? Shit happens! I can manage inconvenience better

2) Mindfulness


Mindfulness refers to the awareness of one self and all experiences occurring in the present moment. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we just want to scream, punch someone in the face or cry endlessly. When we get angry we can feel the tension rising in our bodies, when we are calm and at peace there is a complete contrast in how our body behaves.

Negative thoughts may start circling in your head without you even realising it. It's important to become an observer of your mind and ask yourself how am I feeling in this present moment. When we are overthinking, our attention is not focused in the present. Taking 3 (or more) deep breaths and using your sensations fully is essential to keeping yourself grounded. Mindfulness creates clarity in our minds and helps us to identify what is going on inside of ourselves.

3) Exposing the Lies


I am yet to try this exercise created by Lisa Nichols but I have heard so many great comments about it. I know this will be helpful for you because as humans we fall into the trap of constantly feeding ourselves lies and believing them, I know I do.

This exercise involves writing a list of all the lies you tell yourself in a black pen or pencil. You can write as many as you want, it may consist of negative "I am" statements such as "I am dumb" or "I am not good enough". Next to each statement, write down each truth in a red pen.  Spend at least 10mins for 7 days going from lie-truth, lie-truth you can briefly scan each statement if you have written a lot. When you reach the 7th day cross or erase the lies you wrote down originally. You notice that by exposing the lies you are reprogramming your brain, yes you will still get the mind chatter and have negative thoughts sometimes however, your mind will go straight from the lie to the truth since the red ink stands out more than the black.

4) Questioning your thoughts


In Byron Katie's book I Need Your Love, the writer highlights the importance of questioning your thoughts and imagining your life with the thought and without it. Most of the time, the thoughts we have does not match our reality or the thoughts are not true against our own truths.

Here are the 5 steps Katie suggests we should taken when we have negative thoughts:
1) Is it true?
2) Can I absolutely know it's true? (Is there evidence of this?)
3) How do I react when I think this thought?
4) Who or what would I be without the thought?
5) Turn the thought around and find three genuine examples of each turnaround is as truer or truer than the original statement

Becoming an observer of your thoughts is hard. Questioning your thoughts is hard but it is possible. Spiritual thinker Eckhart Tolle said he hasn't had a negative thought in years - imagine that! Make a commitment now to have a healthier mind and a better life.

I leave you with this quote:
"Guard your thoughts carefully. The quality of your thinking determines the quality of your life.” – Brian Tracy

How to Win Friends and Influence People | BOOK REVIEW


Ep 343 - How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie ...

Carnegie's book sold over 16 million copies, his expertise in human relations is widely appreciated amongst the most successful people in the world and even by one of the greatest investors in history, Warren Buffet. The book covers 30 principles that can be applied on a daily basis, whether it being in your personal or professional life. It teaches us how to improve our conversations, create new friendships and get people to do what we want by allowing both parties to benefit from a negotiation.

Personally, I liked How to Win Friends and Influence People. It made me reflect on my conversations with people and think about how I can improve my interactions. At my internship, I did a lot of phone pitching. The main aim was to get a meeting set up with a company to discuss a potential partnership opportunity that would allow them to be listed on our app. I couldn't ignore the value in Carnegie's principles, especially in the ways in which it can be applied to salesmanship. The "yes, yes" technique for example involves asking a few questions that you cannot say no to. It makes the other party agree with everything you ask, giving some leeway to propose a business deal.

In some cases the book does state the obvious. One of his principles under Six Ways to Make People like You mentions that we should be good listeners - I mean who would like a person who twiddles with their thumbs when you're trying to talk to them? We know it is important to be good listeners but are we? Have you ever found yourself in your own mind, wandering about what you're going to have for dinner in the middle of a conversation? Bottom line is, we've all done it. It's important to be attentive when people are speaking to you. This will help you to fully grasp what the other person is saying and stay fully engaged in a conversation.


The best bits to take from the book

How to Win Friends and Influence People is separated into four different parts. The first part of the book focuses on the fundamental techniques to use when handling people. In part two, Carnegie identifies six ways to make people like you. In part three, 12 principles cover how to win people to your way of thinking. Lastly, in part four 9 principles are mentioned under how to become an effective leader.

Carnegie emphasises that everyone loves to talk about themselves which is why we should try to encourage people to talk about their own lives and interests rather than our own. When you show an interest in people, people become interested in you. According to Carnegie, "if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions the other person will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments." You never know the type of people you will meet or the stories you will hear,  such connections can grow your network greatly.

In chapter 5 Carnegie mentions the benefits of doing a little bit of research to find out what people are interested in. If you have something you want to request, you will feel more confident approaching the person to talk about themselves rather than directly asking for something. In his example for the principle "talk in terms of the other person's interest", he speaks about Mr Duvernoy who had been trying to sell bread to a hotel in New York but was not getting any luck. After studying human relations and re-evaluating his methods, he found out what the manager of the hotel was interested in and began the initial conversation with this topic. By allowing to have a conversation about what the manager was interested in and what he enjoyed talking about, meant that after four years the manager finally changed his decision and took Mr Duvernoy's offer to buy his bread.

The author states that we should "remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language", some people pay millions just to have buildings named after them. I used to struggle with remembering names and it had nothing to do with bad memory (I would always blame it on this), I was just too lazy to make an effort to remember. Personally I find it a bit insulting when I tell someone my name and they ask "can I call you by a nickname"...Jim Farley remembered 50 thousand names, do we really have an excuse?

Some critique the lack of genuinity behind the book. It is argued that it points out ways to be manipulative in order to get people to do what you want. Carnegie does suggest however that these techniques are not manipulative because both parties should benefit from a negotiation. How to Win Friends and Influence People may be viewed as a book filled with common sense. Giving appreciation to someone may seem obvious but how many of us actually do it? How often do you tell the people you care about that you appreciate them? This can go a long way since the deepest human desire is to feel important, and we all crave appreciation according to Carnegie.

Overall, I think there are many useful techniques you can implement in your life. The writer states the only way we can influence people is by allowing "other people to talk about what they want and show them how to get it", this is not possible without understanding the workings of other people's mind. This skill is crucial if you want to persuade people to believe in your vision. Although the examples used are quite outdated, the book still provides some valuable insight in how we can build better connections and influence people too. Carnegie's work made me realise that learning about human relations and putting it into practice will take you further on the path of success that you think.

"When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity" - Dale Carnegie


My Mental Health and University




“University is going to be a life experience. You get to know yourself” I remember my cousin telling me. I laughed because I thought she was being a bit over the top, what does 'get to know yourself' even mean? After finishing my second year I finally understood what she meant. It was never a goal of mine to go into further education after secondary school, it just felt like the thing you had to do; you go to primary school, then secondary, after you attend college or sixth form then off to uni. I had my doubts because I wasn't passionate about any subject that I was willing to dedicate 3 years of my life to so I considered doing an apprenticeship. It wasn’t until I spoke to more people about their experiences which persuaded me to go. 

Most people I spoke to repeated the same cliches: "uni is the best time of your life" and "you make "lifelong friends" and blah blah. Everyone seemed to have a sick time so why wouldn't I want to go? Being the optimistic person I am (I hope you took notice of my sarcasm), I envisioned myself having this incredible time...of course having high expectations will lead to disappointments. No one really speaks about how university can be a really hard time for some people. Our perception of what our experience should be like is shaped by other people's experiences and opinions. We end up ignoring the fact that mental health can be a major issue for many students. It is fair to say that many students struggle with mental health problems and a lot us are unaware of how to look after our wellbeing.



The start to first year was a vibe, everyone was just trying to enjoy themselves. I was never allowed to go to parties or nightclubs, you can only imagine the excitement I felt when I finally got a chance to experience it. The taste of freedom was schweeet! Around the start of November, the enjoyment and "fun" started to diminish. I lived in a single gendered accom with four other girls, it was really fun until the vibe in the house was off and uncomfortable to live in. Who knew I would have an intervention session at uni (in other words a "flat meeting") and be told I was disrespectful and patronising (yikeees).


Even though I respected their reasons, apologised for the offence caused and we sorted everything out, our friendship didn't go back to normal. My social group in university stopped inviting me out with them so I didn't really have anyone else to do things with. A lack of belonging made me spend most of my first year in London rather than in Leicester. There was no point of me staying since I was having a shit time. I felt as if I was definitely in the wrong place. I've always struggled with low moods and the isolation contributed to my depressive episodes which became more frequent. 

Most of the time emotionally I didn't have the energy to go out. Instead of going to societies to meet different people, I remained moody for the rest of the year because I kept comparing my experience to everyone else's, who all seemed to be having a blaaaast.  I entered second year completely regretting my decision not to transfer universities. Failing to understand why I wasn't having this exciting uni life, I wondered why no one seemed to be struggling except for me. Although, I remember reading some blog articles from people who didn't enjoy university and it was comforting to know I wasn't the only one.  

How did I look after my mental health during university? 

I had my worst depressive episode in second year where I felt so alone - my mental and physical health was declining. My eczema flare up made me too self conscious to go out most of the time but I tried to overcome this in second semester. Here are 4 things I did to look after my wellbeing:

Spoke to a friend

It's important to remind yourself everyone's fighting their own battles. You can't expect all of your friends to check up on you all the time. I'm grateful for my friends in London who reminded me that they are only a phone call away. Bottling up your feelings is very unhealthy, you should talk to someone during your down days. A true friend will never make you feel like you are a burden or make you feel afraid to reach out to them. Not everyone understands mental health issues but it's reassuring to know that there is someone you can rely on to hear you out. 

Joined societies

My biggest regret is not going to societies in first year. It would have been great to be surrounded by people with similar interests. In second year, I pushed myself to attend Creative Writing, Amnesty (in relation to the NGO focused on Human Rights) and Radical Youth (Christian youth group). I loved the events I attended, especially the debates at Amnesty who even had Grenfell survivors on the panel. Despite the inconsistency in my attendance, I met so many great people and I loved the atmosphere they all created. 

Did the things I like doing 

This was as simple as listening to my favourite albums to watching a show on Netflix. I didn't leave the house much so I tried to stay productive and focus on my own personal growth by writing and reading. 

Counselling

It wasn't until second year that I finally decided to get counselling because I was feeling worse.  Counselling does help but it's really down to you to make the effort to change things. We focused on the reasons why I was feeling the way I was. What I can do when I find negative thoughts taking over my mind to prevent a bad episode from emerging. This included meditation, doing things I like (writing etc), affirmations and learning to connect with other things (nature, books) if you struggle to connect with people. Another great technique I learnt is detaching myself from the thought, questioning why I was even having them and then turning the negative thought into something positive. 

Rather than moving universities, I told myself second year would get better and to be honest, it did. It took a while but I changed my perspective and tried to look at situations differently. I made new friends with some lovely people this year. Even though I wasn't going out often, I was able to invest more time into myself by writing, brainstorming projects I wanted to start and thinking about my future career It's evident that people suffer in silence. There needs to be more awareness on mental health struggles during university. We need to push people to utilise wellbeing services at their institutions if they need it. Regardless of how many friends you have, mental health problems can still affect you. Therefore, please be mindful of your wellbeing.