What to Do After You've Graduated

Leaving university during the middle of a pandemic and economic recession isn't exactly how most of us planned our post-uni life to start (what a scam). It can really be demotivating when you recall the number of jobs you've applied to and the rejections you've received. I was always confused when I met people who had degrees but worked in retail/hospitality, I get it now though. It's very easy to settle for something you wasn't striving for when you can't seem to get there. I personally don't think this should be anyone's excuse. If you have long-term goals, always keep this in front of your mind no matter what the circumstances are.

Are you stuck at a crossroads trying to figure what you're going to do now university is over? Don't panic because I promise you there are millions of graduates feeling the same way. You'll figure it out as long as you don't wait around for the answer. You need to find it. Having a sense of direction provides you with so much clarity and confidence. Rather than doing things for the sake of it, you should know exactly the reason behind it. You don't need to have your whole life figured out but if you have a rough idea of the sort of path you want to walk on you'll be in a better position. You also prevent yourself from wasting time doing things you don't actually want to do.

"Life without goals is like a race without a finishing line. You are running nowhere."

The most important question to ask yourself right now is what do I want my future to look like? Once you know, you can start planning the necessary steps you need to get there.

I won't even lie, I was really slow in applying to jobs when I finished university. Working a 9-5 was not something I was excited about doing because I wanted to pursue my own ventures and get my health sorted out. I'm happy with the time I got to work on myself and figure some things out. Now I feel more motivated to find a job and in due time, I'll find one and you will too (if you haven't got one already).

So how exactly do you figure out what your next steps should be as a graduate?

What To Do after University

1) Find A Job or An Internship

Entering the job market is tough right now considering the circumstances so you need to step it up and put yourself out. First, make sure your LinkedIn is up to scratch (I left mine a bit too long, whoops...) and increase your connections. LinkedIn is one of the best places to do your job search too. I've finally realised relying solely on job adverts on employment search engines like Indeed is not good enough. You need to utilise your connections (your friends, family, ex-colleagues, etc.), look at specific companies for their vacancies, upload your CV and complete online profiles on employment websites too. Some recruitment agencies are unreliable so it shouldn't be the only way you hope to find a job. Perhaps consider reaching out to your own university who could offer you some help or a job opportunity.

I haven't applied to any internships because I thought I was better off applying to permanent roles only. I've finally realised that finding an internship would be a great opportunity too. Not only would you build your experience but you could also potentially be offered a job at the end of it. Don't limit your options!

Make a job criteria

In these initial stages of entering the "real world" of work, we might need to be a bit more open about the type of jobs we apply to. If you are keen on working in a certain role and have relevant work experience too, you might be better off applying to certain jobs. Perhaps it's worth considering broadening your job search to get your foot in the door but not too broad that you end up doing something you hate. My mentor suggested creating a job criteria which I think is really useful when you are applying to jobs. Choose 5 things that align with the sort of job you want to do and the type of company you want to work at. For example:

- Reasonable pay (nothing less than a certain amount)
- Challenging (no day is the same, you work under high pressure)
- Technology (the industry you want to work in)
- Analytical
- Team Work

If you are really unsure about a job vacancy you've come across, I suggest bookmarking it and then making a note to come back to it. When you do, look at the job description and compare it to your job criteria. Bare in mind entry-level jobs don't pay the best salaries (depending on your field) because you don't have enough experience. What you're willing to compromise is a decision you need to make otherwise, the job probably isn't for you.

If you're uncertain about the career you want to pursue, think of your main skills and see what industry this would fit into. If you love numbers and have an analytical mind, working as an analyst or in a finance role would be most suitable for you. If you love writing and creating content consider going working in a PR or marketing role. There are LOADS of career quizzes you can do (Google's your best friend!) if you're really stuck. This leads me to my second tip...

2) Find a mentor

Every successful person has either had a mentor or has a mentor in some way. Whether you officially establish a mentorship or develop a connection with someone who gives incredible advice, you will meet many teachers on your journey (keep in touch with them!). One of my goals in the last few years was to find a mentor and I was finally presented with an opportunity to find one! I'm a participant in the mentorship programme at the University of Leicester and was lucky enough to find an amazing mentor to partner with. He has extensive business and finance experience. 

Mentors can guide us onto our desired path. They don't have all the answers but they can provide us with assistance and invaluable expertise/advice. My mentor has given me a different perspective on situations which has been extremely helpful. If you are a graduate, I highly recommend contacting your university to ask about mentorship or look online. Someone on LinkedIn reached out to me about their mentorship platform, you can check it out here.

3) Gap Year

A gap year without a plan is a waste of time. I repeat, a gap year without a plan is a waste of time. Be smart with your decisions (look at who's talking). Don't waste it and just "chill" for a whole entire year. Make it worthwhile - if you want to travel figure out where you want to travel and how much you're going to need. If you want to volunteer abroad, find a volunteering programme. Look at how quickly 3 years of university flew by. I can assure you, one year will fly by too so make use of your time!

4) Study for a Masters

Perhaps further education is something you want to consider. Developing your knowledge further is a great way to become more knowledgeable about the field you want to work in. If you can't find a job, studying for another year is probably better than wasting a year doing nothing. 

5) Learn a new skill -

- Excel 
- Graphic Design
- Copywriting
-  Social Media Marketing
- Coding
- Trading
- UX Design
- Video Editing
- Email Marketing
- Photo Editing

Value the free time you have by educating yourself and upskilling. There are many things you can learn, the list is ENDLESS. Udemy and Skillshare are great platforms for free online courses. If your industry requires a certain skill you don't have, start learning it. Learn one skill and become an expert. Eventually, you might be confident enough to freelance or sell your own digital products to teach others. Never forget -

“The best investment you can make is in yourself. The more you learn, the more you earn” -Warren Buffett

6) Start Your Own Business

We live in a generation where entrepreneurship is becoming more attractive than ever. People are tapping into their potential because they know what they're capable of. Pursuing an idea you created and building a 7 figure business would be a dream right? Starting a business is not easy but it's not impossible. The 9-5 life isn't for everyone so if you have a great business idea, a desire to be an entrepreneur and have the funds to get started, go for it!

You could even start your own side hustle whilst you look for a job and when you work a 9-5. There many different ways to make money, start your research and get creative. No one wants to work for the rest of their lives...This is why people are setting up their own businesses, investing, trading and looking at other ways to make money. Anything is possible. 

Being a graduate can be daunting but you are being exposed to a world of limitless possibilities. I've received a shit load of rejection emails but I won't let it phase me. No matter how long it takes to get that graduate job or build your business trust your journey. I promise you everything will work out, maybe not exactly how you planned it but it will work out for your own good. We are so privileged to live in this generation it's unbelievable. Time waits for no one, start looking for opportunities and act on them. You can decide how you want your future to be. Whether you're waiting for a new job, taking an online course or whatever it is. Do something now your future self will thank you for.

How Mistakes and Failure Contribute to Success

Everyone makes mistakes but we wouldn't grow without them. You'd think considering how common it is for an individual to make a mistake surely, there wouldn't be an expectation to never make them. If we go through life trying to ignore our faults, we will never be able to learn from it. Chances are, we will probably do the same thing again. Maya Angelou said, "once you know better, you do better". Sometimes we get angry at ourselves for doing the wrong thing which is pointless. Once you become aware, at that moment tell yourself "I'll learn from this and do better in the future".

8 Valuable Lessons University Taught Me

8 Lessons University Taught Me

Thanks to CORONAVIRUS *Cardi B voice*, uni ended abruptly in March. I did a lot of self-reflection (maybe too much) that week thinking of all the what-ifs. If only I did this, if I only I went to this, if only I said this...If I knew my last year was going to end so soon, I would have made an effort to spend more time with my friends and leave my house more in the last two months.

Obviously dwelling on your regrets and wishing you did things differently is pointless. Nothing can change what's already happened. It just kinda sucks knowing that I’m never going to get these 3 years back. I wish I enjoyed it more but when I look back on what I was going through I wonder why am I being so hard on myself? I've grown so much from when I started. Considering I even made it to final year (I thought about dropping out 1000 times) I should be so proud! Your girl's a graduate!!

These 3 years were really challenging and honestly, I'm surprised I got through it. I spent most of my first year back at home because I felt so alone. 2nd year was literally my idea of hell. My health deteriorated; I started having anxiety attacks, heart palpitations, digestive issues...my eczema got really bad too so I spent most of my time hiding away in my room because I hated how I looked. My depression got worse so I started counselling. It was really difficult to attend uni and social events because I was not in the right state.

Even though my health issues and mental health massively impacted my experience, not all is lost. I do have some memories to look back on, there were some good days! I met most of my friends later on in second year and my last year was far better than the rest. Whether university was worth £50k+ is a conversation for another day... but I learned valuable lessons that I can definitely take with me through life.

What has University Taught Me?

1. If You Can't Cope Ask For Help

This might seem obvious but many of us don't do it. We avoid asking for help because we think we can get through it on our own. Maybe pride gets in our way or maybe we don't want to be a burden to others. My first year wasn't great but now thinking about it, I did have a friend I could have reached out to (not sure why I didn't). She was in the year above but I know she would have invited me to things and helped me meet new people. I never thought about counselling in first year but I started my sessions the year after. If you're struggling, remember it's okay to ask for help and receive support.

2. Not Everyone Will Stick Around and Be There for You

You don't need to be friends with everyone. People who don't need to be in your life will leave. Remember it's better to be in no company than in bad company. If you continue to believe the right people will come around eventually, they will.

3. The More You Do Today, The Less You Do Tomorrow

I feel like I've said this to every single one of my uni friends. As true as this statement is, I do struggle to live by it sometimes. The more you procrastinate and hold things off, the more things you have to complete on your To Do List. University has definitely taught me the importance of organising your priorities and the consequences if you don't.

4. How to Be Alone

I think it's fair to say I actually know how to be alone now. I've spent so much time with myself during uni, it's actually been great to learn more about myself and grow. I learned how to find joy without depending on someone else's company. I don't have the greatest social life (which pains me to say as a Gemini and extrovert) but I do have a few people I can reach out to which I'm grateful for. There's nothing wrong with being alone and spending time with yourself but sometimes you just need human interaction. If you are in need of a friend just pick up the phone and call them!

5. Dealing with Health Problems

When you're young your health is the last thing you stress about. We often take it for granted, not actually realising how invaluable it is. When you don't look after yourself your body will tell you. Sometimes it doesn't happen straight away but it will in the future. My eczema journey has taught me so much about nutrition and the right food to eat. Eat well, exercise and take care of yourself. Don't take your health for granted and regret it in the future!

6. Trust in God

I remember speaking to a friend back home during first year. He told me I should join a church or join a Christian society because his sister met most of her friends from there. When my friend mentioned anything to do with Christianity, I became so defensive and dismissed it. What was the point when I didn't believe in religion? I lost my faith when I was about 13. It seemed as if my prayers were not being answered which made me give up. My faith wasn't strong enough to understand God was always there for me.

Yet here I was, running back to Christ in 2019 because I needed physical and mental healing! Is it a coincidence that my situation got worse before I regained my faith? Probably not. Regaining my faith was probably the best thing about university.  I'll probably never know why I had to endure these experiences but I know God was definitely working through me when I did.

7. Don’t Invest Time into Something Your Heart Isn’t In

One of the reasons I never wanted to attend university was because I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I really wanted to take a gap year but my mum said it's either an apprenticeship or university. Obviously, I chose the latter after being told "it's so fun!!!!!!!" (soooo fun - lol). Besides English Literature, which I loved, I didn't think it was worth doing as a degree. I was interested in Business and Marketing but the course at the uni was definitely not worth studying for 3 years. I should have spent more time considering the content of the course rather than how fun student life is! Maybe the content for the degree would have been better elsewhere. Lesson is, in the future don't do things for the sake of it. If it isn't challenging you, making you excited or going to make you better, your best bet is to find something else to invest your energy into.

8. Nothing Lasts Forever

I guess this isn't a new lesson but a reminder. Everything is temporary. Even the veryyyyy shit situations we find ourselves in, we'll get through it and it will pass. Life isn't promised as we all know. Sometimes we need to put things into perspective. Is it really worth having regrets in the end? Do everything you can to make sure you're not thinking about what you "shoulda, coulda' done and make decisions that are best for you.

Closing the Chapter

University was a life experience I was not prepared for. These 3 years were tough but the amount of strength and resilience I gained could not be replaced. This experience has shaped me into the person I am meant to be today which I will always be grateful for. Every situation I went through had a greater purpose and I would have not grown without it. It's crazy to say that I've officially finished life as a student. I'm glad I get to close this chapter as I am ready for the next one.

Dealing with Insecurities | Dating and Relationships

My family loves to remind me how single I am. Somehow I find myself being interrogated about my non-existent boyfriend: What's his name? What does he look like? Where's he from? Obviously, I can't answer these questions because I don't have one...duh. I think I was 16 or 17 when my mum told me I couldn't have a boyfriend until I was 21 (LOL - literally). Her fear of unwanted pregnancies was probably her main concern. Focus on your books and work hard. It's my 21st birthday next month - looks like my mum didn't have anything to worry about after all!

How to be Productive During Quarantine

Who knew we would be experiencing a global pandemic 3 months into the year? Who knew? Everything feels kinda surreal. With the abrupt ending to university to being told by the government we can't leave our house unless we need to buy essentials or exercise.... It seems like a dream. I'm still wrapping my head around the fact that we need to queue to get into the supermarket!

These last few months haven't been great due to the frustration with my skin. My motivation to do anything dropped really low so when my uni decided to give an extension for all my assignments I was veryyy thankful. I'm not feeding into the "you have so much time" narrative because I genuinely believe I've been given another chance to get myself together. A lack of self-discipline will take that chance away.

It's difficult to be productive when you're not in your usual working environment. I miss being able to go to the cafe or library to do my work, a change of scenery really helps. Until it's safe to leave our house again we just need to learn how to work efficiently at home.

7 Ways to Be Productive During Quarantine

1) Create a Schedule

A schedule is really useful if you want to stay organised and have an efficient day. It tells you what's on the agenda and what your priorities are. You can either create your schedule on paper or use Excel or Google Sheets. It's important to make your schedule as accurate as possible or you will never stick to what you originally had planned. I spend 10-20 minutes scheduling my day the night before. 90% of my day is included on my schedule, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed.

Identify what your working/studying hours are by figuring out your most productive periods.  My productive hours are between early morning to late afternoon. When I try to do work after this period I struggle to concentrate. Some people are different and work better in the evening. As long as you make the day work for you that's what matters.

2) Wake up early!

Develop a good routine if you haven't already. I know there might be an urge to binge watch Netflix all day/night but isn't it better for you to wake up early, do what you need to do then dedicate the evening to watch your favourite series? You will feel less guilty about it and it feels more rewarding considering you've been productive during the day. If you're not an early riser at least aim to wake up at a reasonable time.

3) Remove distractions

The biggest distraction you probably have is your phone. After reflecting on my screen time I knew I had to work on the amount of time I spend on my phone because it's pretty crazy. Currently I'm working on no social media before 12pm (this used to be habit of mine last year buuut I fell off) as well as keeping my screen time under 4 hours.

Rather than putting my phone on airplane mode, I hide it in a drawer in my room. This is my second day trying this and I'm telling you it HELPS. If you don't remove your distractions you will get distracted - it's that simple. I strongly suggest you put your phone out of sight to avoid the tendency of picking it up. I study downstairs in the living room so it's not within my reach. You could even give it to one of your flatmates or relatives to hold for you until you're ready to have it again. When you take a break and use your phone make sure you time yourself!

Distraction lists are amazing when you get distracted by a thought. You waste a lot of time by instantly tending to the things that pop up in your head - it might be an email you forgot to send, a call you forgot to make etc. To avoid losing your concentration write down the thought on a notepad or add it to a post-it note on your desktop (you can download an application). When you are on a break you can look at the list and decide what's important to do.

4) Use the pomodoro technique 

I tried this technique a few years ago and didn't like it (doubt I was doing it right to be honest). I gave it another go yesterday and couldn't understand why I waited so long to try it again! The Pomodoro technique was created by an entrepreneur called Francesco Cirillo. You work in short 25 minute intervals (called pomodoros) with 5 minute breaks in between. When you have completed 4 pomodoros you take a longer break which usually lasts between 15-30 minutes. By using this technique continuously you will see a massive improvement in your productivity and focus levels.

5) Do not study on your bed

Your bed is for sleep, I repeat your bed is for sleep! There is a reason you're more likely to fall asleep when you try to do work on your bed. If you have a table in your house study on it. Don't play yourself, DO NOT STUDY ON YOUR BED.

6) Meditate and practice mindfulness

Do you get frustrated because you find it difficult to concentrate? You're not the only one. I implemented 10 minutes of meditation back into my routine to benefit from a calmer mind and better focus. A wandering mind is a real pain which is why I take 1-5 pauses during my study session to practice mindfulness. I take 3 deep breaths and focus on my breathing. This is a great method for refocusing your mind into the present moment so your work can get your full attention.

7) Don't be so hard on yourself!

It's okay if your day doesn't go as planned. Whether you fall off your schedule or stay on your phone all morning, don't beat yourself up about it. Just make a promise to yourself that you'll do better tomorrow and implement the necessary steps that will help you get back on track.

If you're a student don't convince yourself into thinking this is the time to relax. Be weary of the amount time you spend keeping up with the latest news about coronavirus and scrolling through social media. We need positivity to keep moving forward and reading about how many people are dying from coronavirus, well... it isn't exactly what we need to constantly see or hear. Quarantine might seem like a nightmare but it doesn't have to be. Remember this is all temporary! In the meantime, let's do our best to utilise the time we have and be as productive as we can be.

How Do I Heal My Eczema Naturally? | My Journey

The Maker's Diet Book

After the worse flare up I have ever experienced, my eczema finally cleared up from my face, arms and neck last year (still remained on my hands) for about 4 months. My excitement slowly disappeared when I returned from Venice in August to face my worst nightmare. My eczema. It came back, not as bad as before (thank God) but bad enough to affect my quality of life again.

The Abido cream controlled the eczema on my face and neck (stopped working on my arms and hands strangely) and I was using it on and off since mid last year. I became too dependent on it which meant that I wasn't as strict with my eating habits as I should have been. Last month, I decided to ditch the Abido cream because it had a potent steroid in it. Long term use thins the skin and some potent steroids can cause skin cancer. Taking all of this into consideration I knew it was time to give it up completely but I was hesitant to go back to dark, dry and rashy looking skin.

My face looked really bad a few weeks ago but ever since I started using the Makers Diet the inflammation calmed down. The diet made it easier to figure out what food is potentially triggering my skin. When you're having a flare up your skin is more prone to food intolerances which is annoying as hell. It makes it seem impossible to find anything to eat but through a lot of research, I have a better understanding of the food alternatives I can have.

What is the Maker's Diet?

The Maker's Diet is a faith-based health plan that lasts for 40 days and is split into three phases. It was written by Jordan S. Rubin who was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. I was shocked to see the amount of diseases, infections and deficiencies he ended up having due to the treatment for his diagnosis.

Looking at this horrible list it's crazy to think his diet cured him. He tried loads of different medications and treatment yet they all failed to work. There's an influencer I follow and she's an eczema sufferer who claimed the Maker's Diet cleared her skin. After I saw her recommendation I knew this might be a sign that the Maker's Diet could work wonders in my life too and it could heal me "inside out".

I found it difficult to adapt to the diet completely because I have a food intolerance to dairy and Ruben stated we should have eggs for breakfast in phase one and two. In the 'food to avoid' section it mentions rice milk, almond milk and other dairy alternatives. I still drink unsweetened oat milk which I know I am meant to avoid but it doesn't trigger my skin and I can't drink anything else.

In phase one, this was my food plan for 14 days:


 Strawberries, berries and flaxseed smoothie

Lunch - Fish or chicken with salad

Tuna salad

Dinner - Fish or chicken with salad

You see that? No carbs, no refined sugars and no grains. I couldn't eat certain fruit and meat either or beans. I did lose weight obviously, my friend pointed out my chin became more defined (lol). The aim of limiting the consumption of certain food is to get rid of the toxins in your body, boost your immune system, regulate blood sugar and reduce inflammation. I felt really tired and weak during phase one but the good news is that this wouldn't be forever...

Salmon, red pepper, buckwheat pasta and vegan mayonnaise.

In phase two I could add sweet potatoes and corn back into my diet and in phase three I could add a lot more food such as oats (in small quantities), buckwheat, quinoa, all fresh fruit, maple syrup and more. There are still some restrictions (like white rice - who knew I could go this long without it?) that I need to avoid until I fully heal. I’ve been making my own celery and cucumber cleansing juice and rebuilding my immune system by taking multivitamins too.

Weirdly, the other parts of my body affected by eczema got worse during the diet even though my face got a bit better. I'm pretty disappointed though because I didn't complete the 40 days to see if it would improve. I fell off during phase two, I started eating refined sugars again and I went to Florence a few weeks ago. My skin got really bad from eating out most of the time but it improved when I came back and started eating healthier food. I'm trying to avoid eating out as much as possible because everytime I do, no matter where I go or what I get it triggers my skin. Rather than starting the diet again, I decided I would implement meals from each phase and try my best to have one partial-fast day a week. If I don't see much progress I will consider starting again.

Trying to stay positive with eczema.

This disease destroys you mentally. I try my best to stay positive but it's really difficult sometimes. It's frustrating to have your health as an issue, especially when you're young... I wish I didn't have to stress about how I look, what I could eat or what I could wear. I would do anything to wake up and live a normal healthy life again.  Sometimes I want to give up but I know If I don't wholeheartedly believe this is temporary this will always be my reality. My skin condition will get better, it will just require a lot of patience and strong faith.

Situations like this requires a huge amount of acceptance. Some days I am okay and believe that I will overcome things, other days I look at my skin and feel terrible. Harnaam Kaur, a body activist, stated in her Ted Talk that "I am a testimony". This struck a chord in me because I know I am one too. There's a strength in my weakness and God has given me a story to tell.  One day I will heal in order to help others heal too. Until then, I won't give up.

8 Ways to Manage and Reduce stress

Is there a way to avoid stress? Is it possible to have a life where stress doesn't exist? Unfortunately not BUT there are plenty of ways you can manage stress. The emotions we experience as humans affects our bodies in numerous ways. When we get angry our blood pressure rises and we become tense. When we're happy, we're filled with energy. When we're sad, we feel drained - ever wonder why you love to sleep after you have a break down or when you're feeling down?

What is stress?

Stress has an impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. It arises when you are under an intense amount of pressure. In the short-term, stress can be beneficial because it can help you focus better when you are determined to get things done, especially if you have tight deadlines. Whereas in the long-term, stress can have many negative effects on your health such as mental illnesses, heart diseases, asthma and more.

It's easy to find yourself feeling overwhelmed when you're struggling to finish the 100 things you need to do, when the workload keeps on increasing and somehow everything seems to be going very, very wrong. Where do you draw the line and tell yourself you can't keep doing this?

A few symptoms that indicates you are stressed:

-loss of appetite/overeating
- body pain
-skin conditions e.g eczema, acne
- lack of focus
- easily irritated
- loss of interest to do things you enjoy
- headaches
- stomach problems

If you experience these symptoms and you are aware that you've been feeling a lot of pressure lately, it's a sign that stress affecting your life. You need to take the time to reflect on your current situation and put measures in place that will reduce the strain stress causes on you.

How can I manage and reduce stress?

- Identify what the cause of your stress is

If you are stressed and realise that it has taken a toll on your health, list down all the possible reasons for your stress. A lot of us overwork ourselves, forgetting we need to be in the best possible form to get through the day efficiently. When you're juggling a 100 things at once it's difficult to prioritize the most important things you need to do. Make a decision to not invest time into commitments you know you can't do. Sometimes saying no is the best answer because there's only so many hours in a day. Don't spread yourself too thin.

Writing your thoughts down in a journal is a great way to reflect on your feelings and understand the reasons behind your emotions. If you occasionally review your journal you can identify patterns. This will then allow you to identify possible solutions that will reduce the stress you are experiencing.

- Make time for the things you enjoy

Being busy doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself from joy. Sometimes stress arises when we don't make time for ourselves. You're allowed to have a break; take yourself on a date, meet up for drinks with friends or go to the cinema. If you don't have days where you let your hair down you will struggle to stay motivated. You need something to look forward to, something that will keep pushing you and that will allow you to relax too.

- Diet

It's important you eat at least 3 meals to give your body the nutrition it needs to get through the day. When we don't have enough time we usually skip meals which prevents our bodies from functioning efficiently. Organise your time well so you don't miss important meals of the day. Be mindful of the amount of caffeine and sugar you consume, once the high wears off you will feel fatigued and unmotivated.

- Get Enough Sleep

If you start your day off feeling restless you won't be as productive as you could be. Poor time management means you are unable to complete the tasks you had planned for the day so you will stay up late to finish them. The only way to get a good amount of sleep is by sleeping at a reasonable time the night before. Remember a lack of sleep will leave you unfocused.

- Talk to a Friend

Everyone feels stressed out at some point so you are not alone. Speaking to a friend you trust is a great way to remove some weight off your shoulders. You will feel a great sense of relief when you open up and speak about your feelings as someone is there to listen. Bottling up your emotions increases your stress levels.

- Professional Help

Counselling will help you look deeply into the reasons behind your stress. Through discussing your experiences, you will learn how to handle your stress better by managing your life situations better. Your therapist's assistance is beneficial because they can guide you in tackling the areas of your life that is getting on top of you.

- Exercise

Exercise is one of the best stress relievers and is an important aspect in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Stress puts a lot of strain on your heart which is why it is recognised as a factor that can lead to heart diseases. You can redirect this negative energy by going to the gym to burn off some steam or planning to go for a morning jog. Different forms of exercise contributes to a clearer state of mind and a reduction in body intensity caused by stress.

- Mindfulness/Deep breaths

"How am I going to get through all of this?".We may feel really helpless when we're being toppled over with multiple responsibilities. Before you overthink every single thing you have to do practice mindfulness. Take 3 deep breaths and ask yourself "what is the next right thing to do?". Mindfulness brings clarity into our minds and will help to remind us what's really important and what is not. Use this focus to complete one task at a time rather than multitasking so you don't get too overwhelmed.

Stress is an emotion experienced by everyone. Remember you are human, don't be so hard on yourself because there is only so much you can do. Make your health a priority before anything else. You can't achieve anything if you are not in the best form. In order to prevent stress from having a negative impact on your health in the long term, handle your stress better in the moment.

5 Books that Changed My Life | Guest Post by Aoife Caitriona

For as long as I’ve known, I have always had a book nearby. As a kid, I used to sit on my sofa with my head buried between the pages of fiction books letting my mind wonder to a different reality. George RR Martin wrote, “a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one”. It’s safe to say, I have lived a lot of lives but very few have left a lasting impression. This post that has been on my mind for a little while now and I thought it was about time I shared some of my favourite fiction books that have changed my life.

01. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. 

I came across this book trying to find my next read on the shelves of Waterstones. Rebecca is about a young woman who marries Mr De Winter. Throughout the book she lives in the shadows of his first wife, Rebecca, and is only referred to as ‘Mrs de Winter’ or ‘the second wife’. This book is about her struggle to form her own identity and move out of the shadows. What made this book even more special was that even though she narrates the book, you never quite get a look into who she is as a person.

02. Milk + Honey by Rupi Kaur. 

I feel like this book is slightly controversial when it comes to its poetry accolades. It’s been hailed as “Instagram poetry” and a lot of other negative stuff too. But, let’s get back to the main point of this post. Before I read Milk + Honey, I thought I understood what vulnerability was. How wrong I was. Reading Rupi’s poems about the loving, the breaking, the hurting and the healing, all showed me a new side to vulnerability. It broke down my walls and made me aware of my emotions on a deeper level.

03. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. 

The primary role of a fiction book is to make the reader escape from their own reality and throw them head first into the characters’ world. Memoirs of a Geisha is beautifully written and captures the elegant yet hardship life of a Japanese Geisha before, during and after WWII. One thing that amazes me about this book is the amount of detail the author goes to in creating a realistic reality. It reads more like a biography than an American man’s work of fiction.

04. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover.

I’m a hopeless romantic but not all love stories end in happiness and not all love is healthy. Lily Bloom moves to Boston where she meets the gorgeous neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid. All things are going well, except Ryle has a little problem with his temper. This book is about strength, putting things right and one woman’s courageous actions to end the cycle of domestic abuse.

05. Confessions of a Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella.

I feel like the books I’ve mentioned have been quite serious in some form but not every aspect of life is deeply serious. Becky Bloomwood has taught me many things in life, such as to never pass up a bargain on Miu Miu heels and retail therapy truly exists, but the most important thing has to be not to take yourself or life too seriously.

Love, Aoife xo

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The Most Valuable Gift

Never underappreciated how valuable life is...it's a gift and we should treat it as one.

Cycle of Misfortune

I used to think the world was against me and I was really unlucky. I couldn't wrap my head around why bad things would always happen to me and had this "why me?" victim mentality. I've changed my belief that I am far from unlucky and came to the conclusion that sometimes my own actions and beliefs is the cause for these mishaps. Sometimes, it's just life.

Road to Self-Recovery

I have decided to let go of the person I once was. To be free from pain and anything that prevents me from growing into the person I am meant to be. I deserve to heal, to be strong and to love myself. And that's exactly what I'm going to do.

The Taste of Freedom

I am Whole

We feed ourselves with this lie that finding our significant other will change our lives and how we feel. Why do we rely on someone else to change us when our life doesn't belong to them? No one can ever complete you, only you can make yourself feel whole.

How Am I Loving Myself More This Year?

Self-love is important but I would be lying if I said I make it a priority in my life. It's hard to practice when you don’t make time for yourself. By focusing on your insecurities, you damage your self-esteem and hinder your ability to wholeheartedly love who you are.

Think about how often you are kind to people. Now ask yourself, how kind am I to myself? Some of us treat people better than how we treat ourselves which doesn't really make any sense. I've always said you are the only person you will ever spend the most time with so why wouldn't you want to treat yourself with care, love and respect. This is exactly how you would treat someone you love. It shouldn't be different when it comes to you as an individual.

This year I am going to make more of an effort to love myself more by; doing the things I love, accepting who I am and the situations I am in and by being more conscious of my interactions with myself.

How are we reducing our self-love? 

- Comparison

The thief of joy. I've never heard a truer statement because that's all comparison does. It makes you unhappy because you think about everything you lack rather than everything you have. Ever compared yourself to a beautiful instagram babe and thought why can't I be this pretty??? Sometimes a flawless body in a bikini would appear on my social media feed - sun-kissed, hairless, soft and an even skin-complexion. Then comparison kicks in. I start to feel bad about myself because my body looks far from the gorgeous woman I saw on Instagram.

When you're insecure about your appearance, it takes time and practice to see someone attractive without seeing yourself as insignificant or "not enough". In other words, it will take some time to admire someone else without finding an issue with yourself. Don't waste time wishing you looked like another person, learn to be happy with who you are because you're an amazing human-being. You are not any less beautiful than that insta bad b okay.

Someone anonymously said:
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are".
and they're exactly right.

- Not Accepting the Present

Most of us are not living in the present moment. Was your last thought about this very moment or something you did in the past or something you have to do in the future? My favourite spiritual thinker, Eckhart Tolle always emphasises how resisting the present moment prevents peace from entering our life. If we always find an issue with the present, we will always be in conflict with ourselves. Lately, I've been feeling down about my eczema but I reminded myself that I can't change my situation in this very moment. Rather than continuing to complain and feel upset,  I did some research and came across a black eczema sufferer who created a dietary book with recipes that allowed her to fully heal.

Remember self-love isn't possible until we accept our reality rather than trying to fight against it. This doesn't mean we can't change our reality, it means we must accept it first without resentment. Loving yourself means you are willing to let go of the things you can't control and accepting what is.

- Not having enough time for ourselves

The older you get the less time you have to do things because you have more responsibilities. No matter how busy life gets, you should always make time for yourself. A long list of priorities is sitting in the back of our minds and we're placed at the bottom. When you're not making yourself a priority, we are more likely to experience stress and feel like we are working for nothing. You deserve to reap the rewards for your hard work so don't forget to put yourself at the top of your priority list!

How am I loving myself more this year:

- Not waiting for company

In 2019 Life Lessons, I mentioned how I started to do a few activities alone. I decided that it isn't necessary to wait for someone to accompany me every time I want to do the things I love or like doing. If there’s a restaurant I really want to go to but no ones available, I can just go on my own. If no one wants to see an artist I absolutely LOVE, I am booking that ticket to go on my own. There is nothing wrong with doing things by yourself. The longer you wait for people to say "yes" to the things you want to do, the more things you end up missing out on.

- Reducing the self negative talk 

We all make mistakes, we're human! We forget things, we lose things and we miss things. When you do all three, we get really angry at the person doing it. You. "I'm so stupid", "I'm a joke" and the list of insults goes on. How you treat yourself is how the world will treat you. The universe aligns opportunities, events and people according to your own beliefs and thoughts. This is why I strongly believe the words that come out of our mouths are more important than you can imagine. This year, I am being more careful with the things I say, especially with the words that comes after "I am..." because it often becomes your reality. 

- Learning how to relax

Whenever I‘m not doing something, I feel like I should be doing something. This toxic cycle makes me think I always need to be busy. I came across a quote on Twitter the other day:
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life" - Socrates.

If you try to be busy all the time life will pass you by. Are the tasks you need to do really worth completing? Are you taking on more priorities than you can handle for the sake of it? Just like Tolle, Socrates implies how we need to enjoy the present moment more, joy can be found in this current moment, not a thousand useless tasks.

When I’m watching a Netflix show, sometimes I lose focus because my mind circulates all the “should be’s” - “you should be writing”, “you should be doing uni work” , you should be doing this and that which makes it difficult to unwind. We all need to take a break sometimes and that’s okay. It gives us a chance to refresh and stay motivated because we’re getting ready for the next thing we need to do.

- Being mindful of what I eat 

As an eczema sufferer, I’ve been told by numerous doctors that diet has nothing to do with the skin condition but their wrong. I already know my triggers, it’s just the case of staying disciplined to restrict myself from eating the things that are bad for me. Eating out too much isn't good for my skin either due to the oil they use.

There will be times I’ll give in and have a cheat day but I can't hate myself for that. I'm planning to buy the dietary book I mentioned earlier in the post so I can really focus on eating the foods that will allow me to heal. Even though it mentions cutting out meat... I guess anything worth having comes with sacrifice, and I love myself enough to want my body to heal.

Make a commitment to be kinder to yourself because you deserve the love you would give to anyone else! What are you going to do to love yourself more this year?