3 Lil’ Tips for Staying Well

Staying well this March, here’s 3 lil’ tips to keep you going. You got this! You can do it!

Connect with other folk. Whether this be online or having a conversation. I know myself how hard it can be to tell your friends or family about how you feel. But let’s be honest here, doesn’t it feel good to tell people what’s on your mind now and then? Have a cup of coffee (wpid-img_20151022_220531.jpgor a virtual mug of tumblr tea), sit yourself down and ask those around you how they feel. Sharing things that are troubling you- is solving the problem little by little. Sometimes we over share, but do what feels comfortable. Sharing is caring, as they say!

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung

Read a kick ass quote. We aaalllll love a good quote. They’re a catch, reminding us of all the good stuff we sometimes forget to think about. It also allows us to see things differently, or with a completely new perspective that may, fingers crossed, give us hope or provide a sense of relief. But the wonderful thing is, these quotes are the fundamental tools to staying well. We lose ourselves in the daily grind, in the busy lives we lead and in the tasks at hand. Who has time to read a quote? Well, you know what, you do.

Challenge your sweet self! Now this one isn’t as tough as it sounds. You gotta be kind to yourself, and real gentle. But howwpid-img_20150923_165211.jpg about picking up a book that is completely out of your normal reading habits and
see how it goes? I was given a book recommendation by a dear friend which I am now reading called ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance‘. It’s not any of those things by the way, but it’s a motivational book. Never would have picked it up in a million years by my own choice! I’m persevering, and reaping the benefits. Or perhaps you could listen to music you’ve never really thought about giving a go. You may just enjoy it, and surprise yourself! I suggest Spotify. Type in a genre or an artist you already like, and it will recommend artists or bands that or perhaps something you’d wanna check out. Go give it a go! Challenge your interests!

Stay well folks, and keep real xx

Our Wellbeing & Our Product Choices

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Being mindful of our choices as people can truly help us feel that little bit better in ourselves. I hear the term ‘conscious living’ being brought up- and it’s a wonderful thing to see. Hearing of living a slower, more conscious way of life is something I have definitely focused on this last year, more so than ever. So  how does it all tie in?

So for starters…

Wellbeing is, as a definition:

The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.

There’s a lot that wellbeing is influenced by. From our mental health, what we eat, who we surround ourselves with, to what we purchase throughout our lives. Wellbeing is something we try to cultivate and maintain.

We all know that our clothes and things we buy reflect our personalities, and the essence of who we are as people. Why are we drawn to certain things? Some would say that we are attracted to specific clothes, products and objects based on our needs. Christian Jarrett from The Psychologist stated that ‘How much we see our things as an extension of ourselves, may depend in part in how confident we feel about who we are.’

So, what we’re truly saying is that it all comes from within, right? To truly see our clothes, objects, products as an extension of our inner souls, all depends on how we feel about our complete selves in the first place. We need to take a step back and reflect on our values too. Are you drawn to certain brands that reflect your personality? Or is it because it’s quick and easy to buy?

For me, I like to use products that reflect my passion for sustainability, and giving back to the Earth. Personally, I’m extremely passionate about wellbeing and taking care of our bodies. This goes from my brand choice for skincare (The Bodyshop, 70% Vegan, 100% Vegetarian, All natural ingredients, Cruelty Free, commitment of ‘Enrich Not Exploit’), to cruelty free make-up (Barry M Cosmetics and Sleek here in the UK) and my clothing choices too (going more second hand, vintage or apps like Shpock, DePop and Ebay). I believe that when I purchase something, it makes me more confident in myself by making mindful choices. My clothes are lasting longer, the personal care products I use make me feel amazing knowing they’re giving back, and I know my clothes are made from people with fairer wages, who aren’t exploited in the hard work they do.

When buying products, clothes or anything just be that little bit more mindful. If brands are doing wonderful things for others and the planet- then contributing to that can make us feel super lovely. Just by doing this, you’re making a difference- to other people, the planet and most importantly…yourself.

Isn’t that a wonderful thought?

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10 Ways Back To The Light

Hey folks, I wanted to share with you an article I found on Psychologies by Jamie Rhodes author of ‘Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication and Music’ (purchase here)4e39e58e38bdf17dbffc00a175afaa34, and Matt Haig, author of ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ (purchase here) about the top ten strategies that helped them through the more difficult times. These are wonderful, and I hope they help you too! (read it down below, or in the original article here) ❤

10 Ways Back To The Light

James Rhodes says:

Breathe – 10 minutes of meditation a day works wonderrs.

Make a cuppa “I’d somehow got enough clarity and self-awareness to know that I was able now to do all I could to get well… It was terrifying and exciting all at once. Time maybe to have a cup of tea and listen to Chopin’s greatest nocturne – the one in C minor Op. 48/1.

Talk to anyone friendly. “I like talking to strangers. I read a book about depression once where the protagonist was so lonely she used to join queues simply for the human interaction. And while things weren’t quite that bad yet, I did at times strike up conversations with people.

Do something creative (piano/writing for me, but there is an almost infinite choice for everyone) “Forgiveness and meditation, reading and writing, talking and sharing all help, creativity is, for me, one of the most profound ways through trauma.”

Find some perspective. Remember you’re a microscopic dot hurtling around the universe on a tiny planet in the middle of an unfathomable amount of space.

Matt Haig says:

Slow down. “Anxiety runs your mind at fastforward rather than normal ‘play’ speed, so addressing that issue of mental ‘pace’ might not be easy. But it works.”

Go for a run and then do yoga (the golden bullet for my anxiety) “I was a yogaphobe, but am now a convert. It’s great, because unlike other therapies, it treats the mind and the body as part of the same whole.”

Get off the internet. “I might – if I am going through a neurotic patch – do a quick ego search, or check out any new Goodreads or Amazon reviews of my books or go on Google and type in a list of real or imaginary ailments to see which terminal disease I am currently suffering from.

Talk to people you love. “Words. Comfort. Support. It took me more than a decade to be able to talk openly, properly, to everyone, about my experience. I soon discovered the act of talking is in itself a therapy. Where talk exists, so does hope.

Stare at the sky. “Look at the sky. Remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek vastness at every opportunity, in order to see the smallness of yourself.”

Body Image, Teens and the Internet #wellnesswednesday

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 18.44.01I took the Trusted Clothes quiz on body image concerning young girls and I couldn’t believe how much I didn’t know. Girls are more concerned about being called ‘fat’ than losing their parents, nuclear war or failing at school. How!? What??! There is also an increasing rate of boys with self esteem issues with the rise of social media. Every time I clicked on an answer, I couldn’t stop shaking my head. I can’t believe this is the world we live in. Then it got me thinking…and researching.

I wrote a very similar post before about Body Image. How the internet is a pivotal connection for those who are in need of guidance, but can be a place detrimental to a young person’s health. We as adults use the internet a little more wisely (or can be argued not as much!), however- for young people this isn’t necessarily a tool of communication. It’s comparison at the touch of a button or scroll.

Only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.

In researching, I started off by simply googling the term ‘body image’. There are plenty of useful websites out there, first with Planned Parenthood. The only downfall of these vital searches, the layout and content of these sites are, in all honesty, not user friendly. It’s extremely clinical, and not active for young people. The content is so sooooo useful, but the website’s appearance lets it down. We need to see an improvement of web content for young people in order for them to feel like they have access to the information they need.

According to do something.org, 95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Then why, as social media usage has risen, are we not creating supportive and informative content that is marketed towards that age group? Pew Research Centre said a staggering 71% of teens use more than one social network site, with teenage girls using social media sites — particularly visually-oriented ones — for sharing more than their male counterparts do. Why are we not looking at the research and creating accessible and visually appealing content for young people regarding mental health issues and body image? The top websites in the search bar I have been on in relation to body image and self esteem feels clinical, awkward to use and without a connection to the audience.

The research is super mind blowing regarding adults too, the British Social Attitudes conducted a survey in 2014, three-quarters (77%) of adults think that society puts too much pressure on females to have a sexualised appearance, half of all adults (47%) think that ‘how you look affects what you can achieve in life’, and one-third (32%) agree with the statement ‘your value as a person depends on how you look’.

But things are looking up. 
There are such INCREDIBLE organisations out there doing amazing things for young people. We need to address these existing issues, and with wonderful non-profit organisations (some I’ve had the super sweet pleasure of working with) like Heads Together, Welsh based Heads Above The Waves, The Golddigger Trust from Sheffield and the almighty Young Minds rallying for change- we can see these figures drop significantly. Support the non-profits that are in your local area. Mental health awareness is on the rise, and we need to stand together. Let’s make social media an accessible place for young people to help them grow positively.

The best way out is always through – Robert Frost

Cattitude & CO.

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Copyright © Cattitude&Co., 2016.

Y’all need to check out the ever wonderful Cattitude & CO. Otherwise known as the lovely London based lady Tara, who set up the feminist lifestyle blog in August 2015. The blog covers a whhoollee range of topics from feminism and sexuality to lifestyle and wellbeing. It’s so wonderful to see a blog, as well as the start of the Cattitude & CO Youtube (get yo booty over there and subscribe…now!) inspiring and encouraging women in the 21st Century. Us ladies need that frank content to really live life authentically. We are surrounded by media and content that portrays women in a certain light that isn’t true. (Check out the latest post about the media on Cattitude & CO. here) We need more people like Tara to show us and now tell us with her YouTube, how we can support each other, as well have the discussions we wished we could actively get involved with in our teenage years. Having only just launched the YouTube channel 7 days ago…she is amassing followers already.
To top off the empowering, informative blog and YouTube channel, Tara co-founded a successful women’s lifestyle website Zusterschap in 2015. ZC is a fearlessly feminist blog where no topics are off-limit. As we confront stereotypes, social norms and just about everything we’re expected to swallow without questioning, Zusterschap aims to give an array of women a voice. In November 2015, Zusterschap was shortlisted for ‘Best Sex and Relationship Blog’ at the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards.

 Now this is a lady worth following.

What really struck a chord with me, is that Tara said that her main motivation is to be the woman she needed as a little girl. I think she’s definitely achieved that and beyond. We need more people in this world like Tara, who are showing girls and guys what feminism is and the discussion we need to be having as individuals in this day and age. She’s empowering, strong and really knows her stuff.

You can follow her here on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

You can also Subscribe to Cattitude & Co’s  Blog and YouTube!

 

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Copyright © Cattitude&Co., 2016.

 

My Top 5: Ways of Coping with the Bad Days

Now, a lot of people have a wonderful variety of coping strategies with the days that are just that little bit harder to get through. When I did some research for my degree- there’s a lot of different healthy ways we find that suits us due to our personality traits and personal preferences. For example, folk who are naturally creative love to use art in different mediums to feel better and in others they use music, physical exercise or experiencing the outdoors. Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 14.31.50

As long as your coping strategy is not harmful to you or others, and you can feel better by exploring your coping strategies in a safe and healthy way- then there is no wrong way of doing it. You’re doing what is best for you my lovely!  Mind have a wonderful section on their site about self-care which I extremely recommend on checking out.

Here are my personal Top 5 that I feel help me the most, and perhaps they can help you too! Be gentle with yourself ❤

  1. Ecotherapy – otherwise known as the great green outdoors. Spending time away from distractions, the city life or just by getting out of the house into a natural environment can be so helpful. It is quite a mindful experience, and for me it clears my head. I’m very thankful to live in Yorkshire, and living right next to the woods. Find your place and go there as often as you can. Be one with nature and enjoy it.
  2. Reading – now this doesn’t have to be books on self-help or mindfulness, but a genre or type of book you really enjoy. Love a bit of adventure? Get your Tolkien game on! Like a bit of a classic? Flick through a good Jane Austen! Whatever floats your boat, give it a read. But I will say, be gentle with yourself. You’re doing this for you, remember! Some books with graphic content may be triggering to your wellbeing. My favourite book for the past year has been ‘Just Kids’ by Patti Smith. As a naturally creative person, and I feel I’m having a block/ bad day- I read her book and her prose.
  3. Playing an instrument – I know some folk don’t have musical instruments, but this is one of my personal favourites. I was fortunate enough to be given a classical guitar by my Mum’s friends years and yeaaarrss ago that I still have. You somehow get lost in it, and its just the combination of making sound and feeling the movements. If you don’t have access to anything like that, my next coping strategy is…
  4. Listening to music – Boy can music change your soul. Whatever clicks with you and makes you feel good give it a listen. Pop your headphones on, lay back and shut off the world. You can listen to your favourites/most played or go for super funny songs like ‘I’ve Got A Pocket Full of Sunshine’ by Natasha Bedingfield or the Flashdance Soundtrack (soooooo groovy)
  5. Art- This encompasses everything to scribbles, writing, doodles and full blown commissions for me. It gets me in a nice groove that I can focus on. Controlling the way the pencil moves, or shading in something can be a very mindful experience. Allowing yourself to get lost in it, and only think of what you are creating really helps me get in a good headspace. Also, I write a hell of a lot  when I feel down. I’ve kept a diary for years that I always tend to look back on. Sometimes I don’t know how I feel, so I write whatever is going on in my lil brain down. It’s very cathartic, even if its just in bullet points of things that are bothering me. It also allows me to check in with myself and see what’s affecting me, or what I could highlight as something that needs to change.

 

I hope my Top 5 may help, or perhaps gently give you the smallest ideas of ways to cope. From knitting to running or reading and playing monopoly, there’s so many healthy ways of coping with the bad days.

You are not alone. You are here, and you are enough.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week!

Hi there folks. Hope you are all doing well! Here in the UK, it’s mental health awareness week. Already on the news bright and early this morning there were speakers and wonderful content on mental health- and a highlight of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge starting the ‘Heads Together‘ campaign aiming to end the stigma surrounding mental health. mhaw-tile-relationships

It’s just as important as physical health, and it affects each and every one of us. In my opinion, I feel we’re making progress. Maybe that’s because I’m actively doing things surrounding wellbeing and mental health, but a lot of organisations, non profits, charities, as well as some amazing individuals are starting to speak up and fight for better MH education in schools, as well as fund their mission to break the stigma and provide support. It’s truly amazing to see, and that means we are reaching more people of all ages about taking care of ourselves and each other.

Know that you are not alone, my sweet. We as people are always going to have good and bad days. We’re not happy all of the time and for some of us, that can be a challenging thought. We always think people have it better off, but in fact its just not the case. We’ve all got something that gets us down, and sometimes we don’t know why we feel so upset.

Check out the helplines on my site and take a peep at what they’re up to this week for Mental Health Awareness. I’ll be doing more posts for MHA week about what I find good for ways of coping with the bad days, plus more about how our wellbeing affects us in such diverse ways.

Be gentle with yourself, and as always – keep real! ❤ ❤

p.s if you’d like to have a chat in a confidential manner, do not hesitate to email me at kimmykeepreal@gmail.com

Body Image: Why You Should Love Yourself

“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”
― Amy Bloom

Why do we struggle accepting ourselves for who we are? Our bodies are our own beautiful temples, moving and breathing without conscious thought, allowing us to explore this world and well, live. We are literally made of stars, yet we somehow have such negative thoughts when it comes to our bodies. Too fat, too thin, bumpy bits, not enough of this, too much of that. Anything we can think of, we use to shame our bodies.

Why?

We compare, and the image of our bodies has been in a sense, warped by external influences. Yes, loving your body comes from within; but when society is pushing a certain size, shape or type into your everyday life-how do we feel good about ourselves?Ameema Blog Picture

We have to start using social media positively, and using it to our advantages. This links in with Shaun’s guest post on here about Social Media and Mental Health, that we can actively make what surrounds us a healthier impact on our wellbeing. There’s loads of mental health apps, (See my list of favourite free apps here ), wonderful people like the folks over at The Crybaby Club with a support network for ladies, also non-profits and organisations championing self-love and being comfortable in your own skin. We are not what we see on the screens. You, your friends, your family and loved ones are not all the same body shape or size- so why are we trying to obtain this unachievable ‘perfect’ body? Hell, it breaks my heart when someone tells me they dislike parts of themselves. Most of the time they’re comparing it to other people they know or see online.

“Even the models we see in magazines wish they could look like their own images.”
― Cheri K. Erdman

The people you are comparing your bodies too, are also comparing their bodies to other people. It is a vicious cycle of some strange secret competition we have in our heads. Even Beyonce hides her ears because she thinks they’re too big. You’d tell her to take a walk! But you shouldn’t diminish someones insecurities because you see them as beautiful or ‘perfect’ in the first place. We all have something, and because it isn’t your insecurity doesn’t mean it isn’t valid.

“Healthy emotions come in all sizes. Healthy minds come in all sizes. And healthy bodies come in all sizes.” ― Cheri K. Erdman

You kick ass and deserve to feel comfortable in your skin. Love transcends our bodies, and goes deeper than the skin that covers our bodies. We gotta love it.tumblr_nqbkpunYAi1u7jt09o1_r1_1280

My Lil’ Surgery- What Went Down!

Hey y’all. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything concerning wellbeing- although I have been guest blogging for the non-profit Trusted Clothes about my passion for sustainability and my business yet to launch. I guess I’m gonna write a little differently for a bit concerning wellbeing with what’s been going down lately. (Apologies if this is too much info surgery wise, but letting you know it’s a lil grim.)

I had surgery which I’ve been recovering from. I’ve had an injury for agggessss that needed an operation, and it was about time I went ahead and bit the bullet. When I was training at my Gymnastics Squad in Sheffield, I had torn the muscle wall in my abdomen (gross right?) from doing a routine exercise. I didn’t see it coming, I was training twice a week and when it happened it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt.  It lead to having a ‘ventral hernia’. It stopped me from doing my best and being a Senior at my Squad. It sucked, and I eventually packed it in.  As I’ve grown up and my stomach muscles being as they are from training, it hasn’t been a problem…until now. I’ve grown up since, and the muscle wall tear has grown slightly. When I eat, drink, exercise or even laugh a lot- it has been very painful. And I do a lot of all of those things!

So, I now have a nice neat scar above my belly button, they’ve stitched me up and repaired it with a mesh. So I guess you could say I’m now more solid than I’ve ever been, haha!Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 16.24.05

The reason why it is taking me a while to recover (which is super frustrating) is that it actually takes 6 -8 weeks to make a complete recovery. I thought I’d be in and out, swaggering around Yorkshire like my usual self! But sadly, no. Internal stitches and placing a mesh inside to repair the damaged wall takes a while to get good. I just have to take it easy if I’m going places.
It didn’t help that during surgery, they gave me 100ml of Tremadol, and then after surgery gave me 50ml more; which it turns out I’m allergic to. I came round from surgery covered in a rash all over my body, making me feel nauseous and completely not with it. I had to stay overnight, as they had to keep an eye on me from the reaction to the medication. I also had trouble going to the toilet because my stomach hurt so bad- so they were slightly concerned about that too.

As I was in a private room, I had a buzzer if I needed help. As my problems were mostly going-to-the-loo-related, they told me to buzz if I needed help with it. After I’d tried by myself, I tried to sit down in a chair but then starting feeling awful. I’d slumped down in this chair, cold sweats, probably looked deathly and ended up passing out. All the while I tried buzzing for help, but they presumed I just need the loo. So they didn’t come. I heard a nurses voice on the intercom asking if I needed help- but to reply I needed to be on the other side of the room. Eventually after many buzzes I must have made a nurse came in, and found me collapsed in the chair. Oxygen mask on and everything!

So my experience of hospital was great and crappy at the same time. My dad had major surgery in a different hospital the same day as mine- so with all of what was going on with me, I was concerned about my Dad too. I was talking about him to all the nurses and Doctors, and to be honest I just wanted to get better so I could see him.

I’m feeling much better lately, although still finding it different to concentrate because it makes me feel sick and I have to nap it off. Other than that, it’s looking good but I just have to take it easy. My Dad is doing alright too, and his surgery went as well as they hoped.

Road to recovery now! ❤ ❤ ❤

Interview with Team Not Ashamed

Hi there lovelies. I had the pleasure of interviewing the wonderful Team Not Ashamed, who are a movement in diminishing the stigma surrounding mental illness, and are a great support network for those struggling with their health. Fantastic work by some wonderful ladies!! You can follow them here on Twitter, and their website. Here’s a little bit more about them, and what to look out for!Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 14.54.47

What inspired Team Not Ashamed? When did you start?
Team Not Ashamed was started by Rachel Griffin, this is what she has to say. “I wrote an article for the Huffington Post “5 Reasons Why I’m Not Ashamed of My Mental Health Condition” and started the hashtag soon after that. I knew how detrimental shame had been in my own life and how liberating it was to let it go. I wanted to invite others to do the same and stand proud in who they are regardless of a mental health condition. 5 amazing ladies joined and took it to the next level and we made the movement more organized.”

You have six lovely ladies who are leading this lovely movement, can you tell me a little bit about each of you?
Here are all of our names, twitter account and blogs
Justine- @JMcNeil_ http://www.justinemcneil.com and http://www.jsdaze.wordpress.com
Rachel- @rachelgriffin22 http://www.wehaveapples.com
Carly- @karbarr2
Nicole- @soupernic http://www.soupermental.wordpress.com
Mar- @mar_andras
Megan- @mentalmetanoia http://www.mentalmetanoia.wordpress.com

What are your main aims with your movement?
To spread the message that mental heath conditions are nothing to be ashamed of! They are not a choice, character flaw, or a weakness. We are helping end the harmful stigma associated with mental heath conditions and advocating for better and more accessible healthcare.

What helps you manage your mental health? i.e any books, therapy you can suggest, or tips on staying well.
Things that help us manage our mental health:
A good support group (like Team Not Ashamed!)
Exercise
Self-care…knowing when you need to spend more time taking care of yourself (this could mean staying away from social media for a few days, taking a day to yourself etc)
PETS!

It’s wonderful that you’re spreading the message that mental health conditions are nothing to be ashamed of! What advice do you have for those struggling with mental health problems?
Know that if you are struggling with your mental health and/or have mental health conditions that it is not character flaw, it does not mean that you are weak and that it is not your fault. There is a large mental health community that is here to support you, know that you are not alone.
Any favourite quotes that get you through the day?
Not necessarily to get us through the day, but one that aligns very well with the campaign is ‘Don’t be ashamed of your story, it will inspire others’

Do you have anything upcoming for Team Not Ashamed? If so, what can we look out for?
We will be making #imnotashamed bracelets and other fun goodies that will be available on our website. We hope to start a blog on the website as well. We have “trending days” once a month on twitter where we try to raise awareness about mental health by trending #imnotashamed