We’ve all been there. Having a bad time at work? Missing someone that you won’t see for a while? Going through a difficult breakup? When you’re feeling low and the weeks ahead look bleak, it can feel like there’s nothing to be happy about. We get ready to trudge through the up and coming days, determined to rush and get it all over and done with, but with a change of perspective it’s possible to power through and, dare I say it, even enjoy the rough patch approaching. So, without further ado, here are five tips to help you do what needs to be done:
Focus – the most important thing to remember is that all things must pass. Life might seem bad at the moment, but in a few weeks, even months, whatever it is will be over. Time cannot stand still and so inevitably, things will get better.
Angles – think about what it is that’s getting you down. Is it possible to alter your perspective? Look at the next month of your life as a challenge. If you can get through this, you can do anything! Assert your strength by summoning your own positivity.
Excitement – Nothing fun approaching? Create your own fun! Make plans with friends and organise a party or night out. Filling up your social calendar is an excellent way to, not only pass the time, but also to enjoy it. On the other hand, you don’t need to be a social butterfly to find something to look forward to. Read one of the books you’ve been meaning to get into for months, or crack on with that Netflix series everyone is talking about. Even the promise of feasting on a favourite meal can be the small glimmer of light that we need to get through those more difficult days.
Enjoy – When we’re stuck in life it’s important to savour rare moments of happiness. The activities are intended as a distraction, but they are also moments that are passing you by. Don’t spend your time dwelling on the bad things. It’s not enough to simply make plans, you have to actually enjoy them. Whatever you’re doing, do it properly. If you’re out with friends, don’t sit in the background, engage in conversation – after all, time flies when you’re having fun.
Action – sometimes it isn’t just a rough patch, it’s a rough year, or even longer. If times have been testing it’s best to assess the situation and deal with it. Ongoing stress and misery can lead to poor health and a host of other emotional problems and that usually means it’s time to make a change. You need to do whatever it takes to make the sun come out again and that means putting yourself first.
Accepting that the future isn’t bright can feel like admitting defeat, but it’s actually a great time to test yourself. By taking a difficult week/month and turning it into a more enjoyable one we allow ourselves to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and better yet, realise that maybe we’re not in such a rush to reach that glow after all.
One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to be more charitable. I know this is something I should always be thinking about, but I have decided this year to make more of a conscious effort to send more positive vibes out into the universe and try to do little things to make people happy and to really make a difference.
A charity that I heard about whilst at University, that I have made numerous cards for over the years and which I think is a really great cause, is Post Pals. Post Pals is a UK charity that helps children aged 3 – 17 who are extremely ill and in need of support, and also helps the siblings of these children who also struggle with their brother or sister being unwell.
If you visit the website (www.postpals.co.uk) you can see all the children that the charity help, and there is a page which features those that are especially ill and are currently in hospital and need extra support. As the name suggests, volunteers send post to whichever of the children they wish to. You can write a letter, make a card, write a poem or a story, or send little gifts. The website contains guidelines for writing post if you are unsure of what to say, and there is information on what the children like such as their favourite colour or cartoons so it is easy to make something that will be special and personal to them.
This charity is so nice because it is so easy to help make the day of a child’s life just a little better. If you like arts and crafts (even if you’re not amazing at art, it really doesn’t matter, anything you send will be appreciated!) then this is something that will be perfect to contribute to. For example, I spent a fun afternoon in December watching films and making Christmas cards for those children that were in hospital and going through an especially tough time.
It’s so easy to do something special like this, and being creative is such a fun activity that just making a card for a child definitely benefits both of you. The father of one of the girls I made a Christmas card for got in touch in the New Year and informed me that she was out of hospital and doing well, and it made me so happy to hear that she was doing better.
You can also donate to the charity to help fund things like days out for the families, but posting a little something special is more than enough to make a difference and make a child smile!
The idea behind Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love, is actually really nice. Yet it seems like in modern day society it has just turned into a day for couples to throw their love in everybody’s faces all over social media, for brands and companies to sell specialised gifts, and for people who are single to feel especially bad about themselves. It really shouldn’t be that way, because couples who love each other should tell each other all the time and Valentine’s Day shouldn’t even be such a big deal. But it is hard not to feel lonely when all you have thrust upon you is other people professing their love for one another and talking about romantic getaways, and it doesn’t help when you’re binge-watching TV and all the adverts are about buying something special for the Valentine that you do not have.
This year I am just hanging out with my friends and ordering a pizza (coincidentally the most romantic thing I’ve ever done on Valentine’s Day was attempt to make a pizza in the shape of a heart which ended up looking more like a blob, because I truly associate pizza and love). Because if Valentine’s Day is all about showing your love for someone, why can’t that someone be your friends or family or (most importantly) yourself?
If you’re super in love with your friends and hang out with them all the time and they’re basically like your significant other then why not spend Valentine’s Day with them? You can still literally ‘Netflix and chill’ the night away, order your favourite food, drink wine and talk about how much you love each other. If you’re really dedicated to the Friend-Valentine’s idea you could even get each other cards and little gifts, or buy a bunch of heart shaped chocolates and devour them together. You can even go out to a restaurant and have dinner, or plan another fun date activity – you can have just as much fun and maybe even more doing these things in a friendship group!
A day to express all kinds of love is also a wonderful time to show yourself some love. Instead of wishing that you had somebody to buy you something special, why not think of what you’d want to receive from someone else and buy it for yourself? It might not be exactly the same but having something that you want is always going to make you happy. You can make your favourite food, buy a yummy dessert, watch your favourite film and have a pamper day and treat yourself to all your favourite things. This is also the time to throw some compliments at yourself and remind yourself that you’re a fabulous person and that not having a significant other does not define your self-worth and won’t seem like such a big deal once this day is over. Remind yourself of all the things that are actually amazing about your life and that you are grateful for, because having a significant other isn’t the only thing that’s going to fulfil your life. Love comes in lots of forms, so not having a partner does not mean you are unloved – your friends, family and yourself all love you loads and that’s just as important!
If you know it’s going to make you feel bad, maybe avoid all social media for that day – I know it’s hard to resists the temptation and switch it off, but it’s good to avoid anything that will make you feel negative about yourself. Instead make sure you use up all that social media stalking on a different day.
Though we might often experience moments of joy or exhilaration, this does not necessarily mean we are ‘happy’. It’s the small things that constitute happiness. Benjamin Franklin once said “Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur every day than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.” Due to the fact, many of us dedicate much time to worrying about the future, the present and the everyday is often neglected. Psychologists have recently suggested that happiness lies in a positive daily routine, and therefore we can effectively ‘choose’ to be happy by consciously adapting our everyday lives. But how do we do this?
1. Smile – The phrase ‘a smile can go a long way’ is indeed one to live by. Starting the day smiling may prove difficult especially with early rises, however it can determine your mood for the entire day. Watching a short funny video or reminiscing about a memory that made you laugh will instantly brighten your day. Laughing and smiling is also scientifically proven to release endorphins and heightens levels of serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’. Smiling at others also develops a feeling of self-worth and allows them to smile back in return, which can feel rewarding.
2. Think Of A Positive Thought For Every Day – On your way to work, university or whilst getting ready, it’s beneficial to reflect on something positive about the day ahead. Even if it’s as simple admiring the beautiful morning frost, thinking about catching up with friends later that evening, or knowing you will meet a deadline at work. This will set goals for the day, which will in turn provide you with a sense of achievement once it comes to a close.
3. Give Yourself A Compliment – Whilst standing in front of the mirror think of one positive feature about your appearance, what you are wearing or something great about your personality. This might feel strange at first, but it really does work and will make you feel valuable and ready to face the world.
4. Eat Something Healthy – Healthy eating is continually encouraged – and for good reason. This simple step is guaranteed to make you to feel healthy in body and mind. Drinking a smoothie, eating fruit and conquering your five a day will indeed make you feel good about yourself. Choosing to pursue a healthy life will have positive effects on your body shape, skin and digestion.
5. Listen To Some Music – Turning on the radio or listening to music in general can set your mood for the rest of the day. Music has the power to dominate your brain and consequently set your immediate mood.
We all know that music can make a mood. This is why there are breakup playlists for when you need to cry and let all your emotional anguish out, by singing along to words that seem to apply perfectly to your situation and capture your utter heartbreak in a way you thought no one understood.
This is why sleep playlists are composed of peaceful melodies to calm and soothe. This is why I listen to old school R&B whilst getting ready for the club (there is no better time to feel sassy), and this is why there should be positivity playlists. In the same way that some songs remind you of sadness, there are a million more that can make you deliriously happy. Whether it is the lyrics, the beat, or just the way you can dance to it – the right song can put you in an amazing mood.
As I am walking to work at 8.30 on a Saturday morning, dreading the busy day ahead and becoming increasingly jealous of people who are nursing hangovers and watching TV in their pyjamas, the only thing that can cheer me up are the songs I listen to on the way there.
It’s only a short 15 minute walk, but that means I can plan around 3 songs to listen to that I know will start my day off just right. It is fair to say that I am the opposite of a morning person, and so a really upbeat song can provide me with energy that I didn’t have before. Then as the end of the day drags on, I can actually look forward to the walk home and celebrate with those joyous songs that I am free for Saturday night (this is usually when the R&B kicks in).
Travelling to work is just an example of when these positive songs are needed; you cannot work out to sad music in the gym, you need something that makes you feel happy and alive and energetic. Being on a road trip or a long car ride is the perfect time to liven up the trip with some of your favourite songs, and will create long-lasting memories associated with the music.
Listening to happy songs when you are with others will make everybody’s energy positive and will bring people closer together – even better when everybody knows the words and harmoniously sings along. If you need your music to take an inspirational turn, such as before an interview or a date, listening to songs about empowerment and confidence will make you feel like you can do anything, even after the last line of lyrics has finished (this is of course when I turn to Beyoncé ).
Music is an easy way to achieve daily happiness, without any effort put in you can be feeling extremely positive in just a matter of minutes. So grab your iPod, or go on your Spotify, and create a playlist of all the songs that make you feel good. So next time you’re tired and irritable, you have to hit the gym, or somebody has eaten the last of the Doritos that you were saving for yourself (how dare they), just immerse yourself in some funky positive vibes and forget about your troubles.
How often do you pause to appreciate what you have in life?
We spend so much time racing through life that we don’t always appreciate the small and beautiful things that make us happy. There are many simple pleasures that we take for granted. Being thankful for what we already have can significantly increase wellbeing and life satisfaction.
It’s easy to feel bad when you are going through a tough time in life but no matter how bad your situation may seem, there is always something to be grateful for. People who regularly express gratitude, experience more positive emotions, sleep better, have more empathy and have higher self-esteem.
Take note of the rare moments throughout the day that you smile, whether it’s the first cup of tea when you get home from work, a hot bath or a chance to read your favourite book over and over again, love all of the little moments in life that make you happy.
Here are 40 things to be grateful for:
1. Life – Life is a gift. Having the chance to experience being alive is not something we should take for granted.
2. Health – Having the ability to live life with good health is not an option we all have.
3. Family – No matter what, having a family that love and care for you is a blessing.
4. Love – Life would not be the same without love.
5. Friends – Life is better with a few close friends by your side.
6. Freedom – Being able to life your life peacefully is not something many people ever experience.
7. Choices – Today you have so many choices, be grateful for the amount of luxuries you have in your life.
8. Animals – Animals add to the diversity of life and bring us so much joy.
9. Education – It is a fundamental human right to have access to an education but unfortunately, not everybody in the world has this right. Be thankful that you are educated and know how to communicate, read and write.
10. Food – Having enough food to eat is a blessing in itself, having a variety of food to choose from makes you very fortunate.
11. Breathing – Be thankful and pay attention to your breath, go outside, breathe in the fresh air.
12. Books – There is nothing better than finding a book you love, it’s amazing how words on paper can bring so much to joy to so many people.
13. Time – None of us know how long we have on this planet to live our lives but wake up each morning and be thankful for another day, another chance to make your dreams come true. Time may not be infinite but you can certainly experience an infinity in your lifetime.
14. Laughter – Have you ever laughed so much that your stomach hurts? It’s a great feeling to laugh. Sometimes we take life too seriously and forget to have fun, laugh, play and love, like we did when we were children.
16. Clean Water – It’s extremely unfair that every single person in the world doesn’t have this right. We turn on the tap and have an endless flow of clean water that we can drink and bathe in. Never take clean water for granted, it is essential to our lives.
17. Sunshine – When the sun shines in the sky, the day takes on a whole new level of positivity. Be thankful for the sun that keeps us warm and brightens up the darkest of days.
18. Art – Life would be nothing without it. As human beings, we have the freedom to express our true emotions through different mediums of art, music and performance.
19. Technology – Love it or hate it, the technology that we have created makes our lives much easier. We have a whole world accessible to use through a handheld device, how amazing is that?
20. Holidays – Having the chance to go on holiday and travel to different places is a privilege that we don’t all have. Some people save up for years before they can afford a break away from their ordinary lives.
21. Singing – Even if you can’t sing in tune, sing in the shower, hum your favourite song and enjoy yourself.
22. Rainbows – One of life’s most beautiful and natural phenomenons, the rainbow represents hope.
24. Electricity – It hasn’t always been around but electricity is a crucial part of our modern lives.
25. Hugs – A natural anti-depressant, hugging someone is the perfect thing to do when you feel sad about the world. Be grateful for every single person in your life that you can hug.
26. Trees – They make life possible.
27. Jobs – They give us purpose, without jobs there would be no value to the world. It might not be a dream job that you are currently in, but you are earning money to live life each day.
28. Home – Having a home is a blessing. Knowing that you always have somewhere you can be safe and warm is something you should not take for granted.
29. Music – It has the power to change your mood, uplift you, move you, excite you. Appreciate the artists who make the music you love listening to. Life just wouldn’t be the same without your own personal soundtrack.
30. Senses – If you are fortunate enough to have all five senses, observe how amazing it is to see the colours of life, hear the voices of your loved ones, feel the breeze of the wind, taste sweet and savoury foods and smell beautiful flowers.
31. Snow – There is something beautiful about snow, the way it falls, how each individual snowflake has its own pattern, how untouched snow looks like an image from a postcard.
32. Clothes – Having clothes is a privilege, having a choice of clothes is a luxury many don’t have. Next time you think about the new designer jeans you have to have, think about where your clothes came from, how fortunate you are to have that choice in your life.
33. Transport – You can go anywhere in the world by travelling on an airplane, boat, bus or train. How amazing is that?
34. Nature – Thank Mother Nature for this beautiful world that we live in.
35. Films – To visually see stories unfold before our very eyes is amazing, there are so many films to watch and there is always another film being made to entertain us.
36. Children – They see the world through new eyes, explore every new opportunity with optimism and wonder. Children are fascinating to watch, we really should pay attention to them more and copy their ability to see the world in a positive way.
37. Dreams – Be grateful for the dreams you have achieved and the ones you haven’t. Having ambition to make something of your life is inspiring. Make the most of every day and dream big, you never know what will happen.
38. Stars – Look up at the night sky and admire the stars. It’s a breathtaking view of an endless universe, you are just a speck of dust in the galaxy. It really puts everything into perspective.
39. Words – To be able to communicate and express yourself with words is incredible. Be thankful that you are educated, that you are able to talk and connect with the world.
40. Memories – It’s a beautiful thing that we are able to playback moments of our lives in our mind. We can smell something familiar or hear a song and be transported back to a different time.
A lot of positive changes have happened for women over the years. We are no longer regarded as nothing other than the wife to a man or the mother of a child. Women now have further educational, career and life choices they can make for themselves.
Women can choose to never marry or to not have children; women can define everything about their own lives in a way that they never could before. Women have more freedom and choice than ever before in history, though this is not true for all women and girls around the world. This is why feminism is needed and it is a strong and powerful movement.
Yet many people, even those in Hollywood who have influence, will claim that they want equality but that they are not feminists. The word is seen to have negative, combative connotations. Far from the image of the man-hating stereotype, what feminists actually want is equality of the sexes (I mean, do none of these people listen to Beyoncé?).
Women do not want to be more important than men in society; they just want to be represented as equal. Feminism needs to be taught to and learned by children, they need to grow up knowing that it means equality and that it is not a negative term. If more people identified as feminists in a positive way then the term may get the incredible recognition it deserves. On a positive note, there are many celebrities who are proud to announce their feminist status and spread the message to the world.
Beyoncé often incorporates her feminist messages into her music, apparent in the catchy hit ‘Run the World (Girls)’. Her song ‘Partition’ contains a verse entirely in French, part of which translates to ‘men think that feminists hate sex, but it’s a very stimulating and natural activity that women love’. In her song ‘Flawless’, Beyoncé samples parts of writer and novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s talk about feminism. The sample talks about how women should not be too ambitious or successful in case they threaten men, and ends with ‘We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes’. As one of the most popular musical artists of our generation, Beyoncé is a queen at spreading powerful feminist messages through her mainstream material.
Lena Dunham has always been a supporter of feminism, detailing this in the essays of her book ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ and her ‘Lenny Letter’ newsletter. She is the star, producer, director and writer of her own TV series, determined to be taken seriously in an industry run by men and has been incredibly successful in doing so. This is positive, as it means that young girls can look up to their idols and learn more about a term they may not have heard before.
Malala Yousafzai is an inspirational girl who opposed the Taliban by standing up for the right for girls to have an education and was ultimately shot for her activism. She won a Nobel Peace Prize for her campaigns to help promote education equality, and is incredibly brave to stand up for her cause and is an inspiration for women everywhere. Yet she recently admitted that until she heard Emma Watson’s UN Speech, she did not call herself a feminist, despite knowing that equality was everything that she stood for. This is an example of how awareness of a term can lead to it being embraced and used more readily.
The UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson recently launched a #HeForShe campaign which encourages men to support feminism. Many male celebrities such as John Legend, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe are openly male feminists, meaning that boys can learn that feminism is for men too. Encouraging men to help the feminist cause can make a real change, as a problem in history is that not enough men wanted to help women change society to make it equal. If both genders do not want the same thing for society then it is unlikely that the change can ever happen fully.
Other feminist hashtag campaigns that have taken place this year are #FreeTheNipple, which addresses the issue over men being able to display their nipples in public whilst women are punished for doing so. This protest encourages women to literally free their nipples to stop the unnecessary sexualisation of women’s bodies and the control and punishment of this sexuality. Women, and the society and world we live in, should be able to accept women’s bodies exactly the way they are.
#IWD2015 refers to International Women’s Day which takes place on the 8th March. This day celebrates all the achievements of women and the struggle they have been through to get to where we are today. It celebrates women throughout history who did great things, feminist icons and looks forward to a future where women can achieve even more.
For feminism to truly achieve what it aims to, for the world to be completely equal for men and women, then the word feminist and everything that it stands for need to be understood and supported. Women need to help women, we all need to stand together to try and make a change in the world.
If as many women and as many men can get on board with the cause and become proud to call themselves feminists then the movement can do so much more than it already has done. So join in with the positive hashtags, watch Emma Watson’s UN talks and Malala’s documentary, and listen to some Beyoncé (always great advice) and learn about what it truly means to be a feminist.
So much has already been done, and so much more can be done in the future. A lot could be done this year alone.
I cannot wait for #IWD2016.