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Let’s Get Personal: Life Update

Next month marks an entire year since I graduated university. That day I honestly believed I would be stepping forwards into a hopeful and promising year of opportunity, learning and fun.

In the spirit of full disclosure and transparency, I was wrong.


This past year has been one of the hardest of my life. Getting a job, any job not even graduate positions, proved harder than my optimistic self expected. I have not seen my university pals as often as I would want; they each have their own lives, jobs, successes and hardships to navigate. As a result I have spent the last year feeling frequently useless and alone.

(I have written about this before, see here! (the last time I updated, oops), but here are the details and the update since.)

Back in August or so last year I signed onto JSA and had to log thirty-five hours a week of proactive job seeking activity and attend a weekly meeting with a work coach. While my coach managed to always have a positive spin on things, the whole experience and constant application rejection application rejection knocked all my confidence and had a big impact on my mental health.

By October I was not in a good place.

When I wasn’t reading through rejection emails or attending a compulsory customer service course plus unpaid manual labour “experience” through the job centre I was hiding in my bedroom, compulsively reading through the endless Facebook status updates of everyone else’s success.

Eventually I managed to get a Christmas job at M&S and was kept on in the New Year. This could not have come at a better time as it gave me some sort of purpose and reason to get up and out each day, as well as the wonderful women I worked with having such pearls of wisdom and hilarious stories to tell. Since my contract there ended in April, I have in all honesty hit another lull.

I am yet to work out my true niche in life.

Having always been the girl who knew what she was aiming for, since graduation I have walked through fog never knowing exactly which direction I’m facing. But there are more of us out there than we realise.

So I ask for your patience and understanding.

On the positive side of things, I do have an unconditional Masters place for September and a mini-internship at a social marketing company (yay), so I am at least moving forwards.


Are you struggling with life after graduation too? Give me a shout with your tips and tricks for those bad days on my Twitter!



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Why We Should All Embrace Hygge

The Danish concept of hygge has swept across the nation. In case you haven’t been caught up in it’s warmth, hygge is the sense of safety and belonging experienced through the people and things we love.



Candles play a big part in the full hygge experience.


Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge, prefers this atmospheric feeling to be at home and contain hot drinks and candles, but really it can be found anywhere. It is the scale on which Danish social gatherings are measured, by the hygge-ness. It is anticipated, appreciated and fondly remembered, and fosters an awareness of gratitude, something I think we could all use a little more of.


The Danish are known to be the happiest people on the planet and even kindly go so far as to scientifically research how to make the rest of the world happier; Wiking is also the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute (best job ever, right!). So surely there must be something to this hygge malarkey.


“[Hygge is] the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.”


Near the end of October as I was heading for a train out of London I was handed the week’s edition of Time Out (18-24th October 2016). The article inside entitled Hygge is a Waste of London clearly riled me enough to inspire me to write, as obvious by the fact you’re now reading this.


Granted the magazine is obviously aimed at Londoners, which makes me think that perhaps I was mistaken for one rather than the tourist vibe I usually emit. Taking this into account it’s understandable that the article argues that anything resembling comfort in a Hygge way in London is a waste in the city renowned for not being comfortable. For pushing boundaries and comfort zones and, as more people move there, space limitations. The author states that ‘nothing spectacular ever happened to someone when they were feeling cosy’.

However, who is to say that that is true? There are claims that Sir Issac Newton was drinking a cup of tea when he saw/was hit by the falling apple and discovered gravity. Hygge experiences are often described as including hot drinks and discovering gravity is nothing short of spectacular.

Elements of Hygge also feature in self-care advice; noticing the beauty in nature, quiet meditation, coffee with friends, doing anything with people you love, your favourite book (any book) in a cosy nook, a bubble bath…


The Eagle pub in Cambridge has a hygge atmosphere

Hygge in The Eagle pub, Cambridge


The original article was so London-centric in made my teeth ache; only encouraging an unrealistic mindset. Some people need to understand that an entire country carries on moving outside the boundaries of the underground zones, and far past where your Oyster stops working. Here, in the North, I’m writing this whilst sat alone in a coffee shop. I have a hot chocolate, a large scarf and I’m writing; I’m feeling pretty damn Hygge. I’m not being dull and complacent, nor am I not doing anything, as the article insinuated. I am Hygge whilst grabbing life by the proverbial balls. Who says it’s impossible, Londoners! So kindly widen your capital-centric mindset past the Big Smoke, consider that the rest of the country do not laze in blanketed ‘dull complacency’, and that enjoying every and all aspects of life is possible outside of the busy London lifestyle.


What is important is that hygge is an atmosphere, an experience and a shared feeling. Perhaps it is on your sofa, with Netflix and hot cocoa by candlelight.  Perhaps it is covered in mud with your friends in the middle of watching your favourite band at a festival. Or singing in your car, by the fire in the local, or the sting of the breath-stealing cold breeze on your Christmas day walk. Brunch with the girls, trying out that new restaurant, anything which makes you forget time still moves.


Time Out have also published another response to the article, Hygge is Part of London, (originally published here) a Danish Londoner defending the lifestyle amidst the onslaught of media attention and the perpetual busyness of London.  She writes that “Your hygge is your own.


As the stresses of modern life slowly suck at our soul’s will we could all use a little more self-care for our own well-being. So perhaps hygge is purely an extension of this, in which case I welcome it with open arms.

Because anything that can help ensure our mental and physical well-being is worth spending a little time under a blanket for.


Whatever hygge is, it is our own vivid experience.



Learning to embrace the hygge that comes my way.

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12 Reasons to Stay Alive


1. No experience is ever wasted.

2. Listen to Brian Cox speak of the possible infinity of space. Know that you are a small and unique biological phenomenon in the complexity of uncountable galaxies.

7×10^49 atoms won’t arrange themselves this way ever again. It’s a one-off privilege. – @GoodWithoutGods 


3. The books that have not captured you yet, the unputdownable books, those that break and repair your heart all at once.

4. The films and TV shows that are yet to keep you awake all night.

5. To fall in love.

And you understand now why they lost their minds and fought the wars
And why I’ve spent my whole life trying to put it into words – Taylor Swift, You Are in Love

6. The cities waiting exploration.  The oceans of the world you haven’t dipped your toes in to.

7. For joy.

8. As my ancestor’s arrows into the future, and to create arrows of my own.

9. Music. That sense of united humanity that live music gives you.

10. New Year’s Day walks. The crunch of crisp leaves under booted feet on a bright winter morning.

11. Stepping out into intense heat and knowing you’re on holiday.

12. Rock bottom is the place to build solid foundations.


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Mental Health: Nothing New Under The Sun

This week I am thrilled that mental health is becoming such an openly talked about subject!

Between the 9th-17th May, it’s BBC Radio 2 Mental Health Week. Presenters, such as Jeremy Vine, are raising awareness and discussion through their fantastic programming, exploring non-discriminatory issues such as anorexia, bipolar, depression and self harm. 

Click the photo to learn more

Yesterday Rabbi Julia Neuberger conducted Pause For Thought, which certainly lives up to it’s name, highlighting how mental ill health is nothing new; modern literature and classics such as Jane Eyre, to Shakespeare and the bible, behaviour has alluded to people struggling with mental ill health (For example, think of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and MacBeth and his wife’s post-homicidal psychosis). Rabbi Julia added, that “there is nothing new under the sun”.

Alongside this, Prince Harry’s incredible brainchild, the Invictus Games is also promoting mental health discourse. The first games took place in London, 2014 and it’s success tempted America in to hosting this year, with the event for wounded warriors kicking off this week in Orlando, Florida. 

This year, there’s definitely a focus on psychological as well as physical injuries, with post-traumatic stress disorder veterans gaining fantastic coverage too. PTSD has only recently gained recognition as its own disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), as before now it was classified simply under anxiety disorders. 

This is a huge step forward in the promotion of Mental Health discourse, awareness and removal of the stigma surrounding psychological health. 
If you haven’t checked out the Invictus Games, you’re missing out!  Adapted games giving wounded warriors strength, hope and recognition…the best!!

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National Day Without Stigma 2015

Today is National Day Without Stigma (NDWS)
This post is inspired by my best friend, Rebecca, who for the past few years has been struggling with depression and anxiety. Read about her squashing stigmas and speaking up here!

Rebecca’s blog

A stigma is defined as:

A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person. 

Stigma around mental health issues has always been in society, from the days when even those with Alzheimer’s were locked into asylums for insanity. 
Active Minds have started the NDWS in order to eliminate the shame surrounding mental health, and to promote understanding, awareness and support. 

Active Minds

There’s 3 ways to help promote today:
1. Watch your language.  We’re all guilty of it, honestly I know I am. But be mindful of saying things like “she’s crazy” or “I’m so depressed.” Chances are it’s not true, and it just dangerous a sit attached this negativity to those with real mental health concerns. People are not defined by their mental health issues.  
2. Chalk your support.  Get onto that social media, or slip it into IRL conversation: #ReasonsISpeak and get people talking.  

find and follow me on twitter


3. Reach out! If you or someone you know is struggling, getting the right help is so important. Speak up and reach out! 

Hello. My name is Rachel, and I’m a Stigma Fighter


Stigma is shame. Shame causes silence. Silence hurts us all.

The NHS provide helpline numbers and more information. Just follow this link. 

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Stress Less Week

This week is Stress Less Week in conjunction with Active Minds. Seven days of taking action and raising awareness of stress, anxiety and encouraging the idea that speaking out about your troubles is a sign of strength and self-awareness.


5 tips for battling stress:

  1. Exercise – whether you’re a hardcore marathoner, or more of a stroll in the park sort
  2. Talking to friends and family – connecting with your family and friends can help relieve your stress
  3. Striving for your best, not idealized ‘perfection’ – being perfect isn’t possible, so be your best self
  4. Eat well – a healthy diet can aid lessening stress and anxiety
  5. Get some perspective – think about your situation and whether it is as bad as you think, or if you might be blowing it out of proportion




Active Minds are also promoting Self-Care Selfies (#SelfCareSelfie) to share with others your self-care methods.

Join the sharing on Twitter and Instagram.


Here are some pictures of my self-care methods!

Exercise, keeping tidy, tea and ice cream and walks in the sunshine all help me unwind.


Join in and share with me in the comments what methods of self-care you use?

Read more about it here and here.