Staying Positive Monday to Friday

It’s Monday morning and I’ve got the day off. I woke up early, had a coffee and immediately sat down to get on with some uni work. I’m feeling positive about the week. It’s going to be a good one. I’m going to eat well, exercise and be really productive.

The hours are ticking and while I still feel good, there’s a slight feeling in my chest that I was a little too positive about this week. I’m at placement Tuesday until Friday, I might not have time for the gym and I won’t get much dissertation done this week. Actually I’m not feeling so positive anymore.

Within three hours of waking my positive attitude has dropped. Now I feel like the week is going to be a chore and I’ve got caught up in that same old cycle where things only seem good when I’ve got time to myself.

Here are some ways I’m trying to break out of that mindset:

Watch Your Language

Use positive language to keep a positive outlook. Try not to say that you won’t have time, or you can’t enjoy yourself this week because it’ll be a self-fulfilling prophecy and you’ll go from the start to the end of the week in a negative mood. Think about your week as an opportunity rather than a hard slog, set goals and take control of the week rather than letting it take control of you.

Don’t Pressure Yourself

Some weeks you’ll have more free time than you will during others. Naturally this means we don’t always have the ability to do everything we would in a week, but we don’t always see it this way. I like to set goals like going to the gym three times a week but sometimes that just isn’t possible, so instead I’m trying to be flexible and tell myself that it’s alright if I don’t always make it to the gym. Putting excess pressure on myself just means I’m less likely to achieve my goals.

Find Small Pleasures

I find that I go through life desperate for Friday evening when I can have two days of reading, sleeping and doing whatever else that I want to do. But I really don’t like this idea of ‘living for the weekend,’ because I don’t want to live my life spending 5 days a week dreaming about the two days I’m going to get off. I want to enjoy every day. That’s why I’m trying to ensure I have something to look forward to every day, whether it’s a meal out with friends or just a nice soak in a hot bath.

Start Your Day Right Every Day

When I have days off I take time to eat breakfast, put makeup on and just generally look after myself. It’s quite the opposite when I have a busy day where I rush up, giving myself half an hour to get ready, skipping breakfast and dashing out the door. Deciding to take your mornings before work slower can really help set you up for the day mentally and help you have a more positive mindset. I find that I feel so much better on the days where I’ve taken time to eat breakfast and listen to music on my way to placement in comparison to the days I down a coffee and walk there in silence.

What do you do to keep a positive mindset throughout the working week? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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Reigniting My Love Of Film

Film has always been a part of my life. Some of my earliest memories are of sunny weekend afternoons sitting in front of the television with my Dad watching some black and white film from the 40s or a classic like The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

As a child my parents bought me Disney film after Disney film on VHS and I would watch my favourite scenes repeatedly, particularly Colonel Hathi’s March from The Jungle Book for some reason. As I got older my interest turned to a hobby. Every school holiday was spent trying to fit in as many films as I could, buying cheap DVDs in HMV, begging my Dad to let me buy a 3.99 recent release from Sky Box Office, or trying to persuade friends to come to the cinema instead of a day spent shopping.

When I discovered magazines like Total Film and Empire I was in my element, trying to tick off every film the magazines mentioned and then scouring the IMDB forums to read other people’s opinions. While I’ve always hated Winter with a passion, January and February meant awards season and awards seasons meant red carpets and soundtracks and costume design and making bets with my Dad to see how many award winners we could predict correctly while we rolled our eyes at my Mum not knowing who directed There Will Be Blood.

When university applications began, I applied to 5 universities: 3 for French and German and 2 for German and Film. I had half hoped that I would be rejected from some so that I didn’t have to make a decision but getting offers from all 5 places made me question what I wanted more. In the end I chose French and German, deeming it more ‘useful,’ and over time my interest dwindled.

Life got in the way, cinema ticket prices increased and I stopped buying the magazines and the DVDs. Over the past few years I could barely tell you who had won an award, let alone been nominated for one. Then last year I went to the cinema to see La La Land and it sparked something. I hadn’t been to the cinema for over a year and while I liked the film, I didn’t love it the way some people felt. But something about being in the cinema, the sounds, the darkness, the feeling that came over me afterwards of having to read about the film, read reviews, forum posts made me realise that film had been missing from my life for a while.

And so I made the effort again. I bought the magazines, I took advantage of Netflix and my passion for film was reignited. It might not seem like much but sitting here tonight waiting for the BAFTA red carpet to start, with my list of predictions for winners, makes me feel so nostalgic for teenage me and it feels so nice.

Rachel x-x-x

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Pretty Curious With EDF Energy

As a child I always showed interest in how things worked. The house was full of Lego that would keep me occupied for hours, I loved watching science shows on television and I never grumbled about having to do maths homework. Childhood me had no idea that science and maths were deemed ‘not for girls.’

But as I got older, the realities set in. When I received toys with instructions to build at Christmas, the manuals would quickly be taken off me in favour of a man doing the job, and when I would ask to play with my nephew’s science kits, it was often met with ‘no that’s for boys,’ or a suggestion that I should play with dolls instead. Other than being mildly annoyed at the time, the fact that ‘science is for boys’ wasn’t a thought that bothered me too much. In fact, by the time I hit my teenage years I hated nothing more than science and maths and while I was interested in technology, it was purely from a standpoint that I wanted to know how to work the latest tech, not to code or create my own. To me, science just wasn’t for girls and that was fine.

It’s only in the more recent years of my life that the void of women in STEM careers has become clear to me.

Just one in four people working in core STEM roles in the UK are women. As a large energy company EDF Energy is reliant on STEM skills not only to deliver a low-carbon energy future but also to create a smarter energy solutions. It’s important they can recruit from the widest talent pool possible including a new generation of STEM advocates.

Pretty Curious, now entering its third year, is focused on raising awareness of the under-representation of girls in STEM; giving them relatable role models. As I mentioned, the Pretty Curious programme aims to inspire girls to pursue STEM-related subjects at school and in their future careers. The campaign has given girls a real sense of what it might be like to work in STEM careers by providing hands-on experiences and digital content, which you can take part in on the website such as:

Future Me avatar and quiz

Create a sharable and personalised avatar in a STEM-related career to picture yourself in a potential future role ranging from a biologist to an electrical engineer. If you’re not sure what the future could hold, take the easy personality quiz to see what career may be best suited to your interests.

Virtual reality film

Watch 360º videos to experience a day in the life of the architect of the Shard, see what it’s like to work on a wind farm or explore the offices of a software with everyday amazing women.

To celebrate their programme, EDF Energy sent me a Droid Inventor kit to create my very own R2D2.

I’ve always thought of myself as not very technologically minded, when in actuality it’s more that I’ve never done anything like this before. I remember sitting in technology lessons at school rolling my eyes at the mention of soldering and breadboards. What I didn’t realise is that there’s far more to technology than making buzzers and lights. Of course, these are the basics and you need to be able to do these things before embarking on bigger projects, but if someone had told me I could make a little robot that would scoot around my kitchen, I think I would have been a little more interested.

I’m definitely a big kid at heart so I had so much fun making the droid, granted it was a little easier than soldering anything, but it really inspired me to find out more about what I’d made.

The truth is, as little girls, we’re just not encouraged to seek out careers involving science or engineering. I don’t like to focus on the past but I often wonder where my life could have taken me had society given me a little more encouragement to excel in the fields that I was good at as a child, rather than steering me away from them, to more ‘feminine’ jobs.

 

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Dealing With Difficult People

I am a professional conflict avoider. I can’t actually ever remember having an argument with anyone that wasn’t my parents or boyfriend because I always just bite my tongue and try to put the disagreement out of my head. However, not everyone goes around wearing their I hate conflict hat on like I do.

Last year there were a few times when I had to deal with some difficult people and while at the time it felt awkward and horrible, I’ve learnt a few things from it that I want to share.

Weigh Up Your Options

As someone who doesn’t like conflict, my usual response is to stay quiet, remain polite and not say anything when I’m finding someone difficult to deal with. However, I know that this isn’t always the best reaction and that sometimes you have to be upfront with people when they’re causing you a problem.

You have to decide whether confronting someone is going to have negative repercussions for you or the other person and whether you feel like telling them straight will actually help the situation or not. There’s no need to confront someone if the only thing you’re getting out of it is feeling better by letting off steam.

Be Honest

This is something I find really difficult. Whilst I’m always honest when asked my opinion, I find it very hard to say “You hurt my feelings” or “You made me feel X way when you said X.” I don’t like people knowing that they’ve upset me but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and be brave enough to tell people how they’ve really made you feel.

Take Advice With A Pinch of Salt

On one occasion last year, someone who I previously had a lot of time for, told me that the way I handled a situation was wrong and then proceeded to lecture me on how I should have dealt with it better. Their suggestion was to have gone in all guns blazing, which if you know me at all, you will know that this is never how I deal with things.

I listened politely through the lecture, smiled in the right place, and then seethed once I’d left. This person has an extremely different attitude to life than I do. Everyone is individual and whilst I welcome advice usually, I’ve learnt that sometimes people are just coming from different places. For me, a chilled, more mindful approach works just fine.

Don’t Regret

However you’ve dealt with a situation involving someone who has made things difficult for you, it’s really important not to regret how it went. You can’t change how you handled a situation and even if you’ve been in the wrong, sometimes sorry just won’t cut it. There’s not much you can do about this other than moving on and trying not to feel full of regret. Even if you’ve come to blows with another person, all you can do is try not to let the same happen again next time.

Distance Yourself

Rightly or wrongly, sometimes I find the best way to deal with difficult people is to simply distance yourself. Sometimes this is really easy when the person doesn’t mean anything to you or it’s someone that it’s easy to avoid. Other times, it’s really difficult. Either you’re living with that person or you come into contact with them regularly. It’s totally okay to ignore messages if you think your reaction will be an outburst or end badly. It’s also alright to say “I’m not up for having this conversation right now.”

Rachel x-x-x

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Writer’s Block

I want to write but the words are trapped in my mind. I keep writing and deleting, writing and deleting, writing and deleting. Sometimes writing feels cathartic, other times I look back at what I’ve written and wonder why I wasted my time. So much time that could have been spent doing ~productive~ things.

My head aches with the amount it is holding. There are deadlines, conversations I had years ago, emotions, story ideas, plans, memories, what I’m having for dinner and where did I leave the phone charger, but when I sit down at a blank page, I can’t force any of it out.

I get up, make a coffee, go for a walk, have a shower, eat an apple. I do all the things that should make my reset button go off but the words are still stuck. I meditate, run, practice yoga, read in the hope that it will trigger one of the ideas to come to fruition but still there is nothing.

I use paper, I type, I dictate to my phone but it all sounds wrong. I can’t get the emotions across, I can’t articulate myself, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.

I beat myself for writing (It’s a waste of time). I beat myself up for not writing (Why aren’t you trying harder?) It’s a cycle, a vicious circle that seems impossible to break.

I toy with the phrase ‘writer’s block,’ as though giving it a name makes it valid. It’s just a phase, I tell myself. I’ve come out of it before, I’ll reappear again.

I force out poems, creative pieces, reflections. There’s no life in them. I tap away at the delete button, embarrassed that I ever thought that they could pass for writing. I’ll take a break, I tell myself. But in my head, I’m worried I’ll never come back to it.

Yet somehow, I know I’ll return, like a moth to a flame. I am addicted to writing. I crave the feeling of blood pumping through my fingers as I type, the way I can relive my memories, the worlds that I create, the solitary act that never feels like loneliness.

I have writer’s block and I think that’s okay?

Rachel x-x-x

 

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Slowing Life Down

Life has been zipping by for me lately. I can’t believe we’re already two weeks into the new year and I don’t feel like I’ve had a second to myself. Whether it’s because I’ve not been making time or the opportunity just hasn’t arisen for a good soak in the bath with a book and a glass of wine, things need to change.

Last year I really bought into the idea of slow living. I made more time for me, reflected on my hopes and dreams, practiced mindfulness and yoga and really made an effort to do more of the things that make me happy, and less of the stuff that doesn’t.

This year, however, I haven’t really thought about the things I want to do more and less of, until now, and in true blogger style, I’m sharing it with you.

More Books

Every year I try and read as much as possible and this year is no exception. In 2017 I read a total of 54 books but this year I want to beat that. After being a little bit of a YA snob for the last few years, I’m wanting to delve more into that genre, as well as trying out some new genres that I’ve never really read before.

If you want to be my friend on Goodreads I will happily accept. Find me here!

Less Stress

I’m not very good with stress. I keep it all tightly packed in my head until things become too much and I have to lie face down on the floor until it subsides. You get me? I want to continue with the meditation I was doing last year and get back into yoga. It’s so perfect for those moments when you need to get out of your own head.

More Sleep

Sleep and I have never been friends. Most nights I lie awake unable to fall asleep and on the rare occasions that I do nod off quickly, I wake up in the night. Turns out waking up 5 times a night isn’t normal which is something I only learnt last months, oops. I stick to my bedtime routine, I don’t go on my computer any less than an hour before bed and I try to wake up at the same time every day so if anyone has any tips on sleeping, I’m all ears!

Less Caffeine

I know, mad, right? Who am I without caffeine? Two years ago I cut sugar from my hot drinks and now the time has come to cut the caffeine. As much as I love coffee, I hate being reliant on caffeine and I feel it so badly in a morning when I’m desperate for a mug the second I get up.

At the moment I usually drink 3 cups of coffee a day but I’d like to get rid of that first morning one to help myself wake up more naturally. Realistically I’ll probably just switch to decaf because I’m still really going to need that tasty coffee fix.

More Writing

The final thing I want to do more of is writing. I’ve being trying to get back into journalling for some time now, nothing fancy, just getting my thoughts down on paper every day. But I’ve been struggling to get into a routine. Do you write in the morning or at night? Let me know what works for you!

I’m also wanting to write some more fiction. After taking part in NaNoWriMo last year, I’ve really got the bug for creative writing so I’m hoping some great ideas pop into my head soonish!

What are you trying to do less and more of in 2018? Let me know the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

 

 

 

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