How to have a sustainable period

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Let's talk periods, sustainably. On my route to being more sustainable, I took a deep dive into all of the sustainable options last year, after getting my period back from being on the contraceptive pill for a few years.

This post contains affiliate links but all opinions are my own.

sustainable period products

The sustainable period has become more trendy with many options now available, making the products a lot more accessible to find. Although they're at a higher price tag than standard period products, they're typically better for you (made organically), do their part for the planet, and for the most part, are reusable which saves you buying products time and time again.

However, I would like to point out, with any sustainable item or thing, it's not accessible for all, and buying into these types of products is a privilege, which I'm lucky to have. 

If you're looking to go down the sustainable route for your period, here are the best products to have a sustainable period.

Organicup

I have been an Organicup advocate since I switched to the cup way of life last summer. There are plenty of different menstrual cups on the market to choose from and I'm not really sure how widely they differentiate, but they all do the same job I can assume. I want to talk about Organicup in particular as it's the cup I use every month on my period.

The beauty of the Organicup is that it's completely reusable and can last up to ten years (like all menstrual cups). The cup is made out of organic materials (medical-grade silicon), it can be kept in for up to 12 hours and honestly, is very comfortable to wear. The Organicup costs £21 but despite the price, it is the equivalent of 528 pads/tampons.

Initially, the cup was scary to use at first as I have always been a pad wearer. However, after getting used to the process of putting the cup in, I fell in love with it. I never feel when it's in, often or not I forget I have it in and it has helped with cramps too. Plus, since using the cup, my periods have been a lot lighter and shorter.

Callaly

Before taking the leap into the cup way of life, I had a really great experience using Callaly for a couple of months. Callaly is a period subscription box that offers tailored boxes to your period with their organic range of pads, liners, tampons, and tampon liners.

It's the perfect alternative for those who aren't ready for the cup but still want to be using natural products for their period and it offers the ease of having the products delivered to your door. Their box prices begin from £7.30 but it all depends on what you choose to include in your box and how many of each item to what you pay. I especially love how you can tailor the box to arrive on a certain date each month so it's ready and waiting for you, for when your period arrives.

Flo

Another natural period brand I adore is Flo. I recently discovered them in Boots when shopping in the eco-friendly section and fell in love with their liners but also their whole ethics behind the brand. 

Flo is a shamelessly natural period care brand that offers a selection of different sustainable period products and also eco-friendly condoms. They have this amazing approach to our bodies and talk about normalising everything that has a taboo stigma like periods and I absolutely love that. I think it's so important to normalise periods and take away the shame that a lot of us women carry for menstruating, even though it's one of the most normal things ever. 

Wuka

Wuka is one of those genius brands that I adore everything about and I wish I had growing up. They're a female-led startup with the mission to make sustainable period products accessible for all and break down body and period taboos. I love the idea of period pants, as they're perfect for younger people, who are getting their period for the first time and are nervous about the whole concept of a period or are too afraid to try a tampon/menstrual cup.

The period pants are all sustainably made and I love how there are loads of different alternatives from boxers to hipster knickers. Plus, their range is designed depending on your period flow so you can choose your pants accordingly to that. The period pants are around the £20 mark but can vary depending on the collection, the flow, and what set you purchase.

sustainable period products

Other tips and tricks on how to have a sustainable period:

  • Do not flush your period products - Period products are not designed to be flushed down the toilet. It's important that if you're using disposable products, whether they're organic or not to throw them away properly, in the appropriate bins. This is to prevent any plastic or unnecessary waste in our oceans, as it's one of the things which contribute to plastic pollution.
  • Make the small changes where possible - If you're set on a period product that you've loved for years and don't want to change then there's no pressure to. Instead, why not change up parts of what you use. For instance, opting for organic panty liners as opposed to the normal ones. It's your body and what works for you is important.
  • Keep an eye out for packaging - If you're not into opting for reusable products, keep your eyes peeled for the packaging that your disposable products come in and see if it's easily recycled or disposed of.
  • Free bleeding - This isn't something I would promote to everyone as it's not something I go for myself, however, there are women out there who free bleed and use no products at all on their period. I admire that as it's a liberating thing to do and also a brave thing as well.
I hope you enjoyed this post! What other tips do you have?

Thank you for reading <3

Reminders to hear on the days you don't feel good enough

 Well hello to you my reader chums! We all have down days, it's only human. We can't love ourselves always or feel on top of the world at every moment, that's not normal and it is okay. I'm the biggest advocate for self-love as I genuinely believe, it's the crux of feeling better about life - once you love yourself, love will radiate around you and you'll gravitate towards things that bring you joy.

Reminders to hear on the days you don't feel good enough

However, as an advocate, I'm also aware that self-love is a journey and it has its ups and downs, and the downs can be as strong as the ups. If you're feeling down or not good enough, then here are the reminders that you need to hear.

It's normal to feel this way

Emotions are normal, feeling down is normal. As humans our thoughts and feelings are like a rollercoaster all of the time, that's how it should be. Some people may be more positive than others, but it doesn't mean they don't also have down days, everyone does. Those with mental health problems, will typically have them more and feel them more but it doesn't make your down day any less validated if you don't have an illness. Our normal emotions are meant to be felt, they're what make us a person and this feeling of not being good enough is natural. It's sucky but it's natural and the thought can only get better.

You are worthy and good enough

When you're feeling like this, negative thoughts are naturally going to multiply as your mindset isn't a happy one, it's the opposite in fact. But this is why when you're having a day when you don't feel good enough, it's the perfect time to practice self-care, self-love, and utilise affirmations as much as possible. You are worthy and you are good enough. These feelings are only temporary and they will pass, and you'll be back to feeling your best self soon - or working towards feeling that way.

People project when they're not happy

This is something I've taken on board a lot lately and it has really helped me on the days I'm feeling down, I'm triggered, or not feeling good enough as a whole. If the reason you're feeling down is that someone has said something mean or hurtful, or invalidated you in some way, it's on them not you. It's nothing to do with what you've done. Hurt people, hurt people and this is the mindset that is important to live by - because once you realise someone's hurtful actions say more about them, than they do you, then you won't question your self-worth so much.

You haven't failed in your healing journey

Healing isn't linear, whether that's a mental health problem, trauma, a breakup, or anything that has caused you hurt. Your healing journey isn't meant to be easy, it's the thing that's going to help you process what has happened and make you stronger. When you're having a down day, not feeling good enough, or have been triggered, this doesn't mean you're a failure, it means you're human. You're still making steps in becoming your healed self, this is just a blip in the road.

Better days are coming

One of the greatest thoughts is knowing you haven't lived some of the best days of your life yet, and that's something I hold onto when I'm feeling down or not good enough. Hard days are part of life and so is feeling this way, but I can assure you, better days are coming. The days where you'll feel so on top of the world that you'll forget of the days you weren't feeling good enough.

There is always hope

Hope is the only thing stronger than fear, and that's something I always hold onto. Fear is an emotion that you can be feeling when you're not good enough as you're scared to be yourself or you're scared of what is to come, and a lot of these down feelings can come back to fear. But hope is so much stronger and there will always be hope, even when times are tough. Hope that things can get better and the best things are to come.

Your emotions are valid

You deserve to feel everything you're feeling. Your emotions are valid, whatever they may be. Often when we feel down or not good enough, we compare ourselves to those around us and think 'I don't deserve to be down as x is going through a worse time' or 'I don't feel good enough because of x y and z.' Whatever the thoughts that link with the emotions you're feeling are completely valid and you're allowed to feel them. Don't let someone tell you that they have it worse or you're being overdramatic because you're not. By feeling them fully, you can then help yourself get better rather than suppressing them as they'll become a bigger issue in the long run.

The right people will stick by you

On the days you're not feeling good enough, reaching out to others is so important for that little boost or some helpful advice. If those others are invalidating what you're saying or making you feel worse then they're not right for you. The right people will stick by you and help you through every type of emotion you're feeling.

This too shall pass

I say this in pretty much all of my posts but this too shall pass. What you're feeling right now is temporary, the feeling will pass soon, I can assure you.

You are uniquely you

And, on the last ad most important note - a good reminder when you're feeling like this is to know, you are uniquely you. There is only one of you for a reason and you deserve to express how you truly are. You may not feel good enough but you are good enough, you are incredible and the world deserves to celebrate you.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What other reminders do you have?

Thank you for reading <3

5 simple things you can do to boost your confidence

Well hello to you my reader chums! Confidence isn't a quick win, it doesn't spring on you overnight or is something you can buy, it takes time and energy - but is the best thing you can ever do for yourself. We all deserve to feel confident and happy within ourselves as we are good enough and we are worthy.

If you're struggling with your confidence and need a little boost, here are 5 simple things you can do to boost your confidence.

5 simple things you can do to boost your confidence

Don't take advice from people you don't look up to

I've heard many quotes around this idea like 'only take advice from someone that is where you want to go' or 'never take advice from someone you wouldn't trade places with' and it has really stuck with me in a lot of ways. It's really made me take a look at who is around me and realise the people that are boosting me up and supportive, and those that are toxic and not worth my energy. I think it's important for us to all come to this conclusion because they say you're the average of the five people you spend the most amount of time with.

Who you surround yourself with has a huge influence on how you see yourself, how you value yourself, and your aspirations in life as you care about the opinion of those you spend your time with. However, to boost your confidence, it's important to be picky with these people and give your energy to those who are bringing you joy and reciprocating the same friendships energy and love as you are. And, also only take the advice from those with that reciprocated energy. If you're listening to people whose lives you're not looking to have, it's not going to help you grow as a person as they don't have anything you want and it can have a negative effect on your confidence. Listen to those who inspire you and how they got there and use their advice to help you feel more confident.

Learn to find love in everyday 

Gratitude has been one of the biggest things that is not only helping me love myself and appreciating life more but in my confidence also. Self-love and confidence go hand in hand in a lot of ways. When you learn to love every bit of you, you'll begin to feel confident in those parts of yourself and express that confidence in life. One of the ways I've been able to boost mine is finding the love in every day. This could be counting your blessings for the people you have around you, speaking to someone in a shop and wishing them well, or pointing out something that you love about yourself.

By practicing self-love and feeling the love all around, you'll radiate yourself in love and begin to see your confidence increasing day by day.

Do whatever you want to do with your life

It's your life, you deserve to live it how you like. Many of us refrain from being our authentic selves or not going for our goals in fear of what people may think of us. We live in constant fear of rejection and judgement that we don't do the things that make our heart soar, whether that's rocking an outfit or moving abroad. This fear makes many of us not feel confident in who we are because we're constantly scared of what people will say.

But my point to you is, just do it anyway. Life really is too short to care what other people think of you or their opinions to stop you from doing what you like. I can assure you, everyone is so absorbed in their own lives, they really don't think about you and what you're doing in a judgemental way as much as you may think. Live for yourself and the right people will gravitate and support you anyway - you'll feel more confident and the toxic people will phase out.

Stop paying attention to lingering eyes

You're wearing a banging dress and someone looks you up and down or you're laughing so hard in public and those lingering eyes look at you. The lingering eyes from judgemental people which we've all experienced or know. Those lingering eyes aren't important. You may never see those people again. When I see people do that now, I just think 'their loss' or 'it's so sad how they're judging someone else.' Because at the end of the day, judgy people aren't happy about themselves so they project that pain on others by picking at them, laughing at them, or pointing bad things out so they feel better about themselves.

Stop paying attention to the lingering eyes and enjoy what you're doing at the moment. Laugh a little louder, smile a little bigger, and realise you're brilliant in your own way.

Realising you've been put on this planet for a reason

This brings me to my last point: you're here for a reason. This may sound cliche but we are all unique and we were brought onto this earth for a reason and to be who we are authentically. Not everyone is going to change the world and that's okay. But your impact on others is larger than you think. The little bit of kindness you spread today could have saved someone's life, the time you spent with your pal could have made their day and a relationship you had with someone could have impacted them for the better. You bring so much worth to this world and everything around you, and even though you may not see it, others do and that's how you need to think.

You need to flip your mindset to focus on all the good attributes of yourself, what you're proud of and the value you bring to the world around you. I can assure you, you have value, you have worth and you're more amazing than you think you are. These constant affirmations and positive thoughts will help you see yourself as better, fall in love with who you are, and boost your confidence.

I hope you enjoy this post. What other confidence tips do you have?

Thank you for reading <3

Let's talk about anxiety

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Anxiety is something many of us live with whether mild or severe and it's a condition that can be managed and understood with the right type of care and attention.

If you've recently been diagnosed with anxiety, struggling to deal with it, or need some advice, let's talk about anxiety.

Let's talk about anxiety

What is anxiety?

By definition, anxiety is a feeling of worrying, unease, or fear and can vary from being mild to severe. There are many types of anxiety such as social anxiety disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

What's anxiety like for me?

Anxiety is something I've always lived with and has been a part of me in some way since I was little but grew a lot worse in my teens and early adulthood, where I spent those years trying to figure it out and overcome it. I have generalised anxiety, social anxiety and suffer from panic attacks, so a mix of it all and for me, they can vary in being mild to severe depending on when I'm triggered. 

Anxiety isn't easy for me, it never has been and it's still a daily battle. However, I'm at a point in my life that now I have more of an understanding of my anxiety. I know my triggers, I know how to cope with them or I've put things in place to prevent being triggered and have explained to those around me about it so they understand me and my anxiety a lot more. Although that makes it easier to deal with on a day to day, when the panic attacks happen or I'm triggered badly, it can still be hard to come to terms with and makes me feel like a failure that I'm backtracking all the progress I've made. But in the same breath in dealing with the ups and downs of anxiety, I'm learning that with any mental health problem, that is what happens: at times I'll be on top of the world and other days, my mind is in an anxious spiral and that's okay.

For me, it's about spreading awareness that anxiety looks different for everyone (and people can show that differently too) and my anxiety can be triggered in different ways. My main trigger is not feeling good enough (which is what the crux of anxiety is anyway) and not feeling safe, and it can spiral me into a negative thought process of thinking horrible thoughts about myself.

Examples of what anxiety can look like:

  • Asking for constant reassurance - When someone has anxiety, they have a mindset where they'll question everything they do and what they have around them including their self worth, relationships and friendships. This is why quite often, they'll ask for reassurance. It may seem unnecessary to you but to them, they have this constant pattern in their mind telling them they're not good enough - so offering them the reassurance time and time again can really help.
  • Fiddling with their hands - Have you ever noticed someone fiddling with their hands? It could be picking at their fingers or moving their jewelry around: that's usually a sign of anxiety. This is because when someone feels jittery, they need something to focus or distract with to help that feeling subside slightly. I have a massive habit of doing this and biting my lip too.
  • Needing external validation - This is similar to asking for reassurance. Those with anxiety often struggle with self love and self worth as it's not something that comes naturally to them when they're fighting with their mind everyday. This is why they may ask things like 'am I a good person?', 'do I look okay?, 'does x like me?' Questions like this linger in our mind and securing external validation can silence them in some way.
  • Cancelling plans last minute - Anxiety isn't something that comes at one time, it can be triggered at any moment. This means when someone has it, if they cancel plans last minute, it could be because they've been triggered of they've overthought the situation and worked themselves up so much that they feel too anxious to attend. It's a common problem for someone with anxiety and feelings of guilt also prevails afterward, which make that said person more anxious.
  • Avoiding social situations - This also leads onto avoiding social situations. When someone has anxiety, especially social anxiety, social situations are their worst nightmare. There can be nothing worse than being a room full of people and having to talk to them. This is why, they'll often avoid them instead of putting themselves in an uncomfortable situation of being social and then overthinking every small thing that happened.
  • Making excuses - Making excuses comes easy when you have anxiety. It can be easier to say you can't come or you're busy to see someone than actually explain the extent of how anxiety is making you feel.
  • Oversharing or undersharing - I find it's either all or nothing with someone talking about themselves when they have anxiety. Oversharing is something I do as I find it easier to overshare and make people realise the way I am rather than not say anything. It all depends how that person is and where they're at in terms of understanding their anxiety.

How can I deal with anxiety?

Dealing with anxiety isn't one given cure. One thing could work for me but not for someone else and as there are five types, there isn't a definite answer. However, there are many tips and pieces of advice I can share with you. I've previously spoken about the tips and tricks that work for me and shared bloggers' advice on the topic. Here are my top 3 tips:

Understanding your anxiety - My top tip for anyone with anxiety is to understand yours. As I've previously mentioned, anxiety is different for everyone so you need to figure out what your triggers are. Once you know your triggers, you can think of preventative way to stop yourself from being triggered or avoid those situations, then you can discover the things which help your anxiety. When I'm triggered for example, it depends to what I'm triggered about to how I cope with it. Sometimes, I need to be around people, other times I need to feel the emotion until the anxiety passes or utilise distractions, and working out for example can help. It's about finding the solution for you. 

This too shall pass - I talk about this quote in every post about mental health as it has really impacted me since a good friend once told it to me. This too shall pass. Whatever you're feeling right now isn't permanent. It's a temporary emotion and you will feel better - and that hope can help you get out of an anxious episode ever so slightly.

Talking to those you're comfortable with - Our support system does us wonders, especially when it comes to talking about anxiety. Not everyone will understand your anxiety and that's okay, as you'll find the right people who will give you the time and energy, and want to understand and help. Once you find that support system, confide in them, the way they would for you and it'll offer the support you need.

How can I help someone with anxiety?

Helping someone with anxiety can seem like a daunting task, especially if you don't deal with it yourself, but there is always something you can do. I wrote a whole post explaining how to help a friend with anxiety with all my top tips - and my best advice to you is:

Be a listening ear - If someone is dealing with anxiety, sometimes they don't want to hear a solution as often enough, they know what to do to help themselves, they just want someone to confide in. If someone is struggling, simply listen. Hear what they have to say and offer reassuring words.

Don't get annoyed when they ask for reassurance - People with anxiety need constant reassurance and if they've asked you several times, try to not get annoyed but offer them the same level of reassurance. They're not asking to annoy you, but for the validation needed to feel better.

Ask how you can help - Being a listening ear can really help but sometimes they may need more help, and the best way to figure out what that is, is to simply ask what you can do to make them feel better.

Help and support contact details

Living with anxiety can be hard and lonely but there is always help available. If you don't feel comfortable speaking to a family member or friend, or need further help, check out these hotlines:

Text 'SHOUT' to 85258 (UK-wide)

Samaritans - Call 116 123 (UK-wide)

Mind UK - 0300 123 3393

I hope you enjoyed this post. What's your best advice for someone living with anxiety?

Thank you for reading <3

Book review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 Well hello to you my reader chums! I'm back with another book review, a book which I devoured in only a few sittings and absolutely adored. Malibu Rising has been hyped for a while now and I'm so glad I got the chance to read it as I absolutely fell in love with the book.

If you're looking for a book to hit you in all the feels, are a deeper thinker, and love a fast-paced plot, Malibu Rising is worth picking up next.

Book review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Read

This post contains affiliate links.

Plotline

Malibu Rising is set all around the famous end-of-summer-party of Nina Riva and everyone is filled with anticipation before the exciting event. Everyone who knows about the party is invited and many want to grab a glimpse of the famous Riva Siblings. There's Nina, the talented supermodel and surfers, Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer and the other a famous photographer and the youngest, the adoring Kit. The siblings are a fascination by many in Malibu with the known news of legendary singer, Mick Riva as their father. 

When midnight hits, the party is out of control, and by the morning, the mansion will be up in flames. But, the plot follows the family throughout the series of the night, the loves, the secrets, and the events that shaped this family.

Characters and relationships

The key of this plot that makes it so wonderful is the characters and their relationships, and how they have developed. Nina is the main focus of the plot and I really related to her character in a lot of ways because she is a giver and does a lot for everyone else, and often forgets to think about herself. She is the oldest of the siblings and you can see that in how the plot unfolds, and how she takes care of them all, their entire life. Jay and Hud are a similar age and Kit is the youngest and their bond between the four of them is what makes the plot so special.

Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit really show the true meaning of what it is to be a sibling and how looking after each other is the most important thing in life and that premise is kept throughout the writing of this tale. Their mother June is an icon in my eyes as she experiences so much hardship but offers all the kids' needs which is love and support even when she had nothing to give. Their father is a character I don't like, and you can see that map out throughout the story in his actions, and what he does to their mum, and how he acts towards his kids.

But it isn't just the main family characters that make this book special, what's great is how the author really dives into the many party guests. She gives many characters a voice and pages about who they are, their lives, and how they end up at Riva's party, and I loved that. I love how she painted a picture of people as a whole and how lives intertwine and why - it added a lot of layers to the book.

Overall thoughts

Overall, this book was a heartbreaking, refreshing, and personal read and I adored every page. The structure of the book was actually one of my favourite elements because it was broken up into the hours of the party and what went on during each hour, as well as going back in time to Riva's parents' past and how they ended up to where they are now. The switch between past and present is something I adore in a book and that's why I loved this one so much. 

The characters, I fell in love with and I could really connect with them, not only with the events of the party but what went on in their entire lives. The author has a way of moving the reader with her words and describing the story in a way that you really feel for them all. It's a book of complete emotion that explores the horrors of fame, family connection, broken families, sibling bonds, the sacrifices you make in life, all intertwined within the setting of sunny Malibu.

I love how Malibu was the location of the entire book as it brought everything together in terms of plot, how the characters lives mapped out, and added the escapism feel to the read. 

It's one of those books I didn't want to end with a purely character-driven plot. 100% would recommend.

Ending

The ending came together in a wholesome way, obviously, I'm not going to give it away with what happened. But, what I will say is that the characters received an ending that they deserved and the book ended on a beautifully metaphorical note.

I hope you enjoyed this review. You can pick up your copy here. Have you read this book?

Thank you for reading <3

Coming off the pill: my experience

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Contraception is something I've wanted to talk about for a long time on my blog as it's one of those topics I wanted to offer my two pence and spread awareness about for other people.

Coming off the pill: my experience

If you're considering going on the pill, looking to learn more about my experience, or have a similar experience to me, here is my experience of coming off the pill.

Going on the pill - my journey

Growing up in a Catholic school, I never really learnt much about contraception because of the religious morals and values the school had, which meant I was thrown into the world of contraception as an adult. I wasn't sure of what contraception I was meant to use when I first headed over to the sexual health clinic as I heard terrible tales of the pill making you gain weight and the implant causing really long periods from friends and it worried me.

But the happy smiles of the sexual health nurses are always a great reassurance and they made my first trip to the clinic easy than I thought it would be. I originally went on the Depo-Provera injection as that's what my friends were having and it meant after 3 months, it would run out so I could decide if I preferred that method or not. But after a few injections, I decided it wasn't for me and wanted something that I would have more control over putting in my body and that's when the nurse suggested the pill as I could stop taking it at any time I wished.

I was hesitant at first as all the horror stories filled my brain that I heard about people but I wanted to be sensible and see if the option would work for me and my body. There were many different pills to choose from and initially, it was all a bit overwhelming, but after a few questions, the nurse suggested the progestogen-only pill.

This pill is the one where you don't take any breaks and lose your period. I was given this one as I'm prone to migraines so it was the safer option compared to the other pills available. 

The outcome of being on the pill

I was on the pill for 2 and a half years in total, and overall, it was something that really affected me in a negative way which I didn't really realise until coming off it. When I was on the pill, it suited my body well; I didn't get any weird side effects and it did what it said on the tin: no periods and no pregnancy.

However, although I didn't have horrible periods or a traumatic time, the overall impact on myself was a bad one. I gained weight (not massively but enough for me to notice), my appetite was bigger and the worst thing, it killed my mental health. I wasn't me when I was in the pill, it heightened my anxiety, my depression, and my mood swings were horrific. I was on a constant emotional rollercoaster and it was tough. But I was too scared to try any other form of contraception so I stuck with it as I was in a relationship and it was the 'sensible' thing to do.

It seemed so easy to take it every day and have no worries but the implications on my mind, in the long run, weren't worth it.

How I felt after coming off the pill

The moment I came off the pill, it was like a weight had been lifted and my mind became clear for the first time in a long while. I could think normally, feel like myself and I knew all the emotions I was feeling were real, not affected by the artificial hormones the pill contained. It was the first time I felt properly connected to my body again and it was the best decision I made for myself.

After not having my periods for over 2 years, they came back pretty quickly and in a matter of months, my regular cycle resumed and was slightly longer than my younger self and lighter too (although I think this is down to age.) My mental health didn't immediately get better as I was going through a troublesome time but for once, it wasn't heightened by the pill, everything I was feeling felt like what I needed to feel and my real emotions if that makes sense.

It took me a few months after coming off the pill to realise it was a big contributor to why I wasn't feeling okay a lot of the time and why my mind was all over the place as it fed my anxiety terribly and I was completely out of sync with my whole body - as I had no period.

Two years on after coming off the pill and I feel incredible. My periods are healthy and normal, my mental health is manageable and I'm so in tune with my body and I love that. I love that I can recognise what I'm feeling, where I'm at in my cycle and when my hormones are affecting what I'm doing. My mind is clearer, I'm happier and I'm more active. I don't have the sluggish feeling I always felt when on the pill.

Since coming off the pill, I've learnt so much more about my body and how important it is to understand it and know what's right for you and what isn't. I think I've realised that any type of hormonal contraception isn't for me. I don't like being out of sync with my body or not knowing when my next period will be. I like being natural, and I think that's another reason why I now have a deeper connection with myself. 

I'm not saying that everyone should come off the pill as many use it for a variety of reasons, however, for me it was the best choice I've ever made and I don't think I'll go back to it again. The main thing is to do what's right for you. Each body responds differently to contraception so it's important to find the method that works well for your body and mind - and ensures you're caring for yourself.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What are your experiences with the pill?

Thank you for reading <3

Looking after your mental health in autumn | tips and tricks

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Mental health should be a priority for every single person as we all deserve to have the same care for our minds as we do our bodies. When the weather starts to get cooler and the days get shorter, this is when my and a lot of people's mental health suffers the most. 

If you're struggling with your mental health and looking for some tips on how to look after it in autumn, here is my best advice.

Looking after your mental health in autumn | tips and tricks

Get in an hour of exercise

When the weather is colder and the days are shorter, it can be unmotivating and that means you might not want to go out to the gym or for a run, however, it's important that you do. I'm not saying you need to run a marathon or do an intense workout, but 10-15 minutes here and there can really help your mind as you're moving your body. But, the best thing to do is not to force yourself to exercise as then you won't enjoy it. Pick a routine that'll boost your mood and make you feel good, this can even be yoga or a dance workout.

Make the most of the sunshine

Autumn is always hit and miss when it comes to weather like all year round really in the UK. When it is sunny or not rainy, go and make the most of it. This can be stepping outside for 10 minutes just to feel the fresh air on your face, go for a beach walk (if you live nearby), or have a coffee outside. It doesn't have to be for a long time but the nicer weather can really boost your mood and help your mind. I always find by appreciating the good weather, when the bad weather comes, I can handle it better as I made the most of the sunshine.

Ensure you take regular breaks

I'm guilty of not following this rule, however, I've started to get better at taking breaks and resting a lot more, by listening to my body. Shorter days generally make a lot of us feel less motivated and sometimes that means we either overwork to compensate or put ourselves down for not doing enough. This isn't healthy behaviour and can have a negative impact on our mental health.  And, is why, you need to ensure you're taking regular breaks, getting a good amount of shut-eye, and know when enough is enough.

Don't be so hard on yourself

We are all our own worst critics, comparing ourselves to everyone around us and being the first person to say something bad about ourselves. It may be easier said than done, but stop being so hard on yourself. This is more of a generalised comment for the whole year, however, I feel like it can especially apply to autumn. With the lead-up to Christmas, autumn can be a stressful time for many and that's why it's the perfect time to practice self-care and self-love even more.

Be your own hype girl

This takes me to this point. We all know I'm the biggest advocate for self-love as we all deserve to be the love of our own life and feel worthy. Being your own hype girl is the number one way to fast forward your self-love journey. Do you know how you hype all your pals up? Use the same energy for you. Practice positive affirmations, compliment yourself, give yourself quality time and accept exactly who you are. By falling in love with yourself, it will help you have a better outlook on life in general - and this can aid your mental health in autumn.

Accept that you don't need to be productive all of the time

Resting is as productive as doing an 8-hour day. We were born into a system where people literally kill themselves working to make ends meet or to try to be as successful as possible, but it's not healthy behaviour. Being productive every hour of the day isn't what human beings were built for. We were built to take care of ourselves and do what makes us happy - so, learn to accept the fact that you don't need to be productive to feel fulfilled.

Treat your mind like you do your body

Your mental health is as important as your physical health is a sentence I write way too much as it's so important. If you hurt your leg, you'd rest it so take the same approach with your mind. If you're feeling really motivated and happy, use that energy for good but if you're feeling down, don't push yourself too hard, do what you're capable of.

Do the activities that make you happy

This may be something really obvious to say but it's so important. When you're not feeling your best, you need to do the things that will boost you up and make you feel better. This could be going to the gym, cooking a homemade meal, seeing your friends, or painting a picture, whatever makes your heart soar, ensure you're doing just that. Feeling happier will aid your mental health in the right direction.

Learn to love the cosy evenings

Cosy evenings scream autumn and really what a lot of us look forward to in the autumn time. However, being in the house all the time when the weather isn't great sometimes can't do wonders for our mental health, especially for people who need to get out and about to feel okay. If this is you, try and find the positives in a cosy evening. This could be the yummy candle, the takeaway you're choosing, or who you have around to keep you company.

Know autumn will pass

'This too shall pass' is one of my favourite phrases and can be applied to the season of autumn. If you thrive in the spring and summer months when things are brighter and fresher, autumn can be hard to stomach. However, something to focus on is that it will pass and spring will be back around before you know it.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What other tips do you have?

Thank you for reading <3

5 things you can do to help your self-love journey

 Well hello to you my reader chums! If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'd know that self-love is my no1 priority and something I talk about a lot as we all deserve to love ourselves and know that we are worthy.

Working on your self-love journey isn't easy, it doesn't happen overnight and it also doesn't have a singular end goal. Over the past year or so, I've really focused on working on being the love of my own life, accepting who I was, and have come leaps and bounds in my journey with self-love. But, that doesn't mean I'm all the way there as I have hard days like everybody else.

5 things you can do to help your self-love journey

Whether you're starting out on your self-love journey or need some tips to boost you along, here are 5 things you can do to help your self-love journey.

Put yourself and your goals first

When it comes to self-love, it needs to be a priority in your life like you should be a priority in your life. Sometimes, life can get busy and we put other people around us before ourselves which can be a good thing if we're helping them but shouldn't be something that happens all the time. It's important to put boundaries in place and ensure you're putting yourself first when needed and your goals.

When you choose yourself, it'll throw you further into your self-love journey. It may sound like an odd phrase, however, if you keep putting other people's needs before your own then you'll never have the time to care for your needs. Once you give yourself the time, you can focus on what goals you're aiming and striving towards, as well as falling in love with exactly who you are.

Realise this journey will have its ups and downs

Being the love of your own life isn't a quick solution or an easy thing, but it is a process we're all capable for. However, your self-love journey will have both its ups and downs. The ups are the amazing part where you'll see all of your progress come into play. The hours of affirmations, mantras, and changing your mindset into accepting the love you deserve for yourself.

But it's important to note that the downs even though may seem like a drawback, aren't a bad thing. In any healing journey, the process isn't linear and there are ups and downs, and it's the same with self-love. When you're having the down days and don't like parts of yourself, accept that it is okay to feel this way. You're okay to feel down and not love yourself, it doesn't mean your journey has come to a halt.

Live your authentic self

We all deserve to live the life we've dreamt about and be our authentic selves. When it comes to your self-love journey, it's hard to fall in love with yourself when you're not living your authentic self. We all go through life seeking our authentic self and wanting to live that way of life, but a lot of the time, we refrain from doing so because of society and those around us, when we shouldn't let other people's opinions affect us.

Once you take the step in living your authentic self, you'll find your self-love journey is easiest to come to terms with. Self-love is about accepting the good parts and the bad parts of yourself, and accepting the more authentic parts of yourself is a lot easier than the false part of yourself.

Get confident in front of the camera

The camera and being in front of it may not be for everyone, but it's a great way to capture memories and look back on photos in years to come. Being confident in yourself comes to play when a camera is in front of you and I've physically seen that as the photos have changed of myself in my twenties. I look happier and confident when I've gotten older and I love that.

To get confident in front of the camera, start by doing fun photoshoots with your pals or taking selfies in front of the mirror. By doing that, you'll know what you're comfortable with in terms of poses and start to feel more confident. And once, you're feeling confident, then you'll fall in love with yourself even more and how you look in photos too.

Talk to yourself like your best friend

This tip is something I say in every self-love post because it's my favourite bit of advice. Talk to yourself like your best friend. Do you put your best friend down? Do you say mean comments to them? No. Then why do you do that to yourself? We're not here for negative self-talk, it's not necessary. You need to speak to yourself with confidence, love, and assurance just like your best pal. This regular self-talk will aid you forward in your self-love journey.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What other tips do you have?

Thank you for reading <3

5 underrated places to visit in Europe

 Well hello to you my reader chums! With the world opening back up and travelling starting to become a little more mainstream again, I know a lot of us are dreaming about where to go next (especially me.) Adventure is wherever you look and Europe is a continent with plenty to explore from one country or city to the next, and to me, I always feel at home there.

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I'm lucky that I've been able to travel around a lot of Europe, however, there are still many destinations I'm yet to see, and can't wait until I'm about to experience them. Whether you're uncertain about where to go next in Europe or would love to visit somewhere new, here are 5 underrated places to visit in Europe.

Siena, Tuscany

Tuscany is my favourite region in Italy and a place I've been dreaming of owning a summer home in since I was about 8 years old. When I went there a few years ago, all the dreams I had about it came into reality and I fell in love with it over and over again. Tuscany is a region with many to offer for everyone, whether you'd love to dabble into the buzzing atmosphere of Florence, go on a vineyard tour, or explore the many quaint towns.

Siena Italy

I love all of Tuscany and would love to explore every single town within the region at some point as the beauty there is something out of this world and holds a place in my heart. One of my favourite places in Tuscany was Siena, a city in central Tuscany. Siena is renowned for its medieval buildings and the famous Piazza del Campo and for me, I loved it for its charming streets, authentic restaurants, and general old-school vibe.

Siena isn't huge and you can easily experience all the best bits in 2 days, however, it's a charming city to stay and set up base, and embrace the true Italian vibes. Plus, it's a quieter base to explore the wonders of other dreamy locations in Tuscany, including Florence, Pisa, and Lucca. And, I especially loved Siena as it was only 20 minutes bus ride to the gorgeous MonteriggioniMonteriggioni is a hidden gem and not spoken about enough - there isn't much there, but it has a charm about it like no other place in Italy. And, the food there is some of the best I've ever had - with views that'll leave you dreaming for days.

Krakow, Poland

I didn't think I'd love Krakow as much as I did until I arrived. It's one of those cities I've always wanted to visit because I'm a complete history nerd and I had heard many good things prior to my visit, but it lived up to every expectation and more.

Krakow Poland

Krakow is a city with more going on than first meets the eye and a hub of gorgeous architecture, historical significance, and an old town with a unique charm about it and friendly folk wherever you turn. The city always had more and more things to do, wherever I looked and I especially loved the old town. It was a hub for quirky places to dine, drink, and unique shops which I adored.

The city of Krakow is also very cheap for a weekend away that I couldn't actually believe how little everything costs, especially food, drink, and transport. The budget-friendly price tag is ideal if you'd love a cheap getaway with affordable accommodation and a non-stop fun experience.

Copenhagen, Denmark

I have too many good things to say about Copenhagen. It's one of those cities I fell in love with straight away with its hippy, modern and sustainable vibe. I wouldn't say Copenhagen isn't well known, but it's not a lot of people's first pick when you compare it with the popularity of Paris and Barcelona for example.

Copenhagen Denmark

Copenhagen is a city I love to revisit because it had a happy and peppy atmosphere wherever you looked with colourful buildings, exciting sights to see, friendly locals, and unique things to do everywhere I went. Staying away from the central part of Copenhagen also gave me a sense of authenticity for the city with its hipster bars and shops, and I loved that as it was basically me in a city.

It may be a little pricier than most cities but it can be easily done on a budget and is worth it in my opinion. Also, you have to go and see Nyhaven Harbour and get the iconic photo with the colourful buildings shadowing the river. It's a gorgeous location for a few days and a taste of a different culture - and has some cool places to stay.

Cologne, Germany

When many think of Germany, their first places that come to mind are its capital Berlin or Frankfurt but Cologne had a charm about it that I really loved. Located in western Germany and known as the warmest city in the country, Cologne offers sweeping river views, medieval buildings, and has an incredible market at Christmas time.

Cologne Germany

Cologne isn't short of things to do with a river ideal for dreamy or romantic walks, a grand cathedral offering stunning views of the city, the famous Lindt museum, and a shopping scene you'll fall in love with that there is something for everyone. Plus, Germany is only a short plane ride away from the UK and accommodation is easily affordable.

Kent, England

In a travel post about overseas locations, I'm not one to mention the UK as I don't really view it as jetting off somewhere as it's home. However, the UK is part of Europe and I think the pandemic has taught us the beauty of what's on our doorstep, and how we can enjoy a staycation as much as an overseas adventure.

Kent coast

There are many incredible places in the UK to fill your staycation boots, however, as someone from Kent, this year has made me realise how beautiful the county is. Whether you'd love a beach staycation and want to explore the bays of Thanet or the pebbly paradise of Whitstable, dabble into city life in Canterbury, go shopping in Tunbridge Wells, The Pantiles or learn your history at Dover Castle, the activity list is endless. The Garden of England as Kent is known as has something for the country lover, beach bum, or city goer - and has many accommodation options to choose from.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What's your favourite underrated location in Europe?

Thank you for reading <3

Learning to be alone and why it's so important

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Being alone is something that holds a stigma around it. We associate being alone with being lonely or being sad but that's not the case in any sense. Being alone is empowering and it should be treated that way - it means you're so assured with yourself and your life that you don't need to rely on other people.

Learning to be alone and why it's so important

If you're newly single, struggling to find friends, or don't know how to be alone, here are my best tips on how to do so and why it's so important.

How to be alone

Practise self-love

As many of you will know, I'm a huge advocate for self-love, being the love of your own life, and embracing who we are. I honestly believe that loving ourselves is the first step in leading our happiest and best ever lives. Once you love yourself, the things around you will naturally fall into place. Self-love links with being alone more than you can think.

We often seek other people's validation to make us feel good enough, loved, and worthy and that's why many of us struggle to be on our own or do things alone. However, by learning to love yourself, accepting your flaws, praising your best bits, and know it's okay not to be okay all of the time, you'll find it a lot easier to be with yourself and your thoughts - you'll actually value it and enjoy it a lot more. This is because you will fulfill the love in yourself rather than seeking it from people and places.

Start doing activities on your own

In terms of activities being alone (which is healthy for us all to do), the first step is doing those kinds of activities on your own. It can start off simple by going for a walk, then move on going for a coffee, going to a restaurant, going to the cinema and travelling alone, etc. We naturally do the inside things on our own such as reading and watching TV, but it's stepping out of our bubble and doing the outside world things which can be the hardest - as many of us are worried about other people's judgment.

Once you embrace how fun it is to spend time with yourself and that everything is on your own clock, you'll find you're not bothered about the unnecessary glaring eyes.

Be your own hype girl

This is one of my favourite things to talk about as we all deserved to be hyped. As much as people hyping you up is important, it's not the same as doing it for yourself and being your own hype girl. I always say talk to yourself as you would your best friend and this piece of advice goes hand in hand with practising self-love. By being your own hype girl, you won't need someone there to boost you up, you can do that on your own and will find being alone coming more naturally with that type of validation.

Learn that it's normal to be on your own

The stigma around being alone irritates my soul, whether that's in terms of choosing to be single or simply doing your day-to-day on your own. Some people thrive on their own, they don't need people around them and that's the energy we all need to live with. It is normal and healthy to be on your own, to spend time with yourself and to be your own favourite person. We're complete as we are and everyone that comes into your life is just an addition to that, to compliment you.

The stigma and social construct around being alone are what stops a lot of people from embracing it, enjoying it, and knowing it's completely normal.

Accept that you can't always be social

Nobody is social 365 days of the year in every single moment, that would be near impossible. We all need time on our own, to spend quality time with ourselves and our own thoughts. You don't need to have plans to see people every day or exciting events going on every weekend, it's okay to spend it on your own, and be on your own. This took me a while to accept as I thought it was strange not always being around people as that's what society told me was normal, even though I'm a big introvert. Once you accept you don't need to be social all the time, you'll learn to love your time even more.

Embrace your alone time

This leads me onto embracing alone time. When you have it, when life isn't busy, really embrace and appreciate it. Those with busy lives find it hard to have that alone time and it's not a healthy way to live life. You need to be on your own, you need time to learn more about yourself in what you enjoy doing in life and be with your own mind.

Prioritise alone time

Embracing alone time when you have it is one thing but prioritising it is another. We all need to make time for ourselves, the way we do for family and friends. This could be an hour a night to read or practice self-care, or a weekend doing an activity by yourself. Whatever way you like alone time to be, ensure you put the time in your diary - as one it'll make you appreciate it more and in turn teach you how to be alone.

Stop caring what people think of you

People's opinions on you aren't important, it's how you view yourself that matters. Not everyone is going to like you in life, that's normal as you won't like every single person you come across. The problem is when we spend time on our own in public, it's the judgment of others that puts us off but honestly, who cares what they think? If you're happy being on your own and living your life then enjoy it.

Remove expectations that you have yourself

Expectations and opinions from other people are one thing but the expectations you have of yourself are the most important thing - and something you need to take away if it's causing too much pressure and stress. Taking away unnecessary expectations you've put on yourself will make being on your own a lot easier - and better to embrace and enjoy.

Value the importance of growth

Growing as a human is incredibly important as we're always changing and evolving. Being on your own and spending quality time with yourself can really help with this because you're spending time with your thoughts and that'll give you time to reflect and improve. This will also help you look back and realise how far you've come as a person.

Why it's so important to be alone

Being alone isn't something we should take for granted and something that should be valued over being shamed. It's important to be alone for many reasons. Being alone teaches you about yourself, what you want out of life and who you are. Being alone teaches you not to rely on other people and put yourself first. Being alone teaches you to love yourself and accept yourself for who you are. Being alone allows you to grow and know the value of it. But most importantly, being alone teaches you that you are the main character in your own life and you deserve to be happy and do whatever you want to do.

Learning to be alone needs to be celebrated and acknowledged more as it can be hard to sit with your thoughts, face your traumas and push yourself to be the best version of yourself. You are a whole person and deserve to be loved.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What other tips do you have?

Thank you for reading <3

Book review: The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Historical fictions are one of my favourite types of books, especially those based during wartime. I really enjoyed reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Librarian of Auschwitz, The Twins of Auschwitz, and Cilka's Journey that when I heard about The Red  Ribbon novel, I had to give it a read.

If you love historical fiction and looking for a heartbreaking yet insightful YA read, then The Red Ribbon is for you.

This post contains affiliate links.

The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington

Plotline

The Red Ribbon follows the story of Ella, a fourteen-year-old girl sent to Auschwitz or 'Birchwood' as she calls it. Ella has a passion for dressmaking and loves nothing more than creating her own clothes. When she is sent into the deep end of working in the camp, surrounded by silk, buttons, lace, and ribbons, Ella becomes a dressmaker. However, the dressmaker she dreams of being isn't what is played out in this workshop with no ordinary sewing, and no ordinary clients.

Her dress-making skills are the difference between life and death and Ella soon realises what she has to do to survive. The story is about Ella but also the girls around her: Rose, Marta, and Carla, and how they intertwine into her story of surviving the camp.

Characters and relationships

Reading about Auschwitz is the most horrendous thing even when the book is only loosely based on the actual events that happened, however, it's the characters that really added to the pure emotion and the human element. Ella is only fourteen and the combination of both her innocence and maturity come across in the story with everything she has to entail. I loved the character of Ella, as she is just a typical teen, wanting and dreaming about her future. She is strong, stronger than I could ever imagine being in a situation like that.

My favourite relationship in the book has to be between her and Rose. The pair are completely different: Rose is a dreamer and storyteller whilst Ella is a lot more of a realist, but their differences bring them together and they form the most beautiful bond. It really shows that a true friendship can get you through the hardest times in life, and help you survive. I also loved reading about the bond Ella has with her friends in the sewing room and bunk, and what that friendship means as time goes on.

There were some characters I didn't really like initially, but also a couple that turned against Ella which made my blood boil and also made the book realistic as, the sad thing was, everyone had to look out for themselves in order to survive. I like how the author shared a mixed bag of characters and how their journeys intertwined with each other to end up at Birchwood and also where they end up at the end.

Overall thoughts

Overall, this book is heartbreaking, emotional, insightful and an inspiring read. It's the perfect YA novel to teach younger readers about Auschwitz through a teen's eyes. I couldn't put this book down as I was inspired by each page, reading about Ella's strength and determination to survive the camp and fulfill her dreams of opening a dress shop. Her innocent hopes and ambitions really were everything and brought the whole book together. The symbolism of the title of the book also got me very emotional as that was played out throughout the tale.

I would highly recommend this book to everyone for many different reasons. It's written so carefully and on point and has an intense amount of emotion about it that I cried way too many times. However, it's also a book of education and insight, to help teach us about the horrors that went on put painted in a lighter tone. The Red Ribbon is gripping, moving and a novel I think everyone should have the chance to read. It's paced out in the right kind of timeframe and I really liked how the chapters were named after a colour, and the characters after animals (before Ella knew their names) to emphasise the innocence of the experience in Ella's eyes.

Ending

The ending had me crying for all sorts of reasons but mainly as I didn't think the book would end that way, but I'm glad it did. I won't give the ending away of course but I will say, it had an uplifting, hopeful and happy tone to it - the same hope Ella held onto throughout her whole experience in Birchwood.

If you love the sound of this book, you can pick up The Red Ribbon here.

I hope you enjoyed this review. Have you read this book?

Thank you for reading <3

How to help someone with depression

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Depression is a lonely and isolating illness and can often mean those dealing with it will push their loved ones away, in fear of being a burden to them. It's an illness even to this day is misunderstood and has a large stigma around it. But depression should be treated the way every other illness is, and the person should be too, with love, respect, and care.

Whether you have a loved one, a colleague, or a friend dealing with depression, here are my best tips on how to help someone with depression.

Depression quote

Reassure them they're not a burden

Depression is a horrible illness that often tells you that you're not good enough, you're the problem and a burden on everyone around you. And, that's why a lot of those living with depression find it hard to speak up as they don't want to seem like a problem to their loved ones and an issue they have to deal with.

If you know of someone with depression, try and give them the reassurance they need. A simple telling them that you're here, a safe space and that they're not a burden can be enough for someone to speak up about what's really going on in their head. The reassurance isn't a one-time thing though when it comes to helping someone with depression, you need to be prepared to offer them reassurance even if you've done it time and time again. Those dealing with it, sometimes can't take that information in when in a bad headspace.

Don't force them to do anything they don't want to do

This is a really important point. Living with depression isn't easy and sometimes on the lowest of days, having a shower is all you can manage.  Because of this, don't push that someone to do anything they're not comfortable or ready for as really, it'll push them away from you. You need to be aware of where their headspace is at and suggest things to do that they feel ready for. But, it's also worth noting not to beat yourself up if you say or do the wrong thing to help your friend as it's a learning process helping someone with depression.

Celebrate the small wins with them

Depression isn't someone being in bed all the time, it can come in waves of being really unwell and appearing completely normal and it's important to be aware of these ups and downs to help that person. One way to help them is to celebrate all the small wins, in however they're feeling to boost them up when they're down and keep them smiling even when they're on an up. Always remember, healing isn't linear.

Ask them how you can help

Every person with depression is different, it's not a one size fits all solution, the same with anxiety. This means, that everybody needs help in different ways in order to deal with their depression. The best way to figure out how to help is simply asking. Some people may ask for company, others may need someone to listen to their thoughts, some may need distractions, and some need to be on their own. Once you know, you can help them in the right way which works for them.

Learn their triggers 

Someone with depression has their triggers and the things that can put them in a really bad headspace, and this will vary from person to person. If your friend opens up to you, then they can tell you their triggers if they know what they are (it's up to the individual to figure out the things which trigger them.) When you know the triggers, you'll be aware and can spot when they happen or if your friend looks like they're going down the route of a depressive episode.

Be a listening ear

Most people with depression don't want you to fix them as they need to fix themselves, like with any mental illness. They know help is out there and it's up to them to seek the right therapy, counseling, life coaching, or medication. However, what you can do is be a listening ear. By this, I mean simply listening to everything they have to say and speak with reassurance in return. It's not necessary to offer your advice on how to help them unless you're qualified or have the personal experience yourself on what worked for you.

Educate yourself

Depression is a complex problem and not something you can learn about overnight as it's dependant on the person. But, having that research and education about it, can help you have more insight into your friend's illness, and give you the mindset on how to approach it a little bit better.

Help them figure out coping mechanisms

Once you've educated yourself and been a listening ear, you'll be more in a position to help figure out coping mechanisms with them. These could be things you do for them when they go into a depressive episode, a signal to tell you that they're going downhill again, or small and quick boosts that can help their mindset. It'll be different for everyone but working on it together may help them know they're not alone.

Understand that sometimes your help may not work

I want to repeat this point time and time again. You could do every right thing under the sun for someone dealing with depression and I'm sorry to say that it may not be enough or help them. When someone is going through a depression episode, they're usually not thinking in their normal thought pattern so all those reassuring words and pieces of advice may not work at the moment. But, just because it may not work, it doesn't mean you shouldn't try as the most important thing that person needs is your love and support.

Don't blame them

The worst thing you can ever do to someone with depression is to blame them for their illness. Those who have depression are already living with constant negative thoughts about themselves and for the most part hate that they live with a debilitating illness, that pointing out it's their fault is the most malicious thing you can do. It's nobody's fault for having depression, more people have it than you may think even those with privilege or people surrounded by love. You don't know what caused them to have it and you wouldn't blame someone for having a physical illness, and it's the same with a mental illness.

Depression isn't easy and watching someone live with it isn't easy either, however, with the right support, love, and care, you can help them in the best way possible.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What other tips do you have?

Thank you for reading <3

Everything you need to know before visiting Auschwitz

Well hello to you my reader chums! Visiting Auschwitz is one of the things many people do on their trip to Krakow. It's an excursion that although it is incredibly harrowing and heartbreaking to see, offers a lot of insight into that awful time in history - and taught me a lot on my visit.

Disclaimer - This post contains affiliate links.

Everything you need to know before visiting Auschwitz

I'm a huge history nerd and as I've read a lot of novels based around Auschwitz that I made sure to add it onto my itinerary during my Krakow trip. If you're visiting Auschwitz for the first time and have all the questions surrounding the excursion, here's everything you need to know.

What is Auschwitz?

In a nutshell, the Auschwitz concentration camp is a complex of over 40 camps operated by Nazi Germany in Poland during the war. The main two camps are Auschwitz I and Auschwitz Birkenau, also known as the death camp. Millions of Jews were brought here during the war, were tortured, and sadly, lost their lives. It's one of the most heartbreaking parts of history.

How to you get to Auschwitz?

Auschwitz is located around an hour and a half drive out of the city of Krakow so the total time to get there and back will be 3 hours - and that's why I would recommend dedicating a whole day to visit. There are a few ways to get to Auschwitz, either by bus, train or car:

Bus: This is the route I took and the cheapest and easiest way to get to Auschwitz. It costs about 10-12 PLN for a one-way ticket which both ways works out to be a few pounds. You can get the bus from Bosacka Street which is the main bus station near the train station, in the Old Town. When you get to the bus station, you'll want to head for the bus that says Auschwitz/Oswiecim. They come every hour pretty much and the one I got on was at 6.25am so I arrived at the camps for 8am. The bus will pull up like 5 minutes from the ticket entrance.

Everything you need to know before visiting Auschwitz

Train: Although not a direct route to Auschwitz, it's another way to get there if you don't fancy hopping on a bus. The train station is located in the Old Town and you'll want to head on the train that goes to Oswiecim. The trains are every 1 to 2 hours and take about an hour and 40 minutes to get there. Once you arrive, the walk is around 2km to the camps - and the train ticket is 9PLN.

Car: Another direct way is simply by car. If you're hiring a car whilst you're visiting Krakow then you can drive to the camps as there is parking on-site - and it saves you trialing out the public transport.

How to you get between the two camps?

This was something I wasn't too sure about until I arrived at Auschwitz. But one of the people working there told me a free shuttle is available to travel between the two camps and you can get picked up from the bus station at the main camp and it'll take you directly to the entrance of Auschwitz Birkenau. The shuttles were around every half hour and the drive is about 10 minutes between the two. When you're at the bus stop, keep your eye out for the yellow bus as that's the shuttle.

How much does it cost to visit Auschwitz?

Entrance to the Auschwitz camps is free if you're an individual visitor (walking around the camps on your own) but with a guide, it's around 60/70 PLN. If you don't use a guide like me, it's basically a free excursion but paying for the guide will help give you more of a full insight of the camps.

Everything you need to know before visiting Auschwitz

How do I get my tickets?

Auschwitz offers a limited amount of tickets to each time slot in the day. It opens as early as 7.30am and that's when the individual visitors can enter the camps until about 9, where the tour groups will filter in. Whether you'd like to be an individual visitor or book a tour, you will need to reserve a ticket slot on the website. The tours are offered in a variety of different languages and you can pick a time which will suit you best. The camps are generally open till 7pm - and I found going as an individual visitor from 8am that there were no crowds and I could walk around, and take as much time as I needed.

As tickets are limited to Auschwitz, I would highly recommend booking them in advance as you won't want to miss out on visiting during your trip.

How long does it take to visit the camps?

This is subjective as it really depends on how much you want to learn and if you're in a tour group or not. In total, it took me around 5 hours to see the camps. In the first camp, there was so much to learn and see that I spent a while absorbing information. And in the second camp, it's a lot bigger in terms of size so naturally, you'll find yourself there for a while walking around. If you go with a group, it'll depend on how long the tour guide take to teach you about the history of Auschwitz. I would say between 3-5 hours to get the full experience of Auschwitz and Auschwitz Birkenau.

What can I bring in the camps?

Auschwitz has a pretty strict policy about what you're allowed to bring into the camps. Only small bags are permitted and food/drink shouldn't be consumed as you walk around. There is a cafe upon arrival where you can purchase food or drink before you begin your tour.

What tips do you have about visiting the camps?

Auschwitz is my most harrowing and heartbreaking experience to date and I think it's important for people to realise, that despite it essentially being a tourist attraction, it is a place where millions of people were tortured and killed - and victims of the Holocaust. When visiting, be respectful of where you are and mindful of the photos you're taking and of what people are around you are doing. Wear comfortable shoes and really take the time to absorb what you see  - as it's an intense experience. I left Auschwitz feeling a lot of hard emotion as it's not an easy thing to see and read about.

I hope you enjoyed this post. When are you planning to visit Krakow?

Thank you for reading <3