Running 100k for Mental Health

Nope, this is not my grand return to blogging I’m sorry to say. Buuut, this felt too important, and topical, to not put a brief post up about it. So here goes, I’m oiling the rusty cogs and remembering what it’s like to create a post again all in the name of raising a lil bit of money…

This month I am going to run 100 kilometres for a mental health charity. Yep, one hundred. And I’m fundraising for it. If that’s all you need to hear and you would like to contribute (thank you thank you thank you) then please head on over to my JustGiving page.

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sea spray and waves on rocks

Dear Alys, you’ve changed…

Dear Alys,

Everything has changed; you’ve changed. Not in any linear way. There’s no visually-sensical brick wall of life events documenting a clear pattern of change. I couldn’t really tell you what’s fundamentally different because it isn’t a tangible thing. But I’m certain there has been a celestial shift of some kind over the last year; tides still rise and fall, but in new patterns.

Don’t get me wrong, you are still very much ‘you’, whatever that means. You still hold the same dream eight-year-old you had to put your writing out into the world. You still get anxious on the phone. You still love Marmite and hate icebreakers. Everything’s changed, yet nothing’s changed.

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Am I Good Enough For University?

Around this time a year ago, I was not considering applying for physical university. (For those of you who don’t know, I was studying with the Open University, a distance learning institution, at the time). I didn’t see it like this in the moment, but looking back I think I had almost written the whole idea of attending university off. It seemed so inconceivable to me, for many reasons, and that led to a total dismissal of it all.

Now, heading into my second term at uni, I thought it might be a good moment to reflect on that experience, and those feelings, in the hope that it might reach someone else going through something similar… So what was the main issue then?

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happy sunset silhouette in sand dunes australia

Take That, Anxiety: An Open Letter from the First Term of University

Dear Alys,

Hey, you made it through the first term of university! Can we have a pause for applause, please?

Yes, you’ve cried. Yes, you’ve had days when leaving your room took more than a couple of thoughts and deep breaths to achieve. Yes, anxiety hasn’t decided to fully retire to The Bahamas, never to be seen by you again (yet). But you have persisted through these feelings and honestly, they’ve been rather fleeting for the most part. More like occasional-dandruff-to-brush-off-the-shoulders level, a minor inconvenience, rather than taking-a-few-days-out-because-of-flu level.

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Condensation on window glass

Meditation or Distraction? Personalising How You Manage Anxiety

When I was first contacted by Thrive, a company that develops therapeutic software, my curiosity was spiked by the sheer breadth and depth their app Feel Stress Free seems to promise. Allow me to explain: having used various tools for managing stress and anxiety before, I’ve often headed down a path of declining interest, as I get stuck in a rut of  repetitive activity. However, Feel Stress Free’s unique characteristic seems to be the huge variety of ways it offers for managing stress and anxiety – which have actually been created by psychologists/psychiatrists and are clinically proven to be helpful. I thought this could be a remedy for my tendency to lose that spark of interest.

The other main advantage I can see from the layout of the app is the possibility for personalising the ways of dealing with stress and anxiety, which is something I feel passionate about. I don’t think all methods work effectively for everyone, but that’s not a problem here; I picked up on five key areas of managing negative emotions that Thrive are striving to help with. I thought I’d outline these below and talk about how you can implement these things in your own life – both with and without the help of your phone.

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girl in tree the new forest autumn

How To Be Flawless

I think a lot of people aim to be flawless. Or at least, they’re on a mission to become ‘perfect’ (whatever that means). It’s no surprise really, it’s an ideal pushed on us at every opportunity: the copious amounts of photoshop on magazine covers, the endless adverts for whitening toothpastes/mascara/weight loss products, the ‘top 30 under 30’ and ‘youngest billionaire’ lists designed to make us feel inferior… the list goes on and on and on.

It is pretty crazy, when you stop to think about it. There are so many things out there encouraging us to carve ourselves into smooth, marble statues of perfect proportions, beauty and purposefulness. And if you’re not everything, you’re nothing.

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green grass brick building

An Anxious Introvert’s Guide to Freshers’ Week (Part 1)

At school I was always the kid hiding a furious blush behind a curtain of hair, desperately hoping not to be noticed. Whenever a teacher threw a question out into the room like a knife-edged boomerang, I became painfully aware of the chair jamming into my spine as I attempted to disappear into the plastic. In short, some school days felt like being led to slaughter (in front of a cheering crowd). So not too pleasant, really.

I’m not saying I hated everything about school, I actually liked plenty of things about it. But I did find it extremely difficult to be part of a group and to interact with people I didn’t already know very well. Understandably, when I left college at 18, I did not want to go to university; I took a bit of time out of education to figure things out and, perhaps naively, hoped I would be able to fully overcome these awful feelings.

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