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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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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 ofย  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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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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2018/9 academic year bullet journal title page

Dear First-Year-University-Student Me: An Open Letter

Dear Alys,

Last weekend quite a few people you know headed off to university: it’s that time of year that brings about fresh starts and big changes with the colouring, and falling, of the leaves. In a sense, this feels like more of a ‘new year’ than the actual New Year. And this weekend, you’ll also be driving up north to become a university student, in a tiny car bloated with the objects that make up your life.

In one way, it’s been a long time coming. You’ve had two years out of the traditional school system and have already left your teen years behind. You tried a distance learning degree, and even completed the first year, but you knew that wasn’t what you wanted to continue doing. So I think now is the right time. I don’t think many people ever feel completely ready to go to university, everyone has their own kinds of struggles, but I think at this point in time you’re as ready as you’ll ever be.

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Learning to Run – Conversations with Anxiety #11

Conversations With Anxiety is a series which aims to convey what it’s like to live with anxiety. These dialogues are snapshots of the debates I have or have had with anxiety: the things we fight over, the discussions we take part in and the struggle to reason with irrationality.


Me: Let’s go for a run!

Anxiety: Huh?

Me: It will be good for us.

Anxiety: Us? No no no, you know I hate physical activity – especially physical activity which other people can observe!

Me: Fine, you won’t like it but it will be good for me.

Anxiety: You’re trying to get rid of me aren’t you. You’re doing all of this to push me out.

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6 Hacks to Start Shooting Street Photography for Anxious People

I recently put out a post about shooting street photography, which included several tips and tricks for beginners to get stuck into the art of capturing spontaneous, real moments. Lots of you seemed to enjoy that post, and several people expressed an interest in getting started but feeling anxious about having to shoot on the street with people noticing you. Worry no more, I’ve got you – this is what we’re going to be discussing today.

Now, who would be a good person to turn to for advice on such a subject? A highly socially anxious individual who has a bit of experience with taking photos on the street, I’d assume. Hmm… can you think of anyone? Yeah, that’s right, you’ve come to the right place. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll definitely have come across content centred around anxiety – even if you weren’t looking for it. I’ve talked before a lot about how standing out in any way at all has given me crippling irrational fear in the past.

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Time, Space and Vulnerability: August Reflections

Normally when writing these reflection posts, I sort of know what I want to say as I begin typing. There’s a theme that comes to mind, or something I’ve learnt about myself or the world. I’m not sure August has held such monumental realisations as I haven’t been travelling, working or studying (but I’m sure at least one will emerge as I type). It’s been more like a collection of moments, all coincidentally held together by the fact that they occurred within the same month, and all surrounded by a bit of time and space.

This is definitely something I needed – a month in which to process things and prepare myself for what’s to come. Perhaps some will see this as pathetic (maybe it is), others will see this as a clear show of privilege that has allowed me to have this time (and that’s certainly true). Either way, I’m so grateful to be in a position that gives me these freedoms.

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