Don’t Feel Like Cooking Tonight? Heres 4 Reasons why You Should For Your Health.

(image: Jason Briscoe: Unsplash)

Home cooking offers many benefits. It gives us control over what we’re consuming, we can try out new combinations and recipes, and it can even be a soothing activity.

It’s often one of the first things that falls by the wayside when our lives get hectic, however. Revenue in the ready meals market has increased since 2017 and is expected to continue rising until 2026. It’s clear that in our busy lives, we often resort to convenience foods.

Here, we’ll cover some of the hidden benefits of cooking at home for those times when you feel like ordering a takeaway or throwing another microwave meal in.

Portion and ingredient control

When you order a takeaway or eat a meal at a restaurant, you don’t have much control over the ingredients used or the size of the portion you get, unless you specify you’re allergic to an ingredient. Home cooking is a great way to eliminate unhealthy ingredients.

Portion sizes vary wildly between restaurants – some are much bigger than we’d make at home, while others are not enough to satisfy us. Everyone’s food intake requirements are different, and the healthiest attitude towards food is to eat a satisfying amount – even if it’s more or less than your friend. Generally, restaurants aren’t a good guide for portion sizes, whereas you’ll know your nutrition requirements when cooking at home.

Making healthier choices

A lot of us have been tempted by an impromptu fast food lunch order when we’re at work. And while there’s nothing wrong with indulging in your favourite takeaways occasionally, doing this too often can leave us feeling lethargic and unhealthy.

Preparing your meals for work in advance gives you the freedom to cook whatever you love the most while incorporating energy-boosting fresh ingredients. Meal prepping has exploded in popularity in the past few years, and for good reason. Whether you batch-prep your meals for work every week or you cook an extra portion of your evening meal for the next day, preparing food for work is great for our health.

You’ll need to make sure your trusty work bag can fit your lunch in – backpacks for women are hugely popular for work now, and they can also fit in plenty of other healthy essentials like a reusable water bottle, plus your work laptop!

(image: Max Komthongvjit: Unsplash)

Saving money

It won’t come as a surprise that regular home cooking will keep some more pennies in your purse, especially considering we’re experiencing an increase in the cost of living right now. Dining out at our favourite restaurants is unsurprisingly the most expensive way to eat, but even those visits to the shop for a seemingly cheap meal deal can add up.

Cooking from scratch allows us to cost up our meals and ensure we’re eating within our budget. If you’re finding that you’re priced out of some fresh ingredients, don’t worry – studies have shown that frozen fruit and vegetables are just as healthy. In some cases, frozen produce may even contain higher levels of some nutrients – and come with the added bonus of being easier to prepare!

Mental health benefits

Many of us will already know how relaxing cooking can be. The act of methodically preparing, seasoning, and stirring our food can be therapeutic. Taking the time to cook a meal from scratch tells us that we are worthy of spending time on, which can boost our self-esteem. The act of cooking sometimes requires precision, but it takes us away from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives and – usually – drags us away from our screens.

Having a regular routine is powerful for people who experience anxiety and feel like their life is out of control. Cooking at home regularly is an important part of a healthy everyday routine, which can help us feel in control of our lives. What’s more, it can be a creative activity, and that’s proven to lift our mood and reduce stress.

While we love dining out and ordering in the occasional fast-food feast, there’s no doubt that home cooking reigns supreme. Not only does it allow us to be aware of what we’re putting into our bodies, but it also allows us to take some time away for ourselves, away from our devices and the busyness of our everyday lives.

This article was written by a freelance writer and contains ad links

Your Guide To Being Debt Free And With Good Mental Health in 2022

(image: Unsplash)

There is a strong correlation between debt and mental health which is often overlooked. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1 out of 2 adults with debts, also struggle from mental health and therefore it is something that certainly should be discussed more openly.

Not only can people with mental health such as anxiety or depression face difficulty with managing finances, but parallely, those with debt can often suffer anxiety or depression as a consequence. 

Debt can start with basic credit cards or types of personal loans and get out of control due to shopping online, gambling or by being unable to keep up by losing your job or form of income.

With 1 out of 10 Britons suffering with debt problems, circa 6 million people, it is something that we need to be more conscious about and today we offer some useful guidance and support to be debt free and have good mental health for 2022.

Speak To Your Creditors

The stress of having debt starts with the letters demanding payments and it is remarkable how such a small piece of paper can cause so much stress and anxiety. Also just the feeling of having debt in itself is a painful and uncomfortable feeling.

But one of the worst things you can do is avoid any communication with the creditor. In fact, just speaking to the creditor or company that you owe money to, can ease things. There are always options available to you if you are struggling to pay back a credit card or you are behind on a loan.

For instance, credit card companies can offer you a minimum payment, which is 10% of the balance and you can recur this each month until you want to pay in full. The fees for doing so are very, very small and there is just a tiny negative impact to your credit score – but it offers huge breathing space.

For lenders, they are likely going to be able to freeze interest, delay payment for several weeks and months or spread your repayments over a longer period of time, via something called an arrangement to pay. So whilst you will still owe the repayment, it will certainly help by being able to delay repayment until you can get back on your feet.

And just having some repayment schedule in place can stop any calls, texts or letters coming through the door and take some stress off your shoulders. 

(image: Unsplash: Towfiqu Barbhuiya).

Speak To a Professional 

If you are struggling with debt and are unsure where to turn, consider speaking to a debt professional. Not only are there lots of forums online, but there are charities who will answer you and help you for free, such as StepChange and Citizens Advice Bureau. These establishments will be very used to the types of debts and problems that you are having and they will know very quickly the best ways to calm things down and help limit any further fees and charges being applied.

Speak to Your Family and Friends

Whilst many people are too embarrassed to speak to their close circle of friends and family about their debt or their mental health, you will find enormous strength and support from the loved ones around you.

If you have some debts to pay off, you may find that borrowing money from family and friends can be a simple way to elevate this. It is common for parents to help with any debt problems and not request any interest back. You should always be planning on paying your family back though, because this is always healthy for a relationship. But certainly if you have lost your job and just need some breathing space, this can always be a viable option for you.

Don’t Be Shy to Ask For Help

Being strong in times of mental health or financial problems can sometimes add even greater stress, by just having to hold everything in or still be required to attend birthdays, pay for gifts or go to restaurants with people you love.

But being open and honest with the loved ones around you, can be one step closer to helping with your current problems and getting back on your feet.

Just Realise That Everything is Temporary

You might feel like your debt is taking over, but in reality, it may only be temporary. After all, debt is something that can be wiped out once you have repaid or part repaid.

You may want to avoid selling important things in your life, such as your house and your car, but do not be surprised how much junk is lying around the house that people are willing to pay money for. Whether it is books, CDs, DVDs or clothes, there are people on various apps, Facebook Marketplace or even car boot sales who are interested in buying these things and you could quickly gather a few hundred pounds in very little time.

You will be surprised how quickly you can get your debt sorted – and one step closer to financial freedom and better mental health.



This article was written by a freelance writer and contains links.

Self Care Ideas for Positive Change in 2021.

(image: Toa Haftaba on Unsplash)

As we move deeper into April, your new year’s resolutions may feel like a distant dream. This is because we often set ourselves large-scale goals that are hard to maintain for long periods instead of introducing small changes that will have a significant impact further down the line. 

As a result, you must understand that sometimes the smallest alterations can have the biggest impact on your life and are often the most effective when it comes to making changes. You also don’t need to wait for the start of a new year to enact them – you can get started whenever you feel ready to do so.

With that in mind, here are some easy ways in which you can put your best foot forward for the rest of 2021 – bringing around positive change in the process. 

Get to grips with your finances.

According to a recent study, around half of the adult population in the UK worry about money on a weekly basis. Therefore, one of the ways in which you can enact positive change in your life is by taking some time to get to grips with your finances – finding new ways to make the most of your money, meaning you can make penny count. This could include: 

  • Setting yourself a budget. 
  • Opening a savings account and putting a small amount of money into it each month.

(image: Feeh Costa on Unsplash)

Take some time for yourself. Sometimes, the biggest changes occur when we start focusing on self-love and development. Thankfully, there are various ways in which you can do that, such as: 

  • Focusing on being introspective, trying to understand why you may act or behave in a certain way and how you can alter your perspective of yourself and your current situations. 
  • Spending time doing something you love – whether that means exploring nature or re-reading your favourite book. 
  • Challenging yourself to try something new once a week. Whether that means you introduce a new colour into your wardrobe or pick up a new hobby. 

Participating in a digital detox

Tackle problems and worries head-on.

Nobody likes dealing with issues. We often try to push them aside in the hopes that they will come to a natural resolution on their own. However, this is often not the case – and many problems will intensify the longer we chose to ignore them. Therefore, by tackling them head-on – or at least starting to address them, you can continue to put your best foot forward.

For example, if you spend a lot of time worrying about events that will happen far in the future – think of everything that will happen in your life between now and then. This can help put your anxiety into perspective and teach you that you have nothing to worry about. However, it can also help you plan for the future and ease your mind.  

Make your mental health a priority and get support if needed too from a trusted GP or therapist.

This blog was written by a freelance writer

5 Things that could be triggering your Depression by Samantha Higgins.

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(image: Iforher.com)

Almost everyone goes through an episode of depression at some point in life. For some, the problem is severe and protracted. During the episodic depression, bouts leave you feeling hopeless and exhausted, making it difficult to be productive and present in your daily life. Although depression is a severe health condition, treatment brings hope to the affected. Once depression symptoms are controlled, knowing common triggers and how to avoid them can save you from a depressive episode.

It is important to seek help in the form of treatment from a doctor- whether that is medication or counselling.

Feeling Overwhelmed

When you feel that stressors, such as tight deadlines, are too challenging to manage, you become overwhelmed. Emotional overwhelm is more than feeling stressed. It means you are completely submerged by emotions and thoughts about your current problems, to a point of feeling paralysed.

It is a scary and confusing experience that might leave you with limited functionality and an inability to think and act rationally. Whether caused by stressful times at your workplace or traumatic experiences of loss, overwhelm can trigger depression. Minimise depression triggers by knowing your limits and boundaries of what you can take in and what can cause overwhelm. For overwhelming tasks, break them down into smaller, manageable tasks for you to complete in steps.

 

Financial Worries

Money woes are a common source of stress that can cause a depressive episode. Focus on projects that increase your financial stability like side hustles. Avoid concentrating on what you do not have since it increases your worry. Customize your budget and do regular reviews to stay aware of your cash flow and financial situation.

Create a savings plan and make monthly deposits to the account so that you are less worried about the future. Go for local events that are free or cost-effective so that you can socialise at a budget. Remain engaged with your hobbies or spend time with loved ones to avoid overthinking about your financial situation.

Seek support from your doctor, if needed.

 

Alcohol Abuse

Some people indulge in alcohol and other substances to cope with depression. Most are drawn to alcohol’s sedative effects to help distract them from feelings of sadness. While alcohol can relieve some of depression’s symptoms in the short term, it can worsen depression in the long run.

As a person experiences the financial and social consequences of alcohol misuse, their worries increase, and relationships deteriorate, leading to an episode of depression. This leads to a vicious cycle of alcohol abuse to self-medicate some symptoms of depression. If taking antidepressants for depression, avoid alcohol since the depressant effects of alcohol counterattacks the effectiveness of antidepressants.

 

Poor Sleep Habits

There is a direct relationship between poor sleep and depression episodes. People that sleep less than six hours and more than eight hours have a high risk of experiencing recurrent depressive episodes than those who sleep the recommended six to eight hours. Practice good sleep habits, such as maintaining a consistent bed and wake time.

Turn off all electronics hours before bedtime to avoid overstimulation for better sleep. Reduce any source of discomfort, such as an old mattress. Look for the best adjustable mattress bases for maximum comfort and relaxed nighttime. Take a warm bath, meditate, or have a warm glass of milk to help you fall asleep fast.

 

A Poor Diet

Dietary habits can lead to depressive episodes. Consume more healthy foods with a focus on whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables for improved mental health. Limit processed and refined foods, including junk and fried foods. Look for foods high in selenium like whole grains and Brazil nuts to reduce anxiety and improve mood, making depression manageable.

Go for vitamin B sources such as egg, poultry, fish, and lean meat as they help to reduce the symptoms and risk of mood disorders, including depression. Eat food rich in zinc or use zinc supplements to enhance the effectiveness of antidepressants for better depression management. Hydrate regularly with water or soft drinks for better moods.

Depression can be life-changing due to frequent worries, but treatment- medication and counselling can help manage the disorder. Make lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet, better sleep, and less worry for improved well-being. 

 

This guest blog was written by Samantha Higgins.

            

 

Bamboo sheets- A potential cure giving better quality sleep and less Anxiety at night.

 

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(image: Cosy House Collection)

With around 33% of people getting less than the recommended amount of sleep (less than 7 hours), many have turned to using bamboo sheets as a way to cool them down in the warmer months and reduce sleep stress and anxiety.

We are all getting worse quality sleep year-on-year, no doubt impacted by the intense box sets we watch on Netflix just before bed, blue light coming from our phones, ongoing stress and money woes.

The start-up and tech industry is seeing a wave of new inventions to help with sleep, from cooling pyjamas, weighted blankets, noise defenders and sleep monitoring apps.

However, one of the latest products to win over sleepers is bamboo sheets and pillow cases. This soft and light fabric is quickly being the first choice over traditional cotton or linen.

Bill Fish, the co-founder of sleep resource, Tuck, explains: “Our first choice when looking for breathable sheets is linen. It tends to be cooler than cotton, but more importantly the quality of the fabric can look and feel good for years to come. If you are looking for eco-friendly breathable sheets, bamboo is an excellent choice. It is hypoallergenic, and also feels gentle to the touch.”

Bamboo, made from the bamboo plant, is known for being light, comfortable and its properties are soft and breathable. Being thermo-regulating, bamboo works by keeping cool in the heat, and staying warm in the cold, making it perfect for summer and winter and something that you can use all year around.

The breathability of bamboo should help those with stress and anxiety, which is unsurprisingly the leading cause of insomnia.

In addition to helping people sleep through temperature control, bamboo sheets are hypoallergenic and can help produce better quality sleep by reducing stuffiness of the nose and head.

Bamboo sheets and pillow cases may not be the full answer for a bad night sleep or ongoing sleep issues – however, it is should certainly be seen as way you can optimise your sleep and living surroundings, in addition to the right lighting and avoid using your phone before bed.

Other notable methods to improve sleep quality including avoiding caffeine and alcohol up to 8 hours before you go to sleep, adjusting the light in your room, reviewing your mattress or speaking to a Doctor for professional advice.

Bamboo sheets are available from Cosy House Collection for less than $60 (£50) and includes one fitted sheet, flat sheet and 2 pillow cases.

This blog was written by Cosy House Collection for quality luxury yet affordable home essentials.

How Debt can have a huge impact on your Mental health by Ian Sims

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(image: Money Under 30)

With the coronavirus outbreak, it is a worrying time for many of us financially. With that in mind, today we would like to share this about debt and mental health: 

Worries about money can hugely influence your overall wellbeing. A study conducted in 2019 showed that 9.5 million people in the UK have issues with their mental health, in direct relation to money woes, whilst a staggering 18 million worry about lack of money daily (source:N26).

How mental health impacts your finances

Research conducted by National Debtline indicates that approximately one in four adultswill experience an issue with their mental health within any given year. It is worth noting mental health incompasses a range of conditions and experiences, including:

● Anxiety

● Depression

● Bipolar disorder

● Phobias

● Schizophrenia

● Dementia

It is also worth highlighting that having a mental health issue or condition does not automatically mean you will struggle with finances or debt. However, it may make it harder to deal with. Research indicates that around half of all adults in the UK who are having debt problems also have a mental health issue (source: National Debtline).

It can causes a vicious cycle of problem health and finances

Unfortunately, feelings of stress, anxiety and even depression relating to growing fears about lack of money can lead to a vicious circle. It can impact your finance management abilities in a variety of ways. For example, serious anxiety or depression may cause you to lose energy or avoid your debt entirely. This may lead someone to avoid keeping up to date of their finances.

Problems with mental health could also affect finances if it means that it reaches a serious point where the person is required to take time off work. Depending on their individual circumstances (such as whether they are entitled to sick leave or not) this could mean a sharp reduction in their income. Unfortunately, this might have the unintended impact of making their mental health worse.

Other signs that debt is causing an impact on one’s health mentally include:

● Become overwhelmed or sick at the thought of the debt you are in

● Starting to withdraw completely from family and friends due to debt anxiety

● Symptoms of preexisting mental health conditions such as depression, are worsening

● Struggling to eat properly

● Struggling to sleep

● Regularly underperforming at work

What you can do if you are in debt and struggling with mental health

Do not suffer in silence, there are a number of places you can turn to that are confidential and free. This includes services such as the Samaritans or Mind. There are also debt charities dedicated to providing advice on how to get out of your debt, such as StepChange and National Debtline.

If you are looking to lower or consolidate your debts, you can look at debt management companies, but please note that they make take a fee for using their services

If you need help in the current crisis with getting Universal Credit or other welfare benefits for job loss or want to know more about managing your finances, check out the government and money websites such as MoneySavingExpert by Martin Lewis.

This blog was written by expert and freelance writer Ian Sims.

 

 

How to reduce Stress and maintain Mental health during a Divorce: Guest blog by Luci Larkin at Woolley&Co

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(image: https://sasforwomen.com/divorce-quotes-inspirational/)

Going through a divorce or relationship breakdown can be one of the most stressful situations a person can find themselves in. You lose your friend, partner, confidante and have to adapt to living as a single person, often as the primary carer of children. 

This is a time of extreme and mixed emotions made more complicated by the stresses and worries of legal and financial considerations as well as having to support and counsel any children that may be involved and suffering too.

With mental health problems on the rise and divorce being listed as one of the leading contributors, Luci Larkin from Family Law Solicitors, Woolley & Co, explains how you can reduce stress during such a turbulent time in your life.

“If you have decided your marriage is over you will most probably want to make the whole process of divorce as painless as possible. Contrary to public perception not all divorces have to involve outright war leaving a trail of destruction and despair.

Every individual going through a relationship breakdown will deal with this in their own way. Some prefer to carry on as though nothing has happened, others find it cathartic to talk to someone about their problems.”

It’s fair to say that anyone going through a separation or divorce is going to experience a series of emotional stages post-breakdown. These could range from anger and depression to fear and frustration. All perfectly normal feelings and reactions to an emotionally difficult situation. It’s important to recognise these feelings but to try and stay positive. 

Sometimes the support of friends and family is enough to see a person through, others may need more help such as counselling or medical advice.

With the right divorce lawyer you should be able to resolve a divorce sensibly enabling you and your children to move on with your lives in the most amicable and constructive way.” 

So what is the secret? 

Divorce lawyers’ tips for a less stressful divorce

Luci explains, “As tempting as it is to take advice from your best friend or the “know it all guy” in the pub it’s really important to seek proper professional advice. Couple this with my 5 tips below:

 

  1. Talk to a family lawyer who is ideally a member of Resolution committed to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational way.
  2. Listen to the professional advice given to you and try to act upon it. Always negotiate before you litigate. Compromise is the essence of any agreement.
  3. Inevitably there will be disagreements with your spouse but try to keep emotions under control and avoid verbal abuse and threats. This will simply lead to them becoming difficult and inflexible. You do not want a war.
  4. Try to avoid involving the children or using them as a pawn. They are innocent in this situation and they will need the love and support of both parents. Ideally sit down and agree a parenting plan.
  5. Think about timing. You may have been thinking about a divorce for years whereas your partner may only have received the news a matter of weeks ago. Expecting your spouse to discuss future living arrangements at a time when they are still reeling from the news that you want to end the marriage, may be unrealistic. You might have to slow down for a while, be patient, and wait until they are ready to move things forward.”

Whilst getting a divorce is clearly not an ideal situation it does not have to be a time consuming, stressful, unpleasant money pit.

Sensible advice coupled with calm cooperation can help to ensure the experience is as painless and cost effective as possible but more importantly that you and your children can move forward with your lives in the best possible way.

Luci is an experienced and approachable divorce and family solicitor with Woolley & Co, based in Barnet, Greater London.  Her working mantra is to establish what clients want and move towards achieving that outcome as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. 

 

How stressed are UK Students in 2019? Guest post by the Natwest Student Living Index

 

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(Image: Natwest Student Living Index)

The NatWest Student Living Index 2019 has launched recently,  delving into both stress and mental health for students at university.
https://personal.natwest.com/personal/life-moments/students-and-graduates/student-living-index.html

University-age students are more engaged with mental health and wellbeing than ever, and the study found that 1 in 4 students are very satisfied with their university’s mental health support.

Other noteworthy findings from the survey include:
• 71% of students say that their university offers affordable health and wellbeing programs (gym classes, yoga, meditation, mindfulness)
• 40% of students are concerned about their financial situation following university
• 45% of students find their university degree stressful
• 1 in 4 UK students find managing money stressful

The 2019 NatWest Student Living Index revealed that close to half of all UK students feel
extremely stressed by their degree studies. 1 in 4 students in the UK described managing their money as extremely stressful, while only 6% felt they received sufficient money management support from their university on average.

NatWest’s Student Living Index 2019 asked students from 35 top university cities about all aspects of student life, including the amount of wellbeing and mental health support on offer for students at university in 2019.

Is their degree the cause of the stress? On average, 45% of students in the UK feel extremely stressed by their degree  Cambridge (60%) and Durham (57%) students are the most stressed by their degree studies.
Have Universities supported students with mental health resources?

1 in 4 students are very satisfied with their university’s mental health resources, while 71% said that their university offers affordable health and wellbeing programs.
Interestingly, while students in Poole feel the most stressed by money management, the city also came last when students were asked about the availability of affordable well-being programs:

 53% of students in Poole said their university offers affordable well-being programs, this is the lowest ranked city and 18% below national average.

 Less than 1% of Students in Reading and Stirling feel supported by their university when managing their finances.

 94% of students in Aberystwyth feel their university offers affordable well-being programs

Are you a student in the UK? Read more about the findings here:  https://personal.natwest.com/personal/life-moments/students-and-graduates/student-living-index.html

Royal family launches Shout UK- a Mental health crisis text line: Guest blog

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Be Ur Own Light is supporting the incredible initiative from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Sussex- Shout UK, a new text support line in the UK for people in mental health crisis- anyone who is struggling. They have teamed up with Crisis Text line to reach vulnerable people.

I feel privileged to live in a country where stigma is beginning to fall and where mental health issues are beginning to be understood better. Texting would have helped me as an ill teenager with bipolar!

Shout are looking for volunteers too to man the text lines as crisis counsellors.

Thank you to the Duke and Duchesses for the incredible profile they are giving mental health. #GiveUsAShout

Autumn leaves and Mental Health tales. (by founder Eleanor)

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(image: http://www.thechakrahouse.co.uk/chakra-hygge-fairy-lights/)

I wanted to write this blog today because I have been reflecting. Over the years, I have come to really love the Autumn (Fall) season, despite being born in summer. Its cosy and calming at times, however these months can bring on some anxiety again for me.

I think that we are all human and are affected by the changing seasons. I know that my bipolar goes in phases, but is largely controlled and stabilised by medicines. However, sometimes hormones can make me feel lower at times of the month or life events can make you feel a bit sadder than normal, and in some cases, provoke depression.

My anxiety arrives in the form of morning panic and I can find it harder to do certain tasks. However, I am lucky that I am not depressed currently but the anxious thoughts are getting worse again.

I will worry about being around crowds, travelling far or socialising en masse with people I havn’t seen for a while. I live within a community where we all gather together for religious festivals and it can be harder to do this when I am more anxious. I particularly find early mornings hard- and don’t want to leave the house before 10am usually!

Working from home is both a blessing as I can work my own hours but I go out less. I am really trying to work on going out more- even down the road, especially before it gets too cold and dark.

Despite the increase in anxiety in the past few days, I am feeling thankful. There are so many good things to look forward to. There are so many exciting projects I can be a part of. When one door closes, I know that another will open.

I am still writing my book, still running my blog and have some articles being published soon. I also do social media management. I hope that my career will continue to diversify and bring joy.  I also need stability and the life of a freelancer, though fulfilling at times, is never easy.

There is a lot to be grateful for- family and friends, my fiance and life- despite the fears, anxiety and catastrophising that I do at times and am trying to limit. Positive mindset is so important- I am working on it!

Autumn can make us feel sadder or more anxious, or cause other mental health symptoms.  However, like now, it can also feel comforting- as I write on my computer, sipping a cup of tea as the darkness is falling. (Is it too new age of me to use the word ‘hygge’)?

As the leaves begin to fall and the frosts come its so important we find our lights in the darkness.

How are you doing? Let me know below!

Love,

Eleanor