Hey there anxiety!

You have been a part of my life longer than I can remember. We haven’t had the best of relationships. I wouldn’t call us friends either. You turned up unannounced. Your venom flowed through my body and took some of which should have been the happiest and memorable days of my life, and ruined them with your attendance. You pushed my happiness aside and made yourself the centre of attention. Did you enjoy that? I often wonder why you decided to sneak into my mind and never leave, maybe I will never know. Moments which were supposed to be happy were turned into constant fear, worry, panic, failure, and rejection. I will never forgive you for that.

We grew up together, you tried to ruin my life. I won’t let that happen anymore. As I grew older I realised you were not going to leave. You always tried to convince me of the worst, you fooled around and played scenarios in my head that were probably never going to happen. You lied to me and I believed it to be true. You made me want to hate myself and convinced me to believe that everyone did too. Letting you in was my biggest mistake, you let me break as I laid awake.

You convinced me to constantly apologise for things no one cared about. You were that voice inside my head that never shut up, you turned every positive into a negative. I tried to find solutions to the problems that you placed in my head. I couldn’t escape. I tried to run but you always followed me, you were my shadow and wouldn’t leave.

I chose to write to you today to say thank you, you have taught me so much. Because of you I now truly know myself. There are days where I mess up, I know that as you are there to constantly remined me. Your voice is still quite loud inside my head, you continuously make me feel it. I don’t think I can escape you. Am I right? Will you ever leave? You taught me to confront my reality. I used to run away from opportunities because of the fear you put in me. Today instead of running away, you force me to accept.  Thank you for breaking me down and tearing me apart. I have accepted that you may always be a part of me, will I ever be fully free? I can pretend or even force myself to ignore you and not let you get inside my head. But, I’ve tried and that only appears to make you stronger. So, here is a deal that could work, from today I will embrace you, me and you might actually be able to work. We might just be able to live in agreement.  

I write this letter with hope to live to see a day, the stigma attached to mental health which is created by ‘US’ to no longer exist. I hope to see a day people will talk about mental health in a conversation like they talk about weather.  

Finally, to my anxiety I want you to always know that you do not control this relationship! I do!

And I always will.  

Yours sincerely

Mariam x

 

 

 

 

Procrastination! We all do it. It’s amazing the things we think of that need to be done and what we do while we procrastinate, from cleaning the house to watching a YouTube video on ‘How to knit’ (yes, I’ve done that). It becomes a problem when we avoid doing things that actually need to be done like essays, catching up on reading before the next seminar, dissertation, filling out job applications and many more. You say you’ll do it tomorrow then that becomes another tomorrow, which finally leads to a mental breakdown. The thing with procrastination is we know we are doing it, but carry on doing it anyway. Social media is great don’t get me wrong but it’s the worst when it comes to procrastinating. The truth is there is no cure to ‘stop procrastinating’ you are most likely going to do it, but I think it’s not all that bad. It’s about how you use the time when you are procrastinating.

This weekend I had a long list of things that I needed to do. I ended up procrastinating and doing the less important things like catching up on emails and updating my LinkedIn which I had been avoiding for weeks. By procrastinating I ended up ticking some things off my to do list and it made me feel quite productive. See it’s not all that bad.  I’m not going to list a million ways to help beat procrastination. But, here are three ways that help me be more productive.

TO DO LIST

I’m one of those people that has my life mapped out in lists, I like to plan ahead and know what I’m doing. Writing a to do list helps, write a to-do list include all the little things that don’t seem important also, include things that you want to do if you have time like ‘Catch up on EastEnders’. Make sure you tick off at least two things every day or more if you can, but keep a minimum of two. Don’t promise yourself that you will get through the whole list in one day, you won’t and most likely you won’t be successful and more than likely go back to procrastinating.

ROUTINE

Routine is a big help. Every day that you wake up early, you will have more time to tick off things from your to-do list. There are many reasons as to why having a set routine can avoid procrastination.

  1. Having a routine means having a set schedule and being able to block chunks out to complete certain tasks, like uni work, gym, catching up on EastEnders. By having a set time for when you are going to carry out certain tasks, its less likely that you will put them off till later.
  2. You will have time to relax – By having a routine means getting more tasks done but it also means making free time priority. You are able to put time aside to do whatever you wish, even if it means sitting in front of the sofa and do nothing.
  3. You get to chose how your day goes – Without a routine everything just sort of happens and most of the day gets wasted right? By having a routine YOU are in control of the day from the moment you wake up till the moment you go to sleep.
  4. You will avoid procrastinating – We procrastinate when we have no idea what to do or where to start with our work. But by having a schedule or a routine means getting things done as you know what is expected of you.

REWARD YOURSELF

I think this is so important. Set yourself short goals and then reward yourself. Go raid the fridge, sit and watch Netflix, scroll through your twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Keep doing this and you will get things done and then repeat. (Well it works for me).

“Behaviour that gets rewarded gets repeated.”

That’s it! Procrastination is a bad habit and we are all guilty. But is it really that bad?

 

Mariam

 

As lectures and classes are about to begin and as I seem to have four years’ worth of experience at university. I think it’s appropriate for me to share my advice with you guys on dealing with stress at university. Let alone university, life is stressful. The real world kinda sucks guys.

When I was at university during my first year, I did try to keep up with reading and after seminar tasks (at the beginning). Then it went downhill, I let it pile up and then started to procrastinate which I’m sure every student is good at doing. This led to me getting S T R E S S E D. That is no fun. Especially with all those deadlines. During my second and third year of university I think I did okay. So, I’m going to talk about the few ways which helped me deal stress at university.

Being under pressure sure is a part of life. Everyone deals with stress at some point. I’m sure we’ve all used the words “I’m stressed” or in my case used them daily. It’s so important to look after your mental health at university, the first step to looking after your mental health is to recognise it. Student life is tough and incredibly challenging guys. I’m sure you are not alone in this.

T I M E   M A N A G M E N T

Managing your time is hard at university, after a night out you probably will sleep till around midday the next day and most likely miss a lecture (I’m sure we’ve all done it). All you want to do is sleep. Seriously, get your shit together. Work out what time of day you work best, (I’m one of those weird morning people, maybe you are too) or you work better at 1am in the morning. Whatever works best for you, stick to it. Consider making a timetable, you’ll be surprised at how well they actually work. Have you tried writing down a to do list, believe me when I say this helps (the satisfaction of even ticking one thing off that list, as a student that is a success in itself).

Oh! And keep a diary, write your deadlines in TWO days before the due date (thank me later). Also, make sure you write down readings that need to be done before the next lecture/seminar no mater how much you think you can remember YOU WONT.Stress 2 .JPG

R U N N I N G

I have always loved to run. Morning runs are a must for me, if like me you want to run for stress relief the best you can do is have no running goals. Don’t time your run or set a distance. Just put in those headphones and run. Run for as long as you need and as fast as you like. It doesn’t have to be running, go hit the gym, tennis or any other sort of sport. Go for a little walk. Taking the time out to exercise everyday even of it’s for half an hour, it sure can have a big impact on your mental health and it will certainly help you feel a little less stressed.

R E A D I N G

Books kinda helped me. As an aspiring children’s writer, I have always read a lot and love to read. Especially when you get into a book, it’s a great way to escape reality for a bit. Maybe reading isn’t your thing. Before you brush aside this, go down to Waterstones or any book shop and take your time to find a book that interests you and sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and start reading. I’ve read somewhere “reading lowers your heart rate and relaxes you physically” so give a try guys.

A   G O O D   N I G H T S  S L E E P

Sleep is very important for our overall health and well-being which I’m sure we all know. Poor sleep has a big impact on our overall fitness and well-being more than people might think. If you are lying in bed awake and finding it hard to go to sleep. Get up and read a book for a while until you feel sleepy again. Lying in bed awake can promote anxiety so, it’s best to get up and engage in some relaxing activity until you feel tired again. I believe that by having a good night sleep, you will wake up properly rested, this will increase your energy levels, alertness and ability to concentrate.to self 4

T A L K  T O  S O M E O N E

Call a friend or a family relative. I think talking helps to relieve stress. Go out for a coffee with a friend and tell them how you feel. You’ll be surprised of how many people are probably going through the same situation as you, it may also bring an immediate sense of relief. If not every university / college has student services, go and have a little chat with someone every university has a professional counsellor who will offer you some support and advice.

Okay guys! That is it. If not all I hope some of what I said helps at least a few people. I have been through university and I know just how hard and stressful it can be.

 

Love Mariam

 

Dear Mariam

There is so much that I want to tell you, you’ve just opened your A-Level results and you have a place at university. You have proved many people wrong. You should be proud of yourself. University will be tough, but you will get through it and you’ll do amazing. I want you to know that you are about to enter the most difficult five years of your life. The biggest lesson that you will learn is ‘Growing up is just learning to live without people you never thought would leave’. You will lose people you love and you will come out stronger and you know what I am so proud of you. 3 years later and you have graduated with a high 2:1.image4[2657]

At the age of 21 you will feel more lost and confused than ever before, you have no idea what you are doing with your life and that’s okay. You will get through it. You will feel stressed, confused, and even cry yourself to sleep. I wish you could forget about these past few years, but your resilience will be a source of strength for years to come. A year later and you are about to graduate with a master’s degree, you will feel happier than ever.

The year of being 22 you will be challenged, you will gain confidence you won’t be that shy person that you are. Don’t doubt yourself I know you will for years to come, but you are smart and determined. It may not seem like it yet but you are. I wish you were less harsh on yourself. You will outgrow a lot of people especially friends and I want you to know that it’s okay. I want you to know that everything you are going through and will go through is preparing you for something bigger and better.to self 4

 

Today, at the age of 22 with only three months left of 2017, you are a master’s graduate and an aspiring children’s writer. You are also considering a PhD and looking for jobs to lecture at university. Your past suffering will not define you. You will be happy. Just try your best every day and that is enough. Be proud of all that you have achieved in the 22 years of being alive. You are still a work in progress, just like everyone else.

Love Mariam

It’s been over a year since I have graduated, and it has been one of the hardest, toughest, and eye-opening year of my life. The year after you graduate is confusing, you may not have a clue with what you want to do with your life, and that’s okay. Most people don’t! I graduated in 2016 and then went on to do a postgraduate degree I also worked part time. During the end of my undergraduate degree, I had these big plans of what I wanted to do after I graduate, I thought I would have my life figured out, land the job of my dreams and be on a good salary. I think it’s the same for most graduates in my position right now. I thought it was going to be easy. Nope! It’s fucking hard as shit out there. The real world sucks.

I hate not knowing where I am going with life or anything in general, I like to have everything mapped out in lists and ideas. I would do anything to avoid uncertainty in my life. This past year I have learnt that nothing will turn out the way you want it, if you have high expectations for your future after you graduate, I don’t think anything will be good enough. I’m at that point now, where I am embracing the uncertainty and the unknown in my life. You have no control of what happens, you will eventually realise this so, why not embrace it. I want to share five honest truths that I have learnt about the year after you graduate.image2[2654]

The real world sucks

I have been in the real world for over a year as an ‘adult’. Let me tell you it’s not always going to be sunshine and roses. yes! It’s painful. When you are sat in lecturers in university you have these expectations of the world, you look forward to a standard 9-5 job and to have your weekends free. Reality is you get thrown into the world unprepared and told to be an ‘adult’, life will throw you in all sorts of directions.

image3[2655]Most likely you will not have your dream job

Some people will have a job secured before they throw their cap in the air. Unless you have some crazy connections, then like me you will be looking for jobs for months after graduation. You are straight out of university with little to no experience. We all need to start somewhere, you may end up working full-time at your part-time job that you had at university and that’s okay. Each opportunity, each experience you gain is a small step towards your career. You might not even be working in the field that you have graduated in, I know the hours may be horrible and the money won’t be what you anticipated, you may absolutely hate it. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t land your dream job right after you graduate.

You will feel lost and confused

For those who don’t have a direct career plan after you graduate, you will feel lost and confused. When you come to the end of education and university life, this can come as a shock. The few months after I graduated I didn’t have a lot of money, I struggled to get out of bed most days as I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. Note to remember: Opportunities are not going to come to you, you need to go out and grab them. This advice came from a university tutor which I am forever thankful for. A piece of advice that I would give to recent graduates or those that are about to graduate is, most graduates will go through this period of feeling lost and confused. Go and embrace the uncertainty of life, that is life.

Money: You won’t have as much money saved as you anticipated

After graduating I was happy that I will no longer be a full-time student, and I will have a regular income coming in. My mind was spinning with thoughts of holidays, a new phone, a new laptop, a new car, and weekly shopping hauls.

Reality is you won’t have as much saved as anticipated. I honestly thought I would have loads saved up after a year from graduation (who was I kidding). Everything is expensive and you just want to cry. You will need to learn to save, be responsible and budget your money. We all think about being able to afford nice things after graduation, the reality is this isn’t the case we just need to wait for a little longer.

It’s going to be okay!

It’s okay if don’t have your dream job, a good salary, an apartment, and even loads of money saved up. Remember you are not the only graduate going through this, loads, in fact hundreds may be in the same position as you. I’m here to tell you after a year of being a graduate it’s going to be okay! It’s okay that you don’t know what you are doing with your life. Don’t worry about it, worrying won’t make it any better. It’s okay to not have it figured out yet. Most people don’t. Don’t sit at home feeling sorry for yourself, graduate jobs won’t come to you, you need to go out and grab that opportunity. If you fail keep trying. Don’t compare yourself to others, friends, or acquaintances. Just because they have landed a graduate job doesn’t mean they are happy. If you feel like a failure, remember there is no set path and that is exciting, you have the whole world at your feet and the only thing that is holding you back is YOU!image4[2657]

So that is it. I have written this with pure honesty. During my year after graduation I have felt down, depressed and felt like a failure more than a hundred times. I think graduates need to know that life after graduation is going to be hard, it may take time but it’s going to okay!

 

Mariam