Hey lovelies!

I am back with a Psychology/mental health related post after so long! Many of you may have heard the term ‘mindfulness’. But what does it mean? Mindfulness is consciously/deliberately being aware of something, but not thinking about it. It is being aware of what is happening and attending to whatever is happening. It involves paying attention to our own mind and body, being in equilibrium with the outside world. 

Mindfulness is developing this capacity of attention and awareness, as generally, we always focus on thoughts rather than awareness. An example: when you eat something, let’s use a raisin as an example, are you aware of the various sensations you experience? Or do you taste, chew and swallow without much thought? Being mindful when eating a raisin would involve being aware of the texture of the raisin, how it feels against your tongue, what bursts of flavour you experience, how heavy it is in your mouth.. etc. Often we work in ‘automatic pilot’, having our attention somewhere else and not attending to 'here and now'. For example, you could be doing the ironing but not have your full attention to the task as you are concentrating on what you might cook for dinner.

This is some delicious hot cookie dough. This photo was appropriate for this post because I was naturally very mindful while eating this because it tasted so good :P

Mindfulness can help you to skilfully let go of your worries and negative thoughts, but it requires practice and being done regularly. Mindfulness based therapeutic interventions are also used by Psychologists to help patients. It is a good technique to reduce stress. You can try some simple mindfulness techniques yourself to become more aware of yourself and of what you are currently doing.

1)      Breathing:
-           Pay attention to your breathing. Just focus on your breath. Allow the pressure from inside to leave and feel your breathing become calmer and relaxed. Be aware as you inhale, what happens inside your body (the air filling your lungs)/the physical sensation, how it feels, and as you exhale try to fully experience that sensation too.

2)      Activities – e.g. walking outside:
-           Focus your full attention on the experience of walking. Feel the ground in contact with your feet, feel the bend of your knee as you walk. What do you feel on the ground as you walk? Is the path smooth, is it uneven, and are there leaves you walk over? Feel the pressure of each foot as you change from left to right when you walk.

It may sound a bit exaggerated giving so much attention to daily tasks, but try it. You don’t have to share it with anyone. You don’t have to focus too much on it either. You just need to be more aware your experiences and sensations in the current moment.

That’s it for now! This was different post to usual, hope you enjoyed it.

Take lots of care!
Ayesha xxx

The loss of a loved one and moving on from it

Hello lovelies!

I hope you're all good. I've been absent for a while. I've been a bit busy and also a bit demotivated. Then things got ahead of me and I didn't priorities blogging. Sorry! Last month my grandmother passed away and that was a big event in my life. 

The loss of my grandmother affected me deeper than I thought. I was not ready to deal with it and so removed myself from any situation that would lead me to be reminded of her and the fact that she was gone. We regularly had family friends come visit to see us and my mum to share their messages of condolence. Most of the time during this I would stay in my room and pretend like this wasn't happening. I wanted everyone to just stay away and let us mourn alone. That is obviously not the best thought I should have had. I refused to speak to any of my friends about my grandmother, and for a good few weeks I didn't speak to any of my friends at all. This was something that was under my control, because they were MY friends, and not my family's. I repressed all my feelings, refusing to deal with them. It was too painful to face at the time. 

Slowly as the days past, I realised that I was somewhat becoming depressed. This scared me. I had depressive thoughts and a constant sad mood. This was normal though, after what I had been going through. To a certain extent I also felt angry and hostile towards the world. It was my subconscious repressed feelings that were making me feel so negative. Being negative is not something I do often, so it's a big change. I also noticed that my diet had changed drastically and I was constantly indulging in 'comfort' foods such as chocolate and cakes. I have a sweet tooth but I am good at managing my diet. I wasn't improving at all really and I wasn't doing much to help myself. 

Then, thankfully, I went on a short break to Amsterdam which was pre planned a few months in advance. If it wasn't already booked I may have not even wanted to go. I only started feeling excited in the few days before I left rather than feel ecstatic for a longer time beforehand. Then when we got there, I had fun. I actually really enjoyed myself. I slowly started to let go of all the negativity and started loving myself and my life again. I really made sure I had fun and did things that would make me happy. The change of space was helping me a lot and diverted my attention and negative thoughts. By the end of the short break I felt very refreshed and ready to face life again. 

When I got back to England on Friday evening, I started thinking. I realised that I was in a positive state (after so long) and decided I wasn't going to let that go. I decided that I was going to get back up on my feet and sort my life out. I started by making a list of things that I need to do, then getting in touch with my friends and enjoying our conversations and having a laugh with them like a always did. Today, it's Monday, and I feel good. I woke up early, worked out and went on a run outside in the (almost) lovely weather. I ate a good breakfast and feel prepared to face the week. I'm going to focus on eating healthier again and limit my chocolate and cheese (and other unhealthy foods) intake. I'm not cutting them out, but instead eat them in moderation. When I eat healthy and keep fit I feel amazing. It works wonder for my mood (and everything else about me too!) I also need to start drinking more water.

I realised that, even though my life situations may be out of my control, how I handle them, how I respond to them, how I feel about them and what I think about them, can affect my life greatly. They can affect me as a whole person. So going back to my usual self, I am just going to say that being positive is the best thing you can do for yourself. Focus on you, what you want, and how you're going to help make yourself be happy. 

Lots of love, keep smiling,
Ayesha xxx

Are you doing what makes you happy?

Hi lovelies!

One of my main motto's in life is to 'do what makes you happy' (of course within limits, providing it is not negatively affecting others and isn't illegal haha). I am a big believer that we need to try be as happy as we can to live a good healthy life. Everyone's circumstances and situations are different, so often we have to make adjustments and compromises to fit with our situation. It is not always easy to be happy. I try to have a positive outlook on life and try and look on the brighter side to whatever I am not entirely satisfied with. If we are happier people, going through difficult times becomes more bearable (in my opinion). Also, happier people radiate positive energy which can be good for others too. 

Recently I have noticed that I have not been very happy. I haven't been sad, per say, but I haven't been happy either. I thought about why I am not happy and I realised it's because I am not doing what makes me happy. My life has drastically changed since I moved back from Manchester and graduated. A major contribution is being far away from my friends. Majority of my close friends live in different cities so it is not very easy to meet up often. So I miss them all. :( I have been feeling quite lazy and unmotivated, which is completely the opposite of the type of person I am. I like being constantly busy, being productive and socialising. 

Another part of it is realising how tough it is to find a job that I want. I haven't been job hunting for long, nor very extensively, but I am finding it tough. I have been offered jobs that I am not interested in. I don't want to waste my time on doing a job that I won't enjoy as much and that won't let me progress within my career path. I am quite focused on what I want but those jobs are not easily available and of course, are competitive. You would think that having two degrees would make me the perfect candidate.. But that is completely wrong. Getting into a good mental health related job is not easy. I want to be using my skills to help people with mental health issues, or be doing research to advance our knowledge of Psychology. Something voluntary in my field that'll give me experience and develop my skills is good enough too - but they are difficult to get into too! 

I decided that I want change and I want to be feeling happier again. I made a list of the things that make me happy. I then ticked off the things that I am not doing. I then made a list of how I can incorporate them back into my life and the changes I can make. So now I have this list of things to do that would normally make me happy. :) I realise (even though I know this already) that we can't just wait for things to happen to us.. We have to make an effort and implement the change ourselves. :) 

I have started off by making little changes. For example, I love having fresh flowers in my room and I hadn't had any for a while.. So I changed that which instantly brightened up my day. I also like to stay fit and be active, which I had cut down doing, so I have started to get back into that! I'll work on the little things and then go for the bigger and tougher things. Things take time to change and I will just have to have some patience. But at least now I have a plan to work on.. adjusting my routine to get it back to me doing what I enjoyed. 

I hope you all can make changes too if you're not feeling too good. Life is too short to look at the negatives. Understand what lets you enjoy your life, and make an effort to incorporate that into your schedule. Please do what makes you happy and stay smiling!

Lots of love,
Ayesha xxx

Reflecting on 2015 - one of my most memorable years

Hi beautiful people!

I've been gone a while.. I know.. Sorry..! I had a busy end to the year, more than anticipated. In that time I also had my graduation and went on holiday :) I celebrated New Year's Eve away from the UK for the first time and attended a very big family wedding. And now I am back to a 'normal' routine. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I'm sure many people have already said this, but, 2015 went SO fast. One moment I was living up North studying hard everyday.. and then the next I am back in the Midlands having a much more chilled life. 

2015 has been one of my favourite years. Possibly one of the best! I am using this post to be more like a diary-entry for me to look back on. So be prepared, it's going to be intense and quite long! Last year I went through a lot of growth, met some incredible people, learnt so much, and had so much to reflect on. I've made some genuine and true friends who I love and cherish very much. I had the best birthday I could have asked for, which was celebrated more than once with friends and family, in more than one country. I became an auntie for the first time to a beautiful girl, spontaneously had my hair cut to my shoulders (it was down to my hips at the start of the year!), got my second degree, and wore my first ever sari (eek! Haha). That's a brief summary of only some of the exciting bits! :)

I managed to stay fit and active most of the year, and kept a fairly healthy diet. As a person I became more appreciative of the present, more understanding and patient, more forgiving, and more confident within myself and my abilities. I realised some things about myself too, which for me is a big part of growing up - getting to know who you are. For starters, I realised that I am able to adapt and adjust to a new place on my own and happily live independently. I discovered that I am much more resilient and stronger than I ever thought. I also realised that I am not a very judgemental person - which I think is a good trait! I accept people for who they are - it's their life to make their own decisions - I can only support and help when needed. Finally, I realised that I am grateful for any negative experiences I went through, because even though they were horrible at the time, they have made me the person I am today (and I like that person haha). I think coming to that realisation felt like I was rid of so much underlying stress. 

I have so much to be thankful about. I am a lucky girl, and I am very grateful for everything. We all go through tough times but what is important is to stay positive and keep your head held high. I know this is easier said than done, that's why I find that keeping your loved ones near you is the best support.

As 2015 was such an important year in my life, I felt it would be appropriate to share three things I learnt last year:

1) We should not base our happiness on something that we may lose.
Often we place so much importance into some thing/place/person that may be only temporarily present in our life. Therefore, when this thing/place/person is taken away from us, or we distance ourselves from it, we experience pain and sadness. Sadness is often a result of having memories of happiness. When we remember good times and how we cannot experience that same time again, we can feel sad. That said, if we give such times less importance and accept that they are/were good in the moment, we can be less stressed in the future. Accept something for what it is right now, and enjoy that moment, but always remember that it may not last forever. No one knows what the future holds, so don't focus your happiness on something you may lose. Live in the present, enjoy being happy with what is in your life right now but don't let the absence of that change your life for the worse.

2) Just because you have a good heart, it doesn't mean everyone else does too.
The world is not full of good people. Unfortunately, not very nice people exist too. People can lie and be dishonest when it suits them. People can be selfish. People can be deceiving. What you see is not always what someone's true identity is. Remember that and you're set for life.

3) It is okay to change.
Without change we can't possibly grow into better people. That's why, we should embrace change. We go through so many different experiences and so much happens in our lives. If our experiences didn't affect us enough and make us change, what would be the point of them? Every experience will help you in some way to become a stronger and wiser person and make better decisions in the future (hopefully). Everything happens for a reason. We make mistakes and learn from them - that helps carve us into a better version of ourselves. That means we change.. which is a good thing. If someone says to you "you've changed", don't let that be a bad thing. Yes, you have changed. Of course you have. You've developed as an individual. And that's what life is about.

What sort of a photo would be appropriate for such a post? Ah, well, seeing as I only graduated last month and it was one of my big highlights for 2015, I'll post a photo of that :P 

Now you're probably thinking, do I have any new years resolutions that I'm going to talk about? Well, the answer is no. I personally don't think that just because the date has changed it means I should change drastically as a person and what I am doing. I want to be constantly growing, evolving and improving myself. I don't need a new year to let me do that. I have life goals in general, not ones that I specifically need to do just because it is 2016. With that said, I don't think it's bad to have new years resolutions - it's great when people do, but this is just me and what I am doing this year. It is partly because I am (thankfully) quite content with where I am in my life at present. There is nothing majorly different that I need to do that I wasn't already in 2015 to achieve my current goals. I more hope that I can continue how my life was progressing last year, and excel more at whatever I am doing :)

2016 has a lot to live up to.. Let's see what this year holds for all of us :) That's all for now! I'd love to know how you reflect on your year. What key things did you learn in 2015?

Lots of love,
Ayesha xxx

P.S. I also discovered that I am brave and no longer as scared when watching horror movies! This was not entirely true at the start of the year :P I can now watch horror movies alone and be fine. Yay :D