The Joys Of Learning A Language (And How You Can Do It Too)

I really love languages.

Vague, I know. But I end up saying it to myself and to other people a lot. I just really like languages. My own language, languages I’m learning, languages that I’m not, dead languages, languages that hardly anyone speaks anymore. I just…*clenches fist*.

While I know I’m not the only one (obviously), I still often feel like the only person who wants to at least try another language. Usually, people just find it to hard. Ok, I get that. Language is woven into every single part of your life and so, to understand a whole other language is to understand a whole other life, a society, a history and culture. But, usually, the rejection of other languages comes from ignorance and the desire for there to only be one language; English.

Yeah, we won’t get into that.

I wanted to talk a bit about my language learning experiences and how you, if you’re interested, can get into the wonderful world of language and how it’s not as hard as you think!

First, take it out of your mind that you have to be ‘gifted’ or have to be talented from a young age at language learning. Yes, there are going to be people who find it easier than you because they were brought up in a bilingual household or moved to another country and was forced to learn the language etc. If you want to learn, are ready to learn, and love the language you’re going to learn then you too can do it!

Next, choose your language! There are so many reasons why someone embarks on this journey; maybe your job needs a multi-lingual person? Maybe you’ve got plans to travel to multiple places and want to at least try when speaking to locals? Maybe you’re packing up and moving to a whole new country (lucky you)? Maybe there is a new part of the family who you want to get to know but they don’t know English? Or, like me, you’re a bit of a language nerd. Most of the time you won’t have a reason, and that means the pick of the litter. What language appeals to you the most? The easiest? The most challenging?

While I’m always trying to learn French and Spanish for practical reasons, the language I’m focusing on and having the most progress I’ve ever had with a language is Norwegian (Bokmal). The reasons why are actually quite simple, and I hope you can implement them into your language learning too!

memrise-appRookie mistake? Using Duolingo. I hear you all shouting ‘WHAT?’ at me while you have Duolingo open and ready. For many it is a treasure trove of language tips and tricks, but for me it’s just trying to remember weirdly worded sentences that you’ll never use. Multiple times I’ve had to translate ‘The dog is in the house’ or ‘I read while I cut oranges’ while I haven’t grasped how to ask for directions or introduce myself yet. If you’re going to use a language learning app, I’d recommend Memrise which was recommended to me by my travel buddy Anna whose Swedish is already coming along very well with the help of this app. Now, I know there’s a Duolingo app for your phone, but I always found it worked better on desktop which, to be honest, isn’t ideal. Memrise not only teaches you relevant things, it tests you over and over so that the translation comes naturally. You can use it anywhere too (hence the purpose of apps), meaning if you’ve got a few spare minutes on the bus or in the dentist waiting room, you can brush up on your vocab. There’s also an option to watch little videos of actual native speakers saying phrases normally, so you can get used to the speed and pronunciation of the sentences you’re learning.

Consuming the entertainment of another culture is also a fantastic and vital way to learn a language. The easiest way to learn a language is to surround yourself with it, and if literally moving to that country isn’t an option, the best way is to watch, listen, and read the language. For Norwegian, I’ve been soaking up the culture through television and music. Watching SKAM has opened me up to slang and with matching it with language apps and standard language learning, I’ve started to understand bits here and there without subtitles (it’s honestly a magical feeling when that happens). I’ve listened to popular radio channels too just to hear speed. I know that dialect changes depending on where you are in Norway which is normal in most languages (English in Newcastle and English in Somerset aren’t the same, for example), but I believe in Norway it’s even more so, and so I’m trying to just conquer the dialects in Oslo and the dialects used predominantly in the media. Music is great too; trying to decipher what the lyrics are is actually just as fun as singing along (and getting it royally wrong). Hearing the language constantly makes my accent and pronunciation more confident, and so I urge you to look for films in the language you’re learning, shows, youtubers from that country, podcasts, anything where you can hear and take it all in.

Learning a language by yourself begins to suck when you have no one to practice on. My dad, a language lover too, has no problems having small chats with me in French and Spanish, but completely shuts down when I talk in Norwegian. So what’s a girl to do?

Pets.

(If you don’t have a pet, skip this paragraph)

I talk to my dog, Barney, a lot. I didn’t realise how much I did until I said “Er du en godt gutte?” and he wagged his tail happily because yes, he is a good boy. I know dogs don’t respond to actual language; I know my dog doesn’t understand Norwegian, but to have someone actually reply to me in their own way that isn’t blank stares is actually really useful. So now, I just chat with him, make sure he’s good and happy, ask him if he wants a treat, and I try to make sure to do it all in Norwegian. So, if you chat to your pet (which I know you all do), see how comfortable you feel talking to them in the language you’re learning until you’re having full blown conversations about politics and the economy with them. Me and Barney haven’t got there yet, but I know he’s interested.

I never realised how much language learning had always been a large factor in why I love education in general. Maybe not the education system, but learning that through a language is a whole new world, culture, and people, living on the same polluted spec of a planet that we live on.

Let me know what languages you’re learning and how you do it if I’ve missed anything!

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On Feeling Successful (As Told Through A Trip To Copenhagen)

Two middle aged men sit across from me on the train home from Gatwick Airport.

“So what’s your youngest doing now?”
“He’s just been signed to a modelling agency! He’s only eighteen! What about your Sarah? She still at uni?”
“She graduated with a 1st, and now she’s a top marketing executive in London!”

It’s strange that this story starts at the end, when I’m tired and greasy and starving. The flight from Copenhagen to Gatwick was only 1 hour 40 minutes but adding on the waiting and the queuing and the scanning of tickets and passports I’d say it feels like an all day shindig. I rarely eavesdrop on people’s conversations, even if they’re sat so close on an empty train in the middle of the night, but the conversation between the two proud dads got to me.

As a young person who can find fault in everything I do, I find it difficult to feel like I’ve achieved something. I’m unemployed, living at home, with dreams and ambitions that can often seem out of reach. While these things aren’t things to be ashamed of, they certainly pale in comparison to others.

The feeling of success is subjective and ever changing. It can be measured in so many ways, so many little intricate threads that make you proud of the person you are. Success moves with time, and changes depending on the decades, years, months, minutes. I haven’t felt successful in a long time, but on the late night train journey back home from a few days in Copenhagen, overhearing a conversation about the large successes of others in my generation and younger did not stoke the fires of my insecurities, but allowed me to process what I had just been through, or for a better term, what I had achieved.

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Copenhagen was spontaneous. I’d been cooped up in my house, in the little bubble of my life for far too long. I wanted to leave, even just for a long weekend, to experience something else. My friends made excuses (but also valid reasons) as to why they could not come with me. While going to another country on my own is always an option, to me, that was a step too far. But Twitter wasn’t. I tweeted indirectly that I wanted to go somewhere but just had no-one to go with, and hoped someone, if anyone, would take the bait (preferably mutuals of course).

And it worked!

I’d found friends online who wanted to join me and even an old work colleague who heard about my trip. The dates were set, deposits were paid, the flights booked. And then, the anxiety kicked in. Having a ton of responsibility suddenly be hitched onto your shoulders takes a lot of getting used to, and as an impatient worrier such as myself, I found the only thing to calm myself down was to research city maps, how to get from one terminal to the next, what trains to take, where to visit and how long it will take to get there, and to research more into the hostel we were staying in (and try not to let my friend’s exclaims of ‘hostels are dangerous you’re gonna die!’ get to me).

When the morning of the flight came I was a wreck. However, when I’m that nervous, I sort of turn into a shouty army officer who wants things to be done quickly and efficiently without any mucking about. It was that morning that I realised I wouldn’t just be responsible for myself, but also for my work colleague who is younger, less experienced in travel, and just all around a bit dopey with no sense of urgency. Don’t worry, she agrees with all these things.

The feeling of pride and achievement didn’t really set in until we’d checked into our hostel and I lay on my bunk bed and took in a deep breath. I’d done it. I’d gone through the awful experience of airport security unscathed and I’d traveled to another country without any adults whilst also looking after another human. I’d gone on the metro, found the way to the hostel and walked through a city with luggage (a big fear of mine is getting mugged).

And then beyond that; I was able to find my way around a whole new city which was in a different language, tried new foods, met new people, slept in a room with strangers, made decisions for where to eat (because my friends can’t make decisions), and made sure my friend didn’t walk into the many bicycles around the city. I also counted her money for her, made sure she didn’t accidentally shop lift, checked her bag was closed, and got her to stop asking me permission to do something/go somewhere. I was an independent traveler and also a mum.

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I visited a beautiful city in a beautiful country, experienced something new, and looked after myself in a way I haven’t in a really long time. I felt strong, I felt independent, I felt capable. And that to me, is a success. So, while I may not have a top job in London, a fancy apartment, or a million followers on Instagram, I was able to sit on the night train back home and feel just as proud as the dads sat opposite me.

And don’t worry, there’ll be a guide to Copenhagen coming soon!

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The Four Star Crisis

I did not realise that the star rating system was something I used so much in my life.

I use it for books, films, restaurants, hotels, years (2016 got 0 stars obviously), nightclubs, makeup, I could go on. But recently I’ve been having trouble try to explain myself as to why I’ve given a book a certain number of stars.

Goodreads doesn’t exactly force you to use their star rating system, but enough people still complain about it, one of the biggest complaints being that there aren’t half star ratings. I get it; you’ve signed up to a website where you want better explain yourself as to why you loved/hated a book. You want to be a little more precise, and sometimes a star rating system doesn’t really do it justice.

And while I haven’t really had a problem using it before, I’ve noticed a trend in the books I’ve been rating.

I bloody love to use four stars.

A lot of people on their blogs have a set of guidelines as to what they mean when they give a book a certain amount of stars, but I’ve never done that. I didn’t want to be so rigid in my rating, but it now comes across as slightly confusing, especially to myself. The only star ratings that seem to explain enough are one star (fucking awful) and five stars (fucking incredible), and while I rarely use two stars because I might as well just knock it down to one and only use three if the book was average, I use four stars to the point where the books rated do not have the same opinion from me anymore.

Four stars, for me, has been the ‘could have been five stars, but wasn’t just quite there’, which is a good enough explanation. But recently, the lines have blurred. The books aren’t mediocre, but they’re probably not something I’d read again. Some are strong four stars and some are weak four stars, but does that mean I’m using four stars too liberally? Is a four star a watered down five star or a heavily concentrated three star?

Why must you torture me this way, four stars??

Am I being too nice? Too cruel? Looking at my Goodreads, there’s far too many four star books; some I read the sequels eagerly, and some I have given away almost instantly. I turned my back on those books.

Maybe it’s time for something different. Maybe the star rating system is not good enough to explain how I feel about a book. Not all the books I read can be four stars. Otherwise, what’s the point in rating them if they all have the same rating?

How do you go about rating books, if at all? What do you think about when deciding how many stars to give a book? What makes a book receive a half star, or even lose one? What’s your opinion on the dreaded four star dilemma?

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La La Land & The Way I’m Consuming Entertainment

There is really something about going to the cinema on your own.

There is no quarrel with what you’re going to see, nor what food you’re going to eat. You can choose exactly where you’re going to sit, and you are most definitely going to be on time. Everything works in your favor when going to see a film alone, with the only problem being that you can’t actually discuss the film with anyone afterwards. You’re left there, with your thoughts, until you go home and find someone to talk about it with, and this is probably someone who hasn’t seen the film anyway.

Seeing La La Land was my first experience seeing a film alone, and it wasn’t until half way through that I realised something was wrong.

I suffer from depression, and one of the main symptoms is lack of focus/interest. Sometimes I do struggle to watch a whole film or I take a long time to read a whole book, but in this scenario I was entirely focused; I had no other stimuli to distract me from what was on screen, and I nearly teared up right there in the cinema because I thought my mental health was destroying this lovely experience I was supposed to be having.

But, this is ridiculous! I’ve been to the cinema before, watched a film before, and been disappointed with the film. It wasn’t my lack of interest to blame, it was the film in those instances. So why was it different now?

I realised I knew exactly what it was, and I was a mixture of both grateful and sad.

La La Land should be a film that I fall in love with. Not only is it about artists who struggle to do what they love while understanding that ‘doing what you love’ doesn’t always pay the bills, it’s musical, colourful, and has stunning cinematography. I’m known to be a fan of this kind of film-making. Films like Moulin Rouge! Scott Pilgrim vs The World, and Her. Shows like Pushing Daisies, The Get Down, and Sherlock. Visually stunning media is my jam, and La La Land should have been a perfect addition.

It had a love story, music, dancing, heart-breaking moments. But this thing that I’d realised about the way I was now consuming media had upset me so much because I had thought it had ruined my enjoyment of the things I love. But it hadn’t. What it had actually done is brought me more awareness about the issues regarding who wins and who doesn’t when it comes to the film industry.

(La La Land spoilers ahead)

La La Land does not actually have a plot. Like many films that are just made to win awards, the film has a basic premise with the distractions of fun musical numbers and pretty colours. But, because of what I’d learned through listening to people discuss the racism in certain books, I could only see Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) obsess over Jazz and how it should be played/listened to while everyone else around him (the people in the band, in the jazz clubs) was black. Jazz is a genre of music derived from the black communities of New Orleans. It was played in speak-easies and in clubs and at parties and has grown into a whole genre that can be enjoyed and played by everyone. But it irked me so much that, this large part of black culture was so prevalent in this movie…and we still focused on the one white guy in the room. The only speaking role a black character had was John Legend’s character, and he was painted as a little bit like an antagonist who wanted to ‘ruin the jazz sound’. It was Sebastian who we were supposed to be rooting for; that one white guy who we’re supposed to consider a visionary when actually he’s just doing what all the black extras are doing, but also throwing hissy fits because things aren’t going his way.

I’ll watch things and the first thing I’ll notice is ‘everyone is white’, and you don’t realise how prevalent it is when you can do it with almost all films and shows. Sherlock is set in London, where 40% of the British Muslim population lives, but according to Sherlock’s London, they just do not exist. HBO’s Girls is set in Brooklyn, where half the population is POC, and all the main girls are white.

Race is not just the issue, but sexuality too. I can watch a show, a film, or read a book and the first thing I will notice is ‘everyone is straight’. Everyone. No matter how many couples you throw in there (I’m looking at you, Sarah J. Maas and Stephenie Meyer), every single one of those couples is straight, and it’s so frustrating because I’m disappointed. How can you thoughtfully write a book, a show, a film, and just completely disregard a whole group of people so easily?

I think, when you grow, and your tastes change, and what you look for in entertainment changes, you always get a little bit annoyed. If you re-read a book that you loved in the past but then realise it wasn’t what it was cracked up to be, or watch a film that looks right up your street but it’s just not the same, I think you do feel a sense of loss. But, to think that this awareness has ruined my taste is a very ignorant way to think. In fact, I want to see it positively, because it’s enlightening. I feel like the blinkers have finally come off, and I’m now seeing the screen in wider definition.

I am tired of seeing/reading the stories that are constantly being told about the same groups of people, written and created by the same groups of people. And this is from me, a cis, able-bodied white person where most of western entertainment is about me.  I cannot even imagine being a young child and consuming so much media and never seeing yourself represented, never seeing the black actress in the main role, never reading about a girl in a Hijab saving the world, or never watching a boy fall in love with another boy. Entertainment plays a large part in forming opinions and views of the outside world, and while the film industry is changing and progressing into something more inclusive, it baffles me that films with the same plots still take all the awards for being revolutionary.

La La Land has won a lot of awards, and I can definitely see why. While the storytelling is a little different and is definitely a homage to the golden age of cinema, it is still the same story being told. It is still two white, straight people falling in love. It is still a story of struggle where there is no struggle, just handouts and connections.

Go see La La Land. Go and enjoy yourself. Laugh and cry and sing a long with it; I am not saying it cannot be enjoyed (clearly, it can be), but for me, this film has definitely been a turning point in the way I am going to enjoy books and films and shows from now on.

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NANOWRIMO 2016 IS A GO!

Welcome to November.

November, for many writers, is a time to get that story rolling around your brain onto the page. It turns out, deadlines are a great way for me to actually get shit done, and so every year I try my hand at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a competition that gets you to write 50,000 words in one month, with the reward being the first draft of a novel that YOU wrote.

I plan on chronicling my four weeks of writing with a little mini series where I wrap up the week. Kind of like my ‘Road to Publishing’ series, but on steroids. In this post, I just wanted to share the plot of my novel this year, as well as links and things where I talk about writing and where you can connect with me!

So far, my novel has the working title Royal Blood, which I wouldn’t mind keeping anyway. I don’t have a fancy, clean, worked out summary, so here’s a little ramble of ideas;

Set in a kingdom where winter dominates, a king is slowly dying. His two children, Marika and Gabriel Noskov, will never be ready for the throne. Gabriel, a soft-hearted, weak, and timid prince, prefers friendship with the servants and keeping his power of persuasion to himself. Marika, his younger sister, is soulless and uncaring, enjoying the presence of no one and reveling in the myth that she is a monster.

When other kingdoms hear of Gabriel Noskov’s inevitable rise to the throne, three princesses arrive to court with the determination to become his wife and Queen of Kamarov. But the positions of power are shifting, when Gabriel recognizes the power he holds, and Marika discovers her heart in one of the princesses.

Feel free to add me on Nanowrimo, and I’ll be tweeting a lot about writing and Nano-goodness over on Twitter. Happy writing!

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TV REVIEWS: Black Mirror S3

So a while back when I was just starting out as a booklr, I had two tumblrs; a book themed blog and a television/film review blog. I used to review every single piece of media I watched and quite frankly, it was exhausting. I ditched the blog, and now I’m here, barely watching any shows/films because I’m so wrapped in books and have the attention span of a fish.

Seriously, sometimes I struggle with ten minute Youtube videos.

I’ve always been a fan of Black Mirror, from the moment Rory Kinnear had to have sex with a pig on national television. Not only does it hit close to home (the show’s premise, not the pig sex), it is also hilarious and beautiful at the same time.

Here are mini reviews of each episode of Black Mirror, season 3.

Nosedive

Nosedive is set in a very pink and white world where your social status can get you into the express lane for everything. You’re popular, richer, and have a better standard of living, all thanks to your online rating. Bryce Dallas Howard plays Lacie, an average rating office worker with a need to climb the social ladder, who begins to use her rich and popular old childhood friend to get there.

I found this episode a nice ease into the horrors of Black Mirror. While it seemed relatable in many aspects (Lacie takes a picture of her coffee to get likes and ratings…don’t know where Charlie Brooker got that idea from *cough*), it overall felt like a setting you can easily distance yourself from and enjoy watching without feeling like an empty paranoid shell.

Playtest

Playtest is set in the present, where horror games are being developed into virtual reality experiences, using the horrors and fears in your own life to make it feel more real. While the games are only in beta, we see Cooper take advantage of an ‘odd jobs’ ad to test out the new game.

This episode was super trippy, where the question ‘is this actually happening?’ comes into play at every single turn. As someone who nopes at horror games and horror in general, I sympathized with Cooper in everything that he experiences, but I struggled to immerse myself into the episode because I was preparing for jump scares and loud noises.

Shut Up and Dance

I beg of you, right now, to not watch this one alone at night.

Shut Up and Dance would not be classed as science fiction, and it is one of the most realistic episodes to date, because it could happen now, to you.

Kenny, a shy and timid teenager, is filmed masturbating by a hacker on his laptop, and is blackmailed, along with others, to do whatever the hackers want. This episode is very similar to White Bear (from season two), where the twists are subtle and question your sympathy for the characters. White Bear, along with Shut Up and Dance, are both episodes that have made me feel shaken and frightened, especially for myself. Shut Up and Dance is about a seemingly innocent person who has to commit nasty acts (including robbing a bank and fighting to the death) for the enjoyment of others.

It’ll make you paranoid, squirm, and never want to leave the house.

San Junipero

This is, by far, one of the best Black Mirror episodes I’ve ever seen.

Yorkie, a shy and timid girl, walks into a club for the first time in 1987, where she meets Kelly, and outgoing and confident girl. Both continue to meet up with one another each week, where their nights end at midnight.

I can’t really explain the plot too much, because it’ll give it all away. But it’s so romantic, nostalgic, and not that scary at all. It didn’t make me question much, but made me ball my eyes out over the sheer beauty and emotion of this episode. I saw the themes as; finding love does not have a deadline and is death really the end? Go watch it. GO WATCH IT.

Men Against Fire

This episode has a very clear message about brainwashing and dehumanization and how it can be used for manipulation. Stripes, a soldier in the army, works with his regiment to scour a foreign country for ‘roaches’, a breed of monster who are terrorizing local villagers. They use tech implanted in their minds for aiming, maps, communication, and a general boost of abilities.

I liked this episode, but the message was not subtle. While I agreed with what it was criticizing, very little happened and there was a weird and unnecessary sex scene that had nothing to do with the plot. This was probably my least favourite episode.

Hated in the Nation

Another episode that is rooted in the concerns of today, however pairs it with technological advances that we could see in the future.

After a hated journalist is brutally murdered, a skeptical detective and a tech genius pair together to solve the mystery, and how social media witch hunts play a part. This episode feels very real and discusses the growing problem of mob mentality on social media. It’s something we see on Twitter all the time; how people are dragged and shamed and bullied for a comment they made or a picture they posted. Granted, these people shouldn’t be free of criticism, especially if they are spreading their own dish of hate, but what of the consequences? This is what Hated in the Nation questions; just how hateful can a person be that they would contribute to an online mob that sees their hate be executed in…well, execution, without the blood on their hands? It’s a scary and fantastic episode, shot like an actually clever police procedural.

Season 3 is currently on Netflix, and since it’s shift from Channel 4 to the show streaming giant, it has a larger budget which is clear in almost all of the episodes. It also expands from the terrors being isolated to just the U.K, and I feel that is partly because of the growing interest of an American audience, thus the inclusion of American narratives.

If you’ve only just got into Black Mirror, I’d check out seasons 1 and 2. Both terrifying, especially episodes Fifteen Million Merits and White Bear, but overall, a fantastic series that questions everything you hold dear today; your phone, your laptop, all your black mirrors.

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Mindfulness & Getting Your Shit Together

I’m so happy to be writing this blog post, because it means that I might have my shit slightly together at this point.

I am not the master of mindfulness, I am also not a doctor, therapist, councilor, psychologist or anything with a degree in taking care of yourself. I don’t have experience in self-care, the health care industry or even writing books on the stuff.

But I am currently practicing mindfulness, especially in taking care of yourself during stressful, anxious, and low times – all of which I’ve succumbed to for a good few months. I wanted to share the things that I’ve been doing to make myself feel happier, safer, and good – sometimes, even just ‘good’ is enough.

These are in no particular order, nor do I follow a schedule, a regimen, or other synonyms.

Reading

I feel like this one is a no-brainer. I’m a writer and I run a book blog, but that doesn’t actually mean I read a lot. However, now that I have more spare time, I’ve found it easier to just get comfy and read a big chunk of a good book. I often put reading on the back burner of things to do because I consider it so leisurely to the point of never getting around to it, so I’m happy that I can finally make time for it, usually just before I’m about to go to bed.

Going to bed early

Ah, the perfect segway. For a very long time, I have been a night owl. I would work and write and read until the early hours of the morning, almost seeing the sunrise before I decided to call it a ‘night’. But with getting up early, going to bed late is a big no no. And even if I had nowhere to go the next morning, sleeping in until 11/12 was making me lethargic and down. I want to be able to appreciate my whole day, and the only way to do that was to go to bed early. At the moment, 10:30pm is becoming my latest switch off time, but even an hour before that, I switch off my laptop, turn the WIFI off my phone, and wind down. I can already see that dark circles under my eyes disappearing!

Candles

I only got into candles recently, and I don’t know why I took so damn long. Yankee Candle is my new best friend, with autumn and wintery fragrances coming out that just make me feel so warm and cosy. My mum has been obsessed with candles for a really long time, but I just didn’t see the joy in them. They’re so calming, they smell great, and the ones I like only cost no more that £1.30.

Walking/Light Exercise

Now, I eventually want to get back into making it a routine to go to the gym in the mornings, but at the moment it’s just not possible. What is possible, however, is walking my dog, which I often do with other people as my dog is often the cause of my stress. They’re usually flat, country walks where I can take beautiful photos too (and have done), but sometimes we just go to a field and throw the ball with him for an hour or two. I don’t take my phone, and so I’m cut off until I come home, which is really nice.

Cleaning/Tidying

I don’t necessarily mean a deep, spring clean, but sometimes getting your shit together means decluttering and tidying the crap out of your house/room. At the moment, I am in the process of tidying my bedroom, doing one thing at a time to ensure it’s not so stressful, but at the same time seeing a gradual improvement. Even just little things like polishing and chucking away tat that you don’t need or use anymore can really help.

Leaving My Room

Let me explain. A lot of what I do (blogging, writing, reading) means that I often stay in one place for a large period of time. I don’t own a desk in my room, and so often find myself doing all these things on my bed. What I’ve started to realise is that it means that I don’t necessarily get up and start my day. I have my breakfast in bed, put my laptop on my lap and stay there until dinner. So now, as a means to combat this, I’ve moved my laptop into my dad’s study (with a desk!) and force myself to leave it there. If I wanna work, I have to get up, get dressed, and leave the room. And if I want to wind down and get ready for bed, I can’t take my laptop with me.

What are the things you do to de – stress? Let me know in the comments and I might try them out too!

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