Tuesday, 31 March 2015

LIFESTYLE: WHY CHOOSING NOT TO DRINK ALCOHOL IS NOT A BIG DEAL


So this is something I've been meaning to post about for a while but never actually sat down and did, until now. It's not a life altering post, but it's something I find pretty annoying, patronising and a little boring by now, so here it is.

I don't drink alcohol. I can't really remember the last time I was drunk, and I think the last alcoholic drink I had was a Malibu and lemonade on New Year's Eve, and even that was to appease everybody else (sadly). It's not for religious reasons that I don't drink, i'm not raising money for anything and I don't have anything against alcohol or people drinking it. It just simply doesn't appeal to me anymore.

Don't get me wrong, 17 year old me would be like "what are you talking about?!" while primping herself ready for the local pub quiz with all the other underage-rs ready to go and get "off her head" on cider and blackcurrants and vodka and Coke's. Though, even then I didn't drink as much as other people I hung around with, but I never thought anything of it. Probably because I had to spend and drink so much to get drunk that it seemed more a chore than anything else.

Somewhere over the past year or so, I just stopped drinking alcohol. It didn't bother me, I saved a lot of money and I always found myself preferring a nice refreshing drink over a spirit or mixer. Over time I started taking medication which advises that I shouldn't mix it with alcohol, but I didn't stop drinking because of that and I'd still have the same opinion regardless. Now for me, this isn't a big deal. It's just like someone not smoking, right?

Wrong. Telling people you don't drink usually gets a reaction of horror and a barrage of questions and statements like "why?" "what?" "I couldn't do that" "I wish I could stop drinking" "Go on, just have one!" etc. Rather annoying. Especially with me being a student at university, it's like drinking is imperative and anything else makes you wrong. Me choosing to not drink alcohol shouldn't affect anyone except me, my liver and my bank balance. 

I've never considered myself one of those people that needs a drink to have a good time. Dancing In The Moonlight comes on when I'm out? I am right up there dancing away with my glass of (full fat) Coke. But, unfortunately I think people now view me as "boring" or "stiff" or like there's something wrong with me. I find that so narrow minded. Alcohol can cause just the same amount of problems as smoking or drugs. Tell someone you don't do drugs, everyone agrees and commends you. Tell someone you'd rather have water over vodka? Cue the gasps of incomprehension.

I just wanted to write this post to say that choosing not to drink alcohol is NOT a big deal. No matter what people think it is not a necessity for teenagers and young adults and you should not be pressured into thinking you have to drink because everyone else is.

You shouldn't view or treat somebody different for their lifestyle choice. I don't have a problem with you getting paralytic on a Saturday night (unless you're gyrating on me or I have to hold your hair back) so don't have a problem with me just choosing not to. Now I'm not saying that I'll never drink alcohol again, but for now, I dont. Next time someone  tells you they don't drink, it's fine to ask why, just try not to make them feel like an alien outcast.

Does anybody else have the same opinion, or am I actually weird? Please let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear what you guys think. Oh, and just to blow your minds a little bit more... I don't drink caffeine either.


Friday, 20 March 2015

LIFESTYLE: TOP 10 STUDY TIPS

So it's getting to that time of year again for all us students; exam time. For some, it's no biggy. I wish I could be one of those people who can breeze by, study a few nights before the exam and ace it. Unfortuantely, I am not one of those people. Especially with having anxiety, I need to be prepared at least a month in advance and know what I need to do. For years I've been Googling study and revision tips to help get me through them, and so here I've compiled my favourite and most effective tips.

TOP-TEN-STUDY-TIPS



1. Make a schedule

One of the most important things to do is to work out what needs doing and when, so creating a schedule of absolutely everything is so helpful. Note down what times you're in university, work, the gym, what assignments and exams you have coming up and deadlines, or anything else. From here you can see where you have free time, and so you can then create a revision or study schedule to fit in this timeframe and work towards your deadlines, Make sure to schedule in breaks every half an hour so. Even if they're only 5 minute breaks, they're essential to re-egnergise your mind and body.

2. Create a routine

This ties in with the above tip; once you've got a schedule set in place, try and make this a routine. If you have a free hour every night in your schedule, then use that hour. Once you've done it for a few consecutive days, it won't be such a chore anymore and you will get used to dedicating that time to work. 

3. Gather your notes 

If you're anything like me (sporadically unorganised) you'll have bits of notes in different notebooks. I like to take time to gather my notes together, and even type them up into a word document so that everything is together. This makes it so much easier when it comes to revision. Going over any material provided and previous lectures is also useful when gathering notes to ensure there is nothing that you have missed.

4. Condense information into your own words

My bad habit when notetaking is to literally copy down what the lecturer says or what is on the presentation. This can be quite unhelpful when it comes to going over your notes in the future; the notes might be quite basic, or hard to understand. Writing things in your own words shows understanding of the content and will be more helpful when it comes to revision.

5. Create practice tests and study guides

During seminars or lessons, or even on your online student hub, past exam papers and questions should be provided. Use these to pratice writing answers in the allocated time slot as if you are actually taking the test. This should help you to understand where you are up to in terms of understanding the material, and how much you can put together in the time allowed. Similarly, put together study guides for each exam including all the main topics and information you will need. I'll be writing a post on creating a study guide in the future, so I won't go into too much detail now.

6. Take care of yourself

This is one of the most important tips in my opinion. If you let yourself get ill or run down, it will have a significant impact on your productivity. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, at least 7-8 hours per night. It's also super important to eat right and stay nourished. For those of you who like to spend all day in the library (I wish I was that dedicated!), companies like Exante* can be your best friend. They provide healthy and nutritious ready meals that just need water, such as shakes and noodles. Three or four of those per day, depending on what you choose, contain your entire RDA (recommended daily allowance) of nutrients. That way, you know you're getting everything you need and it's all made so easily! The shakes actually taste super good too. The noodles? Perfect for those days when you're tucked away at your desk. Similarly, make sure to keep hydrated by drinking at least 2-3 litres of water per day. 

7. Make a dedicated study space

Create one place where you can study and work on assignments where you can avoid distractions. Universities will have dedicated study spaces, either in the library on around campus. If you are studying at home or in your student house, try and choose somewhere away from your bed or television. If it really isn't possible to do that, study with your back to these. Studying in a clutter and distraction free zone repeatedly means that every time you sit in the area, you will be ready for study.

8. Form a study group

Sometimes the best people to teach you something you don't quite understand are your fellow students. The lecturer may find something so obvious that they aren't too helpful in their explanation. Similarly, spending time with fellow students and learning together can be so helpful; you can bounce ideas off each other, engage in debates and go over lecture material and exam prep. Some people don't always understand the stress of exams and assignments, so it can be nice to spend time with likeminded people.

9. Teach somebody else

During revision, try and teach the topic to another person who has no previous knowledge of this subject. Families and friends are great people to test out, and they'll be honest with you if you're making no sense. To teach somebody about a certain subject means you have to understand it first; you may surprise yourself!

10. Don't overdo it

The worst thing you can do is wear yourself out before an exam. Stop revising between 12 and 24 hours before the exam. It's likely that after this time, you'll just stress yourself out and make yourself more confused. If you really want to brush up on info before the exam, at the most, use flashcards. Get an early night, have a healthy and hearty breakfast and engage in a productive activity to get yourself going, maybe yoga, some excercise or complete a crossword puzzle.



*Exante provided me with products in exchange for consideration on my blog

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

LIFESTYLE: YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO THIS

A few weeks ago, a colleague of mine told me about this new hit podcast, Serial. She told me a little about the plot and I was immediately hooked. I listened to about 10 hours of material in around two days; I'm not proud of that. But seriously, it's that good.

Serial is a podcast from the producers of This American Life, hosted by journalist Sarah Koenig. Serial tells one story, a true story, over the whole season of the podcast. The interesting thing about Serial is that the hosts don't know what happens at the end until they get there themselves; they are actually discovering the information as they tell it to you, so it's important to start with episode one and listen in order.

The first season is about a murder that takes place in 1993 in Baltimore in America, a teenage girl is murdered in her car and her ex boyfriend is convicted. In the beginning you discover there is no definitive evidence, just a motive and a story that the state put together with the help from a mysterious witness. Throughout the season, Sarah interviews real people related to the case, she speaks to the man convicted of the murder and you actually listen to their conversations from the prison, and there's also information provided from the trials. If you visit Serial's website, you can browse through lots of real material like letters and phone records used in the trials.

I was so absorbed into this story. I just had to know what happens next. Throughout the podcast it's interesting to see how one piece of information can change your complete outlook on the case and you find yourself thirsty for more. I can't really give any more information on this podcast without giving any of the story away, but take my word for it: you will love it. I'd never listened to a podcast before, and I didn't know if it's something I would be interested in doing, but I found myself listening to it on the bus, if I was walking anywhere, even on speaker while I was getting ready in the mornings. 

If you're interested in crime, thriller or just factual documentaries, you need to listen to this.


Monday, 16 March 2015

LIFESTYLE: MY LITTLE SUPER BOX | MARCH 2015




Every time I see the little brown box all the way from France waiting to be opened, I do a little internal happy dance. I've had a couple of 'iffy' weeks recently, so this Super box by My Little Box was the perfect pick me up. If you don't know about My Little Box, number 1: where have you been?! Number two: read my first post all about it here. I'd received an email last week from My Little Box with a few clues as to what was going to be inside so I was pretty excited. If you didn't know, I have a lot of love for superhero films so I couldn't wait to see what was going to be inside. 



I felt like this month's contents were a little different than previous months, but I'm still happy with them all the same.

"I believe I can fly" tee £29 -  Possibly my most favourite item out of this month's box. I love oversized tees for lounging around in or wearing for pyjama and this one size fits all tee is perfect! I love how My Little Box are so different to a lot of the subscription boxes out there, by including such a diverside range of products inside. This top is a prime example of that!

Kerastese Luminous Perfecting Conditioner £20 - This product is the March "hero product" which claims to leave hair looking luminous, soft and supple without any tangles.  I'm yet to try anything by Kerastese so I'm really looking forward to using this in my next shower. Me and my hair have a bit of a rocky relationship so I'm hoping that this conditioner lives up to it's promise of super hair that is super easy.

Caudalie's Hand and Nail Cream £12 - Hand cream is one of my fave things. I'm rubbish at moisturising my body, but my hands and face? Love it. I've heard amazing things about Caudalie and this is actually one of their best selling products, containing organic fair trade shea butter, avocado and olive oil. With a creamy texture it should melt into your skin and help to repair any dry or damaged skin. I'll be popping this cream into my handbag right after writing this post!

My Little Beauty Lip and Cheek Pencil £10.50 - Anything that claims to speed up applying your makeup and make it that bit easier, I'm all over it. Don't get me wrong, I love makeup. I love more time in bed in the morning too though, so for days at uni or just running some errands, minimal and easy makeup is the one. This dual purpose pencil is a gorgeous peach shade and will look good brushed across your cheekbones or blotted onto your lips. A definite makeup bag essential!

Superstickers £4 - My Filofax is one of my favourite things I've bought this year so far, and I've pretty much fallen in love with stickers to decorate it too. This set of stickers is super cute and motivational and I can't wait to put them to use.



As always, the My Little World magazine is no disappointment. Filled with tutorials, beautiful photography, editorials and interviews, it's a great read every time. I especially love the Supergirls' Wardrobe, along with the features on different lesser known super women like Jean Grey (I always wanted to be her!). Are you subscribed to My Little Box? If not, why not? At only £14.95 per month, with this box being worth over £75, it's 100% worth it. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Monday, 2 March 2015

BEAUTY: LUSH SEX BOMB


Lush is one of my absolute favourite shops; every time I walk past one I can't help but go in and browse, and often leave with a basket-full of beautiful things! I love baths, and so I usually end up with an abundance of bath products.

"When I've got that feeling I need...." a Lush Sex Bomb bath bomb. Perfect for releving feelings of anxiousness, stress and tiredness it's been an absolute necessity for me as of late due to awful assignment deadlines. It contains jasmine, ylang ylang which is renowned for it's soothing effect and clary sage to help clear the mind. 

It turns the bathwater a gorgeous colour and smells divine. Partner it with some chocolate and a good book and there you go, the perfect relaxing pamper night. At £3.25, it's something I buy every time I go to Lush and it will continue to be! I would like to try some new bath bombs though, so leave me your favourites in the comments.