How social media has redefined healthy relationships

If you’ve ever been around me whilst I’m scrolling through Twitter, in all likelihood you would have heard me shout the words “Jesus, is the bar really that low?” Usually, these outburst are sparked by a pair of matching Timberlands, an excessively large teddy bear or a print screen of someone texting their girlfriend to tell her that, if they don’t reply fast, it’s because they’re busy. All three of which tend to be placed in the area of the online universe that I hate the most: #RelationshipGoals. Because, why aspire to have a committed relationship built on mutual trust, respect and communication when you can have matching shoes, ammirite?

Now, that’s not to say that I wouldn’t be pretty bloody happy to spontaneously be given a giant teddy bear. But, I worry that we’re placing too much importance on the signs of affection that we can post about online. I realised recently whilst I was trying to get to sleep (obviously, because that’s when anything interesting comes into my brain) that social media has truly revolutionised the way that we experience relationships. That’s not always necessarily a bad thing. It means that people have access to information on how to form healthy bonds. It means that people have more ways to meet “the one”. It means that we have access to a tonne of platforms where we can digitally store our memories together for years to come. It’s all pretty cool. But I also worry that the internet has redefined what we view as being healthy in a relationship and that scares me. I feel like we’re often just sitting here, validating someone’s unfulfilling or unhealthy experience and telling the world that it’s normal or, if it matches their insta theme, #goals.

I give you permission

If there’s one thing that religiously listening to self-help podcasts and treating Elizabeth Gilbert as the Messiah has taught me, it’s that people are always looking for permission in their lives. They want their parents to approve of their career choice. They want to fit into what society deems as a “secure job”. They want their Snapchat followers to respect their grind. Basically, we all want a pat on the back and to be told that we’re doing a fab job.

But, if there’s one more thing that I’ve learnt throughout my self-love journey, it’s that successful people don’t ask for permission to be successful. They set their gaze firmly forwards and just start moving. Obviously, that’s more easily said than done. I for one still crave positive feedback. God knows how I’m going to cope when I’m at uni and don’t have lecturers to suck up to constantly! I’m a work in progress though. So, even though I’m not completely immune to it, I’m trying.

The female body isn't 'confusing'

If, for some totally legitimate reason, you were to find yourself googling the term "female orgasm" one day, one of the first result you would come across would be an article from Mens Health Magazine. And whilst at first is has an educational guise of teaching its readers to pleasure a woman, it also sends home the same message that you've been absorbing for your whole adult life: That your body is confusing.

This blog post was fuelled by the anger that has slowly built up inside me as a consequence of being fed that message. Frankly, I'm bored of it. I'm bored of this rhetoric that the female anatomy is too 'confusing' and that that's the reason women experience one orgasm for every three that men experience. Mens Health Magazine describes the female orgasm as "fickle" and "not something easy to come by". Well, I'm here to tell you that there are a sizeable number of women with two fingers, some coconut oil and a completely opposing opinion. You don't need to listen to them, though. Listen to facts instead: The average time for women to come from masturbation is 4 minutes, the same as men from sex. That doesn't sound like operating the Hadron Collider to me.

10 lessons my 20 years on this earth have taught me

Yesterday I turned 20 and spent it doing what I do best: in a Lush bath with a cuppa, a huge slice of victoria sponge and some Youtube videos for company. Frankly, it was bloody glorious. I'm pretty sure that a trip to Paris to have Beyoncé serenade me whilst throwing macaroons directly into my mouth couldn't have beat it.

All of the time that I spent basking in the gloriousness that is the Candy Mountain bubble bar gave me the opportunity to ruminate on the fact that I am officially a proper adult. My teen years are over, friends. And, apart from that thought scaring me shitless, I realised just how many lessons have been packed into those two decades. I've gone from being a chubby baby who did nothing but cry, to being a woman who's studying for a BA in English Lit, writes about her life online and only cries occasionally (usually because of sausage dog videos on Facebook). That's pretty mind blowing.

I like to document things that I've learnt here on my little corner of the internet. It's a very self-indulgent activity, but I'm sure you can humour me with this one.

On getting less screen time as an act of self-love

As some of you may remember, one of my main resolutions this year is to spend less time scrolling and more time strolling.

I found that it's easy for me to get sucked in by social media, not just because it has tonnes of cute videos of sausage dogs, but because it plays a massive role in my job. I realised that I was spending my day either scrolling for the sake of 'networking' or scrolling for the sake of doing something mindless. And frankly, it wasn't good for my mental state. 2016 taught me just how exhausted I become when I spend all of my time wandering around the internet. Having so many opinions thrown my way 24/7 just made my world too loud for my liking. Being constantly plugged in made me feel like it was impossible to find a quiet moment.

The non-instagramable side of self-care

I feel like I spent a lot of 2016 trying to define self-love. I learned, through a procession of failed attempts, that looking after yourself isn’t all about bubble baths, manicures, and glasses of wine. Basically, it's not always pretty or Instagram-worthy. 

The truth is, it’s a massive commitment and it can be bloody scary. Unlike any other relationship in your life, you’re with yourself until the end. So making a decision to change the way that you treat your body and mind is a pretty big deal. It means consciously choosing to work every single day to put your wellbeing first. Now, that’s all grand when it means going on a spa day. But, in my experience, 80% of what I want to do is not what I should do.

A letter to my period

I was told from the age of about 8 onwards to fear your arrival into my life. Tween magazine "cringe" pages and sub-par sex educations lessons taught me that you would inevitably crash into my world in a blur of blood puddles and excruciating cramps that could only be cured by playing tennis with my gal-pals. And I didn't really like tennis, so I felt pretty doomed. I was told to prepare for you with military precision. To pack a small pencil case with sanitary towels, panty lines, tampons and enough spare undies to clothe my whole form group. Apparently, you were a fan of guerrilla warfare. It was inevitable that you would appear when I didn't expect it. I always thought that would be whilst I was at my most vulnerable and my least prepared: at the swimming pool.

I don't think that affirmations are bullshit anymore

So, affirmations. I feel like the word alone is enough to set off a lot of people’s bullshit detectors. It sounds like the kind of thing that would be discussed around a camp fire with some kind of vegetarian quinoa and whale music playing in the background (aka my idea of a good night), so I think a lot of people are quick to dismiss the idea. It’s just kind of difficult to understand why repeating words to yourself will make any impact in your life. Apart from maybe wasting time that could be spent actually doing work.

And there we have one of the main problems with the discussion of affirmations: It’s all so abstract. It’s not like going to the gym and being able to see the sweat dripping down your face and then eventually even feeling your body getting stronger. There are no tangible results when it comes to manifesting positivity. It’s all to do with how you feel. Which is why for a lot of people, including myself until recently, they can seem pretty pointless. 

How to use essential oils to up your self-care game

If you hadn’t realised by now, I’m a little bit of a hippie. I eat quinoa. I use coconut oil on a daily basis. I occasionally talk about the dangers of deodorants that contain aluminum. That kind of thing. But just when you thought I couldn't tap into the flower-crown-wearing side of my personality any more, I've grown an addiction to essential oils. 
When I tell you that they’ve changed my life, I ain’t kidding.

I personally think that everybody should be using essential oils as part of their daily self-care. Over the past few months I've been working with Tender Essence on their blog and have learnt a lot more about how the oils do their thang. It's also meant that I've had the opportunity to play around with a variety of scents to see the power that they have over my mood. 

Guys, this stuff works and I want everyone to know it! Which is why I thought I would share some of my favourite oil mixes as a part of “Love Yourself February”. These caring concoctions can help you with everything from getting to sleep quicker to getting through your to-do list quicker. Bare in mind that you totally don't need to own all of these oils to reap the benefits of these mixes. Picking just one or two from the lot will help you on your way to being a calmer, happier and more productive you. If you don’t have a diffuser, simply sprinkle a few drops onto a piece of tissue and put it on your radiator.

Love Yourself February

As the invasion of fake rose petals, gigantic teddy bears and overpriced chocolates in your local Tesco have probably informed you by now, Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Whether that has struck an anti-capitalist chord deep in your soul or made you feel like a domestic God/Goddess who's ready to cook up heart-shaped pancakes for your significant other, it's pretty hard to ignore.