21 April 2012

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

Cringing at the cheesy title? Excellent! Now, if you're a regular reader of my blog ramblings or twitter rants, you will know that being a fourth year uni student is killer. Read any other final year blogs/twitter accounts and it will soon become apparent that we are all in a very similar boat, constantly battling feelings of stress, exhaustion, hunger and self-pitying. This week I had an essay deadline (one of the countless others that I have had to meet) but, for some reason I found this week was tougher than most. I don't know whether the stress and magnitude of nearing the end of my degree caused such a struggle, but there it was and I had what felt like more than the one emotional breakdown.
I found it really tough to find the motivation and concentration to get on with writing this particular essay. It is always harder when the question you're faced with seems impossible. But the reality is that it isn't impossible, right? It's just testing. That's what uni is all about, testing our limits and reaching new potentials, and this week I realised that I put up far too many walls in front of me, told myself far too many times that I wasn't capable of answering the question, that 2000 words was an unreachable target and wallowed in my own self-pity. I'm usually pretty good at coping with deadlines but this week I found myself dissolving into a blubbering mess with one too many negative thoughts about myself, when deep down, I know that I can do it. So here's what I propose next time those walls come up and the word count doesn't:

1.Take a break. Yes, take a break. It's okay, really, shut down the laptop, put down the books and take 30. You don't have the time to take a break? Oh, I think you do, because lets face it, the 30 minutes that have just passed have achieved nothing but a tired head, an 'I just can't do it' attitude and an immediate deletion of anything that you may have written. Make a cup of tea, listen to your favourite album, read a chapter from your favourite book and take some very deep breaths. Hopefully everything will seem a little clearer and calmer after taking a step back . It really is okay to not be all consumed in work for a few minutes.

2. EAT. Exam/ dissertation season is not the time to test out that new diet and leave yourself hungry. Your body is going to be burning so much energy while you work your brain over time so when you feel hungry, go with it people. Food makes the world go round, don't ever forget it.

3. I find that I want to sleep more than ever when workloads pile up. I'm an early riser, a lie in to me could be 9.30am then I'm ready to get up and go. But as stress mounts, sleepless nights happen and my alarm becomes the most horrendous sound in the world. It's important to know the difference between your body needing sleep and just being greedy and wanting more. A few hours a night isn't going to get you very far so put the books down early, unwind for a while and embrace the time to rest. Bliss.  

4. See your phone sitting there that you use to check your Facebook/ Twitter every five minutes? When you feel like your head is going to explode and that the tear gates are about to give way, pick it up. Find the number of the person you know will make you laugh until you pull a muscle in your side and press the call button. Rant a little, then laugh a LOT. Best way to relax and pick yourself up; completely fail safe.
5. Make a plan, set yourself manageable targets and treat yourself when you reach them. If you're struggling to think of suitable treats, take a look at the wonderful Jade Stobbs and take some leaves out of her good books; I'm sure you'll be inspired and reap the rewards! Who doesn't like to spoil themselves once in a while and after the countless hours that we've spent buried in masses of library books, heck, we darn well deserve it. (My house mate went and treated herself to a brand new DS and some games to go with it yesterday after 2 weeks filled with job interviews and project deadlines. Extravagant, but if you want it and deserve it, bloody well go get it!) 

6. Remind yourself why you chose to go to university (or college). Then remind yourself why you chose your subject(s) and what it is that you love about them. Then think about the fact that very soon it will all be over. Remember how desperately you wanted to finish school, turn 18, be an adult and laughed in the face of anyone who told you that those were the best years of your life and you'd miss them once they were gone? And yet here I find myself in my early twenties dreading the day that I have to say 'I'm 22'. Once it's done, it's done, so it is worth putting in the hours now, soaking up as much information as you can and making each day count. (Too much Titanic, perhaps?) 

I adore my university life and will be sad to see it all come to an end this summer. But, I don't want to spend the next month or so in the fluster that I found myself in this week, so food, treats and kit kat filled breaks will be helping me get by.

How do you find yourselves able to cope with the stresses and strains of essays and exams? Tell me your secrets, please!

13 April 2012

I Covet Thee, A New Way Of Thinking

By now, every Tom, Dick and Harry should be familiar with the name Samantha Brick and the uproar that her controversial article caused the other week. The target of many a bitchy comment about her apparently average looks and delusional self perception, it is a wonder that she didn't merely crumble away and regret the whole thing. But today, she hit back with yet another article explaining and justifying herself and her words. I don't want to focus on the controversy of Samantha Brick so much in this post, but the fact that here is a woman so confident in her own skin that she has no qualms professing her self worth.
On a daily basis women are inundated with the front covers of newspapers and magazines sporting the latest fad diets that we just HAVE to try because we all HAVE to lose that extra bit of weight that stops us from fitting into a socially acceptable size 8 and pushes us into the deep, dark realms of double figured sizes, dare I say it, A SIZE 10! Shock bloomin' horror. 

Ever tried fitting into your boyfriend's skinny jeans? Ever found that you can barely slip them over your thighs? Ever wondered why? Women are built differently to men; we have hips, child bearing hips and we are bloody well supposed to be that way. 

Magazines and the media seem to think that they are doing us all a much needed favour with their relentless quest to get us to buy their latest issues, try their latest quick fixes and then cry as we have to pull the size 10s back out of the wardrobe once we stop living off just carrot sticks. 

What needs to be promoted to women more is not weight loss but healthy life styles. Women should be conscious about the health of their bodies, not merely if they can pinch an inch too many. Exercise is solely promoted as a means of weight loss, not as a necessary activity of everyday life, not as something that can be enjoyable. Last year I ran Race For Life, a 5km fun run that I am sure you have all heard of. This gave me the kick up the bum I needed to go for a run/jog regularly. (I use the term loosely, no more than 2/3 times a week, but that's more regular than my previous status of zero runs a week). I don't think I lost any weight from training, but I got a hell of a lot fitter and eventually managed to finish 5km without having to stop and pick up my lungs; the furthest I've ever run, ever! I've never been good at running, but I've kind of grown to like it. It hurts like hell and my legs haven't learnt to carry me all that far, but I'm working on it (partly as I had a mental breakdown and signed up to a half marathon in October, jokes!)

Not everybody likes running or wants to do it. But, my point is find something that you do and take it up and stick to it without weight watching. Think about your body in terms of healthiness, not jeans size. I made Rob do that 30 Day Shred workout with me, which is quite popular at the moment and I have never laughed so hard! Do it with someone, trust me, it's hilarious. People look ridiculous doing star jumps, watch them, it's brilliant.

Not everybody was built to be super slim, and if you weren't, don't try and force your body to fit that mould. Embrace having a little junk in your trunk and make maintaining a healthy life style your priority, not the unhealthy images of a size zero craze. If only it were that easy as to turn the other cheek to the diet covered magazines and re-wire our brains to see exercise as more of a healthy life style, then perhaps we could all write like Samantha Brick about how beautiful we are and be confident in doing so, perfectly happy in the skin that we have. For that, I envy her.

06 April 2012

Lead Through The Dark With Your Eyes As Candles

Last weekend I went home to celebrate my mum and my sister's birthday, which I finally have time to blog about. On Friday, my mum threw a huge party for my sister as it was her 18th. In the Philippines, when you turn 18, you have what's called a 'Debut', and it is custom to have 18 candles and 18 roses (some also have 18 treasures, but we missed out the latter). So 18 of my sister's closest girlfriends, including my mum, took to the floor to light a candle for her and wish her happy birthday/ recall a fond memory from their friendship. There were tears and smiles and it was all very beautiful. 

Then the boys stepped forward and one by one presented my sister with a rose and quickly wooed her round the dance floor. My little 8 year old brother was absolutely adorable, sweeping in on one knee, taking the rose out from the inside of his jacket and then removing his hat while he took her hand! Once the song had ended he made a far too cool for school exit from the dance floor with his Michael Jackson style moon walking! 

The party was held on my mum's actual birthday so after celebrating my sister's turning of 18, we surprised her with a cake and round of happy birthday to ensure that she felt just as special. It was a lovely evening and I am looking forward to next weekend and leaving the library behind for a slightly longer visit home.