“Get off the mother flipping Xbox”. That is the first thing I can think of. In my younger years, I was very different from how I am now. I would game for many hours a day, now I haven’t played a console of my own for several years. It is is easy to have unhealthy obsessions like this in our young and potentially more naive years. That is okay for me as long as you are able to acknowledge it now and obtain healthier behaviours.
Maybe I am alone in this thought but I do not think that there is much that I would want to say if I could speak to my younger self. I try to look ahead to the future more than reflecting on the past. It would be far too easy for me to change a lot of things that went wrong. But I think things have to fall apart sometimes to make way for better things and to help you to learn and grow for sure. That being said, maybe one piece of advice I would have loved to hear is to work on my self-esteem so I can surround myself with better people.
I am a lot healthier mentally wise now than I have been in the past. I put that down to the self-growth, determination and fight that comes from not wanting to ‘relapse’ or return to a previous state of unhealthiness. When you have hit ‘rock bottom’ for whatever reason it may be, then you sure as heck do not want to go back. This is like being aware of your past and mistakes, but not allowing yourself to think about too much as it is gone and you cannot change it. I feel that it is important to recognise the past somewhat though, so I can realise how far I have come and to continue such progress.
I think my younger self would want to know what he is capable of as what I have achieved so far in my life. Our life is forever changing and it is important to move forward and not stagnate. He would want to know to hold out for meaningful friendships and to enjoy his time outside more.
Please share with me your feelings and what you would say to your younger self.
At a glimpse, this may appear as two different words. But to me and many others, they could not be anymore different. As a guy who likes to spend time by himself, but also enjoy the company of others I wish to share some of my thoughts around this.
I feel that a lot of people think being ‘alone’ is a bad thing. Many people seem co-co-dependent in other way… Like they need someone around to enjoy themselves, or feel safe and secure. For instance, you will see that these people are ashamed of going to the movies alone or a concert. But perhaps we can truly let go and enjoy ourselves when we have the freedom to explore autonomously. Just because you are surrounding by lots of people, it does not make it comforting. Sometimes for me at least, being in a packed room with no one understanding me is the most loneliest feeling of all. Much lonelier than in laying in your bedroom in the dark for sure.
Why do people seem so worried about being alone though? Maybe they are afraid of judgement for not being ‘normal’. But what is normal anyway? Where is the fun of achieving this impossible feat? And how do people avoid this feeling of loneliness? Maybe they think they are safe from this feeling because of their popularity on social media. But maybe they are just showing the world the person he/she thinks it wants, rather than what the person themselves want. Not portraying yourself accurately as the unique individual you are… That is the biggest concern for me, especially when it comes to loneliness. Be yourself and the people good for you will come along. That is for sure what I can say in my case.
As for being ‘alone’ itself, this is something I have become very accustomed to. I feel confident and independent enough to be able to spend time with and enjoy myself. Sure, being with people for certain activities is more entertaining but I will not miss out because I do not have someone to share that with. Being around people constantly is just not healthy in my books, no matter how extroverted you are… We all need a little time to ourselves to reflect and recharge. This is just natural.
Spending time alone does not have to be a bad thing. Many activities I find can be just as, (if not more) enjoyable alone than with company. This is when you feel your passion or interest in something is different to the person you are with. Or when you both are different views or interests for whatever reason. Just make sure what ever you are doing you are comfortable with yourself, and do not feel isolated. Enjoy time with others and take time to relax for your own good and mental health.
LIVE IN THE MOMENT. I mean, I always try to do this. But it does not come without difficulties. It is too easy to get tangled up in the past or to have two eyes on the future, what with all the pressure we face in our everyday lives. This year though, more than any I have started to realise the importance of just enjoying the present day. I guess part of this is due to the pandemic and the realisation that things are unpredictable and can change at any moment.
It is nice to have some kind of an eye on the future though, so you have a rough idea of where you are headed. But as plans change and your interests develop, we do not always know the path we will end up on. We can strive for a certain goal or path and in fact, end up taking off to a different destination. We cannot change the past, we cannot ALWAYS predict our future. I feel that the one thing we can do though is to make sure we enjoy our time right now.
It is a hard thing to do though I must admit when you feel or know that something can change. But if you are constantly waiting for that change, you are rapidly losing the time and moment. The best thing you can do in my opinion is to enjoy the things happening to you right now for what they are, as they may not last forever. Happiness is the key, and why let it wait?
For me, my plans have changed significantly due to COVID-19 but that does not have to be a bad thing. I never thought I would be studying abroad in my life and I certainly did not imagine being here so long. But the choice to do it and to stay in Sweden has paid off. I now get to experience a Swedish swimmer after braving the cold and windy months earlier in the year. This is just one example of living in the moment and trying to make the most of a different situation.
Many are aware of toxic relationships with their partners, but I feel that not near enough attention has been given to toxic friendships. Both share similarities in that they can provide important people in your life that are hard to say goodbye to. But what we should really do is be aware of the signs and the strange behaviours, so that we are surrounded by the best possible people. Because of this, I want to discuss and point out potential red flags that you may miss.
They bring out a strange side of you.
It is healthy to come out of your comfort zone of course. But with a ‘toxic friend,’ this can be a very different and quite negative side of you that feels strange and actually. You may start changing your behaviours, having bad habits or doing things you do not normally do. For instance, if that is constant drinking, or smoking or gossiping. A lot of this for me at least feels so toxic and I would prefer to avoid those who overindulge in such things by distancing myself altogether.
They are not grown up enough to admit their mistakes. This person never seems to be in the wrong, or at least in their mind. They may make you feel guilty and trying to reason with them can feel like talking to a brick wall. They always have excuses for their behaviours and are blaming others. We are adults by age now, so it is time to start acting like it. Putting your hands up and saying ‘sorry’ is not that difficult.
They are not there for you… especially when it counts!
This is arguably the biggest and most obvious red flag there is, but for some reason, many people seem to miss or ignore it. It is a friend who makes everything about them. The one you will do a favour for or quickly jump to save them in some form. But when the tables are turned you are left to pick up the pieces without them. If they are making excuses, then maybe its time to question the integrity of the friendship.
All of these factors can severely affect your mental health, especially your self-esteem. For someone who has or has experienced low self-esteem then spotting these red flags can be pivotal to living a healthier lifestyle. At least for me, I have found comfort in improving my self-esteem as I have been able to choose better friends, who do not exhibit such behaviours. I find it is better to cut ties with toxic friendships to feel healthier and allow yourself more time and energy towards yourself and your good friends.
Please let me know if you liked this article and are interested in part two. There are still so many more signs and red flags to share.
Life is a constant cycle of making mistakes and learning from them. As quite a philosophical person, I am always wondering and reflecting on my experiences. Here I will list some life lessons that I think are very useful and even potent to me.
It is okay to not have everything ‘figured out’ – Life is not a sprint, it is more like a marathon. But with social and various other pressures from a very young age, most of us seem forced into certain things or ‘norms’, especially for our age. There is no rush to drive as soon as you reach the legal age, nor is it awful if you do not have or know your dream job. In school there is pressure to decide your future immediately. I feel that confining someone to a specific area so quickly just kills ones flexibility and creativity. Are we mature enough at 15-16 to decide our whole future? I think not. The age old saying ‘where do you see yourseslf in five years?’ comes to mind. How many of us now are doing what we thought we would be five years or ago, or more?
Learn from mistakes – I realise that it is okay to make mistakes and in fact admitting or confronting them is one of the first steps to self-growth. What I find important to remember is that a mistake is only a mistake if you do not learn from it. You can start to realise what you did was wrong and change or adapt, which can help improve your maturity and efficiency. Try not to be so scared of failing or falling and take the steps to move towards self-growth. Don’t dwell on the past or past mistakes as that has happened now. You can instead change your future so similar mistakes do not happen.
Put yourself first – Maybe this one seems controversial or selfish, or at least some people will want you to believe it is. But to me, putting yourself first is one of the most valuable things you can do in life. Take yourself seriously and you will notice an increase in your self-esteem. That is what I experienced and it is so rewarding. I find myself about to pick better friends and have fewer insecurities.
Pick your friends carefully – This can be a very tough one in my opinion, but it is extremely useful to consider. When I am able to put myself first and benefit from an increased self-esteem, I notice that I can attract better company. I firmly believe this is down to the more positive energy I am portraying and the belief I am worthy to these people. It is important to be surrounded by good energy from people you can trust and that support your growth. If you are noticing bad energy or red flags then perhaps you must question if this ‘friend’ is holding you back, rather than pushing you forward.
This is an area I am very passionate about. Let me know if you enjoyed it and would like to see more life lessons. Also I would love to hear your life lessons in the comment section below.
Social media can be a very toxic place which begs the question “is it really worth it?” to me. I cannot even begin to describe the countless times that I have considered deleting all or some of my social media. I look now at my phone and see the endless lists of apps; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. I begin to wonder, is this all necessary? Would my health be significantly better if I packed it in, and lived more outside of the internet and my phone?
I always wonder if I could make do with just one or two social media apps. But one thing that makes it hard for me to follow through with this is that I think each one serves some kind of purpose. I wonder if just Facebook would be enough for me, as I have the majority of my friends there and can share blog and social updates as well as photographs. It is important to me that I document my life, especially with my study abroad experiences. But is there a better way I can do this whilst protecting my mental health?
I firmly believe I am a lot more stable now and have much better friendships, which makes me worry less about being on social media. That being said, the negative elements of social media cannot simply vanish, not for me or others so easily. The constant jealousy or insecurities as people compare themselves to one another. It can be exhausting and depressing. What I find particularly awful is how ‘normal’ it is to just scroll through social media out of boredom… Because I wonder if this can lead to isolation and depression if people are reading bad things online, or seeing others have fun. It goes both ways and can affect a persons mood significantly.
At what point do we need to switch off for a while? What benefits do you think exist for living offline or reducing ones time on, or online presence?
‘From the outside’ is a single from the Illinois outfit Real Friend’s third studio album. This is the second RF song to feature in this series of articles, after ‘Short song’ in part one. RF are excellent band that makes me feel so many emotions, particiularly in their earlier raw material, but also with their more refined sound. It is a shame that ‘From the outside’ is one of the last few songs with original vocalist Dan Lambton. I believe this song may be involved with Dan’s struggles with bipolar disorder. It shows that how easy is it to hide and mask our feelings from one another, and that we may not be as fine as we portray ourselves to be. ‘I’ll fill my glass to take the edge off. The choice is mine’ in the pre-chorus shows how dangerous it can be though to be alone with our own thoughts. I feel that the message here is to communicate when you’re feeling down and have more empathy with those feeling down, to understand that people may be feeling differently.
Neck Deep – The Beach Is For Lovers (Not Lonely Losers)
I feel so old that this album is five years old later this year. I’ve loved this band for long before this LP and this, their second album is an excellent continuation of their popular pop punk sound. The song itself to me seems like a mix of emotions… “Don’t wait until you’re just like me. To look back over history with nothing but regret.” The singer is being told not to be stuck in the past which implies he is burdened and dwelling with his past regrets. “So all my friends say “F*** forever. Live today and die together.” We don’t wanna tell the same sad story. Heard it all before and that’s f***ing boring” There is an apparent need to move beyond these regrets so that he is a healthy and proactive lifestyle with a healthy future. This is important so that we do not have any regrets about our lives before its too late.
Sudden Suspension – We’ll Always Have Each Other
I’d like to think that this Canadian band has a clear-cut message behind this 3 and a half minute piece of emotional pop punk. When we are feeling low it is easy to think it cannot get better, and sometimes we don’t want to be around others and end up isolating from people we love dearly. This is so dangerous as it can be too easy to get into such a bad habit, and harder to get out of it. There are so many relatable lyrics in this song but one of my favourites is “Just don’t forget to pretend that it gets better than this”. Whatever storm you are facing right now, generally the worst of it is over, and whilst we have the comfort of each other, the sun can shine a little brighter on us.
Linkin Park – Heavy
Chester Bennington was a great person who wrote many special songs and his legacy lives on forever. His struggles with mental health were very evident throughout Linkin Park’s long tenure as one of the most influential nu metal/alt rock bands. ‘One More Light’ their most recent album which features this song, is packed with emotional pieces that documents Chester’s strong feelings and struggles. ‘Heavy’ resembles a difficulty in overcoming the struggles that comes with anxiety and depression
Pale Waves – Noises
‘My mind makes noises’ is the debut album of Mancunian indie pop band Pale Waves. I would say that the album is fantastic and one of my favourites. It features a lot of sad and emotional lyrics but portrayed in a very upbeat way due to the catchy choruses. This song specifically targets mental health and body insecurity. ‘My mind makes noises too much I feel like I’m slowly losing myself I’m afraid that I need help’ shows what an exhausting feeling anxiety and depression can have on a person. We see problems and insecurities in ourselves that only we may see. It is exhausting and cause one to spiral out of course. We must be kinder to each other and offer reassurance. But from personal experience with self-esteem issues I feel the best way is to develop it by having healthy hobbies and coping mechanisms, whilst removing any toxic energy from your life. It really is the first step to getting better as with better self-esteem and company I make much better decisions.
I hope you have enjoyed part two to this. Please share in the comments some songs about mental health that you like or think are important. Please also let me know if you would like to see a part 3.
It has been around five weeks now since I arrived back in Malmö after my amazing skiing trip to Tänndalen. However, a lot has changed with this pandemic, which means this period of my study abroad is extra significant. It is a time where so much change happened and one I will never forget, for a vast range of reasons.
Before the trip I was very consumed with finishing my work, settling into Swedish lifestyle, making friends and the trip I was most terrified about. What I was at the time sure of was that if I could do all of this and manage well, on the other side of the skiing trip I had an amazing few spring and summer months of exploration ahead of me. This unexpectedly changed what with, most of the people I had gotten to know being forced home sadly, before I could truly get to know them. As well as the deep concern about travelling, as I am avoiding public transport (walking everywhere is very tiring since I cannot cycle).
I find myself very depressed that a time I was so excited for, and worked so hard for, changed so abruptly. What I find even more difficult is that Sweden is taking a very unique approach to handling the corona virus with no real enforced lock down, so to speak. I decided to stay here in Sweden as at the time I felt it was the safer option to do, and out of respect for others and to protect myself, I am near enough living as though there is a lockdown. I generally only go out when I need to and I am distancing myself from others.
I am fortunate enough to still be on my study abroad experience but I am also devastated that it is and won’t be how I always dreamed of it. For now I am unable to travel around Sweden as I intended to, and I am generally limited to wherever I can walk to right now. I am still enjoying the parks which Malmö has in abundance. I wish now I hadn’t spent so much time enjoying them in the winter months though and instead moved around the country more and explored more.
I’m not a person who agrees with having regrets, but even with this unplanned pandemic I am scared I will have had too many. For now I am grateful I was able to have the wonders of the skiing trip… which was once my biggest fear, could now be my greatest experience.
In a time like this (what with COVID-19 and all), I feel that rather than focusing on the negatives, it is important to think and talk about our strengths as a person. Since this can become a difficult time for many, I want to share some of my strengths in this article to get ‘the ball rolling’ but I am desperate to hear yours too in the comments section!
This is an interesting one because I don’t usually like to take on a challenge that I am unlikely to be able to complete. But, when I do something I stick it at until I am satisfied with what I have done. For instance the Skiing I have mentioned previously (https://lifeistoo.sport.blog/2020/03/24/my-week-of-skiing-in-tanndalen-sweden/) that took a lot out of me… I had to set realistic goals for myself and avoid comparing myself to others: this was so that I could focus on challenges unique to me that I could achieve and be proud of. I also feel that this is a great way to persevere and in the face of adversity, as the goal is SMART. It also means that most of the time I can surpass my expectations which provides me with a good feeling.
Self-motivation, determination, hard-working
These are closely linked with perseverance as I have used this strength for a while now, and needed it more than ever to get my study abroad opportunity. I was faced with alternative assignments and more work than I could ever manage. While I was doing it I did worry that it would be too much for me and whether it would be worth it. I even thought that if I knew it was going to be like this originally then I wouldn’t have taken the opportunity. But I am so glad ‘I didn’t know’ because I would not trade my experiences for anything. I had to work what felt like all day, every for a month. There was so much to do there was no time to let motivation slip, I had to be determined 24/7 which was tough… But by building on what was already a strength for me and thinking of what life was to be had in the future gave me an end goal to work towards.
This may not be where I fully would like it to be, but one I have worked extremely hard towards. I think being around the right crowd and surrounding yourself with supportive people is pivotal to improving self-esteem. I cannot speak for everyone but this is how it has happened for me at least. I feel that is when it possible to understand the extent of the old saying ‘you attract the energy that you give off’. It is so easy to get tangled up in a web where you think you can do no better, but sometimes you have to make bold decisions and cut ties to grow effectively. Taking risks is key and knowing your self worth, so that you can respect yourself more to allow and maintain good people in your life.
This is just a short snapshot of a few of what I feel are my strengths right now. I would love for you to use the comment section to share yours too.
This period of uncertainty can be extremely detrimental on ones mental health, as many peoples social or working lives are torn apart for god knows how long. During this difficult time it is easy to slip into bad habits so I wanted to discuss some of the coping mechanisms I’ve been using, and maybe others that I should be using too.
Fresh air / exercise – This is my personal favourite. If you are able to exercise in a safe and distancing way outside then I highly recommend it. I like that people are keeping fit at home but use your time outside of isolation wisely regarding exercise! A simple walk or run around a park by yourself is extremely peaceful and gives you some quiet time to cool off whilst appreciating the nature.
Reconnect with old hobbies or formulate new ones – This is another thing I spend a bit of time on now as it can sometimes feel like the clock is moving too slowly. Games are an excellent way to consume time and you can even connect with your friends over them. I’ve been playing Runescape to connect with my old hobbies but also more recently trying out Football Manager 2020 that has been free! This is the most time consuming game I’ve ever come across so I really recommend it if you’re into football!
Speak to people – This may seem like common sense but with the constant reminder of self-isolation, I personally know how easy it is to ‘over-isolate’ if you wish. If you’re like me and like to keep busy, it can be a bit depressing when you’re not interacting and stuck in a front of a screen. Your flat mates or family are close by, so there is no need to be making unnecessary outings either. Talk to them about how you are feeling and maybe even share coping mechanisms to manage this pandemic better.
Learn new things – Such as learning to cook a new meal or cross stitch. Absolutely anything! When will you ever get so much free time again in your life? It doesn’t have to be a terrible thing, if you can learn to spend your time wisely. Let this be the opportunity that you come out of your comfort zone and try new things. Maybe you will even become more confident and comfortable in your own company too.
Try not to dwell on the issue and instead make the best out of it. It is not ideal but it doesn’t mean that you still can’t have fun. You just have to be smart and safe. For example, I have been keeping my distance and enjoying the parks to myself. It is nice to find a balance between this and other aspects in this post that are inside such as gaming or stitching.
Finally, I would like to hear your coping strategies! Please do share in the comments.
A blog for documenting my personal life experiences and thoughts featuring a pun from my avid interest in sport.