Wednesday, 18 January 2017

7 reasons I love IKEA

Grainy Windows phone photos, yay!

My parents both had the day off work today, so we decided to go to IKEA together. As you probably know, I will be graduating in July and will most likely be moving to somewhere new, and I'm really looking forward to decorating. And what better place than IKEA to get some inspiration from?!

1) The inspiration 'rooms'
These are definitely my favourite parts of IKEA - the makeshift 'rooms' that are decorated to look like mini apartments. They give me so many ideas for my own flat and show that a small room doesn't have to look cluttered or cramped. I used to wander around them and pretend that they were my own house when I was younger. The best part is that the little rooms just give me so ideas about colours, furniture and decoration. Oh, and that I want a kitchen with an island like the one above.

2) Nostalgia
We used to visit IKEA such a lot when I was younger, so going back now gives me such a sense of nostalgia. I used to love running around with my sister, looking at all of the rooms and playing house.

3) Hide-and-seek
Honestly, I think IKEA should hold huge adult hide-and-seek sessions - they would make a fortune if they just charged a couple of quid. It was the best place to play hide-and-seek as a child, and it's still the best place to play it as an adult. All of those rooms and storage boxes!

4) The picture section
This is also one of my favourite sections of IKEA - the bit with all of the pictures and picture frames. I like looking around for inspiration, and I picked up these cute little ice lolly cards to go on my wall today for just £1. I really want to have a gallery print wall at my place, so this section gives me lots of ideas.

5) The food
Let's face it, we don't just go to IKEA for the furniture, do we? The food is so good and it's so cheap! I had some veggie meatballs today for just over £1 and they were delicious - plus me and mum got a hot chocolate for 40p each (which, FYI, is just as good as a Costa hot chocolate and literally 10 times cheaper). The section where you can buy the food is great too - I got some frozen veggie meatballs to cook at uni with pasta or rice.

6) The storage ideas
IKEA come up with some amazing storage ideas to make a room look bigger and less cluttered. I think that they come up with some really innovative ideas, and I'm really hoping it will help me fit my ever-growing wardrobe into a small flat...

7) The prices
But really, the best thing about IKEA is that it's just so cheap. I will definitely get the majority of my starter furniture from there, because I can pick it up for half the price of most other places. And it's decent quality, too.

IKEA, we love you.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

So much time, so little to do...

5th year at Liverpool Medical School is quite an odd year. We did our final exams at the end of 4th year, so this academic year mainly consists of placement and portfolio work.

Meaning that we don't actually have that much work to do outside of placement. Which is amazing, as I can just get home and chill out and not feel guilty about not pulling a medical book out every evening. During the last 4 years of Medicine I would always feel bad if I wasn't working as often as possible, and there was always something to study, so the transition to 5th year has been nice, but also a bit strange for me.

In 5th year we do four blocks of 8 week placements, and after each 8 weeks we have a week off - or a 'reflection week'. This week is one of those weeks, and I only have one day in university, so I have come home to spend some time with my family.

This sounds lovely in theory, but I really don't know what to do with myself! I think I'm so used to always having some studying to do that I get out of the routine of relaxing. The last couple of days I have been home alone as my family have been at work and school, and I've just been sat around trying to find something to do. I've watched Gossip Girl, finished off two books, painted my nails, browsed all of the online shops that I can think of, and picked up running again. If I have ever been bored in the past, I have just turned to work and buried myself in that. But at the moment I'm not quite sure what to do - even my parents have commented that it's strange that I've not been sat at the table working.

To be honest, I can't really complain. Next year, when I'm working, I will be yearning for my reflection weeks and the simpler times when I could just sit around and do nothing, or literally lie in bed all day. I'm just usually so busy that I've forgotten how to chill out for a few days by myself!

You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
                       - Martin Luther King

Monday, 16 January 2017

MH Monday: The pressure to be happy

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, ocean, sky, mountain, shorts, outdoor, nature and water

Why is it, when you're suffering from depression, that some of the happiest days of the year can actually feel like the saddest? Christmas, birthdays, family meetings, holidays etc. These were the days that I could feel at my lowest. 

One day that I remember vividly is my Year 11 prom. There was such a huge build up to it that it was going to be such a fun night that we would all remember for the rest of our lives, but I honestly spent the majority of the night crying or feeling upset. My depression hadn't really been diagnosed at that point, and I found it so difficult to control my emotions. I was supposed to spend the time having fun with friends and laughing uncontrollably, but instead I felt extremely depressed and didn't enjoy the night at all.

I also remember many days on holidays and trips away where I would feel down. When I was in Australia last summer, it was my 23rd birthday. This should have been an amazing day for me - it was my birthday, I was in Oz, and the sun was shining! But instead I spent the day crying and feeling homesick, and I felt low in energy so I slept for a good few hours. Although this could partially have been because I was away from my family for my birthday, but I have had similar experiences during holidays in the past.

I could reel off loads of examples of when I 'should' have been happy, but actually spent the day feeling very depressed, perhaps partly because it should have been a happy day, but that would get very boring.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor, nature and water

Why does this happen? I think that the pressure to be happy actually made me unhappy. Holidays, birthdays, Christmas, New Year - they are all supposed to be happy times, where everyone is celebrating and joyful. There is a lot of pressure to join in with this, too - nobody wants to be around someone who is not enjoying themselves during these events. Then I would start to feel guilty about feeling down, when nothing in particular was wrong and I knew I should feel good, and that would make me feel even worse. One huge spiral.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't spend every happy event depressed. I actually can't think of a time where I have been unhappy on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, and I think this is mainly due to my family as our Christmases always live up to expectations without much pressure at all. Christmas has always been my favourite time of year. But birthdays? Definitely. Family meet-ups? I can think of many times where I just couldn't stop crying. New Year? Oh, I always cry on NYE. 

I think the point I'm trying to make is that people can't make themselves be happy. Special events don't cure depression, and the pressure to be happy can actually sometimes make it worse. Try and understand what might be going on in someone's head if they're not enjoying themselves as much as they perhaps should be during a happy time - and be patient with them. Depression can feel a lot easier when there is less pressure to 'cheer up', and when you are surrounded by understanding and non-judgmental people.
It's not the future that you're afraid of. It's repeating the past that makes you anxious.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

My video of Italy

You may know that I have made videos of all of the places that I travelled to last summer and published them on YouTube: Fiji, Australia and Bali. And today I finally finished off the video of the Amalfi Coast in Italy, that I visited with my family in August. You can either watch it below or here on YouTube if you're interested!

I've got a few holidays lined up this year that I'm also hoping to film and turn into videos. I'm not the best at filming and editing, but I'm really hoping to improve that skill this year, as I love being able to watch a video back of places that I have travelled to. It brings back memories even more so than photos - perhaps because videos feel more alive and less static. These are the first proper videos that I've ever made, so I'm fairly proud of how they've turned out, and I've found that I really enjoy editing them and putting all of my footage together (except when I have 2 hours of snorkelling footage... now that got boring). I think it's the creative streak in me coming out in a different way to blogging and photography that I enjoy. I hope you enjoy watching them!
If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Baths and mindfulness

Today has been one of those days where I've had time to sort out all of those niggly life things that sometimes get pushed aside when you're busy - moisturising, painting my nails, washing my hair. And I actually enjoyed doing them, most likely because I actually had the time to complete them properly, so that they didn't seem so much like a chore.

I lit some candles (I'm still into the hygge vibe), ran a bath, and put Ed Sheeran on my iPod. I put a Lush bath bomb that I got for Christmas into the water (how cute is the little penguin?!), and spent half an hour or so just wallowing and thinking.

I actually think that being in the bath is one of the easiest places to practise mindfulness. If you're not aware of mindfulness, it is the concept of being in the present moment and being aware of everything going on around you. I found that I was concentrating on the sight of the steam rising from the water, the woody smell of the bath bomb, the feel of my wet hair on my shoulders, the sound of the water running. I was in the present moment and, during that time, I wasn't thinking about any of my worries or fears. When I was depressed I always found that a bath would help me to feel better, and I think that was partly why - it was hard to ignore all of my senses and not be in the moment.

I have this week off uni, so I've got time to sort out the little things in life that often get pushed aside. Although I haven't really done that much today, I still feel like I've been productive. I've also spent the majority of the day reading - I love when I have nothing on and can just lose myself in a book. I forget how much I love reading until I actually properly get back into it.

I think it's so important to make time for the little things in life - I always feel so good when I make time to do things that I love, like reading or having a bath. We all get so wrapped up in work and diets or looking good on Instagram sometimes, that we forget to give ourselves a bit of TLC and take some time out. Well this week, I'm going to take a lot of time out for myself as I feel like I need it.

I hope you have had a lovely Saturday!
You're always one decision away from a totally different life.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Friday Favourite: Ed Sheeran

I was a little unsure about what to post for my Friday Favourite this week, because there has been nothing in particular that stands out. But then I was listening to my iPod and it became obvious: Ed Sheeran's new songs! I honestly haven't stopped playing them the last few days.

If you weren't aware, Ed Sheeran very recently brought out two new songs - Castle On The Hill and Shape Of You. They are both really catchy and I love the direction Ed is going with his new music - they're the sort of songs that make you want to get up and dance. You can listen to both songs here.

I'm one of those (very annoying) people that plays a song on repeat when I really like it, and these have been on constant repeat for the last few days. I think my favourite is Shape Of You because it reminds me more of Ed's older music and I think it feels more true to his music style, but I really do love Castle On The Hill too. I'm playing them right now and can't help but bob along to the beat.

I think that music can really change your mood - when I was depressed, listening to some upbeat cheesy noughties pop songs would always help to make me feel slightly better, probably slightly because they made me feel nostalgic. If you're looking to listen to something to make you feel more positive, I would definitely recommend these two songs.

If the start of 2017 has been this great, I can't wait to see what the next 12 months brings!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Odyssey Greek restaurant

Odyssey Greek Restaurant, Central Square, Telford, TF3 4DR

This afternoon, after placement, I drove back down to Shropshire as I have got a week of uni, so I decided to spend it with my family. I met my friend Roxy in Telford for dinner, and we decided to try out Odyssey, the new Greek restaurant where the nightclub Vox used to be.

The inside of Odyssey is quite big, and is all decorated blue and white in traditional Greek style. The menu had every Greek option you could think of - including moussaka which sounded delicious. However, we decided to go for the meze menu, which was £17.95 each.

When we first looked at the meze menu, we were very confused as there were around 8 starters and 8 mains listed on it. We were sure that we wouldn't be able to have that much food for £18 each, and presumed that we would have to choose a few dishes each. However, when we asked the waitress, she said that we would receive every dish on the menu! So, of course, we had to try it out.

The starters included pitta bread, prawns, breaded crab, calamari, pork sausages, grilled halloumi, Greek salad, bean salad, and Greek dips (tzatziki/houmous). Honestly, I think this was my favourite part of the meal. They were all absolutely delicious and so filling - I loved the Greek salad and the pitta breads.

For our main, we received a selection of dishes including beef, stuffed vine leaves, chicken, pork, rice and potatoes. They all had so much flavour to them and really complimented each other - my favourites were the beef, chicken and potatoes. You can see by my photos how much food we had!!

The staff were also mainly Greek and were so lovely, friendly, attentive and helpful. To end the meal, we were given a small sweet Greek wine, which was a nice touch. I have never really been to a Greek restaurant before, but I would definitely visit this one again. We had such a lot of delicious food and I was so full by the time we had finished - I would say that this is definitely one of my favourite restaurants in Telford now! I would love to visit for one of their Greek party nights one time :)
The trouble is, you think you have time.
                    - Buddha