TEAM ZOELLA JULY 20, 2020

5 Positive News Stories To Fill Your Hearts With Joy

Your weekly dose of pure hope & happiness from around the world.

Wild bison to return to UK after 6,000 years

A project to reintroduce wild bison to British woodland in Spring 2022 has been launched. The buffalo-like creatures haven’t roamed the country for thousands of years but are now poised to return as part of a £1m rewilding project in Blean Woods, Kent. Conservationists hope the species will naturally regenerate the ecosystem thanks to their unique grazing habits, improving the woodland for a wide range of wildlife. Welcome home, buddies!

Little boy sends happiness word search to the Queen

Worried that the Queen would be sad and lonely during lockdown, Timothy Madders, aged 7, created a sweet happiness word search with hidden words including ‘happiness’ ‘sunshine’ and ‘family’ and sent it to Her Majesty.

The schoolboy, from Billericay, Essex, wrote to the Queen back in May in his neatest handwriting: “Dear Queen Elizabeth, You might be feeling sad or lonely during lockdown, so I thought I could make a word search for you to cheer you up. Love Timothy Madders.”

Two months later he received a reply from one of the monarch’s ladies in waiting, Philippa de Pass. The letter said: “The Queen wishes me to write and thank you for your kind letter, and for the puzzle you have created especially for Her Majesty. Your thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated, and The Queen hopes that you too are keeping safe and well in the current situation. I am to thank you very much indeed for writing as you did at this time.” What a kind little boy!

Brooklyn Beckham is engaged!

Oh we do love a good proposal! In a heartfelt post shared on his Instagram feed, Brooklyn Beckham revealed he had popped the question to long-term girlfriend and actress, Nicola Peltz.

“Two weeks ago I asked my soulmate to marry me and she said yes xx I am the luckiest man in the world. I promise to be the best husband and the best daddy one day. I love you baby,” he captioned the photo, which was taken by none other than his little sister Harper. Congratulations, lovebirds!

Gyms, leisure facilities and beauty salons get the green light

One by one, our favourite hangouts are gradually reopening and even if you’re not quite ready to get your hair and nails did just yet, or head back to your favourite gym class, it’s reassuring to know the little things we valued so much in our pre-pandemic lives will be once again filling our diaries. Sing it with us, ‘Reunited and it feels so good.’

Captain Tom Moore is awarded a knighthood for his fundraising efforts

Legendary lockdown fund-raiser, Captain Tom Moore, who raised more than £32 million for NHS charities, was knighted by the Queen in his own personal ceremony held at Windsor Castle on Friday. In a message on his Twitter account, he said: “I could never have imagined this would happen to me.” He’s a true national treasure!

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 19, 2020

Weekly Wants: Getting That Bronzed Glow

Whilst travel might be off the cards, there's no need to sacrifice becoming your best, bronzed and beautiful self with these holy grail picks.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the serious lack of summer holidays this year means we can’t be the only ones in need of a tan top up?! This week’s edit embodies the creme de la creme of all things bronze- the top tier products you need to perfect your go-to summer goddess look. Whether you’re a matte bronze girl through and through or perhaps partial to the glisten of a shimmer highlighter, there’s nothing better than feeling your best and bronzed self in the golden hour sun.

So whilst travel might be off the cards, there’s no need to sacrifice becoming your best, bronzed and beautiful self with these holy grail picks.

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*This post contains ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 18, 2020

Between You And Me: Answering Your Problems Part 6

In this month’s Between You And Me series, we’re answering dilemmas on how to have those important conversations about racism, finding happiness in life, dealing with hair loss, the pressures of adulting and anxiety around going back to the office.

In this month’s Between You And Me series, we’re answering dilemmas on how to have those important conversations about racism, finding happiness in life, dealing with hair loss, the pressures of adulting and anxiety around going back to the office. Who doesn’t love a good heart to heart, eh? Let’s get into our BYAM part 6…

Keep sending your problems to [email protected] as we’ll be answering more next month!

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 17, 2020

How To Cope With Redundancy During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Being made redundant can cause huge financial and emotional uncertainty during an already anxious time, so we’ve put together a few tips to help you navigate this life change.

Now that the government’s job retention scheme is winding down and the UK faces what could be its worst ever recession due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of jobs are at risk of redundancy.

Being made redundant can cause huge financial and emotional uncertainty during an already anxious time, so we’ve put together a few tips to help you navigate this life change.

From knowing your rights to payment information and keeping your mental health in check, here’s how to cope with redundancy.

Let go of any shame and embarrassment

It’s important to remember it’s your job that’s redundant, not you. The moment you realise this isn’t’ personal but rather a logical, business-driven decision, you’ll be able to make your peace with it and protect your energy and confidence.

Redundancy is not a dirty word, nor is it a reflection of your work ethic – it can happen to anyone, at any age and at any time. You are not on your own and it shouldn’t be a taboo subject. It’s good to talk with other friends and family members that may have already gone through it themselves.

Use the downtime

This is a unique period of time to look after yourself and take stock of what you want to do next. Losing a job is a seismic life change and it’s normal to feel uncertain, anxious, angry and everything in between, as you come to terms with your job loss.

Many people struggle with their self-worth during this time, particularly if your job has been a huge part of your identity, your daily routine and sense of purpose. But you know what? Personal growth thrives in difficult situations.

You can use this as an opportunity to prioritise yourself, polish your CV and really nurture your mental wellbeing. Focus on the things you can control, readdress your work/life balance and your life goals moving forward.

Perhaps the job you had before was simply a means to an end. We’ve all been there, cruising through a 9-5 we can do with our eyes shut because, well, we’re hella comfortable. Well, now’s your chance to find something that pushes you out of your comfort zone in the best possible way.

You deserve to feel excited and enthusiastic about your future! Yes, this is the end of a certain period of your life but it’s also the very beginning of a new and exciting you. Thank you, next!

Know your rights

Reading up on your legal rights and what to expect throughout the redundancy process will help demystify the process and make you feel more in control, particularly if you’re going through it for the first time. From notice periods to payment, once you know exactly what redundancy entails and have a good understanding of the terminology, you can start to take the practical next steps from budgeting to looking for work, or just taking some time out to reflect.

The job search

First thing’s first, make sure your CV is up to date and JUICY – this is your chance to showcase your achievements, experience and personality. Tailor each cover letter for each role, detailing exactly how you fit the job criteria. It may seem laborious at the time but first impressions count and a blanket template won’t wash. Show them why you’re a candidate too good to miss.

It’s important to look after yourself and practise self-care beyond the bubble baths, too. Applying for jobs is a job in itself, so don’t forget to take some time out to speak to your loved ones, eat healthily, move your body and celebrate your accomplishments.

Redundancy notice

During the coronavirus pandemic, you’ll still have the same employment rights including notice of redundancy. Your employer should notify you about your risk of redundancy in advance. If you’ve been at the company for less than 2 years, the minimum notice period is one week. For every full year, you should have one week’s notice (up to 12 weeks).

Consultation period

By law, your employer must have a consultation with you at least once, to discuss why you’re at risk of redundancy. During coronavirus, this is likely to be via video conference call rather than the usual face-to-face meeting. This is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions and discuss any possible alternatives to redundancy.

Redundancy pay – the facts

If you’ve worked for your employer for at least 2 years, you’ll qualify for minimum statutory redundancy pay and this should be based on your normal wage, not your furloughed wage (if different). If you haven’t worked for your employer for a minimum of 2 years before they make you redundant, you are not entitled to a redundancy pay out.

For those who have at least 24 months of continuous service, your redundancy pay depends on your age and how long you worked for the company. This is capped at 20 years.

The first £30,000 is tax-free and it’s based on a maximum annual salary of £27,976.

If you’re aged 22 or under:

Your employer must give you half a week’s pay for every year you’ve been with the company.

If you’re aged between 22 and 40:

You’ll receive a week’s pay for each full year you worked at the company and half a week’s pay for each full year you worked before that.

If you’re aged 41 or over:

You’ll receive a week and a half’s pay for each full year you’ve worked after age 41 and 1 week’s pay for each full year you worked before that.

Many firms have their own redundancy policies and more generous packages than the legal minimum, so check your contract and staff handbook.

Your employer should give you a breakdown of your redundancy calculations in writing and payment should be received either on your last day of employment or on your next usual pay date.

Holiday pay

All untaken holiday should be paid. Your employer may also give you the option to take use your holiday days before you leave.

Further reading and helpful resources

ACAS – Your rights during redundancy

Citizens Advice – Check if your redundancy is fair

Gov.co.uk – Calculate your redundancy pay

Gov.co.uk – How to claim for statuary redundancy if your company went bust

Citizens Advice – Leaving a job

Money Advice Service – Budget Planner

Gov.co.uk – Find a Job

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 16, 2020

Move Over Virtual Quiz! The Team’s Favourite Games

Whether you’re a total novice or a seasoned Pictionary artist, consider this your list of the best games to combat boredom. Poker face on. Games night ON.

We learned many, many things when our lives were locked down and reduced to four walls, and exercise was rationed to once a day. Never did running a 5K for absolutely no reason other than to get some fresh air, seem more appealing.

Some of us took to baking to pass the time – ok, all of us took to baking in the first few weeks – while others were well prepared with their dedicated cupboard of rainy-day, table top board games. Yep, Monopoly Deal had the busiest month of its life.

Once the virtual quiz hype fizzled out, we went back to basics with our entertainment, shuffling cards and getting shouty in a heated game of Linkee. And it was a simpler time.

Whether you’re a total novice or a seasoned Pictionary artist, consider this your list of the best games to combat boredom. Poker face on. Games night ON.

Zoe

As the biggest game enthusiast, I have quite the selection of favourite games up my sleeve and spilling out of most drawers in our house! I could quite literally give you a list of different occasions where different games were my favourite to pull out and play which will make narrowing this down extremely difficult. The reason I love a good afternoon of wholesome and sometimes slightly shouty game play is because I find it one of the rare occasions I am not plugged into any form of technology. Sometimes we find it impossible being able to switch off and be in the moment, but playing games with family or friends is guaranteed to make you shift your focus. The conversation is usually flowing, everyone is away from their phones and some of my favourite days have included playing a game of some sort! It’s bloomin’ well good for the soul and I encourage you to try a few of these next time you’re stuck for what to do on a Sunday afternoon!

  • Blokus – A new favourite you can play with 2 (Blokus duo) or 4 if you play the original game. You want to try and lay as many of your different shaped pieces on the board as possible and get the lowest score based on a bit of tactical playing and luck!
  • Quirkle – My friend Katie bought me this for my birthday and it’s such a good game! Super easy to learn and play and requires you to lay all your tiles by colour or shape, scoring as you go! The winner is the one with the highest score when there are no more tiles left!
  • Cobra Paw – A bit more fast-paced! This one is super fun and slightly stressful. You roll two dice that reveal a combination of a pattern and a colour and it’s the first person to place their finger in that tile in the middle of the table that gets it! First to five wins!
  • Pack of playing cards – without going into detail on certain card games and their rules, a pack of cards is the easiest to carry around and whip out and has hundreds of different games that can be played! A couple of my favourites are shit head and golf!
  • Cluedo – The inner detective in me just loves this game so much! Definitely one I usually have to persuade the rest of the family to play though as it takes a little longer.
  • Monopoly – The classic! A perfect Sunday afternoon boardgame.
  • Game of Life – Another board game for a Sunday afternoon but so much fun to play! I also find that this one is less stressful and a little quicker than monopoly!

Danielle

I’m big on a game. Drinking games, car games, board games, card games, I’m basically all about em’. I feel like they bring everyone together and you can really build traditions with some which are lovely. I think people associate games with colder months but I play my favourites year-round and some are perfect for taking to the pub garden or on holiday.

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Monopoly Deal
I cannot even put into words how much I love monopoly deal. It’s kind of hard to learn at the start but as soon as you’ve got it, it’s brilliant. I literally never get bored of playing, games can be super quick or a little more drawn out. It doesn’t have a ton of similarities with Monopoly the board game if I’m honest, so if you don’t like that I’d still give this a try. I bought this one at the start of lockdown and I was so excited to see they had a Disney version (all the properties are characters) unfortunately I didn’t realise it was German HA but we worked out what cards meant and now we can’t get enough.

  • UNO – I mean Uno is just great, it’s the ultimate chilling at the pool with a beer in hand holiday game. Everyone has probably played UNO at some point in their lives and it’s super easy to pick up. The thing I love most about UNO is how competitive it can get, the moment when everyone conspires against the person with the least cards is always hilarious to me. Jumping on people who forget to say UNO, especially after a few bevvies also cracks me up.
  • Incoherent – So this one is one of my most recent purchases and I have to admit I was swayed massively by Tik Tok! It’s the one where things are spelt differently and people have to guess what they are and some of them are filth. This is so funny after a few drinks and has had me doubled up on the floor laughing which is hard for a game to do. This would probably make a great gift too.
  • Blockbuster – Bit of a rogue one but my brother got me this for Christmas as I’m a bit of a movie buff and I LOVE it. I would imagine this would be really great if you and your friends are good with movies as it definitely needs a solid level of knowing a wide range of movies to play it well. It’s got a fun buzzer round which sometimes we end up playing for ages after we’ve finished playing where it will say ‘Movies beginning with S’ and you take it in turns to say one and hit the buzzer and the person who can’t think of one before the buzzer goes off loses. Really good game if you like movies though, worth looking into!

Lareese

I’m not a massive games enthusiast, unless it’s a drinking game of course, then I really do play to win. It’s not that I don’t like them, I think it’s just one of those things where you’re either a family who plays games together or you’re not, and being a small family, I think we heavily rely on the classics: a frustrating game of Who Am I with post-its stuck to our foreheads or Monopoly.

Games in our house are usually limited to Christmas Day when we’re all together or someone’s birthday. We play Dirty Santa or invent our own equipment-free games like last Christmas, where we went around the table naming tube stations beginning with every letter of the alphabet. It sounds like one sucky Christmas Day doesn’t it? But actually, we were all very invested by the time we made it to Goodge Street.

Since lockdown left us all looking for things to do to fill our days indoors, I have since discovered a couple of firm favourites, Monopoly Friends Edition and the How Millennial Are You? Game.

  • Monopoly Friends Edition – This is just like the original version, only better. This time, you play as a member of the iconic sitcom gang and pivot round the board, naturally, and instead of fighting over who gets to be the dog, you get to fight over who gets to be Rachel’s handbag.
  • How Millennial Are You? – This game is basically charades with avocado and Ed Sheeran. You’ve got four categories to choose from, including Food & Beverages, Music, Popular Culture and Famous People. You then pick a card, choose your millennial reference, then roll the die to determine whether you have to draw, describe, mime or sing it. Who knew sketching an avo was so hard!

Charlotte

There are few occasions in which a game seems the most appropriate course of action, but if you even utter the words Christmas, Lockdown or Pre Drinks then you best believe I’m whipping the games out ASAP.

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Pictionary
Now I’m by no means an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but something about this game makes me 10/10 competitive. This is normally one that collects dust until December rolls around, but with some more lockdown evenings ahead of us it might be one worth persuading my family to join me in a game of. There are also some fun online versions like Drawize and Skribbl to help extend the game beyond your four walls.

  • Three Tier Articulate – I’m sure there are plenty of official ways to play this with proper cards and timers, but this minimal effort game always ends in fits of laughter whenever me and my pals have spontaneously played, and only really requires a pen and paper! First things first you all need to write 5-10 peoples names (depending on how long you want the game to last you can add more or less) on individual pieces of paper, fold them in half and shuffle the selection in a bowl or hat. We normally do a mix of celebrities, politicians, friends from school, TV characters and personalities we’re all familiar with. Divide your group in half and let the games begin! You have 1 minute on the clock per member of each team with the aim of your team mates guessing who you are describing, the paper of which you keep and tot up the total as you go. Then the three tier element comes into play. During the first round you can describe the person in as many words as you like (without saying their name directly), the second round means you can use one word only to describe the same selection of people, and the final round requires you to act them out, speaking no words at all. It’s more fun if you’ve inputted a whole variety and long list of names as you’re likely to forget them between rounds making the process all the more funny/frustrating for those in the hot seat. The winning team is the side with the highest number of points at the end of the game.
  • Picolo – And now for everyone’s favourite drinking game! This is a fun one for festivals, pre drinks or house parties (crying at the distant memory of those things). All you need is a phone to bring this game to life, adding in each participants name and following the challenges and instructions the app gives out. I believe you can tailor the direction of the game to avoid awkward spin the bottle moments (unless that’s your thang), and it’s almost guaranteed to be a good laugh no matter your group!

Darcey

For some reason I’ve never been a big game player, except at Christmas when I can’t get enough of them! I’m not sure why the festive period is so big on games, but I do love how it brings everyone together and gets everyone off their phone. So maybe I should start playing games more often!

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What Do You Meme?
I love a meme, so how can I not like a card game centred around them. This game is so funny, I have the fresh memes expansion pack and it’s deffinitley adult themed, so this one is not for children! What Do You Meme is really similar to Cards Against Humanity, where you pair two cards together and then one player picks a pair they think is the funniest to win that round. However, with this game you pair It up with an iconic meme image. This game can get so out of hand and it’s absolutley hilarious!

  • Cards Against Humanity – I don’t think this game needs any explanation, we all know how bloody brutal it is! This is a game you go into innocent and come out the other end with a newfound savage sense of humour. I think this game needs a certain type of humour for everyone to find it funny, it’s very dry and outrageous humour. Normally you come out of a round of this seeing all the players in a whole new light, must admit I did after playing a few round of this with my family at Christmas haha! Who knew my Grandma could be so crude!
  • Monopoly – I play this VERY occasionally, mainly at Christmas, but I love how intense this game can get. Boy, it can last for hours and hours! It’s something you’ve really got to set aside time for, even days ha! I get very invested in this game (if you couldn’t tell already), so I think for my mental wellbeing it’s good I don’t play it often because I become stressed! But it’s so fun to play, I don’t think I need to explain the rules of this game we all know this absolute classic.

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TEAM ZOELLA JULY 15, 2020

Stylish & Statement Sandals To Up Your Summer Shoe Game

Whatever your style, these beauts will help you step out of lockdown with your best foot forward.

There are many things we’ve missed during lockdown (namely hugs, a morning Starbs and Love Island), but shoes are perhaps the unsung fashion heroes we never knew we’d be going without! As life resumes with some normality and we can finally head out for summer picnics and Friday drinks, treating yourself to a new pair of sandals (now that our mani/pedis are in order and looking 10/10) might be just what you need to spice up your outfit as your calendar picks up!

Chunky, grandad sandals are definitely having a ‘moment’ right now, so you’ll find plenty of those in this edit, as well as some classic summer favourites like Birkenstocks and the humble woven beach shoe. Whatever your style, these beauts will help you step out of lockdown with your best foot forward.

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 14, 2020

13 Questions with Rosie Weatherley from Mind

We spoke to Rosie from the mental health charity Mind, to find out more about them and what it's like to work for a charity.

What do you do at Mind?

My job title is ‘Information Content Manager’. I manage the team that researches and writes about mental health for Mind.  I make sure that what Mind tells the world about mental health is on the mark, factually accurate, a realistic representation and reflects the lived experience of those of us with mental health problems. It’s a privilege and a responsibility to do this. It means balancing the different models of mental health in what we say and making sure we’re living up to the very high standards we set for ourselves. I work with colleagues and contacts to make sure that we’re reaching as many people as we can, from all parts of society. Whoever you are, and however you think of mental health, we’re there for you when you need us. 

What does a day in the life at Mind look like for you? 

A few meetings, a bit of writing or checking of mental health content (either for us or for another team or organisation), a bit of reading about mental health, a lot of organising on spreadsheets, calendars, chat channels! I work closely with the editorial team, who make sure the information on our website is updated on time, and that what we provide is clear. We’re always looking for new ways to do things and scrutinising our data to find out how effectively we’re helping people who use the website. 

What kind of work did you do before working with Mind? 

I was at a different national charity, working with disabled people and providing information and advice.  Writing web information but also providing it on the helpline and via digital forums.  There’s a significant chunk of overlap between disabled people and those who are experiencing mental health problems, and the intersects are significant.  Some people with mental health problems will be so affected by them that they meet the equality act definition of disability, and some disabled people will also experience mental health problems on top of or as a secondary consequence of their status as a disabled person. Both groups are also more likely to experience discrimination, isolation, social stigma, face financial difficulties, need information about their health and social care rights and how to navigate health services and employment barriers. 

What’s the best part of your job? 

I love seeing a new information product come to life and get published on the website, so, for instance, most recently our page on managing feelings about lockdown easing and tips and advice on where to find support. It’s so satisfying to know how thoroughly it was researched and considered, that we can completely stand behind every word that we wrote, and to know how many people have collaborated to make sure it’s as helpful as possible. I also love it when our information pages are mentioned or referenced by other organisations, celebrities, or in news pieces. It means we’re reaching more people, and that those third parties see Mind as the credible voice of mental health and recognise the added value of our content to their audiences.   

What do you think would surprise people most about your job? 

So, there’s a bit at the bottom of every info page that asks, ‘was this useful?’ and if you click the thumbs up/down button, you are given an option to leave some feedback.  I think it might surprise people to know just how closely this sort of feedback is examined and considered.  From suggestions on new topics we should cover, emotional reactions to our phrasing, even individual word choices. My team reads everything people tell us; we know that mental health is full of nuance, and it genuinely helps us to get it right for more people.  

What are some simple things people can do if they start to feel their mental health needs to be worked on?

I think keeping a journal or diary or using a mood tracking app, can be really useful for getting an overall look at how you’re doing.  It’s handy because you can spot patterns or triggers for feeling bad, and that can be a useful prompt for thinking about how you can work on it.  

Mental Health is gaining more funding and attention than ever before, how can people help the cause? 

It’s true that we’ve made some tangible progress in recent years to lift the taboo around mental health and the general narrative about talking about mental health is so much more established now.  But there is still a lot of work to do before we can say that everyone with a mental health problem is supported and respected.  Especially for certain groups – for example, children & young people, older people, BAME people and people who have been held under section. Being sectioned means being held against your will under the Mental Health Act, with little or no say over what happens to you. There are lots of ways to support mental health campaigns; via Mind’s campaign page, by supporting local Mind shops and branches, and internationally through the Time to Change campaign.  Become an activist, donate, fundraise, volunteer, share your story, and engage with your workplace mental health support structures. 

What advice would you give someone who wants to help someone struggling with their mental health? 

I would say that you’d be surprised how often just being available is enough.  Listening and offering reassurance, staying calm and patient, not making assumptions or trying to ‘fix’ the problem, and maintaining social contact (e. g. keep inviting them to things, and chat about other areas of life) – it’s really basic but it helps.  Sometimes it can feel like a very heavy weight to be someone’s ‘person’ and it is vital that you only offer what you feel you can, and make sure you’re taking care of yourself too. There’s also lots of information and advice about supporting someone else on the Mind website!  

What advice would you give to people who are worried about coronavirus and coming out of lockdown?

Expect to feel weird about it! Most of us are feeling a bit conflicted, even if we’re also very much looking forward to being able to hug our friends and grab a coffee together.  Ease back into non-lockdown-life at a pace that feels right for you and do it gradually.  There is no ‘correct’ emotional response to a pandemic, so feel free to set your own terms.  

What are some key things people can do to relieve stress and anxiety?

Talking to someone you trust, keeping a diary, or ‘offloading’ worries (e. g. by writing them down and putting them somewhere, or setting aside ‘designated worry time’ in the day) can all help. Taking care of your diet and making time for some physical activity – that’s all good stuff too, and there’s evidence to say it helps.  It’s not just one of those things people say! 

What are some of your favourite things that Mind do?

Great question! Mind honestly does so many different things and I don’t think I could list them all if I tried – I’m always learning about a new project popping up or a new idea in development.  But personally, I’d pick Mind’s script advice service.  It’s a service where writers and producers working on films or TV shows can get Mind’s advice and input on storylines which depict mental health. This helps to make sure that the issues being represented are done so accurately, in a way that does not stigmatise mental health and rings true for people who have lived experience of that issue.  And, unlike some other organisations who might want a consultancy fee, Mind does this for free, because we recognise the huge social change value in opportunities to influence these portrayals. 

We love Crafternoon at Zoella, what’s your favourite craft?

I’m from a very crafty family, so that’s a hard choice! But from a mental health point of view, I’ve always found decoupage to be very relaxing.  Cutting up bits of jazzy paper and sticking them onto a box or something like that – it’s great because you have something to show for your time and a sense of achievement at the end, but the activity itself is quite sensory and doesn’t require any thinking or much creativity.  That’s my ideal craft!! 

What advice would you give to our audience for looking after their mental health this summer? 

I think getting through 2020 is going to leave most of us with at least a few mental health bruises and some of us are probably going to struggle.  I live with a long term condition that requires pretty vigilant monitoring, and each time I become unwell, it’s horrible but I’m noticing that I can usually learn something new about what works for me and what doesn’t do me any good.  So I’d say that being very gentle with yourself, accepting that this is a really weird time and bad spells are entirely likely.  Slowing everything down a notch and cutting yourself some slack (you may have more free time but don’t beat yourself up for not learning Latin!) and taking a moment to spot things that do you good, and things that don’t. And hopefully, we can all walk into 2021 with some optimism and armed with some gems of personal wisdom too.  


If you find yourself really struggling and need some help, pleaseplease talk to your GP.  Mind recently did a survey looking into people’s mental health during lockdown and we found that lots of people feel like they shouldn’t ‘bother’ the NHS right now – which is heartbreaking. I was on a webinar a few weeks ago with a bunch of GPs and health professionals who said their consultations with patients had changed – patients weren’t asking for help for things like anxiety and depression in the same numbers as they were before coronavirus; but that those who were having appointments were struggling with really severe, distressing mental health issues.  So, my advice is don’t let it get to crisis point – your GP is there for you, and wants to help, right now. It’s not always easy having that first conversation about your deepest feelings with your GP, someone you may hardly know. Find the Words with Mind’s handy guide here.

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 13, 2020

5 Good Things That Happened On Planet Earth Recently

Your weekly bulletin of positive news to celebrate all that’s good in the world.

Thank you, NHS!

In celebration of the 72nd anniversary of the NHS, we once again put our hands and our pots together for a one-off nationwide applause. Over 200 blue flags emerged across London to commemorate our heroes for everything they’ve done and continue to do to keep us safe during the pandemic.

Image Image Credit: Basingstoke Gazette

Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopen

As much as we’re still very much approaching public spaces with caution and hand sanitiser, it’s nice to have the option to get your hair done and catch up with your friends over an overpriced pint again.

Image Image Credit: @Samanatha.Cusick

Eat out, to help out

We heard Rishi Sunak’s ‘eat out to help out’ message loud and clear, and who are we to ignore government advice! The man said EAT. The scheme, which has been introduced to bolster the hard-hit hospitality industry, offers customers money off up to £10 per head when dining at participating restaurants. The discount applies Monday – Wednesday and will run from August 3 – August 31. Our Summer plans look a lot like pizza.

Disney+ finally drops Hamilton

Hamilton fans rejoice! Until now, we’ve only been able to experience Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop Broadway musical through the soundtrack but now, anyone with a Disney+ subscription can enjoy front row seats from the comfort of their own home. The show follows the life story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers.

A milestone moment in the battle of male violence against women

The so-called rough sex defence will be outlawed in new domestic abuse legislation. The amendment will rule out ‘consent for sexual gratification’ as a defence, and prevent killers being charged with manslaughter instead of murder in cases of sexual violence. The bill is due to become law in England and Wales later this year.

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 12, 2020

Weekly Wants: Garden Styling

This week's outdoor decor and styling picks are all the inspiration you need to nail the art of bringing interiors, out.

Whilst 2020 has been the year of staying in, the new decade has hammered home our love and gratitude for our outdoor spaces, both big and small! The myriad of benefits a slice of mother nature can bring is truly second to none, so whether you’re blessed with a grassy sanctuary, some colourful planters or even a slither of sunshine on a small but well-loved balcony, this week’s outdoor decor and styling picks are all the inspiration you need to nail the art of bringing interiors, out.

If you need us, we’ll be reclining with a book and glass of Pimms for the foreseeable.

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TEAM ZOELLA JULY 11, 2020

Team Zoella’s Lockdown Reflections

Now, as we emerge from lockdown and gradually adjust to the new normal, we’re reflecting on the past three months of quarantine. The things we’re grateful for, the people we’ve missed and the resilience we didn’t know we had.

When we think about the major life events that have happened over the course of the last three months, it feels a lot like we’ve unknowingly put ourselves forward for a game of apocalypse bingo.

There were 29 days in February, 300 days in March and 74 years in April, emotionally speaking. A global pandemic, the closure of schools, shops and restaurants, the sunniest April on record, furlough, flattening the curve, social distancing, stockpiling loo roll, stay home to save lives, wash your hands, NHS claps and BLM protests against racism and police brutality – it has been REAL.

Amid the frantically changing news cycle that threatened our lives and our freedom, there were moments of good news and unexpected benefits of staying home. Hello you cool cats and kittens was the greeting we didn’t know we needed, someone’s boss turned herself into a potato for the entirety of a Zoom call, Captain Tom Moore stole out hearts, nature had a breather, we played board games again, we had permission to do nothing, basked in the joy of an EMPTY diary and got to know our neighbours.

Now, as we emerge from lockdown and gradually adjust to the new normal, we’re reflecting on the past three months of quarantine. The things we’re grateful for, the people we’ve missed and the resilience we didn’t know we had. From community spirit and the best of humanity to realising exactly what and who matters in this thing, we call life, join us as we reflect on the crazy emotional experience. If the virus has taught us anything, it’s that we’re all in this together.

Zoe

Lockdown has definitely taught me a few things. Mostly how lucky I am that I have my health and that nobody I am close to has been directly affected by Covid-19. It really puts your life into perspective; What’s important and what isn’t. That worrying about so many menial things can take up so much time, yet you can never predict something like a global pandemic. The great sense of community and lifting each-other through such a difficult and unpredictable time. I thought more about my friends and family and how they could be feeling, making sure to check in or have something thoughtful delivered to them to make them smile. Having previously lived with anxiety that ruled at least 80% of my thoughts on a day to day basis, I had a moment a few weeks ago where I realised that lockdown would have been a situation past-zoe would have welcomed. No travel? No large events or group gatherings? No restaurants? No socialising? No work events? No big scale face-to-face meetings? Being told to stay home no matter what. Although the circumstances are due to something incredibly scary and real, there was certainly a time in my life I would have relished in being told to avoid all of the above. However, sitting in my garden, thinking back on the past few months it made me realise how far I’d come as I miss all of those things so much. I can’t wait to step into an aeroplane, to dance in a crowd of people at a gig and to be more spontaneous with plans because we’re able to make them. More than anything, COVID-19 and lockdown has taught me never to take anything for granted; life, health, my home, freedom, the importance of human contact and the people in your life that truly matter to you!

Darcey

Lockdown has been a whirlwind of emotions, 3 months have felt like a life time but I’ve also found myself thinking “how the hell is it already July?!”. I feel like there is no concept of time anymore, in some ways it has been quite freeing, other days I’ve found it harder to deal with.

As lockdown began, I enjoyed the free time I had, especially after work when I would normally be getting a bus back home and getting in much later. I also really appreciated the flexibility of my work and how lucky I was to work in a sector that could easily continue from home. With a lot of my friends being furloughed and finding it difficult to fill all the free time they now had, I knew having a working routine would help with passing time and most importantly, with my mental health.

Lockdown was something I accepted but also struggled with too. As someone with anxiety I found it difficult to deal with at first due to everything feeling so out of my control. But as the time passed and it started to feel more “normal” I found that it became easier, that lockdown became a new routine. I feel like I ended up just slotting into it and finding more enjoyment in the little things, especially when it began to ease, seeing friends at the beach was a real treat!

It’s made me appreciate how much I thrive off being social and seeing friends and although I won’t say that I’ll NEVER turn a plan down again (I’m a big believer in personal space and taking breaks when needed to be with yourself) but, I’ll definitely become more spontaneous. I want to plan less and just live, especially when lockdown begins to ease more. I have felt anxious about life going back to normal again, pubs and restaurants still make me a bit nervous and I haven’t been to one yet… but I’m sure in a few weeks my confidence in going to public places will grow a bit, baby steps!

Charlotte

What a bloody year! It feels weird even reflecting on the start of lockdown and the experience as a whole because I literally feel like I’ve aged about 5 years in the space of 3 months. Thankfully, whilst I haven’t contracted Covid myself, I’ve been battling every day with some longer terms health problems brought up by the stress of the pandemic, so I would not say the new decade has been a particularly easy one by any stretch of the imagination. Most of the lessons I’ve learnt have been centred around being unwell, but navigating the chronic pain landscape during a pandemic has been trying to say the least, ha!

I spent some time at ‘home’ home when lockdown first began, and whilst it was so lovely to be around my family when those first few scary weeks hit, I’ve definitely learnt the importance of having my own space, mentally and physically. Lesson one was therefore that it’s never selfish to put yourself first when you need to. Most of us spend a lot of time worrying about others or helping family and friends where possible, but the pandemic taught me the importance of just focusing on me when everything else is out of my control. Relationships aren’t always 50:50, and those that really care about you will take the weight off to help you find your balance again.

Lockdown reaffirmed for me how important it is to make plans, big or small to help manage my mental health and prevent the overwhelming feeling of an indefinite expanse of time ahead from becoming too much. Whilst before lockdown those plans looked more like seeing my boyfriend or booking weekends away, even the simplicity of adding ‘go for walk at 7pm’ or ‘order takeaway’ into my calendar added some much needed structure and control to what has otherwise been a very out of control few months.

And whilst this stretch of time has been unexplainably challenging, I seem to have reoccurring anxieties and worries about life going back to ‘normal’. I worry that I’ll struggle to adapt to socialising and conversations with new people again, that my anxiety will have grown into a more challenging and untameable version as though I’m starting from scratch, and that I’ll battle FOMO on a new scale as people make plans and book trips around me that I’ll have a strange sense of missing out from. Poor health and a pandemic have changed me in so many ways, but I hope this awful blip in an otherwise happier life will help me appreciate the desperately needed good times when they eventually roll around once more.

Lareese

Spending the past three months in lockdown and working from home has made me hugely appreciative to work in an industry that is so receptive to change. While working remotely is not without its challenges – musical neighbours were definitely only endearing at the beginning – particularly in the thick of a global pandemic, not everyone had the luxury of being able to do their job from the comfort and safety of their home. Like many others, I wouldn’t choose to spend this much time indoors ordinarily, but it really taught me how to get comfortable with a slower, simpler life; a moment of pause. The Banana bread, Tiger King chapter of lockdown seems like 84 years ago, doesn’t it?

I’ve found a new sense of gratitude for my home and the little rituals I’ve enjoyed since spending more time here. Lighting the candles in the lounge before opening my laptop or reading books on the stairs – tiny celebrations of idleness. Being satisfied with just being and surviving instead of doing. I’ve come to understand how the art of doing nothing is just that – an art. It’s something that we have to practise and choose to make room for, above plans and the glorification of productivity.

Going out on the doorstep every Thursday for the NHS clap has brought our neighbours together in socially-distanced solidarity. We have since shared birthdays, tears and bags of sugar; home-cooked meals and tomato plants with handwritten notes. It’s been a dangerous and worrying time but it’s also brought out the best in people. I’ve missed my normality in all its mesmerising forms: the squishy cheeks of my niece and nephew, the hugs. Oh the hugs! Forever the optimist though, I look for lessons in challenges like this one. We may all have had the proverbial rug pulled from under our feet but now we’re very nearly back on solid ground, are we more anchored than ever before? I like to think so.

To paraphrase Charles Dickens: it has been the best of times, and the worst of times; it’s been enriching and exhausting but most of all, eye-opening. This is going to be a story we will continue to share round the campfire for years to come. I hope we remember 2020: the year we relearned how to live.

Danielle

Admittedly I was one of those people that went into lockdown thinking we’ll be back to normal in a few weeks. Obviously that wasn’t the case! I think the novelty of the first few weeks got me to a certain point, building my new way of working from home which is never something I’d done long-term before. I guess the closest thing would be Uni, and I was pretty rubbish at motivating myself to do anything back then, thank god I’ve changed! Video calling my family was a godsend, I probably spoke to at least one friend or family member every day which was a welcome respite from only talking to my fiancée Harry or my dog.
I quickly learnt how much money I was previously spending on food and socialising, and hope that I can keep saving now that the lockdown is easing. It’s been hard to differentiate weekdays from weekends when I had no plans, but we always managed to have fun.
During the lockdown I had to cancel my hen do (replaced with an AMAZING virtual one) and my wedding, but if anything it’s only brought Harry and me closer, we’ve had so much fun together and knowing we can spend so much time together alone is quite a nice feeling. One of my favourite days was Harry’s birthday, I made him a pub in the kitchen and he was so grateful.
I’m so grateful I’ve been able to keep working, I have plenty of friends and family that have had to deal with the added pressure of not knowing what’s happening with their career, and with so little to do it’s hard to not dwell on the negatives.
I think it’s probably too early to say what I’ll take from lockdown moving forward, but I know I have a new respect for the fact that not every day is a given, I’ll be making sure when I’m spending time with friends and family that I’m present and soaking up all the positivity I can.

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