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!
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.
As someone with quite pale skin I was never drawn to Bronzer because I always worried it would look orange- that was until I found one with the right undertones and pigment. I’m obsessed with The Body Shop Honey Bronzer which I use not only on my cheekbones but also as a lovely everyday eyeshadow to add a little something to the look. I also love the Benefit Hoola Bronzer for the days I want a little extra colour or during the summer when I have more of a tan.
Most products I use are powder-based, but this liquid highlighter from Lumene is a must for me in tying a glowy look together!
Bronzed glowy looks are very much in my wheelhouse and it’s my go-to face no matter the season! a couple of these items I use and love like the Nars Radiant Longwear foundation which is so great for a full coverage but still dewy looking finish and Hoola Caramel, a fab bronzer. Liquid highlighters are perfect for that true dewy glow and I’ve heard lots of good things about the Becca Ignite Liquified Light. I’ve also been eyeing up the Natasha Denona Mini Eyeshadow Palettes and love the greens in this one. I’d finish the whole thing off with a gorgeous gloss.
I have tried almost every fake tan out there and I would now consider myself a fake tan master. I have pale skin that NEVER tans, like literally ever, so I’ve always turned to the fake stuff. Bondi Sands OG dark fake tan is the best, I only leave it on for about 3 hours too! I also use the Bondi Sands gradual tanning oil every day after tanning to prolong it, I find doing this makes my tan last about a week and a half before going patchy. For my face I use the Isle of Paradise dark tanning drops, just mixing it in with my daily moisturiser. I find the tan goes quickly from my face due to my skincare routine, so this keeps my face looking bronzed. I also love the Chanel Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream, it’s a mousse bronzer and applies lovely. I also really like the Becca Skin Love Glow Glaze Stick, it gives you shimmery glowing cheekbones!
Both Zoe & Poppy got me hooked on the Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream and now it’s cemented itself as part of my everyday makeup routine. I’m naturally quite pale so I have to tread carefully with bronzer but this cream-to-powder formula has such a natural finish and buildable coverage. Another faithful favourite is the ByTerry Cellularose in Sunny Flash, it’s like skincare and makeup combined, leaving your skin looking and feeling healthy, radiant and sun-kissed. For highlighting and bronzing all in one, I always go back to Charlotte Tilbury’s Filmstar Bronze & Glow palette for subtle and buildable bronze.
I am reaching for the bronzer on most of my makeup days at the moment. Either mixing the Becca drops with my moisturiser as a base, using the Chanel cream bronzer with a bit of concealer or dusting the bare minerals faux tan all over (including neck and décolletage). I find this bronzer to be the best colour for me, giving a quite natural flushed bronze as it feels like a much warmer and red in tone colour which I think makes it look like you’ve been away on holiday without the harmful rays! On days where I don’t want a full face of makeup, the drunk elephant sunshine drops do a superb job at giving you that fresh summer glow!
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…
I’m sorry to hear this is affecting you and your mental health. Divorce is such a tricky thing to handle as a young adult. I was 21 when my parents divorced and it’s an age at which you fully understand what’s going on and your parents feel more able to share more detail with you, often making you feel like you’re stuck in the middle. I think sometimes we forget our parents have lives outside of just being “mum and dad” and it’s often hard to think of them as individuals with their own life paths, goals and opinions. It sounds like your Mum has been on a journey with her sexuality which must have been so incredibly hard at times and the fact that she is now able to live her life being the person she felt she had to hide must be very exhilarating. Much like new relationships for us, our parents probably still get those all-consuming moments of only being able to think about their new partners too. Wanting to spend every waking moment with them and feeling really happy! This will be a huge life adjustment for both of your parents, and something they’ve also got to juggle being a parent around too which is all-new for them. However, I’m sure that if they knew you felt this way, they would both feel sad about it. I think that you should get together (maybe with your sister too) and have a proper chat about it. Make it clear exactly how you’re feeling and be sure to express what you need from this situation. Would you like more time with each parent? Is there a schedule that would work better for you? Be sure to state what would help you and what you would like to change from the current scenario as well as expressing your feelings and thoughts. These things might just take a bit longer to iron themselves out as there has been such a big shift. Nothing will feel normal for a while, and that’s okay. Uncomfortable sometimes, but it will eventually settle into the new normal! In the meantime, look after yourself and make sure you are talking with friends about how you’re feeling and spend time with others who also make you feel happy!
Just wanted to say first thank you for reaching out to us and asking for some advice, it sounds like you are in a really tricky situation right now and it must be incredibly hard.
I hope I can help in some way as a person who has lived with divorced parents for almost her whole life. My parents split up when I was around two years old, so I’ve never really known any different, but that definitely doesn’t mean navigating their new relationships was any easier.
Dealing with a parents divorce is really difficult, I think being in your early 20’s is probably one of the hardest times to deal with this because you are at an age where you still heavily depend on your parent’s support. So, when your parents find new relationships and have others they need to support, it can be hard to handle at first. I understand too that this must be really difficult finding out about your mums’ sexuality and how she hid it from you all for such a long time. I think you really need to put yourself in her shoes and imagine how hard it must have been for her to keep this a secret for so long and how much harder it would have been to tell you all. However, I don’t blame you for struggling to be in contact with her new partner due to knowing they started a relationship while she was still with your Dad. That must be really hard to deal with. I think in this situation you just need to take your time, let your mum know that you need time to process her new relationship. But, one way to look at it is, is that your mum is finally able to express who she truly is, although hard for you and your sister, she probably is much happier now and hopefully this can be seen as a silver lining from the whole situation.
When it comes to your Dad’s new relationship, feeling like he’s putting his new partner first is totally normal. As much as we hate to admit it as humans, we all can be jealous at times. I have been jealous of both of my parents’ partners at times while growing up and it was never in a selfish way, but sometimes having to share someone you love with someone else can be hard at first. I’m sorry you don’t feel welcome at either of your parent’s houses at the moment, I’m sure if you told them how you felt they would feel incredibly bad they are making you feel this way. I think you should sit them both down together with your sister and express how you feel. I think something else to remember as well is our parents are also only human, and like us, new relationships are exciting and that means they can sometimes get consumed by them.
I think in a few months’ things will start to feel a bit more normal for you all again, but communication in these times is key!
Wishing you all the best for the future,
Hello Anon! Your message really resonated with me because I have had those exact thoughts on many an occasion. I am a very nostalgic person, so I often think back to the “good old days” and compare the ease of childhood life with today’s adulting and it really gets me right in the feels. Let me first start by saying, absolutely nobody knows what they’re doing. Some people will have an idea of where they want to be in 5 or 10 years, but until those years start ticking by, you don’t really know what path you’ll take for sure, or even how you’ll get there. At the end of the day, you can only ever do your best. We will all grow and learn as we get older and some things will become easier but some will become harder. We’ll make many mistakes, get things wrong and meet many people that will teach us lessons we take forward for the rest of our lives. One piece of advice I would give you would be; never be afraid to ask for help! If there is something you’re struggling with, someone can help you. My accountant is constantly explaining things to me that I STILL don’t understand, but it’s better to ask! When it comes to milestones, don’t put the pressure on yourself. There will always be people around you doing things at their own pace, but you should never feel rushed or forced into ticking things off just because you feel like you should. Your life is YOURS to make; it’s your own story and you are the one with the pen!
Phewww! What a roller coaster of a read this was! I’m 22 and have been with my boyfriend for 5 years so I found parts of your story v relatable, but feel so sad for you that the experience has been tainted in what sounds like an otherwise near perfect relationship.
It sounds like both yourself and your boyfriend have tried so hard with her, and I don’t think she appreciates one bit the strain this has put on you guys, nor how mature you are being. Is there anyone else on your boyfriend’s side of the family that you could confide in and ask to help her understand your struggles, without her getting angry or upset? Perhaps if she has siblings or a partner that could help? Whilst this issue is one so personal to the relationship, perhaps she would be more willing to listen if it was coming from someone she couldn’t lash out at or become upset by.
I do think as you continue to get older this issue will ultimately have to change, whether she likes it or not, as eventually you will likely move in together and she will have less control over events like birthdays and your weekends and evenings. As much as it’s difficult for your boyfriend to step in, I really think it’s his place to try and resolve the issue and allow you to move forward- it’s not fair that you feel stifled and that the relationship is suffering, and for things to get better, a conversation needs to be had. If you’d feel comfortable, I wonder if it would be possible for you to all sit down together and discuss it? I know you mentioned she will get upset with your boyfriend, but would the atmosphere and dynamic be different if you were present? If that feels like too big of a step for now, perhaps a letter or text explaining how you feel would allow you to get your worries and upset across without the explosives that could spark from being face to face.
Ultimately she is being incredibly selfish, and no parent should ever cause such upset in their children’s lives, whether they feel a sense of sadness at them growing up or not. This is not an issue that you or your boyfriend have created, and I would hate for her actions to make you question your plans and future together. Stay strong and don’t back down- you will feel so regretful and cheated if this tension causes a divide with you and your boyfriend, and I guarantee the struggles you’re facing now will be far outweighed by the future happiness you’re destined for together.
Stand your ground and don’t hold back in sharing how you’re feeling. Communication is everything and I have hope that one day she will realise the error of her ways.
Best of luck!
Oh wow, this such a frustrating issue, I’m so annoyed for you just by reading this! People having tensions with in-laws is super common and part of joining a new family means having to compromise on certain things but it seems like if you keep letting her get away with being so spoilt it will only get worse. If someone came to me with this issue with a new partner I’d tell them to nip it in the bud quickly and make sure she knows that’s not how it’s going to roll with you. But as you’ve been in the relationship so long and since it started when you were much younger it’s going to be hard to get her to change her ways. Generally speaking, I’d do as best as you can to work around the little annoyances here and there and focus on those bigger days like birthdays and Christmas. Maybe book a trip away for his birthday, or let her know that you’ll be doing X on the day and she’s more than welcome to see him after. I’d also put your foot down if she’s making you change our plans constantly, maybe just giving your partner the confidence to stand up to his mum and work on her together instead of it just being on him. It may take a bit of time but if you keep putting up the fight where you can I’m sure she’ll start to realise her little boy is a full-grown man!
First of all, I’m so sorry to hear you’re having a bit of a tough time at the moment- it can be hard enough battling mental illness without throwing physical symptoms into the mix too so I really feel for you. As someone who also suffers with anxiety, I know how hard it can be when your body acts in a way that’s outside your control- it feels like a real betrayal, especially when you’re doing your best to overcome the struggles anxiety throws at you.
I think there are a couple of ways to tackle this situation and hopefully have you feeling more like yourself again. Firstly, the mental side of things. I wonder if you’re still in therapy or have anyone in your life that you can openly speak to both about anxiety and the general day to day worries we all battle? Therapy works differently for everyone, but I think you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t put your mental health first and try to get the root of the issue. Therapy isn’t a quick fix by any means, but being able to talk things out with someone impartial might be a step in the right direction to managing your anxiety! The first session always seems scary, but in my experience the further you get into the experience, the more you wish you’d started sooner!
In the interim, there are a few things you could do to hopefully have you feeling a bit more confident and ‘you’, which I have no doubt will make the biggest of differences! Perhaps buy some cute hairbands, master a couple of hairstyles you know look 10/10 or maybe even consider cutting/styling your hair differently to help you feel more comfortable with slightly thinner hair. As someone who also has really thin hair, as well as having lost some due to a bleaching disaster (don’t ask haha!), I completely understand how much hair contributes to confidence and how down it can make you feel. Whilst it’s easier said than done, try and embrace this period and know things can only get better from here, and remind yourself that this is not permanent. You will not be in this position forever and one day you will look back and be so proud of how you handled things.
I hope you’re able to find a way to live the best life possible with anxiety and know that you can still thrive and be happy no matter your hair worries or not.
Lots of love!
I’m sorry you are going through such a difficult time; anxiety can be so consuming and especially when you have physical symptoms that make you feel even more out of control of your own body.
One thing I do want to say first though, is that the fact you are addressing your anxiety and having therapy is an amazing step in the right direction. So, I think that you are stronger than you think you are. I started therapy when I was 17 too due to terrible stress anxiety while doing my A-Levels, I am now 22 and although I can’t say that anxiety goes away, it can get better and you learn coping mechanisms to deal with it.
Now onto the physical symptoms. I too lose hair from anxiety, specifically my eyebrows. I’ve never noticed any from my hair so by no means am I comparing my eyebrows to you losing hair from your head, but I do understand how unsettling it feels. In my final year at university, I lost mostly all my eyebrows, it happened so suddenly too it was a massive shock. I would remove my eyebrow makeup and there would be 10-20 eyebrow hairs on the cotton pad, and I would feel sick to my stomach. I went through a stage of permanently having eyebrow makeup on and not removing it, so I didn’t have to see the hair fall out. I researched EVERYTHING, tried castor oil and all sorts. But what I learnt in the end, is it’s just something you can’t control. If your hair is going to fall out, it will and as unsettling that is to hear, it’s something you have to come to terms with because the mindset is everything.
Trust me, I struggled at first and didn’t want to accept hair loss was now one of the many physical symptoms I experienced from anxiety (I get the shakes, pins and needles, heart palpitations, you name it, I’ve got it!). Now I know losing it from your head must feel really scary, but I think discussing this with your therapist would be really great. One thing that I really had to face was that worrying about my hair falling out, was making my hair fall out more from the sheer anxiety it gave me. So, I had to really get myself into the mindset of “it’s only hair, it will grow back, my eyebrows don’t define me”, but of course that didn’t happen overnight.
Castor oil is really great for helping hair growth, I use it on my eyebrows, and it has really encouraged some extra hair growth. You can buy massive bottles of it from most health shops like Holland & Barrett etc. This would be worth a shot! Trying out different hairstyles too that makes you feel more confident is a good way to approach the situation as well. But I think most importantly, it’s finding a way to accept what is happening, but not letting it consume you. Things will get better and this symptom won’t last forever.
Sending you a lot of love, Darcey X
Hello lovely! This is such an important and relevant conversation to be having, so thank you for writing to us. I’m sure lots of people are going through the same thing right now as more and more of us are engaging in these conversations with friends, colleagues and family members for the first time. Turns out, it doesn’t take a lot to upset a white person when talking about racism and at times, it seems like an impossible conversation to have but your willingness to work through it and to interrogate white privilege and dismantle white fragility is the kind of progress we need. Given the subject matter, it’s bound to be a bumpy old road but I think being prepared to try and talk and get it wrong is a great place to start. I think tone, respect and trust can make or break this situation. If the other person feels that this is largely a one-way conversation about telling them they’re wrong or a bad person, immediately they’ll have their back up and the opportunity for having that honest convo quickly veers into defensiveness and denial. Telling someone they’re uneducated or wrong is a sure-fire way to shut down the conversation, so try reframing your arguments, asking open-ended questions or hitting them with a fact you read recently instead, to move the discussion forward. People find it very hard to argue with facts and figures, so definitely keep reading and informing yourself further, so you can be as confident as possible when approaching the topic. Consider what are the person is most likely to respond to and tailor your conversation accordingly and if the conversation really isn’t productive and you’re fighting a losing battle, it’s more than ok for you to say, let’s revisit this another time when they’ve done the necessary work to educate themselves. A lot of racism comes from a lack of understanding and unfortunately, not everyone is open to having their opinions scrutinised, in that case, set some boundaries and make it clear to them that it’s not ok for them to speak that way in your presence. Quite often situations like this can be illuminating, and you might find that some people on your Facebook or Instagram really let you down. There’s no real remedy for that blow but I guess, just knowing that their morals no longer align with yours is a pretty good reason to let go of old friendships that will no longer serve you or mirror your compassion. For a lot of families and close circles, this is an entirely new conversation and it’s going to take some time for everyone to work through and navigate. The more we make conversations about racism a regular practice in our households and workplaces, the more comfortable we all get with talking about it, pulling up and calling it out for what it is. Keep having the conversation. Lots of love, Lareese xx
Hey Anon, thank you so much for writing in with this, firstly I think you should know you are not alone! Thoughts about not doing enough or not being enough are so common and unfortunately haunt you at any age. It could be a combination of the tv and movies you consume, as well as social media constantly showing us everyone’s ‘best bits’! But rest assured they are fleeting as when you discover what makes you truly happy that is what you need to hold on to. I know you are probably sick of people telling you that you’re so young but you really have so much excitement in front of you and you clearly have the ambition to make something of your self and your life. I’d start by leaning into things that bring you joy, try and find something your passionate about as this is such a good way to make new friends. Maybe think about getting a part-time job, this is another great way to meet new people and start getting those real-life experiences you are craving. Don’t put too much stock in what you think other people are doing, chances are they feel a lot more like you!
I have literally never read anything SO relatable in my life. I first started having worries like this when I was about to turn 18, and have struggled with them for the past few years, so I completely understand where you’re coming from. I always felt a sense of anxiety at ‘missing out’ on life’s fun and freedom in my youth, especially whilst seeing friends travelling the world, at festivals or house parties – situations I so wanted to be a part of but was always too anxious to go through with. So first things first, I hope it’s a comfort for you to know that so many others have and will feel this same despair and frustration, but you can and will be able to challenge those feelings, I promise.
I finally was able to push myself to do the things I had been envious of for so long when I realised the repercussions of not making plans and living life to the full was far worse and harder to comprehend than the momentary anxiety in the run-up to the event in question. FOMO can feel so all-consuming, especially when you have that sense of being on the outside looking in, but I promise all is not lost and the small portion of the time you feel has been ‘wasted’ will be far outweighed by the memories you are destined to make in the future. I struggle with the idea of turning 23 this year and feeling like I’ve wasted too much time, but the truth is, we’re both so young! You are realising and accepting these worries and anxieties at such an early stage, and you have the rest of your life ahead of you to make up for lost time and live your ‘best life’, whatever that means to you.
There is no time limit on having fun. We put so much pressure on doing everything under the sun in our twenties, but the truth is you have endless time and opportunities for good news and plans to come your way. YOU have the power to build a happier future, even if right now it feels impossible. Confide in friends and family and allow them to coax you out of habits that might mean you’re missing out on opportunities you desperately want, and challenge your decisions and if they’re putting you on the right path to achieving all that you want. Make a bucket list and vision board and be open and willing to go out and chase those things- the discomfort of momentary anxiety is so menial compared to the happiness that can come from challenging these behaviours.
And most of all, don’t put pressure on yourself. You are young. SO young. You have a whole life ahead of you and endless potential. I can’t wait to see how you take on 2021 and the opportunities to live your version of your best life.
Lots of love, Charlotte xxx
I feel like so many people will be sharing the same anxiety about returning to a ‘normal’ office environment after working from home for so long. It sounds like you’re putting a hell of a lot of pressure on yourself to be sociable or to push yourself in ways that you’re not necessarily comfortable with nor ready for. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking things at your own pace, a day at a time. Once you’re back in the office, you’ll get used to the dynamic again and I’m sure your confidence will get there but until then, there’s no need to rush it and beat yourself up for having a head-down kinda day. Once you’re back sharing your office space again, you’ll soon find your feet. Channel your nervousness into excitement to get to know these people again and use that nervous energy to help fuel conversation. It might be too daunting to lead a conversation at first, so why not really listen to the chats happening around you (even if it’s just meaningless small talk) and use that as a way to engage and build your confidence, either by chipping in with your experiences and stories, or by asking questions. The good thing about heading back to the office is that you immediately have common ground, you’ve all been working from home, dealing with lockdown and trying to navigate a global pandemic so you’ll have a lot of similar experiences to share and bond over. Also, you know, you’re allowed to be a quiet person if that’s who you are – you don’t have to try and command the room with hilarious anecdotes and ground-breaking conversations if that’s not who you are. Now that we’re allowed to hang out in pubs, you can always suggest team drinks too to get to know your colleagues outside of work and in turn, they can get to learn about you. Treat it like a date scenario and have some questions and answers lined up so if you get too nervous you have something to fall back on if there’s any gaps in conversation. Good luck and don’t overthink it, just be your awesome self! There’s no need to put pressure on yourself to be the office chatterbox if that’s not what comes naturally to you but at the same time, I wouldn’t want your social anxiety to overwhelm you to the point that it denies you of conversations you want to have. Let us know how you get on and be kind to yourself – take it slow and build your confidence overtime. You can do this! Lots of love, Lareese xx
Hello! Thanks for your message. I’ve seen a lot of people feeling a very similar way to how you’re feeling and wondering how life will return to “normal” once they’re back in the office. I’m sure your colleagues will also be a little unsure about life back within a physical working environment too and it will take a while for everyone to ease back in. If your back-to-the-office date is looming, I should imagine there will still be certain precautions laid out in terms of staggered start/lunchtimes or a new seating plan that allows you and your colleagues to sit further apart (depending on your line of work of course) which might also mean the “going back to how it was before” won’t really be a reality for a while. This ease in of the workspace might also give you the confidence to ease yourself back in too. It sounds as though you are naturally a more reserved person and that is absolutely fine, you shouldn’t have to change the way you are to feel that you fit in with others. If you want to come of your shell more however, it’s good to take small steps to grow your confidence over time. Maybe just start with small talk, or gain common ground by speaking to each other about the last 4 months and the change in office life! As I said previously, I wouldn’t be surprised if other members of the team are a bit apprehensive too. Take it one day at a time, one small step at a time and also feel okay in yourself that you don’t HAVE to be super chatty at all times! You’re all there to work anyway 😉
Ooo I love this question, the prospect of a blossoming romance is always exciting to me. I’m not quite sure how old you are so it’s a little trickier to give advice but I can tell you that one of my friends started seeing her best friends brother when she was 15 and they got married last year! I also met my fiancee through my sister as he was friends with her first. Basically, siblings shouldn’t get in the way of two people who want to start seeing each other, and even if it makes them a little uncomfortable at first, they usually get over it pretty quickly! As for actually securing the date I’d go slow and easy and work your way into it, maybe interact with him more on social media, engage with him when you see him in person, flirt a little. You’ll soon know if you’re getting the good vibes back and then one of you will just have to be brave and ask the other out. Don’t worry too much about your brother, if it feels right he’ll come around, in the end, a la Ross with Chandler and Monica!
Keep sending your problems to [email protected] as we’ll be answering more next month!
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.
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).
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.
All untaken holiday should be paid. Your employer may also give you the option to take use your holiday days before you leave.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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, please, please 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I may not have my own garden yet but my very limited outdoor space has made me so excited for the days I can sit in the sun and read to my heart’s content! I love the idea of pops of colour through furniture and accessories as well as plants, and am all about continuing the vibe and style of my interiors decor, outdoors. I also kind of want a fire pit just so I feel like I’m on Love Island.
I’ve gone for this really simple chic black and rattan selection from B&Q as I think it’s quite timeless, easy to clean, and you can mix and match your accessories each year to give it a different vibe. Obviously natural, woven fabrics are all the rage at the moment and this Yucca cushion set from Anthropologie are gorgeous. I really like the outdoor rug trend and this one is a STEAL at £25, see ya later grass rash. I’ve also picked out a couple of lush things from The White Company, to make your garden space truly Instaworthy.
I don’t currently have my own garden and when I do, it will more than likely be a small balcony than an actual garden. So, I’ve taken to my Pinterest saved for Inspo. I love the idea of having a little chair and table set to have my morning coffee on. I also am loving outdoor rugs, who knew that was a thing?! I think some outdoor lights on a balcony really make the space cosy in evenings too. Lastly, I’d have a big plant (which would probably take up most of the room), because no space is complete without some greenery!
With summer well and truly on our doorstep, I’ve loved tinkering around in my garden to create the perfect outdoor lounging space. A trend I’ve loved this year is a reverse on the typical “bring the outside in” and I’m loving “bringing the inside out”. Using things like raised planters, outdoor rugs, side and coffee tables and beautiful glass lanterns good enough for your living room to create the perfect relaxing setup, but outside! I love mixing it up with different cushions, throws and even outdoor lamps.
We don’t have a garden at the moment but that won’t stop me dreaming up the perfect outdoor space for our future home. I’d love to create a laid back garden nook reminiscent of a boutique hotel, with bay trees, bamboo lanterns and lots of texture. Plant me here forever with a good book and I’ll be bloody happy!
I am so excited to have a garden of my own one day and although I’ve not been buying anything as it will be a good year before we can use any of it I’ve been eyeing up a few items that I think will really help make our patio/garden look really great. First on my list will be an amazing swing chair, I feel like they’re really having a moment and I’ve become obsessed!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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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