Friday, 16 March 2018

On Facing Hard Times, Resilience and Self-Care


Whoever said that "life is a bumpy road" was a very wise soul. Life certainly has its ups and downs. You might be tricked into thinking everyone's life is peachy, especially as you scroll through your Instagram feed, but I can assure you that this is absolutely not the case. Everyone is struggling with something. With Social Media, we tend to show our best face to the world and I often describe it as the "highlights reel" of your life - all of the best bits and none of the bad. By ‘best bits’, I mean a filtered, Facetuned, edited version. It’s not necessarily bad - we all do it! - it’s just that it’s easy to forget what goes into each happy, carefree picture that you see. 

I have two teenage nieces so I’m very conscious about what I put out on my blog and social media and the impact it has on young, impressionable girls. Of course, I shoot beautiful images and love sharing my outfits but I also want to be a real person and show that life isn’t always rosy. It doesn’t always fit on my feed or get the best engagement but it’s important for me to share some of the lows as well as the highs. 


Sandwiched between the highs of Paris Fashion Week and starting my new job, I had a horrible low. Long-term readers and followers will be aware of Bob, my gorgeous little lop eared bunny. I got Bob a decade ago when he was just three months old. He’s been my little companion for years, living with me in several different flats over the years and even having a shoot with Love magazine! Ten is ancient for a bunny and sadly he got very sick last week and had to be put to sleep. It was the most heartbreaking decision I have ever had to make so I took a few days off social as I grieved. Instead of returning like nothing had happened, I posted a picture and explained my absence. 

The day I discovered just how bad Bob was, I was just about to leave for a shoot. I had been warned to prepare for the worst and I was utterly devastated. I thought about cancelling the shoot but it was so last minute. I knew I couldn’t bear to deal with the tube so I jumped in an Uber to the location, sending some frantic texts on the way. I arrived teary-eyed and emotional but somehow managed to block everything out and focus on shooting all of the planned looks. And you know what, I am so, so proud of those images. We slayed…despite everything else that was going on in my life. 


I’m pretty well versed in encountering bumps in the road. A child of divorce, abusive relationship escapee and daughter of someone who has been battling cancer for 14 years, it’s safe to say my path has been anything but smooth. The normal challenges of life - jobs, friends, boys - are just the cherry on the cake. Rather than lamenting the cards I’ve been dealt and feeling sorry for myself, I’m grateful. Everything that I’ve experienced has moulded me into a strong, determined woman who is way more scrappy than she looks. I’ve survived everything life has thrown at me; I didn’t let it defeat it, I endured and it made me stronger. 

At a young age, I learnt that life doesn’t stop so you have to find a way through. Sometimes putting one foot in front of the other is the My mum was diagnosed with cancer while I was in my first year of university and my way of coping wasn’t the healthiest - drinking and partying it away. It has taken a while to learn healthy ways of coping which work for me. I think one of the hardest things to learn was to listen to myself and prioritise what *I* need. Cancelling plans to stay home is okay. Spending an entire weekend in bed watching Netflix is okay. Self-care is okay! 

It’s important to figure out what works for you but I wanted to share some healthy ways to cope when life gives you lemons: 

  1. Prioritise yourself
    One of my coping mechanisms is to withdraw and to shed anything that isn’t necessary. It’s taken me years to learn that this is absolutely okay and I won’t be letting anyone down - I always felt guilty for cancelling plans or saying I was busy even if I was just being a hermit at home. When life is putting you through the wringer, do what feels right. If you want to go out, great! If you’d rather be snuggled in bed, that’s also great. Just feel empowered to put yourself first.
     
  2. Switching off from Social
    Often when I’m going through a hard time, I’ll switch off from social - like I did last week. Partly due to not wanting to be bombarded by everyone’s highlights when I’m at my lowest and partly because I don’t have the energy to post pictures and act happy, my focus is enduring and making it through.  Again, it’s totally fine to step away from social media, WhatsApp and phone calls if you need.

  3. Focusing on work
    Now, this won’t work for everyone but I always focus on work and use it to pull me through. Keeping a routine and finding something to focus on always helps me, it keeps my mind off whatever is bothering me. Much like when I got the news about Bob, I found focusing on the shoot helped to prop me up, I clung to my work and had a huge sense of achievement for having the perseverance to make it through.
     
  4. Meditation/yoga
    I swear by meditation and yoga for keeping me sane. Meditation helps to keep me grounded and look inwards, which is super helpful when life is throwing you curveball after curveball. Though I haven’t practised for a while, nothing makes me feel better than when I’m on my mat. I practice Ashtanga and find it incredibly meditative. It calms and stills my mind in a similar way while keeping my body active.

  5. Talk!
    This is the hardest one for me as my natural reaction is to withdraw but a problem shared really is a problem halved. Talking through what is going on is to therapeutic, whether it’s a friend or a trained professional. While ignoring my phone helps cut down the ‘noise’, I always try to speak to friends about what I’m going through. Even if they can’t help, just knowing someone is there for you is help in its own right. I have also spoken to a therapist in the past which was incredibly daunting but so, so rewarding.


Jacket - Tommy Hilfiger (similar)
Top - Dimepiece
Trousers - Missguided
Shoes - Brian Atwood
Bag - Shrimps

Photography by Adorngirl. 


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