Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Why I still (kind of) blog


Everyone's a blogger these days. So much so that people no longer act like it's an unusual hobby when they find out. Little girls are growing up dreaming of starting their own websites and YouTube channels and Instagrams. While there's nothing wrong with that, the world of blogging has definitely become a much busier place. It's a legitimate profession now. And that's totally OK!

But one thing I've noticed more and more with the phenomenal rise of vlogs and YouTube, and continuing popularity of other social media, is that I read blogs less and less. I used to pour over the newest posts from my favourites, but now I see their content on my Instagram feed and Twitter timeline along with so many others, and I'm much less likely to click through and engage with it. That doesn't mean I wouldn't enjoy the post, but when scrolling through any app is an assault of 'check out my latest content', it's impossible to take the time to look at everything without feeling overloaded.

I struggle to find inspiration to provide my readers (who I'm very glad are still here after all these years!) with something unique, or at least a perspective they haven't seen somewhere else that very same week. It sometimes seems like it's almost impossible to grow, too. My followers on social media have been stagnant for months - why would anyone follow yet another small-time blogger with little to say?

I've struggled in my private life so much lately, with anxiety rearing its ugly head not for the first time, and in taking the time to try and deal with that and prevent it from taking over my life, I really neglected this space. And not keeping your blog and social up to date is sinful these days. My pageviews have plummeted, my Instagram followers and engagement have dropped dramatically (I wish I could blame that stupid algorithm entirely). Any attempt to blog in the last few months has only come from a random spurt of inspiration, that vanishes almost as quickly as it appears before I lose enthusiasm once more.

I wrote a while back about how sometimes this whole blogging thing seems too superficial. I'm not sure I feel exactly the same right now, but I do know that something is stirring in me to create something a little more meaningful out of the turmoil I've been going through offline. I guess that whatever comes out of this will only be a good thing. Because after considering packing this all in I've decided that's not an option.


Thinking about it, blogging at all in my current mindset is still an achievement. I've managed to keep up a blog in some shape or from since 2013, and it was only in April that I found myself dwindling from my usual 2-3 posts a week. This blog as always given me something to work at, something to try with, something to distract myself with for a little while.

It's also given me some wonderful new blogger friends. I wish I saw more of them, but hopefully as I get to building up my confidence and motivation again I'll be able to get more involved in the local scene and maybe even arrange something myself.

A blog gives me a chance to develop a whole host of skills, too. Since moving into social media marketing a few months ago with a new job, I'm struggling to remember the last time I wrote more than 160 characters. It's time to learn how to pour my heart out again. It's time to pick up the camera again and actually remind myself how to switch off the auto setting. It's time to put on a sassy outfit and take an image that makes me feel more 'girl boss' than empty shell.

There are so many reasons not to keep this blog running, to pack it all in and find something else to do... but the truth is I don't know if I'll ever be ready to give it up altogether. There are so many more reasons to continue. So, yes - I'm still here! In an impossibly tricky online space, I still want to succeed in growing and learning and bringing even more of you on board for the ride.
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Sunday, 2 July 2017

The 'self care' advice worth taking


You can't scroll through Twitter these days without encountering a thread of 'self care' tips. They're all over blogs, vlogs and even magazine pages. The recommendations made in self care content range from the perfectly sensible (e.g. eat something), to the downright ridiculous (purchase some organic lavender oil spray and spritz your new fairtrade cotton bed sheets to your heart's content while adding even more unnecessary steps to your to do list). 

If you're not doing so well mentally, for whatever reason, the simplest daily task can feel like another mountain to climb. That's why however trendy it seems, self care is important. If you struggle to completely look after yourself sometimes then having key actions to focus on can help you get into a routine and take your mind off of your troubles. 

Self care is not, however, an endless tick list of treats and luxuries. It's not an aspirational lifestyle choice. It's not a 'trend'. The internet seems to have forgotten that part. For many people, myself included during a few periods of my life, getting out of bed at all feels like an achievement. There's no need to then add the weight of a bunch of unobtainable goals. It's all about taking things one step at a time

It's not healthy to set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Instead focus on 2-3 simple things you can do each day, and try to make these a habit. If you have to put a written list somewhere to remind yourself then do it, but don't beat yourself up if you don't succeed, just start again.

Some realistic things you can do to look after yourself

Get out of bed

Even if you just move to the sofa, getting out of bed will make you feel more awake. If you have trouble falling asleep then separating day and night locations could also help. By the time you've gotten out of bed, you may even start to feel like getting dressed, having breakfast etc. Even if you don't, you've succeeded at motivating yourself just a little.

Wash your face, comb your hair and brush your teeth

I find brushing my teeth such a chore when I feel down, but once I've done it I feel weirdly cleansed. The same goes for washing your face. Self-care isn't about looking perfect, it's about being clean and feeling a tiny, tiny bit better for it.

Take your medication

Whether you're on prescribed tablets or are taking the supplement route to deal with whatever you've got going on, skipping doses is going to make them less effective and help you less in the long run. If it helps, you could get one of those weekly pill boxes to keep track. Keep it somewhere prominent e.g. by your kettle or on the bedside table. If you're not taking anything at all, it could be worth looking into if things are bad - there's no shame in asking your doctor.

Talk to someone

Even though I'm rarely truly by myself, in episodes of anxiety or depression I manage to convince myself I'm completely alone. Of course, that's never true, but I need to be reminded of this. Finding someone to talk to, whether through a helpline, a partner, parent, other relative or a friend, could make you feel a lot lighter. I can't tell you the amount of times I've gone quite literally crying to my parents as a grown adult because I've struggled to cope. They're always ready to listen and help me get my thoughts in order. Asking for help or advice doesn't make you weak, annoying or needy, and social interaction is important. A problem shared is a problem halved.

Go outside

You don't have to take up an extreme sport or buy hiking boots, but moving around a bit and getting some fresh air and sunlight is so important for your health. Vitamin D is a natural mood booster and a lot of us don't have enough of it. Even if you just step into the garden, it's a change of scenery.

Drink something. Eat something.

It's easy to forget to look after your body's basic requirements in the midst of a panic attack or when you feel like you're in the pits of despair. I have to admit that when my anxiety is simmering away in the background I'm more of an emotional eater (Krispy Kreme's for breakfast, anyone?). However when it really takes hold I can go the whole day without feeling hungry or thirsty. It's like that part of my brain has been disconnected. A slice of toast and a glass of water isn't much, but can keep you going when you're not interested in putting together a gourmet quinoa and avocado salad.

As far as I'm concerned, anything else is a bonus on those days where everything seems to take ten times the energy and effort it usually might. And who knows, once you've conquered the basics then maybe you'll be ready to start adding in new steps and getting back on your feet.
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© kelly anne rist

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