Boobs vs Moobs - the Cancer check

There's no doubt you have seen this but on the offchance that you've been trekking the Himalayas for the past month, here's a great video from MACMA, an Argentinian Breast Cancer Charity on how to perform breast checks using man boobs to get around the social media nipple ban and lend some comedy to the very serious matter. 

When it’s All Over

No matter how your relationship ended, there is no denying that break ups are hard and can create all kinds of painful feelings. While saying goodbye is never easy and moving on may seem impossible, there are many positive things you can do to help the healing process along. Now is not the time to lay blame. The arguing is done. Its really over. Though tempting, now is not the time to get even.

Get selfish

Do something truly for yourself. Is there a hairstyle you’ve been wanting to try, rock it. That gig you wanted to go to but your ex hated the music? Buy a ticket and spend your Saturday night dancing it out. Do all of the things you have been denying yourself for his/her benefit.

Get help

If you left your relationship because of abuse or addiction issues, take the time now to seek the appropriate help. Toxic relationships are that much harder to leave completely, particularly if control or violence was an issue. Keep a grounded friend around to be a voice of reason that keeps you strong. Manipulative partners make hellish exes. Having a sounding board will help you navigate any backsliding. If addiction is a problem for you, seek counselling and support to help you adjust to the major changes that are now occurring in your life.

Get healthy

Join a gym. Go to the pool. Take a boxing class. Work on you in a fun social. Start that health kick but don’t crash diet yourself into the veritable new and improved you overnight. If you can’t yet face a meal, (it happens) stay hydrated, drink any alcohol in moderation. Make small meals and make them special -just because you are now cooking for one doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on quality.

Get in touch

It is common for friendships to fade off or slow down as romantic relationships develop. Now is the time to reconnect with all of those who were there before your ex beloved and have remained after. Surround yourself with supportive people who understand your situation, know how to listen and recognise when it is time to drag you off of the couch and take you out.

Get focused

Looking to take a next step in your career? Now is the time to start focusing on self-development. Reevaluate your goals. Are there leadership opportunities at work that you haven’t considered because of the extra hours required? Perhaps you’ve been considering going back to study or studying abroad. Now is the time to work out what you want to achieve for your own life. Leave it up to others to work out where they fit in. The more you build now, the more you’ll have to share when you decide it’s time for another relationship.

Get free

Block your ex on social media. I know you think you can be friends, but all it is going to take is one photo of your ex with his arm around a random to undo all the hard work you’ve done. If you’re still facebook friends with all of his friends, consider whether you want to see his face popping up in their photos. Make your own call on whether to unfriend them but at the very least unfollow their profiles so no stray photos pop up in your newsfeed. Replace your bedding. There is nothing worse than coming home to the sheets that once accompanied Sunday morning cuddles. Box up your mementos and leave them with a friend until you feel more able to have them around you. Untie yourself from the possessions of the relationship and start creating your own place that reflects who you are now and who you hope to become.

Get away

Running away will not solve any of the feelings that you are struggling with. Trust me. But some time away may help to gain some much needed clarity. Consider volunteering abroad. Put all of that energy into something positive. Always wanted to take that girls trip to Fiji, now is the time. If an overseas adventure is not on the cards, take a daytrip out of town. Take the train and your iPod somewhere scenic or road trip it out of town with your nearest and dearest and a playlist of your favourite belters. Split the cost of a cabin or camp out by the sea. A change of scenery will do wonders to clear your head and will keep any urges to pack up and move permanently to South America at bay while you mend.

Get angry

I’m not suggesting you go on a texting rampage but don’t underestimate the power of a solid scream into nothingness. Get out of the house or bury your face into a pillow. Get it all out then let it go.

Get some perspective

Go to ground, as my aunt would say. I tend towards continual forward movement until I burn out to avoid unpleasant feelings. Take some solo time out to really sit with what has happened. Evaluate your part in the breakdown of the relationship and what think about you would do differently the next time around. Keep the lessons, make room for the nice memories while still being aware of the bad. It is healing to forgive not only your ex but also yourself, but don’t feel that you have to forget. Work out your mistakes honestly, without too much self-criticism and take stock for next time (there will be a next time, even if you’ve sworn off love for life). If you can recognise behavior patterns before they become an issue, you’ll be less likely to repeat your mistakes.

Get ready

You’re hurting. You’re making huge changes in your life but don’t close yourself off to opportunities that may come your way. Go on dates. Go out with friends. Join a book club or a film society. Try new things and know that as you change, your path will to. Prepare for what’s ahead without focusing too much on what has passed. Find your passion.

This is a time for reflection, some self-love and a chance to re-evaluate what you want for yourself and for your life. While it may not feel like it right now, the end of your relationship is not representative of some epic personal failure. It’s an opportunity to do all of the things you couldn’t do before, to meet new people, to address parts of yourself that you’d like to change and leap at opportunities you may have been closed off to before. Simply put, it’s your time. Embrace it.

 
HAYLEE READ - CONTRIBUTOR

HAYLEE READ - CONTRIBUTOR

 

Reclaiming Confidence After Fear

I am not a fearful person – there is very little that will make me feel so, I’ve always been difficult to scare and having been a rather emotionally detached person for the vast majority of my life, I have always been desensitised to generally offensive or alarmist news articles or the sight gags of horror films, but of late, I’ve found an unease in the simplest, most innocent of activities – running.

In January, while out running, a woman was killed – perhaps a daily occurrence in other countries, but here in New Zealand, in the elite suburb of Remuera, in broad daylight, on a main road with usually heavy traffic and on her everyday usual running route, a woman was murdered.

She was killed by someone she didn’t know, randomly and seemingly without motive. After being reportedly struck with an undisclosed object, she crawled to the lawn of a nearby house and lay there hoping for attention for an hour before she the owners of the house saw her (not their fault – how often do you look out the window to admire your lawn?). The man turned himself in a few hours later and there haven’t been many more details about the attack released.

While to some it may have been just the daily news, to me it hit home a little more – not at first, but later that day once news broke and after upon finding out, my partner expressed worriedly how easily it could have been me.

The woman was killed on my usual running route – a common route for runners in the area.

The woman was killed on my usual running route at the exact time I was out running - one street away - because I’d decided my touch-and-go knees weren’t up to the hills on that route that day.

The woman was killed, on my usual running route, at the exact time I was running, where if not for my knees, I would have been at the same point, at the same time, and potentially could have found myself in the same predicament…this was the hitting-home point.

Remuera to me, had always been a sanctuary, a suburb where everyone smiles and says hello to each other, morning runners greet each other in the wee hours with grins that seems to convey the motivational cheer to ‘keep going’, it had been a place where there was no thought against walking alone at night or running through the bush trail as it started to get dark because this, was a place of sanctuary.

In the wake of the murder, many women became fearful of repeats and thus a ‘take back the night’ style running rally was arranged for Remuera women to reclaim their running routes without fear. The event was hailed by the runners as restorative though some still took to social media to show off their new personal alarms, showcasing their still palpable fear of repeat attacks (albeit through the cheerful display of matching one’s alarm to one’s running clothes) because once the hundreds of other feet plodding beside you dissipate, once it returns to just being you, alone on the street, it’s a different feeling.

The first time I ran again after the attack, I held my dog’s choker chain in my hand – I don’t particularly know what I was planning to do with it – perhaps get a couple of strikes in or end up wearing it myself on a stranger’s lawn but it took away the apprehension for the duration of the run. When I returned home, I realised the absurdity, the danger and the illegality of carrying what was basically a weapon as I ran.

The second or third time I ran (a few weeks later), I noticed a car without licence plates driving alongside me. The driver was hanging out of his car window, staring directly at me, expressionless. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, that perhaps it was just the token creepy guy that girls get leering at them as they run and that he’d leave soon enough. I continued running, rounding a couple of corners, noticing the car still following me, stopping when I stopped to cross a road, rounding the same corners as I, driving at a snail’s pace across the road from me, matching my speed for several streets until I ducked in to a nearby park. At one point, I’d taken a stealthy snapchat of the car and sent it to my boyfriend, just in case something did happen.

When I got home (alert to my surroundings), my boyfriend urged me to call the police. I declined initially because I felt like it was a waste of resources – who do you even call, it’s not an emergency? – I felt like it was just being weak and alarmist to tattle-tale to the police when nothing had actually happened but after some prompting, I called and reported it, solely because I thought it suspicious that the car had no plates – it seemed too motivated and I wouldn’t want to have known about it and find out something had happened to someone else.

Ever since the two incidents, I haven’t really run – I plan to - I lay out my clothes, heck one night I slept in my running clothes so all I’d need to do was put on my shoes, but when I’ve woken to see the dark mornings, a feeling of apprehension has taken over and I’ve made my excuses to go back to bed. The only times I have run have been in full daylight on busy streets, eschewing my preferred routes of bush trail and solitude in the darker hours I love for hot and sticky times of daylight hours where the streets are littered with people and the routes congested.

It’s an entirely new feeling – the apprehension and unease – where something as innocent as daily exercise has become tainted with a pit of fear in my chest.

There was a good line to describe it in the late-nineties TV show, ‘Roswell’ once:

“It’s funny how the world changes sometimes, how the streets you’ve walked your entire life seem darker, colder. How the silence isn’t so quiet anymore. How eyes you’ve barely even noticed now look at nothing but you. How the walk home every night is no longer routine but a victory. And then you begin to wonder – maybe it’s not the world that’s changed, maybe it’s just you but then something happened and suddenly you being to wonder all over again.” (S1, E3 –“Missing”)

These two incidents have collectively taken something from me, a freedom and delight I’d found in the simple act of running – a necessity considering the training required for the running goals my boyfriend and I have for this year. I’ve forced myself out only once of late, waiting until the morning light began to emerge, and sticking to a busy traffic route – sans weapons but also without headphones in order to stay alert. How do we find solace again after something happens to shake you in places you didn’t know existed? How do we return to a place of confidence and fearlessness?

For me, it’s my own personal brand of exposure therapy – I’ve never been fearful of anything, I don’t like being vulnerable, I don’t like feeling weak because I am an inherently strong person emotionally and I’ve always despised any show to the contrary with the exception of my partner. I try everything and anything, things I’ve never done before, apprehensive or not because if you’re fearful of life, you’ll never try anything, you’ll never accomplish anything.

It’s a refusal now to accept anything less and thus I will be running again every morning, throwing myself in the deep end again back to the bush trails I love at the time before the sun rises where the world is quiet and the air crisp, where runners greet each other with motivational cheers through welcoming smiles and the world seems to slow down just for you - with one proviso, the headphones stay at home.

It would be reckless to pretend the world is a perfect place, that people are all inherently good and that an innocent run through the local bush track will always remain exactly that, but rather it’s about facing what you’re afraid of, or in my case, apprehensive about – acknowledging the fear and why it affects you so and pushing through it to retrieve the confidence that is so rightfully yours.

What are you afraid of?

The Science of Mourning

The culture of mourning surrounding the death of public figures, such as artists, actors and politicians is not unknown to us. Recently, the well-loved figures of artist and singer David Bowie, and actor Alan Rickman died.

Condolences, from politicians and civilians, on social media - Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram - television networks and radio broadcasts poured in from around the world. This was not uncommon. World leaders issued messages of sorrow and condolences after the assassination of John F Kennedy, an air of mournful respect is strictly adhered to at Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum in Hanoi, the ‘RIP MJ’ shirts after the death of Michael Jackson were worn by many and the uninterrupted news of a celebrity’s death, along with memorial services held and broadcast on television for the public was common place. Shared and public mourning has never been more ordinary. Expressing grief after someone’s death, in human psychology terms, is normal. It can differ culturally, individually, but simply, it is a way of expressing the grief over the death of a friend, a family member, someone a part of your life, who is no longer a part of it anymore. This is important to point out: mourning usually took into account the death of someone you knew personally, and lost. How then, has mourning become such a publicly shared event, involving grief over the death of one that many have not met (such as public figures and celebrities)?

An event that may illuminate the purpose of ‘disenfranchised grief’ is in the ‘mass hysteria’ of Princess Diana’s death in 1997, after a car crash in Paris. The media exploded in proliferations of sadness, rage; a ‘forced mourning’ seen in a larger and grander scale than ever witnessed before. Newspapers, television and radio networks created a ‘unified’ and tragic narrative of Diana’s death, capitalising on her appeal as a ‘Princess of the People’ and ‘murdered’ by the paparazzi who had chased her. In this way, they were supposed to reflect the reactions of the people, one which was presumed to be as despondent and ‘hysterical’ as the press made it out to be. Yet, studies have shown that variously different reactions by the public to Princess Diana’s death was initially buried ‘under a large monolith called GRIEF’ (Jack, 1997: 17; McGuigan, 2000; Thomas, 2002; Turnock, 2000). Opinion polls showed that at least 75 percent of people did not participate in the public mourning by placing flowers or signing books of condolences, and nearly 50 percent of the population did not watch the funeral (Thomas, 2002).

The disparity between the public and private reaction is psychological. People conform to the social norm, in fear of being rejected with an unpopular opinion. This is especially as the media has the role of presenting an ‘imagined community,’ one in which mass grieving can ‘strengthen’ the bonds of a nation. This is why it is called a ‘forced mourning,’ the media forces, in its scale and proliferation of the figure’s death, for civilians to conform to what they perceive as normal. If one does not feel grief, the media tells them that they should feel grief, to do otherwise would be to appear uncaring and unpopular in society. On the other hand, the extent to which one actually feels grief depends on the ‘identification’ factor, if you perceive that person as ‘one of you.’ Princess Diana was seen as the ‘Princess of the People,’ because of her compassion and kindness, reflected in her humanitarian efforts which showed her as ‘royal,’ yet ‘ordinary.’ In the four weeks leading up to her funeral, the suicide rate in England and Wales rose to 17%, and deliberate self-harm rates rose to 44%, compared to the four years previously. Of the greatest increase in suicides was by people most similar to Diana: women aged 25 to 44, whose suicide rate increased by over 45%. This is because they identified with Diana, she became someone who was present in their everyday lives, as opposed to an abstract, detached figure. These growing social attachments have also increased with the rise of social media, celebrity Instagram photos showing ordinary domestic life, humorous ‘tweets’ of failed baking, and awkward interactions, things that show actors and singers, the admired and beloved as “one of us.”

Thus, mourning has evolved into something more. You’re not just capable of grieving for your next-door neighbour, you can grieve for your favourite softball player halfway around the world. The rise of ‘celebrity worship,’ the influence of social media and media networks in dictating narratives and the growing social attachments one can have to their role models all results in a new mourning, a mourning of artwork, poetry, special edition news segments that I’ve seen for David Bowie and Alan Rickman alike. It’s a mourning that I’ve come to appreciate as the ‘imagined community’ of the world, that despite a “forced mourning,” some may see as the media’s monopoly of these deaths, how we respond to it, in mourning or not, is just as important.

 
Wen-Juenn Lee CONTRIBUTOR

Wen-Juenn Lee CONTRIBUTOR

 

The Point of New Year's Resolutions

As the clock struck twelve and the new day dawned, hundreds, even thousands, of New Year’s resolutions were formed. This year I’m going to exercise more. This year I’m going to eat healthier. In some form or another, a New Year’s resolution is a commitment, a promise to change one part of your lifestyle that you recognise is not as good as it could be. Hence; the exercise, the eating healthier, the ‘no more drinking for me, I promise.’ And yet, Miller and Marlatt (1998) found that 75% of people who make a resolution fail on their first attempt. I’m not surprised. The last time I made a New Year’s Resolution, I vowed to make more effort with my friendships. On New Year’s Day, I bailed on a party. The fact we make resolutions, and break them (as soon as the next day, even) is common knowledge. Resolutions are made to be broken. At least, people say, you had the intention to change. And that is precisely what New Year’s Resolutions are all about.

Timothy Pychyl of Carleton University and author of ‘Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change’ believed that New Year’s resolutions was a form of ‘cultural procrastination’. Procrastination is the gap between intention and action. It is an emotional coping mechanism; understanding you have something to do, yet not bringing yourself to do it. By recognising something you need to do, yet not taking the time, effort and cost to perform the task, procrastination is a “mood repair.” One feels instantly gratified by recognising the problem, and forming the resolve to fix it later. Many view procrastination as simply an innocuous habit. Yet early studies of procrastination, by tracking university students throughout the semester, found that although students who procrastinated had lower stress initially, their academic performance, mental and general health was far worse than students who did not procrastinate. In this way, New Year’s, culturally seen as a form of rebirth - new dreams and new goals - is the perfect setting for procrastination; to fix an aspect of your life, but not quite now. That’s why New Year’s Resolutions so rarely stick to the end of the year.

So are New Year’s Resolutions doomed from the start? Pychyl advises to construct specific implementations in relation to your New Year’s resolution. Many resolutions that we make are vague and broad sweeping; this year I’m going to eat healthier. Instead, create specific implementations to achieve that goal, such as keeping a food diary, or keeping a checklist of food to avoid; creating specific goals that seem tangible, rather than vague, far-fetched dreams. New Year’s resolutions are plausible, and I’m not writing them off in anyway. But the reality of New Year’s resolutions, the foundation in which we procrastinate, may be useful as you vow for better health, better jobs; a better you. In the end, New Year’s is about hope. Let’s hope we can achieve our goals.

 
Wen-Juenn Lee CONTRIBUTOR

Wen-Juenn Lee CONTRIBUTOR

 

A Preliminary Investigation into Tinder

Love can be an inconvenience. And for career driven young professionals, dating can be the last thing on their minds. This is where online dating comes in. In the growing age of technology, hastags and @s, likes and follows, people can meet virtually anyone and everyone on the internet. Sites like OkCupid, Match.com,

and apps like Tinder and Grindr have flourished, encouraging dating that is convenient, when and where you want, with no strings attached. And yet, even though social media plays a growing role in our lives, some have found online dating not quite acceptable for something as ‘organic’ and ‘authentic’ as true love.

When I asked my proudly single, not ready to mingle friend if she would ever use Tinder, she yelped an explicit, resounding “no!” This wasn’t a demonstration of her antediluvian ways, no, it was something that many friends, when pressed, demonstrated the same repulsion, embarrassment, at the sheer thought of using social media to find love. These were friends who regularly Snapchatted me, who vocally questioned governments on Twitter and posted (sometimes) embarrassing updates on Facebook. These were people fully, and wholly ingrained into the social media net, so much so it became a norm for communication. And yet, they were hesitant about using such norms to find love, and to be precise, unironic, genuine connections with other human beings. Why?

My friend said, quite bluntly, “It’s love. Something as artificial as tinder isn’t going to work for something as natural as love.” Her implication was, love was supposed to happen naturally. She wasn’t showing an abhorrence with technology, but an abhorrence to the well-orchestrated connection technology created with two individuals. There was a machine behind that program, calculating the likes and dislikes of individuals, and pairing them up. Yet at the same time, how natural was love to begin with? If you liked someone, you found reasons and common ground to talk to them. You, in your own calculating way, orchestrated a connection between yourself, and the object of your affection. Two people did not simply fall together, in the way Hollywood romances showed it, but met each other depending on well-orchestrated variables of mutual friends or mutual classes. Love, in this way, could never be as coincidental and “natural” as people presumed it to be. How was that any different to Tinder finding mutual friends for you, and orchestrating a connection between an individual and yourself?

My other friend admitted that what stopped her from using Tinder was the subsequent story she would have to tell to friends, if it turned to be a success story. “We met on Tinder,” didn’t have exactly the same ring to it as, “We were stuck in a lift and one thing led to another.” How did a successful tinder couple negotiate their tinder going history? These were questions I posed to friend, and regular Tinder goer Allison *(name changed). For her, telling peers that she had met her date on Tinder wasn’t awkward at all. Sure, it didn’t have the same undertones romantic comedies had, but Tinder was still, to some extent, normal. It was the older generation, parents and relatives that she revised her history for: “I will always say we met through mutual friends – either at a party, or bumped into them at the club,” essentially, the acceptable, conservative way. As for Tinder conversations, these can actually help meeting in person for the first time. “I always bring up stuff we’ve talked about…it gives you a springboard for conversation.” *It’s less painful than a blind date, because at least you know what they’re interested in. What scarce conversation you had, may be useful material for face to face conversation. However, this can backfire when conversations on Tinder are simultaneously happening, and one is going on said numerous Tinder dates. People can mix up conversations they’ve had with the wrong person, which happened to Allison when she mistakenly brought up a different person’s conversation, who was not the one she was on the date with. “I’m like, ‘oh yeah, you won that swimming competition,’ and they were very confused.” Apart from being a fantastic anecdote, did any of these dates turn into real love? Allison actually met her ex-boyfriend on Tinder. She also met a really wonderful person “which could have kept being something really special,” if there weren’t other factors like distance and university. What I get from Allison is the insistence that Tinder is used for fun. This is what she knows Tinder is infamous for; drunken hook ups and late night ‘fixes.’ But between the gaps, I hear a longing for real, meaningful connection, for things to progress further into a “real relationship.” She knows of people in long term relationships, who met on Tinder. There is a certain layer of façade involved. Tinder is ‘just a bit of fun,’ but at the same time, there is a possibility it could evolve into something more.

I felt there was only one thing left to do. I signed up for Tinder, and deleted it shortly after. For me, Tinder was like op shopping. You had to sift through a lot of crap to find some gems. And as crass as it sounds, people became objects. I knew nothing about their personality, about their dreams and failures, what made them tick at night; I knew nothing except the pixelated 4 pictures I saw of them in house parties, and trekking in the outback. There was an animalistic shopping in Tinder, at the range of choices, at the sizing up of some (did they fit?) and the brutal rejection of others. There’s also the fact New Zealand can sometimes be uncomfortably small. Meeting singles in a metropolitan city like New York may offer a plethora of exciting, unknown prospects. But in New Zealand, there was always a danger that my neighbour, childhood friend, even tutor, may pop up next. There’s also safety concerns behind online dating. Allison herself admitted that safety measures were in force whenever she went on a Tinder date. She often asked to meet in a public place, she told her friends where she was going and for how long, and she would ask for a photo of the person to match their Tinder pictures. The same dangers women face in reality; misogyny, harassment and abuse are the same dangers Allison, and other online daters are constantly aware of online. These may differ to men’s experiences of Tinder, and what they fear in online dating. As Margaret Atwood said, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

It would have been interesting to go on a Tinder date, but there was something innate in me (too romantic? Too squeamish?) that bulked at the thought. There was also the additional factor that I was a young, Asian woman. “Yellow Fever” is an oriental fetishism pervasive in online dating, which affirms skewed ideas of the sexual appeal of Asian women. The assumed stereotype of Asian women as exotic, docile and subservient have rendered them the “most popular” race on OkCupid (AYI Survey, 2015). In contrast, African American women were seen as feisty and argumentative, and were statistically the least desired ethnicity. Bias and prejudice are hugely influential in online dating. I didn’t know if some “super liked” me because of who I was, or because of the delusional ideologies I represented. Allison, and other Tinder success stories show the appeals of online dating; its convenience, its comfort (as opposed to a blind date), and its accessibility. But for me, Tinder was like a game; and I would be always questioning the rules.

*Note: *JAGGAR understands that a great many people have found great and true love on Tinder, this is an opinion piece and is not intended to offend either the application or the people who have found love through it.


Wen-Juenn CONTRIBUTOR

Wen-Juenn CONTRIBUTOR


Switch Off and Be Present

We live in a world where everything is instant. Technology is convenient and certainly can make our lives easier but spending too much time logged on is making us antisocial and distracted from real life. We spend less time living in the moment and more time behind screens with continuous emails and notifications making our lives more stressful than they need to be.

In an effort to help draw you back to a more balanced life, we've come up with three basic tips to get you started:

Get outside

Simply stepping outside and taking a walk or a run improves your health and happiness. It can clear your mind, improve focus and ease fatigue. When you're exposed to the sunshine, your body produces Vitamin D; strengthening your bones, boosting your immune system, and stimulating your nervous system, so breathe in the fresh air. Go for a walk along the beach and embrace the sunshine. Being amongst nature has boundless therapeutic benefits… and it’s free.

Talk to a different generation

Sometimes there is a reason why the older generation are always complaining about ours. They lived simply. There were no iphones, ipads, or WiFi… and they survived and thrived without it. They knew when it was their friend’s birthday, without getting a notification. They spent the day with them rather than typing an impersonal birthday wish on Facebook. They met their match and fell in love, without having to match on Tinder first. They sent hand-written letters to friends they hadn’t seen in a while and although it wasn't delivered instantly, it was far more thoughtful and purposeful than a quick Facebook timeline post. They planted their own vegetables, cooked their own meals, worked hard, read literature, and attended local dances. The best memories were made without being documented. So ask your grandparents or another elderly friend about their lives. Listen to their stories and their wisdom.

Disconnect

Take a break from social media. Resist the temptation to log back on and realise that although it is fun now and then it shouldn’t be an important part of our lives. Turn your phone off during dinner, and enjoy your meal. Be attentive while having a conversation with family and friends without becoming distracted. When surrounded with a stunning view, embrace the moment rather than taking the perfect picture for Instagram. The best moments happen when you put your phone away and be present.


Natalie Cave CONTRIBUTOR

Natalie Cave CONTRIBUTOR


Persona vs Reality

We'll paraphrase Hawthorne here by saying "No (WO)man for any considerable period can wear one face to (her)self and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true."

There are many scenarios wherein you'll find it's easier to put on a particular persona to forge ahead. Whether it's your confident self promoting alter ego who does your interviews for you or the self-assured persona who knows her strengths and capabilities and will say she can do it first and learn how to later, it's a common and completely natural, if not encouraged, method of forging through uncomfortable situations. Many times it helps you get the job because you have the moxy or the skillset to get the job done well, and many times it helps an introvert work the room like the most natural extrovert. 

Putting on a persona makes things easier, but it's also important to remember where the edge of the persona ends and the reality of you begins. So often we're lost in the blur. Sometimes it seems easier to stay in the persona because she gets what she wants, she's never down, she's confident and self-assured, she sticks up for herself and goes after what she wants, never let down by self-doubt or overanalysis, but just as you find yourself exhausted after a hard week, the persona too breaks down just as easily, if not moreso. It's not natural to always be 'on' - it's exhausting, it plays with your psyche in negative spiraling ways and it's just not physically possible. Think of it as working 18 hour days without sleep and only takeout for sustenance. Your body is not at its peak, you're tired and run down - probably have a cold- you forget easy things, you lose time in moments, and then hours until your body has had enough and shuts down to rehabilitate. 

Wearing a mask to the world is a valuable tool for your career or to combat your introversion but there does need to be some separation between persona and reality. 

Use it sparingly

While it's natural to believe that staying 'on' longer will help you get what you want faster, you're more likely to find you'll run out of gas too soon and still have plenty of road still to go. Use the persona only when required - interviews, networking, conflict resolution, times when shyness and self-doubt will harm you more than they will help you. 

Take it off

Make sure that you have some separation between your home life and your goal life. Whether you're working towards a goal and need to be at peak performance constantly or your focus is your career, you can't reach peak performance if your too drained mentally, physically, emotionally to get out of bed. When you're at home, it's your sanctuary, there is no necessity for self promotion here.This is the place of couple snuggles (or dog snuggles) , DVD movies and messy bed hair.Take it off. 

Never use the persona to fit in

In your personal life, it's especially hard to fit in with new crowds and if you're an introvert, your usual crowd is probably the dog and a couple of good friends. The persona should never make an appearance in your personal life (non-goal life). You can extract elements from it to diminish your tendency to overanalyse or doubt yourself or your partner in a healthy, mindful way but you should never be at a point where you've created a persona so strong that you can't keep up.  This is where a lot of people fall into despair - depression brought about by constantly trying to be too much to too many people, trying to be a person that they think they're expected to be or wish they were when inside they're fighting to keep up and losing hope. You're amazing as you are, everyone else is taken, be yourself.

Be kinder to yourself

You're not there yet - you will be. You're struggling, but it's not forever. People around you believe in you so much more than you'd expect. They're so proud of you and your accomplishments even if you don't see them yourself. You are not your persona. You have all that strength and courage inside you all the time but out of humility, you downplay your accomplishments in reality, it doesn't mean they're not real or that you don't believe in them, it just means you're still focused on the road ahead. Take a moment every now and then to just reflect on what you've done and allow yourself to be proud

The Pale Blue Dot and the Lethality of Loneliness

In the film 'Men, Women and Children', the lead character Tim (Ansel Elgort) has given up. A life once filled with football games and the persona that went with the status of being the MVP becomes one of introversion, self-reflection and the question of 'What's the Point?' - a change brought about after the character watches Carl Sagan's 'Pale Blue Dot' which points out just how insignificant we are in the greater scheme of things. 

As his life continues to spiral swiftly and without pause, Tim attempts suicide but is interrupted by his girlfriend who sensed something was wrong. 

A byproduct of Depression is that you do turn to philosophy, to poetry, to novels and psychology books in an effort to simultaneously contemplate existence and melt into a state of nonexistence, numbness, the words in these books fueling your inflection but also reinforcing the pointlessness of making an effort when human life is in fact insignificant in the context of the universe. 

Pair this with the antidepressants that are prescribed with more ease than a child buying candy and the situation is further elevated. Loneliness is a universal concept, one that is misinterpreted as weakness, one that is overlooked by many and one that is experienced by all. The difficulty is in creating a world for yourself wherein you don't find yourself spiraling at the thought of it. This is of particular importance to teens who find themselves extradited from circles with relatively high frequency due to the pressures of peers at school.

By learning to be ok alone, you're taking the power away from loneliness and giving the power back to yourself. 

Our tips for learning to love solitude:

Solitude is actually amazing. It's a time for inflection and focus, it allows you to be a complete idiot with your dog or cat and there's noone around to judge. The added benefit of being happy alone is that the world opens up in ways it was never open to you before. 

Go to a movie alone

I go to movies by myself all the time. People think it's odd - though the other people I know who go solo think it's necessary sometimes. If you think about it, a movie is the easiest way to edge into solitary confidence. You can't talk to anyone because you're in a movie, it's dark, no one is looking at you or caring about what you're doing, they're there to see a movie and mack in the back row. You give yourself a couple of hours by yourself, effectively on a date with yourself and no one is the wiser but you've just taken the first step. 

Go to the gym alone

Going to the gym alone is another easy one. No one is there to look at you, they're all in their own little gym tunnelvision worlds and so are you, it's an easy out to head to the gym, do your workout and head back home without even realising anyone else is there. 

Go to dinner alone (or breakfast or lunch)

Having a meal by yourself has been made to sound crazy in film, and most feel that they have to have something to do to make it OK - playing on their phones, taking a book to read or typing away on their laptop and perhaps this will help ease you into it though once you become more comfortable with it, you'll find it's actually really enjoyable. The people-watching is fun, you can quietly eavesdrop on people's conversations and hear the absurdity of their lives while patting yourself on the back for being so much more together. 

Here's the big one: Travel Alone

When I was 13, I hopped a plane to New Caledonia and it was my first time travelling without my parents. I had always thought that if I traveled, I would do it with friends, a grand OE but every time I was presented with an opportunity, I chose to go it alone. It throws you in to the deep end and forces you to be ok with solitude really fast. At 18, I went to Italy and Paris alone - Italy was a Contiki tour (which is a great way to ease into it, starting with a large group of strangers and then tapering off to just being solo once the tour finishes). At 22, I spent three months in the United States alone, doing a combo of Contiki tours and solo travel, the list goes on. Whenever I travel, I find time to go it alone. Even if travelling with friends, just the simple act of taking yourself off for a solo date for the afternoon or day to wander a new city, take in a show or a lunch, saunter the boardwalks of beachy communities, alone with your thoughts, it's an amazing way to build your solitary confidence. 

As you become more comfortable with these things, you'll find that you can go weeks or months without feeling the need to see anyone (though we don't recommend just holding up in your house all Howard Hughes-like, you should definitely leave your house and wear clothes), you don't feel the crushing need to be with someone, that you're unwanted or unloved because you're single or feeling like you're so alone because to you now, there is no such thing. 

It's not an overnight thing, it takes time but fighting the lethality of loneliness is imperative not just for your mental health and happiness but for your own solitary confidence. 

To expand further on the Lethality of Loneliness, we've posted a video below of John Cacioppo speaking on this very topic at his TED Talk.

Take Time For Yourself

In a world of full time careers, personal goals, families, relationships and hobbies, it can all get overwhelming and even though we know you’re wholly committed to putting your all into every one of those things, it’s important to take time for yourself.

Take time. Schedule it – or it will never happen. Actively make a point of keeping that date with yourself whether it’s weekly, bi weekly or just an hour a day where you can do something entirely for yourself.

It’s a necessity, not only for ensuring that you can continue to perform at a high level in all of those aspects but also for your own emotional and mental wellbeing.

Here are a few ways to take a timeout:

Take a class

Yoga, Ballet Barre, Les Mills Body Pump or something more creative like an art class – immerse yourself in a new hobby where you can focus on yourself, your capabilities and relax into the solitude and awareness of yourself.

Catch a Movie

We mean at the theatre –shock- when you watch a movie at home, you’re too often distracted by all the things you forgot to do or are still yet to do, It’s too easy to pick up the laptop and keep working with the movie playing in the background and by the end of it, have no clue what happened. Go to the movie theatre, buy your $8 popcorn and watch the film without any distractions.

Spa Treatment

Even a Brazilian wax starts to look like a luxury spa treatment when you’re run off your feet, so get off those feet and schedule a regular spa date- whether you’re just maintaining your grooming situation or you’re in there for a regular facial or massage.

Hit the Gym

Swim some lengths where the noise clutter of the world can disappear as soon as your head ducks under the water. Feel the pressure melt away as you power through the water and hit the spa afterwards until you’re all wrinkly or lift some weights and spend time on the foam roller to get those hard to get muscles. Put on your playlist and just let the world disappear for a while.

Go for a run

While it may seem like work, there's nothing more liberating than a run. Just you and the pavement (and the artists on your playlist), the cool breeze, the plod of your foot against the concrete, the ability to entirely tune out everything and everyone and return home refreshed (exhausted) and with a mind free of clutter.

Go on a Date

Sometimes time for yourself can mean spending quality time with the person who calms you. Go out to a relaxed dinner or hit the gym and spend a couple of hours goofing around and soaking in the spa without a care. Take a moonlight walk on the beach hand in hand or sit quietly together somewhere where there's no distractions, just each other's company. Spending time with someone who makes you swoon is an incredible calming remedy for stress.

Break Free From a Rut

Some days are all moonbeams and rainbows and others feel as though the monotony of the moment may be enough to swallow you whole. Too much repetition of the latter becomes a rut and drains you of all energy and excitement. While we can’t be all starshine and dreams every day, there are a few ways to break up the monotony and feel a little more optimistic about how your life is tracking.

Be Grateful

Take a moment to recognise the things you’re grateful for, It seems hokey in the beginning but as you begin to notice the smaller things and convey your gratitude for them, your outlook does indeed become significantly brighter. If you struggle to find things, be grateful for the basics – that you have a home, an income, family, friends, then move to more detail such as the way a vase of flowers in your kitchen makes you feel or the way the sun creeps in your window in the morning, waking you gently and warmly.

For us, those small things have always been full moons, fairylights, bubble baths puppy cuddles and morning light and then you add to it as your eye expands.

Take Time For Exercise and Relaxation

For me, my favourite way to unwind is a long bubble bath, playing in the bath like a 5 year old, listening to Asaf Avidan with a glass of brandy or pinot gris but there are so many ways to unwind and reflect on the positives. For you it may be snuggling up with a movie on the couch, a yoga class or meditation – whatever it is that relaxes you, take time to specifically focus on that.

Exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy – so get out and hit the gym, go for a run or join a local sports team to work out those niggly negatives on the playing field. Pound the pavement until your steps lighten and you’ll find yourself relaxed (exhausted) and calmer by the end of it.

Embrace Positivity

As you express gratitude (and not necessarily to a religious icon, your gratitude can be just to yourself or the universe in general), you will become more positive. If you’re the kind of person to focus on the negatives you’ll probably find that those things come true , the more you expect something bad to happen, the more likely it will happen so similarly focusing on the positives can have the same effect. The more positive and optimistic you are, the more likely you are to achieve those goals. Create goals, create positive mantras and visualisations and rid yourself of negative thoughts before they have time to form in your mind.

Look for Jobs in Other Industries

Take off the filters on your online job search and search broadly, look at what’s available, you’ll find roles that leap out at you. You may be exactly what they need or if not yet, you’ll have an idea of what you might want to do and how to get there, having a goal is a brilliant way to focus yourself out of a rut.

Reinforce Your Strengths

Again with the hokeyness but looking yourself in the eyes in the morning through the mirror, while a bit disconcerting at first, is the best way to get through to your inner self. Your mind can’t deny the things it sees itself saying to you in your own voice. They say there’s nothing more powerful than an audio visualisation in your own voice but add to that the visual of your own self saying the words, hearing them, feeling them, is incredible. Every time we have something to say we can feel a change inside, as if we’re taking it on board and accepting the message. IT’s liberating. So too is encouraging yourself outside of your reflection.

When you’re running or doing a physical activity you’re not amazing at, take the time to appreciate your efforts, what you’re working towards, your progress. Thank your body for healing a cut or express to yourself how proud you are that you achieved a certain task.

Be kind to yourself first. When you realise that your happiness relies on you and not on anyone else, it becomes a lot more liberating and you’ll find it easier to be happy with much less than you were before.

Don't Compare Your Life With Those on Social Media

You see your friends and friends of friends on Facebook and Instagram living the life and feel stuck in your own because your multiple pics of dinner aren’t as exhilarating as Mel’s trip to Greece but bear in mind that people only share a small part of their lives on social media – even those who post 80 times a day.  People will only show you the good things and often greatly exaggerate them. One such example with this girl who told her family she was going on vacation and documented it all without ever actually leaving her bedroom.   Via 

Social media is not what it seems, the lives of others aren’t greater than yours. 

Revamp and Refresh

When you were young, you probably changed your bedroom furniture around as often as you changed favourite popstars and yet now as adults, we rarely make changes once they’re set. It’s easy when we feel in a rut to let our home life go, let the dishes pile up, leave the tidying for a weekend that never comes. Take a weekend to do abig spring clean, throw out all the stuff you really don’t need, take your old clothes to a second hand store and make some money in the process, rearrange your furniture, buy a few new cushions or home décor items and give your space a general all-around spruce.

Tips For Better Work / Life Balance

Prioritise

What is it that matters most to you? Are you looking to spend more quality time with your family? To find a more efficient way to work so that you have the balance to leave it at work?

For tips on working more efficiently, we recommend the book (and workshop series hosted in-office) ‘Work Smarter: Live Better' by Cyril Peupion. It has wonderful tips for working efficiently and effectively without compromising on personal time.

If you’re looking for more time away from work, this is where it’s necessary to address everything that needs to be done and find ways to manage it all. It’s all about prioritising. It helps to create a to-do list for each day or week depending how your work fluctuates and to list them in order of importance. It’s then easier to review each point and figure out the best way to attack it.

Schedule Downtime & Exercise

Just like an exercise training programme allows rest days, so too should your work/life schedule. Choose days or time brackets where you put down work, forget your responsibilities and just focus on yourself or your family – exercise or activities.

Going for a run at the end of a long day may seem cumbersome but exercise releases endorphins that make you relaxed and happy and also allows you the chance to break free from all distractions as for an hour or two, it’s just you and the pavement. Alternatively, a trip to the gym can be wonderful. Starting your day at the gym gets it out of the way and waked you up, ready to work effectively, but an after work visit where there’s no limitations on time means you can enjoy it – get your workout in and then perhaps mull around in the spa or pool until you feel relaxed.

Disconnect

Once you’re home, switch off your work phone and if you can fathom the idea, switch off your personal phone too – completely disconnect from all unnecessary distractions and allow yourself to unwind and relax.

For us career-driven women, the idea of leaving work in the office is all but ridiculous as a notion since we’re so used to spending our evenings continuing work we’ve taken home. Similarly, if you’re a work-from-home woman, leaving work in the office isn’t quite as easy.

We always have something weighing on our mind-  something we didn’t finish, something we still need to do, that email that needs to be sent or the presentation due tomorrow but there does need to be some separation.

Try to start by limiting yourself to a certain time. For instance, deciding that from 6:30 – 8:30pm, you’ll put down the work so you’re able to spend more quality time with your family, or perhaps if you’re a solo-preneur, making 7pm your work limit so that from then on, you’re able to focus solely on yourself.

Turn Your Home Into a Sanctuary

Make Your Bedroom a No Electronics Zone

One of the easiest ways to wind down at the end of a hard day’s work is to make your bedroom your sanctuary within a sanctuary. Move the TV out of the bedroom including any other distracting devices. Your room should be solely for rest. The blue lights emitted from many devices makes it difficult for your mind to switch off, as too does having cellphones and computers near to your bed – move them out. Your bedroom should be a place of soft furnishings, comfort and relaxation.

Comfort

Make your home a place you want to spend time in by adding plush cushions and throws to sofas and beds, breakfast trays for the bedroom, luxurious dressing gowns and window dressings – all soft and interesting textures that make you feel as though you’re surrounded in luxurious comfort. Take your time finding furniture that is not only soft enough to be supremely comfortable and which looks inviting but is also practical. If you still own a futon and you’re over 30, throw it out immediately.

Artwork

Artwork on your walls is a fantastic way to personalise your house and when you feel like you’re surrounded by parts of yourself, you’ll feel more at home.

Gallery walls, themes or even a simple display of favourite photographs or artists are easy to achieve. If you’re renting and are unable to hang more hooks than already exist, you can still incorporate artwork into your home. Opt for an oversized print that can lean up against the wall or feature a piece on an easel or atop a piece of furniture. Try creating a coffee table vignette of assorted items that really appeal to your eye or look for feature vinyl wall stickers that can be peeled off without damage to the wall.

Scents

Scent is a powerful influencer and there are so many ways to infuse scent into your home and create the feeling you want to evoke.

Reed diffusers are the easiest quick fix for creating an ambience specific to you. They last around a year and come in a wide variety of scents. We recommend spending a little exa to get a quality one as many of the cheaper options end up smelling more like bathroom spray which isn’t ideal.

Different scents evoke different feelings, so say lavender scents would work in the bedroom where you need to feel at rest while a vanilla scent can be more sensual and invigorating, perfect for more open areas or your office where you need a little more focus.

Flowers

We’ve always believed that flowers have the ability to make a house a home, they have the power to lift your spirits and make you feel cosy even in the most barren property.

Visit your local florist, supermarket or even your backyard every fortnight and pick flowers in bright hues and soothing scents that will brighten up your home. Put them somewhere you’ll see often, like the kitchen or your bedroom and really take time choosing blooms that suit you, your personality and the feeling you want to have at home.