Autumn Makeup Masterclass with Space NK

spacenkmasterclass

Autumn is my favourite season, hands down. The temperature drops and allows you to bring out the knitwear, you can chain drink brews without turning into a sweat monster, and best of all, the Halloween stuff comes out!

spacenkmasterclass

In addition to the above, I’m a big fan of Autumnal colours. As I have warm toned skin, brown hair and hazel eyes, brown, red, green and gold are my go to colours. Last week I was invited to a special makeup master class at the Space NK store in Manchester to learn about the new Autumn/Winter products and how to incorporate the AW catwalk trends into your look.

The makeup look

The techniques in the Masterclass were demonstrated on a lovely model named Holly and Jutheanne was the MUA, along with Grace Revington talking through the products used. I have included a links to the products they used to make it easy for anyone to find them (this is not a sponsored post though.)

Skincare

To kick start they prepped for makeup. 111 skin care pro Dean Dawson talked about the importance of using a gentle exfoliator a few times a week to dissolve dead skin cells which can clog pores and make the skin look dull. He recommended the Lift Off Exfoliating Cleanser because it is really gentle on the skin and contains ingredients which improve cell turnover to make your skin look fresher.

The base

After prepping the skin, pro team artist Jutheanne used an illuminating primer by Laura Mercier on Holly’s skin. She chose this specifically as it would make the skin look as though it was illuminated from within but you could use a non-illuminating primer if you wanted to have a more matte base. My sister swears by the standard Laura Mercier primer and I have used hers in the past and been really impressed by the results.

For foundation, she used the new Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion which is a long-wear foundation that promises a matte but not cakey finish. Apparently, the best way to apply this is to use a damp sponge or beauty blender. I tried this foundation afterwards on my hand and I was in love. It had such a soft and lightweight texture, I can’t wait to try it on my face.

Next up, Jutheanne used a Nars creamy concealer, aka the holy grail of makeup, to lighten up any darkness under the eyes (not that Holly had any) and then used a light setting powder to keep everything in place.

The vavavoom

Finally, onto the eyes and lips!

After priming the eyes, Jutheanne used a beautiful taupe colour to add some definition without looking to dramatic. She also applied eyeliner to the tightline (the line just below your top lashes under your eyelid) and very close to the lash line and finished by using a Keyvn Aucoin mascara to add volume and length to the lashes. I had never heard of this brand but apparently it is one of the best for eye makeup.

Finally, it was time for a bold red lip. Jutheanne used a Nars lip pencil to outline the lips and create a shape and then filled it in with one of the new Nars power matte lip pigments. These colours are amazing and are all named after famous rock songs, how cool is that?! To finish the entire look, she spritzed some setting spray and voila, Holly was an Autumnal babe!

I had a lovely evening at Space NK and learnt so much about the brands they sell and the correct techniques to achieve the best results with the makeup. The pro team were amazing, as were the staff who worked in the Manchester store; I will definitely be going in and asking their expertise on makeup in the future.

Is Boomtown fair festival worth the hype?

Boomtown chapter 9 Sector 6 stage

I’ve heard many things about Boomtown festival, some good some bad, but mainly that it was unlike any other festival. Last week I put this to the test and experienced the madness that was Boomtown Chapter 9: Behind the Mask

Boomtown chapter 9 Sector 6 stage

Boomtown chapter 9 windmill stage

Boomtown chapter 9 lions den stage

Located in Winchester, which is basically at the bottom of the country, Boomtown is one of the most diverse festivals on the scene. It features a variety of musical genres, with everything from indie, country, folk, drum & bass, house and many more. The festival prides itself on creating an immersive experience, using very well structured set designs and actors to make attendees feel like they’ve entered a dream like town in a different world.

I’ll admit that I was a little apprehensive before I went to Boomtown. I didn’t know many people that had been previously and the ones I knew were going seemed a bit…wild? I’d heard stories that on the last night everyone descended to the forest banging on pots and pans until 7am refusing to accept the festival was over. I was worried it would be a weekend of ‘free spirits’ reviving the flower power movement one illegal substance at a time. I also had no idea what to wear (‘do people even wear clothes at boomtown?!’) and racked up a large online order filled with backless sequin crop tops, velvet play-suits and patterned flares.

I guess I’m writing this blog to put anyone who is worried about going to Boomtown next year at ease, because it was easily one of the best festivals I’ve been to. It’s huge and crazy at times, but the atmosphere is incredible and there is something for everyone. So much effort was put into creating an entire town to party in, complete with districts, sub-towns and hidden venues.

There is nothing scary about it, and even though 60% of the people there did have dreadlocks, most punters are your average ravers. There’s a good mix of young and old people and you even spot a few families around due to the special Kidz’ Town section. Of course, there were still chavs there, but they flock to any place with music and the possibility of getting off your face for four days.

Tips & tricks for Boomtown Festival 

boomtown 3 collage

Be prepared for a big queue – Some people had to queue for 7+ hours to get in to the festival, so be prepared for long waits. We were also stuck in at least an hour’s worth of traffic once we got closer to the time.

Explore everything on the first day – Boomtown is massive, we spent most of our time in the same areas but looking back on it I wish I’d explored more. We found an amazing place on the last day which was a bit of a walk from the main old town section.

HOOCH – They sell Hooch at all the bars! Even better, they sell Hula Hooch! In case you didn’t know, hooch is a retro alcoholic lemonade style drink and it is delightful.

Make the most of it from the moment you wake up – Once again, I spent quite a lot of time hanging around the campsite drinking and getting ready, when I should have gotten ready as quick as possible and explored the festival. You can take alcohol from the campsite with you, so there’s no excuse to stay in one place.

Take a few outfits but don’t go crazy – Although there were loads of people who were dressed up, most people didn’t make as much effort with their outfits as I’d imagined. Honestly, everyone is having such a good time no one really cares what you look like. It’s definitely a low maintenance/no judgement festival. I ended up wearing the same top most of the time because I really liked it!

Take ear plugs – The music goes on all night, even when the main stages are finished there’s always something going on and rowdy people making noise. If you want to sleep, then pack some ear plugs.

Try the food – Boomtown has loads of quality food vendors in each of the sections, I tried a Tibetan place which was amazing and a peking duck wrap place that was so good we kept going back to for more! However, it’s not cheap so make sure you bring enough money for food for 4 days (about £10 per meal).

Bring sun cream – Apparently, beautiful weather is a Boomtown tradition so make sure you bring your sun cream. It was boiling every day and lots of the people we were with got sunburnt/sunstroke so don’t risk it!

Festival season is over, which makes me so sad because I enjoy going to them so much (here’s some of the reasons why I do!) Hope you enjoyed this post, I will try and write some more event style posts for the future.

Have you even been to Boomtown? What’s your favourite festival?

Give Blood & Save A Life

Photo by Denise Chan on Unsplash

Photo by Denise Chan on Unsplash

Donating blood might not be on the top of your to-do-list, it might even be on your most feared list, but it’s a selfless act that could actually save someone’s life!

How often can you say you’ve saved a life?

I’ve been wanting to donate blood for years but have never got around to it. A few years ago, my mum became very ill and had 10 life-saving blood transfusions while she was in hospital. After this, my sister and I promised ourselves we would donate 10 pints of blood to say thank you to the amazing people who donated theirs.

My sister stepped up and donated at least four pints of blood since then, but I haven’t played my part. Unfortunately, piercings, tattoos and semi-permanent makeup stood in the way of donating and there was never a good time. However, as my last piercing was back in February, I was finally allowed to give blood so I donated last week. You must wait at least four months after getting a piercing, tattoo or other procedure involving a needle until you can donate blood.

I was already registered to donate so I booked the appointment online by choosing my local centre and selecting an appointment time. You can also walk in anytime but you might be waiting a while until they are free. I chose an after-work appointment as it was my first donation and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel afterwards.

What to expect when you give blood

On the day, I drank plenty of water and ate proper meals. Once you arrive they ask you to drink at least one large glass of water and then they ask you some personal questions to make sure you can donate. They also prick your finger to check your iron levels, as people who are anaemic can’t donate unfortunately. Then they decide which arm is the best to take blood from. Once you’re all checked, you wait until the nurses call you up to sit in the chair.

Once in the chair, they strap a band around your arm and find a good vein. Then the needle goes in, but you can barely even feel it. The needle is quite big so if you are worried about it then just look away. Then they leave you to it!

It took 5:39 seconds to get a pint of blood from me, which is quite fast, or so I’m told. What can I say, I’m a fast drainer! It’s quite surreal seeing a bag full of your blood but also oddly satisfying. Once you’ve filled the bag the machine automatically stops and makes a beeping noise to alert the nurse. After this they remove the needle and apply a bandage to stop the bleeding.

The best part of the process is the free snacks! Once you’ve got your bandage on, you are encouraged to sit down and refuel for at least 15 minutes. That means helping yourself to crisps, chocolate and biscuits – for free! The worst part was having my finger pricked for the anaemia test, the donation didn’t feel uncomfortable at all.

I didn’t feel poorly after my donation, although I did get very tired a few hours afterwards. The next day I felt absolutely exhausted which must be because of the donation but after I had a good night’s sleep I felt fine. Giving blood was really easy and I will definitely do it more often now I know there’s nothing to worry about.

You don’t need a reason to give blood, its just a really kind thing to do. If you can donate, please do.

You can sign up to donate blood here.

Do you have a story about giving blood?

IF YOU CAN’T LOVE YOURSELF, HOW’N HELL YOU GONNA LOVE SOMEONE ELSE?

Hannah stood by a brick wall looking pensive

Variety is the spice of life; the world would be so dull if everything was the same. Differences are beautiful and make us unique, so why don’t we celebrate our differences when it comes to our appearance?

Hannah sat on pavement

Photo credit: Alexander Ward 

I’m a firm believer of inner beauty and the fact that people’s goodness will shine through. I’ve met many a ‘beautiful’ person whose beauty quickly diminished after I’d realised they had a rotten personality. I don’t think there are any ugly people in this world, just ugly souls and actions.

You don’t need to change anything about yourself. We need to stop trying to mould ourselves into someone else or fit an unrealistic ideal. You might look at yourself and spot imperfections, but for every ‘flaw’ you chose to celebrate, you make someone who is insecure about the same thing feel better about themselves. If we all embraced our ‘flaws’ then there would be no such thing as a flaw, just lots of variety.

Companies insist on making us loathe ourselves and invent new flaws every day so we spend more money trying to ‘fix’ ourselves (lots of sarcastic speech marks in this post). It’s 2017 and people are getting designer vaginas for God’s sake! I know that people can do what they like, but it worries me that cosmetic surgery has almost become normalised. I fear for my younger sister growing up in such an image focused world.

Weird analogy: imagine if having one huge foot was the new ideal for women and every single woman got a foot job and eventually it was more uncommon to NOT have one large foot?  We’d all look the same and people would expect every woman to have one giant foot. Girls would grow up thinking it was just a normal part of growing up and they’d have a surgical ‘rite of passage’ to get the giant foot of their dreams. I know this is a silly example but it illustrates my point. We shouldn’t be uniform, we should all be different. Children aren’t born hating their bodies, they only start to believe this once they’ve been exposed to social pressures and the media.

I’m trying to reclaim my ‘flaws’. Every time I look in the mirror, instead of telling myself that I hate certain parts of my body, I focus on the things I love and think about how lucky I am to have a body that allows me to experience life. This extends to mental health too, I am trying to silence my inner critic, the one that tells me I am not good enough or I will fail at everything I try.

Sure, this is all easier said than done. Everyone has days where they want to change themselves, I have days where I see a horrible photo of myself and think ‘Fuck it! I’m getting a loan to pay for veneers.” but that’s all part of being human and it’s ok.

As my saviour and all time hero, Ru Paul said,
‘HONEY, IF YOU CAN’T LOVE YOURSELF, HOW’N HELL YOU GONNA LOVE SOMEONE ELSE?’

 

Please vote for me in the Northern Blog Awards. I’m up for the Health and Fitness Lifestyle category and you can vote here. Thanks lovelies x

6 Reasons I Love Festivals

Girl at festival with glitter

Girl at festival with glitter

girl at festival posing with sign

I love festivals. I went to my first one, Leeds Fest, back in 07 when I was 15 and decided that this was the life for me. I worked hard all year to save up enough money to go every summer. Since then, my festival obsession has graduated and taken me across the world, as well as staying local. Going abroad for a festival is amazing, but nothing beats the good old muddy English festival experience.

I get it, festivals aren’t for everyone. Some people can’t understand why anyone would choose to spend a weekend sleeping on the ground, sharing portaloos with strangers, and covering themselves in glitter as a weird shower alternative.

I would be lying if I said some of those things didn’t bother me. Of course, when you’re squatting over a portaloo at 5am praying you don’t lose your balance and dive into five days of stranger’s excrement, there is some part of you that questions why you couldn’t just have a normal hobby like baking. But these gross experiences are long forgotten once you’re home and the hangover has passed.

For me, festivals are among the highlights of my year and I love every single moment of them. Here are some of the reasons I will continue going to festivals every year.

Amazing culture all in one place

Festivals are like an all you can eat buffet of culture. I love the type of festivals where you can experience loads of different music genres at once: walk into one tent and its drum & bass, turn to the next and there’s indie, then take a stroll and find yourself in the middle of a heavy metal death pit, and so on. Many of the festivals I’ve been to also have comedy tents and even art areas. I went to Sonar Festival in Barcelona and they had a whole exhibition you could explore which was filled with simultaneously weird and incredible projects.

Making friends with everyone

This is probably my favourite part of going to festivals, making loads of weird and wonderful new friends. This is mainly down to who you’re camped next to, but you also just end up talking to people when you’re out and about. Most people are super friendly and open, because they are just trying to have a good time like you are too. The friendliest festival I have been to was Lost Village or Hills Have Vibes, it was like a little community.

Unleashing your true style

Looking ridiculous is encouraged at festivals, so embrace your weird side and get creative. I love wearing bright colours, fake animal ears, crazy patterns and using bold makeup and glitter to decorate my face and body.  However, hold your horses (or unicorns) – recently I’ve learnt that glitter is very harmful to the environment because it is essentially tiny bits of plastic that can’t be recycled. So, if you do use glitter, please try and use the eco-friendly stuff. They sell it at Lush and you can find more online, I will be doing so in the future.

girl at festival with unicorn head

The food

Obviously, it depends what type of festival you go to, but usually festivals have amazing food vendors that offer street food, cultural delights and lots of carbs and cheese (is there a more winning combo?) I love trying out new independent food vendors at festivals and tracking them down once I’m home.

Embracing your gross side

Ok, this is a bit of a weird one and some people will not agree with me at all, but I quite enjoy embracing my grossness while I’m at a festival. I’m not one of those people that pays extra to have a shower or use boutique camping facilities, I’m a baby wipe girl through and through and I’m lucky if I take my makeup off at night while I’m at a festival. I enjoy the freedom of not worrying about what I look like all day, where my only reflection is in the tiny mirror in the toilets or the cracked hand mirror I brought. I also love a good gross discussion with friends, these usually involve drinking wine from a bag and realising that we are just as gross as each other.

Escaping

On a completely different note, I love the freedom that you feel at festivals. You are so out of the comfort zone of everyday life that you seem to let go and stop worrying about things. This is massively helped by not being on your phone all day, and being surrounded with positive people that you love.

Hope you enjoyed this post and that I have encouraged you to get into the festival spirit! If you’re going to a festival and are looking for tips to stay healthy, I wrote a post about it last year.

A weekend in Paris: Day two & three

arc de triomphe

The Louvre

As I’m sitting here typing away on this rainy day, it seems like visiting Paris last month was a distant dream.  Or at least the last blog I wrote about it was….

I mentioned in my last blog that we got a two-day ticket for the Batobus shuttle boat, so we commenced our second day in Paris by heading to the stops we didn’t get to see the previous day which included the Louvre Museum and the Champs Elyse.

The Louvre

Do you have Lorde in your head now? I did the entire time we visited the Louvre ‘But we’re the greatest, they’ll hang us in the Louvre. Down the back, but who cares, still the Louvre’ (it’s a great song, I wasn’t complaining!)

The Louvre is a very famous museum and art gallery, housing all kinds of modern and classic art and treasures from around the world. It’s a beautiful building on its own, crafted from translucent glass that projects different colours as it sparkles in the sun. It was a boiling hot day when we visited and we wanted to make the most of the weather, so we didn’t go inside the Louvre but enjoyed wandering around the courtyard.

Paris

Champs Elyse & The Arc de Triomphe

The Champs Elyse is a huge avenue which is famous for its theatres, cafés, luxury shops and is also the finish of the Tour de France cycle race. It’s possibly the busiest road I have ever seen in my life, and impossible to cross safely, with an array of vehicles circling the Arc de Triomphe.

Admittedly, I didn’t know much about the Arc de Triomphe before visiting it (although I recognised it from the Olsen Twin’s film Passport to Paris, which is probably the lamest thing I’ve said….) but a quick google informed me that:

“The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.”

We couldn’t get very close to it (due to the insane road) but I was amazed by the size and detail of the monument and was pleased I’d seen one of Paris’ most famous landmarks.

Walking around in 32 degree heat calls for one thing; gelato! We tracked down one of the most highly recommended gelato places, Armino, and the mix of fruity flavours hit the spot. Mango, passionfruit and lemon; we were not disappointed!

A post shared by Hannah Louise (@hannahgetshench) on

Rooftop terrace

Later in the evening we decided to check out the views from one of the tallest buildings in Paris. We went all the way up to the top floor and realised that while the views were amazing, the temperature of the bar was not as there were no open windows or air con, and quickly decided to make our exit.

We had heard about a bar with a rooftop terrace that seemed more suitable in the heat. The terrace was located on top of a hotel and had the most amazing views of Paris. It was so lovely watching the Eiffel tower sparkle while the sun went down, putting the world to rights with my bestie. However, if you decide to go there, make sure you bring cash because they do not take card and it was 8 euros for a glass of white wine!

Day 3

We didn’t have much time on our last day before we had to catch our flight so we made two stops before heading to the airport.

sacre coeur

Sacré-Cœur

The first was the Sacré-Cœur, which is also called the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, which is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. How nice is the name sacred heart? It is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city, and provides amazing views across Paris. It was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen and truly looked like a palace in heaven.

Moulin rouge

Our last stop was to see the famous Moulin Rouge, which is a musical dance theater and tourist attraction. The original building burnt down in 1915 but the interior consists lots of the original décor. I have to admit I was a little disappointed when seeing it from the outside, I was imagining a huge windmill that took up the entire street, but perhaps it is more spectacular at night (and after a few Aperol spritz!)

Paris was an amazing city and I would love to go back and spend more time getting to know its beautiful streets and culture. As it’s just an hour’s flight away from Manchester, I’m sure I will be returning soon.

A Weekend in Paris: Day One

Paris Seine river at sunset

Paris Seine river at sunset

Paris is one of those cities I’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t got around to – despite it being a stone’s throw away from the UK. Last week I finally got to see what all the fuss was about, as myself and my best girl Ellie, spent 3 days in the amazing city.

We caught a mid-morning flight from Manchester airport and arrived in Paris at midday (Paris time). I knew Paris was close, but I didn’t realise the flight was only one hour – it’s quicker for me to fly to Paris than to travel back home to Harrogate!

Even though we were on the 10 am flight, there was a couple next to us who had drank a whole bottle of champagne, and several beers, who were telling people they were going to the Eifel tower tomorrow night– definite proposal on the cards, the smug bastards.

street in Paris

river seine paris

After landing we hopped on the train from the airport and headed into the city. The trains and metros are really easy to navigate and it didn’t take us long to get our bearings. Although admittedly, Ellie took the lead and told me where to go and which trains to get on, but if I hadn’t have chosen such an organised travelling buddy I’m sure I would have been fine. We purchased a 10-day ticket for the metro (which actually came as 10 tiny tickets) as it was the best option for multiple trips and cost us 14.50 euros.

Eiffel tower

Eiffel Tower

What’s the first thing you think of when you imagine Paris? The Eiffel Tower! We decided to visit the famous landmark on our first day (after stopping to eat some French bread and meat of course!) All I can say is that the tower is SO much bigger than I expected! When you get up close to it you can’t believe how much space it takes up and it can be seen from almost anywhere in Paris. It looks amazing in the day and even better when it’s lit up at night.

eleanor graceful hannah gets hench paris

Paris was a scorching 30 degrees the entire trip, and as the hot metro station is no place to be in a heatwave, we decided to catch a ride on one of the river boats. The ‘Batobus’ is a boat shuttle service that travels on the river Seine to different tourist attractions including Notre dame, The Louvre, Champs Elysee and more. The boat was 19 euros for two days of unlimited travel which is very reasonable considering how far it goes. It was so lovely being on a boat on the Seine and watching all the beautiful French architecture going by.

Notre Dame

We jumped on at the Eiffel Tower and floated down the river to Notre Dame, which is breath-taking medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. The cathedral lies within a square, which due to the weather was buzzing with tourists, performers and Parisians, which was great to watch. However, the queue to get inside Notre Dame went on forever so we chose to admire the view from outside instead of queuing.

paris river seine

notre dame paris

Next stop on the Batobus was Jardin des Plantes, which is a huge botanical garden by the river. It was around 7pm by this time and there were loads of people sat along the riverside dangling their legs over the side and enjoying a few beers.

There were also groups of people dancing to different styles of music, with young and old folk joining in. Of course, we wanted to get involved too, so we bought some beers and perched nearby overlooking the river. Top tip, the men selling cheap beers by the river are selling them for 1 euro for a reason, because they are watered down beers! We learnt this the hard way, but still had a lovely time.

Eiffel tower

We returned to the Batobus and watched the sun go down as we sailed along the river Seine with the Eiffel Tower lighting up the background. It was a magical way to end our first day in Paris.

Part two will be up soon, so keep checking back 🙂

Blogosphere Blog Awards 2017: Fitness Blogger of the year

blogosphere blog awards

Good news everyone! I have been shortlisted in the Blogosphere Blog Awards 2017 and nominated in the Fitness Blogger of the Year category!

The Blogosphere Blog Awards has 10 categories which cover a range of blog niche’s such as lifestyle, fashion, beauty and book bloggers and there is also a category for the ‘Blogosphere Blogger of the Year’ as well, which basically means you’re the best blogger evaaaaa. The winner of each category will be featured in issue 14 of the Blogosphere Magazine and have a photo shoot and interview in London!

I have been nominated in the fitness category along the crem de la crem of fitness bloggers – Carly Rowena, Zana Van Djik, The Runner Beans and Imperfect matter. If I’m honest, I’m really not sure how this has happened! I have looked up to these bloggers, Carly and Zana in particular, before I even started my blog. I’m still quite worried I have been added in as a joke candidate. Imposter syndrome, be gone!

If you enjoy reading my blog, or want to do your good deed for the day, you can vote for me as fitness blogger of the year by clicking here and selecting Hannah Gets Hench in the fitness blogger category. Nominations are open now and they close at the end of May so get voting!

Best of luck to all the amazing bloggers who have been nominated (Not dominated spellcheck…) and I am looking forward to meeting you all at the event in June!

VOTE FOR ME HERE

Thanks, Hannah x

How to support someone who has anxiety

girl holding water melon

TW: anxiety, panic attacks.

As it’s mental health awareness month, I wanted to write about a topic that I am very familiar with; my old buddy anxiety.

I’ve suffered from generalised anxiety disorder for most of my teenage and adult life. I take medication to deal with it daily, which generally keeps it at bay, but sometimes it does flare up and cause my to feel very anxious which can even lead to a having a panic attack. Panic attacks are different for everyone but I believe they are universally dreaded by every anxiety suffer, even as I’m writing this I’m worried I am going to trigger one from just thinking about it so I will stop!

Anyway, I digress. The point of this post is not about me, but about being supportive towards others who have anxiety. Many of my friends also have anxiety and there are often times when I need to help them out (just as I’d hope they would do the same for me when I feel anxious) I understand that it can be overwhelming and difficult to discuss anxiety if you don’t suffer from it yourself but the worst thing you can do is to ignore them and pretend it isn’t happening. Anxiety is extremely isolating and scary and you need all the support and help you can get from the people that mean the most to you.

Here are my tips for supporting someone with anxiety, from personal experience and from things my friends have recommended.

Keep communication short and sweet

When I’m anxious I really struggle to reply to things, texts and emails can build up and I’ll feel very overwhelmed. Don’t even get me started on missed calls and voicemails! At the same time, I feel incredibly lonely when I’m at this stage of anxiety, so I need to keep communicating but not allowing it to overwhelm me.

Receiving a short text from a friend saying something simple like “I’m thinking about you” or “You’re going to be ok. Get in touch when you want to” is enough to make me feel loved but not enough to make me fret about replying. I will reply once I get back to myself and my friends know that. Alternatively, if your friend would be more relaxed receiving a phone call then sometimes hearing a loved one’s voice can massively ground you. Find out what works for them.

Don’t search for reasons why

Anxiety doesn’t discriminate, it can affect anyone at any time and there is often no logical reason for feeling that way. If someone feels anxious then you should talk to them about how they feel but don’t ask why they feel like that (unless they want to talk about it). The main thing is not to judge, pressure them to open up, or make them feel guilty for feeling that way.

Learn about anxiety

There is still SO much stigma around talking about mental health conditions, but the more we learn and talk about them, the more helpful we will all be for those who do suffer. When I first told my sister about my anxiety she didn’t really understand it, but she took the time to learn about it and I think that helped her understand what I felt a little bit better. Do as much research as you can about anxiety and read about people’s personal experiences with it. Even though they won’t be the same as your friend’s experiences, it will give you a glimpse of what they might be going through.

Offer to spend time with them 

Groups of people intimidate me, even if its friends I’ve known for years I can still feel anxious about being in a group with them. If your friend is hesitant about social situations like this, offer to meet them before you meet the group and go with them to take some pressure off. If they really don’t want to do anything involving a group, arrange to spend time with them alone so they don’t feel left out.

Don’t pressure people to feel better

While it’s really positive to try and help people take their mind off things, you shouldn’t expect them to instantly feel better. Anxiety can effect people constantly, or only at certain times, it’s totally dependent on the person. Likewise, don’t say things like “Don’t be silly, you shouldn’t be anxious!” or “It will pass soon just forget about it!” because it makes the person feel like their feelings aren’t valid.

Stop mixing up nerves with anxiety

Feeling nervous about things is natural. Situations like going on a date, starting a new job or doing a presentation will generally make most people feel nervous, but this is different from having anxiety. Saying ‘that gives me anxiety’ when you really mean that it makes you feel nervous is so frustrating to someone when their life is controlled by anxiety. Most people don’t mean to offend when they say stuff like this but it’s always something to bear in mind.

Quick list of things friends can do to reduce anxiety

  • Sending/receiving cute letters or cards
  • Providing sweets/chocolates or any delicious food
  • Going on a long walk and talking (sometimes reduced eye contact is good)
  • Having a film night – especially old films you love and find comforting
  • Playing with animals/visiting animals
  • Doing something active together like a run or a swim
  • Doing a project like colouring in, painting, tidying or making something

Hopefully this post helped, as I said this is from my personal experiences with anxiety and things that have helped my friends so they might not be for everyone. Have you got any things that help yourself or a friend when they feel anxious?

What being body positive means to me

neon lighting

The body positive movement aims to end the negative relationship we have with our appearance and accept ourselves for who we are naturally. It is inclusive of everyone, no matter how you look you deserve to be loved and to love yourself.

Body positivity isn’t just about weight, it’s about feeling good in the body you are in. It’s about focusing on yourself as a whole and challenging society’s perceptions of beauty. You are worth more than how you look.

It’s not apologising for having a double chin in a photo. It’s not worrying about how your cellulite looks in natural light. It’s enjoying what your body can do for you, instead of chastising it for not looking a certain way.

Body positivity and me

Body positivity is a relatively new concept for me, having only learned about it over the last 18 months. After years and years of self-hatred and insecurities, the idea of loving my body unconditionally seems like both a breath of fresh air and a rope to hang myself with.

Many of us have been conditioned from an early age to believe that we need to be smaller, symmetrical, perfect versions of ourselves. If we only squeezed into a smaller size our lives would be better. This is not true, and the only reason we are subjected to this kind of thinking is because companies want to make us spend money on products we don’t need and they need to keep feeding our insecure to get us to splash out. As an intelligent woman, I know this is true, but after 25 years of body shaming myself, it’s difficult to kick the habit.

Being body positive can be more challenging than you might think. As with most things, there is a steep learning curve. I have many days where I stare at my reflection in the mirror and tell myself I am fat, ugly or disgusting. Irrational thoughts consume my mind, ‘What if I gain loads of weight and no one likes me anymore?’, ‘I can’t wear that because my legs are too fat’ ‘My nose is so big and ugly’ etc. The fact that I have these thoughts is evidence enough that I need to embrace body positivity and self-love.

Fitness and body positivity?

Some people reading this might be thinking I’m being hypocritical because this is a fitness blog after all.

I hold my hands up and say in the past I was not being body positive, through a lack of education and knowledge. Once you open your eyes to how much body shaming is around it’s quite shocking. Even this year when I decided to embrace the body positive movement I still had a lot of setbacks. In my Grace Fit Guide posts I get carried away with how my body is responding to the guide looks wise and began to feel very critical of myself once again.

I would love to be in a place where I feel 100% happy with my appearance, not because I have achieved unrealistic beauty standards, but because I love and accept myself the way that I am. My goal is to stand naked in front of a mirror and honestly say that I don’t care how my body looks and that I am just so grateful to have it. You can be body positive and into fitness and health, it’s a celebration of what your body can do after all.

Our society is becoming more image obsessed by the day and humans are already hard wired to respond to images. Self-hatred is accelerating; depression and eating disorders are increasing and it’s only going to get worse unless we teach each other to think differently. Nowadays, people are celebrated purely for their looks, while intelligent, funny, kind, courageous and artistic people are valued less.

Thanks for reading this. If you’re interested in more body positive posts my friend Vicky wrote a really interesting guest post for me which you can find here or you can visit her blog which is body positive.