Listen Up: 5 Phrases We All Need to Hear

Culture and Lifestyle

By Kristina Eventov

When you’re in your 20s there’s a lot of pressure to be living life a certain way and being on track to achieve particular goals. As we’re all aware, there’s a spotlight put on the younger generation that creates an immense sense of pressure to be constantly thriving and paving the way for success. While it’s all well and good to have these long-term goals, it’s important to consider the smaller things in life that help to foster a positive environment and mindset. I’ve compiled a list of a few mentalities, though somewhat cheesy, which will help you live your #bestlife.

1.     You Do You

Not to be dramatic, but there is nothing worse than constantly living as though you have to meet someone else’s expectations or act a certain way. It is so much more fun, and just generally nicer, to be yourself and embrace your passions and quirks and do what makes you happy. If you see someone successful it can be incredibly easy to think you have to mould yourself into a clone of them in order to have any chance of achieving the same goals. Now, while fake it till you make it may be true in some cases, you can’t live your life pretending to be someone else. Do what truly makes you happy and live the way you want to. (Unless that involves being a being a violent criminal, exploiting others and stealing…you get my point) In the end, what will make you stand out is the “something different” that only you can bring. Obviously, this can be hard at times. It’s so easy to want to remain another face in the crowd and not do anything different for fear of standing out but someone has to set those trends, so why not you?

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2. Who Actually Cares? 

Maybe you’re feeling self-conscious about a certain outfit, or you’re not sure whether you should post that photo on Instagram. I don’t want to invalidate your choices and make you feel insignificant, but it’s honestly not that deep. If you feel comfortable and happy in something, then that will give off a much stronger impression than anything your outfit itself could. When it comes to posting content, people will scroll past and forget about it far too quickly for it to have any lasting (negative) impression. Besides, it’s your page and you should post whatever you want your account to represent – the unfollow button is right there for anyone who wishes to use it. Almost all of these little things you do will play a much more all-encompassing and significant part in your own life than in anyone else’s. Just remember that everyone is dealing with their own stuff and won’t be overanalysing your actions as much as you might think (if at all).

3. Snip Snip

I am such a massive advocate of “snip snipping”. There is so much stress in our everyday lives that you should have no business hanging around people who don’t enrich your daily life. If someone is being constantly negative or making you feel bad about yourself when you are with them, I have some great advice – don’t listen to them! Of course, you shouldn’t just start ignoring people and being rude, but make a conscious effort to surround yourself with people who you enjoy spending time with. Until you really consider it, you may not even notice the negative impact someone may be having on you. As easy as it can be to make excuses or justify their behaviour, you are the most important person in your life, and you can’t be waiting around all day hoping that someone will change. You need people who constantly inspire and motivate you to be the absolute best version of yourself that you can be.

SIDENOTE: It can be hard if your friend is struggling with a mental health issue that makes them prone to negative thinking, but make sure you tackle the issue with sensitivity and remember that you are not there to be their therapist, nor do you have to share their mindset. Though you should always aim to be a supportive friend, it’s not healthy for anyone involved if this starts taking a toll on your own mental health too.

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4. Just Do It

It’s cliché, but it’s true. It’s much better to have lived a life full of “oh well, there we go” than “what if”. If you want to do something, then you should absolutely do it. It can be so easy to second guess yourself and question whether you should do something you want to. By regularly stepping out of your comfort zone you are constantly expanding it and allowing yourself to grow. Of course, it never seems so simple, but with spontaneity comes limited time for overthinking. Not to be crass, but the best thing you can say to yourself is just “fuck it”.

5. Judging Someone Doesn’t Make You Cool

With the increasing prominence of social media, everyone is much more hyperaware of themselves and what people think of them. Don’t add fuel to the fire by (outwardly) judging someone and criticising them for their choices. If you want to be able to live your life the way you want, give others the same courtesy. Though knocking somebody else down may seem like a sure-fire way to feel better about yourself, you will feel so much happier when you bring someone up. When you compliment someone else and build them up, you foster that positivity within yourself. Unless a person’s actions are inherently wrong or having a negative effect on someone, it is not up to you to condemn or comment.  

At their core, these ideas are pretty basic but sometimes it helps to be reminded of little ways in which you can reinforce a positive approach to the little things in life that all contribute to the greater picture. Essentially, despite the era of likes and follower counts that we live in, make sure you are living life for yourself and not for the validation or approval of others. You’ll never be able to please everyone and trying to is a futile exercise that will only leave you feeling miserable. These things are always easier said than done, but every little helps.

An Exploration of Mental Health in the Modern Age

Culture and Lifestyle, Opinion

By Kristina Eventov

First and foremost, I would like to preface this post with one disclaimer: mental health, like physical health is something we all have, but the degree to which it is “optimally-functioning” is something different altogether. So how then do we approach discussing mental health conditions, which are intrinsically personal and private conditions, in the open in order to achieve a balanced, comprehensive and compassionate understanding and awareness?

Let’s Open Up

When it comes to the presence of mental health issues in the media, I am very torn between two ends. On the one hand, greater discussion about mental health and mental health issues is undoubtedly a great thing for everyone. With more discussion come increased diagnoses and, hopefully, increased support and recoveries. If people understand what is going on in their brains, and they feel more comfortable opening up about it, how can anyone complain? There has been a greater focus on the very real presence that these issues have in our society, with many celebrities even contributing to the dialogue. This increased openness can help “sufferers” to feel less alone in what can often be very isolating and lonely times.

Needless to say, there has been a spike in the number of people suffering as a result of their poor mental health, and this isn’t a passing trend we should be adhering to; it represents a fundamental issue in society which we should be investigating

What’s in a Word?

However, what if having certain “buzz” words constantly circulating in society is causing an opposite, negative effect?
Though, of course, many people suffer from disorders such as anxiety and depression, these words have made their way into our everyday vernacular in the same way that we use “morning” and “night”. Far too often the statement “urgh I feel depressed” is thrown around as though it means nothing, when in fact to feel depressed is a very serious issue. With the traction these words are gaining, more and more people are becoming desensitised to the full weight of these words. The word “nervous” is being replaced by “anxious”; a very normal mood swing can lead someone to label themselves “bipolar”. As we become more comfortable using these previously ostracised terms, we may be getting too casual with them. IS there such a thing as too much awareness?

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Striking the Right Balance

I’m partial to a good meme here and there (who isn’t?), and I am definitely one for using humour as a defence mechanism. The thing is, how do you know when a joke carries a deeper meaning? When does a coping mechanism become a cry for help? It becomes much harder to distinguish between what is real and what is just “joking”. The onslaught of #relatable content is somewhat bittersweet in its ability to provide comfort and respite, yet aid the normalisation, and perhaps trivialisation, of serious issues.

Many TV shows, such as Skins and 13 Reasons Why, have been accused of glorifying, and even promoting, mental illnesses. So where do we draw the line? We want greater awareness, but not too much. If depictions of those struggling are “too real”, then they are considered a danger to and harmful for viewers. Conversely, if an issue is glossed over in order to limit the need for viewer discretion, are we then not undermining the experiences of those suffering from mental health conditions? It seems to be near impossible to strike the right balance and decide on which stance to take, though I suppose this is not surprising for such a complex and inherently personal issue.

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The Social Media Menace

Perhaps the significance of our own online presence is also to blame. While we are constantly reminded that “social media is not an accurate portrayal of someone’s life” (after all most of us will admit to sharing only our highlight reel) we still often forget that a social media persona is rarely a reliable representation. Consequently, we want celebrities to be frank and honest, to show us that their seemingly perfect lives are neither attainable nor realistic. However, when these more personal and candid insights are divulged, these celebrities’ struggles are oftentimes invalidated as those with affluence have “no reason” to be suffering. We encourage celebrities to be open and exposed, only to allow us to tear them apart more easily. We crave integrity and realism yet fault human imperfection. Is it then any surprise that so many celebrities too fall victim to mental health struggles? (Regardless of previous predispositions.)

It is as if a certain criterion has been set by society for who can and cannot qualify for having a mental illness. This isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon, though; we have been force-fed a belief that money and success come with a heightened state of happiness, rather than at its expense (which can often be the case). With an increased societal pressure to work the hardest and longest, along with employers’ higher expectations of what being a good employee entails, is (job) success really the antidote to sadness? 

Where do we go from here? With everyone’s differing experiences with mental health issues – from severity to complexity to proximity -, how can we ever hope to have the correct kind of dialogue? Then again, maybe any publicity really is good publicity; as long as we are talking about it, we are doing something right.

How to Keep On Keeping On

Culture and Lifestyle, Opinion

By Kristina Eventov

It seems like, at this point, everyone and their dog has a self-help book with their life-changing ways on how to make your terrible life just as amazingly perfect as theirs! Reading a 300-page book on how to live “mindfully” is all well and good until you feel like you’ve failed because you haven’t been “cured” by the time you reach the last page. As much as I would love to divulge some revolutionary insight on how to turn your life around, I can’t. All I can offer is some small advice on how to make tough days seem that little bit lighter and easier to handle.


1. Go Through the Motions

No matter how bad you are feeling, it is the little things that feel like the biggest victories. When it seems like everything around you is falling apart, take control of what you can. A bad mental health day may leave you feeling like you don’t want get out of bed at all, but, you’ll have to get up and pee eventually. So, take that moment to also brush your teeth, or make yourself a cup of tea on the way, maybe even shower if you’re feeling particularly adventurous! Each small step like this allows you to feel at least a small sense of success, and puts you back on the right track.

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2. Don’t Be Afraid to Feel

If you feel like your emotions are getting overwhelming, don’t bottle them up As the wise ogre, Shrek, once said “better out than in”! No matter how long you try and keep your thoughts and feelings in, you will have to let them out eventually. Even just having a cry and physically experiencing your emotions can be incredibly cathartic. By allowing yourself to do this you can be more present in what you are feeling, and begin to process your thoughts.

3. Indulge in Your Guilty Pleasures

Now, I don’t mean eat a tub of Ben and Jerry’s every single day (though this may seem like a good idea initially), I mean something more meaningful to you personally. If you are feeling particularly down, it can feel as though you don’t enjoy any of the same things anymore. Prove yourself wrong and do something that will inevitably make you smile. Rather than just wallowing in self-pity, use that time to also watch an old movie that never fails to make you laugh. Talk about two birds with one stone, eh? For me, this might mean singing along (at a great volume) to one of my favourite soundtracks, or watching one of my favourite Friends episodes for the 24317614th time. It is these little familiarities that can help you feel more settled and at ease.

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4. Express Yourself, Vocally (third party person not required)

Some people feel comfortable talking to a friend or relative about whatever it is they are going through. If this is you, amazing! Find someone you can confide in, and let them know what it is you are feeling. Don’t worry about feeling like a burden — a friend cares about you and wants you to feel okay. After all, they might even be able to offer some useful insight from personal experience. Alternatively, have a conversation with yourself. By trying to articulate your thoughts and feelings, you can better understand yourself and what exactly it is that you are trying to process. Even the simple act of saying it out loud (or at least trying to) can help you acknowledge the validity of your emotions, and hopefully rationalise them.

5. Go Ahead and Declutter

For many (including me), tidying is the absolute last thing on my to do list, let alone when I’m feeling sluggish (be that mentally or physically). Nevertheless, once I have somehow managed to convince myself to clean my room, I feel infinitely better. Sometimes it can feel like your messy surroundings are mirroring your cluttered thoughts, which can become an incredibly overwhelming feeling. By clearing the physical space around you, you can then allow yourself to think more clearly. I don’t know how, or why, but I promise you that a tidy room will help you feel that much more put together and on top of everything. And just think of how proud your parents would be…

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At the end of the day, your mental health should be your top priority. If everyday feels like a struggle or you’ve been feeling down for a while now maybe its time to seek professional help (unfortunately this post does not count 😦 ). Consider contacting your doctor, a counsellor at your school or university, or reach out to a mental health charity like Mind. Let’s make actual, not just indulgent, self-care the #mood for 2019.


How to Leave Home Behind

Uncategorised

By Kristina Eventov

Whether you’re moving for school, work, or just because, moving away from home can bring with it extreme highs and lows. Though you might hope to “find yourself”, you can just as easily lose yourself along the way. Until you’ve actually done it, it can be hard to imagine what exactly moving away will mean for you. As a student, it has been made easier knowing that there is a plethora of people in my position who understand exactly what I am going through. After my first few months of living abroad in Munich, Germany, here are some of my tips on how you can leave home behind, in search of a new adventure.

1. Bring Memories with You

Scrolling through Instagram/Facebook etc. can make it easy to keep up with friends’ lives from a distance. Nowadays we’re all well aware that everything is not always as it seems, but this can be hard to remember when you see countless posts of everyone seemingly “living their best lives”. Rather than letting this get you down, reflect on your own memories you and your friends have made. Whether this means printing out photos or taking mementos with you, don’t allow your own memories to be overshadowed. Especially in your first days away, it can be comforting to have familiar items with you to remind you of happy moments you’ve shared.

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2. Do Your Research

Contrary to popular belief, the internet can actually be a great place to put your mind at ease. By finding out as much as you can about the destination that you’ll come to all your new home, you can feel infinitely more prepared for any eventuality that you may encounter. Whether that means researching your new accommodation, or finding a club you can join, it always helps to be a step ahead. Personally, I skimped out on this step. I definitely could have done more research on where I was going to be living and what I was going to be doing. But this was okay for me, as I like the feeling of the unknown and being able to discover things for the first time on my own. However, if you are feeling especially unsure, finding out what amazing things your new destination has to offer can make you infinitely more excited. I know that for my next adventure I will be joining lots of local Facebook groups so that I really know what there is and how I can get involved.

3. Bite the bullet

Travelling the world and getting to explore different cultures is a luxury not available to everyone. If you have the opportunity to leave behind what you know, take it — if you keep postponing, you’ll miss out on so much. Especially whilst you are young, it is more “socially acceptable” to take time out to travel and explore. As a languages student, I am able to have a year abroad where I get to live in different countries and work, study, or both! I cannot emphasise enough the benefits of doing a placement year. It’s basically a taster of real adult life, where you’re encouraged to ask questions, to learn, and allowed to make mistakes. Even if you’re scared, it is better to just throw yourself into it, rather than live not knowing what could have been. Many people sit around waiting for the “right time”, but it never seems to come. You can always find a reason to stay no, that it’s not the right time, but just remember all the amazing reasons why you should go: you’ll meet new people, experience new things, become more independent, and the list goes on. As the famous Nike slogan goes “just do it”.

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4. Allow Yourself to Miss Home

Despite what you may think, everyone will miss home at some point. It is impossible not to miss having comforting and familiar surroundings, where you know everyone, and everything. As seductive as the idea sounds, a life lived in comfort is a decidedly boring one. Allow yourself to feel these “negative” emotions, but don’t let them overwhelm you. While you may miss home, there are bound to be things your new place has that you didn’t have before. This can be anything from a new class, to new friends; every new place has something new and exciting to offer you. Living in Germany has definitely had me missing home a few times; arguably most important, I never realised how much I appreciated (and relied on) shops being open on a Sunday or past 8pm any other day…(In Germany this is not the case!)

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5. Don’t Look Back

If you are constantly looking back and replaying what once was, you’ll never be happy with where you are or where you could be. It is important to keep looking forward and keep your chin up. Even if you are having an amazing time wherever you are, it can always get better! On the other hand, every seemingly “negative” experience will always help shape you in some way and allow you to grow from it. I have had an incredible time in Germany so far, and it can be scary to think that my next adventure might not be as exciting or fulfilling. That doesn’t mean that I won’t still try. If you approach your new beginnings with an open mind, you can make of it exactly what you want.

There have definitely been times when I’ve missed the UK and wished things here were the same as back home. However, I’ve also made some incredible memories, with some incredible people, that I will cherish forever. By leaving what you know and going somewhere new, you can expand your horizons and encounter things you never would have otherwise. Give yourself a chance, and leave your comfort zone.