“It could be anyone.”

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“It’s so common, it could be anyone. The trouble is, nobody wants to talk about it. And that makes everything worse.” – Ruby Wax

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I always struggle when it comes to starting to write a blog post about my mental health. Even though it’s something I will talk about so openly, the act of typing the words out and publishing them for all to read is pretty daunting, but as it has been mental health awareness week, I wanted to write something a little closer to the heart than usual.

I don’t quite know how long it has been since I last posted a mental health update, but since then, I’ve decided to start setting myself little goals. Overall, I’m super happy. My friends have been telling me how much of a ‘glow up’ I’ve had recently, which is lovely to hear.

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First of all, I’ve managed to cut my fluoxetine (anti-depressant) dosage in half! I’ve been trying to do this for so long now, and as I’m in a good place currently, it hasn’t seemed like such a scary process – but one which has happened naturally. It has definitely felt like the right thing for me to do. I’ve also been so happy to get back into my fitness and I’m 4lbs off losing a stone which not only is benefitting my health and mindset, but my self confidence. I’m also back running again after physiotherapy sessions for my muscles and joints, which has helped massively. I’ve been working with a personal trainer which has been a humongous boost to my active levels.

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“I’m in a good place currently”

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Don’t get me wrong, I still have my bad days, and I think every person does. I still can be quite on edge if I’m in a big group of people or if I’m out somewhere and feel like I can’t ‘get out’ if I need to (I think this might be a bit of claustrophobia). I can feel very self-conscious and a little trapped. While this is still a tricky thing for me to deal with, I’ve become very familiar with recognising these situations and dealing with them, even if it’s 2 minutes of fresh air to set my mind right or just taking a step back and taking it slowly.

Recently, I had a bit of a bad dip. My friend and I had decided to meet up for a bit and even though I was really looking forward to going out and meeting him, all of a sudden the thought of leaving the house was too much. I haven’t had anything like that in a very long time, maybe even years. I was just too scared of people seeing me/looking at me and thinking that I looked ugly/fat etc. I couldn’t do anything to shake these thoughts and I just ended up staying in. It’s days like that which are rare, but can really be a set back. I know a lot of people can relate to this, and it’s so helpful to remember that these moments of intense thoughts and anxiety are only temporary. I think after that episode, it was obvious that it was going to be a tricky day, so I stayed in and looked after myself. Sometimes, that’s the best thing to do! Luckily, this was a good friend of mine and he completely understood and told me to take it easy – if your friends really are friends, they will understand and just want to make sure you’re ok! Its always helpful to surround yourself with the right people, especially if you’re battling demons.

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“these moments of intense thoughts and anxiety are only temporary

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So while this has been a bit of a babbly post, I want to summarise by saying that small steps make big changes in the long term. Halving my fluoxetine is a massive thing for me, and I’m now hoping to start taking it every other day now.

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If you’re like me, and have related to anything, try setting yourself those small goals. They really have helped me recently. The act of setting yourself a goal and watching yourself achieve it can be very therapeutic, especially as you will have done it all by yourself. If there is something holding you back, really analyse it and see what you can do about it. This is your life and it’s so important you put yourself first. Talk to people, practice self care and love everything that you do.

** I mention this at the end of most mental health related posts, but my comments/instagram/twitter/email/contact page is ALWAYS open to anyone who wants someone to talk to. I may not know the best ways to advise, but I’m always here to listen. Always remember that your GP will be more than happy to advise you on ways of coping with mental health and charities, such as the Samaritans, are always there for you. ❤

 

My Trip to Liz Earle

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If you’ve been a long-time reader of my blog, or know me well, you’ll know that my holy grail skincare product is the Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser.  I’ve always struggled to find things that work for my super sensitive and eczema prone skin. In 2013/14 I was told I had rare anti-bodies which resulted in having some sort of unknown auto-immune disease which can affect the skin, it being the biggest organ. While I have no name for that yet, all I know is that I have to be very careful about what goes near my skin. Liz Earle products have never resulted in itchiness, rashes or redness – they’ve only ever worked wonders which is why I am an absolute fan girl for their products.

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About a week ago now, I was invited into John Lewis, Sheffield by the Liz Earle counter. I wasn’t too sure what to expect but upon arrival, I was told I was about to receive a completely complimentary facial – win! Jayne, the counter manager, showed me into one of the beauty rooms which was like walking into a little spa…right in the middle of town! Literally next to a Wetherspoons! Lol!

As I use Liz Earle products on a day-to-day basis, I was super excited to find out if I had been using them properly and if there was anything else I could add to my routine.

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The treatment started off with the iconic Hot Cloth Cleanser – I don’t need to talk anymore about this stuff. It’s just incredible. Afterwards, my skin with treated with the Skin Tonic, which I had always been using as a toner, but in fact, it is a hydrating layer for the skin. After this, Jayne used a little exfoliator on my face – which was super gentle and a real treat for the face.

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Just when my skin was already feeling super hydrated and treated, I had a face mask applied to my skin. It was a super light, creamy texture which didn’t tighten on the skin – I find a lot of tightening face masks to be quite drying on the skin, this may just be me though. The mask was left on for 10 minutes, and while it was working its magic, I had an arm and hand massage with some of the beautiful dry oils. I usually scare away from oils as I have this image of walking around the house, covered in oil, waiting for it to dry. The Liz Earle ones came in a pump and a spray, which enabled an easy application. They also dried beautifully fast, meaning you could spray and go!

When it was time to remove the mask, Jayne said that the mask will find the dry areas of the skin and will work on those the most – she said she could see this by looking at my face after the ten minutes – cool! Once the mask had been removed, a little serum and moisturiser was added and a bit of skin tonic spray.

Now I’m writing this, I’m just hoping I got it all in the right order…I was so relaxed I forgot to even think about trying to remember the products, my bad.

This was probably the nicest Friday morning I’ve had in a while! If you’re struggling to find skincare that suits your skin, try going to a Liz Earle counter. They actually have  mens range too. Finally, a big thank you to the Liz Earle team at John Lewis, Sheffield. ❤

Monthly Favourites AND COMPETITION

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Monthly Favourites are easily one of my favourite things to write. It takes me back to my blogging routes and to be quite honest, it feels like I’m talking to a friend about what I’ve been loving and using. I also love hearing if any of you have tried out anything as well; it’s great to see comments becoming more frequent on my little blog! At the end of this blog post, there is also a chance to win a beautiful set of enamel pins from Old English Prints!

It almost seems like no surprise that one of the products featured in my previous Body Shop haul has made it into my favourites. I’m so happy that a product I was looking forward to using so much has become a new staple in my makeup collection. The Body Shop’s All In One Instablur is my new favourite primer. Its velvet-like texture is an incredible base for foundation and powders. You also see such a difference in the appearance of your facial skin after applying a small amount; it helps to decrease the illusion of pores and imperfections.

On top of this primer, I have been loving my The Ordinary Coverage Foundation. I was looking for a non-expensive foundation which I could wear with my fake tan, and I couldn’t be happier with the quality for the price! I believe it was only around £6 on Beauty Bay and it’s one of the best formulations I’ve ever used on my dry and eczema prone skin. I definitely recommend this product if you’ve not got a lot of money to blow but still what a high-end quality product.

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Leading on nicely, I finally got myself some Mario Badescu facial spray. This is great after cleansing and adds a nice refreshing burst of scents to your face. It helps to make your skin feel refreshed and revitalised with just a few squirts from the bottle. Mario Badescu is another cruelty-free brand which is always a bonus!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I recently had a balayage put in my hair! I absolutely LOVE it but I have noticed that the bleach has dried out my ends. I’m a big fan of serums as part of my hair care, as if you use the correct amount, you get incredible results. I’ve had this Mark Hill Argan Oil for a while along with a matching hair mask and it’s been fantastic restoring the shine and softness to my bleached ends. I can’t remember how much this cost, but I know Mark Hill is a fairly affordable brand, so definitely take a look if you’re looking for a new serum that won’t break the bank.

The final product is my Burts Bees lip crayon, which I was pleased to see pop up in Gabby’s (VelvetGh0st) favourites! It’s a really lovely creamy texture which feels more like a very pigmented lip balm than it does a lipstick.

Aaaaand finally…a cheeky competition! I’ve actually been looking to stock up on some really nice pins to put all over my denim jacket – I’m just a bit obsessed with them. Right now I only have a few and I’m looking to expand my collection as much as possible. I’ve been looking on Old English Prints and they’ve got some super gorgeous and blogger-aesthetic pins which I think you’ll love as much as I do. They also sell prints, stationary and all sorts of lovely bits – so do take a look.

Old English Prints have launched a new range of pins which are gorgeously glossy and beautifully lettered. You can check them out and enter HERE. Best of luck to all who enter!

The Body Shop – Haul

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I’m probably quite comparable to the people who star on ‘Extreme Couponing’ in that I am a sucker for a voucher or a deal. I pretty much refuse to pay full price for most things, just because in all honestly, i’m a tight arse! I like to get the best deal possible, and I think everyone has a bit of that in them, especially when you want to treat yourself but don’t have a lot of money.

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My monthly spending was going well. I was comfortably settled into my ‘fun budget’ – which is money left over for boring adult stuff which I like to spend on going out with friends/clothes/make-up etc. This was all going well until my local The Body Shop at Home consultant, Katie, announced a 40% off deal. The next day, I had a catalogue and a shopping list not only from me, but my mum. The fun budget, was about to take a battering.

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I’ve always LOVED The Body Shop products, not only for their absolutely incredible ethics and values, but the quality of their products which is paired with such reasonable pricing. It’s one of those brands everyone feels indulged by. Even my dad, a man owning little cosmetic/toiletry based products, swears by their shaving cream. It’s one of those brands that everyone in your family uses.

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After placing an exciting order, I was greeted with a bag full of goodies. As I remember, myself and my mum had saved around £50 using the 40% off offer. My mum had bought herself one of her favourite shampoo and conditioner combos, which is the banana scent. My mum told me she had used this stuff for years and years, it’s so nice that she was able to be re-united with one of her favourite products!

I decided to treat myself to a brand new skincare regime. The Vitamin E range had always interested me as I have dry and eczema prone skin. My skin frequently breaks out into dry patches which I’m really not a fan off. I can get rashes around my ears and jaw too – but this not so much these days. I do think it’s quite good to mix up your skincare, just like you switch up your hair care products, so I was excited to give my skin a new treat. Armed with the Vitamin E cleanser, toner, moisturiser and under-eye stick, I have noticed a difference in the softness of my skin and also how clear it is. I spent the majority of March very ill with a chest infection and my skin really took a hit from this. Luckily, I was able to use this range to help bring it back to the standard I want it to be!

I used the cleanser just like how I use my holy grail Liz Earle hot cloth cleanser. It’s a very gentle, yet effective way of removing make-up and it’s also refreshing to use the matching toner afterwards. The moisturiser is creamy in texture, but not too thick. It’s a treat to the skin. The under-eye stick is amazing to use in the mornings when my eyes feel heavy and tired. I recommend this for anyone who finds waking themselves up that extra bit harder.

I had always wanted to try the ‘Instablur’ primer after finding out that Benefit tested on animals. Being a fan of their ‘Porefessional’ I was gutted to realise this and have been searching for an alternative since. The Body Shop’s primer comes out quite thick and spreads across the skin into a creamy base. I love using this when I need my foundation to last that little bit longer. I also like to think that paired with the skincare, this stuff is fantastic at its job.

If you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you’ll know that I have a love/hate relationship with matte lipsticks. I LOVE them, but I hate the dry feeling, especially as I have dry skin super frequently. I bought myself a beautiful pinky/nude shade ‘Windsor Rose’. The texture is very similar to the NYX soft matte lip creams and is quite long lasting! I had lots of compliments on it which is always a bonus 🙂

I think…that’s about it! I’ve popped some product photos in this post for you to mooch at. Definitely consider going cruelty free with your products ❤

Current Beauty Favourites

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When struggling to think of a blog post idea, it suddenly hit me that it has been so long since I’ve done a monthly favourites post! While it’s a bit of an iffy time to post it as a February or March favourites, I thought I would just generalise and post everything I’ve been using and loving in the past few weeks.

The cold weather is really pushing my skin to it’s limit! I have dry, sensitive and eczema-prone skin, therefore I have to be so careful. Sometimes, no matter what I use, I’ll still have a breakout of dry skin patches, but I’ve found a few products that help keep it at bay!

First of all, is the Weleda Skin Food. I wouldn’t say Weleda is a widely-discussed brand, however it’s got a fantastic reputation and is also cruelty free! The Skin Food is quite a thick formula with a slight orange scent. You definitely need to use a reasonable amount – I like to smother it on my face before I go to sleep. I get patches of eczema in the creases of my eye-lids, and this moisturiser was an absolute gem when clearing up by current flare-up.

I’ve spent a lot of time being poorly in February and March, so my complexion was starting to look super dull. I’ve been enjoying popping on a bit of my Charlotte Tilbury Healthy Glow as a base for my foundation. What I love about this product is how it comes out white, but as you rub it into your skin it goes into a beautiful bronze/sun-kissed shade. I like to then layer my normal foundation on top and it creates a nice glowing finish.

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I’ve been mixing up what foundation I use recently. The one I’ve been using mostly however, is the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation, which I believe I’ve mentioned before in a favourites post! It sits so nicely on top of the Healthy Glow moisturiser. I really love Charlotte Tilbury products for a base.

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Mascara is definitely one of those products which is  hit and miss with a lot of people in my opinion. Some people prefer thick lashes whereas some people prefer longer, defined lashes. For me, I like a bit of both! I’ve been trying to phase-out products which aren’t cruelty free so I found this Zoeva Graphic Lash mascara on Beauty Bay a while back. I am so glad I found it as it’s a wonderful, long lasting product which, after a couple of coats, gives me thick, long, dark lashes. It’s probably my new favourite mascara of all time! It reminds me a little of Mac’s Zoom lash mascara.

I’ve decided to keep it short but sweet this time around as I can never get through a long favourites essay! If there’s anything you’ve been using on dry skin that works for you – please help a girl out and let me know!

Why You Should Spring Clean Your Social Media

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I’m sat in my bed after a day off work sick. I’ve spent the last hour or so with a horrible coughing fit and quite frankly…it’s made me feel like shit, both mentally and physically.

I’ve spent the day in bed (usually my favourite thing) scrolling and scrolling through social media, while reaching for a tissue/cup of tea every 5 minutes. I’ve been feeling rather lethargic, housebound and bored. So what do I turn to? My laptop and my phone. With each swipe of my screen, I’m thinking to myself…there’s only so many times you can view selfies, ads, people’s holiday photos and your pal’s most recent coffee-shop trip before feeling utterly frustrated out of your mind. Your croissant looks great, but I’m not eating it, so that kind of sucks.

If you’re anything like me, and love a good scroll, you may find that social media really impacts your mood without you even knowing it.

Now, let’s brush all conspiracy theories that ‘Facebook is listening to you’ and all that jazz, if you spend a good amount of time on sites such as Facebook, you’ll notice the ads throughout the site are tailored to your browsing history – now while this isn’t breaking news, or news by any sort, let’s take a moment to think about these ads.

Using myself as a case study, I spend a lot of my internet time browsing for beauty products and clothes. I also love myself a bit of Ebay and Amazon. The accounts I follow across different social media platforms range from interior design pages, to make-up artists. There is an overall theme of design/beauty/aesthetics. Now, while I’m looking predominantly at areas which interest me, I’m trapping myself in a bubble. A bubble where I am only seeing this contoured and highlighted version of the world. As much as I love beauty and all things ‘basic’, if you will, I can’t afford to keep up with everything I like the look of, and it’s just a constant reminder that I won’t be ‘good enough’ as I can’t get my hands on the latest palette or shoes.

I’m also constantly flooded with emails from so-called marketing agencies telling me that I should pay them a ridiculous amount of money to improve my following. No! Go away! It’s yet another reminder that what I’m doing isn’t good enough.

I also follow a lot of fitness pages and models. Using the Kardashians as an example, their Instagram posts makes me want to eat nothing but lettuce for a year, but as a girl who loves pasta, that’s just not going to happen.

In reality, if you were reading a book and you were bored of it, or it was making you feel a bit down, you’d stop reading it. I need to bring this into my social media life. Why am I friends on Facebook with people I don’t actually talk to? Why do I use my time to view the Snapchat Stories of people who have been awful to me in the past? Why do I follow Instagram accounts which publish heavily photoshopped body images which are un-attainable due to the editing? It’s time to start putting ourselves ahead of our social media. Before you follow an account, just think, why are you following this account. If it’s to compare yourself, don’t do it. If its for positive reasons, such as inspiration, then by all means, go ahead and enrich your mind.

Social Media sites can be such a blessing and a curse. They’re fantastic for connecting yourself with people and content all around the world, however it can also be a dangerous trap and damaging for our mental health. Let me know what you think. Does anyone limit themselves to how much internet time they have? Let me know!

Fitness wear Favourites *With Discount!*

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Let’s take a little step back in time to Amy in 2012/13. I was approximately 8 and a half stone and a real gym bunny. I’d go three times a week while studying for my A-Levels. I became super interested in nutrition, health and pretty much all of the accounts I followed on Instagram were fitness related ones.  I was healthy and had also become quite strong. If you ask my mum, she’ll tell you I practically wanted to blend everything into a juice.

Now if  we bring it forward about 6 years to present day; I’m still the same person, just with a bit more padding! Ah…and the complete lack of fitness routine and a ‘healthy diet plan’ which frequently gets broken by my desk-job cravings.

It’s safe to say, I went to uni, became super lazy and un-motivated and gained some weight. I’d be lying if I said I liked what I saw when I looked in the mirror, so I decided to get back into my fitness and do something about it – especially with increasing pains in my joints.

Being the online shopping addict I am, I knew that if I was going to get fit, I’d want some new gear…and I KNOW I’m not alone with this attitude! lol! I’ve compiled a few of my favourite bits which have helped me slowly get back into working out.

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First of all, and of course, we have the Booband. My absolute holy grail piece of fitness wear. When you have big boobs, someone only has to say ‘run up the stairs’ for you to be filled with dread.

The official Booband website reads, “Exercise, especially high-impact exercise such as running or jumping, places tension on the supporting structures of the breast, which can result in pain. As there there are no muscles in the breast the only supporting structures are the skin and the Coopers ligaments – thin, paper-like tissues that weave throughout the breast and attach to the chest wall. It is thought that sagging, which is irreversible, occurs when these ligaments are overstretched.” SCARY RIGHT? When you think about it, you’ll be wanting a Booband straight away. Even those ladies with a smaller chest can benefit from a Booband – trust me, if you do a lot of cardio, you will seriously benefit from one of these. Even my mum thinks it’s good – and she’s a hard one to persuade!

Luckily for you lovely lot, I can score you a cheeky 10% off your Booband with code AHBB10 – honestly, it’s my gym-wear staple. I can’t workout properly without mine and I absolutely love it. There’s so many colours too.

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Second up are my new favourite leggings from Lucy Locket Loves. Lucy is a Sheffield-based Personal Trainer with her very own studio and range of fitness-wear. Her leggings have become incredibly popular due to their unique designs, which you can’t find anywhere else! I own two pairs which have successfully seen me through some very sweaty workouts. They’re comfortable, and so so flattering. Lucy also makes other items of active-wear, so do take a look = https://locketloves.com/

Also photographed in this post are the ‘Gym Juice’ waterbottle, from Lucy Locket Loves and a Pink USA PRO Sports Crop Top which I got from Sports Direct a while ago.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little peak into my favourite bits and shown you some new brands to consider! The active-wear world is a HUGE one, so it’s always useful to know which products work and deliver for their cost! Let me know how you like to motivate yourself for your workouts in the comments below or via twitter 🙂