Buffy The Vampire Slayer Zodiac (Star/Sun signs)

Buffy Zodiac SignsWant more detail? I’ve written an analysis of why each character matches their allotted Sun sign in a 4 part series!

Part 1: Buffy, Giles & Willow,

Part 2: Spike, Xander & Cordelia,

Part 3: Tara, Anya & Angel,

Part 4: Oz, Dawn & Drusilla.

Enjoy!

Why I Write Gratitude Lists (And You Should Too)

Nowadays we’re more inclined to digest personal growth advice in blog format or by a 140 character quote on social media, although classics like Normal Vincent Peale‘s Positive Thinking Everyday and the social anxiety-busting How To Win Friends and Influence People may still reside on your bookshelf. Successful bloggers of the 21st century take inspiration from these texts, add slathers of personal wisdom and perfect the mix with a wordy dressing to encourage self-acceptance among readers; it’s a karma-inducing formula we love to indulge in.

My first experience with self-love advisory first occurred when a teenage me googled “I don’t know what I want to do with my life” and the power of SEO directed me towards Gala Darling‘s website. This moment marked a turning point for my self awareness, I was soon hooked on ‘international playgirl’ Gala’s optimistic worldview and full-time commitment to radical self-love. Like me, Gala Darling had been surrounded by negativity – some of it self-inflicted, yet crucially wanted more for herself. Clarity of thought appealed to her, as it does to myself, and the many people who bought The Secret in 2006. She transformed her inner world by adopting various universal betterment techniques such as changing her perspective on a situation, visualising goals and writing gratitude lists…

Her ‘Things I Love Thursday‘ posts were largely responsible for my new-found understanding of the power of gratitude. Prior to this, my relationship with giving thanks was casual, saying ‘thank you’ was a facet of polite behaviour and I thought nothing more of it. From Gala, I learnt the concept of ‘limiting beliefs’ – how the imaginary force you feel working against you is 100% illusory. Changing your viewpoint helps you make the most of where you are right now and being grateful for everything you’re experiencing in the present will inspire you to create more positive experiences for yourself.

An example of a gratitude list!
An example of a gratitude list!

What exactly is a gratitude list? It’s your mind intentionally focusing on all of the good things happening around you, what you appreciate about the present, and recognising everything you love! It can be written, said aloud or created as a moodboard. It’s saying ‘thank you’ to the universe to keep your heart happy and a request for positive experiences to come your way. It’s only cheesy if you judge yourself, and you don’t need to do that! You can do what you want – optimise your mental health in quirky ways.

Once you’ve written the things you love down, why not make it visually appealing? That way you’ll enjoy reading it back even more and I guarantee your spirits will be lifted slightly when you read it back to yourself. There’s no cap on the number of blessings you can list either! If you’re experiencing strife and wondering how the dickens you’d be able to compile a list of even 10 blessings, I double-dare you to try. It’s easier than it looks and even more necessary for those who haven’t had much to be feel grateful for prior to now. Gratitude lists are particularly effective during the latter part of the week as you can confidently answer “how has your week been?” with an overflowing memory bank of good times. I encourage you to incorporate these lists into your procrastination time too because there’s nothing like mindfulness to motivate you into action.

Above all, have fun with it. Meanwhile I’m off to watch the next episode of Orange is the New Black. Thank you, universe.

How To Deal With Undeserved Criticism

As a child, I expressed my many opinions with characteristic frankness. In the moments after another judgement left my lips, my older (and wiser) brother would remind me of an old adage: ‘Everyone’s a critic‘.

It’s a playful saying with truthful undertones: it’s easy to criticise. Understanding and evaluating take more effort, so the unevolved among us will sway towards harsh judgement until we fully develop our capacity for empathy. While empathy is embedded in 99% of the population – 1% are sociopaths – there are those who purposefully disregard the feelings of others in favour of self-absorption. When somebody puts you down, it hurts. After acknowledging that fleeting feeling, you have the power to choose how it will affect you.

I’ve said ‘undeserved’ criticism to highlight the need to differentiate between constructive critiquing and an insult. If you’re yet to conquer your insecurities, you could be prone to feeling attacked without due reason and therefore it’s imperative to see if you’re being unnecessarily defensive out of self-consciousness. The Baz Luhrmann song, ‘Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen‘ includes life advice such as “Remember compliments you receive – forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how”. While I can’t work some Eternal Sunshine’-esque magic on your memories, I can proffer some protips for self-preservation. The most relevant of which is this:

People tend to criticise what they fear or desire in themselves

If you really analyse the meaning behind the words, you start to realise how much truth the saying holds. Most of us have been bullied at some point, particularly as children, when we’re told it’s due to jealousy. This doesn’t make sense to someone with low self-esteem: “why would they be jealous of my poor background?” In this instance, the person slinging insults around could be trying to hide their own low socio-economic status by targeting someone else. Somebody who is kind and susceptible to what other people think of them will usually be the target for negativity. If you feel like you’re used as a cure for other people’s insecurities, take comfort in the fact you have an inner strength that other people both fear and desire to acquire for themselves.

A few years ago I taught myself to recall the above quote whenever a conspicuously petty remark was made, and it was interesting to see what traits people feared in themselves and which they desired to possess. None of us are immune from making mean comments occasionally, so when I slip up I analyse my own negative talk to see where it’s coming from.

People will sling verbal arrows at you in both casual and premeditated ways but if you do your best to accept yourself, undeserved criticism won’t hurt your warrior self.  

Sleep Better: 6 Ways To Get More Sleep!

I’m lucky when it comes to sleeping. I fall into a deep sleep from the moment my eyelids close and boast the ability to fall asleep in nearly any location. I know not everybody is blessed in the realm of much needed shut-eye, so I’ll quit bragging and start sharing accumulated wisdom on how to get more high quality sleep.

1. A warm bath or shower near bedtime will help to prepare your mind for a calming snooze due to its therapeutic nature. Simplified science bit: your body temperature drops once you’ve finished, causing you to feel appropriately sleepy.

2. You already know that we function best on 8 hours of sleep a night (- 8 for adults, 9-10 for growing teens and children), but did you know that 4 hours is also doable? Very important people on supremely busy schedules have sworn by attaining 4 hours of sleep per night – from Madonna to Thatcher, with their high productivity validating their unorthodox habit. Snoozing for 4 hours is the minimum goal as you awaken just before the R.E.M stage, although you shouldn’t make 4 hours a nightly habit!

3. The jury is still out when it comes to naps, but some strands of research suggest napping can boost brain performance. The catch is that you’re only allowed to nap for 10-30 minutes, otherwise known as a power-nap. If you nap for longer it causes sleep inertia, which is when your body feels heavy and your head is befuddled from oversleeping.

4. You need to feel comfortable before you’re able to nod off for the night. We don’t just choose comfort in the pursuit of luxury, it’s actually an integral component to the art of sleeping soundly. Consciously relax your muscles, starting from your shoulders down to your ankles, and you will feel primed for sleep in no time. Do this whenever you feel restless in your bed.

5. The logically named Sleep Cycle App (available in the Apple store) tracks your sleep cycle in order to wake you up naturally. It’s a more effective alarm clock because it prevents you from feeling groggy by slowly waking you from your slumber 30 minutes early. It also lets you rate how you feel at the moment of waking before providing you with data as to how well you slept. Highly recommended!

6. Avoid caffiene. I know you know this, but I had to say it: don’t drink caffiene within an hour of going to bed as it will only make you feel more awake. Stocking up on decaffeinated drinks is a solution here!

I hope you rest up well and keep these tricks in mind! Relaxation and planning ahead is key. Goodnight, sweet Prince(s).

Why Are Periods Considered Taboo?

A 14 year-old girl has created an entire website dedicated to periods. The site, ‘Nothingbutperiods’ seeks to encourage open discussion, provide insight and normalise a completely natural part of most people’s lives.

Picture
A photograph from ‘Beauty in Blood’ by Jen & Rob Lewis

Periods are presented to us as a taboo topic, leaving most of us unenlightened as to why we experience periods and how we should deal with them. Women are charged for using necessary hygiene measures like pads/tampons, and these essential items are taxed as a ‘luxury‘ product under UK legislation. Our current societal approach to menstruation is nonsensical and frankly unhelpful to everybody, so we have to start demanding changes via visibility.

Women are the group of people who endure periods and therefore we have to be unashamedly vocal in validating our experiences. Maybe you could share the link with a young person whom you feel could benefit from it? The steady release of fluids is a messy and undesirable process but dealing with it properly – on a pragmatic and psychological level, is integral to our self-care. The existence of websites like this engenders progress, with themed artwork, graphs, user polls and forums to keep it entertaining simultaneously. It’s also fun to learn new things and share experiences, making ‘Nothingbutperiods’ a cool corner of the internet.