Self Care

Self care is the latest buzzword. Everyone from Precious Lee to Beyoncé is talking about it. But what is self care and how can you give it a go?

Self care definition : Self care is care provided “for you, by you.” It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Self care is about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.

As a student I see people neglecting their personal needs on a daily basis. It’s so easy in today’s world to not get enough sleep and forget to drink enough water. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what job you have, every body needs a break and the tools to make sure they’re okay and that they can look after themselves.

Basically you need to learn how to evaluate what your body and mind needs. That might be a quiet walk by yourself or a plate full of vegetables. Maybe you need to get rid of some toxic people or habits.

You need to learn to listen to yourself and make your needs a priority. If you’re worried about becoming selfish:

1) Everyone has to be a bit selfish sometimes

2) You have to be feeling good in yourself to do anything productive or help anyone else.

Here are a few easy peasy self care tips for you to try. You can also find some links at the end which might provide more detailed information about self care:

  • Get at least one early night a week
  • Drink water. You hear it from e v e r y b o d y, and it seriously helps
  • Take some guilt free time off
  • Dress up for yourself. Put on your favourite outfit that makes you feel like a million dollars.
  • Do some form of exercise – anything
  • Get outside – fresh air and sun (maybe)
  • Learn and practice that no is a complete sentence 
  • Cook yourself a nutritious meal
  • Shower / bath with your favourite bubbles

 

Links 

Mind –  http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/mental-health-problems-introduction/self-care/#.WKtbdPnyjIU

Self Care Forum – http://www.selfcareforum.org/

Self Care tips by Lucy Moon – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VamqK8P3WfI&t=144s

A Self Care Revolution TEDx Talk by Megan McCormick – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUKKJapwUXc

GUEST BLOG: Starting your own business by Eleanor Owens Gardening

I asked Eleanor to talk a bit about why she decided to start her own business and what it’s like:

“I have a garden maintenance business that I started in 2015 when I was 19 years old. I hope to develop my business by employing people and evolve a part of it into garden design.

People talk about the ‘freedom’ that comes with owning your own business, being able to take time off when you feel like it and working from home. I see ‘freedom’ as being able to evolve and change your business and make decisions without having to negotiate this with bosses/managers. This can be intimidating and involves taking risks but is fantastic when it pays off.

Reasons why I started my own business:

* There is a considerable lack of employment in horticulture in my local area. I was looking to be sub-contracted by an established independent company or in a garden centre/nursery.

* You are expected to gain experience before being employed. There is a lack of volunteer roles in my area and for some volunteering roles you need to have experience too; it is intimidating and becomes a vicious circle.

* Have to earn money to live and survive, you cannot be a volunteer if you have to pay bills.

* Personally, I had to fill my time. I became restless and useless whilst searching for jobs/volunteer work. I have the drive and energy to learn new skills but was unsuccessful in finding employment.

The hard parts of running my own business:

* Without being taught ‘life skills’ at school, you have to become your own ‘accountant’ and business advisor. You are expected to know about tax and finances. This was daunting.

* You have to be confident in your own skills and knowledge. Your customers hire you as the expert. Prove to them that you are competent.

* You represent your own brand. You want your brand to stand out and be well acclaimed. You must present yourself well and be smart.

* You must build good relationships with your customers, you are your own boss so customers must be able to praise your work but also confide complaints to you (on the odd occasion).

The best parts of owning your own business:

* Being independent with own brand pushes you to be your best everyday.

* It pushes you to make constant improvements to expand your knowledge and improve your business.

* You have control over expansion: who you employ, who your clients are etc. You get to choose the services offered and get to enjoy working.

* You won’t become a ‘dogsbody’: what younger people usually become when starting out in an industry. You have control over the business environment and can make it positive.”

 

Check out her website and send her your thoughts on twitter @eogardening.

Filming & Editing: Molly Aldrich-Wincer

Music: Rock Angel by Joakim Karud https://soundcloud.com/joakimkarud
Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported— CC BY-SA 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b
Music provided by Audio Library https://youtu.be/K8eRXvLL7Wo

 

YouTubers I Like

It is no secret that we are spending more time on the internet and watching shows by Netflix rather than sitting down in front of the TV. I have a love/hate relationship with YouTube, almost every day I watch vlogs and ‘Favourites’ videos by people I don’t even like. Why do I bother? I think it’s addictive and I am sure there are studies out there to prove it. It makes me pretty uncomfortable that a majority of the mainstream, super popular YouTubers are pretty hush hush about real life events and issues – you should read Caitlin’s blog about whether Influencers have a social responsibility (we vote yes).

However, there are some YouTubers that produce valuable and genuinely good quality videos that I feel inject a little positivity and insight into my day. So, in this blog I decided to share them with you! Enjoy and please let me know who you’re enjoying watching.

  • Leena Norms 

Leena chats about books, feminism, her thoughts and how to try to be a better person. Her channel is witty, relaxed and insightful.

 

  • Laci Green

Laci’s channel is all about Sex Ed, politics and social inequalities.

  • dodie

Dodie’s main channel features creative covers, original songs and cool projects. She also talks about mental health, sexuality and other interesting stuff.

  • Hannah Witton

Hannah’s videos are about sex, relationships, travel and other bits and bobs. She has a “Drunk Advice” series and also recently did “Vlognukah”.

  • Ash Hardell 

Ash’s channel is extremely educational, heart warming and beautifully constructed. I particularly enjoy the ABC’s of LGBT series and slam poetry videos.

 

  •  Noah Guthrie 

Only1Noah is one of the first YouTube channels I started to watch regularly. He does the most beautiful covers and also has an album out.

 

Oh, one last one! I know I said I wasn’t as keen on the more popular YouTubers, however I do think Louise Pentland (a.k.a Sprinkle of Glitter) is pretty awesome.

2016

2016 has been a bit of a mess in lots of ways. Political turmoil and events of horror have been hitting us left, right and centre. It is easy to get swallowed up by the negativity and hate that seems to be ever increasing.

But we have to remain strong, stand together and continue our fight for a better world. Within this, it is important to focus on the positive moments in our bubbles and use them to push us forward.

So, today I am going to share some of my personal favourite moments of 2016.

  • Balfour Primary School & Aldrich Collection Community Project
  • Completing my Placement Year
  • Extreme Canyoning in North Wales
  • Project Lunar – gender inclusive guest blogger series talking about menstruation.
  • Starting to learn to play the Ukulele

 

We can only hope for a better year next year. On a personal level, a lot will change. I will graduate from university, (hopefully) move out and start the next chapter with my partner and best friend.

My advice is to do good, treat people nicely and all in all, don’t be a dick.

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

Molly

GUEST BLOG: John’s Road to Volunteering

In this guest blog, John talks a little bit about his story and a new exciting project!

 

If you asked me the one thing I adore in life and my answer would be giving my time to others.

It’s what I was born to do and after finding my vocation, my love for social action has continued to grow.

john-2john-4john-6john-3

Even though I’ve been in the charity sector now for nearly 4 years, it only feels like yesterday I signed up for my first volunteering role and how my life was about to change for good.

The moment I walked through the doors being greeted by an array of smiles, my first role told me a story. A story that we have the power to use our lives helping others live theirs and how our negative pasts can actually be the tool to make the difference.

Before I go on, Hi! I’m John, Founder of John’s Road to Volunteering and a global ambassador for volunteering. John’s Road to Volunteering tells a story; my story and how I’m using this to help others to start their journey.

This is why something BIG is coming! I’ve had the pleasure of working with individuals, groups and charities around the world, since creating John’s Road to Volunteering and my 2017 is all about giving back in the only way I know…IN A BIG WAY!

I’ve done the small projects, and I’ve written content daily, yet I always strive for more. I like challenging myself in a way, my dedication and passion is put to the test and with JRTV100 launching on January 1st, it’s bound to be my most influence challenge.

What? Why? When? How? Who?

What – JRTV100 is quite simple…John’s Road to Volunteering’s 100 charity challenge.

Why – Why not? In other words, I’ve given my time already in the past as a volunteer and as a blogger, why wouldn’t I do all I could for 100 charities.

When – JRTV100 has no set time-frame. I’m going to enjoy working with charities, groups, anyone in the charity sector really without the added pressure of time. My time will be spent helping others.

How – This’ll be agreed with the charity. Whether it’s helping at an event, becoming an ambassador for a programme, helping others get active, the opportunities are endless.

Who – Anyone that needs help.

It’s a simple concept, but it’ll be a project everyone involved in will remember.

I believe I’m on this planet to be the voice and this project is only another example of why you should believe in yourself and what you can do for others.

JRTV100 is coming and you can be part of it! Follow my journey over at http://www.johnsroadtovolunteering.com or find me on Twitter @JohnRdtoVol.

Project Lunar: Education is due an upgrade

In this blog Ash talks about why education regarding bodies and periods needs to be updated…

The other day, I was complaining to my course-mate about how tired I felt. He asked me if I had been out clubbing the night before. Truth was, I had spent the previous day curled up on the sofa with a hot pack pressed to my stomach, and constantly checking the time to see when I could take more paracetamol in an effort to kill my cramps. But instead of saying, “No, I felt rubbish because I was on my period”, I simply told him that I had a quiet night in. I wasn’t exactly lying (depending on whether whimpers of pain still fall under the ‘quiet’ category) but I was fully aware that I had deliberately avoided telling him the real reason for my fatigue. Why had I done that? It’s a perfectly normal thing, and it’s not exactly a secret. Some of the basics of menstruation are taught in secondary school science lessons.

Trouble is, we’ve all been conditioned to treat periods as a taboo, yet there is absolutely no advantage to this. If anything, this just causes more problems. We can barely bring ourselves to say “period”, or “tampon”, or “sanitary pad”. We have these euphemisms, like “our little monthly visitor”, and “feminine products”. (The latter example only serves to exclude men and nonbinary people who menstruate, as well as imply that women who don’t menstruate aren’t real women. Invalidating much?) But as we learnt when reading Harry Potter, fear of a name only increases a fear of the thing itself. We don’t need to be afraid of periods, or of discussing them. They’re not even a magical evil overlord – just a natural bodily function. Far less scary than Voldemort. And much less likely to attempt to rule tyrannically over the world.

Open communication is key here. It’s the best way to be educated about anything, including menstruation.

Another thing that sucks about how society presents periods is how it’s taught. Don’t get me wrong, educating kids about periods is GREAT. It teaches them about what is going to happen in some of their bodies when they’re older, or for some, what is already happening. But what schools teach about menstruation only scratches the surface. For one thing, my school only taught us about how to use disposable sanitary pads and tampons. But there are other menstruation products out there, such as menstrual cups, that I was never taught about and had no idea how to use! I’ve bought one but even with the instruction booklet, I haven’t been able to use it successfully. Really could’ve done with education about this.

Schools also fail to address a lot of the misconceptions about periods. For example, that using tampons will pop your hymen and make you no longer a virgin. Virginity is a social construct that has no objective value anyway, but point is, the only way you can lose your virginity is by having sex. Tampons will not change your sexual status. I was told so many times by my mother that I shouldn’t use tampons until I’ve had sex for the first time, when really, that doesn’t actually matter and it should totally be your own choice. The most important thing with periods is to do what works for you. There is no one way to deal with periods, and while one person may find menstrual cups the most comfortable option, another might prefer using tampons.

One other thing that I think really needs to be taught in schools is endometriosis. We are told that period pains hurt like hell, and they really can! But endometriosis is a whole other level. The problem is that some people who menstruate might not even know they have it, and therefore don’t seek medical help and don’t get treatment which can ease the severe pain (from what I’ve heard, “severe” doesn’t even cover it). The NHS page on endometriosis describes it as “a common condition”, so why is it not taught at school? Endometriosis should not have to go untreated.

To sum up, the education that schools offer about periods is severely lacking in important information, and it desperately needs an upgrade. People should learn about their bodies and not be ashamed of talking about it, and one of the best ways to do that is to start with the education system. Teach kids when they’re still kids. The next generations deserve to grow up with healthy attitudes towards their bodies, and shouldn’t have to spend years being ashamed of them like we have.

 

About Ash:

Ash is nonbinary and can be found on Twitter as well as on WordPress – watch this space for new blogs coming soon!

 

If you would like to contribute your own piece or share your ideas, let us know in the comments or tweet them to me: @maldrichwincer.

 

Project Lunar: Cultural Influences

In today’s post Shikha talks about cultural influences on the perception of periods…

I come from a culture where gender roles are excruciatingly strong. You have men, you have women, and the concept of other genders is completely foreign. Men are the primary breadwinners and women are expected to care for the family, look after the household responsibilities whilst still being professionals. However, not so professional that their husbands jobs or other family responsibilities would suffer. Gender oppression is a norm, and so widely accepted that the slightest mention is immediately shut down.

Confusingly enough, different areas of Hindu culture have different approaches to menstruation ranging from it being seen as an incredibly positive thing to being seen as disgusting and shameful. In southern India, the first menstruation is reason for celebration with close family and friends, extravagant food and gift giving – which I would have fully embraced growing up.

More traditional and orthodox families have a much less accepting view to periods. If you’re on your period, you are asked to stay away from any domestic activities, physical contact is limited and any creative activities are prohibited as you are seen as impure and everything you touch will become impure too. You are also not allowed to enter temple, sacred areas of the house, or partake in any religious activities. In especially strict families, you are required to remain in a separate room or even not allowed to enter the household whatsoever. Once the menstruation period is over you are required to thoroughly wash and clean any items that you have ‘contaminated’.

However, speaking to family members that do belong to more orthodox families provided a rather interesting insight. They all said that day to day life was incredibly stressful balancing work and family as professionals when all the household chores and family duties fell on to them. So when it comes to coping with the additional discomfort of menstruating they embrace the break they get from their other responsibilities, if only for a few days a month.

I was personally incredibly lucky with my family in that menstruation was a relatively open topic in my house. My mother made sure I was made aware that it was a totally natural process and that its condemnation, like many traditions, stemmed from a time that it was not fully understood. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to conversation and education about periods, but I am incredibly grateful for the noticeable progress amongst the generations as it means we’re taking steps in the right direction.

 

About Shikha Kataria:

I am a British Indian woman forever trying to find a balance between the two cultures. Challenging sexism and oppression is incredibly important and something I’ve struggled with from a very young age, however very difficult to do in a family that strongly cling to religious and cultural tradition.
If you would like to contribute your own piece or share your ideas, let us know in the comments or tweet them to me: @maldrichwincer.

Project Lunar: A Cisgender Man’s Perspective

Gender representation was really important for Project Lunar, so in this post we have a cisgender man’s perspective of periods and education:

I first learnt what menstruation was in primary school. I do not really know whether it was the Italian education system, or the Catholic nature of the Italian culture, but I was never introduced to the idea that a) menstruation was not just about women and b) that it was ok to talk about menstruation in public. There did seem to be a rather negative stigma attached to concept and the word itself. As a consequence I grew up in an education system that considered the topic of menstruation as a taboo. This is to extent that during their periods, people in schools were expected to keep their tampons hidden, whether in a purse or a school-bag.

When I think back I can actually remember girls in the classroom going to lavatories hiding their tampons so nobody would notice. Strangely enough, once I moved to the UK, the system did not prove to be any more open-minded or less prejudiced. At GCSE level, Biology classes discussed menstruation from a purely scientific angle, failing to consider the social implications of the topic. Needless to say that could have been improved. Why wasn’t I taught that periods should be talked about it in public, or that ‘women and periods’ is a totally flawed phrase? Strangely enough I did always think that it was possible for men to have the same symptoms once a month. Turns out there is an actual syndrome- IMS. Irritable Male Syndrome is actually a scientific concept; men may experience a drop in testosterone on occasions, due to numerous reasons such as stress, anxiety and change of diet. The visible consequences are the same as those attributed with menstruation, anger, mood-swings, depression and lower self-esteem.

So I suppose my question really is: why is this not taught in schools? Should we not teach children that attaching stigmas to periods does nothing but create further gender inequality? I think the key social problem here is education, but that same education is also the solution.

 

If you would like to contribute your own piece or share your ideas, let us know in the comments or tweet them to me: @maldrichwincer.

Project Lunar: “Menstruation is not, never has been, and never will be a quintessentially womanly experience. “

In this blog, Kasey, a non-binary person, speaks out about why we need more inclusive discussions about menstruation. (TW: rape & gender dysphoria)

I am a non-binary person, and I menstruate. And, as it turns out, I sometimes (read: often) find myself excluded from conversations about menstruation. Because I am living in a cissexist world, and from a cissexist perspective (i.e. one in which trans people don’t really exist), only women menstruate. And from a cissexist perspective, it’s funny sometimes to speculate about what it would be like “if men had periods”.

Newsflash: men do, sometimes, have periods. And that experience can be fraught enough for them, as menstruation is often a dysphoria trigger for trans men and other transmasculine people, without also making them the butt of jokes that erase their experiences entirely.

Menstruation is not, never has been, and never will be a quintessentially womanly experience. It’s not the exclusive domain of women, and it’s not even an experience all women have in their lives, whether because they are trans, or because they have a medical reason why they simply don’t menstruate. And it is important to remember that.

At the same time, I see many cis women’s frustration when this is pointed out to them. And I get it, because y’all have some very real beefs with the way periods are treated, the way we are all expected to keep them so super secret and make sure that cis men (delicate flowers that they are) are never reminded that this extremely normal bodily function exists. Your frustration is valid.

And yes, these issues are very much women’s issues. I’m not even remotely going to argue they aren’t – the secrecy and fear and misinformation that surrounds menstruation in popular culture are all part and parcel of misogyny, and of patriarchy – those of us who menstruate but aren’t women are, to some extent, collateral damage in this arena.

But that doesn’t make it ok to erase us from existence in this arena any more than it is ok to do so in any other context. Trans people’s existence is so often and so easily forgotten in conversations among cisgender feminists, and it really isn’t ever ok.

I’m not asking you not to be angry (I am angry right along with you, trust me!), nor am I saying you can’t talk about menstruation, or even frame it as a women’s issue. But I am asking you to be more thoughtful in the way you talk about these issues. If you can talk about other women’s issues that don’t exclusively impact women, in a way that centres women without erasing the other people affected (rape culture comes to mind – you don’t often, or ever, see people forgetting that people of any gender can and do experience rape) you can do the same with menstruation.

 

About Kasey:

Kasey is a non-binary librarian on the asexual spectrum. They write about their experiences around these and other aspects of their identity, as well as other social justice issues, at Valprehension. You can also follow them on Twitter and Tumblr

 

If you would like to contribute your own piece or share your ideas, let us know in the comments or tweet them to me: @maldrichwincer.