5 Ways you can lower your stress when travelling

I do not personally suffer from anxiety and panic attacks when travelling but I know many people do. Hundreds of thousands of people have to overcome their fear and suffer through stress just to get to work and many have to miss out on destination they wish to visit. Whenever I am travelling I try to remind myself that many people on this bus or flight are going through hell just to get somewhere and I try to be understanding.

But travelling can get stressful for people like me who do not suffer from a condition. Especially flying can be very hectic and make you feel anxious. I don’t know what about you, but I am always scared I forgot something, my luggage will be oversized, I will end up at the wrong gate – and there’s always delays. And as understanding as I am trying to be, I always find myself being annoyed. I turn into Grinch and I am especially allergic to seemingly parentless children running around. And being this negative actually feeds into my stress.

As I am trying to listen to my body and mind better and live happier and healthier life, one of my goals is to limit the stress and anxiety I feel when I travel. Not only because I live in London and often travel back home but simply because I love travelling and want to explore the world without committing triple homicide in the check-in area.

1| Plan and prepare

Okay, this is my way to mitigating stress in most areas of my life – obsessive organiser over here! I am learning to not go crazy when planning things with less organised people but when something is up to me, I plan.

Even if you don’t mind bit of a mess, being prepared and organised can really help lower the stress levels when travelling and it is worth taking time to make sure you are ready for your journey. This is true for small trips and big ones – knowing where your oyster is and that it is topped up to avoid jamming the barriers during the commute or ensuring you have your passport and boarding pass.

Being organised for your commute or travelling is also a great excuse to buy some lovely accessories which will help you stay organised.

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Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

2| Figure out your route and an alternative

As I mentioned, I generally don’t suffer from anxiety attacks when travelling with the exception of last year when I was yelled at by a taxi driver because I didn’t have enough cash on and he didn’t want to let me go to a cashpoint in the airport. This episode was an exception to what I want to advice you here on because I actually did check my journey numerous times but UK train system just failed me this time.

I normally reach my zen when and switch to vacation mode as soon as I know I am on the right train, on time, heading in the right direction. I also double check how long my journey will take and always count in an extra time. I think this is important especially if you are in a foreign country. Londoners know their way to the four (sorry Southend) London airports by heart and can anticipate the delays and changes in the schedules and I assume that’s the same for your own town/country but I personally don’t feel this confident in different cities.

3| Stay hydrated

Of all the fad diets and wellness recommendations that we are bombarded by daily, one you can count on is the positive effects of drinking enough water. We are about 60% water so a few drops more won’t hurt you. Actually, it can help your body and mind a lot whether you have a stomach ache, headache or can’t breathe.

Staying hydrated also helps your body and brain to function normally and be able to handle stressful situations like a delayed arrival at the airport better. We are so accustomed to AC, polluted air and circulating ‘used’ air indoors that we sometimes fail notice the effect this environment has on  us. Drinking water wakes up your mind and helps fight the numbing effects of overused air typical for overcrowded  means of public transport.

I recommend getting a reusable water bottle. There are hundreds of types, cute ones, branded ones or more tekkie ones too. More places (including airports) now provide water points where you can refill your bottle too, so don’t worry about the security check liquid limit if you are flying.

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Photo by Nicole Geri on Unsplash

4| Read a book or listen to a podcast

Simply distract yourself and your stressed brain. Personally, reading works better for me because I tend to focus more intensively on something I am reading than listening to, but this is down to you and your attention.

However, I also found out that what stresses me the most about airport halls or busy trains is the noise. It makes me feel really restless and annoyed to the point when I just want to get up and shout Shut up. When I am feeling this particular, audio annoyance coming, putting earplugs in and listening to something works better. I also listen to podcasts on my actual flight to drown out the noise of the air plane.

5| Talk to someone

You have two options here and I am big fan of both. You can either face time, call or just send a text to your family, friends or a partner to distract yourself, or you can talk to a fellow traveller. I know this is not an option for some people as talking to strangers isn’t for everyone but I like to meet new people and enjoy small talk. I met one of my friends like this as we shared a flight as well as bottle of wine.

Having a conversation requires attention and redirects your brain to something else than the stressful surroundings.  I believe it is better option than trying to distract yourself by work too, as this could add another level of stress rather than help you relax.

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Photo by K Hsu on Unsplash

Send me on my way

I think we have to accept that travelling does come with stress. Some people suffer more than others but I believe these tips can help you relieve at least some of the tension you might be experiencing. Remember to plan your journey, be careful about all timings and drink plenty of water. If everything fails, resort to retail therapy in duty free shops.

How do you handle travelling? Do you suffer from anxiety? Do you have any helpful tips on how to handle the stress that comes with travelling? Remember that sharing is caring!

5 Types of friends you need in your life

I have always thought that having friends is the most important thing in your life. Not out of popularity but because my parents’ friends were just so much fun. They would get together often and it was so obvious how much they care about each other and how much they enjoy spending time together.

I believe growing up surrounded by group of family friends made me want the same. I didn’t care about personal relationships until late teens because I cared more about having fun with my friends. I built very strong and meaningful friendships early in my life and hanging out with group of friends is still my favourite thing to do.

I decided to analyse each ‘category’ of my friendships below and explain why I believe it is important to have someone like this in your life. Naturally, the categories overlap and there are tons of others I have left out but let’s start with those five for now!

1| Best friends

First off, I don’t believe you can only have one best friend. I know, theoretically, only one can be ‘the best’ but actually, most of us have more than one best friend, right? Joey and Chandler wouldn’t be complete without Ross, Phoebe, Rachel or Monica, you know? (yes, been binge-watching Friends on Netflix, no shame).

I have four best friends. And all of them hold special place in my life & heart. They also came in different time of my life. I don’t believe your best friend needs to be the person you know the longest. It doesn’t have to be your childhood friend, highschool bestie or someone you shared room with in your twenties. It just needs to be someone who doesn’t judge you but also keeps your life and decisions in perspective by being honest. It is someone who knows you and can provide a reality check when you need it.

Best friends are diamonds of friendships. They are someone who’s seen you at your best and at your worst – they are the one who cheered for your success and helped you bounce off the bottom. They are not necessarily around the most and might not even live closest but you can always trust them for being available when you need them.

Best friends are here to be hugged when life gets too much,to take your phone away when you want to drunk text your ex and to let off the steam when it is yet another promotion given to someone else. They are someone who remembers your dreams from five years ago and remind you to follow your passion when even you forgot about it.

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Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

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5 Things I don’t get about Britain

Upon my move to London, my friend bought me a book called ‘ How to Become a Brit’ which was a satire detailing quirky things about Brits. How they love talking about the weather, avoid talking about sex and more. I naturally didn’t take it seriously. All nations are subject to stereotypes which are barely observable on an individual basis. But then I move to London and … well, I have had many long conversations about the weather.

Below is a list of things which I still don’t comprehend even after living in Britain and London for three and a half years.

Photo by A Perry on Unsplash

1| People seem to be uneducated about or immune to the effects of tea (caffeine)

By now not only the health-living conscious among us heard about the negative effects of caffeine consumption and the benefits of healthy sleep. Sleep hygiene should be on the top of your wellness list because a good dose of deep zzzs every night have numerous health & mental benefits. By now we also all know that caffeine isn’t only present in coffee but also in tea, the amount depending on the type of tea.

Yet, Brits and people influenced by their culture here seem to be completely oblivious to this fact and are able to down 6 cups a day. What is even more shocking, they seem to still get a good night rest. I am lucky because now I work with a group of fitness obsessed women who wouldn’t touch anything that isn’t trendy – sorry caffeine. However, in my previous offices, I was under constant threat of overdosing on caffeine in the form of tea, as I was asked whether I’d fancy a cup relentlessly. As it naturally also felt impolite to decline, I drank obediently.

And I still do whenever we visit N’s family. It seems obligatory to get through at least one tin of 100xbags of English Breakfast, otherwise, something terrible might happen. Unfortunately, while all those with Anglosaxon blood in sip their ‘before-bed’ tea (how is this evening a thing!) and then sleep happily through the night, I end up buzzing like a radioactive squirrel after this evening ritual. Someone explain how they managed to get this biological advantage?

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash
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Best scents for a relaxing living room

We’ve recently moved flats in order to escape a very loud upstairs neighbour. While I love our new flat, we unfortunately can still hear every single footstep of the girl who lives above – damn those wooden floors.
In order to stay sane amid my growing concern that I will again not sleep for 6 months and we’ll pack our backs in eight months when our contract finishes, I decided to bring as much calmness and peace into our apartment to minimise the effects of the noise.
One of the best ways to bring some calm atmosphere is to decorate the place, particularly with candles and other low-key sources of light. Below I listed some of my most favourite candles which bring at least a little bit of zen to my mind when I am drawing a map of my upstair’s flat in my mind as she stomps about.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

1| Neom

Neom has some amazing home fragrances both in form of candles and diffusers. They come in different ranges, based on what effect you are looking for. I got the De-stress candle for Christmas because the flat situation makes me reasonably on edge, but they also have candles to help you sleep, boost your energy or relax. They even have one to make you happy! They are a bit pricier than my usual candles, but they are worth it as they last longer and have a very strong scent which fills up the room without being aggressive.

NEOM

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How to survive in London – year one

I have now been living in London for three years and a couple of weeks. I’d love to say that I fell in love with the city on the first tube ride but that would be a lie. My relationship with London has evolved over the years and sometimes took a detour too. I still experience waves of negative and positive feelings about London and I haven’t decided yet whether I’d want to spend the rest of my life here.

I decided to pin down some crucial experiences from each of my London years. I hope they will help you understand how I feel about London and possibly help you avoid some mistakes I’ve made.

Let me start with the first year, 2015. What did I learn?

1|I lived in two shared houses and had my money stolen

Renting is one of my least favourite things about London. Finding a flat is a daunting task. I made the mistake of not arranging any secure accommodation before coming to London and made my life tiny bit more difficult by not having any address to start with. The first house was in one of the poorest and most dangerous neighbourhoods of London – given how many places there are to live, how lucky was I? -, it was a cold and old house with weird strangers living in it. My housemates included a Spanish prostitute which didn’t communicate, a French boy I’ve exchanged two words with, an older Brazilian couple which loved telenovelas. But there were also two lovely girls that I am still friends with.
I found the room on Spareroom and arranged a viewing with the guy whose room I was gonna take. I gave him the deposit money and what I trusted to be the rent amount. I found out two weeks later that the rent is actually £200 cheaper and he was overcharging everyone in the house. I remember panicking and thinking I am going to end up on a street. My parents were supporting me as I didn’t have a job (yet] but I knew it wouldn’t be enough. I remember I cried for hours because I was scared I got into trouble. I guess the advice I’d give myself back then from today’s perspective is ‘calm down, it will be alright’. Panicking didn’t help. I wish I wasn’t so hard on myself, I wish I didn’t blame myself and I wish I learnt how to ask for help and accept it. I know this today and I do let people help me way more than I did three years back. It is okay to ask for help and it is okay to accept it. The tables are going to turn one day and you will have a chance to help someone too, so let karma work that out.

Photo by Lucas Davies on Unsplash
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How to maintain positivity in your relationship when everyone else is breaking up

Me and N celebrated a two year anniversary recently. When we met I was sure I never want to be in a relationship again and I couldn’t imagine dating a street musician with waist-long dreadlocks, thinking that my dad is never ever going to approve. Now we live together and we are able to support each other through any sh*t we need to. I was unemployed for half of our relationship, N is getting ready to quit his job and start off in a new industry and we are dealing with our terrible living situation. On top of that, my anxiety is taking the best of me on those few days that we actually get to spend with each other due to the opposite working schedules. But here I am – happy.

Which surprises me, given my own relationship history and the number of toxic relationships I see around myself. Abuse, cheating, desperation. If you’ve ever been in the same position, when only a handful of your friends is in functioning relationships and the rest burst into tears or orders tequila shots whenever you open the topic, don’t let that get you down. It can be very hard and bring annoying doubt into your own relationship – no matter how confident you are with it – but the key is to remain positive and not compare your relationship to others.

1 Help your friends but don’t let them tear you down

More of my friends are coming to complain to me about their failing relationships lately. Whether that is a crush, friends with benefits dead-end, cheating or just sadness of being single, the ratio of negative to positive is around 80 to 20. I love my friends and I want to help them. I volunteer my hours (and liver) to discuss their problems and offer the best advice I have. And pay for the wine.

I understand they are in a sad situation which clouds their judgment so I am not surprised when they try to turn the table and analyse my relationship. Tell me that I should be suspicious too, that all men cheat and that the fact we don’t want to get married (like ever) is a lack of commitment from my boyfriend.

If you are experiencing similar backlash from your friends, it is understandable you might start to feel insecure about your relationship. But remember that this insecurity and the reasons for it are completely external, that someone imposed it on you. Yes, sometimes insecurity creeps in and if it comes from within you, then it is worth exploring why (see point 4), but if you suddenly want to check your boyfriend’s phone because your friend told you to, don’t. Remember you didn’t feel like this before your friend told you and trust your own gut and relationship.

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5 Tips on Avoiding Burn Out in a New Job

As you may know, I have recently started a new job and boy it hasn’t been easy! I struggled with doubts, stress and worries. Finally, after three months, I can say that I am beginning to enjoy my new job and see some positives.

We all have dream jobs – which usually turn out to be nothing like we’ve imagined – but the truth is that if you are young and lack years of experience, getting any job is a success. Most of us end up accepting jobs that are not exactly what we were hoping for and have to learn how to love their jobs, which can be quite challenging. Since we spent most of the hours of the day in work, feeling stressed in work is very dangerous to our mental health and takes a toll on our physical health too. So how can you look after yourself if you’ve just started a new job?

Below I put together a few tips that helped me to make it through the confusing and difficult initial months. While I believe they can be especially useful for newbies, many of them will help even those who feel stuck in a job they had for a long time.

1 Accept the learning curve

I am a perfectionist who struggles to admit when she doesn’t know something. Accepting that I am new and I have to ask for help was quite difficult for me. Even if you don’t take it to the extreme like me, I bet you do not feel comfortable asking twenty questions a day and you wish you knew who Carol is, when they tell you to ask for her signature.

But let’s face it, you’ve just started and no one can expect you to know who Carol is. Your team and workplace should help you overcome this too and encourage your questions rather than make you feel inappropriate. If you feel like you are bothering people, try explaining your situation to them and adding that you appreciate their help.

Don’t beat yourself over not knowing things. Embrace the learning and enjoy that you are sort of allowed to make mistakes. Try to absorb as much information and make as many connections as possible. They’ll be handy in the future.  I personally recommend taking notes of everything and anything. Procedures, names, logins and important dates or how Dave from finance takes his coffee… You never know when you’ll need a favour.

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Brooke Lark

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