Emma Violet



I'm currently sat at my new desk, in my new room, in new Halls, anxiously ready to start my Masters degree in Cognitive Neuroscience next week. If anyone had told me 3 years ago that I'd graduate top of the year with a 1st class degree in BSc Psychology and go on to pursue a Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience I'd seriously struggle to believe them. I'm amazed that despite everything, I'm sat where I am today. 

"But how can you do a Masters so soon after graduating? You're mad!" 
"Aren't you afraid you're going to burn out?" 
"Is this just another excuse to escape 'real work' for another year?" 

I've honestly heard everything by this point. Some people have been really understanding and supportive, others on the other hand, not so much. However, I'm not staying in further study for anyone but myself. If you want to study and stay in education and you're fortunate enough to be accepted and/or can afford to do so, then please don't let people's opinions prevent you from taking the next step. It's really hard, but I like to think I am getting more proficient at ignoring other individual's views and focusing on what I feel is the right path for me. It is your life after all.

So I decided to stay on at my university to study an MSc for a number of reasons, some of which I'll briefly touch on in this post. 

The first is that I enjoy learning and expanding my knowledge, especially in an area that I am extremely passionate about. I love the idea of becoming an expert in a field and being able to share your knowledge with others. I also love the academic environment and studying. I do tend to over work sometimes and stress myself out over a piece of coursework or revision for exams, but in the end I all know it will all be worth it. I read something the other day that said something along the lines of 'working towards something you don't like is called stress, but working towards something you love is called passion'. Nothing beats the satisfaction of achieving amazing grades and graduating, honestly. I also get to drink excessive amounts of coffee and take plenty of naps which would be much harder to do if I had a full time 9-5 job. There's plenty of time to work with retirement ages on the increase after all! Oh and I can't forget the countless opportunities to buy and use new stationary and make pretty revision notes :)

Another motivator for returning, especially to the same uni, is the lovely Psychology department, which is filled with the most supportive, inspiring and lovely people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. Some of the people that have lectured me and who I have spoken to/submitted work to are leading researchers and experts in their field which I honestly find so cool. I genuinely fangirl a little every time I discover that lecturers in the department have ran an influential experiment or contributed towards a chapter in a popular textbook.  More specifically, my personal tutor is the main reason why I finished my undergraduate degree and did so well. She continues to believe in me when I don't believe in myself and she always offers positive encouragement. I am so happy to have her support for another year (and we're already discussing the possibility of myself pursuing a PhD so watch this space!).  

Moreover, with the increasingly large population of students graduating university each year, especially in a degree programme such as Psychology, it is becoming extremely difficult to actually get a job related to your study. I know that I do not want to go into retail or sales or a job that I am not going to reap any satisfaction from and that miserable prospect genuinely motivates me to keep going. I want to be able to utilise my degree and work upon it instead of leaving it at uni and never touching it again.Yes, it will still be tough even after doing an MSc to get a job, but at least it is something that differentiates me from many other Psychology graduates. 

Related to this, I am gradually warming to the idea of staying in academia, even beyond a PhD, to become a research assistant or potentially a lecturer. The idea scares the hell out of me and is going to be a very hard goal to reach, but I'm also not going to sit back and not give it a go. Not trying is much worse than giving something a go and finding out it isn't right for you. Hey, you never know, I might be lecturing to a large group of students one day (terrifying!) and if I do ever get there and I do enjoy it, then I know I've made the right decision. I like to help people and I think educating individuals and teaching them new things is kind of special? (Now I probably sound really crazy and lame, sorry). I find a lot of my lecturers inspiring, so it would be amazing to have the same impact on a student like myself one day.

So, this is it. Two years worth of work in one year. I'm not going to lie, I have been experiencing a lot of self-doubt about my decision to stay on and I'm very anxious that my mental health is going to interfere a lot with my studying again this year. It's all pretty overwhelming right now and I'm hoping I'll settle a little once I've started classes. However, I just keep reminding myself that I got through a whole 3 years of undergraduate study and achieved so so much more than I could ever dream of. We have to challenge ourselves and do the things that scare the hell out of us. It's called living. Don't live your life in default mode. 

I'll probably write another few uni related posts or even film a few YouTube videos if people would find that useful (I've been uploading quite a lot on my channel lately btw). Just let me know what you'd like to see and whether you'd be interested in that. I think I'll also end up writing a follow up post to this one in September next year when I've hopefully completed my Masters degree. 

Take care, Emma x

(Twitter - @veramyfarmiga ; Instagram - @emviolxt ; YouTube - Emma Violet)




Zoeva Rose Golden Vol. 1 Complete Brush Set | £110 
This collection contains 15 gorgeous brushes: 
103 Defined Buffer Brush 
106 Powder Brush 
109 Luxe Face Paint Brush 
112 Face Curve Brush 
127 Luxe Sheer Cheek Brush 
129 Luxe Fan Brush 
142 Concealer Buffer Brush 
226 Smudger Brush 
227 Luxe Soft Definer Brush 
228 Luxe Crease Brush 
230 Luxe Pencil Brush 
234 Luxe Smoky Shader Brush 
310 Spot Liner Brush 
317 Wing Liner Brush 
322 Brow Line Brush
& a beautiful brown/rose gold Zoeva makeup bag   

I'd been looking at purchasing these brushes for a few years, but could never justify investing just over £100 on a set of makeup brushes. However, after the stress of final year university exams, I simply needed to reward myself with something after working incredibly hard all year (I don't even feel guilty anymore because I've ended up graduating with a 1st class degree and achieved the second highest grade in the year!). I decided enough was enough and it was time that I actually owned the Zoeva brushes I had been pining after for a very long time. 

Being honest, I was a little worried that they wouldn't meet up to the high expectations I had pre-assigned them, and although I do have a minor issue to comment on, overall I am incredibly happy these particular brushes sit in my Ikea pots alongside my other brushes! 

First of all, they are rose gold which is just my aesthetic anyway. More importantly however, is the variation of brushes you receive when you buy this collection. You get 7 face brushes (103, 106, 109, 112, 127, 129, 142) and 8 eye brushes (226, 227, 228, 230, 234, 310, 317, 322). Basically there is a brush for your every need! The brushes have such soft bristles which is perfect for any of you who have sensitive skin like myself. I really despise brushes that feel scratchy on your face or eyes, but from the brushes I have used in this collection so far, I have not had that experience at all. I haven't used many of the face brushes yet as I tend to apply my foundation and concealer with my beauty blender, but the luxe face paint brush (aka contour brush) and powder brush applied my makeup really precisely and didn't pack too much product on either. Although I haven't used the luxe fan brush yet, I can predict that this brush will apply highlighter like a dream.

On the other hand, I have delved into the eye brushes quite extensively and I absolutely adore the soft definer, luxe crease and luxe pencil brush! They make blending eyeshadows and creating smoky eyes so much easier for me and now that I have used them, I wouldn't be without them. I also love the wing liner brush for applying powder to my brows as well as a dark shade to my upper lash line to add definition to my lashes. Overall, I have generally been loving these brushes and would go as far as saying that some of them in this collection are my favourite makeup brushes of all time. 

Nonetheless, I do have one gripe with these brushes. They shed kinda too quickly, especially for the amount of money you invest in them. Obviously you can expect all brushes to shed over time and perhaps lose their shape, especially after washing them several times. However, my Zoeva brushes seem to be much worse at shedding in comparison to others in my collection i.e. I haven't ever had this issue with any of the Real Technique brushes I own and these are also soft/good quality. Admittedly, it appears to be the face brushes that shed more than the eye brushes, but I was very disheartened to see hairs beginning to separate themselves and be close to falling out of the brush heads after one wash. It could have been the way I handled them when I washed them, but like I mentioned before, I've had some of my RT brushes for years, washed them the exact same way and never had this issue. It makes me quite worried to use some of them because I feel like the bristles are too delicate and easily 'sheddable', which is not ideal when their sole purpose is to apply makeup! I know I am not alone in saying this, as others who own and use these brushes have complained about shedding, especially with the face brushes. That being said, I do believe the benefits outweigh this small disadvantage.  

I'll continue to use them carefully and hope that they do last as long as I'd like them to, especially as they apply my makeup incredibly well. Shedding and high price aside, these brushes are a welcome edition to my brush collection and I am so happy that I bit the bullet and invested my money in them. If any of you have Zoeva brushes, what is your opinion on them? Do your brushes shed more than you'd expect? Alternatively, if you don't own any Zoeva brushes, I'd love to know which brush or collection is on your wish list?

Take care, Emma x   
   

These last few months have been horrendous. 
I don't want to go into much detail about some of the things I have been experiencing lately. Mainly because everything is a bit of a mess in my head and I'm also not the best at talking about my health. So, writing this blog post is a very new and difficult thing for me. I decided to bite the bullet and write it anyway. If you are reading this, then I must have somehow found the courage to click 'publish'? I sort of have two main reasons for wanting to write this blog post. Firstly, I wanted to talk about this shitty time partly as a way of getting things off my chest, because things have been really hard. Second, I hope that sharing my recent experiences with others who may read this post can find comfort in knowing they are not the only ones who struggle.

So what has been going on? Well, in a nut shell - I feel like utter crap. There were multiple signs that my mental health was deteriorating quite rapidly a few months ago. I didn't think too much about it at the time, as I didn't want to make things worse by focusing on the negativity. But then exams reared their ugly head. Now, for people that do not have mental health issues, exams are still considered to be a major stressor and often provoke short term feelings of anxiety. If exams negatively affect people with relatively 'stable' to 'normal' mental health, you can imagine the detrimental impact exams can have on someone who already experiences, generalised anxiety, panic attacks, mild PTSD and crippling depression on a daily basis. It must be nice to feel 'back to normal' when exams are done, no more stress or panic or that horrible feeling constantly gnawing at the pit of your stomach. For me personally, all of those horrible symptoms stay, they are potentially just slightly less extreme?

I wanted to share some of the symptoms I've experienced this year as a consequence of added exam pressure (final year university exams to be exact). Exams have always made me quite ill, but I have never experienced the overwhelming pressure this badly before. Let me make this clear: I don't want sympathy for what I am about to say, I just genuinely would like to know if anyone else has experienced this and if they have any tips on how to manage mental health better around exams so that your health doesn't get into the state mine was in (and currently still is).

I couldn't sleep or eat properly. That wasn't so bad, as I deal with that quite frequently anyway, it was just slightly worse than normal. I would often have to pace around my room to get rid of the excess adrenaline - again, not so bad, something I do often, but not ideal when your thoughts are racing at 101 miles an hour in your head, making you feel like you are losing control of everything. My stomach was horrendous, I couldn't lie down because the stomach acids would burn the lining of my tummy and also travel up to the back of my throat, which didn't help with sleep and was embarrassing in exams when it would make the loudest, most gross noises imaginable. I also had on and off fever for 2 whole weeks, at least 4 times a day, and these spells would last for 20 minutes at a time. These moments were so bad I had to lie down because the room would start spinning and I'd feel like I was going to pass out. There was one exam my tutor had to drive me home from because I was too weak to walk properly. With this next symptom, I'm going to be very literal and kinda gross here, but this is the 'non-romanticised' and ugly truth of what some of us with anxiety go through, which gets even worse when there is a large stressor i.e. exams. I had to be near a toilet at all times because I was literally shitting myself. Anything I ate wouldn't stay in my stomach for very long at all, perhaps 15 minutes max? I had no control over my bowels at all, which if you've never experienced it, is completely disgusting and mortifying. If I wasn't in the bathroom because of that, it was also due to the many waves of nausea I experienced throughout the day. There was a lot more that I was also dealing with, however I think you get the gist. I was very poorly. I didn't want to share these things for sympathy or attention - so please don't feel the need to accuse me of doing so. It's just been an extremely difficult time for me and this is my outlet. If any of you have experienced similar 'side effects' of exams mixed with mental health, I'd like to know your experience and if you've found anything that makes things even the slightest bit easier to cope with during this very overwhelming time. It would be helpful to know some of these things for when I pursue my Masters degree next year.

Doom and gloom aside, what I have learned from this experience, is despite how unwell I have been and how unbearable these past few months have been - I've somehow managed to get through it. I have no helpful 'advice' or 'tips' on how to cope with having significant mental health issues alongside important exams, purely because I just don't know how I managed to get through these 6 final year uni exams. It seemed impossible to keep going at times and I felt throughly despondent and apathetic. However, having persisted, I am quite proud of myself (well, I'm at least trying to be). I just kept making those small tiny steps towards the end goal: finishing my undergraduate degree. I think having a subject I'm extremely passionate about and truly care for helped immensely, as well as the support and encouragement from a few significant others around me.

All I can say is, whatever you are going through at the moment, please do not give up. Take those small tiny steps each day and they will get you to where you wish to be. There will be setbacks and obstacles in your way, which don't make the little step journey as straightforward and easy as you'd like. Nonetheless, you are flexible and can adapt that journey. You can take small steps around, over or under those obstacles that will still lead you to that end goal. How do I know that works? Because that's what I've done and will continue to keep doing. Like I said, if any of you have any tips or would like to talk to me about exams and mental health, then you can either leave a comment on this post or tweet me @veramyfarmiga on Twitter!

Good luck to any of you who still have exams, you can do it. But do please remember that your health comes before anything else.
Take care,
Emma x



10 SONGS

Issues | Julia Michaels

Waves | Dean Lewis

It Ain't Me | Kygo (Selena Gomez)

I Would Like | Zara Larsson

Follow You | Bring Me The Horizon

The Wire | HAIM

Starving (Acoustic) | Hailee Steinfeld

Lights Down Low | MAX

Be The One (Dillistone Remix) | Dua Lipa

Spring | Moose Blood


What are your favourite songs at the moment?
Take care, Emma x




Hello everyone, I hope you are all well. 
Today's post is a Q&A collaboration with Katie ('blossomandaisyy'). We both asked our followers on Instagram to ask us questions that we could answer in a blog post. Katie has a really beautiful and aesthetic blog that is beauty, fashion and lifestyle related. Her posts are genuinely so lovely and easy to follow and I particularly love the lifestyle theme of her posts she has uploaded so far this year. Both Katie and her blog honestly deserve a lot more recognition, so please make sure you pop over and visit by clicking 'here'. There will also be a blog post for you to read with her answers to the same questions listed below. 

Note: The brackets contain the Instagram username of the person who asked each question. Thank you so much if you did comment on either mine or Katie's post!

Q: How has your 2017 started? ('gracexkate')
A: Challenging and frightening, but also headed in the right, positive direction. 

Q: What inspired you to create a blog? ('xxbandobsessedxx')
A: I wanted a creative space on the Internet that would allow me to express who I am and connect with people that have similar interests. Also seeing how other bloggers had designed their blogs, the high quality pictures they took and the amazing posts they created was really inspiring to me, and I just knew I wanted to do that. As much as I love YouTube and filming videos, having a blog holds a special place in my heart because I think I'll always be far superior at writing in comparison to verbally expressing myself. 

Q: Favourite beauty brand? ('theaveragegurlx') 
A: Ohhhh this is tough... maybe either NYX or Urban Decay.

Q: When did you start wearing makeup? ('floralbeautyguru')
A: I think I started wearing makeup when I was 13/14, but didn't start doing it properly (as in a full face of makeup) until I was 17.

Q: Best childhood memory? ('helenarenzulli') 
A: When I used to go over to my grandparents house practically all of the time and play games with them. I treasure these memories now that my gran is no longer here (technically more than one memory, but these are the best I have ~ I also have a pretty crap memory). 

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? ('floralbeautyguru')
A: Hopefully in a full-time job that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning! I also hope that I will have passed my driving test and feel comfortable behind the wheel of a car. 

Q: Future job you hope to achieve? ('blondeblogger18')
A: Either something Psychology related or becoming a writer. 

Q: What are your 3 hopes for your life? ('bundleofsurprises')
A: To be successful, to be loved/respected and to manage my health issues more positively.

Q: What is your biggest achievement? ('myblurredworld') 
A: I'd like to say getting half a million reads on my story 'Signed Anonymous', although coming top of the year with the highest grade for Psychology at A Level comes a very close second!

My question for anyone reading this post is 'Where is your safe place?' ~ you can either leave it in the comments below or tweet me @veramyfarmiga !! 
Best wishes, Emma x
I needed some help with positivity. 

I don't perceive myself as a negative person. Generally, I am quite positive. I don't get angry very often, I respect the people around me and I like to carry out small, simple acts of kindness to brighten up somebody's day. I do have bad days and I do have negative traits, however as a person I like to think I am positive.

Nonetheless, I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder, depression and struggle with trauma. I do have physical health problems too. Although I do not let these mental health 'labels' define me, I cannot deny that they are very prominent in my daily life. Sometimes I manage my illness' a lot better than others. Some days are just unbearable, to the point where I have had and continue to have thoughts about not being here anymore. This sparks negative symptoms, thoughts and experiences and I admit, sometimes this negativity gets out of control. I am often described as a 'strong' and 'resilient' individual in that I am still at University, in the third year of my undergraduate degree performing at a really high level. I still get out of bed even when I feel like my body is a heavy weight that I can't lift. I still push on through my work, even when my concentration makes reading a single page take more than an hour. There are countless examples I can give where I'm struggling, but still somewhat managing. 

I decided I wanted to make some further positive changes to help look after myself better. I did this by purchasing The Happiness Planner. I'd heard some incredibly inspiring reviews about the planner, some of which came from people who experience similar struggles as myself. I remember grinning like an idiot at my laptop screen for a good 30 minutes whilst scrolling through reviews and blog posts, so happy to see that people had made such amazing progress and that the planner had supported them through their struggles. 

So, I bought one. I must admit, the price is quite steep at £40 (I do think the dated one I have is now currently £38 though, seeing as we have nearly finished the first month). However, I didn't mind paying that amount towards something that was going to help me with my mental health and organisation. Hell, I often pay nearly that same amount for an eye shadow palette anyway, at least this will be helping me every single day of the year! When it arrived, I didn't regret my purchase at all. You are paying for a very beautiful, high quality planner that looks and feels incredibly luxurious. Additionally, it arrives in its own box with some other cute stationary bits and pieces i.e. paper clips, a gorgeous metallic pen and two metallic fold back clips. I also received some printables, such as 'how to change a habit in 30 days' and 'new years resolutions' - I believe you can also print these yourself from the website. There isn't anything I particularly dislike about the planner, however I know that a lot of people and myself included would like the planner to be less bulky, as it makes it difficult to fit in your bag and carry along with you throughout the day. I have also read that some people would prefer it to be A4, just because it can be difficult to write everything on the smaller pages, especially for those that have bigger handwriting. Just bare this in mind if you like more space to write. 

More importantly, the point of this post. After using the planner now for just about a month, I've decided to share with you 5 reasons why I love the planner and why I think you should incorporate this planner into your life. 

1. Self- reflection. Reflective skills, especially when it comes to reflecting on aspects of ourselves, are very difficult for individuals in general I think. Normally, we are often very harsh on ourselves, constantly comparing ourselves to others and putting ourselves down. I think we often forget about the strengths we possess. This planner is very good for training self-reflection. At the beginning, there are 16 reflective questions e.g. "What are your strengths?" "What are your weaknesses?" "How do you see yourself in 5-10 years?". I personally found some of these questions very difficult to answer at first, just because I feel like we are never taught enough (if at all) about self-reflection at school. I think these questions at the beginning of the planner add greater quality to the planner's content, allowing you to dig deep and subsequently identify where you currently are personally/professionally and where you'd like to be in the future. 
You also have to rate your mood at the start of the planner and then your mood at the end of each month. I think this is very helpful for identifying whether your mood improves by the end of the year whilst using the planner, or spotting months/times of year where your mood worsens, so that you can anticipate bad patches and prepare better for them next year. Other features include describing your month in 3 words and what you are looking forward to in each month. I think these are really lovely things to look back on, especially when you are feeling unmotivated. It's a reminder that you are making progress, no matter how small or big that progress may be.  

2. Positive quotes. For each day you plan, there is a beautifully presented, positive, inspirational quote at the top of the page. I am a sucker for positive quotes as it is, so having these quotes in my planner just made it feel even more suitable to me. I often find just one of these quotes a day can centre me and allow me to feel slightly more positive without having made much effort at all. 

3. Focusing solely on the 'Good'. For each day, the planner will ask you to list some good things about that day and only good things. I think this is very useful, especially if you are like me and often dwell on what went wrong and treat the whole day as bad as opposed to what the day was like in general, including the good parts. Something good does happen every single day, even on some of the worst days of our life, they are just often very small or difficult to search for, but they do exist. They can be the simplest things i.e. a friend complimenting your makeup/outfit or having your favourite meal or cozying up for an hour in bed watching Netflix. I must admit, sometimes I like to write about the crappy things that have happened in a day, but I now leave that for my journal. The planner purposefully gets you to think about the good experiences or things that have happened and I think this helps with those of us that sometimes get so wrapped up in some of our negative experiences, that we forget there are good moments too. 

4. Personal and Professional. I often find that some of the planners I've purchased in the past have solely been designed for professional or academic use. Whilst this is very helpful for work, it's not so great for when you want to set personal 'to do' tasks. This planner allows me to combine my university commitments, as well as some of the personal elements in my day that I would also like to keep track of. There are boxes for: Exercises, Meals, What I'm Grateful For, Main Focus, 'To Do' and What I Hope For Tomorrow. I personally love that there are these options and although I don't fill them in every single day, they are valuable additions that I think more planners should consider including.

5. The aesthetic. The planner design and the different colour options are stunning. Appearance shouldn't be the most important factor when you are considering a lifestyle planner, but it sure does help if your planner looks inviting and makes you want to write in it. I love the unique appearance of The Happiness Planner's and despite the minor practicality issues with size/bulkiness, it has the perfect aesthetic. I bought mine in the black colour scheme after a lot of deliberation. I could have easily bought any of the colours because they are all so gorgeous. 

To sum up, these are just a few of the elements that I love most about the planner. I was so excited about receiving it and I have already noticed small changes that I wouldn't have made without the prompts I've been given whilst using the planner. It is obviously what you make of it, so don't buy it and just let it sit in a drawer! Some of you are probably thinking that it's too late to purchase one because January has nearly ended. Nonetheless, the Happiness Planner do also sell undated, 52 week planners, so that you can start at any time. I'd recommend this for those of you that want to make full use of the planner, however if you don't mind missing January, the yearly planner could still work out for you :) 

Let me know what you think about The Happiness Planner if you have it or if you decide to buy it. I hope you all continue to make positive changes to your life. I'm currently writing this post instead of dwelling on the bad things that have happened today, which is just further support for the positive impact this planner is having on little aspects of my life. Remember, even small steps = progress. 

Take care, Emma x

I came across this definition for a panic attack: 'a sudden overwhelming feeling of acute and disabling anxiety'. Although factually correct and accurate, I don't think this conveys how wretched and distressing they truly are.

I have dealt with panic attacks for a very long time now. It's something I don't talk about a lot because discussing them and even sometimes just merely thinking about them can spark some of my personal symptoms. Also, some people really don't understand panic attacks/anxiety/mental health in general and I'd rather avoid being exposed to their ignorance to be honest. These narrow minded individuals seem to think that panic attacks are "put on" and "designed for attention". They honestly believe that people choose to have disabling, distressing panic attacks and anxiety and it baffles me. If you've ever had your anxiety or panic attacks diminished and you're genuinely struggling, please listen to me.... 

They are wrong. How you feel and what you are going through is valid and it is important. You are not an attention seeker. You are not alone either.

Panic attacks are involuntary (as long as you are not actually faking one, which some people actually do seem to do.... wHY). They are not convenient - they often strike suddenly and for no real reason at all. I have had panic attacks both at home and in public places before. I rarely ever feel one coming before the last second and then it's too late anyway, because I'm already hyperventilating. People often stare and cast judgement, which often makes the experience a hundred times worse and actually prolongs my panic. However, there are sometimes (emphasis on sometimes) people who do check that I am ok and are good at dealing with the situation. My aim in life is to make more people helpful and caring if they see someone having a panic attack, because the people around you and their actions can honestly make such a difference.

There are many symptoms that you may experience during a panic attack. I won't list all of them here, however they are freely available on many health websites if you are curious. My personal panic attack symptoms are: heart palpitations (that often make me feel like I'm having a freaking heart attack), crying (horrendously), hyperventilating, shaking, nausea, teeth chattering, sweating, disassociation (I basically leave my body), dizziness and tingling in my fingers/toes. I'll sometimes only experience a few of these symptoms for a short period of time, but there can be other times where I experience nearly all of these symptoms over a longer period of time. I am sure some of you reading this blog post experience panic in a very similar way and some of you who experience it differently.

How can you manage a panic attack? 

I do think this is a very personal question and it is extremely dependent on the situation and the individual. I'm also very far from managing panic attacks myself, so please do not think I am a 'master' at controlling them, because I'm far from it. I think my next step is to try and notice the signs earlier and control the panic as much as possible. I also acknowledge that usually there are no obvious early signs or warnings that appear for me personally, so I'll have to try my best to manage the situation whilst in the middle of a panic attack. Nonetheless, I thought I'd share a few of my tips that I have found helpful over the years when I have had really bad panic attacks. Some of these may work for you, others may not. That's ok too, we all find different things helpful. 

1. Take yourself away from the situation, person or thing. Sometimes this can be very difficult, especially if it is not convenient for you to leave or leaving would cause more distress i.e. in a classroom and you would then have to stand up in front of everybody to exit. However, excusing yourself or just bolting out the door is fine and actually part of our 'fight or flight' response. Primarily, you need to look after yourself and assess the situation. If the environment is too oppressive, then you should leave for a break until you feel ready to go back in again or excuse yourself permanently.  

2.  Focus on your breathing. Your thoughts, feelings and body will be travelling in all different directions, however you can control your breathing, even if it feels like you can't. It is all about trying your best to find focus. One method that I was taught that is particularly helpful with this is the candle scenario. You imagine a candle that is a few inches away from your mouth and you have to try your best not to blow it out. The candle could be on a birthday cake or a Yankee candle - it can be whatever you'd like, just as long as you can clearly imagine it. When you're inhaling and exhaling, imagine the candle and try to slow down and breathe more gently. Hyperventilating would definitely blow the candle out, but slow and steady breathing exercises would only cause the flame to flicker. It is far from easy, however the more you practice this, the more effective it can become. 

3. Remind yourself that you will be ok and that the panic will pass. Although it can feel like you are having a heart attack, you are not. Although it may feel like you're going to pass out, it is actually physically impossible to do so whilst you're in the midst of an attack. Also, panic attacks don't last forever. They usually range between 5 - 20 minutes and they rarely last more than that (unless you experience one panic attack after another consecutively). I like to remind myself these things during the panic because it can help centre me and remind me that even though I'm not ok in that moment, I will be eventually. The panic attack is just my body's way of dealing with the situation. It is a temporary reaction and even though it's really awful and horrible, it won't last forever and I will get through it. Again, trying to access optimistic and positive thoughts is a challenge, but not impossible. The more you practice, the stronger mentality you create for yourself. 

4. Be kind to yourself after a panic attack. I often feel exhausted, emotionally drained and ready for my bed. Get yourself a drink and a snack you enjoy and try your best to relax. If you're at school, feel too crappy to be there and it's possible for you to go home, then you should take that opportunity. Mental health is just as important as physical health. If someone had a really bad migraine would you expect them to push on? On the other hand, there are times where it is not ideal for you to rest and go home, so in those situations just try to take it as easy as possible and be kind to yourself. 

5. After the attack, try to pinpoint any obvious triggers. By identifying triggers, you may be able to prevent the panic attack in the future and understand more about what has made you feel anxious. Perhaps it is something someone said, or an object in front of you or a certain situation. Sometimes you need to look deeper and realise it could be a number of things in combination. If you manage to identify a trigger, write it down and think about ways you could either a) prevent experiencing it again in the future or b) if you have to experience it, what could you do to make the situation less stressful? 

I hope some of you found these tips useful. I've wanted to write a mental health blogpost for a while now because I want to help any of you out there feel less alone with this. Whether you find one of these tips useful or you can identify with some of the panic attack symptoms and feel less ashamed for experiencing them - I just hope this post brought you some comfort.  

Take care, Emma x
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