24 Dec 2014

Book Review: Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

Note: The recent revelation that this book was ghost written is irrelevant to my review. I believe It was pretty clear from the start that this was the case, and thus it didn't affect the process of reading the book for me.

Considering that this book, along with it's record breaking sales statistics, are all everyone and everybody has been talking about recently - and also the fact I subscribe to Zoe's blog and Youtube channel and have watched parts of the process of this book being developed - it was only a matter of time until curiosity got the better of me and I picked it up. 

Girl Online follows a 15 year old girl from Brighton as she struggles with the ups and downs of love, friendship, school, and the pitfalls that come with online fame. It also deals with the character's battle with an anxiety disorder.
As a 23 year old who doesn't usually dabble in this genre I took this book at face value as I read it. And I was actually pleasantly surprised. I found myself enjoying the twists and turns presented in the book along with delighting in escaping into the story for the couple of days it took me to read it. I also appreciated the treatment of the difficult issues that were dealt with in the story. It offered some very helpful advice and insight to anxiety which I even found myself trying to implement. It also made me view online bullying in a completely different light and made me realise the true horrors that online celebrities often have to go through, along with how poignant and important the positive comments can actually be in contrast. I wouldn't waste time in recommending this book to younger readers with relevant interests. It's a positive book and carries some important messages and lessons which can really help young readers in an internet age, with the prevalence of mental illness also continuously on the rise.

The transatlantic romance angle in the story also offers a pleasant introduction to British culture whilst holding an international appeal. All this coupled with the atmospheric Christmas setting makes Girl Online the perfect winter read for young teens. 


15 Dec 2014

7 Ways To Start Feeling More Positive And Content

Life is a bumpy road and every now and then we can find ourselves in a bit of a rut. But whether you find yourself feeling down, demotivated or simply bored with the monotony of daily life there are luckily plenty of quick fixes out there to help us get back on track and feel a bit more positive. You may spot a few cliches but I assure you that each thing on this list has worked for me when needing a pick up in life. So here are seven ways to start feeling more positive and content:

Exercise. Now, don't dismiss this too quickly if your immediate thought is that exercise isn't for you. Remember that there is a type of exercise out there to suit everybody.  Anything from invigorating spinning classes to simply taking regular walks count as exercise. All you have to do is figure out which is most suited to you, your body and your schedule. As you've likely heard many times before, exercise releases endorphins which can instantly make you feel happier. Some other immediate effects include feeling more energised. And there are many other long term health benefits if you keep at it. Regular exercise also brings a sense of achievement and satisfaction, and having a goal to work towards - weight loss, weight maintenance, increased fitness etc - will make you feel increasingly fulfilled each time you get closer to reaching your set goal. If cardio isn't for you, stretching exercises such as yoga can also come with an abundance of advantages, including stress relief and the treatment of many health problems.

Make healthy changes to your diet. This comes with many similar pros to exercise. Making healthy changes in your diet comes with a load of benefits and can help to make you feel good on the inside as well as positively affecting your outward appearance. Simply swapping junky treats for fruit and processed food for healthier homemade meals can make you feel less sluggish, more energetic and give you a healthier glow. Also just knowing you're being healthier than usual can make you feel that much better about yourself.

Make a list of things you're looking forward to. There's been a couple of times recently where I've felt so bleak that I couldn't find anything to look forward to at all. To rectify this I decided to make a list consisting of one thing I was looking forward to on each day of the upcoming week. If I couldn't find anything  to look forward to then I made things to look forward to. So if you find yourself feeling similar I hereby challenge you to do the same. You can write something that you're looking forward to for each day, each week or even each month, depending on how demotivated you feel. And they can range from small things, for example your Amazon package arriving or your favourite blogger being due for a new post, to bigger events such as seeing your favourite band live in concert. Having the knowledge that there are always things to looking forward to that are coming up can make life that little bit more exciting and meaningful. 

Reach out to friends and acquaintances. If you're anything like me you may have found yourself in the habit of waiting for others to reach out to you rather than taking the time out to reach out to others yourself. And if this is the case, change it! You may feel that if your friends wanted to contact you then they would, but guess what, others could be thinking the exact same thing about you. If you're not fulfilled with your current social life then only you can make a change to it. So organise events, invite an acquaintance out for coffee, plan a movie night, message an old friend to see how they're doing. You'll probably find yourself pleasantly surprised at how much others will be more than happy to connect with you and go along with your plans.

Meet new people. With the current prevalence of the internet and mobile apps meeting new people has never been easier. Websites such as Meetup.com offer a magnitude of new experiences and like-minded people waiting for you at the touch of a button. There are also plenty of tried and tested dating sites if a potential new romance is what you're after. And for those apprehensive about meeting people online, there are still many old fashioned ways to meet new people; University societies, volunteering projects, short courses and evening classes are just a few examples of many, which can also open you up to new and fun experiences with meeting new people as a bonus. Adding new friends and even hobbies to your life is a certain way to enrich it. 

Get creative. When feeling a bit low expressing yourself and finding an outlet for your feelings through creativity can be both cathartic and rewarding. This can range from writing poetry, picking up an instrument, getting out your old sketch pad or even just taking a walk and snapping up photos on your favourite photo app. Setting up creative goals will leave you with a sense of accomplishment once you achieve them and you'll end up with a creative end result that you can be proud of. 

Get immersed in nature. Whether it be planning a weekend hiking trip or simply going to your local park to feed the ducks, getting in touch with nature has a way of clearing your mind and leaving you with a fresh and more positive mindset. Those of us living in cities can go months without seeing a significant amount of green, so taking the time out and finding yourself in an open green space every now and then can make for a healthy and uplifting change.

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