27 January 2017

Little Exercises In Self-Care

I feel as though a lot of people, myself included, are using 2017 as a year to refocus, with a lot of emphasis being put on the importance of self-care. 2016 was a bit of a train-wreck globally but on a more personal level, I honestly think my biggest downfall was that I totally forgot to look after myself. Most days I'd skip meals, I'd barely drink, my sleeping pattern would be all over the place and my head would constantly either be full of negative thoughts or making lists of everything I needed to do. On reflection, I kinda never just stopped to breathe last year. The reality is that self-care isn't optional. It's so easy to get caught up in everything on your to-do list and achieving goals and working hard, but none of that is possible if you forget to eat, drink, sleep and breathe. If you look after yourself and take genuine time out to refocus and re-balance, everything will come naturally. You can be more productive and motivated, and working through your to-do list might be that little bit easier. Self-care is so important. 

It can be quite a daunting thing if you haven't ever really made self-care a priority but it doesn't have to be difficult at all. In fact, tiny wee things can be acts of self-care. At the start of the month, I wrote myself a list of little things I can do to practice self-care everyday and since I've been finding it super useful, I thought I might as well share it with you. 

Sit up straight
Such a simple thing but honestly, it's the thing on this list that I forget to do the most. I know I'm not the only one that spends a lot of time hunched over a laptop and lectures at uni totally ruin my back, but I've been making a real effort to be mindful of my posture. Take a second to re-align, roll your shoulders back, open your chest and take a deep breath. 

Have a glass of water
Hydration is legit the best thing you can do for your body. If you're struggling to focus, take a minute to go pour yourself a glass of water. Literally just the process of pouring water can be kinda relaxing anyway, and knowing that you're doing something good for your mind and body is a great feeling. Easy af. 

Stretch and breathe
You might have read a post a did back in August about how I have chronic fatigue syndrome but if you haven't, you can check that out here. One of the things I've found affects me the most is muscle pain, so needless to say, gentle stretching and yoga does wonders for me. Even if you don't really suffer from muscle pain, taking 15 minutes out of your day to stretch and be super mindful of you breathing is amazing for refocusing and winding down. You deserve that wee 15 minutes of movement and mindfulness. 

Make some food
I totally forgot to make eating a priority in 2016 and I kinda just fell out of love with food. I used to cook a lot and I absolutely loved it but then I convinced myself I was too busy or too tired or too stressed to make myself nice food. That's changing this year and I've got right back into cooking. My relationship with food's never been great and I know what it feels like to know that you really should eat but you just can't bring yourself to, but even having a cup of tea and a banana is a great start. Just nourish yourself and take it a step at a time. 

Take some time away from your phone
Right, this is super important. I'm guilty of having my phone permanently stuck to my hand and I'm really guilty of lying in bed scrolling through twitter and instagram then looking at the clock and realising 2 hours has passed and I haven't done shit. At the end of the day, staring at a screen isn't healthy but more to the point, social media can be so harmful for your self-esteem. It might be hard - I struggle with it for sure - but try to have an hour or two away from your phone and take some time to just totally focus on something else. Some days my time away from my phone is just the time I'm in class but even that's progress. Put your phone on to charge then leave the room. Have a bath. Hug your cat.

Brush your teeth 
Not an exciting one to finish with but this one is honestly one of my favourites. Some days getting out of bed feels impossible, let alone actually getting motivated to be productive. On those days, I tell myself that if I can just get up and brush my teeth, then I can maybe get dressed, wash my face and have a drink. Then maybe I can do some uni work or write a blog post. If not, that's okay. But at least I cleaned my teeth. It's one of those wee things that instantly makes you feel a bit more awake and a little bit better, aaaand it's a super easy way to look after yourself. 

Let's make 2017 a year of self-care. ♥
Catriona xo

18 January 2017

What Uni's Taught Me About Public Speaking

On Monday, I go into the second semester of my second year at university. I feel like I bang on about it all the time but for anyone who doesn't know, I'm doing a BA in media and communication at a uni in Glasgow. The uni in question absolutely loves two things: group work and public speaking. When I was in school any mention of group work or presentations or group presentations (my idea of hell) made my legs go numb and my heart race from the moment it was brought up to the moment it was finished. When I was looking for a uni to go to and a course to do, one of the things I looked at first was the weight of presentations. I really couldn't see myself lasting very long on a course that was all about presentations. Public speaking terrified me. Somehow, I missed the bit on the description of the course I'm doing that said "heyyy we are allll aboutttt public speakin pal", so I applied and got in with an unconditional offer. To be fair, I should've known I'd have to communicate on a media and communication course but let's ignore that.

No word of a lie, in my first week of university I was given a group presentation assignment. An assessed one. My seminar group had known each other for a few days and there we were being split into groups and told to prepare a poster and presentation for a couple weeks after. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end. I died a wee bit. Luckily I'd already got to know two of the girls in my group (and they're now two of my closest friends) so working in a group wasn't too difficult. The main thing I realised pretty quickly was that we were all feeling exactly the same. No one particularly wanted to be doing a presentation that early in the course and none of us were super familiar with each other. I also realised that it was all a really clever plan from my module leader that kinda made total sense - if we get stuck in straight away with a group presentation, we would maybe find future ones that little bit easier. I actually think it worked. It was bloody terrifying at the time but we all got good grades and I honestly feel like it helped me with my fear of public speaking. 

Since that first presentation, I've lost count of the number of presentations I've had to do at uni. I still get shaky legs and pins and needles in my fingers when I'm standing up there ready to speak, and I still feel like I'm going to make a complete idiot of myself in front of everyone but after a year and a half of presentations, I'm yet to totally fail. Each presentation gets a teeny bit easier. There was a turning point for me at the start of second year when I had an unexpected stand-up comedy crash course in a PR seminar (random, I know). Jojo Sutherland came in and terrified the shit out of all of us by giving us no choice but to chat to her (and hold eye contact which I've always struggled with). She talked to us about what we think about when we stand up to present or pitch, then somehow debunked every worry everyone had by reminding us that literally everyone in that room was worrying about public speaking. When we were up there panicking about what everyone would be thinking about us, everyone in the room was too busy worrying about their own presentations to judge. There's a level of mutual understanding that I'd never considered before. After that, she told us to get up and stand at the front of the room one by one, and do one minute of stand-up. I'm not kidding. She told us to talk about something we love or hate, for a minute straight with no silences and no "I don't know what to say"s. Don't worry about being funny or not, just talk for a minute. As soon as she said that I lost all feeling in my hands - legit almost got up and left the room - but I knew that if I did this, I'd be hella proud of myself. So I stood at the front of the room and told 30-ish people that I get emotional when I think about cats because I know that I won't be able to hug every cat in the world. That happened. Sat back down and Jojo told me I was "insane but in an endearing way". People laughed and I was on a wee high for the rest of the day. 

Public speaking is scary, of course it is. What gives me a little bit of comfort is the fact that the vast majority of people find public speaking scary too. When you're standing up there with your hands shaking so much you're struggling to read your notes, the person who presented before you is watching thinking about how they shook too. When you stumble over your words a bit, the person who's gonna present later is rooting for you to keep going, knowing that they'll be in your position soon. There's less judgement in that room than you think. To be honest, if I can get used to presenting, there's a very good chance you can too. 


17 January 2017

Evolution and all that

As mad as it sounds, I've been blogging here since August 2007. Whenever I see 2007 written down I'm automatically like "aw 3 years ago" but nope, 2007 was a decade ago. I feel very old. I started this blog 10 years ago as a wee 9 year old, wanting a place to write random rubbish and get my 9 year old opinions out. It was called "What I've Done Today" - pretty straight-forward cos I was 9 - and was literally just an account of what I did each day. I essentially used my blog as a diary but like the little internet-savvy kid I was, a physical paper diary was too old-school so I did it online. After a few years of What I've Done Today, this wee place became Life Through A Cat's Eyes, then Through A Cat's Eyes...then somehow I got featured in issue 494 of Shout! magazine and I kinda realised my blog could become more than an online diary. 

Now, I'm 19 (again, old as hell) and I've just done a re-brand and re-launch. Like I said to my mum the other day, "I'm hefty into yellow at the moment" so I went all yellow with it. Also got a new name - catseyes - and bought myself an actual legit domain. Feeling very profesh. I've been struggling to come back to blogging for quite a while now but this revamp has made me feel quite motivated so I'm really hoping to get back into the swing of things. I miss this place and the amazing people I've met through blogging over the years, and at the end of the day, I'm a media student, so maybe blogging isn't an awful idea.

Thanks for not totally giving up on me ♥
Catriona  (@catriona_hannah) 
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