How to Help Anxious Friends

In the year 2013, there were 8.2 million mental heath cases in the UK alone. One of the 8.2 million was probably a friend of yours – they may have openly told you about it, or you may have put two and two together yourself. Helping someone with anxiety can be hard if you have no experience in doing so, so here are some tips on showing that you’re there for them. 

 

Firstly, try to understand what “anxiety” actually is. Do your research and try to understand what your mate is going through! Every human being will come across a feeling of ‘anxiety’ in their lifetime, but someone who suffers the mental disorder of anxiety has an abnormally anxious response to some day to day situations which most people would find just fine.

AnixetyUK define an anxiety disorder as the following: “Anxiety is a normal response to stress or danger and is often called the ‘flight or fight’ response. This process involves adrenalin being quickly pumped through the body enabling it to cope with whatever catastrophe may come its way. The problems arise when this response is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation, or indeed is generated when there is no danger present.” 

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Secondly, check up on them. A simple text will mean a hell of a lot to them. Knowing you’ve got a friend there if you’re needing to talk is a great feeling as mental illness can cause a large sense of loneliness. Many people with a mental illness are reluctant to bother friends and family with their issues to prevent coming across as a burden, so if you text or call them first they won’t feel that way. Even if they don’t want to talk about anything, it’s nice to know someone is there and thinking of you.

As Charlie from Perks of Being a Wallflower says, “I’m both happy and sad at the same time and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Thirdly, still ask them out with you. Unfortunately, people with anxiety often don’t want to go out much, but the invite still means a lot. Even though you’re 90% sure they’ll decline, by still asking them it makes them feel wanted. Also, anxious people may need a bit more persuasion to go out – try to gently encourage them to come out with you if you know it is something they’ll probably enjoy, without pressuring them into it.

Fourthly, expect mood swings. Sometimes your friend will be on Cloud 9, other times they’ll be unbelievably sad and often they won’t actually know why. As Charlie says in Perks of Being a Wallflower, “I’m both happy and sad at the same time and I’m trying to figure out how that can be.”  There will be times when your anxiety-filled friend will just want to be off grid for a bit, other times they’ll be happy to come and socialise.

Fifthly, don’t ask obvious questions or say obvious comments. Some things can really sting for an anxious person. In my opinion, the worst ones are “What do you have to be anxious about?” – well this is the issue isn’t it, it wouldn’t be an anxiety disorder if I was anxious about normal things. Also, “Just be happy!” – if it was that bloody easy I would be but unfortunately my brain and thoughts aren’t currently letting me.

Lastly, try to be non-judgemental. As the video above shows, those ‘dramatic’ feelings they get are genuine. Anxiety can cause you to drown in your thoughts making the anxiety swallow you up. This is why people are reluctant to speak to people about how they’re feeling because they think people will think they’re being overdramatic – the more empathetic and approachable you are to your friend, the more likely they are to talk to you.

Overall, anxious people are sensitive beings and need a little extra looking after compared to some of your other friends. As well as the negative aspects of it, there are positives to being friends with an anxious person; they’re extremely thoughtful and very empathetic meaning they are great listeners. To distract them from their own anxieties, they like to help others. It’s not all that bad being friends with a nervous Nelly.

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“What’s More Important, Your Boobs or Your Life?”

Similar to Angelina Jolie, Grace Marshall and Lydia Hughes may have inherited the BRCA gene meaning they too need to consider major surgeries in the future…

Grace, a 21-year-old civil servant, and Lydia, a 20-year-old Lancaster university student, may have the BRCA2 gene meaning they have a lifetime cancer risk of 70%. Most women have a 12.5% lifetime risk.

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Grace (left) and Lydia (right)- Source: Facebook

Women with the BRCA2 gene need to consider major preventative surgery like mastectomies and hysterectomies which is a difficult decision to make, especially at the age of 20 and 21.

The BRCA gene (types one and two) are a genetic mutation that increases a person’s chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer in women, and breast and prostate cancer in men. The gene itself does not cause the cancer to occur; the BRCA mutation impairs the cell’s ability to repair DNA damage making it easier for a cell to become cancerous.

Grace’s mother and Lydia’s auntie, Diane, was diagnosed with cancer in 2001.  After a family history of breast cancer she was tested to see if she had the gene. Unfortunately, Diane did have the BRCA2 mutation, and soon after finding out, two of her three sisters found they had the gene too. This lead to their double mastectomies and hysterectomies.

Most young women are thinking about planning what holiday to go on next year, or what festival to go to, but that is different for girls like Lydia and Grace. They will soon have to decide when to take these genetic tests to find out if they have inherited this gene; and from that plan when and if to have preventive surgeries.

“When I was 18 my Mum didn’t want me to find out and I wasn’t bothered either way,” Grace said. “Now Mum’s like, ‘I think you’re mature enough to know’. At the end of the day, it is my choice.”

Lydia said, “I’m not going to have it now, so I’m not going to know. Because I’m not having it now I’m just going to continue as normal until I do have it. I feel like I know that these decisions are coming up but I don’t have to think about that until I have the test. It’s like it will become real if I do have it.”

Lydia currently plans on having the test in her late 20’s, whilst Grace said the only reason she has not had it yet was because she’s been busy, not because she is wanting to hold it off.

Lydia explained her reasoning for wanting to hold off  on having the test, “If i found out now then I have to make these decisions now, and I don’t want to because I’m 19 [at the time of the interview], living at uni, and just… that’s not what I want to think about.”

Despite the big decisions after having the genetic testing, Grace said nothing would stop her having the test done, “ I see my auntie Colette and Claire, they’ve had the gene and they’re fine, and I see my Mum who got the actual cancer and well… she’s not fine, but she’s lived for over ten years. If I do get it there are things to stop it, and if it is terminal, you can still live quite a lengthy life with it.”

Lydia also had quite an optimistic view on her chances of having the BRCA2 gene, “It doesn’t bother me because I knew my Mum (Colette) and auntie Claire had the gene and I know that there’s options so I can just have preventative surgery giving me the same chance as everyone else.”

People who have the BRCA2 gene have a 50/50 chance of passing it on to their children. When Lydia was asked if it would stop her having children she said, “No because I know how we have been growing up knowing this and I know that we have all been fine with it. I know by the time that we have kids, my Mum’s been telling me they’re finding new ways to treat it and flip the gene so it’s not mutated anymore, so by the time I have kids this might have come into fruition.”

However Grace had different thoughts, “If I did have it (the gene), I’d never have a child without making sure that the child wasn’t going to get it because I don’t want to pass it on anymore.”

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Finding out you may inherit a gene like the BRCA2 and deciding to have genetic testing to find out can be stressful for any young adult, and not everyone will have the same family support and positive outlook as Grace and Lydia’s.

From one young adult in this situation to another, Grace said, “I think if you are stressing about it you should find out. If it’s something that plays on your mind every day, then you need to know. Think about how many people have it, and how many people live with it, I don’t think it should be a thing that is hidden away from. There should be more of casual look on it. Sometimes it’s like the C bomb isn’t it?”

Lydia said, “Even though you do have a gene that puts you at a higher risk, it’s a blessing in disguise because then it opens the doors to so much more help. You’d get offered so many things, like counselling, and more screenings more regularly. We might have a higher chance of getting  cancer, but we have a higher chance of it being found early and treated properly.”

If you are struggling with finding out the results of your test, contemplating having the test done or you’re simply just wanting to know more about genetic mutations, go online to www.cancerresearchuk.org or go speak to your local GP.

The Darker Side to Student Life

People like to think of university as all fun and games, but when it comes down to reality, it’s not. Yes, we might get money given to us for three (or four) years, but it’s usually hardly enough to cover our rent. Yes, we might be able to sleep in until noon sometimes, but that’s because we were working on essays until 1AM the night before. 

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Students end up facing several new things when moving to univeristy – you become completely indepedent when just a few months ago you had zero to worry about.

Problem number 1Money

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In my first year of university I received a scholarship off the university for my A-Level grades that went straight into my pocket which massively helped me. Second year, I don’t receive a scholarship and I feel like I may need to sell a limb to get by this year.

An earlier study showed that financial stress was the most significant factor in triggering depression at university. The current financial stresses on students are significantly greater than they were at the time of the study! – studentsagainstdepression.org

Student loans are CRAP. Students who’s parents do not earn a lot get higher loans than student who’s parents earn more – the government do not take into account that just because a student’s parents aren’t badly off, does not mean they will fund their way through university. Students who get a bigger loan, are likely to have a bigger overdraft to dip into too. If you don’t end up in debt with your bank, you’ll end up in debt with your parents!

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Where students look to find extra money –  Source: savethestudent.org

Savethestudent.org conducted a survey that found that 78% of students that took part think student finance is unfair and that 80% worry about financially making ends meet, which effects their diet and grades. Students who struggle to get a job during university will turn to some extreme measures to earn some quick cash. One student on savethestudent.org said “I ate an entire flower for £20” … maybe stick to the normal jobs available guys.

Need help on budgeting? Click here for some advice!

Problem number 2 – Moving away from home

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Whether you’re an hour away, or a country away, the move is hard. One minute you have your mum cooking up a delicious roast dinner, next think you know you’re at uni and realizing you haven’t changed  your bed sheets in 5 weeks (oops).

People struggle with different aspects of the move; whether it’s taking responsibility for yourself and having to do adult things like food shopping and washing  up, or if it’s because all your close mates are dotted around different parts of the country.

It is well known that any such transition or change, however positive, entails a certain amount of stress. Indeed, for some students – especially international students – these changes can add up to what is known as ‘culture shock’. – studentsagainstdepression.org

Problem number 3 – Balancing everything

 

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If Ethan Hunt thinks he’s done mission impossible, then he obviously didn’t go to university. Trying to balance several different aspects of university is extremely difficult.

From trying to have a social life, but not getting behind on uni work to attending lectures but finding time to go food shopping or hit the gym, to wanting to go explore exciting things of the new city you’re living in to not spending outside of your means. It’s EXHASUSTING!

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 Problem 4 – Stress

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Stress is a very common things in university students; the University of Reading says there has been a 20% year-on-year increase in students wanting help from counsellors. Also, a nationally representative study of 1000 students found that 75% of them had suffered with some form of emotional distress whilst at university.

It’s easy to get stressed at university, whether it’s due to money or your work load, but it’s important to take care of yourself as too much stress can make you unwell and could effect your grades and lifestyle.

Particular stress points occur at the beginnings and ends of academic years, especially at the start and towards the end of the academic year. These times of increased stress can represent a tipping point when coping resources can become overwhelmed – a recent study found that student suicides more commonly occur at these times.  – studentsagainstdepression.org

Wanting to understand more about stress? Click here where you can take a test  to see how stressed you are, read about symptoms of  stress and advice on how to beat  it.

 

OK, so university isn’t all doom and gloom, but it’s important to understand the negative aspects of it too. As stressful as it can be, you’ll make new friends, you’ll create new memories and a large percentage of people I know who went to university describes it as “the best years of their lives”.

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Try make life easier for yourself by not doing an essay last minute, socialising a little more if you’re lonely, seeking consounselling if you’re stressed and/or depressed and finding money saving techniques to be able to afford experiencing the city you’re living in.

Enjoy the good times, and seek help if the bad times get too much! 

What I Thought of Bridget Jones’s Baby

Fifteen long years after the release of Bridget Jones’ Diary, Bridget Jones’s Baby is as hilariously fantastic as the previous films. From the array of cackles, hoots and guffaws I heard from the fully booked, estrogen filled cinema, I’d argue the majority of people agree with my high opinion of the film.  

The character, Bridget Jones, is known for representing every British women one way or another – which is why we love her. Whether it’s her on off relationship with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, her frequent social awkwardness or her lack of festival experience (wearing white jeans and kitten heels to a mud filled field is never a great idea), we can all relate in some way. I found my love of Bridget Jones doubled after watching Bridget Jones’s Baby and here’s why… 

Firstly, it’s f*cking hilarious (just “hilarious” doesn’t give it justice). From interrogating Jack Quant [Patrick Dempsey] about his love life live on telly, to attempting to pronounce an Indian chap’s rather long and unique name in front of Mark Darcy. My utter favorite line of the film was: “Glamping isn’t any better than camping just because you’ve added ‘gl’ in front of it, just like Gladolf Hitler would be no better.” Comedy genius.

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Secondly, it’s a ‘feel good’ film. Our beloved spinster finally gets a happy ending, and the journey there is really quite heart warming – silver fox Patrick Dempsey will definitely pull at your heartstrings. Jones goes from spending her 43rd birthday alone in her flat, to having two men fighting over her and a bun in the oven. Happy days!

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Source: marieclaire.co.uk

Lastly, the over all story line is great. Only Bridget Jones would get herself in the position of being knocked up and not know who the father is. Also it’s a different story line – Jones is going through a geriatric pregnancy, meaning pregnant women over 35 years old, that she is frequently reminded of (much to her dislike). It’s refreshing to watch a film about a middle aged women going through this process, as well as being [finally] successful in her career and possibly planning on being a single mother. Go Bridget.

This is what others thought of the film:  

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In celebration of the third Bridget Jones film, here’s some of the best quotes from the books and films to round off on:

  1. “Can I officially confirm that the way to a man’s heart these days is not through beauty, food, sex, or alluringness of character, but merely the ability to seem not very interested in him.”
  2. [Daniel Cleaver] “I spent the night with a gorgeous Thai girl who turned out to be a gorgeous Thai boy!”
  3. “Alcohol units: 5. Drowning sorrows. Cigarettes: 23. Fumigating sorrows. Calories: 3,856. Smothering sorrows in a fat duvet.”
  4. “I keep telling you nobody wants legs like a stick insect. They want a bottom they can park a bike in and balance a pint of beer on.”
  5.  “It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.”
  6. [Mark Darcy] “Bridget, will you stop? Stop staring at me while I’m asleep. Now, find something to do.”
  7. “What is it about mothers and the phone which, immediately you say you have to go, makes them think of nineteen completely irrelevant things they have to tell you that minute?”
  8. “Oh, God, I’m so lonely. An entire weekend stretching ahead with no one to love or have fun with. Anyway, I don’t care. I’ve got a lovely steamed ginger pudding from M&S to put in the microwave.”
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Sources: telegraph.co.uk, imbd.com, goodreads.com

Ten Things You Probably Didn’t Know About GBBO

It’s the end of summer and that means one thing only, the Great British Bake Off is back! From bread to biscuits, from cakes to pies; the baking competetion wins over the hearts of British viewers every year as we watch the contestants create fabulous bakes… and not so fabulous bakes.

Over these next few weeks, Mary Berry will become our surrogate grandmother, Paul Hollywood our ever-critical uncle and the contestants our long lost baking brothers and sisters. To celebrate GBBO’s 7th series, here’s a few facts you probably didn’t know:

  1. GBBO first premiered 17th August 2010, with an average of 2.77 million UK viewers whilst last years GBBO had 12.50 million UK viewers.

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  2. Series 1 was filmed at Fulham Palace, Series 2 at Valentines Mansion, Series 3 & 4 in Harptree Court and Series 5 to 7 in Welford Park.
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  3. In the 5th series, a number of viewers complained about the volume of innuendos used by presenters, Mel and Sue.

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  4. Over the 7 series, GBBO has won three BAFTAs, two National Television Awards and a Rose d’Or lifestyle award.

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  5.  This year, over 12,000 people applied to be a GBBO contestant. 300-400 applicants make it to the first audition, and only 50-60 people get to the second audition. The applicants to the show are assessed by a researcher, followed by an audition in London with two of their bakes. They then undergo a screen test and an interview with a producer. The second audition involves the applicants baking two recipes for judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood in front of the cameras.

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    Source: tv.bt.com
  6. The reason the contestants wear the same clothes all weekend, despite the programme being filmed over two days, is for continuity purposes; not just because they only own that one outfit.

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  7. You’ll be pleased to know the bakes don’t just go in the bin! Chief home economist Faenia Moore of GBBO said: “It all gets eaten, but in a controlled way. It’s important for the bakers to eat what they’ve slaved over, so after each challenge I make up a ‘baker’s basket’ to go to their lunchroom. Then any leftovers go to the crew lunch.”

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  8. Apparently, Paul has a strict ‘no cake ban’ in his day to day life, and only eats it when judging on GBBO.

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  9. There are international versions of GBBO such as The Great Australian Bake Off, Bake Off Brazil and The Great South African Bake Off. 

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    Source: dailymotion.com
  10. The filming takes up to 16 hours a day over the two days of baking!

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Well there you have it – there’s more than meets the eye to one of the UK’s most popular television shows.

Let’s hope difficult bread week goes well for the contestants next week!

Sources: wikipedia, bbcgoodgood.com & mentalfloss.com

Naked Selfies: Confidence Conveying or Just Overly Revealing?

We all know some celebrities love a good naked selfie (or nearly naked selfie), but the question is what is their motive behind such revealing pictures? To convey how confident they feel in their own skin, or to just be some eye candy for their millions and thousands of followers? Are these pictures really setting a good example for young women?

Culprit number 1: Kim Kardashian West

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Mrs Kardashian West is known for her raunchy photos. We all agree her figure is pretty phenomenal, but should a mum and wife really be revealing so much to so many people? (touche to her however for getting back in shape after two kids).

One Facebooker commented on Kim’s naked selfie saying: “If I would look like this I would not only photograph myself naked, I would run around with nothing on all day! Haters should shut the F up. Really. You wish you looked like that,” whilst the next comment is, “Lol kim just can’t stop hoein” – so it’s safe to say there’s quite a divide in opinions on the matter.

Kim’s photo captions range. The naked professionally taken photo captions “#liberated”, showing her confidence, whilst the naked blonde bombshell photo captions, “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL”, arguably trying to cause controversy and gain attention.

The positive outcome of Kim’s photos is embracing more curvaceous bodies… other than that, it’s slightly too ‘X rated’ for me. Discretion has never been her strong point.

When asking my twitter followers on the topic of naked selfies, many felt people do it to be eye candy and come across sexy, rather than liberate women to be confident.

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Culprit number 2: Miley Cyrus 

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In recent years, it seems Miss Cyrus has forgotten what bra is. The once child star has removed the Hannah Montana wig… along with the majority everything else. It’s likely the Wrecking-ball singer, who once had to be a role model to kids, is simply rebelling now  she’s no longer a Disney actress.

From fake boob leotards on stage, to stark naked wrecking-balling, Miley’s rarely seen in a normal pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Cyrus is known for promoting “freedom” and so on, but maybe just a little too much of Miley’s flesh has been freed.

If you’re planning to rebel any time soon, I don’t recommend you follow Miley’s example unless you want to give your parents a heart attack – maybe just “running away” and sitting on your street corner for half an hour would be more appropriate.

I asked girls similar to my own age how they felt about so much nudity on social media & what example it sets for young women:

“I don’t think it sets a good example for young girls. Kim K and Kylie get more attention for putting naked selfies on social media & they know they get attention from doing it. They should promote themselves in a more productive ways, showing girls a positive way of getting attention.” Olivia McKell, 21

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“I think it shows more confidence to be honest, especially when it’s Kim who is rather curvy showing girls it’s okay to have boobs and a big bum rather than be a stick. When I saw Kim’s naked selfie, I just thought ‘Jesus she’s got some balls’.” Chloe Kendrick, 19

“It can go both ways. If things are sleezy and for men, then it’s eye candy, but then I could argue if men have the right to be topless then why can’t women? If they’re confident enough to show themselves off then I think it’s empowering because  it’s giving everyone the right to be confident in themselves.” Abbie Saul, 20

“I think it’s sometimes putting too much pressure on girls these days to want to have that  ‘perfect’ body, when the truth is celebs have probably spent a fortune on themselves to look like that, or by photoshopping pictures. Kudos to the celebs who work hard for it though.” Marie Bibat, 20 

“I feel like there are some things you should keep for yourself and your partner. I couldn’t stand having my naked butt all over the internet. Keep it a bit of mistery, you know?” Ana Iliescu, 20

 

I’m all for promoting being  confident in your own skin, it’s extremely important to be! However, some of these naked pictures (by other celebrities as well as Kardashian West and Cyrus), add to the pressure young girls face of having to be ‘sexy’. Don’t feel pressured into being someone you’re not, and showing things you don’t want to. You can show confidence with your clothes on, just ask constant clothes wearer, Beyoncé .

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July 2016: The Month of Terror and Hatred

One hundred and sixty five. That’s how many incidents of terrorism and hate crimes have taken place cross the globe all in the small space of 4 weeks. From Bangladesh, to France, from Iraq to Japan – terror is sadly becoming apart of our daily lives.

Whether it’s a single life taken or 300+, innocent people’s lives are being lost at the drop of a hat. The question on everyone’s minds is who and where is next? These are just a few of the many devastating things that have taken place this month – some of which you probably didn’t even know happened.

Evil attacks the weakest,” – Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

01/07/16 Dhaka, Bangladesh:

“Islamic militants” opened fire in a local bakery. They were armed with machetes, pistols, & crude bombs as well as taking hostages (both locals and tourists). 29 people were killed, including 20 of the hostages taken and two police officers. 50 were also injured.

02/07/16Jalalabad, Afghanistan:

A suicide bomber on a motorcycle targeted a tribal leader. The blast of the bomb killed two civilians and injured 18. This was suspected to be done by the Taliban.

03/07/16 Baghdad, Iraq:

During Ramadan, one of the five Pillars of Islam, “Islamic State” conducted coordinated bombings across Baghdad consisting of a car bomb and a roadside bomb. The attack killed more than 300 people, injured more that 225. This incident is the second worst bombing attack in Iraq following the 2007 Yazidi communities bombings.

04/07/16Saudi Arabia:

In the space of one day, three suicide bombing attacks took place in Saudi Arabia; one in Jeddah, one in Qatif and one in Medina. All the attacks were conducted by so-called “Islamic State”. In Jeddah and Qatif there were no fatalities other than the bombers themselves, but in Medina 4 civilians were killed and five were wounded.

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05/07/16Um al-Housh, Syria:

“Islamic State” kidnapped 40 people and killed them all after they tried to escape.

 

Terrorism is a psychological warfare. Terrorists try to manipulate us and change our behavior by creating fear, uncertainty, and division in society.” – Patrick J. Kennedy

07/07/16Balad, Iraq:

At least 56 people were killed and around 75 injured after “Islamic State” stormed Mausoleum of Sayid Mohammed bin Ali al-Hadi, a holy place for Shia Muslims. The militants set off car bombs, had suicide bombers on foot and several gunmen as well. The Shia pilgrims were celebrating Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan.

14/07/16Nice, France:

As crowds celebrated Bastille day, a 19 tonne truck ploughed through the crowds watching the fireworks on Promenade des Anglais. Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel killed 84 people and left 303 injured.

16/07/16Tal Abta, Iraq:

Five people were burned alive in a cage by “Islamic State” after being accused of spying and working with Iraqi police.

17/07/16 Louisiana, USA:

Gavin Long, a man linked with organizations to do with black separatism and the the sovereign citizen movement (who the FBI class as “domestic terrorists”), shot six police officers. Three of the officers who were shot died.

As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” – Nelson Mandela

19/07/16Nampala, Mali:

This attack was an armed assault against the Malian Army base. 17 government soldiers were killed and 35 were seriously injured. Three different groups claimed joint responsibility for the attack; Macina Liberation (a Mali based Islamic militant group), Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (who aim to overthrow the Algerian government to create an Islamic state) and the ethic Peul militant group (‘National Alliance for the Protection of the Peul Identity and the Restoration of Justice’).

22/07/16Munich, Germany

An 18-year-old boy (Ali David Sonboly) opened fire in the Olympia shopping mall killing ten people and injuring 35. He later shot himself in the head – his motives are still under investigation by German police.

23/07/16Kabul, Afghanistan: 

Shia Islamists (an ethnic minority in Afghanistan) were protesting against the ‘Afghanistan: Energy Supply Improvement Investment Program’ and their mega power project when a twin bombing occurred by “Islamic State” killing 80 people and injuring 260. The attack was the deadliest attack in Kabul since 2001.

26/07/16Sagamihara, Japan 

19 people were killed and 26 others injured when  Satoshi Uematsu conducted mass stabbings in a care home for disabled people. He believed that it should be legal to kill people with severe disabilities.

27/07/16Qamishli, Syria 

Today, a terrorist detonated a van bomb killing 44 civilians and injuring 170 at checkpoint.

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In the process of writing this piece, I had to frequently edit it changing the number of attacks that have happened. That’s how quickly & often these things are taking place.

Sadly, there is negative connotation around Muslims in general due to the horrific acts of some groups. Please remember, as proven above, that “Islamic State” and other similar groups target their killings on other Muslims too.

The world is becoming an ugly place and change needs to happen. Countries must unite to fight against terrorism and hate crimes together. 

 

Sources: wikipedia.com, bbc.co.uk/news, onepeopleoneworld.net, brainyquotes.com, iamsyria.org, wholesomewords.org and dailymail.co.uk

Embracing Curves

We now live in an extremely judgmental society controlled by influences by social media, porn and photoshop. This causes girls, like myself, to be highly critical towards themselves after looking at girls in magazines that are completely airbrushed and photoshopped into looking ‘perfect’. No wonder 725,000 people in 2015, in the UK alone, were affected by an eating disorder. 

However, curves became more into fashion when the likes of Kim Kardashian-West became more and more famous for her rather spectacular rear. People like Kim caused people to realise curves are pretty damn sexy. However, Mrs Kardashian-West can afford to get perfectly fitted Balmain clothes whilst I’m in Topshop jumping up and down in the changing rooms trying to slide my jeans over my thighs. Kate Moss once said, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”… she’s obviously never tried Millie’s Cookies.

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As you can see, a thigh gap has never really been my forte. From a young age I’ve had chunky legs, partly inherited through genetics of muscly legs, partly because salad is the devil. (p.s those sunglasses of mine were VERY cool at the time.) Then compared to now, I still have my thick thighs which I’m slowly becoming to accept.

I think every teenage girl goes through body image issues coming to terms with the fact they don’t like things about themselves; whether it’s because of having small boobs, bad skin, chunky thighs or whatever. But bigger bodies have started to be embraced in the media recently.

Example 1) Ashley Graham 

28-year-old american, Ashley Graham, weighs 14 stone and pulls it off brilliantly. This year, Graham became the first ever plus size model to be on the front cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. She speaks openly about body image; she’s spoken on television about it, to newspapers and even goes into high schools to speak to students about it. For more pictures of Ashley, follow her on instagram! (@theashleygraham).

2) Iskra Lawrence 

Stunning Iskra Lawrence is size 14 and an English “plus size” model taking the world by storm. She is the managing editor at Runway Riot, a website meant to be an outlet for women of all shapes and sizes to learn about glamour. Iskra refuses to have any of her instragram pictures retouched in anyway, to see for yourself check out her page: @iamiskra.

3) Robyn Lawley 

Australian size 12 beauty, Robyn Lawley, has done covers for big magazines like Italian Vogue, Elle France, GQ and Cosmopolitan Australia. Also, in June 2013, Robyn was awarded Model of the Year during the Full Figured Fashion Week showing that curvy models don’t go unnoticed! To see more of Robyn, follow her on instagram: @robynlawley.

I have utter most respect for the Kendall Jenner’s and Bella Hadid’s out there, but us Ashley Graham’s of the world need some more confidence in knowing we can be equally as sexy as all the hot Victoria’s Secret models! Embrace your body, whether you’re a size 8 or 18.

Sources: healthyceleb.com, b-eat.co.uk & iskralawrenceblog.tumblr.com

Sticking Out the 5:2 Diet

Summer is just around the corner, and people like myself have realised they want to shed their “winter coat” for holidays. 6 weeks in and half a stone down, this is the most successful diet I’ve done and actually stuck at. 

What is the 5:2 diet, I hear you ask? Also know as the ‘fast diet’, it  consists of fasting twice a week and only consuming 500 calories (600 calories for men) whilst other days eating normally. Ok, I’m not going to lie to you and say eating 500 calories a day is easy, because it’s definitely not, but over time it becomes part of your routine! It all comes down to how badly you want it. Finding some form of motive is always a good idea – what I did was buy a £70 Victoria’s Secret bikini for the holidays I have coming up that was slightly too small for me. I wasn’t up for throwing £70 down the toilet, so that was my personal motive.

Something I should point out is the first couple of pounds are a bit of a bastard to shift. It took two or three weeks for me to notice the numbers dropping on the scales, and staying down. Just stick it out and be patient! Apparently, on average you should be losing around 1 lb a week. Don’t think that’s much? This is what a pound of fat looks like against a pound of muscle:

fat
Source: novemberchallenge.com

 

Pros to the diet

Anyone who knows me will agree when I say I may just possibly be the world’s fussiest eater; so if you’re a salad hating, chocolate lover like me, this diet can still work. Due to it being so little calories only twice a week, it’s bearable. You don’t have to stuff your face with avocado and kale on a daily basis. Winner! There a several books with recipe ideas if you’re struggling for inspiration, such Dr Michael Mosley & Mimi Spencer’s ‘The Fast Diet‘.

fat 2
Source: dietspotlight.com

It’s easy to work around. It’s good to get into a routine of what days you’ll do it, helps become a normal part of your week, but for example if you know you have dinner with friends on Friday when you usually do your fast day, just can just swap the fast day for a day more suitable for you.

If you’re already a gym goer, that will work massively in your favor! Anything to assist the diet in burning calories is always a good idea.

You don’t have to calorie count on your non-fast days. Hooray! No one enjoys the ball ache of calorie counting and constantly weighing out food. But bare in mind, if you’re having dominoes or take away Chinese twice a week on your normal days… it’s not going to work very well. Eat normally but not stupidly.

In the long run, it will shrink your appetite on normal days. You’ll find yourself craving less and less unhealthy foods and feel full & satisfied a lot quicker. This means you’ll lose the weight and hopefully keep it off too.

Cons to the diet

It’s difficult. Like I mentioned earlier, you have to be motivated and genuinely be up for sticking with it. The diet days can be quite grueling, especially if you’re used to eating a particularly large amount.

You don’t realise the calories in things until you’re on your diet day. In a crumpet alone there’s 98 calories which is almost 1/5 of your daily fast intake… for one bloody crumpet. Be wise with what you eat – eat wholesome foods with a low calorie count but will keep you full. ‘MyFitnessPal’ app became my best friend on fast days. It has a great feature where you can scan the bar code of the thing you’re going to eat to save you having to input all the details of it.

There may be side effects of intermittent fasting. These may include:

  • difficulties sleeping
  • bad breath (a known problem with low carbohydrate diets)
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • dehydration
  • daytime sleepiness

boo

For me, I have only noticed daytime sleepiness due to the fact I don’t get many sources of energy throughout the day from eating so little. From the perspective of someone who suffers with anxiety, I have not notice a particular increase in mine since going on the diet.

A top tip to get you through your fast days would be to not do it on a day you have loads going on. You’ll get drained extremely easily! On the other hand don’t do it on a day your literally doing nothing because you’ll just sit around thinking about how damn hungry you are. Try keep yourself occupied enough so you’re not constantly thinking about food, but not so occupied you’re knackered by lunchtime.

 

 

Sources: transformfxfitness, nhs.uk, giphy

 

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