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Is Your Mind Consuming Poison?

The hard truth about the impact of what you're consuming on your mental health and how to flip it to create the life you want

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Photo by Marc Schaefer on Unsplash

I spent many years hating my body. I was striving for a body and size that wasn’t me. I put this down to what I was seeing in the media (magazines and TV ads in those days) and what was surrounding me in society. I compared myself to others, those deemed attractive by conventional standards. In school, people would describe good-looking girls as ‘perfect’. I remember finding this confusing because I knew that could never be true. No human is perfect. When I think about life now versus then, being a teenager was pretty difficult and I have certainly come a long way. I have learned through time, to love myself and my body. I have also learned that the most attractive thing on earth is someone who loves themselves. I promise you. But this takes serious time and serious effort.

Industries make money from our insecurities. Read that again. Companies make billions of dollars. The makeup industry is worth approx. $532bn. The fake tan, teeth whitener, extensions, diet pills, anti-ageing creams, botox, hair remover, and the list goes on, and on, and on. The energy, time and money we spend on aesthetics (guilty) but for this one little piece of us. We are so much more than what we look like. In the first-world culture, we are obsessed with our looks, other people’s looks, and most of all how other people think we look. Some of the most visually attractive people I know are the most unhappy. Never envy someone because they are more physically ‘attractive’ than you. Everyone is going through a battle of their own. Don’t be so naive, life is not easy for anyone, no matter what it looks like on the outside or especially, their Instagram.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone knows I love my makeup. Doing my brows is a big thing, heck I even brush them to get that glorious ‘bushy’ effect. I will say though, I have probably halved the time I spend each day on makeup. Shockingly, I don’t care that much about how I look to other people anymore. It’s very freeing actually. I realised people like being around me for my personality, isn’t that nice? I recently moved from London to Berlin, which has taught me a lot. People here care a lot more about who you are as a person over what you wear, look like or what designer handbag you own. They are busy rolling their cigarette or saving the planet, one biodegradable plastic bag at a time.

There are many dimensions to human beings. We are fascinating creatures with onion-like layers in our minds. These incredible, complex creations are something we should try to understand in the best way. I can’t stress enough, the importance of understanding and taking care of your mind. It’s not like you can escape it. You’re stuck with this mind forever so make it a happy place. If you’re partying hard and ‘living your best life’ but the alcohol and drugs are giving you anxiety, get rid of them. You will be blown away at what this will do for your happiness and in a short space of time. There are some incredible books to support you on this, I would start with one of those, dip your toe in and at least learn about what life would be like without these substances. We all are intelligent creatures with something completely unique to offer and I firmly believe that happiness is created from within.

One of my pet peeves is the diet culture, along with the bull that comes hand in hand with it in the health and fitness industry. Many ‘fitness influencers’ out there show you a very unrealistic life. You know, the ones who wear bright matching gym gear and have flawless hair and makeup constantly. They are not real hun. If it’s a healthy happy life you want, they are not the people to follow or look to for ‘inspiration’ or worse, ‘thinspiration’ (my god). Want to learn more about food and nutrition? Follow a qualified nutritionist. Want to know more about exercise? Follow qualified trainers or athletes who have a clue. Not those who carelessly bounce around in front of their mirrors taking selfies and promoting all the freebies they get. How did this ever become a thing? Perfect lashes, makeup or hair and matching gym gear will not make you healthy or happy. Their photos are altered and photoshopped to death. I literally can’t. A lot of these individuals are struggling themselves, hence the constant search for validation.

It’s often not social media that’s the problem, it’s how we use it and who we choose to look at. It can be used in many good ways to create a community for people with specific interests, of course. Do yourself a favour though, and unfollow any single account that doesn’t make you feel good. Be ruthless sis, even if they’re someone you know, heck maybe they are even a friend or colleague. If it doesn’t serve you, there’s no room for it in your life. Bye Felica.

Ever see something on Instagram or on reality tv and wonder why suddenly you feel down? Ever have a dream about someone random and then remember the day before someone dropped their name into a conversation? Numerous cognitive neuroscientists have discovered that 95% of brain activity is beyond our conscious awareness. There have been many studies that revealed only 5% of our cognitive activities (decisions, emotions, behaviour) is conscious whereas the remaining 95% is generated in a non-conscious manner. Weird right? Anxiety usually stems from something that’s bothering you deep within the subconscious. There are so many ways to manage our minds to then become happier, more productive and successful you just have to do some research, find them and turn them into habits. It takes curiosity, repetition and discipline.

We need to take accountability for our wellbeing and be extremely selective about what we consume. Unpopular opinion: STOP watching Love Island and all that absolutely mindless reality TV (yes the Kardashians too). It is not good for you. Do you think Martin Luther King sat at home watching reality TV? There is so much incredible content out there, so much to learn that will enrich your life in countless ways. Try listening to a Podcast or a TedTalk in the morning before work, it’s a simple few minutes that can change your day and your mindset completely. I believe the first hour is the most important time in your day to create the right headspace to thrive. Do it for a week and I promise you will feel it. You can literally transform your life with this method or even by reading a book that speaks to you. I understand, however, escapism is needed. Of course, it is, especially in the world we live in. I love camping up with some ice cream and a good movie but only really when I feel I have earned it. Too much time spent wasting our lives watching TV can be detrimental to our success, health and happiness. The time we might use to watch bad TV or scroll through social is when the elite are head down working on their empire, creating vision boards or strategies, sorting out their finances, working out at the gym, meditating, learning a new language or craft, reading a motivational book, writing, planning etc. There are so many other great ways to unwind and relax, perhaps a nice hot bubble bath with a good audiobook or some relaxing music.

There is so much going on out there that we need to at least be talking about if nothing else. The Amazon forest is literally burning down, homes and hospitals are being bombed with children inside, Muslims in China are having their organs harvested on the black market, families are jumping into rubber boats with their kids and sailing into the abyss in search of a better future, black people in the US are being shot and killed for none other than the colour of their skin, women across the world are fighting for basic rights and education, and yet people are concerned about what Kim Kardashian had for breakfast or who dissed who on the Real Housewives this week. We sit wondering why the world is the way it is. We wonder why we are not happy and always reaching, why we are unfulfilled, why we are not getting promoted, not progressing in our lives.. has the penny dropped yet? Use your voice. We are all responsible here.

The point I am trying to make is this, we all have the same amount of hours in the day. The same as Richard Branson, Oprah, Greta Thunberg, Serena Williams. Some of the most successful people out there and even world-changing leaders started from nothing. Oprah got fired from her first job because she was ‘unfit for television news’. There is really no excuse good enough for achieving what you want to achieve. The difference is down to the choices you make. How you invest your time. What you feed your mind and your body. How you take care of yourself. Who you surround yourself with. Your habits. Take a step back (even go away solo for a weekend). Go on a retreat by yourself, it will be the best money you will ever spend.

Ask yourself:

Are you are going in the direction you desire with your life?

Is your environment the right one for you to flourish?

Are the people surrounding you good for your growth? Do they empower you?

Is your job fulfilling? (or are you breaking your back to line the pockets of some rich guy you’ve never even met?)

If the answer is no to any of the above, change something now. We are not getting any younger and time is our most precious asset. Tiny changes will eventually lead to something big and probably great. If you need to skip the country (like I did) for some creative headspace, do it. You don’t need loads of money, you don’t need to know what you want to be when you ‘grow up’. You’ll figure it out along the way.

Try new things that make you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself what is the worst that can happen?

Embrace the feeling of fear, it won’t hurt you. In order to reach something, you have to first go through it.

P.S. Steve Jobs’ biological father was a Syrian refugee.

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    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

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