Led by your dreams

It’s easy to get wrapped up in problems, in heartache, and in hardship. But they don’t need to define our life, even if they are a daily burden. Dreams and hopes coupled with perseverance are where the future lies, and happiness too. Let those guide you, revive you and empower you, especially in the tougher times. Don’t let the tough times get the best of you.

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Free yourself

It’s tempting to lock away our past, our sorrows, our mistakes. But we shouldn’t hang onto them like a burden. We shouldn’t be ashamed of them at all. If we try to bury them too far, they begin to pollute us from the inside and eventually overpower us. But if we slowly set them free, let them go or accept them for what they are, we can be free too. They’ll no longer define us, but guide us. They can serve more purpose than we realise.

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What we consume


We are constantly consuming, whether consciously or unintentionally. We listen to people’s thoughts and beliefs and we soak up different energies. We are inspired by the world around us and find examples in those we look up to. We take in people’s opinions and place their expectations on our shoulders. We are spurred into action by other people’s actions and words. They’re all influencing us and create our perspectives. We need to be aware of what we’re absorbing and what we’re overlooking, by how much and in what light. What we consume defines the courses we take.

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Three things we shouldn’t let stop us


There are so many obstacles we let determine our path. But many of them are much more obstacles of our own perception than obstacles of reality. There are some that we shouldn’t always view so pessimistically, because rather than stopping us, they can actually push and encourage us forward:

  1. Scars – When our trust is broken, when our confidence is shattered, when our love is fractured, scars settle on our skin to remind us of our heartbreak, sadness and anxiety. But we shouldn’t let the past pollute what is to come. And we shouldn’t let the past force us into hiding. Look at your scars as a guide and keep going.
  2. Failure – It’s pretty much human nature to be afraid of making mistakes. We have a warped sense that they mean we’re not good enough. And when we’re not good at something, we tend to steer clear of it, because we don’t want to look bad. But our failures are the pieces to our success puzzle. Look at your failure as a test and persevere.
  3. Criticism – Although there are people who intentionally try to bring us down, there are also people who try to help us grow and better ourselves and our actions. We shouldn’t be too sensitive to constructive criticism, because it’s such a useful tool to gain insight and perspective we cannot give ourselves. Look at another’s criticism as a blessing and carry on.

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How to Combat Stress

Stress quote

In my opinion, one of the greatest downfalls in human nature is taking things too seriously, and that’s understandably so. We want the best for ourselves and our families, and when we fail at something or we can’t keep up, we put pressure on ourselves; pressure not only to do better, but pressure not to be failures. We dread being failures, even for the littlest things, which at that moment seem to be the be-all-or-end-all. Stress seems to be a natural part of life, invading our work life, our school life, our family life, and our friendships. And I’m sure many of you know that it is not a nice feeling or one that is healthy. So here are some simple reminders and ways to combat the stress that overwhelms our daily lives:

There is a light at the end of the tunnel… 

Things that stress you out won’t last forever. And however it goes, you will be able to pick yourself up again; you will succeed and be happy if you believe it and work for it.

Create an action plan…

Do not ignore the problem that is causing you stress, or try to numb your stress by drinking or smoking, because that is not going to make the problem go away in the long run (and you’ll have developed an unhealthy habit). Identify the problem, and create a step-by-step guide to solving what is making you stressed; and this includes emotional action plans, because not all problems are in our control. Be realistic with what you can do in one day, and do one thing at a time. Every time you accomplish something, give yourself a pat on the back. Every step is as important as the end result, and every little thing you accomplish will give you the motivation to do more and to continue feeling better. If something is left unfinished, do not focus on that, but focus on everything you have done.

Positivity is the best ingredient…

Focus on the positive things in your life, and note that the things that are making you stressed a) will not be there forever, b) do not need to determine how you look at your life and c) should not determine how you look at your life. You only have one life; do not give up, just change your perspective. Also, surround yourself with positive and supportive people, and positive vibes such as quotes around your house or your desk to help you.

Remember that failure is not always a bad thing…

Many people feel stressed because they are scared of failing at something, such as an exam or an important meeting, and therefore scared that they will ruin their whole life, so they put a lot of pressure on themselves. If things don’t work out, there is always a chance to be happy, there is always another opportunity, and there is always another path to get to where you want to go. You just have to persevere.

Learn to say ‘No’…

The word ‘Yes’ is good in a lot of cases, but if you have too much on your plate, those tasks that don’t need to be done specifically by you need to be kept off of your to-do list. Overcommitting yourself will not help you or whoever you are trying to help. Keep your priorities straight.

Get active…

Exercising such as running, swimming, boxing etc. can really help one to flush those frustrations out of your system, and to increase the endorphins that make you happy. Additionally, you can let your feelings out by talking to someone or writing them down. Anything to relieve them and keep you from bottling them up and having them explode later.

The importance of me-time…

The problem causing you stress can feel overwhelming, like it follows you everywhere. In addition to your plan of action, take time away from the problem doing something you love and enjoy, and make sure that you push away any thoughts about those stressful problems because this is time that you’ve designated away from it. Watch your favourite TV programme, or take a bath, anything to relax you and make you smile.

Get enough sleep…

Problems only seem worse when you’re tired and they seem less accomplishable to solve. Some ways to help you sleep include having no technology at least half an hour before bed or having a bath. If you feel those stressful feelings coming on, talk to someone about them or write them down in a journal, so that you can tell yourself that you’ve already been through your worries today, and now it is time to be calm and get some rest. Remember to reflect on all the good things that have happened and the things you have accomplished that day. Finishing the day on a positive note is the best policy.

Advice on Dealing with Bullying


Last week in the UK, 14 year old Hannah Smith hanged herself after receiving abusive messages on the ask-and-answer social networking forum, Ask.fm. Although this tragedy attracted a lot of media and government attention (which is good), Hannah Smith’s death is not the only young suicide to have been caused by bullying.

I think it is important for everyone – children, teenagers, and adults, whether they have experienced, witnessed, been affected by, or have only heard of bullying – to understand that bullying, whether virtual or face-to-face, whether intentional or as a ‘joke’, can have serious consequences and cannot be brushed under the carpet as being a normal part of growing up. People take their lives because of it. It is everybody’s responsibility to counteract bullying. No child, or adult, should have to face such torment in their everyday lives. So if you are being bullied, have a friend who is being bullied, or you are the one bullying, here is some information and advice for those dealing with bullying. Please share these with others and take them onboard yourself, because every person, including you, deserves to feel safe and happy.

To clarify, bullying is

… generally repeated behaviour which is used to deliberately hurt someone emotionally or physically through the misuse of power, for example making that person feel worthless, feel bad about themselves, feel scared to go to school etc.

… behaviour that can be verbal (use of words; insults, teasing etc.), physical (hitting, kicking, spitting etc.), social (ignoring, excluding someone etc.), psychological (emotional manipulation, spreading rumours etc.), or cyberbullying (use of technology; sending abusive messages via internet, SMS etc.) – all these are valid and as bad as one another; no type of bullying is ok

… something that can no longer be avoided at home, especially due to cyberbullying

never justifiable

… not only limited to school and children. Adults can experience bullying in the workplace, in friendship groups, and within the family

What to always remember if you are being bullied…

… you are beautiful, strong, and special. You are whoever you want to be, do not let others tell you otherwise. You do not deserve to be bullied, to feel scared or bad about yourself. The end to bullying is not death, but to stand up for yourself because you deserve to feel safe and happy, and to be whoever you want to be. Everyone has their faults and differences, they are what make us unique and special; it does not mean you deserve to be bullied

it is not your fault. A lot of the time, bullying is to do with the bully themselves; they have their own insecurities and may be jealous of something you have (for example they can see you are smart or confident or have nice clothes etc.), so they project their feelings onto you in order to make them feel better about themselves. They need to create a sense power of you and make you feel inferior to feel less threatened and less insecure themselves

you are the bigger and better person. That bully will not get far in life because people value friendship, teamwork, positivity, looking out for others etc. Do not let that bully change you

there are people who love you. Do not tell yourself that nobody appreciates you or sees the good parts of you because you are being bullied. There are people in your life who value your friendship, and care about you. Even if it feels like nobody is on your side, there is always someone to listen or help you. Stick with positive people, even if its just a couple; you don’t have to be the most popular or have loads of friends to feel loved.

What to do if you are being bullied…

tell someone – ignoring the bully can be effective because if the bully sees that you are not reacting or retaliating, they will eventually get bored. It is not worth bringing yourself down to their level. But at the same time, you must stand up for yourself. If the bullying is overwhelming and making you feel scared or depressed, if ignoring the bully is not helping, or if you feel brave enough to stop this behaviour to help others too, tell someone you trust or you know will help – a friend to be an ally and to get your feelings off your chest, a parent, a teacher, a national helpline (easily found on the internet), anybody. Do not suffer in silence, do not wait for someone to notice, do not think that this is normal or justified, do not put up with it because your afraid it will make you more unpopular or a snitch, do not bottle up all the feelings, and do not deal with it alone. You deserve better than this torment.

do not retaliate violently, because this only puts you to their level and could get you into trouble – a response like this shows the bully that he has power over you. I think it is ok to speak up and stand up for yourself, but remain calm and positive

do not ally with or give into the bullyremain kind and friendly because nobody can use that against you. Do not begin bullying others to avoid being bullied yourself, or start gossiping and backstabbing others because that will make you as bad as the bully and could make someone hurt as much as you

stay true to yourself – don’t hide yourself or let the bully’s words or violence stop you from being who you are and doing the things you love. Use those mean comments and your anger to fuel your desires and dreams. Success is the best revenge, and it can be as simple as trying your best to achieve at school; happiness and success is the way of showing the bullying that they do not have power over you and their actions do not define who you are

find a hobby or activity that you can pursue outside the home and school, where you can meet some new people – this will take you away from the situation and your own thoughts about it, which will alleviate stress and give you more perspective and confidence. There are good people and life is worth enjoying

… stay clear of negative people, stay positive, be around positive people, and focus on the positives in your life – your family, your friends, your dreams, your grades etc. Not everything has to be perfect. Make a habit of complimenting others, which will make you and the other person feel good. If you are being physically bullied, try to avoid being alone

if you are being cyberbullied, in addition to the above, do not give personal information to anyone except friends and those who are trustworthy, block any users who are sending abusive messages, but do not delete any of the abusive messages because they can be used as evidence

If you are the bully

Think about what you are saying. One way to do this is by putting yourself in their shoes. Would you want someone to say that about you? Everybody is equal, nobody is better or worse than someone else if they try to do what is right. Bullying someone can make them feel fearful, have low self-esteem, create health problems such as anorexia, anxiety, or depression. It can even lead to suicide. Bullying is not a joke and is not justifiable; bullying is always wrong. Sincerely apologise to the people you have bullied, so that you can move on

… you are not only harming the person you are bullying but yourself too. You will never have real friends or true respect if you bully people. You will suffer in work life and relationships because you haven’t learnt to empathise with others, you cannot work in a team etc. To help yourself, as well as other people, stop bullying. If you feel the urge to bully, talk to someone about it and let them help you turn those emotions into positive ones. Surround yourself with positive people, and do not entertain or breed negativity

If you witness bullying…

do not go along with it just because you are afraid of being bullied too, even if its gossiping about someone or laughing at a bully’s comments. Although you may not be initiating it, watching it happen or involving yourself in bullying makes you responsible too. Don’t let the bully’s actions define how you see that person who is being bullied. Tell someone about the bullying and ask of anonymity. You could even stand up to the bully yourself, because the chances are that others around you will follow

Tips for Keeping Motivated


Taylor Swift said in Vanity Fair’s April 2013 magazine interview: “I’m the type of person, I have to study to get an A on the test, I have to work really hard to get a record deal – I have to spend years at it to get it good. I have to practice to be good at the guitar. I have to write 100 songs before you write the first good one.” It is comforting to know that someone with seven Grammys, and who is the only female artist to have three consecutive albums at No. 1 on the Billboard 100 for six weeks or more, has to work hard. She’s ordinary. It didn’t happen overnight. She had to work to get to where she is. It reminds us that all success worth having is the type of success you have to work for. Working hard is part of the journey and its what makes the outcome so great.

We all have to do little, and most possibly mundane, things to get to where we want to go, whether it’s just to pass a test or to achieve a life goal. And sometimes it can be hard to keep motivated, especially if it’s something you don’t particularly enjoy or you know it’s going to be a long task. So here are some tips for getting and staying motivated:

  • Get enough sleep – I would say at least 8 hours if you want to get a day’s work in.
  • When you wake up, get in the shower and get dressed – this will rejuvenate you and it will automatically make you feel ready to face the day with energy!
  • Eat a good breakfast – after all, it is the most important meal of the day!
  • Work in an area that is clean, and devoid of all clutter and distractions.
  • If you’re working towards a big goal, break it down into more achievable sections to make it more manageable and seem more accomplishable – you have to be able to believe you can do it!
  • Make a checklist of everything that you want to accomplish that day – but be reasonable! Not only will this keep you organised, but it’s also very satisfying to cross things off once you’ve completed them. The more you cross off, the more you want to cross off everything else, which spurs you to complete task after task. When the day is over, you really get a sense of how much you’ve done and you can then reward yourself for having accomplished what you wanted. At the same time, be positive and don’t beat yourself up if you are not able to complete everything; learn from it and make a more manageable checklist the next day!
  • Do one thing at a time, rather than starting a load of things at the same time – this will assure you that things are getting done!
  • Reward yourself – not only will this give you something to look forward to but it will also let your brain have a break. But make sure you get back to the task at hand. Remember, accomplishing your tasks is a reward in itself!
  • Finally, try to enjoy what you’re doing – it can be hard, but if you can enjoy what you’re doing, it won’t seem such a chore and it will go all the more faster!

p.s. Inspirational quotes are also very motivating! Here’s one to get you started: “They can because they think they can” – Virgil