It’s hard to sum up a few hundred days in a few hundred words, so I wrote this instead.

I’ve been meaning to post on here with a link to sign up to my newsletter – Resourceful, a newsletter about spending less, reducing stress and living with your means – for a year now. But today, I come with a different message entirely: don’t subscribe to Resourceful, because as of this Sunday, I’m no longer going to be writing it

Hello! Long time no see. I’ve not written on here in an age. Since my last post, I’ve done all the things you do when you move to a new country that I can’t possibly sum it up here in a few hundred words. I’ve been trying though.

I’ve got three entirely different drafts of what this blog post could have looked like. The first draft was a mish-mash of collected journal entries I’ve written since January, a summary of random bits of stream-of-consciousness thinking that will make sense to no-one (and considering the time it took for me to edit… made no sense to me, either). 

Aside: I’ve had the thought very recently that my journaling habit doesn’t have to be turned into award-winning blog content. I used to think my diaries – which I have kept since I was four years old – could be adapted into a young adult novel series where the protagonist one day discovers she’s a princessNow I’m thinking my journals can simply be a way for me to unwind and avoid costly therapy (all while improving my writing as a by-product). That pressure being lifted means I’m once again writing in my diary regularly, like I used to, like the good old days.

I used to write on this blog whenever I wanted to write about anything, no matter how niche or unreadable the topic. About waitressing and Courtney Love and Electric Warrior. (I can’t believe I just linked back to posts from seven years ago, if – for some reason – you are a commissioning editor reading this, please, dear God, I was fifteen). It was fun. I loved hitting Publish, hoping that I would become as famous as Tavi Gevinson at the same time as wanting absolutely no-one to read it, because, OMG, embarrassing!

Anyway, that was then, this is now. I haven’t posted on this blog in 10 months because I feel much iffier these days about sharing the ins and outs of my private life on the very public internet. Perhaps it’s because some of the things that I’ve been through this year aren’t necessarily my stories to tell. It’s also a bit to do with content fatigue *cue tiny violin*. Every time I’ve felt the urge to post on here in the past year, I kept thinking no-one would want to read my thinkpiece on Saturday jobs, or Hole frontwomen or T.Rex albums (even though I used to be able to post that stuff without a care). That negative voice telling me ‘nobody will want to read this stuff anyway!’, then has a word with my self-esteem, which then tells me not to write *cut tiny violin*.

The second draft of this piece was one where I looked back on my first year of freelancing – a milestone I reached last week – and aimed to give the reader helpful pointers on what I’ve learned from self-employment. That didn’t feel right to me either. 

I was entirely convinced that my freelancing shelf life would only last two or three months, but then, all of a sudden, it had been a year. And this year didn’t just bring change in my working days, but my whole life was turned on its head: I moved away away from everything I’d ever known that felt comfortable and familiar. It’s been maddeningly fun at times but quite isolating at others. I proved to myself that I can survive something I couldn’t have predicted; couldn’t have planned for. That’s what I set out to do, and it feels good to me now – to have gone head first into something unknown – but it’s been hard. I’ve learned that I deal with difficulty in an extremely high-functioning way when I have to, but then after a period of being hard as nails, I need to close the door on people, switch the internet off for 72 hours and not talk to anyone for a week (of course, I can’t always do that). That doesn’t exactly feel like I’m bossing it, but then again, life’s difficulties extend beyond the working week. Like I said, this isn’t all my story to tell, so I won’t go into it too much. If you’re going through a rough patch, talk to yourself as you would your best friend and give yourself space and time to accept how you feel, allowing your emotions to complete their cycle.

Here is one thing I did like from the second draft though (and I recommend you make sure you don’t skip the underrated Artpop era).

“Sometimes [when you’re feeling particularly blue] it is OK to block out entire mornings to watch Lady Gaga music videos in chronological order, if that is what’s going to make you feel spurred on about being on this doomed little planet. Find your non-bullshit way to feel like yourself, and do it often.”

The third draft of what-might-have-been-this-post was one where I tried to justify why I moved here, unpacking everything that’s happened in the past five years. That was the real cathartic one to write and it felt like the most publishable at the time (I sat in a food hall for four hours drafting it), but the content was all so intensely personal that I don’t want to post it anywhere. Sometimes the stuff you need to write doesn’t need to be read.

So this is the fourth draft, a Google Doc with the title ‘actually post this one girl!’ So I will oblige. To revert back to where we started, the reason I think it’s time to put an end to the newsletter, after a year of sending it out (very sporadically), is because… I am starting university in two weeks! I’m going to be doing a BA in History at the University of Groningen… at the ripe old age of 23, I’m ready to start moaning about revising again (just kidding).

After thinking for a long time about whether leaving London would be a bad career move (verdict: probably yes; result: did it anyway), I’ve thought long and hard about whether going to uni at this slightly-later time will throw me off the hustling-in-London-to-get-paid-£19k career path and concluded that… nobody cares! Literally not even anybody. So that’s a relief! Also, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Here’s the thing, I don’t want to worry about fortnightly Sunday newsletters that I have to leave parties early to publish, or anything work-related that will hold me back from enjoying the experience for what it is. Although saying that, I have been thinking that a history-related podcast would be cool… God damn it, when you’re a natural-born content creator who came of age online, you just can’t help but create content! So, watch this space…

From an money point of view – this one’s for the Resourceful fans – I’m stoked that I’ll get to continue my v. flexible, freelance work to bankroll me through my degree (hopefully without needing to take out a loan, thanks the Netherlands’ actually affordable university education). So yeah, in a way, this is an apology (to myself) for not writing much on here this year, and a commitment to continuing the not-writing-on-here if I want to, while I focus on a new chapter of my life.

See you the other side of graduation, suckers!

The unadulterated joy of having nothing to do

Image from vintagenatgeographic.tumblr.com: Canyon Walls of Jebel Akhdar in Oman|National Geographic | September 1981

How do you spend a day off? With nothing much to work on, no-one to see and no washing to get done (OK, there’s loads of laundry shoved in your wardrobe, but you’ve run out of washing powder)? Can you even remember the last time you had literally no plans for more than a few hours or so? Allowing myself to have a day off where I embrace boredom in all its nothingness is essential to my wellbeing, so I try and do it at least once a week. Boredom may seem like a less-than-covetable state of being, but it’s a state that we often have to force ourselves to be in. So why do we find it so hard to actually enjoy free time?

We’re lucky enough to live in an age where we can very easily record, publish and post anything and everything we do on the internet: whether it be photos, thoughts, rants, or covers of Elvis Presley songs – allowing us to create our identity through showing off our skills to a large (and hopefully accommodating) audience online. In recent months, I’d forgotten how to truly be on my own, in my room, doing my dreaming and scheming and crying and sighing (I’ll stop linking to stuff that your dad would like soon, I swear) and just exist as a solo thing.

A friend of mine recently told me that instead of switching off through meditation, she likes to take time out from the white noise of the world by listening to an album all the way through, while lying on her bed, without doing anything else whatsoever.

For the past couple of Saturdays I’ve done a pretty similar thing. I’ve planned absolutely nothing to do in the day, while still waking up early(ish – before 9am anyway) to experience most of the day. No guilty trot down to the supermarket at 3pm as to “not waste the day”, no listing all those pairs of shoes on Depop because you’ve been “meaning to do it for months”. Just free time. 

After an uncomfortable hour at the beginning of the day, you could well find yourself pretty excited about all of the hours suddenly at your disposal come lunchtime. It might compel you to complete a sudoku puzzle, moisturise your entire body to within an inch of its life, or sit at your desk and commit the lyrics to Who Am I? (What’s My Name) to memory (which’ll come in handy on your next date – trust me). 

Whatever you end up doing, you’ll be pleased to discover that taking an afternoon off from delegating tasks to yourself for the sake of it actually helps you become more productive in the long run. It creates the space in your mind that’s necessary to remember how you like to fill your time without anyone else’s influence, as you allow yourself to be drawn to activities you naturally feel like doing. Remove obligations, to-do lists and Twitter timelines, and you’re faced with the option to do anything you like.

Here’s how I spent last Saturday: after slathering newly-opened No7 creams all over my face that I got last Christmas, I sat down with a notebook and wrote down the names of 10 Bruce Springsteen songs I’d quite like to learn on the guitar. I then spent the next three hours with 11 tabs open on my laptop and a guitar on my lap (the extra tab was for YouTub-ing each song to revel in how glorious the music video was). I totally wasted the afternoon, but I had so much fun doing it.

The summer is really busy for all of us, with birthday parties, weddings, barbecues and the World Cup all making us into obliging attendees of gatherings and get-togethers (often with a six-pack of Kronenburg in hand). However, during those inevitable rainy evenings or lonesome Sundays you stumble upon, try to avoid the temptation to waste away the hours continuously dragging your finger from the top to the bottom of your phone screen in search of that yearning FOMO feeling that makes you thirsty for an Aperol Spritz.

Instead, embrace those precious few hours and enjoy the space that boredom brings – you might even find yourself with a 10-track cover album comprising Bruce Springsteen’s best hits (release date TBC).

bruce bored gif.jpg

One final thing: if you’d like to listen to the latest episode of Girl Chat, all about periods (tee hee hee), you can do so here.

Feeling 22: a year in review

When I was 17, it was a very good year for small town girls and soft summer nights. When I was 21, it was a very good year for city girls who lived up the stair with all that perfumed hair.

Perhaps in the same way that you read a horoscope and bend its meaning so dramatically so it fits your situation, I can do the same with this Sinatra song. I was a small towner aged 17 (soft summer nights hardly applicable, though) and a city girl aged 21. And my bedroom’s at the top of a three-storey house, meaning I technically live up the stair with all that perfumed hair (or more accurate, the smell of Febreze coming from the top-floor bathroom).

21 has been good to me, though. My best friend painted me something as a gift last year, full of good luck charms such as a rabbit’s foot, a four-leaf clover, and a fortune cookie.

fortune cookie 21.jpg

‘It will be the most wonderful year, 21.’ The symbols have served me well. Here are some things I’m really, really proud of doing this year.

1. I Spent My Last Birthday Living My Best Life

rome

I was in Rome on 9 May 2017, and had the most perfect pizza and limoncello (on the house! Buon compleanno!) with a picture postcard view of the Colosseum (look! It looks like a green screen!) This year, I’ll be in Zadar, Croatia, so it’s safe to say I’m feeling very lucky and grateful that I get to hop on a plane to celebrate the blessed day my mother went through hours of excruciating pain so I could come into the world and write unmissable online content.

2. I Turned It Around…Screenshot 2018-05-08 at 10.10.57 - Edited

I’m proud that I was able to turn a negative experience into something positive. I hope I contributed to the ongoing discussion around the decriminalisation of abortion and the use of the abortion pill at home through my Debrief investigation into abortion waiting times in England. I didn’t want to write about work stuff on this post, but taking up a good chunk of my year (four months all in all) this was a big project. Appearing on BBC radio to present my findings was also quite special.

3. …And Ran A Half Marathon!

marathon

It’s funny to reflect on this now, as I’ve been drinking for four days (Bank Holiday heatwave, holla) and tried to drag myself out for a run this morning but haven’t managed to yet. In November, six months ago, I ran 13 miles for the Royal College of Obs and Gyns and raised £300!

4. I Saw A Tribe Called Quest Perform Their Last Show

dando diddly

OK, perhaps they’ll be back, but the poignancy of an absent Phife Dawg and the greatness of their final album made this Bestival performance all the more legendary. In other hip-hop news, I made a major discovery for myself this year in the form of MF Doom. The above picture is an unrelated photo of us watching Soul II Soul last summer, because all the other points have pictures.

5. I Became Less Scared of Cats

white catr

I have always been near-terrified of cats and all the things they’re plotting against me, but my lovely flatmate welcomed two gorgeous feline things into our house earlier this year. Here is one of them: Really White Cat. Yes, that is her name. White Cat for short.

6. I Kept Up With This Blog! 

I started this blog more than five years ago when I was off sick from school, insanely bored, with no idea about what to write about or who I was writing for. I still have that problem. Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading through it and dance along to some of the playlists I share on here.

Speaking of playlists, I made a 10-track playlist about turning 22! Send it to everyone you know who’s 22 already or who’s looking forward to the age of double trouble.

22

Click here to hear it.

Valentine’s Playlist – 10 songs about love

You can choose to not celebrate this divisive holiday or write a 5,000-word essay to each of your friends explaining how great they are, à la Leslie Knope in the Galentine’s Day episode of Parks and Recreation.

Personally, I love Valentine’s Day, mostly because there’s loads of pinks and reds in shop displays everywhere and it’s unbearably sentimental and tacky. I wrote something for The Debrief last year about why it’s legit OK to like V-Day (even if you’re single).

Here are 10 love songs to swoon over this week. Obviously, there was an unreal amount of choice – to whittle it down to just 10 songs about love was difficult – but these are some solid contenders.

Enjoy it! Love each other!

Listen to it on Spotify here.

‘Wild is the wind’ – 10 songs about winter

Sunday 21st January 2018

Home for a day to sort through my books and cull all the ones that bring the least amount of sentimentality. My mother is moving house again and my old bedroom is still stacked to the brim: every Bill Bryson book going, 1,001 photos, my school yearbook, a dozen payslips from my first part-time job, and three copies of the same ABBA Gold compilation (despite moving out 18 months ago). I knew I was coming home to do this this weekend, so had prepared myself for the emotions it brings; the idea of other people moving on and you having to change with them. If it were down to me, I’d have kept every single one of these books and trinkets, as, after a few house moves and a move-out, these are the objects and notebooks that have made the final cut many times before. However, I obliged to help my mum out with the move – I genuinely don’t want the Mighty Boosh box set and stray photos of ex-boyfriends to follow her into yet another residence.

Here are some things that I’ve never managed to to throw away that have now followed me to London.

  1. Some loose papers, comprising my AS Level English coursework typed up, and the first handwritten page of the Very First Draft of my very first play. I kept the coursework because I’ve been looking for it for ages, trying to sum up to my boyfriend what kind of parties my friends and I frequented aged 16. I thank my lower sixth self that I essentially wrote a completely true account of a singular hedonistic Saturday night that was had one weekend, when us small town folk were so unbelievably bored with everything, we did everything going (as the generation that was raised watching Skins, scuzzy nights were the norm). The short story brings way more vivid memories of my misspent youth than any highly-posed photographs do. I kept the first page of my first play because there were dozens upon dozens of rewrites to get it to where it ended up, and it’s nice to remember that everything has to start somewhere.
  2. We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. I considered throwing this but a dear friend of mine bought it for my birthday during a particularly rocky year (I was 19 or something and despite it having about 30 words all in all it was such a thoughtful gift). There’s something about not being able to go over or under it – we have to go through it! – that is so immediately comforting.
  3. Wayne’s World.
  4. Wayne’s World 2.
  5. One of three ABBA Gold CDs (the other two are headed for a Peterborough British Heart Foundation, on your marks…)

Anyway, on another note, I’m pretty surprised that spring hasn’t immediately followed Christmas again. The same thing happens each year; I forget there’s at least another 60 long nights and early mornings before things start brightening up. As such, here are 10 songs of the alternative seasonal kind to wind down to this winter *fades in music*… 

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/pocketcup/playlist/4Ivq9tWs6RRv1MDuH687QD

(If you like a seasonal playlist, I did one about ‘Spring’ last year, an arguably better month and – whisper it – an arguably better playlist, too).

Things to read this January (and why scrolling social media sucks)

I don’t actually mind using the internet. I know, it’s a revelation to me too. Don’t get me wrong, our relationship hasn’t been simple – often tumultuous (deleting my Instagram profile once before, removing the Twitter app from my phone once a week, and no storage-sapping Facebook app, thank you) – but all in all, there are so many opportunities to learn, and laugh at great Vines and, well, post your writing to a technically infinite audience (a dozen or so readers per post still technically falls between 0 and infinity, so hey). The good times on the internet have included:

  1. An article of mine being published on the CBBC Newsround website in 2006. I wrote about my experience as an extra on an Eastenders episode and I remember feeling like the next step was obviously Jacqueline Wilson-level fame (how the BBC didn’t snap me up in primary school for brand loyalty alone I’ll never know)!
  2. Streaming every single episode of Mad Men during a tricky break-up. Thank you, thank you, internet.
  3. As an actual child, firing up the only programme we had on our PC besides Word and Minesweeper: Microsoft Encarta. For those of you not acquainted with the software, it was an encyclopedia you could download off a CD-ROM, like a simplified Wikipedia; a way to actually learn useful things without having to sift through a clickable hot take angle first.
  4. Having my first semi-viral moment on Twitter with a photo of a moon emoji perfectly placed over a Potato Smiley on a plate of more Potato Smileys which was retweeted by the Moon Emoji account.

(Btw, I just tried finding it for about five seconds before I realised that this is exactly what I’m writing against – wasting sweet and precious time on the internet – but you have to trust the fact that I got around 500 RETWEETS AND I LIVED OFF THAT KINDA-FAME FOR MONTHS.)

You know what doesn’t show up on this list? Scrolling. I hate scrolling. Scrolling is not only harsh on the eyes, but you don’t retain any of the information seen during scrolling – nothing good has ever come from it. We should totally just stab scrolling! I’m going to write this because I know I’m not alone in this: a way I have been waking up for the past year at least has been by turning off an alarm (on my phone, or on my radio, but the following action is almost always the same) and scrolling through the news/Twitter/Instagram on my phone. At first it started as a way to get ‘up to date with the nuyooz!’ as I tried to figure out how to be a journalist, but it turns out scan-reading depressing tweets about #MeToo, even more depressing tweets about Donald Trump’s apparent good health and (pretty funny) tweets showing people slipping over on ice or whatever is not the way to a) be a good journalist or b) greet the new day.

Therefore, here are some things I have read this week that I reckon are actually worth your time to read all the way through to the end. In the meantime, I’m going to group all of my social media apps in a folder on my phone called Scrolling Sucks to encourage me to only log in when I’ve got something to say, a picture to post or have something actively active to do on there. Scrolling is so passive, and I have an ever growing Google Docs list of books I’d really like to read (this is a different post entirely). Here are some non-paper things for you, though:

1) Money Diary: A Freelance Writer Living In London On 14k

OK, OK, this has been doing the rounds on social media a bit this week because it’s the most lolz Money Diary yet and Ms Anonymous is an absolute dude for buying £12.50 eggs and £70 coke on NYE solely for the reason that it only comes but once a year. I read it all the way through to the end because, while not freelance at the moment, the self-deprecating quips mirror the tone of my money anxiety annoyingly derived from the time I *was* freelance, silently totting up each and every bus fare and foodstuffs in my head ’til it’s all I could ever think about. Everyone tells me I’m “so great with money!”, which I think is true, but some days I walk four miles across London to get home when I *can* actually afford a £1.50 bus fare home. I have not ever once suggested getting in an Uber – unless someone else can assure me they’re paying – so while I am *good* with money, I am absolutely terrified of it, too.

2) Editor’s Letter, Utopia by Tavi Gevinson

I’m a die-hard Rookie fan and direct every single person who speaks to me towards it because there is so much accessible, smart, funny content on there that is Definitely Not For Clicks. It shaped so much of my teenage years as it launched when I was 14, and I read it religiously three times a day until I was 18 or so. Tavi Gevinson has never disappointed me in that she is only three weeks older than me yet is so incredibly smart and perceptive. Imagine my joy, then, as I read her January editor’s letter for Rookie that discusses several ideas, beginning with the idea that the role of the internet has changed so massively, and is now so much about money-making click-y stuff, that it’s OK to want to find alternative ways to have thoughts/learn stuff/document life if being online is becoming more and more uncomfortable for you (holla!)

TG: ‘Whatever you need to do to create that space for yourself, do it this year. Do it now. Fight the new pace of thinking designed to keep us in Facebook fights and make Facebook more money. Resist getting so wound up by every story that you accelerate off a cliff into apathy. Lengthen the circuit between a candid thought and your anticipation of how it will be received, a circuit constantly shrinking in fear. Try your ideas out with people you are not desperate to impress, so there’s less ego clouding your discussion.’

It’s not all bad for the internet in this piece though, as Tavi writes about how the internet, as it was in 2011, was a wonderful place for the origins of Rookie: ‘I find it endlessly amazing that teens—particularly those whose IRL communities don’t offer such a space—can now talk openly about what it’s like to be living out what you’re told should be the best years of your life, while your brain is still developing and you’re more insecure than ever and sex is a new thing but you feel incredibly unsexy, and “just be yourself” is something adults say, not teens, and it’s never actually brought any reassurance.’

She also brings forth so many other ideas that I’m not going to plagiarise here (as I’ll do so badly) but I’ll instead direct you once more to the damn thing.

3) Perfectionism is destroying the mental health of my millennial generation

And this by the great writer Daisy Buchanan on why perfectionism isn’t cool whatsoever and is actually making us ill. Scrolling (look, scrolling!) Instagram is something that ‘intellectually, we know is all a lovely lie, but emotionally it’s a struggle. Feelings seem like facts.’

(And here’s ONE paper thing – I’m currently reading Mark Greif’s collection of essays Against Everything ((which Tavi coincidentally references in her January Rookie piece too)). Would highly recommend if you like interesting reading on subjects such as the sexualisation of youth, the rise and rise of YouTube and learning how to rap as a white person. Oh, and hipsters.)

IMG_7821

Refresh refresh refresh: how to live a calm IRL existence when you’re constantly online

Illustration by Rosie Henthorn

I’m trying to look at mental health in the same way I look at physical health. When you read the words mental health, you associate it with bad things: mental health issues, mental health problems, ‘I am struggling with my mental health’. But just like our physical health, it’s simply a part of us. It is perfectly usual, I think, to have a succession of good days, then bad days, great days, and sad days, and then do that all over again. We all ‘have’ mental health, and some days it is better than others.

Of course, it would always be preferable to have weeks upon weeks of blissed-out carefree livin’, instead of days where you’re racked with so much anxiety you think everyone in the office knows you didn’t have time to brush your teeth this morning. Weeks where you ace the job, exercise regularly and always have the right ingredients in your cupboard to cook the thing you want to cook tonight.

Being organised and having things in order feels great, but having a minor panic attack in the middle of Lidl because you can’t remember if you need to buy spaghetti (or if you have more than enough already), does not feel great. And with women being twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety than men, I’m probably not the only one feeling like everything could go wrong at any given second.

Once things start spiralling downwards, the worst, familiar feeling takes hold, an inevitably that you will have to spend the next However Long It Will Take, trying and trying and trying to do things that will make you feel better.

We’re living in an age where we have all the right tools to lead a perfect life. Selfie filters and apps that tell you exactly how long a journey will be to the second, for example, mean it is so easy to blame ourselves when things go wrong. We have all the tools/apps/life hacks available within seconds, when things don’t quite click IRL, it can make you feel inadequate.

I’m an ambitious person, which, in the digital age, means you have unlimited opportunities to realise this ambition at your fingertips. I’m a journalist, but I’d love to write another play in the next year; I’ve been meaning to start a new blog about relationships for months; I want to host a podcast about female friendships; I want to post at least three blog posts on here this month; I want to become better at guitar, find a group of muso-girls, and start the next Slits; I want to write about the books I’ve read, the music I’m listening to; I want to send out a newsletter sharing all the best stuff I’ve seen online this week, and while I’m doing all this, I want to be sharing it on four social media pages and building up a community of literal followers that can, I don’t know, envy how busy I am!

So yes, I’m ambitious, but I’m having to learn to rein it in a little. Aim high, believe in yourself, but don’t promise three editors that you can send them over a pitch that same evening if it’s already 6pm and you’ve got a deadline for another thing that night (and you need to do your washing). Or actually, do pitch those three editors if you’re feeling really excited and pumped up by the prospect of it, but don’t knock yourself down if you don’t manage to get around to it this evening, or even by the end of the week. You took on too much, and now your other work has felt the impact of it. That’s OK. Whatever. Slow it down, and learn from it.

The same applies not just to productivity, but to playing all the different roles you have to play in life. Best friend, colleague, girlfriend, daughter, neighbour, even. (Ffs, our bin was toppled over by foxes the other night, and I had the misfortune of leaving the house at the same time as my cranky-ass neighbour. There was rubbish everywhere, and we caught eye contact with each other as we left our respective houses, and I said “I’m so sorry!” Why was I sorry! I wasn’t sorry! There’s a difference between being a kind and respectful member of the community, and being someone who apologies to your tutting neighbour when a brazen urban fox leaves half-eaten creme caramels on your driveway).

Trying to do it all, have it all, and please everyone isn’t going to make you happy. Setting yourself sky-high expectations isn’t going to make you happy. Anxiety is something I’ll probably have to deal with, on and off, for many years yet, but I can at least try to come up with small changes to change my outlook that will help me to handle things better, or, at least, reduce periods of anxiety in my life to last minutes, rather than weeks. It usually starts with stepping away from the internet.

Here’s some totally ill-informed, non-medical advice that has worked when I try to do so much, that I can’t do anything at all:

1. Hydrate. Turn off your phone. Grab the nearest book around you (not a newspaper – the news is utterly anxiety-inducing – something fictional if possible) and put it down on the table in front of you. Get the biggest glass from your kitchen cupboard (I believe the pint ones stolen from pubs work well for this), run the tap ’til it’s freezing cold, and pour yourself a crystal clear glass of water. Sit and the table and drink it slowly.

Once you’ve finished the glass, pick up the book and begin to read. If you struggle to concentrate, or had the misfortune of James Joyce’s Ulysses being the nearest book to hand, don’t get mad. Take a deep breath. Instead, enjoy the new-found hydration. It is good to drink water.

2. Do things you always used to do, but haven’t done in years. This is less of a mindfulness exercise, and more of a nice thing to do if you’re feeling a bit lost or existential. It is reminding yourself that you were a person who existed, probably really quite well, before you got into a spiral of bad thoughts.

For me, I like to do things that I used to do as a child or teenager. Without regressing into wearing a nappy or whatever, I like to sit and draw for 10-15 minutes, or get some paints out and dance my fingers across some paper. I really like to listen to The Beatles. Yep, I might have had Yorkshire puddings and chips for dinner, and no, I will never stop biting my nails, but I am a really fucking good Beatles fan. If the Beatles were a pub quiz round, you’d want me in your team. Guilty pleasures are your best friend. Spend your evening or weekend being truly kind to yourself, and play some ABBA.

3. Look at those around you. When you pencil in so much stuff, you’re often putting yourself first. You have to, babe, you’re the CEO of your Filofax! But when you’re smashing glass ceilings, working your fingers to the bone, but still feel like everyone’s got their shit together in such a coherent way, that’s probably when you need people around you, to realise that a) you’re doing a stellar job, b) everyone’s flawed. I’m pretty introverted at the best of times, and when I’m facing a lot of stress, my communication skills wobble. I’ve had a very slight stammer since I was a kid, emphasised by stress, nerves and tiredness. When I’m ‘busy’, I think I don’t have the time to ask someone how their weekend was, lest they go on about it for more than 30 seconds. But I think (and hope) we do all have time to do those little things. Adam J Kurtz wrote this perfect little motto to live by in his latest book Things are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives: ‘Whatever you think you are, be a person first’.

If the last thing you want to do is be around people, but you’ve found yourself in a situation where you have to, strive for kindness above all else. And maybe mention how you’re feeling to someone else. They might offer to buy you a pint.

My dear friend Rosie, who drew the image for this piece when I told her I wanted to write something about frazzled minds, gave me some great advice when I was feeling pretty self-important and sad. She said: ‘Make use of lovely people’. So, I implore y’all to look after yourselves, look out for your friends, and look at your diary for the week and write ‘REMEMBER TO REST’ in capital letters across the top of the page.

Buy some of Rosie’s artwork here. It is very good.