Over the past few months, I've been feeling a lot better and happier in myself. It's been quite a change in where I feel I've not only grown up literally, but within myself too; like I have a whole new perspective on things and how I view myself. It's meant I've had to learn a whole new way to look after myself, but it's been for the better; I feel so mentally happy and healthy, getting so much more out of life. This sounds incredibly lame and cliche, but it's very true! Here are the 5 things I've learned:

1. Not only appreciate, but treat myself to the little things
It's important now and then to remember the things that don't necessarily cost money, or that are naturally around you. Whilst I was unemployed I did a lot of exploring around where I live through exercise, and it was lovely just to be outside, even if it was cold and grey and rainy! And when the sun came out, it made me that bit happier. Now it's sweltering hot in the UK (which rarely happens) I realise how much I miss the cold and grey cosiness we're used to! It takes time, but whether it's just having an extra half hour in bed, a big cup of tea, or reading a book, remember how happy these things make you, and don't be afraid to treat yourself to them every so often; even a lot if you need, it's definitely not a bad thing! One thing Paddy and I like to do every so often (though not now as he's moved flats) is to go down to London City Airport and watch the planes take off and land across the river. It might sound lame to anyone else but it's our little thing and it makes us really happy so we do it! I also love to buy flowers every so often; nothing fancy, but a £3 bouquet from Tesco will put a smile on my face and I'm happy! It's about focusing on everything individually.

2. Move more
I'm not a hugely active person by nature, but over the past few months I've tried to focus myself to get out more; I walk to and from work every day, I walk everywhere I go around Oxford and London at weekends, and I try to fit in more exercise when I can. When I was unemployed I was trying to go running every day, and this definitely improved my mood! I'm still trying to fit it in around my job (which is wearing me out at the mo), studying, and everyday life. I'm not amazing at it hahaha...but I want to be!

3. Move away from negative people
Within the past year, a lot of negativity and drama has dipped in and out of my life through various people. I got to the point where I was just tired of putting up with it all, with myself and my friends getting hurt, and going along with these story lines people kept spreading - whether they were real or not. I realised the people who brought this to my life didn't bring anything else with them, and every time I was dragged back into the drama, it either made me feel unhappy, stressed, or anxious, and it wasn't needed at all. I decided to separate myself from them, and since I've done so, I have no worries or drama within my friendships and it's so much better! It's so important to surround yourself with the right people who care about you and have your best interests at heart.

4. Stand up for yourself
A year ago, I was someone who didn't like tension, and who usually hid from it when I could. I would do whatever was easiest to settle something, even if it ended up with a resolution I didn't really like. Now, however, I'm much happier and more confident in myself, and I've learnt to feel comfortable with putting my views forward and not necessarily accepting what's thrown at me if I don't like it. I feel more able to say when I've been hurt and to say it's not ok with me. Again, this has taken a huuuugely long time to get to this point, but it's really made me feel better in myself and has sorted any issues that might've grown bigger and made me truly unhappy had I left them be.

5. Relax; don't be hard on yourself
This one has been one of the harder things to accept. I'm one of those people who turns everything into an internal matter - so if I forget to do something, I beat myself up about it. This is a really common thing we're all capable of, but it's not healthy. So many things are out of control, so why blame ourselves if they don't happen or go wrong? I've learnt to give myself a break if I feel like rubbish and want a day in bed instead of reading for my masters; I'll catch up another and rethink my schedule. It's ok. It's so important to give ourselves a time out - i.e. I got back from a long day at work yesterday where I ended up working overtime; I'm supposed to be doing my reading for my research project proposal at the moment, but my feet were in pain, I was exhausted and worn out, and I just had no motivation, so I decided to run a bath instead and not stress about not reading things that I probably wasn't in any mindset to read anyways. In my mind, I wouldn't have done a good job, so it's no loss, and I'll figure it out when I'm less tired and more in the right frame of mind. Can't tell you how much this attitude has helped me de-stress!