When my mum and dad split up, it felt like there was a LOT for me to deal with. Where would I live? Where would I keep my things? Who would I see on weekends? What if I just wanted to hang out with my friends and forget about it all? Sure I knew it was tough for them… but it’s difficult not to get all me, me, me when stuff gets scary.

But, like everyone told me it would, a few months in and things started to feel more normal. I had a routine. Live with my mum, see my dad on Sundays. Keep all my things at my mum’s place, keep a few things at my dad’s. Feel ok to say “I don’t want to see either of you today” and go to the park or beach with friends instead. Simple. Who said this parents-getting-divorced-thingie was so hard..?!

But fast forward to a year later and my dad shook everything up again. He told me he was getting re-married. It hadn’t come as a huge surprise, he’d been seeing Linda for a few months as friends and I’d assumed they might be more. But it still didn’t seem quite right. The mixed feelings I had about it were confusing. Yes, I wanted him to be happy. But who was this new person? Did she really love him? What would our weekends together be like now? Would she get in the way? And what about Christmas? Would she be here at Christmas?

There were so many new challenges and questions to deal with, it felt like the worry and stress of the divorce all over again. But this time there was another person involved. A person I couldn’t help but feel I just didn’t like. A person who, let’s face it, was just getting in the way.

Whether your parents are separated, divorced or one of them has passed away, it can be really challenging when they start to go on dates, find a new boyfriend or girlfriend and, cringe, then even marry them further down the line. And you know what? It’s allowed to feel challenging. Or upsetting. Or just plain bloody weird. Yep, we said it. You don’t have to be happy and accepting of stuff all the time. Sometimes the best thing to do is say, “I feel sad about this”, own it, and then move on and figure out the best way to not feel sad anymore.

We spoke to some friends, experts and people who have dealt with a parent’s new partner in good (and bad) ways over the years to bring you some advice about how to deal with all the emotions, figure out how you really feel and then get over it so your mum or dad can be move on their lives with someone new — because as tough as that is to swallow, they want to be happy too. Just like you.

Talk about stuff (and then go ahead and talk some more)

Sarah told me that she was really wary about meeting her dad’s new partner when her mum passed away. She found it challenging, because it kept feeling like her mum was being replaced by someone new. In fact, when we spoke to a lot of people who’d lost a parent, they all said it felt like this when their mum or dad started dating again.

She got through it by talking really honestly with her dad. Telling him she was happy he had found someone, but the thought of forgetting her mum scared her.

“I made a point of sharing a lot,” she says. “It felt hard at first. Telling my dad when I felt scared or uncomfortable was really the key to us getting through it. I feel that if he’d just assumed I was okay, it would have felt like I was a bit trapped and couldn’t express myself.”

Of course, parents do somethings make mistakes too. And if there are any serious reasons (not just, like, their accent) for you to dislike their new partner, they’d want to know about it – which is another reason it’s important to keep talking.

Accept it feels sad and weird (especially when it gets really sad and weird)

We don’t want to get all doom and gloom, but sometimes it can all go really wrong. That’s because there are so many people involved when a new partner comes on the scene — and so many difficult, icky feelings to contend with.

I spoke to Alexa who told us that her mum had been struggling with her divorce, so quickly re-married. The problem? She hadn’t even told her new husband she had a daughter! Alexa says: “She asked me to meet Steve and I felt kinda excited about it — I just wanted my mum to be happy! It wasn’t until just before we were meant to meet she dropped the bombshell. She hadn’t told him about me. SHE HADN’T TOLD HIM ABOUT ME!”

“I’ve realised now my mum was just really sad and confused. She didn’t want to hurt anyone, but had really hurt me. I told her I felt angry, but we worked through things. It took some time, but we’ve learnt to trust each other a lot more now.”

Obviously this is quite an extreme case. But when things feel really bad, it’s important to take a deep breath. Accept that things feel bloody awful sometimes. Try not to get upset in the moment. And talk, talk, talk about how you’re feeling.

Think about what not liking someone might REALLY mean

It’s very easy to make quick judgements about who you do and don’t like. If you’re anything like me, you can decide someone is a bit annoying based on the way they wear their hair alone (I’m sorry, I’m only human).

I spoke to Dr Jane G. Goldberg, a psychoanalyst who recently published her eighth book called My Mother, My Daughter, Myself, and she told me sometimes it can be really good to think more when you say you don’t like someone:

“Actually, it’s probably more accurate that you don’t know whether you like him or her. It’s probably more true that you simply don’t like the role he or she is playing in your mother’s or your father’s life, and thus you don’t like the role that you are afraid he or she will be playing in your own life.”

When you think more about what “I don’t like them” means, it stops being this huge, annoying thing you can’t bear. Instead you can ask yourself what it is you don’t like. Like Jane says, you might find it’s not them you have a problem with at all – they, or the whole situation, just scare you a bit! 

Or maybe you do have a real problem, in which case it’s good to figure out what it is so you can talk about it properly.

Separate them from you, a little

We know, we know. You love your parents. You want them to be happy. They’re a huge part of your life and you’re a huge part of their life. But remember, you’re separate people. What you want right now isn’t what your mum or dad wants, and vice versa.

Molly Goldberg, daughter of Dr Jane G. Goldberg, shared some wisdom about what it was like when her mum found someone new:

“When your parent takes a partner that you don’t like, it’s important to remember it’s not your life, and if it were, you would hope that your friends and family would be supportive. Keep an open mind, be kind, be accepting, and be there for your parent regardless of the outcome of the relationship. What matters the most is your relationship with your parent, and you want to nourish it with lots of love.”

It can be hard to put your feelings aside. Especially when your mum or dad’s new partner drives you up the wall. But you know what? Maybe they’re really happy! Or maybe the relationship won’t last very long – either way, keeping your relationship with your mum or dad strong will only make things easier in the long run.

Feel your feelings! It’s ok to feel weird – like, REALLY weird

It’s important to put on a brave face when you’re meeting your parent’s new partner for the first time. But don’t worry if it feels weird — it’d probably be weird if it didn’t feel weird. Telling yourself you should feel certain things is only going to make you angry, resentful and a bit bitter, too.

For many of us that seems scary. We’re so used to ‘being good’ and ‘being brave’ that to feel angry or express sadness seems kinda, well, wrong. But Dr Goldberg thinks that getting all up close and personal with your feelings is really important. Just don’t let them run the show.

“I value feelings. I love feelings,” she says. “But I don’t make the mistake of thinking that they are facts. They are NOT facts. Feelings and emotions don’t define reality. They are not always accurate. They don’t always predict the future. In fact, feelings are usually fairly unreliable predictors of the future.”

“We can understand the nature of our feelings: that they are changeable … and that they are not meant to be held on to for too long.”

The dealing with icky new feelings checklist

1. It’s ok to feel weird, or sad or angry, or did we mention weird?

2. Talk about how you feel — even if the main thing you feel is really bloody scared.

3. Remember this is about your mum or dad, not you.

4. Try to avoid just saying “I don’t like him/her/them” and instead think about WHY.

5. You’re doing fine, promise. This is really tricky. But it won’t be forever.

@BeccaCaddy

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Manjit Thapp

When I was 14, someone who was theoretically my friend passed a piece of paper around the class. It had the words “Petition to make Alice shut up” written across the top and an increasingly long list of signatures underneath.

It was the world’s worst register, wholly dedicated to me.

Every now and then I tell this story over dinner with friends and people laugh, because the idea of such petty classroom slacktivism is genuinely quite hilarious and teenagers do cruel, stupid things that prove to be funny in later life. I laugh too. Fortunately my life has improved in the years since then. If someone tried to make a petition about me now, I’d probably feel vaguely honoured and sign it myself under a few different comedy names.

That petition existed because the person who made it didn’t like me very much (shocker!) but, more, as the title would suggest, because I was loud, nerdy and said apparently lame, geeky things that, in adulthood, would probably be seen as assertive and interesting.

The petition failed. I didn’t shut up, and I still haven’t. My mouth still gets me in trouble, but it’s also got me my career and enough money to go and pay for those dinners with friends.

Because, at 14, my career experience was limited to babysitting and a simplistic personality test that suggested I should work in advertising, I didn’t realise that all of the nerdy traits I tried – and evidently failed – to hide on a daily basis would be the ones respected by grown-ups who have the ability to pay you money to do stuff you like doing.

Sometimes girls are told to shrink, although never that explicitly. It comes under the guise of being told to admire the skinny girls, to make less noise, to put up with boys when they’re being boorish and rude, to wear smaller clothes, be more mysterious, to take up less space.

Here are just some of the things about me that I felt ashamed of when I was at school: joining the debating club, using “big words”, doing revision, getting my homework done on time, doing part-time work, making sure there was a plan for the weekend, being keen to sort things out, finding out if people were coming to my birthday party, being organised, being on time, being too loud. Pretty much the standard ingredients of a nerd-flavoured cocktail.

Sometimes I’m still ashamed of those things – but all of them have stood me in really good stead as a grown-up. Here’s how:

Joining the debating club: knowing how to stand my corner, keep my cool and calmly explain why yes, I am right – whether that discussion is with a drunk man heckling me or a colleague.

Using “big words”: hello there, I’m a journalist now. I get paid for deploying these things.

Doing revision: I know how to prepare for everything from a job interview to a presentation at the last minute. Plus it meant I could pass university exams on three hours’ sleep and a hangover.

Getting my homework done: hi again, I’m a journalist. I get paid for writing things very quickly.

Doing part-time work: helped massively with the dawning realisation that sometimes we have to do things we hate in order to afford to eat.

Making sure there was a plan for the weekend: although the organisers of the fun will never be perceived to be as “cool” or “laidback” as those spontaneous types, everybody is grateful to have them around. Plus they organise the fun.

Being keen to sort things out: life is a lot more enjoyable if you can spend as little time as possible on stuff like bills, finding somewhere to live, yadda yadda yawn.

Finding out if people were coming to my birthday party: still a chore as an adult, but people are generally far more polite and excited about it.

Being organised: this is a gift many people struggle to attain.

Being on time: boring, yes, and you’ll spend a lot of time waiting for other people, but you will never* arrive somewhere sweaty and stressed.

Being too loud: literally the only people who think you’re too loud are you, and people who don’t like you enough.

I don’t know who your inner nerd is, but I can guarantee that she’s awesome. Maybe your inner nerd can understand maths like she’s breathing, or is fascinated by how stuff works. Perhaps your inner nerd is incredible at sorting things into rainbow order, or packing loads of stuff into her schoolbag. She might even know all the words to songs nobody else thinks are cool, or has a magical ability to get everyone together in the same place at the same time.

All of these things are as wonderful as the sound you make when you can’t stop laughing, or how you act when you’re with your best friend – even if you don’t think they’re cool. But one day, I promise, they will be, as will your inner nerd. I’d hedge a bet that you’ll be grateful that she’s there.

*I frequently arrive places sweaty and stressed. I wish I was more like 12-year-old me in this respect.

@alice_emily

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Manjit Thapp

Wake up and smell the JOY, everybody. These are the happiest smells in the world, according to us. 

1. Freshly cut grass.

2. Waffles*.

3. Birthday cake candles.

4. Old bookshops.

5. The bakery section of the supermarket, specifically when the maple pecan twists are still warm.

6. A newborn baby’s head.

7. Baby lotion (easier than having the baby).

8. Toast. Why does toast smell so delicious? Nobody knows.

9. Really cold, crisp, frosty winter mornings.

10. The coffee you buy to warm your hands up on the cold, crisp, frosty morning.

11. The old school radiator you eventually warm up your arse against on the cold, crisp, frosty morning.

12. New carpets.

13. The first sun cream application of the year.

14. Candyfloss at a funfair. But pre-waltzers only. 

15. Whatever fancy stuff your hairdresser mists over you at the end of a haircut, then tries to get you to buy as though perhaps you are a secret Jenner. Nice try, lady.

16. The faint whiff of your mum’s perfume on a jumper while you’re secretly homesick on a school residential holiday.

17. Cinnamon buns. Obviously.

18. Bonfire night.

19. The first (successful) barbecue of summer.

20. Frying bacon on a Saturday morning. Or any morning.

21. Um, the vegetarian equivalent of bacon. Frying tofu? Sure. 

22. The distinctly nostalgic blend of PVA glue, poster paint, disinfectant and pencil sharpenings that fragrances every primary school ever.

23. Beyoncé. We imagine. 

*Of course, it is the law that they must always smell at least 30% better than they actually taste. The law.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Manjit Thapp

Ugh, Mondays. And specifically ugggggh this Monday, AKA Blue Monday, which has earned a rep as officially the most depressing day of the year.

Now the first thing to say before we go any further is that Blue Monday isn’t actually true. Got that? Not. A real. Thing. The title was invented in 2005 by an advertising agency for a travel company campaign, and it’s based not on science but on a ‘maths equation’ of vague, gloomy factors, like how long it’s been since Christmas, how broke everyone is before payday, and, obvs, the weather. In fact it bears so little relation to fact that even the guy who originally dreamed up the formula is now campaigning to #StopBlueMonday. Don’t use it in an exam, is all we’re saying.

But… the thing is, Mondays do suck. Sometimes. Cold, dark January Mondays can suck especially hard. And even if Blue Monday is all just a cynical PR stunt, there’s nothing wrong with using it as a reminder to spend a little more time focusing on our happiness.

So here are some small, easy ways to make Mondays just a little bit less horrendous. Blue, who?

Get plenty of sleep

falling asleep

Yawn. It’s the oldest advice in the book, but that’s because it works. And teenagers need even more sleep than adults (seriously, that one is a scientific fact) so sacrifice more of your Sunday to getting an early night, and you’ll feel a bit less like death when the alarm goes on Monday morning. Or alternatively, skip your hairwash and hit the snooze button. That works too.

Plan a lovely breakfast

dancing puppet and cereal

Everyone knows it’s 100% easier to get out of bed if there is great food waiting for you, so make a bit more effort for Monday breakfasts than your usual bowl of whatever. Go to town on fancy porridge toppings. Make scrambled eggs with avo and chilli. Or try our fave overnight oats recipe – all the work is done the night before, so on Monday you can just grab it and go. Look how jealous Wednesday is now.

Same goes for lunch

sushi breakfast club

Our instinct is normally to have the favourite sandwich/the sausage roll/the best Muller Crunch Corner or whatever on Friday, the day of celebration. But Fridays are already great whereas Mondays need all the help they can get, so think about saving your best lunch treats for the start of the week.

Have a seriously great Sunday

Mr

“It’s not Sunday unless you totally waste it and then feel really sad around 8pm for no reason” goes the meme, and oh how it speaks the truth. But what did Sundays ever do to hurt you? Instead of frittering the day away and then getting furious when you remember Monday is just around the corner, try filling your Sunday ram-jam full of fun things. Go on a big walk. Make a roast. See great people. Embark on a craft project. Read a whole book. Go on a day trip. Do some competitive sport, get covered in mud, then have the longest, bubbliest bath that Lush/your boiler will allow.

Basically, head into Monday with a load of news and a full camera roll, and watch how much easier it is to drag yourself out the door.

Which leads us onto… don’t leave everything till Sunday night

Daria

We know, we know – you’re human, and when faced with a long weekend stretching out before us, the most human response is to leave that massive essay till 7pm on Sunday evening and then bash your way through it in an angry rage until midnight, while crying. Which then means on Monday morning, you’re a sleepy, grumpy subhuman (with, let’s face it, a pretty terrible essay).

But instead, imagine if you did a little tiny bit of it on Friday evening, or Saturday morning – even just an hour, even just scribbling down a few notes or writing the title in BIG LETTERS so that when you sit down on Sunday to do the rest, it doesn’t feel like starting from scratch. Or imagine if you did quite a lot of it on Saturday morning. Imagine if you did it all. You’d be basically superhuman.

Give yourself a badass theme tune

Beyonce You Ready

Turning your Monday frown upside down could be as easy as finding the right soundtrack. So make a playlist of songs that make you feel happy and energised, and let them pump you up while you’re getting dressed or walking to the bus stop. Sing along. Even better – dance. A little endorphin kick never hurt anybody.

Get (at least slightly) organised

Leslie Knope organised

Monday-You is trying her best, but sometimes Sunday-You won’t give her a chance. So get off your arse and find your PE kit. Iron your shirt. Pack your school bag. Do that thing you’re meant to do for form time, and find a pair of tights without a hole in them now. Minimise the amount of hassle you face on Monday morning so you can focus on your lovely breakfast, your pumped-up playlist, and not end up running late, creased and laddered with one trainer in your bag. You know how that’s going to end.

Make nice Monday plans

dance moms

Having something to look forward to at the end of the day will make the long, slow plod towards the final bell just a little bit easier. So plan something fun. It doesn’t need to be a punishing extra-curricular activity – just getting your BFFs round to ‘study’ (read: laugh until you pee) for a couple of hours should do the trick.

And if all else fails…

Remember: Blue Monday doesn’t exist. And regular Monday? Well, it’s already half over.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Way back in 1967, hippies gathered in San Francisco for their Summer of Love. But why just have one season of love? In 2014, I decided I wanted a whole year dedicated to love, so I chose this word as my ‘theme’ for 12 months.  

Whenever I faced a decision, big or small, I tried to think about how I could create the most love. Rather than dismissing a date as unnecessary hassle, I agreed to go because I hoped that maybe love would follow – and it did! We’re still together three years later. I realised that I didn’t have many pictures of the people I love so I began taking more photos of them, and looking through those snaps still makes me so happy. I also started listening to the little voice in my head that whispers ‘I’d love to do that’ and found myself having more adventures, however silly – like going on the Emirates Skyline cable car in London for no reason other than I’d always thought ‘I’d love to ride on that’.

I’ve already picked my buzzword for 2017: ‘no limits’ (ok fine that’s two words, but it’s allowed).

‘No limits’ challenges me to dream big, and not to assume that I can’t do something. Too often I restrict myself, worrying that I’m not clever enough or brave enough before I’ve even tried. This year is going to be different because rather than turning down an opportunity that might be difficult for me, such as taking on a new job or signing up to the next course (I’m trying to learn Italian), I can say to myself ‘No limits!’ and then at least give the challenge a go.

If I get a bit scared and don’t manage to follow my phrase all the time, it doesn’t matter. Not succeeding all of the time doesn’t make you a loser. The best part about having a theme for the year is that you can keep coming back to it – that’s why having a word of the year is so much better than a typical new year’s resolution. Resolutions tend to be specific, like ‘lose weight’ or ‘stop biting your nails’. This means that once your efforts have failed (usually by mid-January) then you feel you have to wait until next year to begin again. Not so with a buzzword: it can just inspire and guide your behaviour throughout the year. 

The other great thing about a word of the year is that it doesn’t expect you to be a different person. Lots of new year’s resolutions require us to change who we are, but trying overnight to become someone who doesn’t love chocolate will just make us feel rubbish about ourselves (and probably eat a whole heap of chocolate, tbh).  Buzzwords, on the other hand, allow us to be exactly who we are already but encourage us to strive after a new feeling, whether that’s braver or happier or calmer.

Maybe you’re feeling a lot of pressure because of exams and it’s making you stressed? A theme for 2017 could help you in different ways. If you went for ‘chill’, this could cover everything from treating yourself to ice cream when you’ve finished your homework, to having Netflix downtime every Sunday, to repeating the word to yourself before you enter the exam hall.  Or you might go in the opposite direction and pick ‘fun’, looking for ways to make revision more enjoyable (such as doing quizzes with friends), going to the funfair to bring out your inner kid, or practising nail art so your hands make you smile while you’re studying.

You might find your chosen buzzword comes up in other ways than you had expected, which makes it even more special and inspiring. Wondering how to pick your buzzword for the year ahead?  Here are three tips on choosing the right theme for you:

1. Love a song lyric or line from a film? If you find yourself repeating a phrase a lot, then that could be a big clue. In 2015, for instance, one Swiftie picked ‘Shake it off’ as the buzz phrase for her year. Who wouldn’t feel better channelling Taylor?

2. Is something big happening in your life this year? You could think about related words that might be helpful, like my exams example.

3. How would you like to feel in 2017?  This is a great way to find the best word for yourself. Maybe you want to feel less stressed (how about ‘relax’?) or maybe you want to take something more seriously (how about ‘committed’?).

Once you’ve picked your word, go ahead and try to live it. Have a fun/love-filled/powerful/relaxing/limitless year.

@rae_ritchie_

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty

Change can be a good thing. Changing your hair. Changing your bedsheets. Changing the world. The change in your pocket that helps you buy a doughnut.

But sometimes, and especially at new year, the pressure to change yourself can be a massive pain in the arse. “Make a resolution! Make another one! Join a gym! Run 10 miles! Eat more kale! Eat less everything else! Learn French! Learn to contour! Go out more! Stay in and do yoga! Get more sleep! Stop sleeping, you lazy slob!” After the lovely, cosy, sugar-topped fun of Christmas, January can feel like a big old pile of ‘you’re not good enough, loser’.

And to that, we say: nah. Shut up, nagging voices. Pipe down, people who believe that we need to overhaul our bodies, minds and lives just because the calendar flicked over a page. We’re fine as we are thanks – just as we were in December, and we will be the rest of the year too.

Instead, our January mantra on betty.me is ‘New year, same you!’. We’re going to be all about celebrating yourself – the actual you, not the perfect fairytale fantasy version – and spending time on stuff you really love, instead of the stuff you think you ought to be into. We’ll have ideas to celebrate staying in (mm, staying in), the most glorious geekery, exercise for people who really cba, and hacks to make the most of the wardrobe you already have – plus all our usual tips and funny tales from the coolest girls we know.

Shake things up, but don’t beat yourself up. Pick positive, realistic #goals, or just carry on doing exactly what you’re doing… because you’re doing it damned well.

Also nobody needs to eat any kale. Unless you actually want to.

Leslie Knope vegetable gif

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Katie Edmunds

Everyone experiences anxiety at some point or another. Whether it’s because there’s a big exam coming up, a first date, or your parents are wondering who spilled coke on the sofa and you are trying to avoid eye contact.

These are all perfectly natural times to be anxious. It’s a normal biological response; the same one that keeps you safe and made sure that our ancestors ran away from lions and tigers and bears (oh my!).

But some people find that their anxiety stretches beyond these sorts of objectively stressful circumstances, bleeding into other aspects of their life and making it hard to ever chill.  

This is called Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

What does anxiety look like?

There are both mental and physical symptoms of GAD. Mentally, people may find that they’re constantly worried; often about things that are a regular part of everyday life, like talking to people, getting on the bus or answering a question in class. Or they find they’re disproportionately worried about things that are super unlikely to happen – like your parents being in a car accident, or that gravity will stop working and we will all be flung into space.

And sometimes, people with anxiety worry about worrying.

Physically, a person with anxiety may find themselves having difficulty concentrating or sleeping. Some people experience dizziness, a racing heart, nausea, excessive sweating and breathlessness. Basically, all the fun stuff. When these sort of sensations become overwhelming, that’s a panic attack – and as anyone who has had a panic attack will tell you, for something that is supposedly ‘all in the mind’, they can feel incredibly, terrifyingly real.

TLDR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • Everyone experiences anxiety at some point or another. But when anxiety stretches beyond objectively stressful circumstances and affects other aspects of life, this is called Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
  • People with anxiety may find that they’re constantly worried. They might find themselves having difficulty concentrating or sleeping, that their heart is racing or they feel dizzy, nauseous, sweaty or breathless.
  • There will always be times in your life when you feel anxious, but GAD is totally treatable. Many options involve talking therapies and anti-anxiety medications.
  • If you feel like you have any of the symptoms we’ve been talking about, it's a good idea to head to your GP for a chat.

What causes anxiety?  

Unfortunately, the exact cause of GAD isn’t fully understood. However, there are lots of things that are thought to contribute to some people developing generalised anxiety disorder – such as traumatic childhood experiences, your habits and diet, genetics and your overall mental and physical health.

Is Anxiety treatable?

Well there will always be times in your life when you feel anxious, and that’s not a bad thing. Anxious feelings can keep you safe, help you recognise true love or alert you to the fact that you do really care about your school work.

But generalised anxiety disorder is totally treatable. Many treatment options involve talking therapies, such as seeing a psychologist or a counsellor to chat about your feelings. Talking therapies can be great as they can teach you practical tactics to help you cope in certain situations, and strategies to avoid triggers.

There are also anti-anxiety medications available, which can help people cope with their symptoms and balance out their mood. It’s common for people to try a combination of talking therapies and medication, depending on their GP’s advice.

When should I go to the doctor?

It’s always good to take your mental health as seriously as your physical health (after all, your brain is a pretty vital body part). So if you feel like you have any of the symptoms we’ve been talking about, it’s not a bad idea to head to your GP for a chat.

Remember, it’s totally ok to be anxious from time to time – but if your anxiety is impacting other areas of your life, there is always help available to calm things down. 

Image: Manjit Thapp

It begins as admiration. Her hair just falls nicely. Her teeth are naturally straight. Her skin is clear. Come non-uniform day, you notice with a slight pang of jealousy that she has the coolest outfit – and she’s not copying anyone.

You start to look more closely: not in a stalkerish way, you understand, but to find the cracks in this seemingly perfect version of a girl. Problem is, the more you look, the more you find perfection. High marks? Check. Without really working? Check. Musical and/or acting ability? Check check. Is fancied by everyone?

You don’t even need to ask. People are all over her – not that she cares about or even notices the attention of course. She’s too busy being, well, cool in a billion other ways with which thanks to the joys of Instagram, you are well acquainted. Her account – a beautiful stream of cupcakes she’s baked, parties she’s been to (or rather, her cool parents have hosted) and plays in which she’s either playing the lead female role or making the Wicked Witch of the West look sexy – is addictive, for all that it fuels a simmering, growing, growling sense of discontent.

One day something shifts. Maybe your crush takes a shine to her. Maybe she gets a better mark than you do at the subject you’re supposed to be good at. Maybe you see one of your best mates laughing with her. At this point it can go one of two ways. You’ll either hate them, with the sort of pure hatred that flourishes on the green ground  of envy OR… you will suddenly and entirely – to your mind, explicably – want to be them.

And I mean be them, literally, from your hair to the  tips of your toes. You want to inhabit, not just their body, but their entire existence. You want their looks and abilities, as well as their confidence, family and friends.  You google ‘personality transplant’, then shut the window hurriedly in case someone notices.

What is happening to you? “This is weird! No one else in the world has felt this way about someone they don’t even fancy!”, you think-panic. Well, I’ve news for you: in case you’ve not guessed from this article, I did.

I still do: less now I’m older, but that all-consuming feeling of wanting to shed my skin, crawl out of it and into someone else’s is well known to me. Indeed, to judge by the behaviour of many of my friends at school, they often felt similarly. Some would even go so far as acting like their ‘idol’, for want of a better word: speaking, dressing, laughing and walking like them. One girl took it further still. When Jenny started her period, she full on pretended she had hers at exactly the same time, every month, laughing manically “it’s like we’re, like, sisters!!” Think of this cringey image next time you’re embarrassed about wanting to be someone else. 

You’re not that bad. At least, not yet. And here’s the most crucial thing about this feeling: just like a chest infection, if you leave it untreated it will probably get worse. There’s no guaranteed cure but there are ways of making the feeling stop growing and start to disappear, at least partially.

So if you’re suffering from ‘I want to be someone else syndrome’, take the following steps.

1. Delete her on Instagram

Ideally, you’d delete Instagram entirely, but I get that this is a form of social suicide. Delete her, though – the old adage of what the eye doesn’t see the heart doesn’t grieve is an old adage precisely because it’s true

2. ‘Comparisons are odious’

So said the author John Lydgate in his 14th century essay on the relative merits of horse, goose, and sheep. In other words, be the beast you were born as. Wishing you are someone else is as ludicrous as John wishing his goose, whose eggs he needed for breakfast, were a horse, which he can use for transport but not (ideally) eat. 

Got that? Basically: you’re you and nobody else can be, so quit comparing yourself.

3. Look at what you do have

Your skills, your abilities. Remember what people admire you for, or value in you as a person. If you’re struggling with this, ask your friends and family for their contributions –  and write them down so you don’t forget.

4. Hang out with your best mate

Your real best mate, who hangs out with you because you’re who you are and she is who she is, and that particular and unique combination goes together like chocolate and caramel, cheese and spag bol. She’s not hanging out with you in the hope that one day you’ll turn into you know who. She’s not their best mate. She’s yours.

5. When you feel that feeling coming on… LOL

For as long and as loud as possible. Preferably with said best mate, but if not with her then with someone, or at something else. Not only does science suggest laughter a stress reliever, but reports also suggest it is source of emotional support and stability. Basically, it’s impossible to really belly laugh if you’re thinking about someone else’s nice hair.

@finney_clare

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Stocksy

The findings from the latest Good Childhood Report – which gathers informations about the wellbeing of children from 15 different countries, across four separate continents – are in. And sadly, they don’t look amazing.

Team GB might have excelled at the Olympics, but it looks like the nation is far from golden when it comes to raising happy, confident children – especially girls. Out of the 15 countries that are ranked in the Good Childhood Report, England came in last.

The report revealed that one in seven girls said they weren’t happy with their lives overall, while a third don’t feel happy with the way they look. While this might come as a shock to adults, for anyone who’s been in high school recently, it probably won’t come as much of a surprise.

One of the girls involved in the study explained:

“We’re expected to be perfect, like Barbie dolls or something and if we don’t then we get bullied.”

In fact, girls have become less happy with their lives and the way they look over the last five years. Another teenage girl said:

“There are so many things that are difficult about being a young person. There are so many pressures from your friends, from your family. You don’t know who you are going to be, you are trying to find who you are in a certain way.”

We all know what she means, don’t we? The Instagram stars that seem to have their whole lives sorted aged 15; all those advertising campaigns full of models with wide eyes, tiny waists and symmetrical features; the interrogation from family members who demand to know what you want to do with the rest of your life before you’ve even worked out what subjects you’re taking for your GCSEs.

Boys aren’t immune to the pressures of modern life either; despite being happier than girls overall, one in nine boys is unhappy with their lives and one in five is unhappy with the way they look.

But the sort-of-good news for boys is that those numbers haven’t changed that much over five years. Obviously, it would be better if everyone was happy and skipping and singing the Friends theme song at all times, but at least that’s something. For boys.

So what’s the reason for the gap?

Excellent question. It’s not entirely clear why this happiness gap exists but one theory is that emotional bullying, such as being called names or people posting nasty stuff on your Instagram, is twice as common as physical bullying.

And in news that will probably not come as a surprise to anyone, girls are more likely to be victims of emotional bullying, while boys are more likely to be physically bullied.

One of the girls in the study explained:

“There is a lot of pressure to look good, you get called names no matter what, people always say stuff behind your back, boys always call you ugly if you have spots, or a slag if you wear makeup.”

Also, girls also tend to spend more time on social media, which can have a negative impact on mental health. It’s true, you can even ask Biebs.

Reasons to be cheerful

But let’s look beyond the gloom to some bright spots on the horizon, shall we?

There are so many great body-positive campaigns happening right now putting the spotlight on people of colour, disabled people and girls’ rights to their own bodies. From L’Oreal’s True Match campaign that celebrates skintone diversity, to #SREnow’s initiative to provide information about sex and relationships at schools, to the Maltesers advert that featured a woman with cerebral palsy getting real about her sex life.

Hopefully now that the media is (slowly) moving towards more diverse representations of girls and women, we might see a new wave of body positivity that will, in time, turn the tide. And fingers crossed when the next Good Childhood Report is released in 2017, girls in the UK might be feeling a little bit happier.

And by the way…

Your mental health is so important. If you feel so unhappy about anything that it is making life difficult, there’s a lot of help available out there. You can talk to a teacher, a parent, guardian or relative, or you can visit the Childline site for more information.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty