“OMG he’s so OCD,” is a phrase we’ve all heard, and probably used at one point or another to describe someone very clean, tidy, or scrupulous about a certain thing. Like writing their headings in a certain colour pen, for example, or being on time.

We say it without thinking, just as we say someone sad is ‘depressed’ — but like depression, OCD has this whole, big, messy OTHER meaning to it… which, if we knew more about it, might make us think twice before bandying it about the place like any old word.

What does OCD look like?

OCD is a disorder: specifically, an obsessive compulsive disorder, in which a particular pattern of thoughts and/or behaviours occur to you again and again. Imagine the repeat button on your iPod getting jammed on, say, Rebecca Black’s Friday, and you’ve pretty much got it – except of course, that is happening in your head, and there’s no way of pulling the plug.

So what are the symptoms?

‘Obsessions’ are distressing – even disgusting – thoughts or images which keep appearing in your mind, no matter how many times you try to think of something else. Sure, that can seem pretty common  (who doesn’t feel like they think of their crush every waking second of every day?) but this is next level repetition: it’s not obsessed as in ‘I am ob-SESSED with Grace and Frankie’, but upsetting, occasionally repulsive and often unlikely thoughts – your crush, friends and siblings all dying in a flood you’ve caused, for example – which arrive without invite, complete with a supersized dose of anxiety.

OCD UK has a really extensive (but by no means complete) description of the kind of thoughts an OCD sufferer might have.

‘Compulsions are the behavioural part of the deal – the actions someone takes to combat, control or relieve the unwelcome thoughts. They can be related to the thought (checking the taps constantly, for example, if it’s a flood scenario you’re obsessed with) but they can often appear irrational. They offer a relief from the anxiety, and that’s what results in an urge to perform them again and again – but like squeezing a spot, the relief they offer is usually pretty shortlived.

TL;DR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which means a distressing pattern of thoughts and/or behaviours occur to you again and again. And again. This DOESN’T always mean hand washing or tidying up – and nor does a tidy person who washes their hands a lot necessarily have OCD. We don’t know what causes OCD, but it’s thought to be triggered by trauma, stress, and/or a genetic predisposition to the condition. Treatment is easily accessible and, with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), really effective. If obsessive thoughts or behaviours are taking over your life, you should definitely talk to someone and seek help.

Cleaning and handwashing ARE common compulsions, but they are not the only ones – and someone who washes their hands a lot doesn’t necessarily have OCD. Ditto tidying, hoarding, checking things, arranging and rearranging things and other everyday behaviours (you can find out more on that here) which tbh mostly sound like habits your parents could do with scaling back on. Only if they occur repetitively and as a result of obsessive, upsetting thoughts could they potentially indicate a more serious issue.

So how do I know it’s OCD?

When it is taking over your life, at the expense of anything else you might need or care about. Let’s go back to the crush example, shall we? Dreaming about their dimples is delightful, and probably doesn’t make you late for school every day. You can dismiss the thought if you have to. and focus on the task in hand. We’re talking about a level of obsessive thinking and behaviour that consumes and distresses you and your loved ones in much the same way as a serious addiction: impacting your work, home and social life and taking up an excessive amount of time.

When I had Compulsive Skin Picking – a form of OCD that takes picking your spots to a whole new level – I was known to spend almost over an hour in front of the bathroom mirror, picking and peeling away. That, my friends, is obsessive compulsive disorder; not a 60-second pus fest.

What causes OCD?

Annoyingly no one has managed yet to pin it down to any one cause in particular. It’s believed to be down to one or more factors which kickstart the disease – you can read about these in detail here, but they can be genetic (often conditions like OCD and anxiety or depression can run in families), psychological (sometimes a previous mental health problem can lead to OCD) and environmental (the result of external stress or emotional trauma in childhood or later on).

OCD has no age-limit, and it isn’t confined to one gender in particular. There are still many questions to be answered about what brings it on.

Is it treatable?

Absolutely! CBT — another acronym, but a nice one — stands for cognitive behavioural therapy, and is your best friend here. At its most basic it means rewiring your brain, to help it avoid negative trains of thought and choose more positive ones instead. Don’t panic: it doesn’t involve actual wires – just talking to a CBT-trained therapist who will help to understand, challenge and avoid the obsessive thought processes.

You know how there are some routes you really should know by now, but somehow you always go wrong on? These guys will point out the signpost you’ve missed, and the garden with the gnomes which reminds you it’s the next road on the left. Metaphorically speaking. The most common problem with OCD is that people suffer for ages before seeking help. You can, and should, read more about treatments here.

@clare_finney

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

Your identity is a complicated and multilayered thing. Some people place importance on things like nationality, while for others their identity might be wrapped up in a sport they play, or a genre of music that means the world to them. And for many of us, sexuality is a really important aspect of what makes us feel most comfortably ourselves – but the way we’re talking about it is changing in an amazing way.

For lots of young people, the rigid and restrictive conditions around sexuality are looking more and more old-fashioned. You might be a cisgender girl who’s always dated boys but suddenly you catch yourself with feelings for another girl at school. In previous generations this would have caused far much more anxiety and confusion, whereas now it’s something most young people have no real qualms about. With a wealth of knowledge and thousands of different perspectives to absorb online, we’re less likely to define ourselves in such strict terms – officially.

A recent study of over 1000 people aged 13-26 from the UK and US found that a massive 57% of participants don’t identify as strictly heterosexual. As a society, we’re going beyond those black and white binary definitions.

Representation is a really important factor here. It’s so important to see people who reflect who you are in the media, because seeing people like you makes you feel less alone. As a young teen struggling with my own sexuality, to have had something like the San Junipero episode of Black Mirror, or the wonderfully queer Steven Universe, would have meant the world to me (it still does tbh).

Online communities are another way this generation is dismantling sex and gender stereotypes. Back 20 years ago, someone grappling with new and confusing feelings might not have had someone to confide in – but these days, tight-knit groups of online friends and kindred spirits from every corner of the globe can be a total lifeline. The value and legitimacy of online relationships was emphasised by the study results, with 55% of respondents having been in a virtual relationship with someone they had never met before, particularly trans or nonbinary people and those with disabilities.

The study, which was commissioned by anti-bullying organisation Ditch The Label, showed that 34% of people feel as though the label-based definition of sexuality is obsolete. Now more than ever, young people feel like they can be themselves and navigate their sexuality at their own pace, without fear of negative repercussions. A whopping 93% of participants said they saw nothing wrong with exploring your sexuality, and I think they’re totally right. As long as you’re not hurting others and taking care of yourself, just… live your life.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that if you do end up identifying exclusively under a certain label, that’s totally ok too. So many people find community and kinship in embracing a label, and it helps them make sense of their place in the world. On the other hand, it’s not cool to be disparaging of someone if they don’t fit in one category or another. The beauty of us lies in our difference and diversity, and that kind of attitude can leave someone feeling ostracised and inauthentic (speaking from personal experience on this one).

As young people create a more accepting and open-minded view of human sexuality and gender, here’s hoping the progress continues. And if you’re struggling with your sexuality, that there are so many supports out there for you to help navigate through what can be an intense time.

If you remember one thing, it’s that your feelings are always valid regardless of whether you fit into any box or stereotype. You’re never on your own.

@incogellen

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

 

My Mad Fat Diary author Rae Earl is exactly the funny, straight-talking auntie we all need in our lives. She won’t sugar-coat the suckyness of being a girl but, having survived her own teenage mental breakdown, she’s absolutely full of wisdom and smart advice about how to get through the absolute worst of teenage (and adult!) life.

Now, ten years after letting us all read her teenage diaries, Rae’s latest book is part memoir, part guide to all things mental health. It’s packed full of everything she wishes she’d known when she was your age, with medical expertise thrown in by Radio 1’s Dr Radha.

We sat down with Rae to get the lowdown on It’s All In Your Head: A Guide To Getting Your Sh*t Together, the book she describes as “a brain beanbag, to have as a reference by your bed, and flop into whenever you want”.

So what are the top seven things that she hopes you’ll take away from It’s All In Your Head?

Everything can be survived

“Basically everything can be survived, and you can get through it. Just give yourself time,” Rae says – and she’s living proof. “As a teenager I was very embarrassed about being on a psychiatric ward, and mental health issues don’t usually get better over night. Most conditions have to be managed throughout our lives, but I’ve reached this age now where I’m fine to talk about those things.”

Everyone is struggling, and you don’t have to do it alone

“Everybody thinks they’re a freak, everybody’s struggling, even the people who seem to be swimming through all cocky; everybody’s having a crisis. Nobody’s perfect or got it all together. I was going to say it’s that age, but actually it’s just life – I’m 46 and I’m still winging it!” Rae laughs. “When I was at school, we never had that conversation. But if we’d had that chat, that feeling of intense alienation and loneliness could have been alleviated,” she adds.

“I think if I’d felt able to have those chats with my friends, I would have felt far less lonely, and far more able to make change, because I wouldn’t have felt so disabled by the fact I was on my own. I denied myself so much, and absolutely invalidated myself from life – it was all such a waste. Having that chat would have been so important to me, I think I would have said yes to a lot more.”

Be careful about over-sharing online

“It’s a cliché, but the biggest thing that’s changed since I was a teenager is social media,” Rae says. “If I imagine putting social media into my life at that point, I don’t think I would have managed that well at all. I would have over-shared and that would have left me vulnerable. I think it would have exacerbated my problems with my body more. But then, on the flip side, perhaps seeing other people share their experiences would have helped me accept it,” she adds.

“My diary was private, it was a place to vent everything I felt in a perfectly safe space – so I think I had more freedom to make enormous mistakes without it going viral. Now we share so much, but you do still need to have somewhere private and safe.”

Failure is essential, so give yourself a break

“I wish I could change the word failure, because it’s so loaded – but failure is an essential part of life,” Rae says. “It’s how you come back from things. It’s unbelievable, you learn so much on the way.”

It’s fine to say no to things

“It’s fine to put your hand up and say ‘I’m not comfortable with this. You’re allowed to say no to things. Sometimes it may be something you have to get comfortable with – a job, education – but, by flagging it up, people can help you find a way to get through something that’s proving difficult for you,” she says.

“There are some things where it’s obvious – if it’s going to put your mental and physical safety at risk, you know to say no to it. But inevitably, wonderful things also often come with discomfort. Discomfort is part of life, and it’s fine to say yes if it will lead to something lovely. It’s all about learning your limits,” Rae adds.

Fit your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else

This advice is borrowed from those aeroplane safety talks, but Rae says it’s something we can all learn from. “A lot of people aren’t good at putting themselves first – often because we don’t want to face things,” she says. “I certainly made my life about other people’s problems, rather than sorting out my own, but it’s just about finding those little steps that help you get better day by day.”

Talk to someone about your problems as soon as possible

Finally, Rae says, “the longer you ignore your problems, the worse they get. It’s like a weed that keeps on growing bigger and bigger. The sooner you have the conversation with someone who loves you, the sooner you can get better.”

She adds: “I know it’s uncomfortable, but the people you love want you to be the happiest and best you can be, even if that means discomfort or a painful conversation. And even if you feel that nobody loves you, there are organisations that genuinely do want to help – you just need to tell them.

“If I’d had earlier intervention, I would have enjoyed a lot of my life more – but I didn’t say anything, I just engaged in behaviours that made me temporarily feel better, but just added more problems on top of problems,” she says. “Start the conversation now, as soon as you can.”

Remember, if you’re struggling, you can contact Childline (www.childline.org.uk ) for free, confidential advice on 0800 1111, or visit youngminds.org.uk.

Rae Earl’s book It’s All In Your Head: A Guide To Getting Your Sh*t Together is out now, published by Hachette.

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. 

It’s perfectly natural to feel panicked in certain situations. Sometimes life can be a bit panicky. When you’re late to an appointment and there’s a red light; when you can’t remember where you put your mum’s favourite necklace; when you are watching literally any episode of Pretty Little Liars.

But a panic attack is something else, something next-level – a very real, physical reaction to what’s going on in your mind. Put simply, panic attacks are when that feeling of ‘Oh my god, something awful is about to happen,’ spreads throughout your body and makes it hard to continue with your day.

What do panic attacks look like?

During a panic attack, you may feel like you can’t breathe or you are going to be sick. Some people describe feeling like they’re having a heart attack, or the frantic need to escape whatever place or situation you’re in.

Physically, you might feel like your heart is beating weirdly or really fast. You may also feel hot and sweaty, or shaky and weak in your legs. Some people experience blurry vision, or a sensation that their surroundings feel strange and distant.

Panic attacks normally last between five and 20 minutes. Part of what makes panic attacks so frightening is how quickly they come on and how intense the symptoms can feel. However, it’s important to remember that panic attacks can’t cause any physical harm. We’ll say it again: they can’t cause you any physical harm. So that’s one less thing to worry about.

TLDR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • Panic attacks are when that feeling of “Oh my god, something awful is about to happen,” spreads throughout your body and makes it hard to continue with your day.
  • Symptoms include: feeling sick or short of breath, feeling like you're having a heart attack, feeling hot and sweaty, shaky or weak in your legs, blurry vision, feeling the need to escape, or the sensation that your surroundings feel strange.
  • Panic attacks normally last between five and 20 minutes. The symptoms can feel intensely real and scary, although they can’t actually cause any physical harm.
  • Breathing exercises, listening to music, exercising or keeping a diary can all help, and so can talking to your doctor.

What causes panic attacks?

The exact cause isn’t understood. Sigh.

For some people, there are places or situations that can trigger a panic attack, whereas other people will experience them at random. They go hand-in-hand with anxiety, although not everyone who has a panic attack has anxiety disorder, and vice versa. But whatever the cause, they’re common. About one in 10 people experience panic attacks, and they effect twice as many women as men (cool thnx, patriarchy). 

Are they treatable?

Yes. The worst thing about panic attacks is that you can talk and think yourself into them – but that’s also kind of the best thing, because it means you can talk and think yourself out them too.

Obviously, this sort of mental gymnastics can be incredibly difficult, but it’s definitely possible. There are a lots small things you can do that can make a huge difference; talk to someone you trust, try some breathing exercises, listen to music, exercising or even keeping a diary. And beyond that, talking therapies with a mental health professional can give you coping strategies to keep panic at bay. 

When should I go to the doctor?

If your panic attacks are frequent, linked to general feelings of anxiety, or just making life difficult, it’s always a good idea to have a chat to your GP about what they recommend.

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

You know when you wait ages for a bus and then three come along all at once? Well, that’s how becoming a teen felt for me.

I had found primary school easy. I had lots of friends, exams were a breeze and I never really thought about how I looked. But then lots of things came along all at once.

My parents had never got on well, but suddenly they were fighting so much more. I had my first crush, but he didn’t like me back. I started my period, but had a lot of painful cramps. My friends were arguing and taking time off school to go to the park. And to top it all off, I was finding it really difficult that everyone else in my class — not to mention everyone else on the planet — seemed to have big boobs and mine felt tiny in comparison.

So much had happened in one go that I didn’t know how to deal with it. It’s easy to pick up one or two Maltesers when they’ve fallen out of the packet, isn’t it? But what about when the whole packet falls on the floor? Well, you either start picking them up… or you don’t pick them up at all.

That’s what I did. Instead of coping with one thing at a time, I felt really overwhelmed. It was like a big, sad cloud was following me around and raining on me all of the time. I tried to hide it and pretend my parents breaking up wasn’t a big deal really or I didn’t even want to have boobs and look like the girls in the magazines. But deep down I was overwhelmed. And the worst part was that I thought other people could tell. This meant I did less and less. I didn’t want to socialise with my friends or get dressed up because I thought I was just a quiet, sad girl to them.

I didn’t really know where these feelings were coming from, either. I thought everyone else was dealing with things a lot better than me — and that I should be happy. After all, I got good grades, I had friends, I had a mum who was just absolutely ace. All I really needed at the time was someone to tell me that it’s ok to feel sad and confused sometimes when you hit your teens. Worrying about your body when it’s going through puberty and changing so much is really natural. Getting sad about your parents arguing would probably even make Beyoncé want a good cry. And feeling unsettled when friends were falling out and crushes wouldn’t text back? Well, that was something everyone was going through too.

But it felt like just me.

One day I remember feeling so trapped and sad that I just ran outside to get away from everything. As simple as that. I ran and I kept running. And suddenly my heart was beating faster, I could feel the wind against my face, I was breathing normally, I was holding my head up high, I wasn’t caring about how my body looked. I felt free.

More importantly, I felt happy.

Happy that I could make a decision to get outside when it felt like life was too much, that I could make my body work for me, that I could feel a surge of happy exercise endorphins in my blood and that I could breathe free and easy rather than feeling panicky and nervous.

I’d always loved to exercise when I was growing up. But PE lessons had sucked all of the fun out of running and climbing and dancing around — all of the things I loved when I was young. Team sports felt so boring and fake to me. But discovering running for myself felt like I had opened up a brand new world.

From then on, anytime a sad or nervous or “I’m rubbish!” feeling came along, I’d decide not to let it take over. Instead, I put on my trainers and went outside. Taking some time out of each day to do something for me, how I wanted to do it, in the way I wanted to do it felt really good. It didn’t stop the sad feelings, it didn’t make my parents get back together or magically grow me a huge pair of boobs to make all of the other girls in my class jealous. But it made things feel easier, happier and somehow just a little bit lighter. Because I was proving to myself that I was stronger than my sad thoughts.

It doesn’t always work, though. Sometimes I don’t go running. Sometimes I still sit inside and forget how nice it feels. Sometimes lots of sad feelings still come along. But that’s a natural part of being me.

And years later, I still run and it’s still the best medicine for when I’m feeling sad and when things get too overwhelming. I’ve not trained for a marathon, I don’t spend a lot of my money on fancy running clothes or run a lot of races for charity. But I do feel like I have a secret weapon for whenever life gets a bit too much.

@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

If you had asked me as a teenager if I knew how to look after myself, I’d say sure. I shower, I wash my hair every other day, I brush my teeth twice a day, I eat my fruit and veg, I change my knickers, I exercise… ish. My body is pretty well looked after.

If you asked me now whether I looked after myself as a teenager, I’d say I could definitely have done better. I could have, and should have, looked after my brain. Not in the ‘revise, concentrate in class, have your Omega-3, drink eight glasses of water a day!!!’ kind of way, but in in the ‘self care’ way. 

Self care can sound like an odd term because caring for yourself sounds obvious, right? But sometimes it needs more conscious thought. Sometimes you need to step back and think:

‘Am I ok? How do I feel right now, how’s my body doing? Shall I chill a bit? How shall I chill a bit?’

The world is busy, stressful, and fast. Sometimes your brain can’t keep up no matter how hard you try and you might not even realise you’re struggling under the pressure and pace of life. So whether you struggle with your mental health or not, self care is a good practice to learn.

But how can you do it? The whole business is different for everyone, but here are some good places to start:

Have a day/night off

It can be easy to get trapped into thinking that you need to be productive and busy all the time, but don’t wear yourself out. Let yourself have a night or day for yourself. No homework, no revising, no coursework, no thinking about where you want to be in 10 years’ time. You’re allowed to live for today.

Have a bath!

Like we said, life is busy and showers often seem easier and quicker, but a good soak in the bath every now and then can do wonders for you. Get the bubbles in, choose a fancy bath bomb, grab a book and lie in the warmth until you go pruney.

Cleanse your space

No, we’re not nagging you to tidy your room, but… well, maybe we are. But a healthy space is a healthy mind! If you have more time then have a proper clear out of your wardrobes and drawers for a charity. You may be more inclined to use your bedroom to chill in if it’s clean, tidy, pretty, and how you want it to look.

Go outside

Nothing beats fresh air. However great it is to stay inside all day and chill, it could end up making you tetchy and foggy. Even if it’s just standing outside your back door, spending a little bit of time outside each day will freshen you up.

Get creative

Can’t draw? Can’t write? Can’t sing for sounding like a strangled cat? Who cares! Creativity is good for the soul and you don’t have to be good at it. Buy a mindfulness colouring book or steal your little sister’s violin and go wild.

Have a Netflix binge

Treat yo’self. You’ve got time for one more episode, go on. Just make sure you get outside afterwards…

Order a takeaway

Yes, yes, vegetables are great. But so is curry, and pizza, and Chinese. Persuade your parents to take advantage of a Two for Tuesday offer or get your friends round on a Friday for a pyjama and takeaway night. You’re allowed the comfort food around the vegetables.

Catch up with an old friend

It can be easy to scroll through Facebook and see what your friends are up to without actually speaking to them for months, or even years. If there’s a friend you haven’t checked in with for a while then give them a message. Social media is sometimes a barrier you need to break.

Exercise

Hear us out. We’re not talking P.E. cross country or hockey, promise. Exercise doesn’t have to be a horrible chore. It can be fun and the endorphins that are released during exercise are incredibly good for your brain. Go swimming with your friends or try running. You may get into it more than you think…

Do some yoga/pilates/meditation

There are tonnes of YouTube videos showing yoga tutorials. Spending just 10 minutes a day reconnecting with your body and mind can keep you super zen.

Say no

You’re allowed. You don’t have to do something if you don’t want to.

Say yes

You’re allowed. You can let yourself have fun. You deserve it.

@louisejonesetc

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. 

I’ll be the first to admit that every now and again, when the scrolling of my *enter any social media platform here* feed becomes aimless and automatic, rather than actually interesting, I’ll have a clear-out.

Much like the annual clear-out of my underwear drawer, sometimes an online clear-out is just necessary. As the years go on you realise that you’re not actually bothered about what the girl-who-you-sat-next-to-in-Maths-in-Year-7-then-never-spoke-to-you-again is getting up to now, and you can’t actually deal with any more tweets about football from the boy-you-met-at-a-friend’s-party-once-and-followed-because-he-was-a-bit-fit anymore. So you unfriend/unfollow them. Done. Sorted. Easy.

But, what happens when you want to unfriend someone in real life? Like, an actual friend you speak to and hang out with? There’s no button for that. No easy way out. But it can be done…

Is it ok to unfriend someone, or am I instantly a bad person?

No, you’re not instantly a bad person. Sometimes friendships just fizzle out, and people change or want different things. Suddenly they’re into house music and you’re still pining for a Girls Aloud reunion, or they deleted their Pokémon Go app and you are 100% not ready to stop catching ‘em all. And that’s ok. In that case, you’ll probably both drift away from each other naturally with no hard feelings.

But sometimes the feeling isn’t mutual. I spoke to Irene S. Levine, a psychologist and writer on friendships, and she said to remember that, “Friendships are voluntary relationships and should be mutually satisfying.” Irene is so right. You shouldn’t have to force yourself through a friendship if you’re not feeling it. That’s not fair on either of you.

How do I unfriend someone who’s horrible to me, and I’m a bit scared of them?

If someone is intentionally nasty to you, either publicly or privately, then you are totally justified to unfriend them. 

Irene suggests that taking control and being direct with this person about your feelings and wishes may be best, but if you’re worried about being physically or verbally threatened then speak to a trusted adult about the situation first. If you definitely don’t want to be direct with this friend, then you can try to quietly distance yourself from them by hanging out with others. Irene emphasises that “you don’t owe that person a lengthy explanation” – and you really don’t. It’s ok to put your safety and feelings first.

How do I unfriend someone if there’s nothing wrong with them, but I just don’t really want to hang around with them anymore?

Have you started putting your bag next to you on the bench when you see them walking over? Or hear yourself wince when their name appears on your phone? Yeah, it might be a sign that this friendship isn’t all rainbows and smiles, and it’s best to nip it in the bud before you start being out-and-out horrible to them or act like you’re swatting away a fly.

Irene says, “Sometimes it’s best to gradually spend less time with the other person or see them for briefer periods or see them as part of a group. It’s also perfectly fine to tell a friend that you want to expand your circle of friends.”

You could get all hippy and ‘I want to find myself’ on them before running off to Thailand*, or continue to politely decline their invitations of hanging out until they get bored of asking (or you run out of excuses). Whether you’re direct or not, there isn’t really a nice way around it. Just remember that it’s healthy in the long run.

You might even find that by spending a little less time with them, you’re happy and don’t need to cut ties. Sometimes we all need a break from people. We have those friends we could be with 24/7, and other friends who are maybe a bit full on and your head can only deal with a few hours. And that’s fine!

*ok, the other side of the school

Are you sure I won’t hurt their feelings?

There’s no guarantee it’ll be plain sailing, but hopefully they’ll understand that friendships change and you’re not to blame. Then they’ll use a photo of your face as a dartboard.

JOKING.

Hopefully…

If they do take it really badly, then maybe it’s a sign that this was the right thing to do. But it’ll likely be fine and any awkwardness will settle. You’ll both hang out with other friends and, who knows, you might even be on the same path in a few years and be best buddies again.

Hold on, I’VE been unfriended. Why?! What did I do?!

“If you know you said or did something wrong, apologise as soon as possible,” Irene says. “Or, perhaps, it was something you didn’t do or say that you should have!” Basically, the best thing is to just ask. It might be easier said than done, but if you’re hurt and confused then you have a right to ask what’s going on. Hopefully you can have a good conversation about it, but if not then it may be best to just let it lie, at least for the time being.

And remember, people change. Try not to not jump to the easy conclusion of: OMG WHAT DID I DO, WHAT DID I SAY, AM I AWFUL?! Reflecting on Irene’s advice is great if you’re on either side of this often uncomfortable and awkward situation.

(I’m still holding out for that Girls Aloud reunion…)

You can find Irene on Twitter, @irenelevine, and at www.TheFriendshipBlog.com.

@louisejonesetc

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

School’s out! A fortnight of festive freedom! Think of all the things you will DO – the people you could see, the places you could go, the ambitious but satisfying projects you could undertake, the hours you could spend doing something wholesome and outdoorsy, like carol singing or tobogganing or skating on a frozen lake (because obviously your imaginary Christmas holiday takes place in a movie adaptation of a Dickens novel).

You could do all those things, but obviously you won’t. Because you’ll be asleep.

Mmmm, sleep. The greatest gift of all.’Tis the season for a lie-in, fa la la la la, la la zz zzzzzz. After you’ve spent the whole year getting up at basically the crack of dawn to achieve all that stuff you’ve achieved, and staying up late to keep up your social media presence in case people start to worry you’ve been kidnapped, all you really want for Christmas is a big, giant nap.

And here’s the good news: you deserve one. You need one, in fact. No matter how much your parents mutter about ‘lazy teenagers’, tut when you emerge at lunchtime in your pyjamas or nag you to get up and go for a 10-mile Boxing Day walk with them before handwriting 20 thank-you letters to your relatives. The truth is that in your teen years, a good night’s sleep becomes more important than ever before… but, and here’s the unfair bit, it’s also harder to actually get.

How many Zs are we talking?

Studies have suggested that between the ages of 10 and 20, we should be clocking up at least nine hours’ sleep a night. That’s an hour or two more than your parents need, and six hours more than Margaret Thatcher supposedly used to get (which explains some things). But even more interestingly, the pattern of sleep gets thrown off during adolescence – typically meaning that teen brains want to go to sleep later, but also sleep for longer in the morning. Sound familiar? Turns out it isn’t your habit of falling into a YouTube rabbit hole at midnight that’s to blame; it’s your BRAIN. And your habit of falling into a YouTube rabbit hole at midnight. A bit.

Mm sure, but why?

Science is helpfully vague on that question. “There must be an evolutionary reason why this happens,” says Neil Stanley, a sleep researcher at the University of East Anglia, who thinks that the culprit could be – what else? – hormones. “If sleep is important for memory and learning, and dealing with emotions, and repair and recuperation, then teenage years have an awful lot of that,” he told the BBC

During puberty your circadian rhythms (the ones that control sleeping and waking) are ‘reset’, a bit like turning a phone off and on again. Except that your phone usually wakes up faster and more alert, whereas you end up wanting to crawl into a burrow and hibernate until adulthood.

So how do I catch more than 40 winks?

You probably know plenty of the tricks – hot drinks before bed, a relaxing bath, switching off your devices early and banishing them from your bedroom (here’s our handy video) – but do you actually do them?

Thought not. Well, that’s a good place to start. Especially the devices one, which we KNOW is about as appealing as sleeping without oxygen in the room…. but all that scrolling can send your mind into overdrive when it should be winding down. Plus a recent study found that the blue light your phone gives off can mess up your natural sleep cycle, by suppressing the sleepy hormone melatonin and ‘fooling’ the brain into thinking it is daytime. Old-style alarm clocks might be due a revival, guys.

There are also bigger plans afoot in society to help teens get the start they really need, including recent recommendations that high schools should start and finish later, so everyone can have a good lie-in without feeling guilty about it. Some early research has suggested that later starts not only help you get more sleep, but also help reduce feelings of depression and irritability. So an extra hour’s kip might be good for more than just staying awake during Monday morning double maths.

Yawn. Are you finished yet?

Almost. While schools catch up and (hopefully) change their timetables, you can look after yourself by making sure you get as much sleep as you can, when you can. And if anyone tries to call you lazy, show them this article.

Although you really should write your thank-you letters. Sorry.

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: Amber Griffin

My first panic attack was probably the scariest half hour of my life.

My tongue was so swollen that it was going to detach itself and fall down my throat; my heart was palpitating at such speed that it would surely explode right then and there in my chest; and my brain was so overwhelmed with the situation that it was only a matter of minutes before it cut out completely.

Of course, none of these things were actually happening. But the sensations of panic led me to believe that they were and that I was dying. I had only been getting ready for bed, about to sit and read another chapter of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. The catastrophic feelings would have made more sense if I was preparing for a big job interview or about to board an epic rollercoaster ride.

I experienced a few more similar attacks, thinking that each one was going to kill me. It quickly reached a point where I was so constantly worried about another imminent attack, that an omnipresent anxiety overshadowed me day and night.

What are anxiety, panic attacks and panic disorders?
  • Anxiety is a mix of emotional and physical sensations that we usually experience when we are worried, stressed or nervous about something. These sensations are usually our body’s reaction to feeling threatened, when it is preparing to ‘fight or flight’.
  • A panic attack is an intense feeling of this anxiety, usually lasting between 5-20 minutes. Here are just some of the symptoms:- sweating- shortness of breath- dizziness- a choking sensation
  • It can feel like something catastrophic is happening, but it’s important to try to remember that a panic attack will not cause you any serious harm.
  • A panic disorder is when you regularly experience recurring panic attacks for no known reason (like an argument, or an impending exam).

It was a vicious cycle that seriously started to affect my social life. I remember one time going out for a lovely meal with my friends and suppressing my feelings of absolute dread and dizziness throughout the whole thing. This would happen regularly, at work, at the dinner table and on the bus going to a pal’s for a catch up.

Moving to London made it worse: from irrationally fearing every single Tube or bus ride, to quickly entering a new relationship and new friendships that made me focus even more on my faults and failures, to the pressure of competing against a trillion other millennials all after the same career as me.
It was time to swallow my pride and take action for the sake of my sanity and self-esteem. I went to my GP who advised me to ring the local hospital and arrange for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

What is CBT?
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a talking therapy. It helps you to manage anxiety by focusing on how you think and behave.
  • It is based on the concept that negative thoughts can turn into a vicious cycle. Over a course of sessions, you are shown how to change these negative patterns.
  • Each session lasts between half an hour to an hour. In these sessions, you will speak with your therapist about the sensations and thoughts that you feel. Together, you will breakdown and analyse these to get a better understanding of your thought pattern.
  • You will also probably be asked to take part in simple exercises to test ways of controlling anxiety and panic. Hopefully, you will finish the therapy with new skills to use in daily life.

I’d heard about this type of therapy before but waved it off as being silly any time someone suggested it. ‘How much can it really help?’ I would reply, ‘I’d probably only waste their time with my trivial problems anyway.’ But after hearing other people’s positive experiences of it (turns out more people than you think are going through the same thing!), I decided to give it a shot.

I was nervous, dubious and – if I’m being completely honest – slightly embarrassed. But after a friendly phone consultation, I went along to meet my therapist. She was fantastic and put me at ease straight away. I’d even go as far to say that we had a laugh together from time to time.

She explained the cycle of panic to me and we did exercises to reconstruct the sensations I often felt. In one session, we went for a run around the local park to get my heart beat going. In another, we went to the supermarket together – a place where panic regularly caught me out.

After a few months of weekly sessions, I left with a better knowledge of my anxiety and panic disorder and how to control my thoughts to break the cycle. Although there have been a few moments where I’ve given in to panic, I haven’t had a full attack in over a year and I quickly bat down the sensations when they arise.

It was probably the most important action I’ve ever taken to help improve my mental health, and I urge anyone experiencing similar symptoms to go to their GP and discuss CBT. You might even have some fun while doing it!

Find more information on anxiety and panic attacks on the Mind website or through NHS Choices. You can also learn more about what happens in CBT sessions here.

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: Amber Griffin

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

The world can seem like a scary place at the very best of times, and when you’re someone who suffers from anxiety it’s amplified. Global warming, money problems, wondering if your friends who you have known for years are only pretending to like you. It’s tough. Feeling anxious or nervous about certain situations is perfectly normal, but when it starts to infringe on you leading a normal life it can become a problem.

I have always had an anxious disposition that has stuck with me from my primary school days even into my mid-twenties. From panic attacks about school projects to cancelling party plans because I was too nervous to go, anxiety has been a lurking presence in my life as far as I can remember. It caused me to miss out on fun things like nights out and sleepovers, and important things like job interviews I was too scared to attend. Imagined worst-case scenarios would play in my head before I went to sleep – car crashes, failing all my exams, being alone forever. It has been quite a time and continues to be something I have to deal with in some aspect every day.

The plus-side of this (yes, there is one) is that I’ve learned a lot from my own experiences with anxiety, from just living life and getting some golden professional advice. Here are a few tried-and-true tips and methods that have helped me in different ways.

So, what causes anxiety?

It’s sadly not as simple as one factor being the root cause for your anxious feelings. Causes can range from your upbringing or your genetic make up, to money problems and other related mental health issues like depression. A big change in your life like starting a new school or your parents splitting up can also trigger feelings of anxiety. If you have an anxiety disorder, you might feel feelings of fear about nothing in particular on a near-constant basis. There’s also a link between anxiety disorders and OCD – people often develop compulsive routines to cope with intrusive thoughts that can trigger them.

Take a breather

It might make you feel a bit silly at first but breathing exercises can be a life-saver when you start to feel panic setting in, especially if you’re in a public place. Regulating your breathing, and taking in deep breaths can help calm you down. To start off, inhale through your nose for four seconds, exhaling for four also out of your nose. It helps me to put my hand on my chest, feeling my lungs fill with air. There are a lot of different exercises to try if this one doesn’t quite work.

Go outside

Being in nature has a really calming effect. A 2015 study at Stanford University showed that a walk in nature near greenery or water can significantly reduce anxious thoughts. This phenomenon is called ‘soft fascination’, and being in nature can allow us to work through our worries while the trees and flowers provide gentle stimulation. Even a ten-minute stroll will go a long way.

Write a worry list

Designate 20 minutes of your day to sitting with paper and a pen, and write about every single worrying thought that comes into your head during that time – but only during that time. No worry is too small or insignificant during worry time. After the 20 minutes of scribbling, read through the list and rip it up. This helps me feel like I have gained some control over my own thoughts, and it can be really helpful.

Get creative

Whether you like to draw, write stories or make origami swans, doing something creative will help you concentrate on what you’re doing in the present. It’s also a good way to blow off steam and express your feelings of worry.

Talk to your younger self

A lot of the time when we feel anxious we end up getting angry and frustrated with ourselves. Why can’t I be normal? Why am I like this? I find it useful to deal with it as if I was talking to my childhood self. I immediately become more understanding and less impatient with myself and my feelings. You could also imagine your friend is talking to you about their worries. Would you dismiss them? Be a friend to yourself.

Self-care

A lot of articles about self-care are basically lists of stuff you can buy yourself to cheer yourself up. While bath bombs and chocolate are great, money can be the root of anxiety for a lot of people so it’s not always possible to treat yourself. Other forms of self-care like messaging a friend, taking a shower and eating good, nourishing meals are as important and won’t cost you a thing.

When to seek professional help

Of course there are times when you are too anxious to leave your room, let alone go for a walk or draw a picture. When your anxiety is paralysing you, a discussion with a counsellor or therapist can be really beneficial. You might feel nervous before the appointment and want to bail, but taking that first step is really brave. Some people feel that talk therapy is enough for them, while others will do better with a combination of counselling and medication.

How to be a good friend to someone with anxiety

Let them know they can talk to you without fear of judgement. If you feel like their worries are irrational, don’t dismiss them. They most likely know that they are, but the feelings of worries are totally real and overwhelming. If they tell you they might have a panic attack, remove them from the stressful situation and stay with them as they work through their feelings.

Sending them a voice message when they feel low is also a really easy and reassuring thing to do. It’s also handy to know if they have any triggers, and any routines or tips that help to calm them down when things get bad. Always ask first, and never assume. Just listen and that will be appreciated more than you ever know.

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

We know there are loads of reasons why you might feel a little stressed. Whether you forgot your maths homework, your period started and made you feel really grumpy or you’ve woken up with a bunch of spots and have a party to go to at the weekend. Or all of them. At the same time. Sigh.

There’s that saying your nan comes out with sometimes: “When it rains, it pours.” Really does seem to be true sometimes, doesn’t it? And often that feeling that there’s just so much going on can make the best of us feel stressed out. Some people get snappy, some find their chest feels a bit tight and it’s difficult to breathe properly and others just feel really, really sad.

Well, unfortunately we can’t do your homework for you, stop your period from showing up or magically make your pimples disappear (we really wish we could too). But what we can do is share some of our top tips for dealing with things a little better when life gets OTT.

And it all starts with a technique called mindfulness.

You might have heard the word before, when people talk about meditating. But don’t worry. You don’t have to get out incense and a yoga mat and start chanting. There are way more doable (and not to mention way more fun) ways to help you chill the hell out.

What mindfulness means, simply, is that you pay close attention to what’s going on. Whether that’s thoughts, sounds or just what you’re doing. Sounds simple, right? Here are five ways to use mindfulness as a secret superpower to combat your stress:

1. Breathe. More. And deeply.

Sure, it sounds like silly advice to breathe more. Everyone breathes, right? But often when you’re feeling sad or like you have too much on your mind, you tend to either breathe too quickly or even hold your breath. You know what this does? It causes your body to freak out. It thinks something bad is happening and makes you feel light-headed, your palms sweat and everything feels way less manageable.

But we all have control over our breath. Even when it feels like we don’t.

A good place to start is breathing in for five seconds. Holding your breath for three seconds. Then breathing out for five seconds. It sounds so simple. But just by counting your breath you’re shifting focus from feeling sad to breathing deeply, so your body doesn’t go into panic mode. Let’s call it the 5-3-5 trick.

2. Get back to nature (or whatever’s outside)

You probably already know that taking a walk outside when you’re feeling stressed can help you. It takes you out of whatever irritating situation you’re in and gets you moving. But next time you go for a walk, really pay attention to what’s around you, as well as how your feet feel.

Yep, that sounds funny but if you can notice ten things about your walk and name them, like ‘rusty red leaves’ or ‘black cat’ you’ll find yourself focusing on that and not feeling as stressed. We’ll call this one… walking for 10. For 10 minutes. Finding 10 things. We bet that’ll be all it takes for you to get your thinking back on track.

3. Think with your feet

The same goes for how your feet feel. Ever thought about how your feet feel when you walk? [Bear with us…] Feeling the way they touch the ground. Paying attention to the heaviness of your feet and even counting your steps is a great practice in mindfulness too. Taking you out of your own head and doing something else with that awesome little brain of yours, rather than worry. Feel those heavy feet. Really, f e e l them.

4. Do something really, really slowly

You don’t need to space out to relax. Or to take a walk. Or even to breathe (although we recommend you always do keep breathing, please). You can just get on with your normal daily routine, but pick one or two things to really focus on.

Whether you’re making tea or eating a chocolate button, next time you do it don’t just do it automatically or in a daze. Take a deep breath and do it slowly. If you’re making tea, watch the water pour out carefully. Count how long it takes to pour it. If you’re holding a chocolate button, feel it in your hand first and even smell it. Try and notice ten things about what you’re doing instead of letting your mind race. Do things slow. Reeeeal slow.

5. Listen to your favourite song

Music can have such a powerful affect on us all. A jolly track can send us into a happy, bouncy state. But a sad song can make us feel a bit mopey and weepy. Whatever music you choose to listen to, we recommend being really mindful about it.

Put your favourite song on and pay attention to it. Simple. Think you already pay attention to it? Think again. Notice all of the lyrics, the beats, the rhythm, the different instruments. Imagine you’re in a music class and you need to pull out all of the different bits of the song. It’ll keep your mind nice and focused. Pull that song apart. 

Dance to it, if you fancy. Stress? What stress?

@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: Getty