There’s tired. There’s ‘just so tired’. And then there is limb-achingly, head-swimmingly, deliriously tired; the kind of tired you only experience after spending all night on homework/revision/text to a potential bae. It’s a tiredness that knows no end; that refuses to be beaten by tea or coffee even if they were being fed via IV into your bloodstream. 

So how do you cope when you feel this way? Here are a few theories, none of which involve caffeine. Obviously if you love your morning flat white, be our guest, but tread carefully with coffee, Coke or rocket fuel energy drinks like Red Bull – too much caffeine can have unpredictable effects on people, and too much caffeine is as likely to make you queasy as psyched.

Instead, look at your day. Break it down into the most bitesize of chunks, and consume accordingly, with scheduled breaks and something sweet to look forward to. Because tiredness is a state of body – but it’s also a state of mind.

1. Splash your face with cold water

And no, I don’t just mean in the morning. I mean whenever you feel the weight of sleep slowly, gently crushing your eyelids into submission. I mean every hour, if you have to – and if you want an extra boost, moisturise and mascara yourself too, or get a hydrating facial mist like this one from Superdrug. The cold will wake you; the stimulation of drying your face on a towel will get your blood going; and the mascara will both stop you from rubbing your eyes (the telltale sign of the sleep deprived) and make you feel more normal. Because whatever ‘normal’ is, it’s not face-planting your desk.

2. Eat a banana

I once met a women who ran marathons, two businesses and a family of four children. Her secret weapon? Bananas. “They are the ultimate energy boost,” she explained. They come ready packaged. They pack a punch full of sugar – fruit sugar, that is – and plenty of other nutritional good guys too, like potassium, riboflavin and vitamins B6 and C. We’re not entirely sure what they do exactly, but science tells us it’s beneficial, and my body agrees.

3. Go for a run

Failing that, go for a walk. Failing THAT, jump up and down outside for a few minutes. I know it’s cold, but that’s one incentive to move. The second incentive – if I may be so bold – is to increase your blood flow, which gets the blood into your brain and your thoughts into action. The third incentive is that it boosts your mood, your appetite, and gives you that gentle pull-yourself-together slap that only bitter, damp February air really can.

4. Get changed

Say what you like, there is something about a fresh pair of pants that makes even the weariest of days feel less weary. Even the starchy, white-whites smell of washing powder has an uplifting effect. Just as getting ready to go out can put you in the mood even when you least feel like leaving the house, so going through the motions of getting ready can perk you up. Even if it’s just changing your hoodie so you can sit back down at your desk and carry on revising.

5. Dress smart

The old saying ‘dress smart, think smart’ isn’t just a cunning ploy by adults to get you our of your trackies; it’s true, at least for many of us. Studies have suggested that for people who have to wear a uniform to work, putting it on has a positive effect on their concentration levels. You don’t have to wear your lab coat to write that biology essay (though it can’t hurt, if you feel like it) but a changing out of that jumper you spilled ketchup down yesterday might just help.

6. Let there be light

The brighter it is, the more alert you’ll feel too. Sure we might all look better in low lighting – that’s why candles are so popular – but if this essay/revision sheet/workbook is ever going to get finished, you’re going to need the lights a-blazing. And if it’s still daylight, work by an (open, preferably) window.

7. Sniff something

Not that we’re suggesting you become an amateur aromatherapist, but a quick whiff of citrus, vanilla or mint can be pretty effective at stimulating your senses – and your brain with them. No need to buy the oils (although they’re not too spendy in Holland and Barrett) – a nice fat grapefruit, vanilla stick or a handful of fresh mint leaves will suffice! Or failing that, body spray. But stop before you get a headache, you should know that by now.

8. Have a nap

Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just the only thing to be done. Sweet dreams.

@finney_clare 

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If you’re into art, there’s nothing better than cracking open your supplies and unboxing your paints, your pencils, your threads and your fluffy stuff to make something totally unique and amazing.

Whether you’re seriously talented or you just love getting messy with the glitter glue, creating something is fun and rewarding – but sometimes we all need a little bit of bonus inspo to get started.

If you get all heart eye emoji over the thought of collage and colouring, stitching and sticking, drawing and doodling, here’s 12 straight-up beautiful craft and colouring books guaranteed to make your inner artist go all giddy.

1. Collage Carnival: A Book To Colour, Cut and Paste by Lizzie Lee

Even when you feel as though the right side of your brain lets you down and your drawing skills are errr… limited, there’s a cute craft out there for you to get stuck in with. You could try collage – cutting and sticking patterns and textures to create something awesome.

This fun and interactive book is packed with ideas and material for making collages, and a range of projects like city scapes, travel journals using holiday snaps and glitter-filled cards for your best pals.

2. Keep Calm and Colour Unicorns by Huck & Pucker

Colouring books are a great thing to have on hand for when you want to unwind and de-stress, and cracking out your colouring pencils can be super relaxing. But why not make the whole thing even better with a unicorn-themed colouring book?

Rather than sticking to IRL-inspired pictures, completing your own pages of rainbow unicorns and mythical magic means that your mindfulness time could lead to some amazing, imaginative daydreaming.

3. Arm Candy by Laura Strutt

One of the best things about being a creative kinda soul is sharing your creations with the people who think you’re an arty genius. So imagine how much your pals are gonna love you when your latest talent is making the perfect friendship bracelets.

Arm yourself with a rainbow of thread and, with step-by-step instructions and photography, you will soon be fully prepared to knot, bend, twist, braid and tie your way into friendship-bracelet heaven.

4. Secret Garden Embroidery by Sophie Simpson

Looking for the most beautiful craft book around? You just found it. Inspired by all of the loveliest parts of nature, this one is bursting with botanical-inspired needlework projects that will take you from budding novice to confident stitcher in no time.

Between the pages you’ll find a collection of cross stitch and embroidery projects to the theme of an English country garden, and a magical story amongst the flowers and wildlife-covered designs.

5. The Ultimate Brush Lettering Guide by Peggy Dean

More into words than pictures? Anyone obsessed with fancy fonts and lettering will fall head over heels in love with this one. Whether you’ve never picked up a brush pen before, or you’re a swirly writing expert by now, this will help you perfect the lettering that you’ve seen all over Instagram.

Once you’ve mastered the letters, flourishes and style, you can use the dreamy new skill for presents, cards and even your own inspirational Insta quotes.

6. Pompomania by Christine Leech

Pom poms are not only the cutest thing you can possibly create, but they’re also cheap as chips and seriously simple to master, too. Just be prepared for everyone to eye roll when you’ve covered your entire life in pure pom pom JOY.

Full of floofy creations from the first page to the last, Pompomania (what a great title) shows you how to make everything from decor for your bedroom to teeny tiny trinkets for your friends.

7. Art Therapy: Disney Animals by Catherine Saunier-Talec

If we were going to describe our perfect evening, it’d probably involve sitting in front of a classic Disney movie, armed with a full spectrum of felt tips and a cute colouring book. So why not combine the two to make it extra magical?

Yep, it’s an actual Disney colouring book, filled with beautiful landscapes, delicate patterns and most importantly, all of your favourite and most memorable characters from Bambi to 101 Dalmatians. LOVE.

8. Happy Mail by Eunice Moyle

Not to get all old fashioned on you or anything, but this crafty little book revolves around the art of snail mail. Because let’s be honest, getting a cute card in the post is way better than getting an Insta DM.

Jam-packed with 25 cards and stationery designs, it’ll teach you how to create beautiful and personalised hand-lettering, bright doodles, quirky collage and imaginative illustrations. See ya later, emails.

9. Hello Tokyo: For a Cute, Tokyo-Inspired Lifestyle by Ebony Bizys

A treasure trove full of fun handmade projects, craft queen and blogger extraordinaire Ebony Bizys (aka Hello Sandwich) is here to fill your life with colourful and vibrant Japanese-inspired DIY ideas.

You’ll find instructions for kitting out your bedroom, organising your school supplies, jazzing up your wrapping skills and even customising your own wardrobe. If it’s possible to fall in love with a book, we think it’s gonna happen with this one.

10. Be Mine: 25 Paper Projects to Share the Love by Sally J Shim

If you’re gonna dive head first into this sweet ‘lil project book, expect to emerge covered in candy floss, pink glitter, heart-shaped confetti and all things adorable.

From an XOXO Pop-Up Card to a Love Message in a Bottle, a Heart-Shaped Box, and an ‘I’m Sweet on You’ Lollipop Cover for Valentine’s Day, each design is dead easy to make but has super cute results.

11. My Year In Small Drawings: Notice, Draw, Appreciate by Matilda Tristram

To make your inner artist feel like Christmas has come early, why not take on the mini challenges with this daily drawing inspo guide? Encouraging you to spot the amazing things in everyday life, you’ll build up a visual diary day-by-day and find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Sketching pretty window frames, passers by and bicycles at bus stops will not only lead to your drawing skills improving A LOT, but you’ll be left with a totally unique look back at the past twelve months.

12. Sew! by Cath Kidston

Ever dreamed of making your own dress? Some trousers? The perfect new top? Sewing your own clothes might seem daunting, but this is a great place to start if you wanna become your own personal fashion designer.

With instructions for everything from bags to clothes, get ready to create a whole new wardrobe for yourself. And yep, it’s all simple enough so that even an absolute beginner can end up with handmade clothes. See you on the catwalk, fancy pants.

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. 

School’s out! Six weeks of freedom. No more lessons. No more uniforms. No more trying to hide in the toilets when you see your crush coming towards you because you’ve got the world’s biggest spot.

Now’s the time to laze around in the garden, sunbathe at the pool and cruise along the seafront in a convertible sports car. (Except if you’re chilling in the garden, your parents will nag you to tidy your room 263 times a day. Also, the whole of the UK only has 4.5 outdoor lidos and cruising the seafront in a convertible sports car only happens in American teen movies.)

There’s also this: although the break from school or college is fab, by the time you go back in September you’ll have forgotten everything you’ve learnt – and that means weeks or months trying to get back up to speed before coursework and exams kick in.

But there are things that can help. Eight things to be precise. Pick-and-choose activities as you go along or make a plan for what you’d like to achieve (colour coded timetable anyone?) because a couple of hours each week can make a big difference. Come September, the return to class won’t be such a shock to the system. It won’t make your PMS spots disappear though, sorry.

Take your cue from school

Let’s start with the basics. Boring, I know. But the best place to start is your school. That’s if you’re not already reading this from the side of one of Britain’s 4.5 lidos.

Do your homework: if you’ve been set tasks to complete over the holidays, then actually doing them will tick the box for mental activity, plus give you the satisfaction of being able to hand them in when you go back. No ‘dog ate my homework’ excuses required.

Ask your teachers: it may sometimes be hard to believe, but those people at the front of the classroom are experts in the stuff they tell you. They have certificates and everything! Pick their brains for advice. What one thing do they suggest would be useful to keep the subject fresh in your mind?

Visit the websites

The Internet is full of amazing things. Instagram. ASOS. Videos of cats. It also contains loads of useful resources to support your learning. Check them out during the holidays then return to the same sites for help when you’re revising. You’ll thank me for that tip, honestly.

For subject specific sites, there are webpages dedicated to all the subjects, with lots of interactive options. I wish I’d known about Study Maths! BBC Bitesize: every subject at every educational level is covered here, appropriate to wherever in the UK that you live. Bookmark it now!

Get the apps

As well as websites, there are many apps out there dedicated to helping you learn. Anyone would think education is important or something! Two brilliant ones are:

TED: Ted Talks cover every topic under the sun and they get the best people in each field to share their thoughts under the banner ‘Ideas worth spreading’. Warning: it’s a completely fascinating time suck. You may spend the whole of August watching talks.

Memrise: this app contains tons of courses to help you remember stuff. The language ones are particularly useful for keeping up knowledge of vocab. Repeat after me: ‘i bastoncini cinesi’*

Watch the videos

This is the moment when I tell you that YouTube is an educational resource. Yes really. If there’s something that you’ve never quite understood no matter how many times it was explained in class, get on YouTube and you’re sure to find an alternative perspective that might help it to make sense. It’s like having Professor Brian Cox as your own personal physics teacher.

BBC I-Player, Netflix and Amazon are full of documentaries that feature the best minds and important concepts so have a browse to see what’s available. Look for relevant films too. Of course The Devil Wears Prada totally counts as revision for Textiles.

Read the books

Go old school while you’re not at school and read real books. They don’t have to be course related, although the hols might be a good time to actually plough through any that you’ve skipped or skim read. Just reading *anything* is good for your brain!

Go to the library: as well as being able to borrow books for free, lots of local libraries offer summer reading challenges with events and rewards. Or join a book club: there are loads of these around, including ones dedicated to teens such as Zoella’s collaboration with WH Smith and the online one offered by the Guardian newspaper.

Have a break

Because it’s worth a reminder: holidays are for having a break. You’ll learn better in September if you go back rested and refreshed – but you can keep your mind active over the time off too.

*Chopsticks in Italian.

@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: St. Trinian’s

Growing up in front of an audience throws up a lot of challenges. One of the biggest is feeling the pressure to share only the best, most photo-worthy moments and to live the perfect life to match. Great grades, flawless make-up, a beautifully curated Instagram – it’s easy to feel the heavy weight of expectation when it seems like all eyes are on you.

The pressure ramps up further when there’s an endless stream of perfection out there to compare yourself to, whether it’s the girl who goes to the gym five times a week or the food blogger who cooks meals that look way too beautiful to eat. All this makes it pretty difficult to deal with the reality that we can’t be absolutely amazing at everything in life.

But, I’m here with good news! Being bad at stuff is actually kind of…great. And I’m going to prove it with yoga. Well, a story about yoga anyway.

Earlier this year, I decided that I was going to start doing yoga every weekday morning; my imagination buzzing with images of me upside down, contorted in impossible looking angles, probably wearing some kind of amazing leopard print yoga gear that would show off my enviably defined abs. But then I did my first session and those visions were quickly melted away by the reality that my spine seems to be made out of solid steel.

Still, I’d made a promise to myself, so I carried on each day and here I am two months later with my legs over my shoulders. Oh wait, no, I can barely touch my toes. But the thing is, I don’t care even the slightest bit. I don’t care because I committed to doing something for myself and I stuck to it. No pressure, no Instagram posts, no comparisons, just me and my mat for half an hour every day.

Each morning, I watch as the woman on my app swoops into position. She bends from the hip, gracefully and effortlessly folding in half like origami. Meanwhile, I resemble a handful of broken twigs; all odd angles and jutting limbs. While she rests her head by her ankles, my arms dangle in the general direction of my toes.

I creak into half moon pose, ease into something that looks a bit like downward-facing dog and let out involuntary squeaks as I try and hold the plank. I am definitively un-graceful and what I do can certainly not be described as a ‘flow’ but I’m there doing it and I feel transformed afterwards: clear headed and ready for the day.

Every now and then I’ll notice a little improvement; I get an inch further into a stretch, or I hold a pose for longer without wobbling. It’s encouraging and there’s no doubt that it feels like a huge reward for my consistency but make no mistake, I’m still really bad at yoga.

I’ve been bad at plenty of stuff before – gymnastics, running, shot put – and it’s always made me want to quit. “What’s the point in carrying on if I’m not immediately brilliant? Gold medals or nothing, mate”, I’d think. But this time it’s different because I’ve taken perfection out of the equation. I’ve relieved myself of that pressure and given myself the headspace to just do something with absolutely zero expectations – and I think you should do it too.

It doesn’t matter if your portrait of Adele looks more like Tom Cruise or if your signature dish is slightly-too-hard pasta in a questionable sauce. It doesn’t matter if you knit wonky scarves or belly flop into the pool. All that matters is that you love it and you’re doing it.

And whether you decide to share it or not is completely up to you. Not everything you do needs to be for public consumption. It’s totally fine to sew skirts with wonky hems or paint blurry landscapes without ever showing a single soul. Give yourself permission to tuck yourself away and spend a few hours doing your thing without the pressure of wondering how many likes you might get or what other people might think.

On the flipside, never – and I mean never – be afraid to share the fruits of your labour if that’s what you want to do. Be proud of the fact that you’re doing something for no other reason than you love doing it. In my experience, when I’ve talked about my absent yoga skills, I’ve received nothing but words of encouragement from people who understand that it’s about the practice, the dedication to myself and ultimately, the enjoyment.

So grab your paints, lace up your trainers or hit the mat because life’s not about perfection, it’s about having fun.

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: Sisters

This week, as the French government is closing down the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp in Calais, refugees are in the headlines again. And while nobody should need a reminder that refugees have just as much potential and deserve just as many opportunities as the rest of us… the amazing story of Fadumo Dayib is really driving the point home.

Dayib and her family fled Somalia in the 1980s, during the Civil War. Despite still being considered one of the five most dangerous countries in the world for women, Dayib has returned to her homeland in a bid to be the first female President of Somalia.

At the moment, another woman is busy dominating headlines in her run for President (#imwithher) but that doesn’t make Dayib’s run any less important.

Aged 14, Dayib and her family fled to Finland, the home of fjords and raw fish and totally kick ass girls. It was here that she finally learnt to read and write and develop a passion for education. She went on to complete to Masters – one was on a scholarship to Harvard (casual). Dayib then spent a few years working with the United Nations, launching public health initiatives in developing countries around the world, and completing a PhD.

Impressed yet?

It was was her PhD study that inspired Dayib to go back to Somalia and be the first female candidate ever to run for President. Just like that.

Dayib told Mic, “…even though home is not a welcoming place, is not a peaceful place, we should do everything possible to make it so.”

Somalia has been gripped by numerous challenges over Fadumo’s lifetime; from vicious warlords to natural disasters.

Dayib is realistic about her odds of winning, she knows her campaign is a long shot. After all, she is the only woman and the only refugee running, and despite the country being pretty much run by gangs, she isn’t about to give in to corruption.

Whatever the outcome of the election, Fadumo Dayib is making history and standing up for what she believes in.

And for that, Fadumo, you’re our Shero.

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