Ever feel totally stuck in a rut? Like no matter what you do, nothing is ever going to change so you just kind of go from day to day on autopilot and just accept that low vibe?

I’ve been like this for a while. It’s hard to get yourself motivated when you’re in a cycle of negativity, so I knew when Victoria mentioned the BossBabe London retreat, it was like a sign from the universe to get my shit together.

Brian and I have just bought a house, have a wedding to plan, I don’t have a million pounds in the bank, so a trip to London didn’t seem the best financial move, but – weirdly – 10 minutes after I booked my ticket, I was reimbursed for a bill I didn’t realise had been incorrectly paid and it was nearly the exact amount of my trip! Thanks again, universe for confirming I’d made the right choice!

I’ll chat more about the BossBabe London retreat later, but I wanted to share a few of the things that it’s helped me see and focus on.

 

1 // SELF CARE IS KEY

I’ve been so busy recently that I’ve made a lot of excuses for eating badly, not exercising and only meditating when I actually remember about it once every few weeks.

I know now I’m really setting myself up for a bad work week if I’m not taking care of myself, so I’ve spent this week (I was already off on annual leave this week, so good timing) trying to put things in place so that self care is top of my priorities, whether that means saying ‘no’ more to after work events or meal prepping at night.

No more excuses.

 

2 // TICK OFF THE TO-DO LIST

I love a good list, but I’ve got a bad habit of writing a daily to-do list, but not actually getting through it and feeling so disappointed in myself.

This week, I’ve been writing lists and sticking to them and it feels so good. I’ve still enjoyed some time just chilling, but I’ve loved working through what I really want to do business-wise.

I’ve also bought the one journal notebook so all my lists are in one place.

 

3 // BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

Probably the biggest takeaway I had from the BossBabe retreat was that you can do anything you put your mind to.

I’ve been trying to be so much more positive and kind to myself and it’s already made a difference, both in my personal and business life, right down to some really exciting opportunities coming up that I’d never even considered before this week.

 

4 // SPEND MONEY

Okay, so I’m still getting my head around this one, but I’m trying to worry about money less and invest in things that will make my life easier and better, from paying more for parking to be closer to an appointment rather than battling the elements to taking myself out for a coffee.

I’m really working on this, especially after spending quite a lot of my life feeling guilty about spending and worrying how long it is until pay day, when realistically I’ve never had real money worries.

Invest in yourself – it will pay off for us all.

5 // GET CREATIVE

Something I’ve been meaning to do for ages is make a beautiful vision board for my office/dressing room and I finally created it!

It felt so nice to get creative and have a visual representation of all the things I want for the weeks, months and years ahead. I’ve got so much still to do, but this feels a step in the right direction of a fulfilled life.

It has been quite a time recently. From the holidays of dreams, an engagement, moving house, unpacking boxes, working full time and trying to keep my mental health, well, healthy, it’s been all-go.

A PASSIONATE PERSON

You might have noticed my lack of Instagram posts and the absence of any outfit or style content over the last few weeks, but truth be told, it’s because I’ve spent most of my time recently in gym leggings with minimal make-up!

It was nice to get ‘me’ back a little last week. I pulled on my favourite leather leggings, dusted off one of my trusty hats and embraced autumn with my new NA-KD sweater.

It was the first time probably since Malta that I felt that desire to create content; the passion to put together an outfit that made me feel the best version of myself and go somewhere nice for a latte and a good old chat with my mum.

The slogan of the sweater in question summed up the vibe. When NA-KD got in touch for me to pick a few pieces from their collections, this slogan sweater really spoke to me.

A ‘passionate person’ is a pretty good definition of me. I’m not someone who can hide their enthusiasm and excitement, nor my distress and outrage. When I feel something, I really feel it; good or bad.

Finding my passion for life is something that has really changed me in the last few months. I realise my passion and creativity are a big part of my contentment and that passion doesn’t need to be anything life-changing.

It can simply be that feeling of fully embracing life and appreciating the little things. Of setting time aside to do something we really love and enjoy instead of letting the day-to-day routine drag us down into thinking we simply don’t have time to find our passion.

What do you think? I’d love to know what you’re passionate about and if you make time for whatever it is!

SHOP THE LOOK


 

Oh my god – I’m engaged!

The man I love so much proposed on our dream holiday to Malta with the most perfect yellow diamond ring. I didn’t stop smiling the entire day, or the day after. A few days later, it was time to head home – and that’s where the problems started.

Let’s be honest, it’s no secret that I work hard to keep my anxiety at bay, but I thought it might give me a break for the time being (how wrong I was).

Pre-proposal, I wrote a blog post for Scottish Wedding Directory on how important it is to look after your mental health when planning a wedding. I actually wrote the words, ‘if you had a broken leg and got engaged, you wouldn’t wake up the next morning with your leg miraculously fixed’, yet I totally didn’t expect my anxiety to hit full-force just a matter of days after the happiest day of my life. As if getting engaged was going to just magic all negative thoughts away forever.

I write about weddings every day (for work, not just like some sort of wedding-loving lunatic), I excitedly chip in with advice to my friends on their wedding planning and I’ve always dreamed of getting engaged one day, so what the hell is wrong with me?

The day after we got back from Malta, I couldn’t shake the feeling of unease. Of frustration, anger and sadness. Not at being engaged, but at my anxiety for not understanding that this is meant to be a time of happiness, celebration and all things joyful – not doubting everything in my life.

By Friday evening, I got a migraine whilst I was out for a celebratory dinner. Heading to my bed, I couldn’t help but cry. And then I cried a bit more. Then I woke up on Saturday and it was as if I wasn’t ever going to stop crying. Sobbing on FaceTime to my new fiancé, then came the guilt. I don’t deserve him. I’m ungrateful. We can’t get married. If I can’t be happy during this happy time, I’m never going to be happy. The more negative thoughts that popped in my head, the more the tears came.

I did what anyone does when they’re in the middle of a crisis: I Googled. And I found so many other people who were the exact same as me. I felt relieved. So me and Brian don’t need to split up and call off the engagement. It’s actually just a really emotional time. But why does no one ever speak about this? I thought – and still think to a certain extent – that I’m a horrible person for not skipping around in some sort of fairytale, but is this just something everyone gets and keeps quiet about?

I had never really thought before how hard it can be to accept a life change for the better. I’m a daughter, sister, friend, writer, blogger, girlfriend – I’ve never been a bride-to-be before. Suddenly, everything feels so real. So grown up. Like everything has changed and, even though I wanted this, it’s surprised me how utterly overwhelmed I feel.

The last time something this life-changing happened was that fateful day, just over three and a half years ago, when I found out my amazing dad had died. When Brian asked me to marry him, I felt the shock hit me like it did that day in January 2015. Isn’t it weird, how your brain reacts to the happiest and the worst news in a similar way? I guess I didn’t realise it at the time, but it was that feeling once again of ‘things are never going to be the same’. Of course, getting engaged is a pretty great thing, but my anxious nature has led to a horrible confusion. Fear is what fuels the anxiety and, unfortunately, my poor brain has experienced so much fear that I don’t think it knows what to do with so much happiness so it reacted in the only way it knows how and that is to try and run and distance myself from what’s causing me the intense fear. Not really ideal when you’re meant to be a smiling bride-to-be whose dreams have all just come true.

I should probably also mention, the day before we got engaged, we also finally got the news that we were waiting on: a move in date for our house. Again, something I’m so excited for, but also a massive change and all in the space of two weeks. Without my dad, everything is bittersweet. It’s time for Brian and I to have our own home, but leaving my mum is one of the hardest parts. Leaving my childhood home for the first time hasn’t really sunk in yet. Not having my dad to help with all the dad things hurts more than I can say. He’d have been there, winding me up about the amount of clothes I was having to pack up and telling me DIY tricks that I would never, ever remember. I know how proud he would be of Brian and I. I know how happy he would be, but that doesn’t take away from that heart-wrenching pain that he’s missing this. Two of the biggest life milestones I’ll ever experience and he’s not there. Some days I can handle that, but others it just feels as raw as when we first found out he was gone.

Today is the first day since we got back that I’ve been able to start looking at the positive future. There’s so much pressure on us to be ‘happy’, but what exactly is happy? How can you truly measure it? I was really honest about how crap I felt on Instagram stories over the weekend and the response was so surprising to me. So many people feeling the same and it made me realise how much emphasis is put on everyone to be happy, be positive and have the best. time. ever.

I wanted to write this for any person, especially any fellow bride-to-be, who is freaking out that you aren’t happy enough following something amazing happening in your life. A few days after I got engaged, a major blogger also posted that she too had said ‘yes’ to the ring and it looked like she was legit the happiest person there ever was. It made me feel even more of a fianceé failure. It was weird to then look back on my own social posts from just after Brian proposed to see that, to the Instagram world, I too was the happiest I’ve ever been, with not a hint of the panic or anxiety I came to face. It really shows that, no matter what is posted on social media, you never really know the full story – you just see the good bits.

I’ve spoken a lot to those closest to me about how I’ve felt this week and it’s made me realise that, actually, this is all incredibly normal. It’s taken me a few days to digest, but I’m starting to rise to the surface again and see that my happiness doesn’t need to be all-singing, all-dancing to be happy. The day I got engaged was an incredibly high, high, but that’s not going to be real life every single day, but it wouldn’t be ‘normal’ if that was life every single day.

One thing I’ve taken away from all my highs and lows is the constant that is always there – the support. Along with my friends and family, it’s Brian who pulls me through the hardest days. It’s him who, no matter how hard everything seems, manages to get a laugh out of me. I showed him this post, which I had originally wrote just for myself to get my thoughts in order, and he told me to post it, in case it could help anyone else. It’s a new chapter for us after some really tough years and, although it is overwhelming, I couldn’t have a more supportive person by my side.

I had no idea how to start this post. After my last blog posts talking about summer outfits and beauty events, I felt like a fraud for taking the topic of conversation to something so serious.

But, after a lot of thinking, I realised that actually, it’s important to bring this conversation to my every day chat – because that’s where it should be. An open conversation of support, power and awareness.

I can’t quite believe that, in the Glasgow area that the Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre covers with a population of approximately 1.2 million, 52% of whom are women, even the most conservative figures estimate that one in five of those women will experience sexual violence at some time in their lives.

One in five. That could be your sister, your mum, your best friend, your aunt, your niece.

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre Marks and Spencer - Tender Loving Style

Although I’ve been very open and honest about my struggles with grief and anxiety, I cannot imagine the pain of dealing with rape and sexual assault and, before Marks and Spencer got in touch about the work of the Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre, I would never have known such a support existed here in Glasgow. And it really made me think of how many other women won’t know abut this support service, because we all hope it’s something we never have to deal with.

The crisis centre is the busiest in Scotland and helps nearly 2,000 rape and sexual assault survivors, holding around 20,000 counselling calls in addition to face-to-face counselling sessions every year.

Before now, women with disabilities faced issues in receiving face-to-face counselling due to limited access to the centre, despite being three times more likely to have been abused as a child.

This was where M&S came in. Glasgow is one of 10 locations selected for M&S’s community transformation programme, as part of Plan A 2025. The retailer is currently trialling a range of actions in Glasgow to help tackle the issues that matter most to communities – such as unemployment, skill shortages, loneliness, poverty, mental health and wellbeing.

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre Marks and Spencer - Tender Loving Style

The M&S team got to work

Earlier this month, the M&S Argyle St store colleagues kick-started a week-long volunteering drive, helping to transform the facilities at the Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre and improve access for disabled rape and sexual assault survivors.

The store raised more than £6,000 over the last year for the charity and helped renovate a space at its base on Bell Street to enable women with disabilities benefit from its face-to-face counselling service.

Following advice from the Glasgow Access Panel, they required much needed funding and man power to install appropriate flooring, a hearing loop system and sensory lighting as well as an evacuation chair.

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre Marks and Spencer - Tender Loving Style

To gain a better understanding of the centre and its work, I speak to Isabelle from Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre, who answers all of my questions.

WHAT WORK DOES THE CENTRE DO?

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis provides support and advocacy services to any self identified woman who is a survivor of rape, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse or any other form of sexual violence and harassment (including sharing of online images etc).

We offer a range of services that include our telephone helpline which is open every day of the week, face to face support by appointment, drop in facilities, email support, live online support, group support and outreach services across our service area. We provide support to women aged 13 years and over.

HOW CAN WE SUPPORT?

Anyone who wants to support our cause can do so in many different ways. Financial support is always very welcomed as the demand on our service increases every year. This can be done through a one-off donation or by contributing a small amount each month.

Our website www.glasgowclyderapecrisis.org.uk has information on all the ways we can be supported. All our staff and volunteers are women, so if any woman wants to volunteer with us she can get in touch with us at info@rapecrisiscentre-glasgow.co.uk.

There are many volunteering opportunities open, from helpline support worker, to fundraiser, to events staff and general cover for office and reception.

THE RENOVATION PROJECT

We have been really keen to improve access to our centre for disabled survivors. We know that a disabled child is 3 times more likely to be abused and we see many disabled women who have experienced childhood sexual abuse, particularly where there has been very close personal care involved in their childhood.

The renovation has created a room that is barrier free for women who need space for a wheelchair, who worry about walking on potentially dangerous floors, women who need a hearing loop system or special lighting for their sight impairment. This can help women feel more comfortable, safer and more valued while seeking support for their experiences.

HOW TO GET IN TOUCH

We have a telephone helpline that is open every day from 11am until 2pm and on Monday to Thursday evening between 5.30pm and 7.30pm.

Women can call themselves or a friend or family member can make appointments on their behalf. We also offer support to family members and this can be discussed with our helpline support workers. All our services are shown on our website at www.glasgowclyderapecrisis.org.uk.

THE NEXT STEPS

The renovation has been an amazing achievement, but we do want to maintain the momentum with an additional piece of work. We are seeking resources to allow us to train a number of our staff to level one British Sign Language so that deaf women can use our drop in service, which they cannot do at the moment as we don’t have a signer on staff.

That facility will continue to bread down the barriers that inhibit disabled survivors from seeking support for the trauma that they have experienced in their lives.

 

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre Marks and Spencer - Tender Loving Style

As well as the work with Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre, M&S colleagues across the nation continued the week long activity by committing over 40,000 hours to volunteering at 685 local projects that make a difference to the communities they serve.

Several initiatives are already taking place across the city and surrounding area as part of the community transformation programme. This includes fortnightly meet-ups for new mums in the M&S Café to enjoy a coffee and a chat, working in collaboration with the leading social network MUSH, which connects mums locally based on their children’s ages and interests.

Stores across Glasgow will also host a monthly ‘Tea and Company’ get together in the M&S Café in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS). The ‘friendship’ tables, hosted by RVS volunteers, are set up to encourage anyone sitting alone to come and join a conversation, with the retailer offering £1 off hot drinks for both meet-ups.

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre Marks and Spencer - Tender Loving Style

GET INVOLVED

M&S stores across the UK are connected to local initiatives by Neighbourly, the social network for social good. To get involved in the online conversation, follow @MarksandSpencer and #MarksinAction.

For more information on Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre and to support their services, visit their website.

 

This post was sponsored by Marks and Spencer. 25% of the fee was donated to Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre.

So, if you’ve read my post here explaining a little (okay, a lot) on what’s been happening with me recently, you’ll know I’ve not had the best of times in the past few months.

However, things are getting better every day and although I’ve been trying to limit screen time, there are a few apps that have helped on the way. Of course, I’m not for a minute saying these will cure you of feeling anxious, but they are little things I find can give you a boost.

1 | H E A D S P A C E

Perfect for meditation first timers, Headspace is free to download, but you will need to pay for a subscription if you want to keep using. It is a really good way to introduce yourself to the world of meditation, mindfulness and giving yourself, well, a bit of head space.

 

2 |  I N S I G H T  T I M E R

Meditation is something I had never tried before and, as much as Headspace helped me during the early days, I was still struggling to sleep at night and feel rested. Insight Timer is amazing and is completely free with thousands of meditation recordings, from deep relaxation to have you in an undisturbed sleep to meditations to have you feeling motivated for the day ahead. Simply plug your headphones in and relax…

 

3 | 1 S E C O N D  E V E R Y D A Y  (1 S E)

It was actually Yasmin from The Girl with the Big Hair who told me about 1SE last year and I’ve been using it since the start of the year. It’s basically an app where you record one second every day, combining it into full video to look back on. I kind of lost the motivation to do the clips when I was first off work, but it’s actually become part of my routine – it really makes me see all the lovely yet simple things that happen each day that you might overlook. Admittedly about 90% of my clips are of my boyfriend’s dog!

 

4 | H O R M O N O L O G Y

I saw Roz from Sweet Rosie Jewellery tweet about Hormonology when I was feeling extra emosh (thanks so much, hormones) that I had to check it out. It’s actually helped me understand my cycle a lot more and gives me a bit of hope that actually sometimes your mood isn’t to do with grief and anxiety – it’s to do with being a woman at certain times of the month. It basically gives you a heads up on when you’re best doing certain things and when you might be feeling particularly rubbish. It also gives you a few lols with some of the predictions!

 

5 | M Y  F I T N E S S  P A L

When Leanne Conroy started me on My Fitness Pal for the Female Fitness Programme, I was a wee bit terrified. Tracking my food seemed so precise and scary, but I actually love it now! This free app allows you to set your calories and macro nutrition goals so it helps make sure you’re getting the right about of calories and protein each day and you can compare it day to day. It may seem odd to include this, but it truly gave me control over an aspect of my life when everything felt a bit scary and it makes me feel like I’m achieving something when I hit my goals.

 

Are there any apps you can’t live without? I’d love to hear any suggestions!

I feel crap. But it’s okay.

It’s not my most inspiring blog post or admittedly my favourite thing to have to say, but oh my god I feel absolutely crap.

I’ve been practising self-care, I’ve been looking after myself, I’ve been eating well, I’ve been reading more, I’ve been drawing, I’ve been getting back to work, I’ve been to events, I’ve been shopping, I’ve been out for drinks, I’ve been listening to motivational podcasts, I’ve been trying to see the positive in everything, but low and behold – I’m feeling rubbish.

I had a horrible up and down summer, but really truly felt more myself in the past month or two. I finally started a phased return back to work, I finished with my talking therapy because I felt I’d got to the end of that particular type of help and I started to focus on my blog again – and it made me really, really happy. But something shifted again last week, out of nowhere. I had that horrible feeling in my chest – the one where you can’t really breathe fully because you just feel panicked and suffocated and scared you’ll never get there.

It’s so odd, I feel like I’m living a double life. I can still be fun/work/style obsessed Rachel, I can still have a great time at events, take outfit pictures, be super motivated and not feel like I’m putting it on, but then in the same 24 hours’ I can feel so low that it makes me wonder ‘why bother?’. It is absolutely exhausting having these two sides pull me back and forward. You know in old cartoons, like Tom and Jerry, where Tom has the angel on one shoulder telling him, y’know, ‘don’t be mean to Jerry’, but then the devil is on the other side, like ‘go for it!’? That’s my constant argument with my head; trying to be nice to myself and be the positive person I want to be, but then there’s this little seed of bad infiltrating all the good with negativity and doubt and all things horrible. Like, come on brain – give me a break!

I’m not feeling as bad as I was in the summer, I’m really not. I’m just having a really bad few days – I know that. But then there’s that devil on my shoulder again, telling me it’s not just a bad few days, it’s going to be bad for a long time, blah blah blah. I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this blog post, I just have had so many lovely people get in touch over the past few months since I shared how I’ve been feeling and I guess I wanted to be honest and fill you in on where I am at the moment.

I’m just not giving in to this negativity, I’ve come too far. Yesterday was my first appointment with a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and I could tell within about 10 minutes that it was going to be for me. From first getting in touch to my first appointment, it was all arranged within 2 weeks’ so, if there’s anyone in the Glasgow area struggling with things, I really would recommend Glasgow Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (it’s just off Bath Street). I’’ll let you know how I get on, but so many people have advised me CBT is what I need so I’m really optimistic about it all.

I’ve also slowed down my return to work. I’m always so eager to get back into things and regain all the control I normally have, but this week has taught me to slow down a little more again. So, yes. There we go. I feel crap, but it’s okay. Sometimes we need to feel absolutely crap and let all the things we’re sad about come out. What we also need to do, though, is be ready to fight that stupid little devil of doubt and remember it’s all going to be okay. Now all I need is to learn how to take my own advice – why is that always the hardest bit?