Your Mental Illness Diagnosis [Guest Post By Hannah]

1st March 2019

Hearing you have a mental illness can be difficult. Your mind can trick you into believing all sorts of things. Today, Hannah is challenging some of those myths.


It’s a confusing thing a mental illness diagnosis, and if you’ve recently received one, you may be flailing with different and conflicting thoughts about how to deal with this life event. Whether being diagnosed is a recent thing or whether you’re reading this to weed out some misbeliefs that you’ve accumulated along the way, here are some simple tips and focus points to help you make sense.

5 things not to believe about your mental illness diagnosis.

  1. That this label fundamentally changes who you are.
  2. That this label is unchanging and for life.
  3. That you can’t make a difference
  4. That your mental health is somehow separate from you
  5. That your mental illness is unusual

So far, so ordinary, right? You’ve probably heard these before. But have you really taken them on board? I’ve got a take on this that will help you get these messages right into your core. Read on.

Things not to believe:

1. That this label fundamentally changes who you are.

No, it doesn’t. You are the same person you were before your label. However you chose to relate to it, whether that is to refute it, to argue with it, to feel relief, to feel there is an answer, you are the same person. However, as human beings we are constantly in a state of evolution, and we are never finished. It doesn’t help to think of our identity as sudden shifts or jars, rather it’s more constructive to think of it as something that is in state of continual development.

The analogy I find most helpful here is some wise words a friend shared with me when I had a big shift in my identity coming up, that of becoming a mother. In my pregnancy, I became quite anxious about whether being a mum was going to fundamentally change me. She said that it would be another part to my identity, that I would carry on being a sister, friend, wife, neighbour, but that I would also be a mum.

She also said, and this is the bit that stuck with me, that identity shifts take time to process and I might need to give the new identity of being a mum extra space and time in my life to reflect on until it took its rightful place in the whole picture of who I am. Now I think of being a mum as just being part of what I do, but not the whole thing. It is one lens through which I can be seen, but it doesn’t take up the whole vision.

To a large extent mental illness is about being seen – it’s not possible to diagnose yourself. If someone else has seen you in this way, it is up to you how you choose to process this vision of yourself. Hopefully you can do it with kindness and self compassion. It doesn’t change who you are.

2. That this label is unchanging and for life.

Again – no it isn’t. First, recovery is possible. Second, when you do recover, and you will, you will have learnt skills in managing your mental health that make you more equipped to deal with the mental health side of life than an average person who has never had the experience you have.

It may say on your record, as it does on mine – ‘bipolar’ – for life. That’s just the documentation. What most matters is how I choose to live with skill and relate to that descriptor. When I was first diagnosed, I made life limiting decisions on that basis to do with my career choices and my relationship choices. I don’t make these any more. I wish I’d had someone to challenge me at the time to stop me making them then. However, living with my diagnosis the way I have has led me to make some really fulfilling choices too. This leads me onto the next point.

3. That you can’t make a difference

This is the core of the argument. You can make a difference. This is an opportunity to learn a whole new set of life skills. It isn’t your ability that will determine whether you will learn them, it is your attitude. The skills you will learn are unique to you, only you know what your mental health needs. You can build them up from a patchwork of advice, good memories, and techniques that you pick up over a lifetime. You may find yourself passing them on, and that can be part of your gift to the world.

When I was first diagnosed, I remember a really significant moment of waking up in the morning depressed and angry. I was staring at this blank wall in front of me, both literally and metaphorically – the wall beside my bed. I swore a promise to myself – that whatever happened and however bad it got, I would somehow find a way to make this experience useful. If I couldn’t – well, it would be a total waste of the most precious resource I have, and that is TIME. I couldn’t see how I would do it, but that was the promise I made.

You can make a difference to your diagnosis, to your capacity to deal with it with the skill, artistry and innate talent that you have inside you. Believe it.

4. That your mental health is somehow separate from you

I promised you a special take on mental health that would help you really take this stuff on board, here it is. Your mental health is a part of you, not an object. Just because you have been diagnosed, you are not an object to be observed by others. The key to recovery is to observe your whole self with compassion and accept and care for the person you see.

We recognise that if someone has a fundamental life event in their physical health, like a stroke or cancer, there will be mental health implications. We seem to have a harder time taking on board that having a mental illness diagnosis is a fundamental life event.

These implications are to do with our expectations of stigma, discrimination, self stigma and shame. These expectations can trigger a range of very primal emotions from anger, guilt, shame, fear, all of which cause a fight or flight reaction, which can exacerbate the mental health condition. No, your mental health label is not separate from you, it is part of the warp and weft out of which you weave your life experience. If we can treat these fundamental and primal emotional drives with compassion and acceptance, we are well on the way to recovery.

One of the keys to doing this is observation and acceptance. I have always kept a journal. I have also always made films to tell my own mental health story and encourage others to do the same. In 2015, I combined these two passions to create an app, Mental Snapp, which is a way to easily experience the therapeutic benefits of telling your story on film using video diaries. Mental Snapp is free to download on the App Store. Our users say it helps them be kind to themselves and to build their confidence. It’s a great way to learn your patterns, accept your emotions and move them forward.

Give Mental Snapp a go – tell me how you find it – and I encourage you to observe and learn from the emotions you have surrounding your mental health condition. They are the key to managing it effectively. You don’t have to treat yourself or your mental health as an object, you can befriend yourself. You can do it.

5. That your mental illness is unusual

You are no more unusual or different than the other 7 billion individuals on this planet. You are a child of the universe, as the poem goes. There is no separation from the mass of humanity by an observing glass, or a one way mirror, or a microscope. There is an inherent wrongness in the process of diagnosis, that holds that the observer, or the doctor, is neutral, that the observed, or the patient, is isolated in the moment of diagnosis away from their context, their family, their friends. It’s like being held under the microscope. This experience can leave people to come away with their identity in pieces. This is wrong and it is injust. It is built into the history of psychiatry. It will take more than a generation to change it. Change it we will. It cannot go on.

In the meantime, rather than simply rail against systems, let’s change them with our pure dignity of spirit. No, your mental illness is not unusual. It will in time connect you to more people and at a more fundamental level than you ever expect, if you can use it to build relationship and share the lessons it teaches you. Your mental illness is not unusual, it does not separate you from humanity.

You, on the other hand, are more than unusual. You are unique, and you have a unique opportunity to give to the world. Here is that poem.

“…Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.” 
― Max Ehrmann, Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life

5 Things Not To Believe About Your Mental Illness Diagnosis

5 Myths About A Mental Illness Diagnosis
Making Sense Of Your Mental Illness Diagnosis
Mental Illness Myths

Hannah Chamberlain is a mental health film maker, story teller and campaigner of 20 years standing. She is the founder of video diary app Mental Snapp, which she designed after realising that her story telling and film making had helped her get over her own self stigma, and as a way for others to do the same by telling their own stories using the power of film.

Mental Snapp is looking for people to be involved in user testing and feeding back on our exciting new version. If you’d like to be involved, please email our product manager, Wendy on [email protected].

Website: www.mentalsnapp.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/mentalsnapp


If you’d like to write a guest post, I’d love to have you! Take a look at this page for all the information and details you need.

How To Handle Not Meeting Your Blogging Goals

27th February 2019

Blogging goals – great when you meet them, a nightmare if you don’t. I am particularly hard on myself if I don’t achieve my goals. My thoughts seem to spiral and I end up feeling like a failure. I suppose you could say I’m writing this as much as a reminder for myself as anything else!

The end of the month seems to be a common time to reflect on blogging goals. All being well, you nailed it! If, on the other hand, you didn’t, then this post is for you.

Let’s take a look at three steps you can take to handle not meeting your blogging goals.

Step one: acceptance.

Know it’s okay to not meet your goals sometimes. Beating yourself up about it is counterproductive. If you put all of your energy into that, you’re not going to want to do anything else! You’re telling me you’d rather sit there and mope than get back up and make it happen? …Yeah, okay, me too sometimes. But, take a moment, admit it sucks and then move on.

You may not have achieved your goals in the timeframe you wanted, but it doesn’t mean you never will. It just means waiting a little longer to do that happy dance.

I can tell you one thing I know won’t help you achieve them and that’s a whole heap of negative self talk. In the moment, I realise it’s hard not to, especially if that’s a habit you’re accustomed to.

This is where step two comes in.

Step two: assessment.

Did you meet some of your goals and not the others? If so, then take a second to celebrate the ones you did! I have a tendency to fixate on where I’ve gone wrong rather than what I’ve done right. If that sounds familiar, please try and give yourself some credit. I even go as far as to say out loud: “right, I didn’t achieve x and y but I DID achieve z!”

If you haven’t achieved any of your goals, ask yourself WHY you didn’t. Be objective. Consider the following questions.

Were your goals too big/vague?

I’m all for being ambitious, but sometimes, they need to be broken down into manageable chunks. If it’s a regular occurrence that you’re not meeting your goals, this is highly likely to be the reason why.

I have monthly and weekly goals which are then broken into my daily to do lists. It may seem excessive, but it really works for me. If you’re making monthly blogging goals, I’d definitely encourage you to at least split them up into weekly objectives, too. This makes it seem much less overwhelming.

Were you having a rough time?

Mental health wobbles are one of the top causes of a hiccup in my productivity. My brain seems to shut down. I can’t think straight. Consequently, I can’t get much done.

Unfortunately, this does send me down a nasty route of being unnecessarily hard on myself. Occasionally, this sometimes reaches the point of me wanting to give up my blog altogether, which is irrational and unreasonable. You have to quickly stop any of those thoughts in their tracks.

If you’ve been struggling, it stands to reason that you may not have accomplished as much as you wanted to. That’s okay! Don’t allow it to escalate further by then punishing yourself about it, too.

Invest some time in self care. Rest, recharge and regroup.

Did something else come up?

You’ve got your goals all planned out, then life throws a curveball in your path. Sometimes, things come up. You can’t plan for them. They just happen. Often, this means our blogging goals have to be put on the back burner while other things take priority.

Frustrating as these situations are, it’s just the way it goes sometimes. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. If you’ve had to prioritise another area of your life, that’s no reason to feel like a failure.

Even in the context of blogging, you may have focused more on one area than another – even without realising it. The truth in all areas of blogging is that you get out what you put in. Naturally, no one can be present on all platforms at once. So, if you’ve been spending more time on Instagram, your Twitter growth may have struggled because of it.

Was it actually in your control?

Scrolling through social media, I see a lot of people feeling down in the dumps because they didn’t get a certain amount of views, or they’re just shy of a set follower count. I have no issue with anyone making goals on this basis, but remember that there’s only so much you can do.

Blogging views can vary a lot from one month to the next. Sometimes, the more I try to gain followers on Twitter or Instagram, the less I get. I actually gain more in some months when I barely tweet at all!

By all means, give yourself a guideline, but don’t stress too much if you fall short.

Were you procrastinating?

If all the other possibilities are out, then it is time to take a look at yourself. No, not because you’re useless, but perhaps you weren’t as proactive as you should have been. With that comes more questions.

If you’re aware you were procrastinating, it’s important to identify the reasons. This could come back to your goals being too large, or the fact you were having a rough time. Perhaps you’re struggling with blogger’s block and feeling fed up. There can be all sorts of reasons and not a single one is because you’re a lost cause – I promise!

Have a think about why you maybe haven’t been as enthusiastic as usual and act accordingly.

Step three: action.

The most important thing is that you don’t allow a setback to keep you down. You need to revise your plans and get ready to smash your goals next time around.

If you don’t already, you could try writing out your goals and plan of attack in a notebook. This way, you can come back to it if you begin to lose focus.

Maybe you need to try a different approach altogether, as your current goal setting method isn’t working for you. My blogging buddy, Rebekah, has a fantastic post about creating smart goals you’ll stick to.

If you’ve got a lot on your plate, consider if taking a break could be beneficial. Even if it’s just a few days or a week while you regain some balance.

 

To conclude, I think blogging goals are important to keep a sense of direction. Nevertheless, if they continually make you feel down, it could be good to take a break from making them. Just blog for the fun of it instead!

Otherwise, stick with it. It’s easy to forget that, at some point or another, everyone misses the mark when it comes to their blogging goals. I love seeing people celebrating their milestones on social media but it can be difficult when you haven’t. Don’t let it cloud your judgment. It’ll be your turn soon enough!

Blogging Goals

How To Handle Not Meeting Your Blogging Goals
What To Do When You Don't Achieve Your Blogging Goals
3 Steps To Take When You Don't Achieve Your Goals
If You Didn't Achieve Your Blogging Goals...

The Highs And Lows Of Blogging About Mental Health

25th February 2019

Blogging about mental health can be very rewarding, but it’s not without its challenges.

The Cons of Blogging About Mental Health

Let’s get the not-so-great stuff out of the way first, shall we?

1. Some people expect you to have all the answers.

I’ve had people become angry at me in the past because I didn’t know how to “fix” their issues. I’d love to have all the answers, but mental health is a very personal thing. What works for me doesn’t always work for others.

I also have no training in treating mental illness. I talk openly and honestly about my experiences, but that’s as far as my knowledge goes. Having people message me while in crisis can be tricky and I don’t always know what to say. Though I remain grateful they’ve reached out, I do think it’s important to keep in mind that we may not be able to offer much assistance.

2. You feel a sense of responsibility.

Following on from that last point, you WANT to help as many people as you can. I’ve stayed up until all hours talking to people in the past because I wanted to make sure they were okay. That’s not healthy. It puts a huge strain on my own wellbeing, but I don’t want to shun away someone who is reaching out.

It’s really difficult not to feel pressure to be there for everyone. As we know how hard it can be to ask for help, we don’t want to do anything that could prevent someone from doing it again.

3. It’s draining.

There are times when doing a deep dive into your emotions just sucks the life out of you. We do it in the name of raising awareness, and helping others know they’re not alone. But there have certainly been posts I’ve written in the past where I’ve felt exhausted afterwards.

4. Some people think they know you. 

I share a lot with others, through both my blog and my social media. This openness can cause some people to think they know me inside and out. Their approach to me can be overly friendly. Sometimes, it’s pleasant enough, but other times can be uncomfortable.

The truth is that I am a very guarded person. I only share as much as I am comfortable with. There’s so much the internet doesn’t get to see. To know me properly takes A LOT of time.

5. Some people forget to ask how you are.

Again, I think being open causes some people to assume they know where you are at mentally. I mean, if I was going through a tough time, I would have said, right? It’s not necessarily true. Occasionally, I do the complete opposite and just avoid interaction as much as I can. People pop up in my direct messages and just get straight to whatever the reason is, without the courtesy of asking how I am. It’s not that I would divulge the inner workings of my mind to a total stranger (see the last half of point four) but it’s polite to ask in any case.

6. Comparison.

This is a universal struggle for all bloggers, but let’s take a look at it in the context of mental health blogging.

Some mental health bloggers choose to share every part of their journey – the highs, lows and all that’s in between. This isn’t what I do. I often don’t talk about the harder times until I’m through them. The reason for this isn’t that I don’t want people to know, but because I prefer to wait until my head is clearer to talk about it.

Every now and then, I start to question if this makes me bad at what I do. It makes me wonder if I’m feeding into the idea that there has to be a positive spin on mental illness. There doesn’t. Often, there isn’t. I worry that people will think I’m fake because I’m not saying every detail along the way.

Of course I’m not happy all the time, but I don’t choose to share that side of things with the internet as it’s happening. I talk about it with Neal, or I wait for it to pass. Once I’m through it, I am much more comfortable saying “it’s been a rough few days but I’m okay now!”

7. Some people expect you to only talk about mental health.

This applies to both your blog and general conversations. I’ve seen bloggers get a hard time because they wrote about something other than mental health. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. To link back to point three, it’s so tiring to ALWAYS be talking about mental health. Happy as we are to do it, it’s not all there is to us. We need the space to express ourselves about a whole number of other things, too.

My blog was born out of my struggles. Mental health will always have a place in it. I’ll always try to spread awareness and encourage others to talk about it. Be that as it may, I want the freedom to write about all sorts of things, which is why I seldom refer to myself as a “mental health blogger”. Those who do, though, shouldn’t be chastised if they decide to branch out a little!

8. Imposter syndrome.

For those who aren’t aware, imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern which creates fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

I don’t think this is necessarily exclusive to mental health bloggers, but writing about my mental health seems to be where this creeps in the most. It’s a bizarre thing when your mind starts saying things like “you’re not sick enough to talk about this.” And though I would never claim to have all of the answers, sometimes even offering advice from my own experiences make me think “what gives me the right to write any of this?”

9. It’s hard to monetise.

Now, this isn’t such an issue for me as my blog is much more general, but I wanted to include it as it’s something other mental health bloggers have brought to my attention.

I can’t stress enough that I don’t believe for a second that mental health bloggers get into it for this reason. Yet, I do think it’s unfortunate that there can be less options.

Having discussed this with a couple of people in the past, part of it is guilt or the prospect of shame from making a profit from other people’s struggles. I fully understand this, but I think it’s important to think of it as a mutually beneficial situation, rather than one-sided. If a blogger I like is offering something to help with my mental health and I have the opportunity to support them at the same time? That’s a good thing.

Sadly, I think there will always be people out there who want to twist it into something malicious and put you down for it. Be that from envy or misjudging you, it’s likely to happen. So, I’m going to paraphrase Matt Haig here, who I believe has been subjected to a bit of criticism about his books, and tweeted something along the lines of “there’s no shame in turning what is an awful situation into something that benefits you.”

If you want to monetise and you can find a way to do it, then I think you should. Loyal readers will appreciate it’s well-intentioned.

Roses, coffee and white sheet

The Pros of Blogging About Mental Health

The stuff that makes it all worthwhile.

1. Encouraging others to get help.

The first time someone messaged me to say they had arranged to see a counsellor because of me, I cried. It was such solid evidence that what I did mattered. I was so touched that they had taken the time to let me know, and became overwhelmed with emotions.

I’ve been fortunate to have a few more interactions like this since, and each one makes me feel so incredibly happy. Not only because it reminds me that I’m helping people, but because I know the other person is trying to get themselves out of a dark place.

When I shared these stories with my counsellor, she was quick to say “these are only the people you know about – your impact probably goes far beyond them”. It’s wonderful to think people could be reaching out as a consequence of what you do, whether they tell you about it or not.

2. You are a voice for others.

A lot of people don’t feel comfortable in sharing how they feel, or don’t know how to put it into words. Those of us who enjoy writing have an opportunity to put it out there in a way people understand. It can be helpful to make sense of their own feelings, or identify the best way to express it to their loved ones.

One of my most popular posts, What Does It Feel Like To Have Anxiety?, struck a chord with so many people. It was shared by people who wanted others to know exactly how it felt. I had individuals contact me to say that so much of what I’d said had resonated with them that they realised they needed to speak to a doctor. Using my voice meant others could find theirs.

3. Educating others.

Discussing your experiences gives others an insight into what life is like with a mental illness. This is so important to break down the stigma and create more compassion.

For example, changing the idea that being depressed means you’re sad all the time. In actual fact, people can struggle with high functioning depression. There are still symptoms to look out for, both in others and ourselves. Raising awareness of this encourages everyone to look a little deeper, rather than taking someone at face value and assuming everything is good in their life.

It gives people a platform to talk about lesser known mental illnesses, too. Though I had an awareness of other disorders, I’ve been given a much deeper insight into them from other bloggers. I only really knew the term “borderline personality disorder” but I’ve learnt so much about it since I started connecting with this community.

4. Connecting with people who understand.

I have read countless blog posts about depression and anxiety since I started and the comfort they have brought me is immeasurable. There were lots of symptoms of these illnesses which made me feel alien. Things I couldn’t do that everyone else made look so easy. Situations I felt like I should be able to handle.

Every time I read a post and think “wow, I could have written this!”, I am reminded that I’m not alone. That’s hugely important.

5. The community is inspiring.

Writing about mental health has brought some truly exceptional people into my life. Reading their stories is so moving. Their resilience, their determination and their courage is incredible.

These are people who are fighting every day. They keep pushing forward. They’re driven to bettering the lives of others and reducing the stigma around mental health. It’s a pleasure to witness and wonderful to be a part of it.

The majority of people are also very supportive, not only with your mental health journey, but your blogging one, too. It’s nice to know you have people rooting for you.

6. It’s a good outlet.

Having somewhere you can go and write about things is a great way to get it off your mind. I’m not always comfortable speaking about what’s going on in my head, but I’m happy enough to write about it. I don’t always publish what I write, but blogging has helped to create this habit of expression.

Rather than keeping your emotions bottled up, you have somewhere you can go and just let it all out.

7. You can explore your own feelings.

Writing about certain things has brought up new thoughts and approaches for me, on more than one occasion. The process of putting it all out there and working through it allows you to identify things that maybe weren’t so clear previously.

I’ve had similar lightbulb moments while blogging as I did while attending counselling, which is great. Gaining that clarity is invaluable.

 

Now, you may be thinking, “hold on, there’s more cons than pros? Why do you do it?”. For me, it comes down the fact that the pros hold more weight. They are much more valuable reasons. What blogging about my mental health has given me is wonderful. Though it has its flaws, they’re not enough to stop me because the good things motivate me much more.

Blogging about mental health can be daunting. You are opening up and being vulnerable. It’s nerve-wracking, especially the first few times. Though it does get easier, I still find myself hovering over the “publish” button. I do believe, however, that the pros outweigh the cons. They are what keep me going. So, blogging about mental health is not easy… but it is worth it.

Blogging About Mental Health

The Highs And Lows Of Blogging About Mental Health
The Pros And Cons Of Blogging About Mental Health
Why Blogging About Mental Health Is A Gift And A Curse
Why Blogging About Mental Health Is A Gift And A Curse

The Art Of Procrastination [Guest Post By Laura]

22nd February 2019

Procrastination. Something we all do and something most of us beat ourselves up about. In fact, I was doing exactly that when this post appeared in my inbox. It wasn’t that I had done anything that day, but I hadn’t done what I should have. So, this was comforting to me, and I think it will be to you, too. Here’s Laura’s positive spin on things.


Yesterday was my super Sunday. I was pumped for all the work I was going to do, all the words I was going to write and how good this would make me feel. I love days like this, the sun shining it makes our flat glow, the breeze flows through the window and I’m so content. I’ve got the whole day to myself, its infinite possibility stretches out in-front of me. It is so precious. Anything can happen. I’m smiling and ready to go then suddenly this ugly green monster rolls out from under the bed, his face is terrifying, with big black holes for eyes and tentacles for arms. He loves slowing everything down. The monsters name is procrastination. I run around trying to hide from him all day. It was no use.

Here’s a list of everything I did before I sat down and started some work:

    • Made waffles from scratch (a lot of waffles with extra golden syrup).
    • Made homemade toasted chickpeas, just because.
    • Cleaned the old coffee machine. Cleaned new coffee machine and switched them over. Made a lot of coffee. Got headache from drinking all the coffee.
    • Prepped two meals
    • Cleaned kitchen (after all this cooking)
    • Watched 5 episodes of greys anatomy (season 10 FYI – anytime you want talk to me about Greys, holla at me)
    • Finished making a picture board for a party (glitter everywhere)
    • Vacuumed said glitter
    • 2 loads of washing (including all our tea towels on hot wash, why?)
    • Laid out my coloured pens (an essential when working)
    • Read BCC news, twice
    • Twitter, Facebook, Instagram for 8767779 hours
    • Spoke to my mom
    • Sorted my bag for work tomorrow
    • Cleaned my desk

Wow, I’m exhausted just writing the list. Sometimes, I’m stuck between validating my days by ‘getting things done’ and letting myself work on my dreams. Dare I spend the day working on my blog or writing the book that I know is waiting? Imagine, if I’d put all that energy into writing all day? Why’s it so hard to sit down and work on what we really want? Why is it so painful, when it’s all I think about? Why are we scared to invest in ourselves and our ideas?

Resistance.

Steven Pressfield’s book, “The War of Art” is incredible. It looks at the invisible force that we know as resistance and how it creates blocks when we are getting to the really ‘good stuff’, the really creative work, it’s the fear of success, just as much as failure. “Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from us from doing our work”. – Steven Pressfield.

Sound familiar?

But we can’t let procrastination and resistance get in the way of our beautiful creative work.

So when you have a day that drags and pulls you in all directions, face that green monster and say, “I’m here now and that’s what counts”.

Even if we just push for that 1% improvement, that 1% achievement, that 1% of work. Moving forward with our goals. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there, all that matters is you’re there, you made it. You showed up.

I’m learning to be proud of what I achieve in my day. You should too. Whether you made it out of bed on a day when the clouds were grey and hung over a heavy heart – or you wrote a 1000 words or you just made it to work on time. You’re out there, working on your dreams, getting through the day and that is amazing. You showed up!

The Art Of Procrastination

A Positive Spin On Procrastination
Exploring Procrastination
Are You Procrastinating?

Laura Stroud – Chief Storyteller at Stories from a Backpack.

I believe the best stories come from a backpack. We all have beautiful stories to tell and I’m creating a place that is full of inspiring stories and travel adventures. Travel changed my life, it changed how I view the world and what I value, I’m turning that into a lifestyle. The world is waiting to hear your story…

Twitter: www.twitter.com/FromABackpack

Instagram: www.instagram.com/storiesfromabackpack

Facebook: www.facebook.com/storiesfromabackpack

Pinterest: www.pinterest.co.uk/FromABackpack


Something pretty exciting happened in last week’s guest post – did you see it?

6 WordPress Plugins Your Blog Needs

20th February 2019

One of my favourite things about being self-hosted is the WordPress plugins I can use. Plugins allow you more control over your site – both how it looks, and how it runs. They can save a lot of time, effort and stress.

Below you will find 6 WordPress plugins I couldn’t blog without!

1. Yoast SEO

Starting off strong because no list of WordPress plugins would be complete without this one.

Using a traffic light system, it marks you on your readability and your SEO. Readability covers sentence length, paragraph length, use of headings and more. SEO assesses various things you need to do to keep Google happy. This includes key word usage throughout your post, meta description and use of both internal and external links.

I often see people asking how much readability matters. In my opinion, it’s worth aiming for green for this as much as you do for SEO. The only things I don’t necessarily stress over are the use of the passive voice and, occasionally, sentence length. Otherwise, I work until all points are complete. It’s likely to make the post much more enjoyable for your audience, which is what matters.

In terms of SEO, always push for green. I would also advise learning about SEO in general, and not just relying on this plugin. It will help you A LOT, but it doesn’t cater to things like choosing a keyword in the first place. It relies on you having prior knowledge on that. So, having an understanding of keyword research and to implement it so you know what you’re doing is just as crucial.

Free or premium?

Another question I’ve seen a lot is “is it worth paying for the premium version?”. In my opinion, the answer is no. I’ve always found the free version to be more than adequate for my needs, so I’ve never upgraded. From discussions I’ve seen with others who have tried it, they feel the same way. At £79, it’s not an expense I would consider justified.

2. Social Warfare

If you want your posts to get shared, you need to make it as easy as possible. This is exactly the role that Social Warfare takes.

Set up is very easy, too. You can select the social networks you want, as well as where you’d like the buttons to appear. My favourite feature in Social Warfare is “floating buttons”. This means the share buttons are present throughout the post – not just at the end. I just like knowing a reader has the choice to share it whenever they want to!

Free or premium?

Again, Social Warfare has a premium version, which costs $29 a year for a single site. Once again, there are no features in this which push me to want to purchase it. All basic needs are covered in the free version! I don’t know of anyone who has tried premium so, if you have and you think it’s worth it, please let me know.

3. Smush

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but if you have a lot of images on your blog, this is a must! There are other similar plugins which do the same thing, but this is my personal favourite.

It reduces the sizes of your image files without harming their quality. This means your site will load faster, but your pictures will still look fabulous! Win win, right? In fact, I have mine set to automatically smush when I upload them, so I don’t even have to think about it.

Free or premium?

I don’t really understand why there’s a premium version of this, so I guess that answers that one…

In all seriousness, I imagine some of the pro features could come in handy if you have a photoblog, perhaps? For most bloggers, however, the free version is definitely sufficient.

Keyboard roses candle and notebook

4. GDPR Framework

When there was all the fret and fuss about GDPR, this saved my frazzled brain. Though it doesn’t guarantee complete compliance, it will take you several steps closer. Key features include:

  • An installation wizard to help you get started.
  • Configure the plugin to delete or anonymize personal data automatically or send a notification and allow admins to do it manually.
  • Track, manage and withdraw consent.
  • Generate a GDPR-compatible Privacy Policy template for your site.

I have a separate post about GDPR compliance to help you get on the right track if it’s something you haven’t thought about!

Free or premium?

As far as I can see, there’s only a free version so yay!

5. UpdraftPlus

One of the many perks of being in a relationship with an IT nerd is that he thinks of things I’d never consider. That’s why I have UpdraftPlus.

The purpose of this plugin is to backup your site. Having backups means that, if the worst was to happen, you’d be able to restore it. If it wasn’t for Neal’s guidance, I probably would have realised I needed this after it was too late.

My backups are set up to occur once a day, and go directly into my Google Drive. I did, in fact, have to perform a restoration in the summer because I’d fiddled with some settings. There was no major damage done, but I wanted my blog exactly how it had been previously. Thankfully, restoring was quick and easy!

Free or premium?

Looking at the information, the premium version seems very “next level.” By that, I mean it’s beyond my understanding so getting it would be a waste of my time. I feel like premium is aimed at developers who are setting it up for clients. With that in mind, the free version does plenty in regards to my needs.

6. WordFence Security

It may not be the most interesting of WordPress plugins, but it is an essential. It keeps everything nice and secure to protect your site from malicious attacks.

What I particularly like about this plugin is that it sends me emails when various events occur. For example, when someone logs into the admin panel of my site. So far, it’s thankfully only ever been myself, but I like having the knowledge I’d be notified in any case. It also tells me when updates need to be performed, which helps me keep the behind-the-scenes stuff running smoothly.

Free or premium?

I have the free version and it’s served me well so far! The premium version would be suitable for business users, but it isn’t a necessary expense for most of us!

Wordpress Plugins

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6 WordPress Plugins I Couldn't Blog Without

What are some of your favourite WordPress plugins? Let me know in the comments!

About Me

About Me

After being diagnosed with depression and anxiety then receiving treatment, I wanted to turn my situation into something constructive. So, with a lifelong passion for writing and a renewed sense of determination, I took a step out of my comfort zone and began putting all my efforts into creating a positive space online.

I talk openly about mental health and also share blogging/social media tips to help others on their journey.

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