50 Things To Do on Dog Days

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Some days are bad days. Here are some good things to do on bad days:

  1. Get down and herby: Add mint leaves to green tea and add sugar or honey (and ice) for a refreshing Moroccan style drink.
  2. Dance: Do the caterpillar. Do the sit-down boogie. Do the twist. Try a plié or jive it out with a partner. Anything goes.
  3. Vitamin D: Sit outside, especially if it’s sunny. Or, run around in a torrential downpour. It’ll feel good.
  4. Dip in: Lie in bed all day with a ‘dippy box’ (a concept developed by my mother in the nineties – a box of snack sized nibbles, usually chopped fruit, raisins, little sandwiches, cubes of cheese, chocolate biscuits, ritz crackers etc.); embrace your inner child.
  5. A novel idea: Read a whole book. Or a whole chapter. Or a whole sentence. Be proud of your progress.
  6. Perspective is everything: Lie on the floor and see the world in a new way.
  7. Snail mail: Write a letter, design a greetings card or send a post card.
  8. Pillow talk: Wriggle around under the duvet and communicate via grunts and wails.
  9. Lists, lists, lists: Read 50 ’50 Things To Do When…’ lists. Then do something that tickles your pickle.
  10. Minstrel Me: Get someone to serenade you. Or vice versa.
  11. Doctor, Doctor: Make an appointment with your Doctor to review your medication if you feel it’s not working for you. Or, if you don’t take medication but feel you want some extra support, ask to be put on the waiting list for counselling.
  12. Take drugs: Actually remember to take your medication! Or vitamins. We are just chemicals, after all.
  13. Human dartboard: Print a picture of someone who annoys you  *cough David Cameron cough* and rearrange their facial features via scissors and/or felt tips.
  14. You’re forgiven, not forgotten: Forgive yourself for something you’ve been beating yourself up about. Yes, I’m talking about that insensitive thing you said without thinking three years ago. Three years of guilt is plenty, thanks.
  15. Adult Colouring Books: Does what it says on the tin. Fair warning, may induce addiction.
  16. Cry Me A River: Let yourself cry, copiously if you need to. Listen to your crying song, think about a loved one who’s passed. It hurts and that’s ok.
  17. Smelly: Wear something that smells of someone you love.
  18.  Work with me: Take a mascot to work with you. Or wear your lucky pants.
  19. Inked: Draw on yourself with a felt tip or sharpie – design a tattoo.
  20. Talk to me, TED: Watch a TED talk. They have a mental health playlist which you might find useful.
  21. Find method in your madness: Do something methodical like testing all your pens, sharpening your pencils. Don’t think, just do.
  22. Catch 22: Exercise. Exactly what you do not want to do, I know. Try not to think of it as exercise… Wrestle with your brother, punch a pillow, or spar with a friend. Channel the frustration.
  23. Ask and you shall receive: Ask for help. Not necessarily for head stuff but for something practical. Ask your dad how best to clean your iron, or your cousin for that falafel recipe you liked.
  24. A Different Kind Of Dog: It may be a Black Dog day in your head, but how about making it a Border Collie or Golden Doodle day? Beg, borrow or steal a dog and let their love heal you.
  25. Good Samaritan: You’re not alone. Talk to the Samaritans.
  26. Say Yes: When you’re depressed, cabin fever can really exacerbate the issue so if someone invites you out for a drink, seriously consider it, even if you feel like crap. You can always go home again if you need to.
  27. Say No: Delegate responsibilities that aren’t going to happen today.
  28. Smiling’s my favourite: Make like Buddy The Elf and smile. Maybe you’ll remember that smiling’s actually your favourite.
  29. Does somebody need a hug?: You may not be an angry raccoon, but a hug probably wouldn’t go amiss. (Seriously, Buddy The Elf has all the answers)
  30. Boombox: LOUD MUSIC. I recommend Gwen Stefani, but maybe that’s just My Shit.
  31. Bad decisions: Make bad food choices. Today, mine include cookie dough ice-cream and magic stars. 0 regrets.
  32. It’ll all come out in the wash: Put on a load of washing, it’ll help you feel like you are in control of your life.
  33. 2 is a rational number: Make a list of EVERYTHING you are stressing about (this might take all day, but that’s ok!) and have a friend or partner look over it. They will be able to offer a more objective view and help eliminate some of your worries.
  34. Play dress-up: Put on something slinky or something ridiculous.
  35. A heady mix: Learn to do a 40’s style headscarf turban and slick on some red lippy. Or go for bold prints and some of these lovely headwrap ideas.
  36. Breaking in: Season a corset or break in a new pair of shoes.
  37. Fair’s fair: Exchange back massages with a friend or lover. Or, if its not in your skill set, how about you offer to make a meal for you both after your shoulder rub. Incentives!
  38. Sit in a dark room: In a cinema. With pick’n’mix or popcorn.
  39. Have a tinkle: Make an instrument of some kind and bash out a tune. If the crafty element is beyond you today, use spoons. Or a real instrument.
  40. Lyricist: Learn all the words to a song that makes you pee, like Daphne & Celeste’s ‘Ooh Stick You’. Although, to be fair, I know most of them already…
  41. Supplement this: Research alternatives to anti-depressants that you could try, like light-boxes or St John’s Wort.
  42. Back to the Future: Stop dwelling on the past and start making plans to look forward to. My husband-to-be used to call them ‘happiness islands’ when I was homesick, doing my degree in Edinburgh.
  43. Water, baby: Drink it, swim in it, walk near it, bathe in it… We are water…
  44. Food, glorious food: Order something delicious, smile at the delivery guy and devour. (The food, not the delivery guy… Unless…)
  45. 100% Inspiration: Get inspired. Visit somewhere amazing like Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Or visit someone amazing. Don’t forget to tell them that they’re amazing.
  46. Sleeping Beauty: Your mind is probably tired. Get some shut-eye. Some days are only good for sleeping through, anyway.
  47. Press refresh: Get some air circulating your space, burn some candles or incense, spray some perfume.
  48. Brownie points: Make these brownies. Thank me later.
  49. Blog Revisited: Go back to a blog post that always gives you ideas. My two current favourites are Gala Darling’s Sad Trombone List and this list of 25 Productive Things To Do on a Rainy Day by Meg Favreau on WiseBread.com.
  50. Hope: Remember that you will not always feel like this. Accept how you feel, but take comfort in the fact that it doesn’t rain forever.
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Pink Lady: Three Ways!

Today’s theme: Pink. With a capital P. We’re going classic fifties shapes and variations on a theme.

Here are three different looks with a touch of pink.

Take me for a spin...

Take me for a spin…

Lovely for something different on a night-out. Great for swing-dancing or just feeling like a big floof princess. The volume of the skirt is playful, balancing out the sexiness of the nude corset and lacy cami. Warning: takes commitment.

A night on the tiles.

A night on the tiles.

For a slightly less radical approach add a cardigan or coloured sheer shirt on top of the corset and swap the choker for a nylon neck scarf in matching tones. Bubblegum princess, we have lift-off.

Oh, Marilyn!

Oh, Marilyn!

Inspired by that picture of Marilyn Monroe. It’s sexy but understated. You don’t need much with this – just a bit of statement sparkle…

Classy and bold.

Classy and bold.

For those mid-week blues – add Pink! Demure enough for work, but still bold and fun. Classic cinched-in waist comes with the pencil skirt and an instant vintage vibe.

Schema this.

If you want to improve your life, it’s important to recognise the issues that are holding you back. Some psychologists use a list of criteria called Schemas or  Life-traps to identify the main limitations which individuals are living with.

I find this approach useful sometimes because it gives you an awareness of what you need help with and, vitally, requires you to be honest! It’s uncomfortable but important. Nothing will change or get easier if you’re not being realistic about your starting point.

Here are the eleven life-traps as outlined by Young and Klosko in ‘Reinventing Your Life’:

  • Abandonment: you feel that you will be left emotionally isolated forever. You may get very upset about separation and tend to cling.
  • Mistrust and Abuse: you feel that you will be abused or taken advantage of in some way. You are mistrustful and have difficulty establishing meaningful relationships.
  • Dependence: you feel unable to handle everyday life in a competent manner and need constant support. As a child you were made to feel incompetent when you tried to assert your independence.
  • Vulnerability: you live in fear that disaster is about to strike. You do not feel safe in the world. You were probably overprotected by your parents which has caused your fears to be excessive and unrealistic.
  • Emotional Deprivation: you have the belief that your need for love will never be met. You feel cheated and you alternate between being angry about it and feeling hurt and alone.
  • Social Exclusion: as a child you felt excluded by peers. As an adult, you avoid socialising in groups and making friends. You feel socially undesirable and inferior.
  • Defectiveness: you feel inwardly flawed and defective; you see yourself as fundamentally unlovable. You are afraid of love and expect rejection.
  • Failure: you believe you have failed relative to your peers. You may have been called stupid or lazy as a child.
  • Subjugation: you sacrifice your own needs for the sake of others You do this out of guilt or fear. You repeatedly enter relationships with dominant, controlling people.
  • Unrelenting Standards: you strive relentlessly to meet extremely high expectations of yourself. You probably apply your standards to other people and can be very judgmental.
  • Entitlement: you are unable to accept realistic limits in life; you feel special. You struggle with self-discipline.

I won’t tell you which ones I fall into – you might be able to tell, anyway… But hopefully by thinking about the different ways in which you might be limiting yourself, it will become easier to stop doing it! Let me know how it goes!

Pavlov’s puppy.

We, like Pavlov’s dogs, act on a trigger-response basis, especially when we’re anxious or depressed. When the rational part of our brain is on hiatus, there’s not much left apart from slobbering hounds. Charming.

Get to know your patterns so you can anticipate your responses. When you know, and can predict, your reactions you can put in place mechanisms to remain a vaguely functional member of society even on Black Dog days.(disclaimer: you’re totally allowed to spend all day in a bath full of baked beans if that’s what you need to do).

But let’s not be all doom and gloom – Pavlov’s dogs were expecting good things, after all. So, make it a saliva situation! Try to break your negative patterns, using a positive reinforcement technique like Pavlov. Unlike the mad scientist though, don’t forget to actually follow through with the proposed treat because a) you’re not actually a dog and b) it’s just plain mean.

Allow yourself some time (10 minutes maybe) to sit down and concoct a plan of realistic situation-response-solutions. Make sure they correspond in a meaningful and constructive way, if you can. For example, if you have to give a presentation at school/uni/work and you know it will be a major stress-trigger, plan a lunch-date on the same day with someone you know will make you laugh, or help ground you. Don’t go out and buy yourself a £200 kitchen gadget for the same reason, though. If you have your eye on some big investment piece, make it a future goal to celebrate something huge, like passing your driving test or, you know, making it to the end of your month’s notice period without telling your boss to stick their [insert object] up their [insert body part].

Here’s an example of a situation-response-solution plan:

Situation: Phone call (I’m choosing this because it’s one of my triggers and it is a common thing which people with anxiety find hard)

Response: Avoidance, Physical symptoms (Phone calls always manage to fall to the bottom of my list because I worry about the nausea, sweating, shaking etc. that comes hand in hand with making them)

Solution: The anticipation is ALWAYS the worst part, so just do it. When you have, take a moment to genuinely appreciate what you’ve achieved. It was maybe bum-clenchingly awkward, but you did it. Get yourself a hot chocolate and a biscuit and bask in your glorious radiance. Try writing a weekly list of small wins – they add up! When you make it physical, you can see and go back to what you have already overcome. If you want, make a sticker chart – why the hell not??

Other tips for the dreaded phone call:

  • Write a little script so you don’t have to worry about going blank
  • Have paper with you and make notes as you go – or doodle to help you relax
  • Tell the person on the other end of the phone that you find this difficult – if it’s a doctors’ surgery or something like that they should be supportive and helpful.
  • Don’t be rushed – some receptionists can be very busy, but your call is just as important as everyone else’s!
  • Call first thing in the morning so you don’t have to stress throughout the day.
  • Be polite – if you are pleasant to speak to, the person you’re talking to will be more willing to go the extra mile for you.
  • Be direct – they don’t need to know your whole life story, though.
  • Share your achievement with a loved one. Having someone reaffirm that you’ve done well is a great feeling and makes the next time easier.

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the bum-clenchingly awkward social experiences slightly less bum-clenchingly awkward! Go forth and unclench your bum!