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Sea Shepherd Ireland

Hello my darlings, it has been a hot minute since I took to the keys and wrote you a little something from deep inside my soul. And so, today I have decided that it is time. It’s time to recall that love for writing, that lust for living and to celebrate and indulge in my new found passions. So without further adieu, lets talk about it…

For any of my readers who do not follow my social medias, you will be wondering where I have been, why haven’t I been writing and what have I been up to? Well, I’ve been podcasting! Yes, that’s right, I’ve been hosting my very own podcast show called ‘The Illuminare Podcast‘ and boy has it been an epic journey.

I have interviewed so many incredible, influential people who are standing up for what they believe in, chasing their dreams and going against the flow of the world instead of conforming to the expectations of society. People who inspire me, who enlighten me and who have challenged me to do better and be better. People who have struggled with mental health issues, with eating disorders, with losing loved ones, with sexual assault, with racist abuse… and yet each and every single one of them have come out on top! They have battled against the grain and spoke out in confidence for what they believe in and they have shown me a new abundance of strength within humanity. I have stepped into their shoes for a moment and felt the ugliness of what they experienced and I feel honoured to be supporting these incredible people to share their stories with the world. I have also been ‘flat to the mat’ as they say, with work and college; currently studying and taking the ACCA exams. Life has never been so incredible, yet so ridiculously hectic!

My most recent podcast interview was with Emma and Alex, Directors from Sea Shepherd Ireland and their episode will be released Monday 16th August 2021. Depending on when you are reading this, that could be tomorrow, today or last week, no matter when it is, you need to go and listen. Get in on this action!

I had tried for months to arrange an interview with Sea Shepherd Ireland, and to be quite honest, I was so exhausted from everything going on in life that I delayed it. I wanted to record as many episodes as I could and release them all as a new season, but of course, life doesn’t always happen how we plan for it to happen. I wasn’t expecting to get back to podcasting until September, however, something was niggling at me to get this interview recorded. It must have been my mermaid senses kicking in, but whatever it was I am so glad that it gave me the push to suck it up, accept that life is ridiculously busy and if I want to help make a difference, that’s what life will be like! Nothing will happen if you spend your time sitting on the couch, that’s for sure. So, when the interview took place it was like an explosion went off inside of me and a passion was born. A passion for our seas, for our beautiful sea wildlife and our amazing planet. We have such a beautiful home here on Earth and yet we seem to not recognise the hard work our planet is doing in the background to try and sustain our way of living.

When interviewing Emma and Alex, we spoke about some pretty hideous facts of what happens to our seas and oceans, what happens to the wildlife beneath the water and how we as humans are propelled to self destruct because of our greed. Most of the atrocities you will hear about in this episode are bred purely from the desire of wealth, and mind you, it’s not wealth by my standards. I would consider someone who is happy in themselves, content in their life with healthy relationships and a love for God to be a wealthy person. No amount of money can buy that contentment. Yet, as humans, our fallen attitude continues to fail us time and time again. A campaign that is close to the heart’s of those incredible men and women of Sea Shepherd global, is the stop finning campaign. This is a movement to make it illegal to fish for sharks and barbarically cut off their fins. The EU is one of the busiest hubs for shark fin trade and it is sold to countries in Asia for shark fin soup. Soooo, yes that means that the citizens of the EU are not even eating their catch, they’re seeking out these beautiful creatures to kill, steal and destroy and for what? Yes, all for profit!

“Finning” is a brutal practice used in fishing on the high seas. Sometimes the sharks are hunted selectively, but increasingly Finning is being practiced with the “unwanted by-catch” of tuna and swordfish fishing. Immediately after catching the sharks all the fins are cut off and the remaining carcasses thrown back into the sea. During this mutilation, the animals are usually fully conscious, and, no longer able to swim, sink to the seabed where they bleed to death or suffocate.

I copied this directly from the website which has been set up to raise awareness about this horrific practise and hope that this will encourage you to visit the website and cast your vote to make this illegal in the EU!

Some of the most shocking facts that we touched on have left me feeling quite responsible and ready to kick my ass into gear. We need to make our own change before the world can change. ”Be the change you want to see in the world”, words from the infamous Mahatma Gandhi which reside deep within me. I try my best and even at that, my best is still not good enough because like everyone, I too get lazy and trip myself up. The key thing is, to get back on your feet and keep going on the journey, to keep fighting the good fight and to keep standing back up again for what you believe in.

Saving our planet seems to be something that some of us are deeply radical about, and the rest of us are quite blasé in our ignorance to the destruction happening around us. There doesn’t seem to be an in between, and my goal by sharing this interview is to broaden the scale and move more of you up towards the radical end of the spectrum. To encourage you to look at your own actions and see what small changes you can make in your life, because yes you do have the power to make a change! One person can change the world, all you have to do is start…

Be passionate about your passions! Be on fire for your beliefs! Stand firm and fight for what is right. When our sea dies, we die… so lets put on the armour and fight for our Seas! Lets fight against the grain as a united front, a strong community ready to make significant change! Let’s be the revival we all know we can be and turn this around.

I hope that you enjoy the episode and please make sure to support Sea Shepherd Ireland, get involved in their beach clean ups and share their posts so that more people can be educated on this matter.

Lots of Love, Illuminare xo

Gilly Bow Wellness The Illuminare Podcast

Hello Lovelies! Another week, another episode and I am delighted to introduce this beautiful ray of sunshine to The Illuminare platform. This week's guest speaker is Gilly from the Instagram page @gilly_bow_wellness . I asked Gilly onto the show to speak about all things journaling, meditation and yes, SLEEP! . It was an absolute pleasure to talk to this beauty and learn a few tricks which I hope to implement into my own life. And I am sure, that once you give it a listen, you too will want to take notes of how to have a more effective, more satisfying sleep. . . Instagram: @illuminarexo Instagram: @gilly_bow_wellness
  1. Gilly Bow Wellness
  2. Sea Shepherd Ireland
  3. Katie K Fitness // Fit Body Strong Mind
  4. Being Your Own Best Friend // With Clara Hand
  5. Chanel Is Strong

Turning 28 on the 28th

It seems like a day to remember, ‘’Turning 28 on the 28th’’. Although I am in college all day preparing for my next ACCA exam, it sounds somewhat special and so, this year instead of wishing my birthday away, I am going to embrace it with arms wide open, ready, and excited for the bountiful adventures ahead. Just by writing that I already feel an overwhelming acceptance of who I am wash over me. It’s refreshing…

When I look back over the last decade of my life, I see so much change, both good and bad but mostly some change that even I didn’t imagine possible. And let’s be frank, I have a wild enough imagination!  There have been changes in jobs, job titles and descriptions, change in dreams and aspirations, change in passions and desires, changes of address and location, and of course changes in people that came in and out of my life. All of which has brought me to where I am today, a Womanpreneur stepping out into the world with confidence and style… Well yes, I am still working on it, but without envisaging it, how could I ever expect to get to that Boss Lady status I am climbing towards?!

I suppose what I want to achieve by writing this small piece is comfort in knowing that I have walked a path that no one else has, I’ve walked my path and throughout that walk I have grown. My life has had twists and turns, ups and downs, rollercoasters, and tumble tossers and yet even with all of that, I still stand. Sometimes I am in awe of what I have been through and other times, I feel almost saddened that some things happened in my life that could have been avoided. But who are we without our flaws? Who are we without our past, our trials and tribulations? Who are we without our struggles? We are half a human wanting to only experience life through rose coloured glasses, that’s who.

While that sounds delightful, I’m reminded that without those experiences in life I would not have grown strong, independent, and courageous. I would not have found it within me to believe in myself and what I am capable of. I would not have been able to express myself so deeply that sometimes I even hurt myself… and I definitely would not have gotten to a point of healing, where I now believe in myself and my creativity.

For years, I have avoided my birthday like the plague. I haven’t enjoyed celebrating it and this year, I finally understand the why behind the avoidance; because I didn’t believe that I was worth celebrating! Sure, I slapped a smile on my face and went about celebrations with people whom I assumed would be part of my life forever. Heck! I even bought party dresses and got done up to the nines to try and mask the pain of the disbelief in myself and my passions! For years, I hid so much pain behind sweet little Jessica’s smile, always wanting to celebrate others and not care much for my own victories. There are a lot of deeper meanings as to where that attitude came from, but this piece is about the wins, the achievements, the changes that made me a stronger woman. This year, the hiding ends! This year, I am celebrating me, and I am celebrating me hard!

So, without further babbling, I would like to ask of you all to raise a glass with me (even if you’re just awake, it’s 5pm somewhere, and hey, mimosas are breakfast!). Here’s to me! Jessica Louise. A woman who has been through numerous changes, difficult and easy, heart breaking and inspiring, captivating and propelling. A woman who sees herself for who she is, knows she is not perfect but that she is perfectly imperfect. A woman who has dropped the mask and who speaks her truth without conviction. A woman who sees beauty in everything and encourages only the best in people. A woman who forgives wholeheartedly and loves ever so deeply. A woman who is proud of her accomplishments and is excited to continue building her empire, be it small, or be it worldwide, this girl is on fire! 28 and feeling like my truest self, little Jess you would be so proud!

Cheers!

Insecurities, they affect all of us…

It’s easy to look at a photo on Instagram and think that someone has their whole life together with no insecurities, but who really knows what lies behind the capture of one single moment? In this photo, I openly admit that I feel beautiful, I feel confident, I feel a lot like an “Instagram model” as our society would so lavishly put it these days. But what you don’t see in this photo is the lead up to it, me questioning my Mum 9,345 times, “Does my tummy look big? Is my hair okay? Can you see my underwear lines? Is my makeup too much? Do I look classy or tacky? Have I any tan lines?” Majority of which are valid questions in my opinion, as part of getting ready for any event! Admit it, it’s always nice to have that second person’s eyes to ensure you do look as good as you feel. However, it’s where these questions are coming from that’s the problem. Asking these questions for me isn’t just a double or even a triple check, sometimes it’s a lot deeper than that. Sometimes it’s an affirmation I need to hear because I genuinely feel uncomfortable in my own skin. Insecurities, they really are nuisances…

Over the course of my healing journey to date,  I’ve realised that when we find the root cause of an insecurity, we can work on them to not necessarily eradicate them, but to silence them when they do raise their ugly heads! Sorry girls, unfortunately I don’t have the magic cure to completely get rid of every insecurity forever. But what I do have is a knowledge of how I managed to deal with them and hope that from my experiences I can help shine a light for someone else. To be entirely honest, I still face insecurities about my body, and most likely always will, but now I am equipped to shut them down before they go too far. This photo was taken last year in my parents’ garden and reflecting on that time, I thought that then I was in a really good place; turns out when they say it gets better it really does, and easier too! As the days go by, I find myself getting stronger and more resilient to the lies that try to infiltrate my happy little mind. How, you ask? It’s simple, but also, I completely understand that it’s not that simple… A paradox if anything.

The biggest reason I continue to find myself in a better place year on year for example, is because I have been and continue to be surrounded by love and support. The most important thing about that is; I have chosen to accept that I can be loved, and I have chosen to receive it. A lot of us fail to receive love and support because we think we can do it all on our own, and while being little miss independent can teach you good life skills, it can also damage your interpersonal skills. Some of us even reject the thoughts of someone loving us because of how we may have been treated in the past. I’ve been in that place and it’s not a great place to be, but again from experience, it’s not the end of the world. If you’re willing to put in the work, the reward will be tremendous. We are all capable of loving and we are all worthy of love – we just need to accept that it’s true.

Another huge reason why it’s a lot easier for me to silence the lies now, is because I continue to invest in myself, one day at a time little by little. Healing wasn’t just a trend to follow or a phase in life I decided to venture into, it was a very clear and concise decision I made to better myself and my life. Healing takes time and after years of ignoring the gaping wounds, at the end of 2017 I decided that this time my approach needs to be more than just a party on a Saturday night to get me through the week or a session in the gym to sweep everything under the carpet. My approach needed to be more beneficial; physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Sometimes we need to face the reality of our affliction in order to move forward, we need to find ways of turning the bad experiences we’ve faced into life lessons.

Sometimes we’ve got to take our pain and mold it into our gain!

On investigation I found that the root causes of most of my insecurities were developed in a very toxic relationship, one that I entered into with a normal teenage girl amount of insecurities. But when I left it, I was inundated with lies and had a serious lack of confidence. Other reasons for my insecurities were rooted in the fact that I was bullied both in primary school and secondary school. It never bothered me much in primary, I was so sure of myself as a child and I have my parents to thank for that, but on reflection I was also so reliant on God. Even though I may not have understood the whole spiritual side of life, I definitely had childlike faith and undeniably proclaimed my love and trust in God, no matter what the bullies had to say! In secondary school though, as we all naturally go through puberty, we all naturally start learning about new things and as a consequence, we all learn to develop new insecurities. I had a bit of a whirlwind in my final years of school, unfortunately with friends I loved dearly. Some of our friendships drifted apart, some turned into bullying, some are still alive today – more distant than we would have thought when we were in school, but I’m thankful for the little moments we still share every once in a while.

It was during that rough period of my life that I realised all of these insecurities feed into our fears, leading to panic attacks and chest pains, tummy issues and all that lovely stuff that we all enjoy so much about anxiety… Thankfully, and a lot to do with my spiritual journey, I have learned how to silence insecurities and shut them down where they begin. Not always is it as easy as it is said, there are times that I am weak and allow the insecurities to invade my mind. When this happens, instead of doing what I used to do and beat myself up for whatever the insecurity implies, I do my best to reach for a better feeling and focus on the things that I love about myself.

How many kinds of insecurities do you think there are? I used to think that it was just a body thing, that people were insecure about how they looked and that that was all there was to it. It wasn’t until I took a look at my life from an outsider’s perspective that I realised, there are so many types, all of which I experienced in those school years and into my early twenties. Although a lot of it could have been avoided and those insecurities would have never had an effect on me, one thing I can say for certain is that I don’t regret my past – I’ve learned not to. I’ve learned that reflection is the best way to move on from past traumas, regret keeps you in that period and doesn’t allow you to move on in life. Regret sounds like ‘’Why did it happen to me?’’ or ‘’Why did I allow myself to go through that?’’ whereas reflection allows you to say ‘’Yeah it was pretty shit that it happened to me, but hey, I survived’’ and that realisation is the beginning of your work. So, if you have regrets may I suggest that maybe you take a look at them first – they could be the main feeder to your insecurity and by dealing with those you will cut your work in half for the rest of your healing journey! Take it from someone who knows, reflection is a lot easier on the mental health than regret. If you can change your mind frame to see it that way, you will fly along in your healing journey.

I previously wrote a blog describing 3 steps I use to deal with insecurities and you can find it here -> Insecurities Blog . If you want to pursue your battle against insecurities, give it a read and let me know what you think. The purposes of this blog that you’re currently reading was to allow you guys to see that I have dealt with insecurities on a personal level. I’m not just a blogger that wants likes and popularity, those things are of little to no importance to me. My blogs purpose, Illuminare’s purpose is exactly as I have always said it was, to shine a light in dark places and to support and encourage all who come across it. I have been in really tough situations and I have, by the Grace of God for most, survived them all. I wanted to open up to my readers so that it becomes more relatable and you can see then, why, and how I cultivated the 3 steps I talk about in the previous post.

To wrap this up, I want to say to you that nothing is impossible. As Audrey Hepburn so wonderfully put it: ‘’The word itself says I’m possible!’’ Bearing that in mind, approach the week ahead with a new mentality! Approach it with faith in yourself that you are equipped to deal with the situation’s life throws at you, all you have to do is believe in and commit to yourself. No one else can start the journey for you, no one else can do the work for you. If you want to do a half-arsed job at healing, it’s just going to leave room for infection. This is about YOU! It’s about YOUR life, YOUR growth, YOUR healing… Don’t just overlook the bruises, don’t nullify the wounds by shrugging your shoulders and saying ‘’Shit happens’’, get up off your butt and do the work.

I promise you, You’re worth it…

Insecurities are nuisances, but we’ve got the power to put them to rest!

Insecurities. Such nuisances, right?! We all have them though; we all suffer from them and unfortunately, we all try to pretend that we don’t have any. This, in my opinion, is the worst approach. Because let’s face it; one way or another, they’re gunna find ya, and they’re gunna getcha, getcha, getcha, getcha… 🎵

I’ve decided to approach this a little bit similarly to some of my previous blog posts on perseverance and anxieties. It’s actually quite amazing how you will find an overlap of similar feelings and reactions in our body when we’re faced with moments of discomfort. Moments that cause us to feel anxious, to feel insecure, and sometimes for long periods of our life we need to persevere through these triggers that spike our anxiety and insecurity. However, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, so don’t lose hope. We can do this, together.

How you ask? Simple… with these 3 simple steps you will learn to divide and conquer all of your insecurities and soon, you’ll brush them off just as quick as they appeared.

3 STEPS TO DEALING WITH INSECURITIES

  1. Acknowledge and Recognise the Insecurity
  2. Acknowledge and Recognise that not everything is in your control
  3. Acknowledge and Recognise that this is a journey

1. Acknowledge & Recognise the insecurity

So, what is the insecurity? In order to deal with our insecurities, we need to identify them. Once we identify them, we can begin the work because in its identification we are enabled to find our way back to the source. And where the source is, is where we find the life supply. If we can find the life supply, we can cut it off and nip it right where it was planted. This allows us to free ourselves one insecurity at a time. BADABING!

Let’s be real, there are so many types of insecurities and there is no doubt about that, BUT; if you can learn to identify the little nuisances, we can move forward in our dealings with them. So, which is it? I’ve come up with a few of the main insecurities we face as humans in our daily lives and hopefully this can help you in identifying where your insecurity is rooted.

  • Personal Insecurity

The personal insecurities are the most detrimental in my opinion, this is where we tear ourselves down to nothing instead of building ourselves up! Some of them might look or sound like the below.

Body Shaming and personal fears – no matter what kind, done so in a joking manner or even just a passing remark, this is murderous to our self-image. SHUT IT DOWN! You are beautiful no matter what anyone says even the mirror, and if they refuse to see it then leave them to walk their life blind to the wonders of creation – their loss! Our personal fears can also cause a lot of insecurities in life and it is up to us to face these fears and conquer them. This is definitely a difficult one to do, but once you start the process of overcoming your fear it is so rewarding and relieving letting go of unnecessary weight.

Abuse and betrayal – if you were in an abusive relationship or maybe you were betrayed by someone very close to you, or it could have been a toxic friendship, whatever it was or is, abuse and betrayal are two of the biggest breeders when it comes to insecurities. As a side note, abusive relationships are more than just physical, they are mentally abusing, emotionally abusing, and spiritually abusing – be aware of this as we can fall into a place of self-blaming for everything, and that is NOT a good idea! For more information on this topic, please take a look at WomensAid or MensAid and get educated.

  • Social Insecurity

You may not feel secure in crowded environments or it could just be an anxiety of people not liking you. Social insecurity is a right pain and doesn’t help in the process of making friends, I’ll tell you that for nothing! Don’t like parties? Have you ever wondered why? Did something happen at a party that made you uncomfortable or maybe you worry your personality won’t match those of the other attendees? Social insecurity can be an awful one and it does nothing for our self-image.

  • Performance or Professional Insecurity

Insecurities in this area often stem from childhood or early professional life experiences. Our parents can have a huge impact in our growth as adults just as much as they did when we were children. If you have qualms with your folks, sort this out, make peace and move on – together preferably and see how much more you grow. If you had a glowing childhood, parents could still apply good pressure on us to perform at our best, this can be an amazing technique of parenting; encouraging us to always try our best and improve ourselves. However, it is what happens to us when someone puts us down, for example a teacher or a boss, for an achievement that we would have been praised for previously by those who would be more compassionate towards us naturally.

And finally…

  • Economic and status insecurity

Having this insecurity can really affect our mental health in ways that are just so damaging to ourselves and the relationships we have with those around us. This can be a tricky one because you can have the likes of the over spender who throws money at worthless things and worries about it later, or you can have the opposite i.e someone who doesn’t spend a penny on anything and has piles stacked up at home. Both are forms of this insecurity! So be you a Scrooge or a Rebecca Bloomwood, this insecurity needs to be dealt with – asap!

Once we have identified the type of insecurity we are facing, we can then move on…

2. Acknowledge & Recognise that there are some things out of our control

This step is more focused on other people’s actions, rather than our consequent reactions. The sooner we can accept that we cannot control what happens around us, the sooner we can move on in our insecurities. It is an unfortunate thing to say that we can’t control what people will say about us behind our backs and even to our faces, or control whether they abuse us or not. It is even sad to say that we sometimes cannot control ourselves in these situations and end up feeling worse when we let them see us cry…

Wait up though, we’re not done, this is not a sad story or a ‘let’s just give up and give in’ to our insecurities, HECK NO! This is where we accept that the things we cannot control are to be just so, but it is also where we learn to take the reigns of what IS in our control! So, answer me this, and answer it good… what can we control?! Yep that’s exactly right! HOW WE LET ALL OF THESE THINGS AFFECT US! We can easily allow it to affect us negatively, by really getting down on ourselves and maybe even joining the bullies and insecurities in abusing ourselves. But what if we changed this routine? What if we decided, ‘Hey, I’m not giving up today! TODAY I’M TAKING BACK MY RIGHT TO BRUSH IT OFF!’

We can take back the power by simply choosing again, and I’ve read about this technique in Gabby Bernstein’s book ‘Super Attractor’. The Choose Again method allows us to recognise how we are feeling, ask ourselves why we are feeling that way and then choose again – so choose a different feeling or reach for a higher joyful feeling as Gabby talks about in the book. It is quite a difficult technique to start getting into the flow of but once you begin using it, choosing joy over sadness becomes easier and easier. We should allow ourselves the space to feel our low times too, but when we need to get out of them, this is a good technique to use.

Let me throw out an example. So I’m faced with a day that seems to be going perfectly so far and everything is rosie in the garden. It’s a beautiful sunny day and I decide to pop off to the shops for some ice-pops and other picnic type treats. In the shops, I bump into a bully from my past. Immediately, I feel threatened. I feel like I’m back in that period of my life and I freeze up. What do you think I should do?

I have 2 options here, I can allow the insecurities that were planted by this bully many years ago sink in and wreak havoc on my mind, or I can recognise the feeling, recognise the cause, and instead of giving it life, I can choose to be brave and face my fears. If you’re ever faced with this situation, it can be easily said than done to put a smile on your face and hold your head high, but trust me when I tell you that it’s the most empowering feeling you will ever experience! Knowing that you chose not to allow your past creep in on your sunny day and ruin it, knowing that you chose to be brave and smile rather than runaway and hide, knowing that you chose YOU over your insecurity is one of life’s greatest gifts. So, do me that favour and try it! Choose YOU over your insecurity!

3. Acknowledge & Recognise that this is a process!

And for my final step to dealing with insecurities…

Acknowledge and Recognise that this is a process! It’s not a one strike kills all, it’s a journey. You need to give yourself the time and space to work through your insecurities, one at a time. It would be fantastic, don’t get me wrong, to have a once off hit of dealing with insecurities and never having to feel them again, but that would take away a part of our humanity. Instead of trying to ‘Fix yourself’ , why don’t you approach it in a way to ‘Heal Yourself’?

We are not broken people, we are not in bits and pieces on the floor (although sometimes it certainly does feel that way), we are whole beings! And in our whole beings are the experiences from our past, because without them we probably wouldn’t be where we are today. Included in our whole beings is everything that we might not like about ourselves or our experiences so far, but also included is everything we love about ourselves and all the amazing memories we have made. There is nothing to ‘fix’ as such, but rather a few open wounds that we need to tend to in order for them to heal.

Sometimes our healing is instant and sometimes it takes awhile to rehabilitate ourselves back to full functionality. It’s in that journey, it’s in that process of the work on ourselves that we can learn to grow and prune ourselves, prune back all the insecurities, all the bad memories, and allow new fruit to come forth on your branches of life, allowing you to produce beautifully sweet wine…

I hope that this helped in someway combat what you’re facing, but remember it’s not a one size fits all type of thing. We will always be faced with insecurities throughout our lifetime. We could be fine for years and in a moment a very ancient insecurity could rise it’s ugly head, but the beauty of this process is that when it does decide to creep up on you, you will have done the work to equip yourself with the weapons you need to battle it and put it to rest once again! You’re a warrior, you know… you just got to believe it!

With love and strength your way, Illuminare x

Anxiety is such a bummer!

Hello, my lovely readers and Happy Monday!

We are into week 2 of the ‘Social Distancing’ phase of Covid19 here in Ireland and what an experience it has been so far! I have promised new content to you all for a while, and I apologise for the delay on getting to it. I’ve had a bit of a period in life where everything has happened all at once and yet nothing seemed to be progressing, if that makes sense. I’ve been busy and yet I’ve had plenty of spare time, but what happened to that time I can’t make sense of it at all. Let’s just say, it was filled with plenty of anxiety, a good dose of stress and a lot of me trying not to sit still for fear of where my mind would take me. And by not sitting still, most of it was most likely filled with Netflix. Be under no illusion that I exercised because the time I had set aside for that, well… poof! It just disappeared!

Is this an anxiety related post?! A little bit odd you would think for someone who is a Christian and believes in Jesus and His promises of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), who puts out such a positive front on social media, and who is generally a very happy positive individual. Well, before we continue let’s take a moment to accept that this is going to be a very blunt, very raw post. So, approach with caution and please let me know your thoughts afterwards!

This past season has taught me if nothing else, that I am only human and sometimes life is difficult! It might sound worse than it is, and I can definitely say my situation has not gotten to any stage it’s been like before in worse times. I am far better off than a lot of people but if you have ever experienced anxiety in any form, you will know that no matter how good you have it, all you can see are problems. Anxiety has a way of ramping up situations to look more terrifying than they actually are and to be quite frank, it’s a bit of a pain in the backside.

I want to encourage you all, those who are currently suffering with anxiety, those who have never suffered with anxiety and those who have overcome anxiety, it is just for a season! We go through life and have many experiences; sometimes bad ones and I’d like to think most times good ones. Often, we build up stigmas around scenarios and life choices because of past experiences. With these stigmas in place we avoid and sabotage our own growth, our own happiness, our own love. When we are in a place of feeling anxious, we are really in a place of fear – fear of the unknown and to our own demise, fear of the known. But sure, why would we fear what we already know you ask? Ha well let me tell you! Anxiety has a funny way of making you feel inadequate, insecure, inept. Lies for definite, but for those brief and sometimes long spells of unease we succumb to them. A truth I must remind myself of in these times is: Where fear lives, Love unfortunately cannot! And in this realisation is where I begin to fight my battle…

Love gives us peace, it gives us happiness, it sparks encouragement and laughter. What I have found in times of feeling anxious, is that I can get copious amount of encouragement and love from all around me and yet still feel caught in a snare of my own self sabotage. And that’s exactly what anxiety is, self-sabotage! From experience, the only way to battle this stage of anxiety is to call yourself out on your own shit! Excuse the blunt language!

Why are you feeling anxious?

Why are you holding yourself back?

Do you have a legit reason to feel that way, or is it just overthinking?

What can you do about the situation to have a better mindset towards it?

How do you expect someone to understand what’s going on inside your mind, if you’re not willing to talk about it?

Are you uncomfortable? If so, make the change to get to where you need to be to feel comfortable!

These are questions I ask myself to cut down the long grass in my mind so I can finally see the meadow. Sometimes I can get through it quickly and no one would even notice I’ve had an anxious thought, yet other times it’s a lot more difficult!

I am a firm believer in God and Jesus Christ His son and sometimes even that is not enough. Before you judge me, and yes, I’m referring to fellow Christians in that too, let me explain. I am only human; I am not perfect. In fact, I am far from it, and when my mind decides to have a little meltdown sometimes nothing can stop it from doing so. Does that falter my faith?! Certainly not! Does it make me any less of a Christian?! I don’t think so. What it does make me is a human being living in a fallen world doing her best to get through life and with the aid of God in my life, I find it easier. If I didn’t have God, this whole anxiety thing would a be a heck of a lot harder than what it already is. To all my believing and non-believing readers, my point is YOU ARE ONLY HUMAN!

We can’t do life alone, no matter what your beliefs are I’m sure you would agree that life is much better with family, friends, lovers, pets… We were not made to be alone; we were made to connect!

Give yourself a break. Practise self-compassion, self-grace, self-forgiveness! Yes, give your anxieties over to God, or whatever your faith beliefs are, but without love for yourself your actions will be null and void. God says we are made in His image, He says to treat our bodies like temples, living vessels for His Kingdom (apply this to your own beliefs), so then why do we not have compassion, grace and even forgiveness for ourselves? It’s such a hard hurdle to jump over I know, but there are so many ways to get to this point of self-love, and trust me it is a process, it does not happen overnight.

Journaling: write how you are feeling, compare it to how you want to feel and prepare a plan of action to get to that place of wellbeing!

Bucket Lists: what do you want to achieve in the coming weeks/months/years? Come up with techniques to make working towards your dreams a reality.

Affirmations: look up daily affirmations, write down the ones you believe in, that you are comfortable with and place them somewhere you will see each and every day!

Prayer and meditation: take time to connect with God, the Universe, your surroundings and allow yourself the time to breathe!

Connect: surround yourself with people who love you, people who want the best for you. Get rid of toxic relationships, situations, workplaces. Give your time and energy to those who help you to feel more like you, the beautiful, positive, creative being you were made to be!

If you are in a place of anxiety right now, please let me encourage you to act now!

You won’t regret it!

Perseverance

Hello, my gorgeous readers and thank you as always, for the wonderful support you give me. Today I am writing on something we have all experienced, and if not, then will experience at some point in our lives…

P E R S E V E R A N C E !

Most of you will know that I am a Christian, I’m not perfect, but my faith in God is a huge part of who I am, if not the biggest part of who I am! It has brought me through so many difficulties, and it’s also brought me through a lot of happiness in the most recent years of my life. I am part of a church called Trinity which is based in Dublin city centre. I volunteer some of my time to the church to take part in different areas, the biggest one being the Young Adults Group. I spoke on perseverance last year with the Young Adults and that’s where the bones of this blog post have come from. I hope you enjoy; I hope you take something from it, and most of all I hope you are encouraged to keep on going and keep fighting, because you are a W A R R I O R !

For full disclosure, my faith based blog posts are not to push anything on anyone. I have so much respect for everyone no matter what your beliefs are or are not. So please don’t let my faith discourage you from reading on, instead apply your faith or your beliefs to this and see what happens… I promise you won’t regret it!

When I was first asked to speak at Young Adults, the topic was patience. I went away to think about it and was like, God I’m pretty sure I’m quite patient. I’ve done a lot of work on myself to not have a short fuse anymore (short fuse not meaning aggressive, but just being ticked off by things and fully shutting myself down from it! So basically, going silent and turning into myself instead of dealing with the pressing issue), so why am I being asked to speak on patience?!

In Young Adults, we have an event graphic that goes out each week to highlight what we will be speaking on or just to show the general information. The one below, is the one that was sent out for this week that I was speaking. Notice how the word is not patience?! It’s perseverance! When I seen this, everything became clear, or just about. I knew what I had to speak on, but funnily enough, in prepping my talk I realised that patience has A LOT to do with persevering! So, we might see those words overlapping in our lives, but let’s dive in…

Perseverance – What does it mean?

Perseverance is doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

Relatable words: staying power, tenacity, determination, purposefulness, firmness of purpose

Perseverance has an element of both negative and positive vibes, most times though it unfortunately is negative! How we decide to see it though, is up to us. Your mindset in difficult times is key! If you are going through a period of your life that persevering through a rough patch is where you are at, try and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. Yeah, its cliché. Yeah, its hard to see the trees from the woods when you’re in it, BUT… if you can focus all your energy on positive feelings you will get through your situation a lot easier!

Staying power, I love this wording! It seems to be something we have lost understanding of as a generation who live in a world where everything is constantly being upgraded. And at rapid turnovers too! Some of us don’t know how to stick around and fix things or simply don’t want to try new approaches to solving our problems. We live in a microwavable society; by that I mean we want it now and by now we mean 5 minutes ago. If it breaks, sure throw it out, we’ll get a new one. Don’t try fix it because that’s wasting valuable scrolling time. Our society has turned into one where it’s all about self and what we as individuals want. And we want it right now!

Whereas staying power has a whole other meaning. Staying power means we face our difficulties, our challenges, our heartbreaks, we assess the damage that has been caused and we try new approaches to fixing it!

An amazing example I have of Staying Power are my parents! Mum is a woman not to be messed with, lol. She is sweet and kind, gentle and hilarious at times, but by God is she tenacious. Dad is a man to respect and look up to! He is a gentle giant but he’s got my back if I need him to! My parents prayed for years for me, everyday they would lift my name to the heavens and support me from a distance. I wasn’t at home and didn’t see my mum or my dad for the most part of 4 years, by choice. A choice I reflect on now and am thankful for the lessons I learned but am sad for the time lost. Our relationship had been damaged, and both of them fought and fought and fought, everyday they prayed, everyday they tried to reach out and to no avail! Their staying power in that time, to me was phenomenal. Never once did they give up on me, even on days they found it most difficult. In fact, those more difficult days were probably when they done most of their praying! And now, here we are. Years later and our relationship has never been better!

Had mum of given up, had dad of not caring and left me at the back of his mind, had they not prayed, not persevered, God knows where I would be today! I firmly believe that their perseverance through those most difficult times is what kept the light shining on my life and on theirs. That perseverance, they turned it into P O S I T I V E  P E R S E V E R A N C E and to this day, they have come out the other side better people, a more experienced couple, and warriors I look up to!

Another case of persevering would be fighting for your purpose. Firmness of purpose is something that takes A  L O T of perseverance. Some people know exactly what they are meant to do in this life, and despite everything that comes up against them they keep pushing through the barricades to get to where they want to be. Lady Gaga for example, she went through abusive relationships, she was bullied in school, she was told from so many different people that she would never succeed at what she wanted to do… look at her now. She’s sang songs that we can all sing along to, Just Dance, Paparazzi, Shallow to name just a few. She has gone against normal pop culture and completely changed the usual expectations to a whole new world of imagination and creativity. She has even starred in a phenomenal remake of the famous movie ‘A Star Is Born’ to which she won Academy Awards for best original song. She is moving mountains in her industry and I am here for it!

Lady Gaga was and still is firm in her purpose. She is unyielding in what she wants from her life. She fought many battles of her own and guess what?! She persevered!

While Lady Gaga brings us back to our world now, we also see so many examples of perseverance in the bible. Take the book of Job for example. Job had everything taken away from him for no good reason at all. Yet we see Job continuing to persevere through every circumstantial change, through every painful moment, through it all he pushes through and remains faithful to God. There is a beautifully illustrated video of this on YouTube that you should check out! Linked here.

In our own lives it’s easy to see how difficult it can be to stay persistent and not give into our own indulgence, our own desire for the easy way out! But guess what guys and gals?! I’ve got news for you! We can tackle our own self defeat and continue to persevere through whatever life throws at us with just 3 simple steps.

3 Simple Steps to Persevere through hardships

  • Recognise the mountains that you are facing

Take a step back and look at the challenge in front of you, recognise it early on so that your trajectory is just about a smooth incline, even though it feels and looks like a vertical battle!

  • Recognise that there are some things that are out of your control

This is where patience comes in. There are times while persevering that we need to patient. Not everything is fixed or solved in an instant, healing takes time! It’s a process.

  • Recognise that God/The grander scheme of things is bigger

Prayer is a very powerful tool in keeping us focused and ploughing through difficult situations with confidence and grace. Prayer, meditation, self-awareness, it all helps in making persevering a lot easier.  

And with that, I must come to a close because I could write and write and write, but I want to challenge you guys to improve in the areas of your life that require perseverance.

My challenge to you is:

Highlight your strengths and appreciate them, but also HIGHLIGHT YOUR WEAKNESSES and IMPROVE IN THOSE AREAS. Get real with GOD! Get real with YOURSELF! Get real with the UNIVERSE!

Truths

Life is tough, but so are You!

If Jesus walked out of the grave, then I’m walking too!

Have an amazing weekend guys, and as always please feel free to leave some feedback! Hearing from you guys is what makes this so much more special! If only one person ever read a single blog I wrote and was blessed by it, then that makes my heart so happy!

All of my love and blessings …

Illuminare x

Social Media Detox Part III

Good Day to you my lovely readers and welcome to all and any passers-by or new committed followers. May I just say that it is an absolute honour to be using my ability to write to reach out to people and speak truth into their lives. I am absolutely blown away by the support I have received to date since setting this up in September and am so excited to see where the future guides me.

If you haven’t already read the Social Media Detoxing series, you can check out part I and part II on my blog. This is part III. Eliminating and Restructuring your life’s surroundings to build a safer, more enjoyable environment to live in. So, without further babbling, let’s dive right in…

Eliminate and Restructure

After identifying the stress inducer and accepting that I cannot control the world around me, it was time to eliminate and restructure! This step can either be a fun experience or a painful one, depending on the decisions you want to make.

I decided that for me, coming back to social media had to mean that my time would not be wasted. It needed to have a cause and a purpose. I decided that I would not allow myself to be sucked into the judgemental, hypocritical society again but rather would come back and bring positivity to the newsfeeds of people who wished to see it. Illuminare was created and its purpose is to motivate, inspire and illuminate the dark places bringing positivity and light into people’s worlds. This was my restructure plan! Positivity!

When coming back to social media, I also considered the pages I had previously liked and the friends that I had before. Some were great friends, some were friends that drifted apart, and others were friends just because they knew someone, who knew someone, who knew me. But sure, what’s the point in that?! People getting involved in your personal business and they don’t even know you?! Being recognised by a stranger in the street and them knowing your life story but you haven’t a clue who they are?! It’s all a bit too much for me!

In reference to pages, some suck you in with the name and say that this is what they are about, but then you like the page and all of a sudden your newsfeed is swarmed with content that is so irrelevant and is not what you want to see. Now I know Facebook and Instagram have added options to stop following a page or to even hide content, but that to me is just putting a carpet over a dusty floor… why hide it when you can just be rid of it?!

Eliminate.

If you are one of my friends on social media now, you will see that my posts are very little nowadays, in fact I rarely post about my personal life at all. My personal profiles are all on private and I only add or follow who I want to allow see my things or vice versa. Our lives are private, we were not meant to live a life that was constantly under pressure to pose for a photo or show the world what pair of runners we just bought! In the background, we probably broke our backs working and saving to buy those runners, but social media only sees the label… and that’s where the danger lies. The likes go up and up and up, chemicals are released in our brains, and we get addicted to living a lifestyle that we don’t truly live! It’s a false reality and it causes so many people to be anxious and fall into depression.

Restructure.

You need to decide what it is you want from Social Media or what you want to bring to it. If you are happy enough posting 40 photos a day, then by all means please continue to do so. But if deep down you are doing it ‘just because’ or trying to ‘up the likes’, please take a detox and reap the benefits. If you’re not as extreme as I was, don’t delete your page but instead, clear out the crap. Unfollow people who cause you to tense up, unfollow pages that share things you have no interest in, and don’t just unfriend, block the abusers! Go totally AWOL and log out of all your accounts! Give yourself at least a week’s break and watch and see how that week turns into 2 weeks, which turns into 2 months and sure life could not be better!

Your life is a gift. It’s precious and beautiful. You were not given the gift of life to squander it by becoming a drone to society, or to be bullied for that matter! We all go through a time in our lives where bullying affects us, but when you have ways and means to stop it, STOP IT!

Instead of reading the stories of dread, while I know some of them are about people who need to be supported, find and read, or rather write a story about peace and happiness. Sometimes our own mental health needs to be supported before we can support another. As the saying goes; ‘You cannot pour from an empty cup.’ You need to fill yourself to a point of overflowing before you can help someone else. And when you feel revived and unrestricted by the chains of addiction, submission, and even just out of pure habit, then you can be a light in people’s lives!

When you eliminate and restructure you will notice your mood changing, you will notice your happiness coming back. And can I just point something out that maybe you’ve gotten from this or maybe you haven’t? When you go through these 3 steps and come full circle, guess what?! YOU ARE NOW IN CONTROL! You are not held against your will to constantly check your notifications or share every moment of your life; your detox has released you from that and this is where the real work begins. This is the part where you need to train yourself to stick to a set amount of usage or simply stay off and have no usage of social media at all. It’s all in the retraining of the brain. I’m sure there are studies somewhere to show that social media addiction is as intoxicating as any drug addiction. The effects might not be the same physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually social media, like heroin, can suck the life from you. So be wide to it!

Detoxing from Social Media gives you the freedom to live. You will be surprised how much more time you have on your hands to get those things done that you’ve got on your many TO-DO lists. You will free up time to meet friends in the real world and not just facetime, something that has substituted meeting for coffees. Maybe you wanted to take up a class but you ‘haven’t had the time’… well now you do. And sure listen, you never really had time for an intimate relationship, either did you?!

*Ahem* now you do! Invest in your friendships, invest in your relationships, invest in your relationship with yourself, and please… invest in your spiritual relationships too!

Eliminate the negative and restructure to experience the positive. You do not owe anyone an explanation, but you owe it to yourself to look after and nourish your mental well-being! Now that we have made it through the 3 steps, identifying, accepting, eliminating and restructuring, it’s time to fill our time with positive vibes! At the bottom of this blog, I’ve attached some downloadable, screenshot-able pictures to encourage you to do something other than scroll…

The fact is, now that you are detoxing from monotonous scrolling, you have a heck of a lot more time on your hands whether you want to accept that or not! You have plenty of time to get your chores done, plenty of time to get in touch with your spirituality, and plenty of time to invest in good healthy relationships! So, get up off your butt and do wonderful things with your life. We only get the one, don’t waste it behind a screen!

Peace, Love and a Kick up the bum to get yourself motivated!

You Got This!

Illuminare xo

Things to do instead of wasting time scrolling

Social Media Detox part II

Good evening my lovely readers and Happy Monday! Let’s motivate ourselves this week by diving headfirst into the next step of Social Media detoxing; ‘Accepting that you cannot control everything’. That is one of the most hardest concepts to accept, accepting that we can’t control everything, and I use the word control in a manner not like controlling a person, but rather our environment. We cannot control the words or actions of another being, but we can learn how to deal with behaviours. Alas, fear not as we are all in this together and we are all continuously learning each and every day about our surroundings. I do apologise for the gap in releasing the next issue of the series. I’ve got quite a bit on at the moment, which I will talk about another time! For now, let’s get stuck in…

Accepting that you cannot control everything

After a couple of months being social media free, I noticed a lot of benefits physically, mentally and spiritually. My mind was a lot freer and less intoxicated by the negativity of the world and my mood in general was better than ever. I had a lot more motivation in going to and enjoying the gym, I was a lot more productive in work, I had a bit more peace about praying and my anxieties had gone from every little thing being a trigger, to rarely feeling so much as a twinge in my chest! Let me just say that I am not entirely blaming social media for all my stresses, but it was and sometimes still can be the highest offender when it comes to setting off my triggers.

Having a mind that was more relaxed and at ease gave me the opportunity to reflect on life and recognise the areas on which I needed to improve. The mental fog cleared quicker than I had imagined, and things became much clearer as to why something would affect my mood. Not wasting time scrolling through people’s unnecessary updates about their life drama allowed me to see what was important and what wasn’t even worth a second thought. I could identify the things that triggered my anxieties and quickly learned how to remove them from the equation. I had time to think. I had time to see. I had time to live. The world became 3D around me, technicolour and first-hand experience instead of the flatscreen universe I had previously been consumed by.

Being in this mindset of real life and not the fictitious timelines of your everyday Kim Kardashian wannabe, allowed me the space I needed to accept and realise that I simply cannot control everything. Realising and accepting that we cannot control everything is one of the best revelations we can have in our lives. If someone is going to judge you, criticise you, speak badly of you that is their business and their issue to deal with. It is out of your control. If your boss decides to shut up shop and close the business down, change their minds numerous times until unfortunately there is no other option, that is their decision. Guess what? It’s out of your control. If a close family member gets sick and is taken into hospital, if the weather man gives the wrong information, if a Mean Girl shows up on Wednesday wearing yellow instead of pink, if an earthquake shakes your world, no matter what that earthquake might be, hear me when I say: IT IS OUT OF YOUR CONTROL.

If you’re like me, the initial realisation of this can kind of mess with your brain and freak you completely out! But please, take a few minutes, deep breaths and think logically. Of course, not everything is in your control! You are one person, one human, one life in a sea of billions of possibilities. Instead of fearing these possibilities, take delight in them and know that there is one thing you can control, your reaction. How are you going to deal with your situation? How are you going to approach moving forward from an abusive relationship? How are you going to survive financially? Are you going to lie down and let the world go by, or are you going to stand up face yourself in the mirror and a bit like Barney Stinson; be awesome instead?! That choice, that potential outcome is your choice.

Accepting that you cannot control everything frees up so much more mind space and allows you to consider your options. It gives you a chance to listen and hear what is being said rather than trail off into pandemonium in your mind. Accepting that you cannot control everything is one of the most liberating revelations you will ever experience.

While I am far from a control freak, having anxieties I find is partly because things are out of our control naturally and we exasperate ourselves with the idea of unlikely things happening just because we know, there is nothing we can do about it should it occur. Having this realisation become clear to me also made my life a heck of a lot easier. Thankfully, I am still growing and continuing to learn about myself, dealing with my anxieties head-on,  and I find that Social Media detoxing is something I do a lot more regularly to keep things at a level ground. As the saying goes, everything in moderation. When I eventually came back to Social Media, I came back with a purpose that was not only something I wanted to do, but something I could do to give and support others. I came back to support and help my church grow their platforms. I also came back with something I am passionate about and want to pursue more and more in the coming years. I was encouraged to share my positive mindset with the world through my writing and that is how Illuminare came about.

My challenge for you all this week is to make a list of things that give you anxiety or you have worries about. Then, I want you to consider the options you have around them and come to a realisation that some of the outcomes are out of your control. For example, going for a job interview might give you a hint of anxiety, not knowing how it will go or if you will be liked enough to get the job. The options around that are to either allow your anxiety to completely overrule you OR… you can go into that interview and just be yourself. Act as though they need you rather than you need them. Once the interview is over, reflect on it, think about it, consider if you would even like to role yourself and then let it go… You cannot control what happens next, you cannot control the decisions made by the panel of interviewers, all you can do, is accept that it happened, appreciate the experience, and move on…

So with that in mind, consider your week ahead and make it your business to identify things that you cannot control and allow the peace and serenity of that feeling of release to soothe you through the motions! Let me know how you get on, I would love to hear from you guys.

Peace and all the love, Illuminare x

Social Media Detox Part I

Good day to all you lovely people out there and welcome to Illuminare. I hope you are managing this week to kick anxiety in the butt! Today I am continuing on from a series I introduced this Tuesday called ‘Social Media Detox’! If you missed my last blog, you can catch up by clicking this link or simply scroll to my previous post. Like all of my writing, I am brutally honest in this series so if my content stirs something up inside of you, maybe you need to look at yourself and ask why and what it is that makes you feel that way. I am not a perfect human or in fact a perfect example of Social Media Detoxing. However, I wanted to address the topic to not only help you guys, but also help myself! As I write, I learn and therefore I grow. I hope you all enjoy this series and take something away from it. I have learned a lot about myself and am very excited to see what it does in your lives too. So let’s get down to it…

Identify where your stress comes from

Identifying where our stress comes from can be tricky. It can take us some time to experience a revelation but trust me, if you can’t point it out, it will eventually point its ugly self out to you! One day I realised I was a lot crankier than usual. I was irritable and very easily set off by the littlest of things. While feeling like this, I didn’t see myself and it wasn’t until I started crying that I noticed there was simply too much going on and my head-space was very foggy.

That evening I opened Facebook, as you do these days to ‘wind down’, and I came across numerous content that just made me feel very unsettled. There were quotes about how we can’t trust each other, people cheating, friends back biting, and all other sorts of carrying on. Quotes of being independent and not needing other people. Photos of guys and girls completely altered by filters or posing with their designer gear acting as though life is peachy, while in the next breath or in this case, next post, they were body shaming celebrities! Photos of couples being on cloud 9 (which is wonderful) yet they pursue other love interests with their comments, tags, DM’s and simply by cheating with their eyes; ogling another’s photos. There were photos of animals that were abused horrifically by ‘humans’, stories of women and children (sometimes men too!) being abused in their homes and photos of their bruised and bloodied faces/bodies. What shook me the most was that this was just the mild stuff…

*SIGN OUT AND SWITCH OFF* – that was it I had had enough. Stress inducer identified!

The matter of the fact is, that all of these images whether we stop to look at them or continue scrolling past them, the mere glimpse we get creates a chemical reaction within our brains that we may not recognise straight away, but feel the effects of as time passes by. Our brain releases chemicals for both good and bad things, depending on your perception of what you are witnessing or experiencing. Using the example of social media content, the same chemical is released again and again when you see the image/video/status etc creating a grander reaction each time. Bigger chemical reaction equals deeper emotional affect!

While I am not a scientist nor a psychologist, learning about the brain, its reactions and chemicals it releases has become of great interest to me over the last six months. As humans we are likely to have some stress in our lives which is completely natural, however, becoming sensitised to it is something I want to reverse, avoid and eliminate!

Continuing from that faithful evening, I received a message a couple of weeks after signing out from a friend who was pretty peeved that I had not responded to a request they sent me on Facebook. Now besides the fact that you can see when the last time someone was online, I had informed close friends and family that I was taking a little break and was only contactable via WhatsApp or an actual phone call. After explaining the situation, apologising and still being treated how I was afterwards, this was the moment I realised that Social Media was affecting my mental health in a very detrimental way. It was then that I decided, you know what, not only am I signing out, I’m deleting it all. This crap just isn’t worth it.

I identified a chronic stress inducer and realised that the many natural stresses going on in the background were being piled onto a dormant volcano, and the stress from Social Media was the tipping point to make it all go KABOOM! I needed to make a change, I needed a break and so I deleted everything. Just like that. Gone. And in an instant, my mood had already begun to improve…

My challenge to you all today is to reduce your usage of social media over the next few days. Try to meet friends over the weekend in physical form instead of just catching up over messenger. Go for a walk by the beach, or take time to read instead of staring into the endless dramas of our generation. Have a wonderful weekend instead of just a usual one, do something different, do something out of your comfort zone, do something challenging and exciting!

Illuminare x

Social Media Detox – The Intro

Hello my lovely readers and welcome to anyone who’s new to Illuminare! This post starts the series about ‘Social Media Detoxing’ and as it turns out, I have quite a lot to say about it! So, to make things easier I am going to split it into a series of posts to reduce the amount of reading per post. I really hope that you enjoy, but also take something from this series and apply it to your life – and maybe do a cheeky dance like the gals starting their own detox in the GIF above! 😉

As many of you know, I took what I like to call a ‘Social Media Detox’ for the entire summer of 2019. From the beginning of June to the end of August, I had logged out from both Instagram and Facebook on my phone and refrained from using them whenever I was on a computer. Something I was very surprised and rather frustrated about, was that my phone would not allow me to uninstall the apps. (As a side note, re-investigating this, I realise that I was doing it incorrectly and you can in fact, uninstall the apps! Silly me!) My point is, what if I simply did not want to return to Social Media? Ignore the apps? But sure, that’s almost impossible in this day and age, I’ll definitely cave and login at some stage… or so I thought!

My reasons for doing the detox were personal and I firmly believe that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. A lot was going on in the background regarding my job, some family members’ health issues, growing up into adulthood and realising that not every friend we make is for life. To put it into simple terms, the world was changing around me in many aspects and the pressures of it all coming at once was just too much. I needed a break, I needed to go off the radar, and I needed an escape. (I would highly recommend everyone to at least try the detox and see what benefits you experience on your own journey).

My first thought was not to get rid of social media, no way! My first thought was to run and jump on a plane and get out of here! But fortunately, I had good people around me to be the voice of reason and a very supportive other half keeping me sane. So instead of some VACAY island off the Bahamas (which I know would have been marvellous), I started small. I looked at my life and decided on where the stress was coming from and how I could minimise it in order to deal with it. When I realised that Social Media was having a major impact on my stress levels and my mental health, I decided that I need to come off it for awhile and give my mind a bit of breathing space. Once I began the detox, I noticed that the other stresses in life were a lot easier to deal with and comprehend.

In this generation, we tend to live off likes, comments, shares and friend requests. We long for a new follow to only accept it and refuse to follow back because, well… ‘Why would we?’.  Social Media has given all of us a self-inflicted desire for self-gratification and self-entitlement. Whilst it can be a very useful tool for keeping in touch with distant friends/family, exploring new avenues for promoting small businesses and even for resourcing content for positive motivation and inspiration, Social Media has latched onto our humanity and ensnared us. We are so entangled with insecurities and social comparison which tend to casually lead us into our own self indulged bubble of loneliness, anxiety and depression… aka FOMO. For those of you like me, who had to google FOMO, it means ‘’Fear Of Missing Out’’ an anxiety that something exciting or an interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, most often aroused by posts seen on social media. We are so caught up with watching people’s stories instead of making our own – and I don’t mean posting to your story, I mean experiencing and writing your story!

FOMO, YOLO, JOMO – How did we even come up with this language?! It’s amazing, yet terrifying that our lives hang on these hashtags and acronyms that describe how we are feeling rather than living our lives out of fear and enjoying what’s happening before us instead of wondering what’s going on elsewhere!

*Sigh of exasperation*

Life is for living. If you’re going to a concert, go and enjoy it, take a couple of photos, but don’t let your experience be through your recording! Put the phone away and live in the moment. Sing to your hearts content, link arms with the other fans and raise your hands in the air – like you just don’t care!

If you’re going to a friend’s wedding, go to celebrate the lovely couple. Of course, we all love to take a few photos, but leave it at that and don’t video record you and your pals dancing to every single song the DJ plays! Make memories, don’t try and record them. The best memories are the ones you have imprinted on your mind, the ones you can’t stop laughing about yet don’t have videos of you staring into Instagram’s camera…

Enough of the negative! Enough of the criticism! Let’s get down to how we can turn these platforms into positive resources instead of negative vortexes.

Below are my three steps to minimising stress in your life which I will share in detail over the next few weeks. I’ve applied these steps for the sake of this series to Social Media, but they can be applied to any area of your life. As part of the detox, I have also come up with several things you can do instead of scrolling through news feeds. I’ll give you a heads up on what to screenshot, but I’ll also make sure its downloadable so that you don’t need to sign on to find out what’s next. 😉

All of my love and best wishes to everyone for 2020! I look forward to seeing what happens with Illuminare, but for now… let’s kick anxiety in the butt!

Illuminare x

My steps to minimising stress and living a freer life:

  1. Identify where your stress comes from
  2. Accept that you cannot control everything
  3. Eliminate and restructure
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