How to Create a Realistic And Productive Morning Routine

Written by Jade

Creating a realistic morning routine can be the answer to a productive day. If you are on social media you have undoubtedly seen influencers talk about this but finding a realistic morning routine is what is actually important. If the idea of a 6am alarm, green juice and a trip to the gym doesn’t sound appealing, don’t worry. We don’t blame you.

Here at TalkThirtea, we are all about creating a morning routine that is realistic, but you can still feel satisfied with yourself by the time you sit down at the desk.

  1. Do not snooze your alarm

The first thing we recommend you do, is find a time that works for you and stick with it. Whether it be 7am or 10am, do NOT snooze. When that alarm goes off, force yourself to get up. The first few times you may feel like burrowing your head under the covers, but after a week, you will get used to it. If you are a notorious late sleeper, push your alarm back by 15 minutes each day until you are at your desired wake up hour.

2. Resist the urge to scroll on your phone

Some people are good at moderation… they will check their emails or instagram feed for 5 minutes then get on with their day. Most of us, however, are not. Social media is notoriously addictive, after all it is built that way. We get a dopamine hit every time we scroll and it is difficult to stop. Starting your day off by spending 30 minutes scrolling through instagram and social media is hardly the productive start we are after. Leave the phone on your bedside table!

3. Make your bed

Psychologically, starting the day by achieving this simple task leads to us to be more productive for the rest of the day. You have already achieved your first task, why not tick off some more? A tidy bed might even encourage you to keep the rest of your bedroom tidy. A simple but effective trick!

4. Hydrate your body

After 7-8 hours of sleep, our bodies are gasping for that H20. I always refill my water bottle right before bed. We all know about the importance of hydration. This reminds me to drink my water, especially before my caffeine hit! Once I drink that first bottle, it is easier to keep hydrated the rest of the day too.

5. Move your body

This one sounds difficult but moving your body doesn’t have to mean going on a jog or anything too strenuous. However, I find that even 10 minutes of body stretches or a quick yoga routine is an excellent way to get the blood flowing and release some stiffness. I highly recommend Yoga with Adrienne on youtube, for any level whether you are a beginner or pro.

6. Gratitude

When that alarm goes off, rather than picking up your phone, take a few minutes to think about all the things in your life that you are grateful for. Just remind yourself of how lucky you truly are rather than focusing on the day ahead. This mind shift can completely change your outlook on life.

So what does your morning routine look like? Are you an early bird or do you struggle to get out of bed? Try implementing some of these tips into your morning routine for a week and let us know how you get on!

Marital Expectations for Women in South Asia

When you think of the South Asian culture, you think food, colours, Bollywood, etc. It is all that and much more but when it narrows down to marriage expectations it’s a different ball game.

You might be wondering, “It can’t be that bad Layla, you’re exaggerating” but as someone who has first hand experience as a South Asian woman and who married a South Asian man, I pretty much felt like I had been thrown back into the 18th century.

Firstly, I didn’t think that being married within my own culture was going to be a bad experience for me as I’ve seen my parents grow beautifully together and my father always treating my mother with the upmost respect. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case for me and isn’t for many South Asian women.

Even though this may be the case for many women, it’s not always true for some as their families and in-laws are more modern and westernised. However, the ones who value the South Asian culture in terms of expectations within a marriage can be daunting and damaging to ones mental and physical health.

The next few points will discuss what can be expected within a South Asian cultural marriage.

  1. Living with your In-Laws: This can be quite controversial as not everyone prefers to share their privacy and space with their In-laws. Also, when you want to grow with your partner, you may not be able to as their will always be opinions and comments from x,y and z that can cause a rift in your relationship. However, this may be a condition set before-hand and if you are a South Asian woman, you may feel obliged to accept as you feel you don’t have a choice and not to disrespect your parents honour.
  2. Calling your Mother In-Law everyday (if you’re not living with your In-Laws): This expectation was beyond me as I thought it was so weird to call someone you barely know everyday and to ask if they need help with cooking/cleaning when they have children who are of age to be carrying out these duties? But since you are the daughter in-law it automatically becomes your duty to fulfill.
  3. Cooking and cleaning for your In-Laws: Since you are now the daughter In-law, whether you are living with your In-laws or not, this is “obligitory” and is seen as a right for you to carry out. You are seen as this individual who didn’t get married for a companionship but to be responsible for chores and to take care of other people. No matter how old your brother or sister in-laws are, it is your duty to fulfill.
  4. You can only wear what is suitable in the eyes of your Father and Mother In-Law: Whatever you wore when you were living with your parents or on your own may now not be acceptable in their eyes. You are expected to dress ‘respectfully’ so other South Asian families within the community won’t comment on what you are wearing. ‘Respectful’ clothing for me included covering my chest area, my rear, making sure my outfits were not complimenting my body shape and a headscarf around the men or when visiting my In-Laws or any relatives.
  5. You have to sacrifice and compromise your happiness in order for your husband and In-Laws to be happy: If you think your happiness matters, you have another thing coming. You are expected to behave as your marriage has given you a new family and you need to forget about your family. No matter the situation, you can’t speak against your husband as he is always seen as ‘right’ and higher status than you.

The above points are just some issues I have highlighted as expectations in some South Asian marriages. My experience taught me that I deserve to be treated as an equal and my happiness matters more. This is why my marriage broke down as my ex could not handle me defending myself.

Don’t ever feel ashamed to stand up for what is right and express your feelings! No one is obliged to live like a maid when married! Marriage is about two people who are meant to be happy with each other and not to please other people and expectations.

Written by Layla

Pets and Breakups: Grieving the loss of your pet

Grieving the loss of your pet. Phew… this is going to be tough to talk about. As I type this, I have a huge lump in my throat and an all-consuming guilt. As I have previously written about, The Mental Health Battle After a Breakup, my divorce was not just the end of my 8 year relationship.

I was living in the United States without my family or friends and it meant I would be packing up my things and leaving to head back to Scotland. We had no children yet so our assets could be divided fairly easily… apart from Alfie. I am currently grieving the loss of my dog, who didn’t die… but I lost during my divorce.

Unconditional Love

My sweet Alfie, my four legged child, my beautiful chocolate Labrador and the apple of my eye. I didn’t grow up with dogs and when my ex had suggested we get a puppy, I was sceptical. However, I soon changed my tune when I met him. I trained him morning, noon and night and completely fell in love with him. He was my companion when I felt homesick and he gave me comfort when my marriage started to fall apart. I never expected to own a pet and then breakup. And now I live with that feeling that I abandoned him.

man with blue and maroon camping bag
Photo by Spencer Gurley on Pexels.com

The Guilt of Leaving a Pet

Unlike my ex, Alfie could not understand what was going on. He didn’t understand when I kissed him and told him I’d miss him. He didn’t know when I walked out of our front door for the last time. And for that I carry massive guilt. He showed me unconditional love when I felt so alone. When my anxiety was debilitating, he would curl up at my feet and lick them. How could I just walk out on him, when I had been his everything fo the past 4 years?

Grieving Your Pet

In many ways, I have grieved the loss of my dog, more than the loss of my marriage. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but my relationship with my ex husband had become very toxic and many hurtful things had happened that made walking away that bit easier. But not with Alfie. He had never shown me anything but unconditional love. And that makes it all the more difficult to walk away from him. He was not sick nor was I. It should not have been the end of our journey together, but it was.

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How I Am Coping

Now, long after I have left, I still look through my photos and videos of my dog and depending on the day, I can cry or I can smile. There is no timeline when it comes to grief, it is complicated and I have found there is little support. I have found a few helpful sites online with some advice:

You are mourning the loss of your animal while they are still alive and you may feel bitter that you miss out on all those years together. You know that your pet is also grieving you. I wonder if he got depressed when I left, if he wonders where I’ve gone and that breaks my heart.

So how am I dealing with the grief of my pet? I have found that going to the park and seeing other dogs has helped bring me a little bit of joy. I take walks outside and listen to podcasts to replicate my daily walks with Alfie. One of these days, I’ll go to a shelter and rescue a dog, for now I have my memories that I’ll cherish forever of the relationship I had with him, and thankfully I know he is well looked after. I have even thought about volunteering at an animal shelter, although I am not sure I am ready just yet.

If any of our readers have ever experienced losing a pet, whether through a breakup or through the death of a pet, please let us know how you have dealt with or are dealing with it in the comments below!

Written by Jade

The Identity Crisis Amongst South-Asian Women

Written by Layla

Before I begin, I’d like to say this is not a blog to discriminate against the South-Asian culture, as I myself am South Asian and love my culture. It is rich and filled with colour and traditions that make me proud of my heritage as a British Pakistani woman!

However, this post will focus on particular aspects within this culture that can impact young women’s social identity. I also want to emphasise that not all families follow strict culture/tradition and are firmly against some of the horrific ideologies and expectations that some may have for women in the South-Asian culture.

Violence and Staying Quiet

The United Kingdom is only beginning to recognise the concerns regarding the impact ‘South-Asian culture’ has on many females lives. The Honour Based Violence Association network (2012) has identified 12 cases reported yearly in the UK but the actual figure for violence and deaths is likely much higher. Social identities and honour-based violence (HBV) crimes are contemporary issues that cause female adolescents to experience consequences for decision-making, becoming young independent women and challenging their family’s traditions. This is very much looked down upon within the South Asian culture and several organisations such as Karma Nirvana, Safe Lives and Refuge (whose aim is to support victims of abuse) identifies that there are many cases that go unnoticed and/or unreported. This is largely because women are supposed to stay quiet to keep their family’s honour and respect and the fear of going against their family silences them.

Gudykunst defines social identity as:

“Social identities, in turn, connect individuals to society through group memberships influencing individuals’ beliefs, attitudes, and behaviour in their relationships with members of other social groups.”

Validation within the community

Social identity within the South-Asian culture engages with undeveloped cultural practices such as group behaviours and behaviours like this are only influenced within the group and not by anyone on the outside. Some of these groups can influence a female’s self-esteem to increase due to pride and social class within their communities. Social identity concentrates on the social behaviour of an individual and changing their behaviour, according to the group they are within. South-Asian social groups share similar perspectives and beliefs which identifies them to be part of the same social category. Furthermore, many South-Asian social groups gain validation and social satisfaction from within their society, therefore, social acceptance becomes the goal.

When analysing the effects of honour-based violence and the influence of South-Asian culture on the identity of female adolescents within the South-Asian communities in the United Kingdom, social identity can be seen in that most families base their decisions around their community’s beliefs such as honour and respect for the elder or patriarch within the family. For example, just recently a woman with a hijab was recognised to be the first female to wear a scarf as a firefighter within the UK. In many households this would be against the ‘rule’ or ‘law’ within the culture as women traditionally should be taking care of the house; cooking, cleaning etc.

Whilst this may be restricted in some ways, for example, South-Asian families forcing culture and tradition upon the female adolescent and not allowing them to have a positive sense of belonging, the social identity of a female within these groups can also be a positive way to live as it brings people together and individuals begin to value a belief system created within these groups.

Fitting into societal norms… i.e “What will people say?”

Another aspect of honour-based violence on social identity development is changes within a females psychological, physical, social and emotional stages and also experience changes within their immediate relationships such as with family members, friends and educational environments. For example, going back to the time when my father was somewhat “strict” or traditional to his Pakistani heritage. I came home from school telling him I wanted to be a policewoman and he just laughed saying, “What will the people say? That I let you work with men?” and ever since I have had this hesitation of if I do anything how would it look in the community’s eyes? Thankfully, my father has become more open-minded and accepting of what we choose to do in life now but many South-Asian females do not get that lucky.

Traditional Expectations on South Asian Women

Many South-Asian females are trained from an early age through their culture and are influenced by the environment and people they are surrounded by. These influences include family traditions, girls seeing their mothers cooking, cleaning, obeying their in-laws, following the patriarch’s rules and these can affect the identity development of a female adolescent. Young females in particular are growing and developing according to the influences around them, and their behaviour mimics that within their culture and community. These behaviours may include being loyal, self-sacrificing and respecting the elders in the family. Women are not supposed to speak up and if they do, sadly cases of honour-based violence are to be expected as is normal in the community. Therefore, social identity and the South-Asian cultures interlink as individual’s are discovering their identity from the influences in the outside community and within their homes.

I have enjoyed gathering research for this topic related to my experiences and I can now confidently say that I am so grateful how my parents, especially my father, have not followed old traditions of this culture and are very open-minded and supportive of his daughters in their career pursuits and life goals. It can be a sense of relief knowing your family is supportive and I have great sympathy for the many women within the South Asian community who do not have this privilege.

If you enjoyed reading this blog, please follow along. I will be discussing similar topics and giving my experience as a British South Asian woman. If you have any suggested topics, please drop a comment and let us know!

If you need to speak to someone regarding Honour-Based Violence please contact Karma Nirvana, Safe Lives or the Police.

Being Childfree at 30

silhoette of woman
Photo by Ilzy Sousa on Pexels.com

Here I am, a few weeks after my 30th birthday, divorced and childless. Not exactly the image I had of myself when I was in my early twenties. I was in a stable long-term relationship throughout my twenties and truly believed I would be a mother by my early 30s. This is something that has been weighing on my mind recently. So let’s talk about it.

As my marriage came crumbling down around me, I have had to get used to the feeling of discomfort. And one of the major sources of this discomfort has been the realisation that motherhood may not be on my radar. I have not cancelled out having children altogether. Not by a long shot, but right now I am single and it is certainly at the forefront of my mind.

Here are some of my recent thoughts on whether to have children in my thirties or not:

It is Okay to be Unsure, Even at 30

For lots of women, their maternal instinct is strong. They have this deep sense of urgency to be a mother from an early age. They know that starting a family is their calling and have zero doubts about it. Take my mother as an example. She met my father at 19 and by 22 she had me, with no doubts in her mind. The idea was not intimidating to her and it felt 100% natural. However, for me, I have moments of broodiness. I catch myself tearing up at photos of babies and longing to be a mother. But I am also used to being childless. The idea of having a baby to look after 24/7 is terrifying. And I am selfish. I enjoy my weekends, brunches and spontaneous city trips despite my ticking biological clock. And I know I am not the only one like this.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

At the age of 30, almost everyone I know is either married or has children or both. I can count on my hands, the people I went to school with who haven’t started a family yet. However, comparison is the thief of joy. As happy as I am for my friends when I see their swelling bellies and baby scans, I am also happy to wake up late on a Saturday. I like to do my yoga unbothered and spend the day how I want. It is ok to do things in your own time. Do not feel pressured to join the club, just because it is society’s expectation of you to be a mother.

Educate Yourself on Fertility/Options

By this age, you’ll definitely have heard comments like “So any plans for starting a family?” And while these comments can get really irritating and feel like a personal attack on your womanhood, it is important to educate yourself on future options.

Only recently have I really started to think about different future options. At around the age of 30, our fertility decreases and at 35, we have an even sharper decline meaning the chances of falling pregnant naturally can be difficult. Modern medicine is our friend here. Thanks to the miracle of freezing eggs, IVF, surrogate mothers and of course fostering/adoption, we have plenty of options for the future. However, it is important to educate yourself if you think you may want kids in your late 30s.

yellow and brown textile
Photo by Anny Patterson on Pexels.com

Being a Mother Does Not = Womanhood

Your womanhood is not determined by having children and there is still a stigma around women who choose not to have a family. We are portrayed as lonely, cold and unlovable, while men who choose not to have kids are “career-driver” and “successful.” However, the reality is that more and more women are choosing not to have children nowadays. We are going to break the stigma by having conversations about it.

And while I myself am still undecided about whether or not I will have kids, I am open to having the conversation. I am starting to look at my options and educate myself to get a better understanding of what my future might look like!

I hope this advice is somewhat useful and would love to hear your opinions on the subject of motherhood and fertility in your thirties!

Things Everyone Should Do in Their 20s

The best years of our lives according to most, our 20s are for making mistakes, building character and figuring out who we are. So here’s a list of things we’d recommend doing while in your 20s

man standing on open field under white sky
Photo by Janiere Fernandez on Pexels.com

Travel As Far and As Much As Possible

This one is probably obvious, but this is the thing I am so glad I did while in my 20s. There is nothing more liberating and exciting than packing up a suitcase and flying off to a foreign land, wandering the streets of a new city, tasting exotic foods and experiencing something completely new. You will come back with a whole new outlook on life, a little more educated and with the urge to keep exploring. Travelling really is the only thing you buy that makes you richer so do it, any opportunity you get.

Make A Few Good Friends And Keep Them Close

As we get into our late 20s and early 30s, making time for our friends can be really difficult. Everyone has different schedules, some of us move to a different city, marriages and kids make it really hard to just meet up on a whim. It’s also much more difficult to make friends… (that’s for another blog post so keep an eye out.) During your 20s, make the effort to make true friendships with a few people and make time with them. Remember, these are the people who will be there during the most significant times of your life!

Experience Being Single And Learn To Love It

This piece of advice is truly important for becoming comfortable on your own. If only I could turn back time, I would give myself a shake and tell myself to just enjoy discovering myself rather than hoping a relationship would give me all the answers. My friends who have spent a lot of time single throughout their 20s have no fear of being alone. It forces you to be content with being yourself. You might even spend your alone time learning skills and finding a hobby you love. Don’t rush into being in a relationship. You have plenty of time for all that!

person holding black and silver camera
Photo by Israelzin Oliveira on Pexels.com

Take Photos

In the digital world we live in, maybe this seems obvious but I cannot stress enough… take as many photos as you can. Every night out, every holiday and event you go to, whether you are annoying people are not, pull out the camera and get snapping. You are in the prime of your life and these are some of the most exciting stories you’ll be telling your grandchildren. You are making memories that you will look back on fondly forever and capturing these moments to look back on is

Live Outside Of Your City/Country

If you get the opportunity to live further afield than the place you were raised, I urge you to go, whether this is studying abroad or simply moving city… Not only will it give you insight into what life has to offer elsewhere, you’ll meet people from different places and you might even have a new found appreciation for your hometown when you return (or maybe you never will!)

Learn To Manage Your Mental Health

It is estimated that over 70% of 18-34 year olds in the UK are suffering with some form of mental health issue. And the figures keep rising each year. Despite these shocking figures, there is still a huge social stigma surrounding mental health. It is crucial that everyone takes measures to manage their mental health. As someone who has suffered with anxiety, it can feel very isolating and debilitating. I have found exercise, journalling and talking it out can be extremely helpful, but everyone is different. Speaking to a therapist can be incredibly useful too. Please don’t suffer in silence.

Start to Take Care of Your Physical Health

As you turn 30 your metabolism slows down, your joints stiffen and your lifestyle can start to reflect itself on your waistline, skin and joints. All those drunken kebabs and pints and laying in bed until 2pm might seem like a good idea now, but you will thank yourself later on down the line for prioritising your physical health. A good exercise routine (even walking a few miles a day!) and eating your vegetables and fruit will make all the difference, however boring it might seem.

Cherish Your Family and Loved Ones

As we grow up, our parents, grandparents and people around us grow old. Make time for your family and spend as much time with them as possible. Listen to their stories and make memories together. Ask them questions about their childhoods and their family tree, this is invaluable information that you can pass on to your own children one day!

Learn Another Language

Giving yourself the challenge of learning a new language is rewarding and will make you more employable. Not only this, but your confidence will sky rocket. You learn that it’s ok to get things wrong, you learn to laugh at yourself and you’ll make friends along the way! Even if you only learn the basics for a trip to Italy, watch how the natives faces light up when you surprise them with a few words in Italian. It will also give you an appreciation for non-english speakers all over the world!

Written by Jade

How To Find Inner Peace: Spiritual Healing from a Religious Perspective

By Layla

This topic is very dear to me and helped me through my depression, anxiety and trauma. If you’re wondering what religion I follow it is Islam but this doesn’t mean other religious backgrounds can’t relate or do not have similar values and opinions.

If you feel like you are in tune with your religion and want to keep a relationship with God, then keep reading for tips on how to gain inner peace and feel spiritually connected with your faith.

1. Praying/Meditating: Now whether you are Muslim or from a different religion, prayer and meditation go hand in hand and become very beneficial for your mental health. “How so?” You may ask. Prayer and meditation for me has helped calm my anxiety by taking deep breaths, closing my eyes and having full reliance on God to get me through the day. Praying 5 times a day gives me a set routine, it allows my mind to focus and to not have time to think of negativity. In other terms, prayer gives you a sense of control over your life and a routine that not everything is as doom and gloom as it seems and you have so much more to look forward to in life. Prayer is a beacon to believe that whatever is out there, whether you believe in God or the forces, that something is better to come from what has been taken from you.

2. Memorising Short Supplications (Dua): I found that memorising short prayers or supplications really help you focus on the positives. Research has shown that the first step to healing and improving your mental health is to show gratitude. We unknowingly become prisoners to our past and depending on the situation and circumstance, being thankful and praising God over the most smallest of things like waking up in the morning, for your family and friends can elevate your mood. Supplications or ‘duas’ are like conversations with God in which we put our problems and needs before Him and express our problems to Him.

3. Not To Isolate yourself: You might be thinking, ‘I want to be alone” and “No one understands my pain” because that heart sinking feeling really does feel like it’s never going to end right? It does. The only way you will feel ready to move on is when you surround yourself with positive, like-minded people who will uplift you and make you feel loved and comfortable. No matter what the situation, long periods of isolation is not healthy for your battle against anything you are facing whether it be loss of friendships, relationships, loved ones or a job.

These three points are what helped me through my anxiety and really uplifted my spirits when having panic attacks, stressing about the future, and worrying about the ‘what ifs’. If you feel you are experiencing similar situations and really are looking for a purpose in life and wanting to find peace, spiritual healing may be your calling.

“Surely We will try you with something of fear and hunger, and diminution of goods and lives and fruits; yet give thou good tidings unto the patient who, when they are visited by an affliction, say, ‘Surely we belong to God, and to Him we return’; upon those rest blessings and mercy from their Lord, and those — they are the truly guided.” (The Quran 2:155-157)

Subtle Signs Your Partner is Controlling You

What are some of the more subtle signs your partner is controlling you? Most of us like to think we could spot a controlling partner… verbal abuse, controlling where you go, isolating you from family and friends. Obvious, right? However it can actually be extremely difficult to realise you are in a controlling relationship until you are out of it. Or it is spelled out to you by a relative or friend. These types of toxic behaviours are not always so in your face…

Controlling partners are often very manipulative in the way that they behave. Oftentimes we don’t see the signs until we are in the thick of it.

So let’s talk about some subtle signs you may be in a controlling or emotionally abusive relationship.

You Are Confused and Second Guessing Yourself

If you find yourself asking “Should I do this?” “Maybe I should ask him first” or you are confused about decisions that you would have made easily before you met your partner, this can be a signal that you are second guessing yourself because he/she has been undermining your past decisions.

This might sound like “I wish you wouldn’t do that” or “I like it better when you do this” or “I hate that you don’t do what I ask.” These subtle little statements, after a while will have us questioning if we should seek his/her approval first so that we won’t leave them feeling disappointed.

person with difficulty and questions in studies
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

They Criticise You For Minor Things Constantly

It is not enough for a controlling partner to have you seeking their validation. They also want to mold you into the type of person they want you to be. To do this, they will pick apart and nitpick on the simplest and stupidest of things.

“Do you have to chew so loudly?”

“You shouldn’t cut your hair like that, it makes your face look fatter.”

“Don’t wash the surfaces like this, do it like that. It’s better this way.”

These comments may seem harmless, sometimes you won’t even notice them. But what often happens is they become more and more frequent or disrespectful. And you will begin to pick up on things that they don’t like and doing things their way, hoping for praise (that rarely comes) or at least, less criticism.

You’re Walking On Eggshells

This one is a big red flag.. “I won’t mention it, I don’t want to rock the boat.” “He’s in a good mood, I won’t bother bringing up that comment he made that hurt me.” If you find yourself feeling anxious about mentioning certain things to your partner for fear of their reaction or if you let things slide, that previously you would have brought up without hesitation, this can be a big sign that you have begun to succumb to their way of life, whether it suits you or not.

woman placing her finger between her lips
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

You Avoid Telling Your Family/Friends

This one can be difficult because lots of people prefer that things remain private and “behind closed doors” and that is totally respectful. Not many people like to air their dirty laundry to the world. However, if you find yourself “forgetting” to mention some of the arguments you have had or maybe a hurtful comment was made that you would have previously told your mum or best friend, you could subconsciously be trying to protect their image of the “perfect partner.” especially if they are well liked amongst your loved ones.

My ex would actually make a point of saying “I hate people who talk about their drama to other people, it’s so disrespectful to involve other people.” I went along with this sentiment for years, until I realised that all I was doing was hiding his true character from everyone around me and suffering in silence.

Your Confidence Is In The Gutter

When you first met, I bet you felt on top of the world. He/she made you feel special and beautiful but now you just don’t feel like yourself. You are having a hard time making decisions and you don’t like how your body looks. You might even stop socialising with other people because you just feel off. This might be because of the constant criticisms and undermining the way you do things. It could also be due to a lack of affection. Controlling partners will rarely, if ever compliment you or boost your self-esteem, even though it is the thing you crave most in the world.

woman holding mirror against her head in the middle of forest
Photo by Tasha Kamrowski on Pexels.com

These are just SOME of the subtle signs that you may be in a controlling and abusive relationship. There are plenty more that you can search for online if you suspect you are the victim of an abuser. However, if you do I would highly recommend ending the relationship if it is not dangerous to do so. I would also encourage you to speak to a loved one or even a professional for further advice.

Written by Jade

What I wish I’d known before marrying in my 20s

Hindsight is 20/20 and after my divorce there are a list of things I wish I’d known before marrying in my 20s. With each new generation, there are less and less of us walking down the aisle and saying I do. It’s common to meet people in their 30s and 40s who have no desire to marry or have children, preferring to focus on their careers, travelling and reach their personal goals – something that amongst our grandparents generation was unthinkable.

I however, am not one of those people. At the grand old age of 25, I had a humble court marriage to the man I met at just 19 years old. My first love and my first committed, adult relationship. I moved my life across to the USA to be with him and thought I was just one of the lucky ones who met my life partner while I was young. Ultimately our marriage did not work out and here I am at 30, divorced and childless, with lots of advice for anyone who cares to listen.

adult bride celebration ceremony
Marriage doesn’t always mean forever

What I wish I’d known

So here are some things I wish I’d known before getting married in my 20s

You’ll change a lot

At 25, I felt like I was the fully formed version of myself. An adult, who paid my own bills, held down a job, cooked, cleaned and all of the boring stuff. I had even lived abroad and survived. So why couldn’t I be a wife? I was responsible and educated and we loved each other. What could possibly go wrong? Well… I changed. And so did he. We grew up, we realised our priorities were different, our interests changed. Life gave us many challenges that skewed our perspective… And it changed us. And that’s ok. But if we had taken into account how much we would develop in just 5 years, maybe we would have seen that our goals and lifestyles would become incompatible.

Don’t get swept up in potential

This seems like an obvious one, but so many of us ignore red flags because we love the person. We see their potential and think we can overlook the parts of the person that we don’t like so much. I am here to tell you that if there are red flags in the relationship, if there are things that gets under your skin that that your partner does, (maybe the condescending tone they use when they don’t agree with you. Or their temper when you argue…) TAKE NOTE. You cannot change a persons character to suit your own needs. If there are issues from the beginning, communicate this with them. If the behaviour continues, it will not go anywhere once you are married. Nothing will kill a marriage like realising you actually don’t like the person as much as you once thought. Run!

Compromising leads to resentment

This is a bold statement of course, so hear me out. A relationship is a give and take and there will be things that we have to sacrifice in order to make both parties happy. However, if you are finding that your significant other is constantly pushing your boundaries, asking you to change how you do things, how you dress or how often you phone his mother, this will leave you feeling unworthy. There is nothing worse than being constantly criticised or being told to change. It is a direct attack on our personalities and it causes resentment to build. Ask yourself, why would I want to spend my life with someone who doesn’t love everything about me?

people gathered inside house sitting on sofa
Listen to your nearest and dearest

If your friends and family have doubts, question it

Some people ignore any and all advice from their family and friends when it comes to their significant others. We are blinded by our love for them and don’t want anyone interfering in our relationships. “What do they know? They don’t know him like I do. They just don’t want me to be happy.” But be brutally honest with yourself. If the closest people in your life seem standoffish with your partner, or are raising concerns about them, it probably isn’t to sabotage your relationship, but to save you the inevitable heartbreak down the line. Listen to your loved ones and listen to your gut! Marriage is a big commitment!

Make sure expectations of you are clear

Though less common nowadays, oftentimes men have expectations of what it means to have a wife. Perhaps they grew up with a stay at home mother who picked up their clothes after them, who cooked, cleaned and who bowed to their every need. Perhaps not. Everyone is different but make sure that before you marry someone, they understand the role you are taking on as their significant other. If you are going to be a business focused, career woman who is barely home, make sure he knows that! Some men cannot handle an independent women, for others it is massively attractive. Some men want a wife who spends her time in the kitchen and takes care of his needs before her own. It is 2021 and most of us women will simply not tolerate being treated like servants… If this is not you, make that clear about setting their expectations. This is something I wish I’d known before getting married so young.

happy woman with rolling pin cooking at home
I wish I’d known my partners expectations before getting married.

Create boundaries with your in-laws

For some people this is a non-issue. What do you mean set boundaries with my mother-in-law?! I don’t need to, she’s a sweetheart. Lucky you! For others, we don’t get so lucky. And if you’ve met a mummy’s boy… god speed! The best advice I can give to you is to set boundaries with your significant other and their parents from the beginning. Make yourself clear what you will and will not tolerate, regardless of hurting their feelings. If your mother-in-law shows up at your house unannounced and it bothers you, voice this! If your father-in-law criticises your cooking and the way you dress, SPEAK UP! Or forever hold your peace… Whether you like it or not, they will be a huge part of your life, so it is better to establish a healthy relationship with them before you tie the knot!

These are just what I wish I’d known before getting married in my 20s. Let me know if you share any of these feelings in the comments below!

Written by Jade

The Mental Health Battle: Getting Over a Breakup

By Jade and Layla

If any of you have ever gone through a breakup, you know that it can feel like the pain will never cease. Heartbreak is real and sometimes we feel ashamed to admit that we are struggling with getting over our relationships. After all, when we decide to separate our lives for good, most of us will suffer with some level of grief.

Here are some tips to hopefully help you feel mentally better in the aftermath of a breakup or divorce

  1. Take your time: There is no timeline for healing a broken heart and that is ok! If you are fresh out of a relationship and feel fantastic, ready to seize the day and get back out there into the world as a single gal (or guy!), great! That is perfectly acceptable! But for most of us, there is a few weeks, months or years during which we will be struggling. Sometimes even doing the simplest of tasks can feel like a huge deal. Do not feel guilty for feeling your feelings and taking your time. A breakup is difficult and your feelings are valid.

2. Talk it out: Easier said than done right? But even if it feels like the most daunting task in the world, to pour out your heart to a relative or friend… or even a stranger, believe us when we say, people genuinely care and want to help you through this difficult time. And just voicing your feelings can leave you feeling liberated and lighter. If you really struggle to vocalise yourself, try to journal your thoughts and feelings on a notepad and read them out loud.

3. Create a daily routine: This might sound ridiculous and pointless, but there is something to be said about structure when the rest of your life might feel chaotic and stressful. Start off slowly. It can be tempting to lie in bed all day with the covers over your head but setting an alarm for the same time each day and forcing yourself up is a great place to start.

You don’t need to be training for 5k races and choking back green smoothies just yet, but adding in daily movement, drinking water and eating fruits and veggies will help you feel better than that 10 pack of chicken nuggets and binge watching Netflix until 3am, we promise! Write down a schedule in your diary and make the effort to tick off your to-do list as you go, even if it is as simple as … Wake up, Take Vitamins, Do Stretches, Brush your Teeth.

3. Reconnecting with friends: For some of us a relationship can be an isolating experience, losing contact/having limited contact with our friends. Maybe you feel you’re trapped and so consumed by choosing between a friend and a partner. We cannot stress enough how important it is to surround yourself with people who know you inside out. It can bring you out of the isolation stages and can be really refreshing. Reconnect with old mates, explain your situation and socialise. Going out with friends can build your self-confidence and self-esteem. Being surrounded by people who care about you can remind you that you have lots to offer the world.

4. Reconnecting with God: This one is not for everyone and that’s ok, but for those of you with religious backgrounds or a personal faith, now can be the perfect time to reconnect and heal yourself spiritually. This can be beneficial when you are feeling alone after experiencing heartbreak, and especially if the relationship was traumatic or abusive.

God can become your beacon of hope when all things seem lost. The belief that God will not take away something that you cannot survive without. He will give you something better in return. He has a better plan for you. He is in control of all that happens. This can put everything into perspective for you when you are desperately searching for the answer to “why me?’

5. Meditations/Affirmations: It is so important to remind yourself that you are worthy. You are important. You are strong. Meditating can relax your mind and your body when you experience feeling emotionally drained. Even if you spend 5 minutes each day clearing your racing thoughts or following a guided meditation. The impact can be invaluable. Affirmations can rescue your self-worth and and help you move forward in life. Believe in yourself even if it may seem easier said than done. You are your own belief system and no one will ever understand your struggle. It is so important to remind yourself that there is light at the end of the dark tunnel.

These 5 pointers are things that have personally helped us through our breakups. Every individual is different and what works for us might not work for you. What we have realised is that if we try to suppress our feelings and push them down (and believe us, we’ve tried!) we become like a pressure cooker. The grief will eventually rear its ugly head. Acknowledging your feelings and validating them is the first step to healing yourself from your past. That might be crying for hours, screaming at the top of your lungs or laughing until you cry with your friends and family… Feel your feelings!

You’re not alone. Most of us have dealt with a breakup at some point in our lives and know how crappy it is. Don’t ever feel you are alone in your struggles. Talk to someone and you will see, it really does help when you think out loud and share how you feel with someone you can trust. Please talk to someone professionally if you are thinking of harming yourself and others.