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Teacher in Aberdeen. New beginnings happening very soon. Watch this space.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Backslap those Winter Blues!

Hey there!

Hope everyone is doing good. I sure am! I was at placement today and it went brilliantly. I adore the school I am at. It never fails to put me in good spirit. Anyway, I woke up this morning quite early, looked out the window and immediately wanted to return to the warmth and comfort of my bed as the outside displayed only darkness, heavy rain and fog. This put me in a slight mood as it felt like the middle of the night and plus, who wants to be awake at 6:45am? In order to make myself feel less like a zombie I made the nicest cup of tea ever (big assumption to make I know, but it was damn good tea!) and put on some Michael Bublé (he never fails to put a smile on my face). By the time I was leaving for placement it had not even brightened up slightly. It felt more like a midnight drive than a trip to school...
... So, once school was finished I was shattered and I just wanted my bed. I also noticed that at 3:30pm it was just as dark as it was that morning, meaning I had not witnessed any daylight at all! Which leads me on to my topic of discussion (finally after my spiel) The winter blues! What causes them and what I feel may be the best ways to deal with them.

Firstly, here comes the biological and psychological aspect:

So, what causes the winter blues?

Research has found that winter blues are caused by the lack of sunlight we receive during these dark months. The consequence of this being the amount of serotonin we produce is greatly reduced. Serotonin is the 'happy' hormone we produce in the brain. Less serotonin = Less happiness :(
As night falls, the substance, melatonin, is produced by our pineal gland which informs our body that it is now night time. Daybreak informs the gland to then stop producing the melatonin. However, during the dark winter days, little light is received to trigger the waking up process.

Before I go any further, I realise that many people suffer more seriously from the winter blues, known as SAD (perfect abbreviation) or Seasonal Affect Disorder, however, these individuals will be more inclined to seek advice from a doctor. I do not suffer from SAD, merely only mild winter blues as most experience, therefore I will be giving my own, non-medical advice which I have found to help cheer me up!

So, what advice do I have to offer?

  • Get as much sunlight as you possible can during the day. Sometimes easier said than done, but even a trip to the shops can help!
  • I know for me, and for a lot of students out there, the thought of lingering exams, assignments and presentations can put a dampner on the holidays. Don't work your holidays away! Enjoy yourselves! Do a little amount of work each day and you won't feel as stressed for leaving it all to the last minute.
  • Have a long and relaxing bubble bath (I'm talking to the guys out there as well) and have an early night. It is normal that people want more sleep during winter therefore it's good to get into a good sleeping routine.
  • Make sure you are warm. Being out and about is bound to give you a nose like Ruldolph, so when you get indoors, put on your most comfortable house clothes/pyjamas and slippers etc. and wrap a warm blanket around you. Sitting in front of a lovely fire I find works best for me. Treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate (the hot chocolate you make with milk, not water :D ) This always helps me when I'm sad.
  • Try to avoid alcohol as much as possible (unless we are talking parties and social gatherings of course). Alcohol restricts the blood flow therefore this can result in you feeling colder. Speaking of alcohol though, the odd brandy does help you to warm up!
  • Getting plenty of excercise can also help to improve your mood and reduce you levels of stress. An hour a day really does have great advantages for your mood. Take a walk with a friend, go to the gym or have a snowball fight! Any kind of excercise will only bring benefits.
  • The approaching holiday means glorious food will soon be on offer. Christmas cake, pudding, Roses, Quality Street, Shortbread and much more! It is, however, best to try and eat as healthy as possible during the winter. It's beneficial to eat foods that are naturally carbohydrated such as pasta, rice and fruits (especially oranges!). Crackers, potatoes, vegetables and whole grain bread are also good options. Eating foods high in Vitamin D mean an increase in the amount of serotonin produced. Vitamin D = Happy face :D No-one is going to stick to the rules (I certainly won't), but try your best to maintain a balanced diet. It will definitely help with depression.
  • It's coming up to Christmas therefore you have to remember that it's all about the excitement of the holidays! If you are away from home, then look forward to going home and seeing all of your loved ones again. Spend quality time with your family, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends and relatives and simply enjoy the company. Take a trip into town with friends, go to the cinema, watch DVD's, go shopping etc... the list is endless! I know some people do enjoy their own company at times, but nobody wants to be alone during these months. Embrace the people around you! :) Laughing and chatting can always help to put a smile on your face.
Anyway, this is just some advice I thought I would share with you. I hope it offers some help to those who feel down during this time of year. Try your best to look on the brightside. Remember students, do not let exams ruin your holidays. It's nearly Christmas! The happiest time of the year for many (certainly for me). Take care everyone and spend time with those who care about you.

Smile, :)

Lisa x

P.s - Listen to Michael Jackson - 'Smile' (music originally composed by the wonderful and talented Charlie Chaplin)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Embracing the past.... with a cup of tea.

Morning all!

I hope you are all well on this horrible rainy, grey day. Ahhh, if only it would snow! I'm terribly fed up with this Aberdonian weather, plus, snow is just awesome in general :)

Anyway, last night, before I pottered off to bed, I delved into the final chapter of the latest book I've been reading. The book is 'Tommy', written by the infamous Richard Holmes. This man is fantastic! But, anyway, why am I telling you this I hear you ask (or shout violently at the monitor)? Well, basically, I am such a huge fan of anything to do with war, whether it be depicted in novels, poems, drama or songs, so I thought I would share my interest with you all. I know some of you will have absolutely no interest in regards to this blog, but I do know others will share my passion.

One of my favourite war novels of all time is 'Birdsong', by Sebastian Faulks. This is an extremely long read but every page is simply priceless. Sebastian depicts the stages of one man's life, Stephen Wraysford, before and during the First World War. When I first picked up this book, I could not put it down! It is filled with such suspense, emotion, romance and action that I just wanted to read on. You will not be disappointed with this book. I guarantee you!

'Storm of Steel', by Ernst Junger, is also a fabulous book. 'Storm of Steel' is a memoir of the author who had the role of a German Officer on the Western Front during World War One. According to Richard Holmes, it is "Unquestionably one of the mosts striking accounts of the First World War." Holmes speaks the truth. The detail in this book describing real accounts really does pull of one's heartstrings and does not disappoint.

'Cold Mountain', written by Charles Frazier, depicts a young man, Inman, trying to make his way home to his one and only, during the American Civil War. This was another novel that I could not take my eyes from! This novel shows exactly what determination entails and defines true love. 'Cold Mountain' is another heart wrenching depiction of the horrors created by war.

Let's not forget 'Tommy' as mentioned above! This book portrays the lives of the 'British Soldiers' on the Western Front from 1914-1918. This is one of the longest books I have read to date. Every page in itself is it's own story. According to Saul David, it is "A welcome and refreshing corrective to the perceived wisdom of the war. Fascinating, balanced and original." This book really does play with your emotions, due to the tragedy and hardship described from beginning to end.

For me, the most enjoyable way to read a book is to be sitting on an armchair, beside a blazing fire, or sitting beside a bay window with a fantastic view. Whichever way I decide to read a book, I always, without fail, make sure I have a large mug of tea in hand. This is just bliss for me and is one of the best ways to relax. Unfortunately, I do not have the luxury of being able to sit by a log fire as we are deprived of having such a thing in our flat! Sad face :( Hence, I cannot wait to go home! I miss my home comforts.

So anyway, let's talk poetry. When I think of war poetry, two names automatically pop into my head. Those names being, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. I'm sure, for some, these names are familiar, but for those of you who don't know who I'm on about, I highly suggest you look at their material. Sassoon and Owen were both soldiers during World War One and they both took to writing poems about their experiences.

Sassoon poems I would recommend :
Suicide in the Trenches
Glory of Women
Before the Battle
Does it Matter?

Owen poems I would recommend :

Dulce et Decorum Est
I saw his Round Mouth's Crimson
Strange Meeting
Anthem for doomed Youth
The Show

There are many more, but this is a list of my favourite. When first looking at them it can be quite difficult to understand what it is they are going on about, but once you analyse each stanza (as I did, because I'm a geek) the poem really does come to life and is much easier to understand.
Siegfried and Sassoon, by far the best war poets, in my opinion.

Now, way back in 2007 there was a drama on ITV called 'My Boy Jack', directed by Brian Kirk. This drama depicts the true to life story of Rudyard Kipling (some of you may know him as the author of The Jungle Book) and his wife's search for their missing son (played by Daniel Radcliffe, or better known to some of us as Harry Potter!) during World War One. This drama was such a beautiful portrayal of such tragedy, that I could not find any faults with it. I highly recommend you watch this. I'm pretty sure it is on Youtube, so please, have a look!

Finally, seeing as my dad knows I am a fan of anything to do with war he told me to look up a song on Youtube called 'The Green Fields of France', by The Fureys. This is basically an anti-war song. It is such a sad song, but it contains beautiful lyrics. I adore it.

Anyway, I feel I have ranted on long enough about war depictions! I hope some of you decide to look into some of the material I have suggested. If not, then fair enough! Each to their own :) Thank you anyway for taking the time to read this.

Speak soon and take care all!

Lisa x

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Festive Spirit to Creative Spirit!

Hello all!

Well, firstly, I'd like you all to know that this is my first blog ever! I was, as students tend to enjoy doing, procrastinating so as to avoid my Philosophy presentation. I had a huge mug of hot chocolate clutched in my hand, while wrapped in a blanket and was simply surfing the net. I came across a few blogs that were talking about random things such as politics, fashion etc. So, as I so often do, I pondered quite a bit and thought to myself, "Hmm, this would actually be quite a good thing to do!" Perhaps it was the procrastination talking...!? Anyway, I was in such a good mood, due to it being the 1st of December, so i thought, "Why not?". So, here it is. The beginning of my thoughts, rants and what not!

I know, due to viewing other blogs that people tend to focus on one particular area of interest. I, however, will not. My blog will contain rants from anything from movies, music, and art to Halo, literature and gadgets! Topics will be jumping all over the place... in order to keep the interest high. The sky is the limit in my eyes!

So, please feel free to follow my blogs. I'll appreciate anyone who takes even a slight interest. Any comments, questions or queries are more than welcome. Now all I have to decide is what my first topic will be about...

Enjoy my dears! I hope to add a little sparkle to your interests :)

Mucho Love,

Lisa x