The 5 essentials to surviving the big family Christmas Day


Christmas is a magical time of the year, don’t you think? It’s filled with joy and love, and who doesn’t get a warm fuzzy feeling when they’re surrounded by joy and love?!?!

But, despite all those lovely fuzzy feelings, we can all admit Christmas can also be a bit of a stress. And that’s jut putting it mildly… Christmas Day can be great, spending time with those you love most on one of the most sparkly, well televised days of the year. But what about when you’re not surrounded by your best and dearest but instead you find yourself perched on the sofa with a small child screaming on your left and an anti-social teenager on your right. What do you do now?

So here’s my essential list of things to get you through.

#1 Smile; pretend this is exactly where you want to be

I know this can be hard but it will make a difference! Smiling will make you seem so much more approachable and it might even make you feel better in yourself. It’s that fake it till you make it thing, if you do it enough you might actually believe it. And if not really knowing anyone is your problem, being approachable is key! Look like you’re having a good time and people will want to join in on it!

#2. Come up with a game!

Now this very much depends on the type of Christmas gathering you’re at it, if everyone’s manically running around after the kids then maybe this wouldn’t be the best. But if you can find a few people who’re up for playing a game like ‘who’s in the bag’ or ‘trivial pursuit’. Then that’s a sure way to pass the time! It doesn’t even have to be a game you bring in advance, there are games like ‘black magic’ and ‘the triangle game’ which involve secret rules and can be pulled out at any awkward moment you find yourself in.

#3 Find the person you came with

Maybe this can’t always be done but I’m thinking of you’ve ending up in a slightly awkward Christmas scenario because someone you know brought you along… Maybe a significant other? Well whoever it is, find them and stick to them like glue. Try to join the conversations he joins, don’t refuse to talk to anyone else, but use them to get into the conversations.

#4 Befriend the stressed looking parents

This one depends on your character, but I have a theory that the more stressed someone is the more likely they are to be able to befriend. All you have to do, is offer to hold the baby or play Lego with their 5 year old and you instantly have a friend, if you helped them out they’re bound to be forever grateful. This works the same for the host, if you’re finding the party all a bit too much, offer to do the washing up, they’ll be glad for the help and you can have a quiet conversation and they’ll love you!

#5 Find a group

If singling out the people you know, or the people you think look stressed isn’t working for you, then this would be my next bet. Hover around a group and see if you can join their conversation, all you need is one thing you can relate to and you’re in. This takes a bit of boldness but if you can do it you might be set for the evening, you haven’t just made one friend but you’ve integrated into a group and that is better than knowing just one person anyway.

If you’re struggling to muster up the confidence for these essentials then I recommend finding yourself something to drink and I don’t mean a Pepsi. It’s Christmas there must be something around that will give you the confidence.

I hope you have a really great Christmas and survive any awkward social gatherings. Let me know your biggest Christmas nightmares and how you survived them, I would love to hear!

Jess x


Why someone cheating hurts so bad…

The hurt is natural, let yourself feel it.

It hurts because you trusted them, because for those months, maybe years, you decided that you thought that person was worthy of your time and love. You would spend hours on end laughing with them and when you weren’t with them you would make the conscious decision to trust they would be faithful. And you put your trust in the wrong place. Why didn’t you see it? You think. You should have known. There were warning signs, and you ignored them.

But these thoughts don’t make you any less angry at the person you once held so dear. Because everything you ever thought about them has been turned upside down. Every cute thing they once did makes you feel slightly sick as you realise for them it was always an act. Because why would you do that to someone you cared about? How could you? Even if they never loved you, did they have to humiliate you by going behind your back? At the same time they were saying things to you, they were also saying them to another. Why couldn’t they just tell you how they felt to save this feeling of your own stupidity.

Because that hits the nail on the head, you may hate them but you also hate yourself. You were being stringed along. Did they find it funny that you missed them while they were trying to get the attention of someone else? You know you should have seen it. Despite you telling yourself you deserved better than them anyway, you wonder why you ever thought they would love you. Because they found someone better, someone sexier, maybe more intelligent and you were just a bit annoying as you kept looking for their love.

Oh how you wonder what that other person has that you don’t. You wish you didn’t, but that selfish part of you almost hopes your ex does the same to this new person, because you’re desperate to hear that it wasn’t you in particular. Surely you’re capable of being loved, right? Maybe they’ll stand up to them better than you did and maybe one day your ex will realise how much they hurt you.

There’s that little part of you which mourns your relationship, the anger covers it most of the time and when you feel this sadness you hate yourself just that little bit more. Because why would you be sad. You’re better off without them. But the truth is you don’t miss them, you miss who you thought they were. You will never get to speak to that person again because they weren’t real and you have to come to terms with that.

Among all the emotions you feel, the lack of closure makes it all the more confusing. You’re not going to understand why your partner cheated, you probably don’t want to know the details and even if they did know how much they’d hurt you, it’s hard to see that they’d care that much anyway.

So the conclusion to this, being cheated on sucks. Your head will be filled with so many negative emotions and that’s natural. Let yourself be hurt, but remember not all of your thoughts are true. Surround yourself with people who care because no matter what some guy or girl thinks you are beautiful and worthy of love.


5 things you learn from having a long distance relationship

So, a question. Does this long distance relationship thing really work?

Well I tell you this. I sure do hope so.

To let you know where I stand on the issue. They suck. But I have learnt a lot more than just that.

I’ll tell you the story of my boyfriend and me to start you off. Who doesn’t love a good story (it’ll be almost like you’re watching a chick flick… well, not really…)

I started dating my boyfriend at the end of sixth form, and I mean it was literally the end but that’s a story for another time… We’d already got our plans sorted for post A-levels which meant we started with the inevitability of the long distance thing. I moved to London to work with a charity in September and a month and 10 days ago Ben went to Kenya on a mission trip. He’s there for just under 3 months more and we’ve spent more time apart than together overall. We could still see each other before he went to Kenya; I’m a youth worker so I could see him in the school holidays and he came to visit me when he wasn’t working. But it sucked then, it sucks even more now and realistically it’s going to suck for a while in the future.

I wonder if anyone can relate because I’m just tired. I’m tired of being sad, I’m tired of missing him and strangely, I’m tired of trying to cling onto hope.

But it is that hope that’s brought me here.

And here’s what I’ve learnt about relationships and myself from this whole ‘long distance’ thing:

I love hugs

I honestly did not realise that I loved hugs so much until I couldn’t have them from the one person I wanted them from. Physical contact matters more than you might think. You might have heard of the 5 love languages, if you haven’t it’s basically the idea that everyone likes giving and receiving love in different ways. Touch is one of the ways. Now I would not say that touch is one of my love languages but it still matters a lot when you’re in a relationship and if you can’t have it then you want it more than anything.

If you’re in a long distance relationship what I’ll tell you is that try to organise to meet up with your partner as much as your budget allows. Touch is important and when you eventually get that hug, it will mean more to you than any hug you’ve had before hand. I know it’s hard when you’re apart and what you want seems so simple but as tiring as the wait is, hopefully one day you’ll only have to wait till you get in from work to get that hug.


There’s only really one person I want to share my thoughts with

Communication with your other half is made considerably harder when you don’t see each other on a regular basis. Sure you might message everyday but that isn’t the same as being able to read someone’s body language. There have definitely been times where I’ve been really upset and just warn out from everything that’s happening yet when I’ve sent a message to Ben I’ve sounded really happy, simply because I didn’t want to put a downer on his day. If I was with him in person we would be able to pick up each others emotions from how we both looked and were acting. As much as it may be partly my own fault Ben doesn’t always know how I’m feeling it always effects me. I can try and talk to anyone else I spend time with and explain how I feel and it won’t be the same.

So as terrible as I am at it, one of the key things about a long distance relationship is that you’ve got to be completely upfront about how you’re feeling. And that means vebally, it’s not something we’re always used to, most of the time if you’re crying you don’t need to tell someone you’re upset but when they’re thousands of miles away you do. And as good as your friends may be sometimes you might be feeling something they just don’t get.

Which leads me nicely onto my next point…


Friends that relate their issues to your relationship can get incredibly irritating

Now, my friends have my best intentions at heart but when they start to complain about not seeing their boyfriend for 2 days I can start to get a little annoyed. Now much of this problem comes down to the fact that I’m more emotionally fragile in a long distance relationship; the chances are that the thought of how much better life would be if Ben was around hasn’t left my mind all day. So honestly, a lot of the time while they’re complaining I’m desperately wishing I was in their position.  Just don’t get me started about when they start saying it’s easier for me…

As I say, most of the time my irritation is my overreaction rather than the fault of my friends, but does anyone else find this?? If you’re struggling with this all I can say is try to stick it out while your partner is far away you’re quite reliant on friends so don’t take them for granted. They care about you and as much as they drive you up the wall you probably love them too.


That random couple are so damn cute, and now I’m going to go and cry

When I was single, I had no issue with valentines day, it was not different to any other day of the year. This year however, every post about every relationship on Facebook was another reminder of the fact that I wasn’t with the person I wanted to be with. I mean I get jealous enough when I see a couple holding hands at a bus stop let alone when I see all the wonderful things people are getting up to on valentines day. I remember when Ben first went off to Kenya one of the things I missed the most was just being able to call him whenever and have a chat if I was feeling down. Because of this I would want to cry every time I saw someone on the phone, which in London is a lot!

Again I feel my advice if you are suffering with this one is a little lacking and I’m maybe asking advice from you more than I am giving it. But what I always try and remember is that no relationship is perfect, and they, almost certainly have their issues despite how cute their relationship looks.


My partner has a life but so do I

It’s natural in a long distance relationship I think to become a bit jealous (hopefully not too much though…), that’s one of the problems of them. I’m jealous of my friends relationship, that random couple in the street and possibly most of all any of the people who get to spend time with Ben, because I tell you what, he’s pretty darn cool. Ben has a great team with him out in Kenya, he seems to be really enjoying it and honestly I couldn’t be happier for him (if nothing else if we were doing this and he hated it, it wouldn’t really seem worth it…) but I wish sometimes I could be doing the fun things he’s doing with him. Ben has a life without me, he has friends and he is capable of being happy without me in his life, and actually I think that is one of the things I find hardest.

This does work the other way though, I have a team working with me in London, and they’re absolutely amazing. I have friends here and I really enjoy what I’m doing. This doesn’t mean that I don’t wish I couldn’t spend my time with Ben but it has shown me that I can live life without him and dare I say enjoy it. It is possible, so if you’re in a long distance relationship just remember you have a life too and it gets easier. In a way it sounds like you’re living a single lifestyle but the best thing about all of the fun things you get up to when your partner is away is being able to tell them about it in a message or if you can over the phone.

The say ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’, I don’t know if that’s always the case but it does make you appreciate the connections you have and I love sharing happy memories with the person I love.

So I know it sucks sometimes but I hope for everyone’s sakes that it’s worth it.



8 ways to become that mentally tough runner

So, you’re sitting on the sofa staring at the screen of your laptop;you’ve just signed yourself up for a half marathon. What on earth were you thinking? You can barely run 5k and you would only do that so you could get to the fish and chip shop before closing…

Can anyone else relate, or is it just me?

You’ve realized the pickle you’re in, but that’s OK; you’ve made it to my blog and I’m going to tell you 9 ways to be a mentally strong runner. You will no longer be classed a couch potato once you’ve run this half marathon,so stay with me!

#1  Know how far you’re going to be running

If, like me, it is a half marathon you’re about to start then make sure you know what it’s like to run a similar distance, you don’t necessarily have to have run the whole way (you have to run your first half at some point anyway) but have an idea what it might be like. This will avoid that horrible moment when you’ve run 5 miles and you feel you should be at the finish, imagine if you’ve just got to the end of you’re day at work and you realize you still have another 2 hours left (yeah, you know that feeling… soul destroying right?).

#2  Know your route

This has always been a massive one for me, and it kinda links to #1, but if you know your route you’ll have an idea of how far you have left to run. Although this one isn’t strictly necessary if you have one of those fancy watches or even an app on your phone, it might still be nice not to think about where to turn next and for old fashioned runners like me it makes a huge difference to my mental state while running.

So you’ve done all the preparation in advance, now you want some tips for the mental battle you’re going to fight while actually running.

#3  Think why you entered in the first place

Although it’s a possibility, I doubt you just happened to stumble across the run and enter without any real wish to, so use this to your advantage. Most people have the desire to get fit or want the sense of achievement, and remembering this can be a great help for when fatigue sets in. I’m personally training so I can get sponsored and raise money for a gap year but you could be doing it for a variety of reasons, I would love to hear yours in the comments below.

#4  Imagine the finish line

I’m sure you’ve seen the TV where the first runner dramatically runs through the tape to finish… Well I’m not guaranteeing that for you but you will have a huge sense of satisfaction when you finish especially if you’ve followed tip #3, because you will realize you have been successful in you goal; you might not not get it, but you deserve the dramatic finishing line! If you imagine this while running it might give you that extra push and bring you one ‘stride’ closer (get it…? sorry, couldn’t resist) to being that mentally tough runner.

#5  That next… tree…

This one’s another of my favorites. You tell yourself to make it to a specific point you set, whether that be 2 meters in front or a little further. This one is great for that final mile of the run and you’re really beginning to feel it, but BEWARE it’s easy to tell let yourself stop when you get to that point, so make sure you set yourself another pretty fast after you reach you it… Trust me, I’ve been there…

#6  Breath!

Sounds obvious right? But this one’s about the syncing of your breathing to your strides, helping your running get more rhythm. It also works as a distraction technique, but I often find it only goes to emphasize exhaust, seeming to make me focus more on pain rather than distract. Despite this one not working as much for me, I put it in because I’ve heard great things and it might work for you, be sure to let me know if it does.

#7 Distract yourself

This is similar to the last point, but it will really help if you can think of something other than fatigue. I certainly struggle… You could ask yourself maths questions, something like, I dunno, 2+2. Keep asking yourself questions like that and you’ll be at the finish line before you know it….

#8  The person next to you, they just started a race. Sprint to the finish.

This point basically means finish with a sprint, no matter how tired you are. There are loads of different ways you could convince yourself to sprint, the one I like to use is imagining the person next to me and I are in a race (which we kinda are); if you’re lucky they might actually start sprinting as you do, then you’ve really got to try. Your slightly more unfortunate though if there isn’t many people around when you finish but I’m sure you could come up with something about being chased by a lion, it’s an all too common experience these days…

That’s it from me for the moment. I hope you find these tips useful, they’re just the ones I tend to use; I’m sure there are plenty more, so if you do come up with any great ones, please let me know in the comments because I could use all the help I can get for my half marathon…

Lifestyle choices, tips and tricks