How to: Motivate Yourself

Persistence is…

Keeping your foot on the gas as you inch round the side of a mountain.

Crossing off each day as it comes without ripping up the calendar.

Seeing the chink of sunlight between two angry rain clouds.

Not slowing, or walking, or giving up until you reach that mile.

Writing a thousand blog posts before someone reads one.

Watching the sun set before you stop working.

Watching the sun rise before you go to bed.

Making a diary entry on a duvet day.

Repeating a monologue until you embody the character.

Finishing this poem.

That’s all well and good – but to be persistent requires a great deal of motivation. How can you convince yourself to keep going against all the odds? Here is how I do it.

  1. Imagine the end goal: each task, each chore, each exam you do has a purpose. Whatever you are doing, there is a reason for it. By trying to picture where you will be once you have achieved your goal, it is much easier to motivate yourself to get there.
  2. Give yourself treats: separate your one big task into several mini milestones and place a reward at the end of each one. Obviously, it makes sense to leave the largest reward to the end, but don’t forget to congratulate yourself along the way.
  3. Stay healthy: yes, I know. Healthy mind, healthy body = yawn. But there is a lot to be said for how energised a short burst of Zumba or jogging will make you feel. Doing some exercise is an accomplishment in itself, leaving you feeling more positive about your other goals.
  4. GET ON WITH IT: Lying in bed thinking about the impending task at hand will not help you to conquer it. Sometimes, you have to just bite the bullet and begin, however painful. An hour in to the task, you’ll wonder why on earth you were dreading it in the first place.
  5. Know when to stop: once you get into a rhythm of work, it can be hard to take a break. You might think that interrupting your flow will be detrimental to the end result, but you need time to relax, reflect and rewind. If you don’t, you’ll wear yourself out and have no energy left for the next time around. A break of about 10 minutes every hour should do it.

So go on, get motivated!

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How to Make Yourself Look Less Hung over

We all know that feeling. You have been rudely awaken by the harsh tones of an alarm clock after having next to no sleep and realise that in twenty minutes you have to be presentable. Whether you are going to work or a lecture, to see your tutor or a brunch date, it doesn’t change the fact that you look like death warmed up and dragged through a field. So what can you possibly do in a short amount of time to remedy the situation?

  • Drink a litre of water. Let’s rewind. It’s the night before you became the monster of the morning after and you haven’t gone to bed yet. Not only will drinking water make the next morning a little easier to take headache-wise, it will drastically improve the look of your skin. Dehydration leaves the skin looking dry and flaky and if alcohol is involved, chances are it will be a whole lot worse.
  • Take off your makeup. Preferably do this the night before, but even if you forget, make sure to do this before you leave the house. Smears of mascara under the eyes are a massive giveaway to the reality of your fragile state, so get rid of them.
  • Don’t reapply your makeup. It may seem like a good idea to cover your entire face with products in the hope that you will mask how you are really feeling, but this is not a good idea. Instead, ditch the concealer and give your face some time to breathe and recover. If you really can’t bare the idea of going makeup free, apply a thin layer of tinted moisturizer like this one http://www.international.boots.com/en/No7-Triple-Protection-Tinted-Moisturiser_1259576/ from No7. Its lightweight formula means that it won’t clog up your pores but it will cover those dark circles under your eyes.
  • Wear layers. Being extremely tired often goes hand in hand with feeling cold. Being extremely hung over often goes hand in hand with sweating. So, in an effort to combat both problems with a limited amount of time, wear layers that you can take off and replace as often as necessary. This could take the form of a shirt, tank top and cardigan; just remember to keep each layer light.
  • Sort out your hair, love. Nothing says hung over like frizzy, knotty hair that may or may not be stuck to your face. If you haven’t any time to wash the beast, arm yourself with some dry shampoo like this one http://www.batistehair.co.uk/fragrance/blush from Batiste, and throw your hair up into a messy bun. Then thank the lord that this is a genuine trend, which you legitimately could have copied on purpose.

Disclaimer: this is not my usual sort of post; however I thought it was worth sharing as I spent a considerable part of this morning writing it for another site, only to realise that the task had already been snapped up. Sugar!

Some advice: Post-Christmas Blues

Getting the blues is almost inevitable after the decorations have come down and the lights have been turned off. January is probably the worst month of the year in that respect: Christmas is over, there is no excuse to eat your entire body weight in chocolate, it’s back to work and back to school and a bunch of extremely annoying people are telling you to start a health-kick.

To top that all off, I had to return to a cold, rainy, grey and sunless Northern France for the worst month of the year.

So, to make this month slightly more bearable for you (and for me!), I have a few important tips:

  • Don’t force yourself to stick to a punishing diet: a raw, gluten-free, vegan, carb-free salad diet might help you shed some pounds quickly in the height of summer, but it is a bad idea to do this in the middle of winter. For one thing, you might need that extra padding for warmth (student housing, I’m looking at you). For another, cooking warm, hearty meals can make any rainy January day feel so much better. The diet can wait until the sun appears.
  • Stock up on reading materials: classic novels, cheap beach-reads, trashy magazines – who cares? Gather all your old favourites and one or two new reads and indulge yourself – preferably in front of a fire, with a steaming mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows. Perfect.
  • Get a colouring book! I know, not the most original idea. But they are best-sellers for a reason. I have found that colouring in Johanna Basford’s beautiful Secret Garden is both relaxing and satisfying. You don’t have to think about what you’re doing and generally will produce something pretty, whichever colours you choose.
  • Stick the radio on: listening to the radio is such a great way to feel better, whether it’s music or chatting, because the presenters put in all the effort that you seem to lack this month. Also, you can listen to the radio wherever you are in the world, so it’s also a good way to make you feel connected with those at home.
  • Get on the phone: or Skype, FaceTime or whatever you use! I know some people say that when you’re abroad or away from home at university you should avoid relying too much on people at home, but I think that’s rubbish. Sometimes the one thing that can make you feel better is a call to your loved ones, so just do it. Plus, they will want to hear from you too.