Boobs vs Moobs - the Cancer check

There's no doubt you have seen this but on the offchance that you've been trekking the Himalayas for the past month, here's a great video from MACMA, an Argentinian Breast Cancer Charity on how to perform breast checks using man boobs to get around the social media nipple ban and lend some comedy to the very serious matter. 

When it’s All Over

No matter how your relationship ended, there is no denying that break ups are hard and can create all kinds of painful feelings. While saying goodbye is never easy and moving on may seem impossible, there are many positive things you can do to help the healing process along. Now is not the time to lay blame. The arguing is done. Its really over. Though tempting, now is not the time to get even.

Get selfish

Do something truly for yourself. Is there a hairstyle you’ve been wanting to try, rock it. That gig you wanted to go to but your ex hated the music? Buy a ticket and spend your Saturday night dancing it out. Do all of the things you have been denying yourself for his/her benefit.

Get help

If you left your relationship because of abuse or addiction issues, take the time now to seek the appropriate help. Toxic relationships are that much harder to leave completely, particularly if control or violence was an issue. Keep a grounded friend around to be a voice of reason that keeps you strong. Manipulative partners make hellish exes. Having a sounding board will help you navigate any backsliding. If addiction is a problem for you, seek counselling and support to help you adjust to the major changes that are now occurring in your life.

Get healthy

Join a gym. Go to the pool. Take a boxing class. Work on you in a fun social. Start that health kick but don’t crash diet yourself into the veritable new and improved you overnight. If you can’t yet face a meal, (it happens) stay hydrated, drink any alcohol in moderation. Make small meals and make them special -just because you are now cooking for one doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on quality.

Get in touch

It is common for friendships to fade off or slow down as romantic relationships develop. Now is the time to reconnect with all of those who were there before your ex beloved and have remained after. Surround yourself with supportive people who understand your situation, know how to listen and recognise when it is time to drag you off of the couch and take you out.

Get focused

Looking to take a next step in your career? Now is the time to start focusing on self-development. Reevaluate your goals. Are there leadership opportunities at work that you haven’t considered because of the extra hours required? Perhaps you’ve been considering going back to study or studying abroad. Now is the time to work out what you want to achieve for your own life. Leave it up to others to work out where they fit in. The more you build now, the more you’ll have to share when you decide it’s time for another relationship.

Get free

Block your ex on social media. I know you think you can be friends, but all it is going to take is one photo of your ex with his arm around a random to undo all the hard work you’ve done. If you’re still facebook friends with all of his friends, consider whether you want to see his face popping up in their photos. Make your own call on whether to unfriend them but at the very least unfollow their profiles so no stray photos pop up in your newsfeed. Replace your bedding. There is nothing worse than coming home to the sheets that once accompanied Sunday morning cuddles. Box up your mementos and leave them with a friend until you feel more able to have them around you. Untie yourself from the possessions of the relationship and start creating your own place that reflects who you are now and who you hope to become.

Get away

Running away will not solve any of the feelings that you are struggling with. Trust me. But some time away may help to gain some much needed clarity. Consider volunteering abroad. Put all of that energy into something positive. Always wanted to take that girls trip to Fiji, now is the time. If an overseas adventure is not on the cards, take a daytrip out of town. Take the train and your iPod somewhere scenic or road trip it out of town with your nearest and dearest and a playlist of your favourite belters. Split the cost of a cabin or camp out by the sea. A change of scenery will do wonders to clear your head and will keep any urges to pack up and move permanently to South America at bay while you mend.

Get angry

I’m not suggesting you go on a texting rampage but don’t underestimate the power of a solid scream into nothingness. Get out of the house or bury your face into a pillow. Get it all out then let it go.

Get some perspective

Go to ground, as my aunt would say. I tend towards continual forward movement until I burn out to avoid unpleasant feelings. Take some solo time out to really sit with what has happened. Evaluate your part in the breakdown of the relationship and what think about you would do differently the next time around. Keep the lessons, make room for the nice memories while still being aware of the bad. It is healing to forgive not only your ex but also yourself, but don’t feel that you have to forget. Work out your mistakes honestly, without too much self-criticism and take stock for next time (there will be a next time, even if you’ve sworn off love for life). If you can recognise behavior patterns before they become an issue, you’ll be less likely to repeat your mistakes.

Get ready

You’re hurting. You’re making huge changes in your life but don’t close yourself off to opportunities that may come your way. Go on dates. Go out with friends. Join a book club or a film society. Try new things and know that as you change, your path will to. Prepare for what’s ahead without focusing too much on what has passed. Find your passion.

This is a time for reflection, some self-love and a chance to re-evaluate what you want for yourself and for your life. While it may not feel like it right now, the end of your relationship is not representative of some epic personal failure. It’s an opportunity to do all of the things you couldn’t do before, to meet new people, to address parts of yourself that you’d like to change and leap at opportunities you may have been closed off to before. Simply put, it’s your time. Embrace it.

 
  HAYLEE READ - CONTRIBUTOR

HAYLEE READ - CONTRIBUTOR

 

Reclaiming Confidence After Fear

I am not a fearful person – there is very little that will make me feel so, I’ve always been difficult to scare and having been a rather emotionally detached person for the vast majority of my life, I have always been desensitised to generally offensive or alarmist news articles or the sight gags of horror films, but of late, I’ve found an unease in the simplest, most innocent of activities – running.

In January, while out running, a woman was killed – perhaps a daily occurrence in other countries, but here in New Zealand, in the elite suburb of Remuera, in broad daylight, on a main road with usually heavy traffic and on her everyday usual running route, a woman was murdered.

She was killed by someone she didn’t know, randomly and seemingly without motive. After being reportedly struck with an undisclosed object, she crawled to the lawn of a nearby house and lay there hoping for attention for an hour before she the owners of the house saw her (not their fault – how often do you look out the window to admire your lawn?). The man turned himself in a few hours later and there haven’t been many more details about the attack released.

While to some it may have been just the daily news, to me it hit home a little more – not at first, but later that day once news broke and after upon finding out, my partner expressed worriedly how easily it could have been me.

The woman was killed on my usual running route – a common route for runners in the area.

The woman was killed on my usual running route at the exact time I was out running - one street away - because I’d decided my touch-and-go knees weren’t up to the hills on that route that day.

The woman was killed, on my usual running route, at the exact time I was running, where if not for my knees, I would have been at the same point, at the same time, and potentially could have found myself in the same predicament…this was the hitting-home point.

Remuera to me, had always been a sanctuary, a suburb where everyone smiles and says hello to each other, morning runners greet each other in the wee hours with grins that seems to convey the motivational cheer to ‘keep going’, it had been a place where there was no thought against walking alone at night or running through the bush trail as it started to get dark because this, was a place of sanctuary.

In the wake of the murder, many women became fearful of repeats and thus a ‘take back the night’ style running rally was arranged for Remuera women to reclaim their running routes without fear. The event was hailed by the runners as restorative though some still took to social media to show off their new personal alarms, showcasing their still palpable fear of repeat attacks (albeit through the cheerful display of matching one’s alarm to one’s running clothes) because once the hundreds of other feet plodding beside you dissipate, once it returns to just being you, alone on the street, it’s a different feeling.

The first time I ran again after the attack, I held my dog’s choker chain in my hand – I don’t particularly know what I was planning to do with it – perhaps get a couple of strikes in or end up wearing it myself on a stranger’s lawn but it took away the apprehension for the duration of the run. When I returned home, I realised the absurdity, the danger and the illegality of carrying what was basically a weapon as I ran.

The second or third time I ran (a few weeks later), I noticed a car without licence plates driving alongside me. The driver was hanging out of his car window, staring directly at me, expressionless. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, that perhaps it was just the token creepy guy that girls get leering at them as they run and that he’d leave soon enough. I continued running, rounding a couple of corners, noticing the car still following me, stopping when I stopped to cross a road, rounding the same corners as I, driving at a snail’s pace across the road from me, matching my speed for several streets until I ducked in to a nearby park. At one point, I’d taken a stealthy snapchat of the car and sent it to my boyfriend, just in case something did happen.

When I got home (alert to my surroundings), my boyfriend urged me to call the police. I declined initially because I felt like it was a waste of resources – who do you even call, it’s not an emergency? – I felt like it was just being weak and alarmist to tattle-tale to the police when nothing had actually happened but after some prompting, I called and reported it, solely because I thought it suspicious that the car had no plates – it seemed too motivated and I wouldn’t want to have known about it and find out something had happened to someone else.

Ever since the two incidents, I haven’t really run – I plan to - I lay out my clothes, heck one night I slept in my running clothes so all I’d need to do was put on my shoes, but when I’ve woken to see the dark mornings, a feeling of apprehension has taken over and I’ve made my excuses to go back to bed. The only times I have run have been in full daylight on busy streets, eschewing my preferred routes of bush trail and solitude in the darker hours I love for hot and sticky times of daylight hours where the streets are littered with people and the routes congested.

It’s an entirely new feeling – the apprehension and unease – where something as innocent as daily exercise has become tainted with a pit of fear in my chest.

There was a good line to describe it in the late-nineties TV show, ‘Roswell’ once:

“It’s funny how the world changes sometimes, how the streets you’ve walked your entire life seem darker, colder. How the silence isn’t so quiet anymore. How eyes you’ve barely even noticed now look at nothing but you. How the walk home every night is no longer routine but a victory. And then you begin to wonder – maybe it’s not the world that’s changed, maybe it’s just you but then something happened and suddenly you being to wonder all over again.” (S1, E3 –“Missing”)

These two incidents have collectively taken something from me, a freedom and delight I’d found in the simple act of running – a necessity considering the training required for the running goals my boyfriend and I have for this year. I’ve forced myself out only once of late, waiting until the morning light began to emerge, and sticking to a busy traffic route – sans weapons but also without headphones in order to stay alert. How do we find solace again after something happens to shake you in places you didn’t know existed? How do we return to a place of confidence and fearlessness?

For me, it’s my own personal brand of exposure therapy – I’ve never been fearful of anything, I don’t like being vulnerable, I don’t like feeling weak because I am an inherently strong person emotionally and I’ve always despised any show to the contrary with the exception of my partner. I try everything and anything, things I’ve never done before, apprehensive or not because if you’re fearful of life, you’ll never try anything, you’ll never accomplish anything.

It’s a refusal now to accept anything less and thus I will be running again every morning, throwing myself in the deep end again back to the bush trails I love at the time before the sun rises where the world is quiet and the air crisp, where runners greet each other with motivational cheers through welcoming smiles and the world seems to slow down just for you - with one proviso, the headphones stay at home.

It would be reckless to pretend the world is a perfect place, that people are all inherently good and that an innocent run through the local bush track will always remain exactly that, but rather it’s about facing what you’re afraid of, or in my case, apprehensive about – acknowledging the fear and why it affects you so and pushing through it to retrieve the confidence that is so rightfully yours.

What are you afraid of?

Recognising and Overcoming Low Self Esteem

We all experience problems with our self-esteem at times, but if your overall view of yourself is consistently low, it might be time to make some changes. Low self-esteem has been defined by Psychologist Marilyn J. Sorensen as “an irrational and distorted view of self that affects the person’s assumptions, interpretations, perceptions, conclusions & beliefs about himself or herself as well as others” and is now recognised as a stand-alone condition.

When you have healthy self-esteem, you are able to feel good about yourself and are less vulnerable to the opinions of others – whether real or perceived. If your self-esteem is too low, you place too little value on your own opinions and beliefs, and may be self-critical and negative. Low self-esteem affects every area of your life. In relationships; insecurity, defensiveness, and a tendency to overreact can create situations that heighten the fear of making mistakes. This furthers the cycle of anxiety as perceived concerns can become real issues. Hypersensitivity is a common side effect as sufferers feel so inadequate they are convinced that others must be seeing them the same way. As a defense mechanism, those with low self-esteem are likely to look for signs that this is happening as a means of protection, leading them to be overly sensitive and reactive.

Usually, once a sufferer has acknowledged their overreaction, the realisation that they may have been acting irrationally further instills the opinion that they ‘must be stupid’ or ‘an inadequate person’, leading to feelings of worthlessness, guilt and shame. Sorensen observes ‘self-esteem attacks’ that can occur when a sufferer believes that he or she has said something or done something incorrect or that others may perceive as such. As a result, periods of self-loathing can follow with “excruciating anxiety, remorse, embarrassment, depression and/or devastation.”

These periods can last for hours, days, weeks or months.

So where to from low? It is important to note that although your particular views of yourself appear to be fact, they are merely opinion. Through past experiences and learned behavior, your self-image and the stories you tell yourself have been conditioned. If your past experiences of failure have been negative, it’s likely that your view of self will be too. If the authority figures in your life such as parents, teachers or peers have been unnecessarily critical of you, it is likely that you will continue to re-enforce these negative beliefs in adulthood. But like any habit, these beliefs can be changed with practice.

Make some personal commitments:

Perfectionism is a Trap

It’s ok to make mistakes. Failure is both an option and a likely outcome when any risk is taken. Make mistakes. Just learn from them. Nothing and no one is perfect. Any attempt to be such will only feed feelings of inadequacy.

Learn to Say No

Maybe you grew up in a dysfunctional family. Perhaps you were made to play peacekeeper and this has carried into your adult relationships. It isn’t your responsibility to be anyone other than who you are. Don’t change your nature to please people. While this will take practice, and will likely be terrifying the first time, it is ok to disagree with people who don’t see things your way. When you can finally be yourself, feelings of guilt or shame will be replaced with those of freedom.

Set Your Own Expectations

It is up to you to write the rulebook for who you are and what is important to you. Set your own expectations for who you should be and do everything in your power to achieve the things that matter to you. The naysayers in your life may cry “you can’t do that job” or “you can’t run that far!” What they really mean is “I can’t do that job,” “I can’t run that far” and to see you do it would only make them feel less accomplished.

Set the bar at the height that works for you.

Stop Punishing Yourself

You will fall down, likely often, and the negative thoughts will creep back in. Recalibrate. Go for a walk, run, swim, meditate. Do whatever it is you need to do to bring your thoughts back in line with who you actually are rather than who you irrationally perceive yourself to be. Pick yourself up. Objectively evaluate what went wrong and why. Plan measures to prevent reoccurrences and try again.

You already possess all of the skills and strengths you need to become the person you want to be. Find it in yourself and be it.

What I Wish I Knew at 16

In a time of thinspo and juice cleanses, youtubers and Instagram fame the pressure on teens to meet unattainable levels of perfection is at an all time high. Barbie Ferreira, a size 12 model recently appeared un-retouched for American Eagle Outfitters. When interviewed by Elle, Barbie stated “you were not put on this earth to do everything to be sexually appealing to people.” This is one of many things I wish I knew in high school.

Self-worth is something I have always struggled with. In high school, I preferred to play piano in the music room and disappear into books in the library at lunch time. I never felt like I really belonged among the friends I had and decided as a result that I mustn’t belong anywhere. This kind of thinking is harmful. The stories we tell ourselves stay with us well after high school. Make your story a positive one.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Beauty is about being confident in yourself and your abilities. Be proud of what you are good at. Work with your body. Wear what you like. Find your own personal style and rock it.

You don’t need to know right now what you are going to do with the rest of your life.

Who you are at 16 will be completely different to who you are at 28. Focus on your studies. Give yourself the widest possible range of options so that when you graduate you will be able to make educated decisions about what you might pursue.

Read everything.

Crushes will come and go. True friends will stick around. Enjoy young love for what it is and not for what you think you need to be to obtain it. Don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable doing. Don’t change yourself to suit others. Make sure you are your first priority.

Ignore haters. It’s likely that those who target you are simply unhappy with themselves.

Be kinder than you have to be.

Don’t let others define who you are. It’s ok to let go of toxic relationships. It’s ok to say no.

Make the most of school. Play sports. Try drama, music, dance and know that ultimately, the only person who is responsible for your happiness is you, so, above all, be kind to yourself.

 
  Haylee Read - CONTRIBUTOR

Haylee Read - CONTRIBUTOR

 

The Science of Mourning

The culture of mourning surrounding the death of public figures, such as artists, actors and politicians is not unknown to us. Recently, the well-loved figures of artist and singer David Bowie, and actor Alan Rickman died.

Condolences, from politicians and civilians, on social media - Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram - television networks and radio broadcasts poured in from around the world. This was not uncommon. World leaders issued messages of sorrow and condolences after the assassination of John F Kennedy, an air of mournful respect is strictly adhered to at Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum in Hanoi, the ‘RIP MJ’ shirts after the death of Michael Jackson were worn by many and the uninterrupted news of a celebrity’s death, along with memorial services held and broadcast on television for the public was common place. Shared and public mourning has never been more ordinary. Expressing grief after someone’s death, in human psychology terms, is normal. It can differ culturally, individually, but simply, it is a way of expressing the grief over the death of a friend, a family member, someone a part of your life, who is no longer a part of it anymore. This is important to point out: mourning usually took into account the death of someone you knew personally, and lost. How then, has mourning become such a publicly shared event, involving grief over the death of one that many have not met (such as public figures and celebrities)?

An event that may illuminate the purpose of ‘disenfranchised grief’ is in the ‘mass hysteria’ of Princess Diana’s death in 1997, after a car crash in Paris. The media exploded in proliferations of sadness, rage; a ‘forced mourning’ seen in a larger and grander scale than ever witnessed before. Newspapers, television and radio networks created a ‘unified’ and tragic narrative of Diana’s death, capitalising on her appeal as a ‘Princess of the People’ and ‘murdered’ by the paparazzi who had chased her. In this way, they were supposed to reflect the reactions of the people, one which was presumed to be as despondent and ‘hysterical’ as the press made it out to be. Yet, studies have shown that variously different reactions by the public to Princess Diana’s death was initially buried ‘under a large monolith called GRIEF’ (Jack, 1997: 17; McGuigan, 2000; Thomas, 2002; Turnock, 2000). Opinion polls showed that at least 75 percent of people did not participate in the public mourning by placing flowers or signing books of condolences, and nearly 50 percent of the population did not watch the funeral (Thomas, 2002).

The disparity between the public and private reaction is psychological. People conform to the social norm, in fear of being rejected with an unpopular opinion. This is especially as the media has the role of presenting an ‘imagined community,’ one in which mass grieving can ‘strengthen’ the bonds of a nation. This is why it is called a ‘forced mourning,’ the media forces, in its scale and proliferation of the figure’s death, for civilians to conform to what they perceive as normal. If one does not feel grief, the media tells them that they should feel grief, to do otherwise would be to appear uncaring and unpopular in society. On the other hand, the extent to which one actually feels grief depends on the ‘identification’ factor, if you perceive that person as ‘one of you.’ Princess Diana was seen as the ‘Princess of the People,’ because of her compassion and kindness, reflected in her humanitarian efforts which showed her as ‘royal,’ yet ‘ordinary.’ In the four weeks leading up to her funeral, the suicide rate in England and Wales rose to 17%, and deliberate self-harm rates rose to 44%, compared to the four years previously. Of the greatest increase in suicides was by people most similar to Diana: women aged 25 to 44, whose suicide rate increased by over 45%. This is because they identified with Diana, she became someone who was present in their everyday lives, as opposed to an abstract, detached figure. These growing social attachments have also increased with the rise of social media, celebrity Instagram photos showing ordinary domestic life, humorous ‘tweets’ of failed baking, and awkward interactions, things that show actors and singers, the admired and beloved as “one of us.”

Thus, mourning has evolved into something more. You’re not just capable of grieving for your next-door neighbour, you can grieve for your favourite softball player halfway around the world. The rise of ‘celebrity worship,’ the influence of social media and media networks in dictating narratives and the growing social attachments one can have to their role models all results in a new mourning, a mourning of artwork, poetry, special edition news segments that I’ve seen for David Bowie and Alan Rickman alike. It’s a mourning that I’ve come to appreciate as the ‘imagined community’ of the world, that despite a “forced mourning,” some may see as the media’s monopoly of these deaths, how we respond to it, in mourning or not, is just as important.

 
  Wen-Juenn Lee CONTRIBUTOR

Wen-Juenn Lee CONTRIBUTOR

 

The Point of New Year's Resolutions

As the clock struck twelve and the new day dawned, hundreds, even thousands, of New Year’s resolutions were formed. This year I’m going to exercise more. This year I’m going to eat healthier. In some form or another, a New Year’s resolution is a commitment, a promise to change one part of your lifestyle that you recognise is not as good as it could be. Hence; the exercise, the eating healthier, the ‘no more drinking for me, I promise.’ And yet, Miller and Marlatt (1998) found that 75% of people who make a resolution fail on their first attempt. I’m not surprised. The last time I made a New Year’s Resolution, I vowed to make more effort with my friendships. On New Year’s Day, I bailed on a party. The fact we make resolutions, and break them (as soon as the next day, even) is common knowledge. Resolutions are made to be broken. At least, people say, you had the intention to change. And that is precisely what New Year’s Resolutions are all about.

Timothy Pychyl of Carleton University and author of ‘Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change’ believed that New Year’s resolutions was a form of ‘cultural procrastination’. Procrastination is the gap between intention and action. It is an emotional coping mechanism; understanding you have something to do, yet not bringing yourself to do it. By recognising something you need to do, yet not taking the time, effort and cost to perform the task, procrastination is a “mood repair.” One feels instantly gratified by recognising the problem, and forming the resolve to fix it later. Many view procrastination as simply an innocuous habit. Yet early studies of procrastination, by tracking university students throughout the semester, found that although students who procrastinated had lower stress initially, their academic performance, mental and general health was far worse than students who did not procrastinate. In this way, New Year’s, culturally seen as a form of rebirth - new dreams and new goals - is the perfect setting for procrastination; to fix an aspect of your life, but not quite now. That’s why New Year’s Resolutions so rarely stick to the end of the year.

So are New Year’s Resolutions doomed from the start? Pychyl advises to construct specific implementations in relation to your New Year’s resolution. Many resolutions that we make are vague and broad sweeping; this year I’m going to eat healthier. Instead, create specific implementations to achieve that goal, such as keeping a food diary, or keeping a checklist of food to avoid; creating specific goals that seem tangible, rather than vague, far-fetched dreams. New Year’s resolutions are plausible, and I’m not writing them off in anyway. But the reality of New Year’s resolutions, the foundation in which we procrastinate, may be useful as you vow for better health, better jobs; a better you. In the end, New Year’s is about hope. Let’s hope we can achieve our goals.

 
  Wen-Juenn Lee CONTRIBUTOR

Wen-Juenn Lee CONTRIBUTOR

 

A Preliminary Investigation into Tinder

Love can be an inconvenience. And for career driven young professionals, dating can be the last thing on their minds. This is where online dating comes in. In the growing age of technology, hastags and @s, likes and follows, people can meet virtually anyone and everyone on the internet. Sites like OkCupid, Match.com,

and apps like Tinder and Grindr have flourished, encouraging dating that is convenient, when and where you want, with no strings attached. And yet, even though social media plays a growing role in our lives, some have found online dating not quite acceptable for something as ‘organic’ and ‘authentic’ as true love.

When I asked my proudly single, not ready to mingle friend if she would ever use Tinder, she yelped an explicit, resounding “no!” This wasn’t a demonstration of her antediluvian ways, no, it was something that many friends, when pressed, demonstrated the same repulsion, embarrassment, at the sheer thought of using social media to find love. These were friends who regularly Snapchatted me, who vocally questioned governments on Twitter and posted (sometimes) embarrassing updates on Facebook. These were people fully, and wholly ingrained into the social media net, so much so it became a norm for communication. And yet, they were hesitant about using such norms to find love, and to be precise, unironic, genuine connections with other human beings. Why?

My friend said, quite bluntly, “It’s love. Something as artificial as tinder isn’t going to work for something as natural as love.” Her implication was, love was supposed to happen naturally. She wasn’t showing an abhorrence with technology, but an abhorrence to the well-orchestrated connection technology created with two individuals. There was a machine behind that program, calculating the likes and dislikes of individuals, and pairing them up. Yet at the same time, how natural was love to begin with? If you liked someone, you found reasons and common ground to talk to them. You, in your own calculating way, orchestrated a connection between yourself, and the object of your affection. Two people did not simply fall together, in the way Hollywood romances showed it, but met each other depending on well-orchestrated variables of mutual friends or mutual classes. Love, in this way, could never be as coincidental and “natural” as people presumed it to be. How was that any different to Tinder finding mutual friends for you, and orchestrating a connection between an individual and yourself?

My other friend admitted that what stopped her from using Tinder was the subsequent story she would have to tell to friends, if it turned to be a success story. “We met on Tinder,” didn’t have exactly the same ring to it as, “We were stuck in a lift and one thing led to another.” How did a successful tinder couple negotiate their tinder going history? These were questions I posed to friend, and regular Tinder goer Allison *(name changed). For her, telling peers that she had met her date on Tinder wasn’t awkward at all. Sure, it didn’t have the same undertones romantic comedies had, but Tinder was still, to some extent, normal. It was the older generation, parents and relatives that she revised her history for: “I will always say we met through mutual friends – either at a party, or bumped into them at the club,” essentially, the acceptable, conservative way. As for Tinder conversations, these can actually help meeting in person for the first time. “I always bring up stuff we’ve talked about…it gives you a springboard for conversation.” *It’s less painful than a blind date, because at least you know what they’re interested in. What scarce conversation you had, may be useful material for face to face conversation. However, this can backfire when conversations on Tinder are simultaneously happening, and one is going on said numerous Tinder dates. People can mix up conversations they’ve had with the wrong person, which happened to Allison when she mistakenly brought up a different person’s conversation, who was not the one she was on the date with. “I’m like, ‘oh yeah, you won that swimming competition,’ and they were very confused.” Apart from being a fantastic anecdote, did any of these dates turn into real love? Allison actually met her ex-boyfriend on Tinder. She also met a really wonderful person “which could have kept being something really special,” if there weren’t other factors like distance and university. What I get from Allison is the insistence that Tinder is used for fun. This is what she knows Tinder is infamous for; drunken hook ups and late night ‘fixes.’ But between the gaps, I hear a longing for real, meaningful connection, for things to progress further into a “real relationship.” She knows of people in long term relationships, who met on Tinder. There is a certain layer of façade involved. Tinder is ‘just a bit of fun,’ but at the same time, there is a possibility it could evolve into something more.

I felt there was only one thing left to do. I signed up for Tinder, and deleted it shortly after. For me, Tinder was like op shopping. You had to sift through a lot of crap to find some gems. And as crass as it sounds, people became objects. I knew nothing about their personality, about their dreams and failures, what made them tick at night; I knew nothing except the pixelated 4 pictures I saw of them in house parties, and trekking in the outback. There was an animalistic shopping in Tinder, at the range of choices, at the sizing up of some (did they fit?) and the brutal rejection of others. There’s also the fact New Zealand can sometimes be uncomfortably small. Meeting singles in a metropolitan city like New York may offer a plethora of exciting, unknown prospects. But in New Zealand, there was always a danger that my neighbour, childhood friend, even tutor, may pop up next. There’s also safety concerns behind online dating. Allison herself admitted that safety measures were in force whenever she went on a Tinder date. She often asked to meet in a public place, she told her friends where she was going and for how long, and she would ask for a photo of the person to match their Tinder pictures. The same dangers women face in reality; misogyny, harassment and abuse are the same dangers Allison, and other online daters are constantly aware of online. These may differ to men’s experiences of Tinder, and what they fear in online dating. As Margaret Atwood said, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

It would have been interesting to go on a Tinder date, but there was something innate in me (too romantic? Too squeamish?) that bulked at the thought. There was also the additional factor that I was a young, Asian woman. “Yellow Fever” is an oriental fetishism pervasive in online dating, which affirms skewed ideas of the sexual appeal of Asian women. The assumed stereotype of Asian women as exotic, docile and subservient have rendered them the “most popular” race on OkCupid (AYI Survey, 2015). In contrast, African American women were seen as feisty and argumentative, and were statistically the least desired ethnicity. Bias and prejudice are hugely influential in online dating. I didn’t know if some “super liked” me because of who I was, or because of the delusional ideologies I represented. Allison, and other Tinder success stories show the appeals of online dating; its convenience, its comfort (as opposed to a blind date), and its accessibility. But for me, Tinder was like a game; and I would be always questioning the rules.

*Note: *JAGGAR understands that a great many people have found great and true love on Tinder, this is an opinion piece and is not intended to offend either the application or the people who have found love through it.


  Wen-Juenn CONTRIBUTOR

Wen-Juenn CONTRIBUTOR


Ways to be Happy

Who is the happiest person you know? Happy people are genuine, ambitious, and full of confidence. Nobody has a perfect life; it all comes down to our attitude and perspective.

We've listed four actions you can take to encourage a happier life:

Set goals

Write down your short term and long term goals, and how you plan to achieve them. Decide what you can do each day to work towards it. If you find it hard to keep up with your goal, remind yourself of why you wanted it in the first place. If one of your goals is to improve your health and fitness, remember that you’re doing something great for your body. You will feel strong and empowered when you know you have achieved something that you’ve put hard work in to.

Music

Good music can lift me out of any bad mood. Ever wondered why listening to your favourite music can send a chill down your spine? That chill is the release of Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases happiness, enhances our motivation, and reduces stress. So turn up your favourite song, sing along and dance!

Good friends

Surround yourself with people who are positive, likeminded, ambitious and who are great to be around. Positivity is contagious!

Be grateful

Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, start thinking about all of the awesome parts of your life. Being grateful can change your outlook on life, and will certainly put a smile on your face!

 
  Natalie Cave CONTRIBUTOR

Natalie Cave CONTRIBUTOR

 

Switch Off and Be Present

We live in a world where everything is instant. Technology is convenient and certainly can make our lives easier but spending too much time logged on is making us antisocial and distracted from real life. We spend less time living in the moment and more time behind screens with continuous emails and notifications making our lives more stressful than they need to be.

In an effort to help draw you back to a more balanced life, we've come up with three basic tips to get you started:

Get outside

Simply stepping outside and taking a walk or a run improves your health and happiness. It can clear your mind, improve focus and ease fatigue. When you're exposed to the sunshine, your body produces Vitamin D; strengthening your bones, boosting your immune system, and stimulating your nervous system, so breathe in the fresh air. Go for a walk along the beach and embrace the sunshine. Being amongst nature has boundless therapeutic benefits… and it’s free.

Talk to a different generation

Sometimes there is a reason why the older generation are always complaining about ours. They lived simply. There were no iphones, ipads, or WiFi… and they survived and thrived without it. They knew when it was their friend’s birthday, without getting a notification. They spent the day with them rather than typing an impersonal birthday wish on Facebook. They met their match and fell in love, without having to match on Tinder first. They sent hand-written letters to friends they hadn’t seen in a while and although it wasn't delivered instantly, it was far more thoughtful and purposeful than a quick Facebook timeline post. They planted their own vegetables, cooked their own meals, worked hard, read literature, and attended local dances. The best memories were made without being documented. So ask your grandparents or another elderly friend about their lives. Listen to their stories and their wisdom.

Disconnect

Take a break from social media. Resist the temptation to log back on and realise that although it is fun now and then it shouldn’t be an important part of our lives. Turn your phone off during dinner, and enjoy your meal. Be attentive while having a conversation with family and friends without becoming distracted. When surrounded with a stunning view, embrace the moment rather than taking the perfect picture for Instagram. The best moments happen when you put your phone away and be present.


  Natalie Cave CONTRIBUTOR

Natalie Cave CONTRIBUTOR


Persona vs Reality

We'll paraphrase Hawthorne here by saying "No (WO)man for any considerable period can wear one face to (her)self and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true."

There are many scenarios wherein you'll find it's easier to put on a particular persona to forge ahead. Whether it's your confident self promoting alter ego who does your interviews for you or the self-assured persona who knows her strengths and capabilities and will say she can do it first and learn how to later, it's a common and completely natural, if not encouraged, method of forging through uncomfortable situations. Many times it helps you get the job because you have the moxy or the skillset to get the job done well, and many times it helps an introvert work the room like the most natural extrovert. 

Putting on a persona makes things easier, but it's also important to remember where the edge of the persona ends and the reality of you begins. So often we're lost in the blur. Sometimes it seems easier to stay in the persona because she gets what she wants, she's never down, she's confident and self-assured, she sticks up for herself and goes after what she wants, never let down by self-doubt or overanalysis, but just as you find yourself exhausted after a hard week, the persona too breaks down just as easily, if not moreso. It's not natural to always be 'on' - it's exhausting, it plays with your psyche in negative spiraling ways and it's just not physically possible. Think of it as working 18 hour days without sleep and only takeout for sustenance. Your body is not at its peak, you're tired and run down - probably have a cold- you forget easy things, you lose time in moments, and then hours until your body has had enough and shuts down to rehabilitate. 

Wearing a mask to the world is a valuable tool for your career or to combat your introversion but there does need to be some separation between persona and reality. 

Use it sparingly

While it's natural to believe that staying 'on' longer will help you get what you want faster, you're more likely to find you'll run out of gas too soon and still have plenty of road still to go. Use the persona only when required - interviews, networking, conflict resolution, times when shyness and self-doubt will harm you more than they will help you. 

Take it off

Make sure that you have some separation between your home life and your goal life. Whether you're working towards a goal and need to be at peak performance constantly or your focus is your career, you can't reach peak performance if your too drained mentally, physically, emotionally to get out of bed. When you're at home, it's your sanctuary, there is no necessity for self promotion here.This is the place of couple snuggles (or dog snuggles) , DVD movies and messy bed hair.Take it off. 

Never use the persona to fit in

In your personal life, it's especially hard to fit in with new crowds and if you're an introvert, your usual crowd is probably the dog and a couple of good friends. The persona should never make an appearance in your personal life (non-goal life). You can extract elements from it to diminish your tendency to overanalyse or doubt yourself or your partner in a healthy, mindful way but you should never be at a point where you've created a persona so strong that you can't keep up.  This is where a lot of people fall into despair - depression brought about by constantly trying to be too much to too many people, trying to be a person that they think they're expected to be or wish they were when inside they're fighting to keep up and losing hope. You're amazing as you are, everyone else is taken, be yourself.

Be kinder to yourself

You're not there yet - you will be. You're struggling, but it's not forever. People around you believe in you so much more than you'd expect. They're so proud of you and your accomplishments even if you don't see them yourself. You are not your persona. You have all that strength and courage inside you all the time but out of humility, you downplay your accomplishments in reality, it doesn't mean they're not real or that you don't believe in them, it just means you're still focused on the road ahead. Take a moment every now and then to just reflect on what you've done and allow yourself to be proud

The Pale Blue Dot and the Lethality of Loneliness

In the film 'Men, Women and Children', the lead character Tim (Ansel Elgort) has given up. A life once filled with football games and the persona that went with the status of being the MVP becomes one of introversion, self-reflection and the question of 'What's the Point?' - a change brought about after the character watches Carl Sagan's 'Pale Blue Dot' which points out just how insignificant we are in the greater scheme of things. 

As his life continues to spiral swiftly and without pause, Tim attempts suicide but is interrupted by his girlfriend who sensed something was wrong. 

A byproduct of Depression is that you do turn to philosophy, to poetry, to novels and psychology books in an effort to simultaneously contemplate existence and melt into a state of nonexistence, numbness, the words in these books fueling your inflection but also reinforcing the pointlessness of making an effort when human life is in fact insignificant in the context of the universe. 

Pair this with the antidepressants that are prescribed with more ease than a child buying candy and the situation is further elevated. Loneliness is a universal concept, one that is misinterpreted as weakness, one that is overlooked by many and one that is experienced by all. The difficulty is in creating a world for yourself wherein you don't find yourself spiraling at the thought of it. This is of particular importance to teens who find themselves extradited from circles with relatively high frequency due to the pressures of peers at school.

By learning to be ok alone, you're taking the power away from loneliness and giving the power back to yourself. 

Our tips for learning to love solitude:

Solitude is actually amazing. It's a time for inflection and focus, it allows you to be a complete idiot with your dog or cat and there's noone around to judge. The added benefit of being happy alone is that the world opens up in ways it was never open to you before. 

Go to a movie alone

I go to movies by myself all the time. People think it's odd - though the other people I know who go solo think it's necessary sometimes. If you think about it, a movie is the easiest way to edge into solitary confidence. You can't talk to anyone because you're in a movie, it's dark, no one is looking at you or caring about what you're doing, they're there to see a movie and mack in the back row. You give yourself a couple of hours by yourself, effectively on a date with yourself and no one is the wiser but you've just taken the first step. 

Go to the gym alone

Going to the gym alone is another easy one. No one is there to look at you, they're all in their own little gym tunnelvision worlds and so are you, it's an easy out to head to the gym, do your workout and head back home without even realising anyone else is there. 

Go to dinner alone (or breakfast or lunch)

Having a meal by yourself has been made to sound crazy in film, and most feel that they have to have something to do to make it OK - playing on their phones, taking a book to read or typing away on their laptop and perhaps this will help ease you into it though once you become more comfortable with it, you'll find it's actually really enjoyable. The people-watching is fun, you can quietly eavesdrop on people's conversations and hear the absurdity of their lives while patting yourself on the back for being so much more together. 

Here's the big one: Travel Alone

When I was 13, I hopped a plane to New Caledonia and it was my first time travelling without my parents. I had always thought that if I traveled, I would do it with friends, a grand OE but every time I was presented with an opportunity, I chose to go it alone. It throws you in to the deep end and forces you to be ok with solitude really fast. At 18, I went to Italy and Paris alone - Italy was a Contiki tour (which is a great way to ease into it, starting with a large group of strangers and then tapering off to just being solo once the tour finishes). At 22, I spent three months in the United States alone, doing a combo of Contiki tours and solo travel, the list goes on. Whenever I travel, I find time to go it alone. Even if travelling with friends, just the simple act of taking yourself off for a solo date for the afternoon or day to wander a new city, take in a show or a lunch, saunter the boardwalks of beachy communities, alone with your thoughts, it's an amazing way to build your solitary confidence. 

As you become more comfortable with these things, you'll find that you can go weeks or months without feeling the need to see anyone (though we don't recommend just holding up in your house all Howard Hughes-like, you should definitely leave your house and wear clothes), you don't feel the crushing need to be with someone, that you're unwanted or unloved because you're single or feeling like you're so alone because to you now, there is no such thing. 

It's not an overnight thing, it takes time but fighting the lethality of loneliness is imperative not just for your mental health and happiness but for your own solitary confidence. 

To expand further on the Lethality of Loneliness, we've posted a video below of John Cacioppo speaking on this very topic at his TED Talk.

Take Time For Yourself

In a world of full time careers, personal goals, families, relationships and hobbies, it can all get overwhelming and even though we know you’re wholly committed to putting your all into every one of those things, it’s important to take time for yourself.

Take time. Schedule it – or it will never happen. Actively make a point of keeping that date with yourself whether it’s weekly, bi weekly or just an hour a day where you can do something entirely for yourself.

It’s a necessity, not only for ensuring that you can continue to perform at a high level in all of those aspects but also for your own emotional and mental wellbeing.

Here are a few ways to take a timeout:

Take a class

Yoga, Ballet Barre, Les Mills Body Pump or something more creative like an art class – immerse yourself in a new hobby where you can focus on yourself, your capabilities and relax into the solitude and awareness of yourself.

Catch a Movie

We mean at the theatre –shock- when you watch a movie at home, you’re too often distracted by all the things you forgot to do or are still yet to do, It’s too easy to pick up the laptop and keep working with the movie playing in the background and by the end of it, have no clue what happened. Go to the movie theatre, buy your $8 popcorn and watch the film without any distractions.

Spa Treatment

Even a Brazilian wax starts to look like a luxury spa treatment when you’re run off your feet, so get off those feet and schedule a regular spa date- whether you’re just maintaining your grooming situation or you’re in there for a regular facial or massage.

Hit the Gym

Swim some lengths where the noise clutter of the world can disappear as soon as your head ducks under the water. Feel the pressure melt away as you power through the water and hit the spa afterwards until you’re all wrinkly or lift some weights and spend time on the foam roller to get those hard to get muscles. Put on your playlist and just let the world disappear for a while.

Go for a run

While it may seem like work, there's nothing more liberating than a run. Just you and the pavement (and the artists on your playlist), the cool breeze, the plod of your foot against the concrete, the ability to entirely tune out everything and everyone and return home refreshed (exhausted) and with a mind free of clutter.

Go on a Date

Sometimes time for yourself can mean spending quality time with the person who calms you. Go out to a relaxed dinner or hit the gym and spend a couple of hours goofing around and soaking in the spa without a care. Take a moonlight walk on the beach hand in hand or sit quietly together somewhere where there's no distractions, just each other's company. Spending time with someone who makes you swoon is an incredible calming remedy for stress.

Break Free From a Rut

Some days are all moonbeams and rainbows and others feel as though the monotony of the moment may be enough to swallow you whole. Too much repetition of the latter becomes a rut and drains you of all energy and excitement. While we can’t be all starshine and dreams every day, there are a few ways to break up the monotony and feel a little more optimistic about how your life is tracking.

Be Grateful

Take a moment to recognise the things you’re grateful for, It seems hokey in the beginning but as you begin to notice the smaller things and convey your gratitude for them, your outlook does indeed become significantly brighter. If you struggle to find things, be grateful for the basics – that you have a home, an income, family, friends, then move to more detail such as the way a vase of flowers in your kitchen makes you feel or the way the sun creeps in your window in the morning, waking you gently and warmly.

For us, those small things have always been full moons, fairylights, bubble baths puppy cuddles and morning light and then you add to it as your eye expands.

Take Time For Exercise and Relaxation

For me, my favourite way to unwind is a long bubble bath, playing in the bath like a 5 year old, listening to Asaf Avidan with a glass of brandy or pinot gris but there are so many ways to unwind and reflect on the positives. For you it may be snuggling up with a movie on the couch, a yoga class or meditation – whatever it is that relaxes you, take time to specifically focus on that.

Exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy – so get out and hit the gym, go for a run or join a local sports team to work out those niggly negatives on the playing field. Pound the pavement until your steps lighten and you’ll find yourself relaxed (exhausted) and calmer by the end of it.

Embrace Positivity

As you express gratitude (and not necessarily to a religious icon, your gratitude can be just to yourself or the universe in general), you will become more positive. If you’re the kind of person to focus on the negatives you’ll probably find that those things come true , the more you expect something bad to happen, the more likely it will happen so similarly focusing on the positives can have the same effect. The more positive and optimistic you are, the more likely you are to achieve those goals. Create goals, create positive mantras and visualisations and rid yourself of negative thoughts before they have time to form in your mind.

Look for Jobs in Other Industries

Take off the filters on your online job search and search broadly, look at what’s available, you’ll find roles that leap out at you. You may be exactly what they need or if not yet, you’ll have an idea of what you might want to do and how to get there, having a goal is a brilliant way to focus yourself out of a rut.

Reinforce Your Strengths

Again with the hokeyness but looking yourself in the eyes in the morning through the mirror, while a bit disconcerting at first, is the best way to get through to your inner self. Your mind can’t deny the things it sees itself saying to you in your own voice. They say there’s nothing more powerful than an audio visualisation in your own voice but add to that the visual of your own self saying the words, hearing them, feeling them, is incredible. Every time we have something to say we can feel a change inside, as if we’re taking it on board and accepting the message. IT’s liberating. So too is encouraging yourself outside of your reflection.

When you’re running or doing a physical activity you’re not amazing at, take the time to appreciate your efforts, what you’re working towards, your progress. Thank your body for healing a cut or express to yourself how proud you are that you achieved a certain task.

Be kind to yourself first. When you realise that your happiness relies on you and not on anyone else, it becomes a lot more liberating and you’ll find it easier to be happy with much less than you were before.

Don't Compare Your Life With Those on Social Media

You see your friends and friends of friends on Facebook and Instagram living the life and feel stuck in your own because your multiple pics of dinner aren’t as exhilarating as Mel’s trip to Greece but bear in mind that people only share a small part of their lives on social media – even those who post 80 times a day.  People will only show you the good things and often greatly exaggerate them. One such example with this girl who told her family she was going on vacation and documented it all without ever actually leaving her bedroom.   Via 

Social media is not what it seems, the lives of others aren’t greater than yours. 

Revamp and Refresh

When you were young, you probably changed your bedroom furniture around as often as you changed favourite popstars and yet now as adults, we rarely make changes once they’re set. It’s easy when we feel in a rut to let our home life go, let the dishes pile up, leave the tidying for a weekend that never comes. Take a weekend to do abig spring clean, throw out all the stuff you really don’t need, take your old clothes to a second hand store and make some money in the process, rearrange your furniture, buy a few new cushions or home décor items and give your space a general all-around spruce.

Tips For Better Work / Life Balance

Prioritise

What is it that matters most to you? Are you looking to spend more quality time with your family? To find a more efficient way to work so that you have the balance to leave it at work?

For tips on working more efficiently, we recommend the book (and workshop series hosted in-office) ‘Work Smarter: Live Better' by Cyril Peupion. It has wonderful tips for working efficiently and effectively without compromising on personal time.

If you’re looking for more time away from work, this is where it’s necessary to address everything that needs to be done and find ways to manage it all. It’s all about prioritising. It helps to create a to-do list for each day or week depending how your work fluctuates and to list them in order of importance. It’s then easier to review each point and figure out the best way to attack it.

Schedule Downtime & Exercise

Just like an exercise training programme allows rest days, so too should your work/life schedule. Choose days or time brackets where you put down work, forget your responsibilities and just focus on yourself or your family – exercise or activities.

Going for a run at the end of a long day may seem cumbersome but exercise releases endorphins that make you relaxed and happy and also allows you the chance to break free from all distractions as for an hour or two, it’s just you and the pavement. Alternatively, a trip to the gym can be wonderful. Starting your day at the gym gets it out of the way and waked you up, ready to work effectively, but an after work visit where there’s no limitations on time means you can enjoy it – get your workout in and then perhaps mull around in the spa or pool until you feel relaxed.

Disconnect

Once you’re home, switch off your work phone and if you can fathom the idea, switch off your personal phone too – completely disconnect from all unnecessary distractions and allow yourself to unwind and relax.

For us career-driven women, the idea of leaving work in the office is all but ridiculous as a notion since we’re so used to spending our evenings continuing work we’ve taken home. Similarly, if you’re a work-from-home woman, leaving work in the office isn’t quite as easy.

We always have something weighing on our mind-  something we didn’t finish, something we still need to do, that email that needs to be sent or the presentation due tomorrow but there does need to be some separation.

Try to start by limiting yourself to a certain time. For instance, deciding that from 6:30 – 8:30pm, you’ll put down the work so you’re able to spend more quality time with your family, or perhaps if you’re a solo-preneur, making 7pm your work limit so that from then on, you’re able to focus solely on yourself.

Turn Your Home Into a Sanctuary

Make Your Bedroom a No Electronics Zone

One of the easiest ways to wind down at the end of a hard day’s work is to make your bedroom your sanctuary within a sanctuary. Move the TV out of the bedroom including any other distracting devices. Your room should be solely for rest. The blue lights emitted from many devices makes it difficult for your mind to switch off, as too does having cellphones and computers near to your bed – move them out. Your bedroom should be a place of soft furnishings, comfort and relaxation.

Comfort

Make your home a place you want to spend time in by adding plush cushions and throws to sofas and beds, breakfast trays for the bedroom, luxurious dressing gowns and window dressings – all soft and interesting textures that make you feel as though you’re surrounded in luxurious comfort. Take your time finding furniture that is not only soft enough to be supremely comfortable and which looks inviting but is also practical. If you still own a futon and you’re over 30, throw it out immediately.

Artwork

Artwork on your walls is a fantastic way to personalise your house and when you feel like you’re surrounded by parts of yourself, you’ll feel more at home.

Gallery walls, themes or even a simple display of favourite photographs or artists are easy to achieve. If you’re renting and are unable to hang more hooks than already exist, you can still incorporate artwork into your home. Opt for an oversized print that can lean up against the wall or feature a piece on an easel or atop a piece of furniture. Try creating a coffee table vignette of assorted items that really appeal to your eye or look for feature vinyl wall stickers that can be peeled off without damage to the wall.

Scents

Scent is a powerful influencer and there are so many ways to infuse scent into your home and create the feeling you want to evoke.

Reed diffusers are the easiest quick fix for creating an ambience specific to you. They last around a year and come in a wide variety of scents. We recommend spending a little exa to get a quality one as many of the cheaper options end up smelling more like bathroom spray which isn’t ideal.

Different scents evoke different feelings, so say lavender scents would work in the bedroom where you need to feel at rest while a vanilla scent can be more sensual and invigorating, perfect for more open areas or your office where you need a little more focus.

Flowers

We’ve always believed that flowers have the ability to make a house a home, they have the power to lift your spirits and make you feel cosy even in the most barren property.

Visit your local florist, supermarket or even your backyard every fortnight and pick flowers in bright hues and soothing scents that will brighten up your home. Put them somewhere you’ll see often, like the kitchen or your bedroom and really take time choosing blooms that suit you, your personality and the feeling you want to have at home.

Quick Steps to Instant Self-Confidence

Self Confidence is something so many of us struggle with – whether it’s trying to keep up with the aesthetics we’re presented with so often in media or just the ability to speak our mind without feeling the fear of judgement, self-confidence is an incredibly important and often difficult to attain characteristic.

While the barriers to self-confidence can be rooted far deeper for most, often just the simplest things can lift our self-confidence to new heights and go some way towards improving our emotional well being.

Personal Presentation

If you ever notice the way you feel when you’ve put effort in to your appearance versus the way you feel when you nip down the street in your yoga pants, you’ll know what a little extra effort can do for your spirits. We always go by the theory that we should dress as if we’re going to run into a client or for some, dress as if you’re going to run into an ex. It doesn’t have to mean that you spend two hours getting ready in the morning, but simply ensuring you’re ‘polished’ -  tidy, clean and pressed clothing, brushed hair, and perhaps a little sassy lick of lipstick can make us feel confident in even the most casual attire .

A New 'Do'

We all know that salon-new feeling you get when you first get a new haircut – you want to make plans to go out that evening to show it off, you feel sassy, you feel confident and beautiful. A new style, cut or colour has the overwhelmingly positive effect of making those nasty confidence drainers disappear and helps bolster step one around our polished presentation.

If you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps or frumpy, a new cut can work wonders.

Posture

Have you ever noticed the way you feel when you lift your posture even slightly? It’s a feeling of refinement, of innate confidence and acceptance. Instead of hiding from view in your hunch, the shoulders back-chin up-belly taut posture has not only a positive effect on you and your feeling of confidence but also in your view of how others see you. When you’re hunched over and seemingly trying to hide from every passer-by, you tend to lean towards the notion that they’ll judge you for your appearance, for your outfit – whatever, but when you carry yourself confidently, that feeling transfers to your emotional wellbeing, giving you a big boost in spirits and in confidence and those feelings of judgement transform into feelings of admiration.

Just think of your thoughts when you see a woman carrying herself strongly and confidently or better yet, make it an experiment. Next time you’re out, look around you as you wander down the street, take note of your thoughts when you see a confident woman striding down past with eyes front and chin up and then again when you see someone who has a similar stance to you. 

How to Break Up When There's Nothing Wrong But Also, Not Right

It's a difficult prospect. There's nothing wrong. He's a wonderful boyfriend- he says all the right things at all the right times, he's good to you and treats you well, you fight just enough to keep it interesting but not enough to make an impact, he's supportive and kind, giving and thoughtful - he's everything you wished a boyfriend could be -and yet something just isn't right. 

While he's thinking marriage, you're still thinking of it as temporary, you know it's not forever-you just haven't mentioned it because some part of you wonders if you're simply self-sabotaging, that perhaps you're measuring your relationship against those in chick flicks, that maybe relationships aren't meant to be what you thought they were, that there's always one person more in love than the other. 

You start to disconnect yourself and he feels it, your emotional unavailability makes him feel rejected, dejected, unwanted. You try to make up for it by being over-the-top romantic, even though it's not your style and everything seems okay for a while-maybe you just need to try harder- but sometimes, it's better to simply let go than to deprive him of a chance to meet someone who can love him with the same fire with which he loves you. 

It's a difficult prospect but it's a very real one and an increasingly popular one as women find themselves focusing on their career path over their relationships. It's not a commentary on how career women have to be 'hard', it's just that now with so many opportunities, we're no longer transfixed by the idea of a big wedding to a dreamboat husband who will work to support his family while you tend to the home and children. 

Ending a relationship that is from outward extern, entirely wonderful is possibly the hardest thing to do, but once you're outside of it, it will be clear as day that it was the right decision - even if he or she can't see it immediately, down the track, they'll be grateful that you left so that they could find something better suited. It's the actual break up that's the hard part. 

Here are our tips for doing it with minimal fallout: 

Planning

When there's nothing wrong, the thought of choosing the words to end it seems impossible. You'll summon up those cliched lines from films and the person will find it insulting. If you've been having problems that aren't really improving or if you've noticed the person has been unhappy (or vice versa), make that your starting point, let them know how much you care about them, let them know why you're doing this but leave out anything that can be construed as judgemental or blaming. If you're legitimately doing this for them, because you can tell they're not happy, then tell them that but if that isn't the truth, it can shut down the conversation pretty quickly. 

Choose your location wisely. Unless you're a complete lunkhead, don't take them to a public place for the sake of them not making a scene, they will always make a scene if taken to a public place because you're not giving them the opportunity to truly take it in, you're more likely to elicit an anger response through such an impersonal scenario. Always choose somewhere private, whether that's a room in your house where you can shut yourselves away and be uninterrupted or a place you both know and feel comfortable.

Logistics 

If you live with the person and it's more their home than yours (ie renting with their name on the lease or they own the home), plan to move out immediately or at least have somewhere else to stay that night. If they're likely to get angry to the point of destroying things you'll know in advance so start moving things out in small amounts that they won't notice over time so that you can fit everything in one car load when the time comes. Recruit friends to help if needed but make sure they come after the breaking up part is done and the person has migrated to a different area of the house, don't allow your friends to interact with the person unless necessary to ease the process. If the person isn't the angry type, plan to stay elsewhere that night and arrange a time to come back with friends to move your things out. 

If you don't live together, it's infinitely easier - well, logistically anyway.

Should There Be a Last Hurrah? 

It's common to think it'd make things easier and ensure things end on a good note if there's a final date, a last supper - however it just builds up in the person's mind that things are great before you drop them back to earth with the news that you're leaving them. 

If you're looking to break up, you shouldn't want to be liberal with affection anyway but don't put it on for the sake of an amicable split. It's confusing and unnecessary. 

Stay Strong

If you've gotten to this point, you must be pretty resolute, but even the strongest are still moved by someone crying, telling you they thought you were the one and how they didn't see it coming (even if you thought it was obvious). This is especially true when it's the woman doing the breaking - we're not used to seeing a man cry, especially so if he's not the emotional kind and in the moment it can be jolting and make you questions whether what you're doing is right.

Expect to Ride a Wave of Emotion for Days if not Weeks 

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You just left someone who was wonderful and a relationship where nothing was exactly wrong- it just wasn't right. You're likely alone, surfing couches or going it alone in a place of your own. This is where all the second guessing comes in and you'll find yourself surging between being adamant that you made the right decision and the overwhelming self doubt that you've just royally stuffed up.

Be kind to yourself. Surround yourself with friends who know your relationship, know you ex-partner and know what you need. Perspective is an amazing thing and most certainly everything you need right now. 

If you've moved into your own place, make it a 'home' - buy yourself flowers every week to make the house bright, furnish beds and sofas with comfy blankets and cushions, welcoming bedding and dot candles about the place for relaxing candlelight.  Hang artwork and make your new house a real home, even if it's just a temporary one. 

Don't Jump on the Tinder Wagon Immediately

While your friends will undoubtedly advise swiping right on as many potentials as possible right now to 'get your mind off it' , this leads to dangerous behaviour and scenarios and as well as being a bad move health-wise, mentally, you're not going to feel fulfilled (in a deeper sense of the word), you're more likely to feel devalued and look fondly on your fresh ex-relationship. This is where couples commonly get back together - either because the person who did the breaking has a freak-out about the decision and the new-found singledom or because the complacency of the known becomes too attractive in the loneliness of the single life.  This just starts a vicious circle and often, infidelity on both parts - the person who was broken sees it as a means of getting back at you or for evening the playing field emotionally and the person who did the breaking cheats because they never really wanted back in but they were too afraid/ timid/ complacent to go through it all again. 

Don't Focus on the Good Times

It's easy to look fondly on the good times, on the person's behaviour during the breakup, the things they say to try to fix it and the plethora of amazing things they've done but right now, this is not what you need. This is liable to just upset you and push you towards those negative behaviours mentioned earlier in the search for affection.

Don't necessarily focus on the bad points but remind yourself WHY you made the decision. It's not something you entered into lightly - if you were resolute enough to finally take action, there was a good reason , if not multiples smaller reasons why you felt it needed to be done. 

If you think you're likely to forget them, write them down - don't cast blame or make judgements, rather make the reasons about yourself - the way being in that relationship made you feel, the restrictions you felt, the emotional sway, how things feel now and your reflections on the break up and read them often, ensuring that each point is absorbed and reflected upon with each reading. 

Stay Friends But Not Too Friendly

You just left someone who has effectively been your best friend and partner in crime for the last however long. You can't lose a best friend and a partner in one go. Also, they didn't do anything wrong, they're hurting too and if they're not the type to share, they may need you to reaffirm the decision, let them know it's not about them, that it wasn't something that could be fixed. Help each other through it but don't lean on each other entirely. Certainly don't let it get to a more than friends stage and keep encounters brief. The point is to let each other know that you're there and keep conversation up, talk about your day, let each other know that things are ok and eventually taper off contact to a level where you're just friends, not as close as you were, but friendly. 

Take Care of Yourself

You made  a huge decision, it's going to be hard bu it's also going to be wonderful - it'll just take time to get there. Go easy on yourself. Try new hobbies and see friends to keep busy. It will stop weighing on you. You may not be grieving the relationship but you're still grieving a loss, a best friend, someone you'd usually turn to for everything, even just to tell exciting news to . Set a goal and start working towards to . Be kind to yourself and take it a day at a time. It will get easier and though it may not feel like it for a while, you did make the right decision.