You can’t do it all – and you certainly can’t do it all well

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There’s increasing pressure on us these days, especially women, to be proficient at everything. The areas in which we must excel in life have increased over the years as equality has been improved, and whilst this of course is a step in the right direction it means that women are expected to fulfil a number of roles with no room for failure in any of those.

The main pressures in life on women, being a good mother and wife, having a good career and being financially independent as well as looking good, all have sub-sectors which often in themselves can take up most of our time and energy.

The truth is, it’s simply impossible to be all of the things above, at least to a degree of excellence in all.

How do you prioritise and concentrate on just one thing, once you decide what it is you wish to focus on? As a younger person, it’s likely that the responsibilities you do have seem huge to you, but when you look at the lives of other women, you wonder how the hell they juggle the things you juggle, in addition to children and work and a husband (I know I do!!). You only have a certain amount of energy. Where do you want to expend it? And what do you want to achieve as a result?

For me, I’ve decided I have to take a look at what I have to do, what I feel I have to do, and what I want to do. When I did, I realised that much of the things I ‘have to do’ and subsequent tasks give myself to do are actually not things I have to do at all. They are things I feel I have to do, make myself do, for the approval of others. It’s not at all simple just cutting these out (especially if you have an anxiety disorder), but I re-evaluated my list and found there were things I could possibly subtract.

The things I actually had to do, like working, and things I wanted to do, came last on the list. Isn’t that ridiculous? No wonder I am so stressed. Sound familiar?

Prioritising isn’t easy because our brains tell little fibs and make unimportant, non-essential things seem imperative and astronomical in comparison to the things we actually need to do day to day.

I’m making a conscious effort to re-prioritise my life, to make room for the really important things that in the long run will make me happy. Try it for yourself – write everything down that you ‘have to do’ and assess just how important they all are. If you really do have to do all of those things, try and grade them in order of importance. If you struggle with that, you most certainly are not alone. It’s just a case of having a real think about what you want, and taking time to try and get your head around what you want to focus on. Focus truly is everything – you can only do one thing at a time and do it well! Then you will succeed. Let me know how you all get on!

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Finally – the government begins to look at failings in mental health services for young people…

…and it is being discussed in wider society and media!

If you are interested in the poor provision for mental health in this country, especially in younger people, you might have seen Newsnight on 5th November.

In this episode, Professor Tanya Byron and MP Charles Walker discussed new figures which show just how poor the mental health is of our younger people today, and how there simply is not enough provision for those who need help. Obviously, this means that we have a lot of people like myself entering adulthood with impacted issues which have not been properly addressed or treated. The programme spoke to several young people who felt failed by the system, as well as key figures heading up charities who aim to help youngsters who say that the problem really is getting out of control the longer this lack of provision is allowed to continue.

I’m so inspired by Charles Walker, who suffers from OCD himself, who has campaigned tirelessly for years to improve the state of mental health services in the UK. He’s struggled to be heard by MPs; of course the stigma against mental illness as opposed to physical illness is still very much a real and present hurdle for campaigners to cross.

It was also revealed that for every £1 spent in the crucial early stages of mental illness, £84 would be saved later on in life. But of course this is not about money – this is about lives.

I’m really pleased that this episode brought a spotlight upon what has previously been a hushed issue. I wrote a long letter to my MP about failings in the NHS’ Mental Health services not only for younger people such as myself but in general, yet I was sent a frankly ignorant and whimsical response which skirted round the issue rather than address it, completely dismissing the individual examples I had disclosed and refusing to take action. Finally it is being recognised that what is happening is nothing short of a crisis. Having experienced the short-fallings from a personal perspective, both with myself and with friends and relatives, I can really see how these figures add up.

What makes me so sad is the huge number of individual failings that result in deaths of young people (and older people, who were failed in their earlier years). That is the heart of this issue – many die needlessly because they did not have the access to the help they needed. Perhaps the saddest thing about this is that they die feeling as though nobody cared, and that they perhaps weren’t worth having time spent on them to help them to feel better.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have the support of my family and friends over the years – others aren’t so lucky. That’s why we really do need a service which will support and help individuals recover before their problems are impacted and worsened over time.

Have you had a bad (or good) experience on the NHS regarding a mental health issue? Please share it.

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Ideas of Beauty – Pale and Tan

‘Pale is interesting’. Right? Chances are, you’re thinking ‘wrong.’ I know I am!

I love to be tanned; I feel healthy, happy and pretty.And many other girls I know feel this way. Fake tan is a huge business in this country; and ‘tanorexic’ is now recognized as an addiction to sunbeds. In our culture, it’s ‘cool’ to be tanned. Ironically in the UK we don’t have much sun, which is why we resort to such methods as above!

Elsewhere however, it’s a very different story. In Asia, the opposite is true. In some societies being tanned signifies working outdoors and ultimately poverty, as it did many years ago here.

When I worked for Estee Lauder, we stocked a different range at the airport for our Asian customers. These included whitening creams, to lighten skin-tone. If you go into an Asian beauty store, it’s likely you’ll see many different brands of this product. Some of these contain harmful chemicals and harsh bleaches, but in the name of beauty women still apply these to their skin.

The same is true of fake tan – many claim that the ingredients are potentially dangerous, especially to younger skin. But would you give up fake tan? I’m guessing not. The same is true of sunbeds and sunbathing – would you ever stay in the shade for the sake of your health, to sacrifice your tan?

Just remember – however you look and feel, you are conditioned to lean towards one idea of ‘beauty’. But of course we can’t all look the same. And there are many different types of beauty. Bear in mind when you are having a bad day that you only feel bad because you feel you don’t ‘conform’. It’s so hard to change something which has been embedded in you for a number of years, but study different cultures and see that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder!

Rose xx

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