Avène Face + Body Moisturiser for Sensitive Skin

 

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Avène – Trixera+ Emollient Cream for Face and Body

Humidity is the friend I didn’t know I needed.

While I was overseas in Malaysia, my skin thrived in the humid weather. Besides the sweating, I loved it! However, it soon dawned on me that returning to Australia would involve dry, merciless heat…  It was my mission to invest in a good quality moisturiser that I could bring back!

I was at a mall in Kuala Lumpur, browsing through a local pharmacy when I came across this brand, Avène. I’d heard of it, but never thought much about it. The pharmacy assistant explained this moisturiser was good for dry, sensitive skin. Now, I’ve experienced the horrors of all kinds of ‘suitable’ creams that didn’t hydrate my skin but made it dryer/sting/tingle or made no difference at all. This Avène cream was said to be appropriate for eczema and very dry, sensitive skin. It had no fragrance. Despite my hesitation, I decided it was time to give this product a go.

My review.

When I arrived back in Australia, as expected, my skin started to break out with dry patches around my face and arms. My eczema-prone skin started to itch. Flying on multiple planes probably didn’t help out, either. I immediately started using this Avène cream. Within the next few days or so, my skin started to feel smooth, hydrated and dewy without feeling ‘heavy’.

It has been about four weeks since using this cream, and the dry patches on my face are no where to be seen! Besides my nose, from wiping it all the time – thanks to an unwelcome cold/flu.

The Benefits of Avène:

  • Fast-absorbing. I’ve found this moisturiser to be relatively fast-absorbing so when I’m rushing to get ready for work, I can moisturise, dress and go!
  • Fragrance free. Although I am a sucker for pretty-smelling perfumes, soaps and lotions, this fragrance-free cream adds to the sensitive skin suitability. There’s no risk of reactions to a fragrance or feeling my nose itch every time I breathe in.
  • Slightly dewy. I find when I use this on my face, it does give a slightly dewy feel. I have been digging this look, especially whilst in this transitioning spring-summer weather! If you’re not a fan of this, then perhaps this product is not for you. However, I will say I use a little more than the amount of surface area I have. Maybe if I used less, my face would feel more matte, than dewy.
  • Clinical studies included. On the Avène website, there are 2 results of small clinical studies indicating hydration increase after 6-7 days of use. My psychology-based brain finds this inclusion quite intriguing.

How I use this moisturiser.

I use Avène once or twice daily. And powdered makeup over the top, if I feel like it.

For a few months now, I’ve steered clear of foundations/BB creams to give my skin some freedom. These days, I only use blush, bronzer and a brow pencil. The less I use on my face, the better my skin looks and feels. I make an effort to stay hydrated too. If my lips start drying out, I use this as an indication that I need more fluids! Thanks to this new Avène cream, I feel confident that my skin is being taken care of while I go about my daily routine.

I’ve always wanted to find ways to embrace my youthful 20s! And you should too. Regardless of your age, enjoy the beauty that your body + skin is. True, no one is perfect but it doesn’t take perfection to ‘radiate beauty’. Take time to look after you. Whether it’s a new skincare product or taking a break from a strict routine… Enjoy it.

When we are honest with ourselves and our flaws, confidence grows!

Stay well friends! x

Psychologists and counsellors: are they helpful?

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Today, I want to break the stigma of seeing a mental health professional. Yes, it is more accepted in today’s society but there are still negative thoughts out there. This post is for those people who are afraid to be judged. This post is for those who have earned their degree, honours and masters. This post is for those who are curious as to how a professional can help them.

My experience

During high school, I saw a counsellor for the first time. I was losing motivation as each week passed and my teacher was concerned. Unfortunately, I had trust issues with most adults – the school counsellor included.  I could barely muster up words to describe how I was feeling. Albeit I was conditioned to ignore my emotions… I was so afraid that he would judge me or “turn against me” somehow. I saw this counsellor once and never returned.

Throughout the next 5 years, I struggled with negative thoughts and had trouble sleeping. I saw a few counsellors which helped to a point. Even though I got along with these people, still, I felt the same: I had a heavy chest and a sadness that wouldn’t go away. Eventually, I scraped up the courage to see a psychologist. It was the best decision I ever made. Although it was very costly (as I am a student and work casually), it was worth it. My boyfriend would always remind me, “Your mental health is more important” – this finally clicked. I couldn’t push my needs to the side any longer. I longed to move forward with my life. I made it my mission to allow for psychology sessions in my budget. If I didn’t have enough to pay for it, I’d either borrow money from someone and pay it back or reschedule the appointment until I could afford it. It became a worthwhile priority in my life!

Counsellor or psychologist?

First, let’s define these occupations. Both counsellors and psychologists can help with mental health issues and personal problems. However, the main distinction is that a psychologist has a protected title that only those who are specifically qualified can use. This involves more than six years of tertiary studies.

As I mentioned before, I have seen both counsellors and psychologists. I found that a counsellor’s fee was more affordable than a psychology session. To this day, I assume it’s because of the difference in education and a psychologists protected title.

What’s important however, is whether or not you get along with the professional. The first couple counsellors I saw, didn’t seem like people I could ‘click’ with. Eventually, I met a counsellor who was amazing and really helped me through some harrowing times. She was kind, genuine and encouraging – qualities that I was lacking in myself/around my immediate social circle at that time in my life.

Steps to seeing a mental health professional.

  1.  Do your research. Read about each counsellor/psychologists profile if that’s available. Find their website and read, read, read! Once you’re certain about having the first initial consult, send an email.
  2. Attend the consultation. The mental health professional should then contact you and organise a consultation. This is usually a orientation session to talk about what your goals are, medical history and emergency contacts.
  3. First session. This can be nerve-racking even though you’ve already had the initial consultation. But remember – this is the first step to overcoming the hurdles you’ve been experiencing. It’s okay to be nervous. It’s normal. Being vulnerable is difficult. It may not seem like it, but it will be worth it.
  4. Self-reflection. You’ve completed your first session. Well done. Now, you can take the next 7-14 days to think whether or not you would like to continue with this counsellor/psychologist. Do they respond to you in a way that makes you feel supported? Do you feel safe being vulnerable with them? Do you feel you could learn a lot from them? Expression is hugely cathartic but it’s also important that you are able to openly learn, and improve your life. If you don’t feel safe or comfortable, let the counsellor know that you won’t be continuing. Go back to Step 1 and do your research. Maybe ask friends/family you trust about professionals they may have seen.
  5. Continue counselling sessions. You’ve now made the next decision to either continue or find another professional. Remember, healing isn’t linear. You may have a breakthrough and another hurdle comes along. It’s okay. Like Dory says, “Just keep swimming!”.

Seeing a professional can be daunting and even terrifying. But if talking to friends or trusted adults aren’t improving your situation, take that step to seek help. Don’t wait. Waiting may exacerbate your symptoms.

Mental illness can be so isolating. Reach out. And if you know someone who is struggling, send them a message. Give them a call. Visit them. You never know what battle someone may be facing. Don’t wait until it’s too late to show your kindness. Don’t wait to spread love to those closest.

It’s okay to ask for help. We are stronger together.

Image from last years trip to New Zealand.

5 Ways to Function through a Depressive Slump

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Taking notice.

Nothing in particular has been overwhelming. Yet strangely, I have noticed a decline in my motivation, I’ve been struggling to sleep at night and I haven’t been able to concentrate during the day. As I type this, exhaustion is ensuing. All I want to do, is sleep. I’ve felt like this for the last month or so.

But, hope is not lost!

Over the years, I have found outlets for the days when depression is all I see.

I have listed these below:

1. Create a private blog.

I have been blogging privately for years. I use Tumblr, as it is password protected. The motion of posting allows me to express my concerns, without worrying about what words I use or how I say it. Even though there is no audience, I am satisfied by letting those feelings go.

Documenting day-to-day how I’m feeling, helps me process my emotions. Whether it’s online or in a notebook you can keep in a safe place… try it out. Expression may be hugely cathartic for you.

2. Watch YouTube videos.

This may sound weird. But for me, YouTube allows me to connect with people around the world who who have a motivating mindset. These days, mental health awareness is in abundance. Topics on depression, anxiety, personality disorders, trauma… many topics are available to us thanks to the internet and the world of YouTube. There are also videos to help with business, finance, emotional intelligence and even videos about day-to-day lives of others.

What are you usually interested in?

I know it can be difficult to do anything in a depressive slump. However, if you decide to stay home and don’t want to be with other people – YouTube is the next best thing. Humans need connection. If you can find helpful, connecting videos online, it’s better than going the road alone.

3. Make a comforting meal for yourself.

I know that it can be draining to even think of cooking when you’re in a slump. At times, I barely have the energy or even hunger to eat. However, improving your diet (even taking one step) may improve your mood. According to a study based on diet and risk of depression, red meat, processed meat as well as high-fat dairy products were found to increase risk of depression. High-sugar intake also increased risk of depression as it effected endorphin levels.

So, try to eat a good meal at least once a day. Add fresh fruits and vegetables to your meals! If you’re on a budget like I am (student life), buy frozen produce. I make fruit/vegetable smoothies or a simple pasta dish with broccoli/carrot/zucchini – whatever veggies I have on hand.

Small efforts to look after ourselves are stepping stones to successfully treating our mental health issues.

4. Focus on urgent tasks.

If you are a student like me, then you probably have assignments and due-dates coming up. Or, you may work full-time/part-time/casually and have your own responsibilities.

Advice: try to focus on the tasks that are most important, FIRST.

This might mean:

  • Lectures taking the back-burner until you’re at least up to date on an assignment.
  • Laundry being done on Sunday instead of doing it on Friday.
  • Not making your bed in the morning so you can catch up on sleep before you leave for university or work.
  • Asking for help from those around you: take out bins, wash the dishes and so on. 4 hands are better than 2!

Think about steps you can take to make your daily life more manageable during this time.

5. Find someone to talk to.

I kept this tip for last, because I know how hard it can be to gain the courage to speak up about struggling. When I do speak up however, I find it to be so healing. I have mentioned this a few times now, because speaking up is another form of expression and has been proven to aid in successfully treating depression.

This may not work for everyone, but if you do find value in talking with someone you trust, let them know you’re not travelling so well. In this age of technology, we can set up phone calls, video calls, voice messages and Messenger calls. We have the opportunity to open up to support and advice.

 

If you have a friend or family member who struggles with a mental health issue, please reach out to them. Call and ask how they’re doing, make plans to get out of the house or even plan a visit.

 

Thank you for being here. The world wouldn’t be the same without you.

 

Beautiful image by Dani @_bydanimae
Thank you so much for letting me use your art!

Finding Creativity At Work

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The little waitress.

Most people who know me, know that I worked in hospitality for a number of years. Running food, washing dishes, making drinks and taking orders – the usual front-of-house/all-rounder duties. Although I enjoyed hospitality for it’s fast-pace and it’s people, I could not be creative. I could neatly arrange table decor, fold pizza boxes and garnish fresh smoothies (I LOVED doing these tasks), but I could not pour beautiful latte-art for the life of me. One reason was that I lacked training, and the other was that the year I tried latte-art, was the year I knew something finally needed to change. Instead of creativity, I focused on building rapport with customers, doing my best to ensure they enjoyed their experience wherever I worked (I have previously worked in cafes, restaurants, clubs).

At home, I loved to cook, draw, watch creative videos about food, dance and culture. As each year passed by, I realised that most of my time was spent at work or school – so I needed to find an environment that allowed creativity and connection.

Most people like myself have to do what needs to be done (work in an industry they no longer see themselves in), to get through life. Whether it’s rent, bills, family or car-payments, we all have responsibilities. Because of this, our values don’t always line-up with our day-jobs.

The art of applying for jobs.

When I made the decision to apply for a retail job, I had been actively looking for work for about 12 months. I wasn’t expecting a call-back, to be honest. I found it difficult to stay positive.

Toward the end of the year, I finally received 2 call-backs: 1 for administration work and 1 for retail. Although I tried to practice interview questions, I did not do well at the administration interview. The retail interview on the other hand, felt like a much more natural conversation – despite my nervousness. I did my best and felt like it was actually enough.

About a week or so later, I was offered the job and immediately started training! YAY! There were new processes and many new people I met. I was transitioning in the workforce. I still worked shifts at my other jobs for financial stability, but I was on the way!

New job, new me.

When I started working in the store, it was a bunch of shambles. Christmas was around the corner and customers were shopping in droves. I felt like a fish out of water.

As time went on, I felt more comfortable, styling customers, finding out what look they were after, and even styling myself like I used to in high school – freely and creatively! I’ve noticed that retail is more of a relaxing environment compared to hospitality. Customers are kind and building rapport comes naturally. Women have shared their sad and joyful stories with me – something I find quite moving.

Now I am excited to go to work, thinking of new ways I could wear items, finding the balance between practical and stylish. Some days, I just want to wear sneakers and a hoodie, but I have yet to find the perfect ones… so far, what I love about retail is that I can change and progress creatively. Hospitality was an industry I was doing well in, but retail is where I currently excel.

Where do I belong?

A conversation with a past manager, reminded me that sometimes we must find where we belong. It’s important to work with people that share the same values and act accordingly. Back then, I experienced many obstacles where values weren’t shared and I suffered because of that.

According to a SEEK survey, 74% of respondents believe their job has a significant influence on their overall quality of life and 71% say it also affects the emotional states of those closest to them.

Personally, I found myself feeling more frustrated, tired and drained from working in an industry where values no longer aligned. My boyfriend noticed my increasing irritability and emotional instability.

Although I learned so much and made many friendships in hospitality, I am grateful I made this change.

Now, I rarely feel fatigued and feel supported and encouraged where I work.

I’m not saying, “Up and quit your job!”. I’m saying, if you have noticed your mood, mental and physical wellbeing on the decline, reflect on your life. Is it a lack somewhere in your diet, or lack of exercise? Is it a personal issue you could see a professional about – doctor/counsellor/psychologist? Is it your work environment: do you feel valued and supported?

At a workshop I recently attended, the organiser said “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”

I have worked with amazing, supportive managers and even got along with many higher-ups. However, a few times throughout my work-life, I’ve found this statement to be true. It’s important for owners, managers and employees alike, to check-in with themselves for the benefit of the company and their own lives.

Have you found where you belong? If not, what small steps can you take to work on it?
For example, listing your strengths and incorporating those into everyday life. Or starting a hobby for your own mental and physical wellbeing.

It’s all a learning journey. Start where you are.

Embrace change!

Mindful Meditation

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What is it?

Mindful meditation is a practice that trains the mind to focus on the present moment, without judgement. Being aware of your surroundings, thoughts and feelings. It can be practiced on your own, in groups or during retreats. Exercises during a meditation session include focusing on the breath, exploring the senses like taste, smell, touch and sound.

My experience.

Generally speaking, I thought I was quite self-aware. However, until I started using mindful meditation, I realised how much I could benefit from such a practice.

Rewind two years. I noticed that my heart would palpitate out of nowhere, constantly feeling that something bad was going to happen. I was exhausted all the time and found it difficult to sleep. I stumbled upon a channel on YouTube that posted guided meditations. The comments seemed to rave on about how this channel helped them through many tough times. I thought, if so many of these comments were saying it helped them, why not give it a try? During the day, I’d listen to these voice-overs to ‘escape’ the bustling world around me. I would sit in my car, just to be alone and listen. I learned to focus on my breath. I also learned grounding techniques, thanks to a counsellor I was seeing at the time.

Although I was working through functioning during the day, I was still struggling to sleep at night. So I decided to listen to guided meditations. This was the best decision I made! Within thirty minutes or less, I’d fall asleep! My phone would be left charging overnight, while the rest of the meditation video played through. However, if you feel safer in doing so, turn off electrical devices just before drifting off to sleep.

9 times out of 10, mindful meditation allowed me to have a deep, restful sleep! Finally.

Fast forward to today. I still use these meditations to sleep at night. Now, I am going to try and practice mindful meditation in the mornings – for extra motivation and focus!

Where do I start?

Personally, I would find channels/podcasts that are popular and have good feedback. Not all channels may appeal to you, so find one that you connect with.

I frequently visit a YouTube channel created by Michael Sealey. He has an array of videos targeting anxiety, depression, chakra cleansing and over-thinking to name a few. His voice to me, is very grounding, making me feel calm and at ease.

Mindful meditation can encourage self-compassion, slowly changing the judgemental tones we sometimes find ourselves using in our heads. You know that critical voice, always making us feel unnecessarily bad about ourselves/actions? Yep, that one. Change that voice and it’ll change your thinking for the better!

The other day, I downloaded an iPhone app called “Calm”. It’s great, because it has different ‘topics’ like mindful eating, mindfulness at work, 7 days of calm as well as many others. So far, I have found it very helpful for focus. It’s helped me feel more motivated in the mornings! Be aware that some topics are locked as it requires a yearly subscription fee.

From YouTube channels, smartphone applications to podcasts, there are many options out there for you to try.

Benefits of Mindfulness

According to a study conducted at Oxford University in England, mindfulness (coupled with cognitive therapy) has been said to reduce symptoms of chronic depression.

According to a study conducted at UCLA in America, mindfulness meditation could be a factor in improved memory and focus. They found that those who had been meditating long-term had more ‘folds’ in the brain’s cortex, suggesting improved information processing and the formation of memories.

In day-to-day life, mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress and anxiousness. It can also raise your self-awareness and help you to recognise thoughts and feelings that may or may not be serving you. Check-in with yourself, from time to time. Make time for self-inventory.

It’s not a smooth journey, but it is a path worth exploring for better mental health and wellbeing!

If you’d like to learn more, I’ve listed links below:

Applications to download:

  • Calm
  • Mt. Focused (for study)
  • Headspace

Image by Jared Rice.

A lot of us, we feel that meditation is about silence. No, it is about awareness. – Ralph Smart

Let go of what no longer serves you.

You are not your past. 

Namaste.