How to regulate stress when flying alone for the first time.

How to regulate stress when flying alone for the first time.

First, what is stress? Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Stress in general is a simple emotion that can help us survive in critical situations and can also help us stay productive in our jobs through things like project deadlines and customer demand.

When we do new things for the first time, there is a level of stress that may arise. An interesting thing to note however, is the fact that the brain can’t always distinguish nervousness/stress from excitement. So in hindsight, I was likely excited to begin my vacation, but nervous to fly alone. Interesting, right?

For this years trip, I was flying from Adelaide, Australia to Queenstown, New Zealand with a quick stop over in Sydney. If you’ve never flown alone before, I’ve listed a few things that helped me regulate stress so I could fully enjoy my vacation!

1.jpg

3-5 days before, I began packing. Usually, I have a list of things I need. In the end, I started with basics and worked my way up – no list needed! First up: underwear, thermals and socks! I then tried on all the outfits I planned in my head and took photos for reference. I put all these items on one side of my bedroom when they were ready to be packed. I then packed toiletries, electronics (charger cables, laptop, hairdryer, straightener) and big jackets.

The night before, I laid out my “airplane outfit” so I could change quickly and get out the door. Packing early ensures we can get up and go, minus any last-minute panic-packing!

2.jpg

a. Luggage.

I triple checked my luggage to make sure that all my heavy and non-essential items were going to be checked-in. If an item wasn’t going to be used on the flight or in-between flights, it was going into my luggage bag! Once my baggage was checked, I knew that was one less thing I needed to worry about!

b. Carry-on.

Essentials for me, included a book to read, extra layers in case I get cold and my crossbody which would be stored in my carry-on. I dedicated one section of my crossbody to hold my  itinerary and passport. That way, those documents were separate from miscellaneous items like perfume and earphones.

The stop-over in Sydney required a shuttle-bus ride. As soon as I landed, I got my next ticket out and kept it wedged in my passport for ease-of-access, once I got to the gate.

Being organised as much as possible minimises questions of whether or not we have everything we need.

3

On my flight to Sydney, I sat next to a lovely lady named Kylee (@kyleeeann) and we got to chatting. It made me feel better knowing I wasn’t the only one flying alone (although rationally, I know many people do). We spoke about our plans, what we do in our daily lives and even shared our social media ventures! I know it can be awkward sitting next to complete strangers if you’re used to travelling with friends or family, but you never know who you may meet and what you might learn through these short encounters!

4.jpg

Kylee tapped me on the shoulder to look out the window. The sun was rising. It was a beautiful mix of orange, yellow and navy blue. Waking up at 3AM was difficult and as scary as it was to be flying alone, there are always pockets of goodness and beauty if you look for it! So if you’re awake enough, look out the window!

5.jpg

During my stopover, I only had 1.5 hour between flights (which in hindsight, wasn’t long enough). I rushed to the loo and then ran to the other side of the airport to catch a shuttle bus to the international terminal. Once I got to the bus line, I realised I was very close to missing my connecting flight. Talk about stressed! I fixed my eyes on a spot on the wall and breathed deeply. I slowed my mind down. Yes, I was still focused on the ticking clock but I tried my best to intentionally calm myself and regulate my breathing. I did not have control over how fast the bus would arrive, so there was no point in stressing over it. I learned a lot about myself in terms of “control” and how it feels to let it go.

6.jpg

I love a good, creamy, non-dairy coffee. However, I opted for water for both flights. Although coffee was satisfying, it would exacerbate my nervousness. For those who know me, know I enjoy a good bite to eat, so I made sure to have breakfast and lunch to keep me fuelled for the day ahead. I listened to my body and that’s something I’m proud of myself for! In the last few months, I’ve found it difficult to distinguish hunger, fullness and dehydration. If you have had moments or days like this too, it is time to listen to your body. It is so important to treat our bodies well.

I hope you found these tips helpful for your next adventure! Stress is normal. If we find ways to regulate it, stress can be beneficial for productivity and organisation.

Signing off from

pushpinFJ.jpg

 

Why I don’t believe in God.

Why I don’t believe in God.

There isn’t one particular reason why my belief faded. It’s a collection of big and small occurrences. So go grab a coffee, tea, snack or a full meal – this will be a long one!

{Please note that this is my personal experience and is not a way to shame others who are religious! We are free to believe what we want, and we have the ability to choose: if something becomes oppressive or harmful in our lives, we can let it go!}

Title_01.jpg

I’d been part of a youth group for a number of years. At that point in my life, I felt rather secure in my faith. As a teenager, I had curious questions, but they were met with “I don’t know” or “pray about it”. I would shrug it off. Deep down, I had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t right.

During my senior years of school, my personal life became absolute chaos: my grades began to slip, I was sad, anxious and angry. I was being manipulated by people around me. Trapped. I clung to the idea of a “loving God” because I felt that love was lacking so much in my life. I wanted protection, guidance and love.

God filled a void I had no capacity to fill for myself. Spoiler alert: not yet, anyway.

Then, under the pressure of school and toxic relationships, I started experiencing what some may call “spiritual warfare”. It began at a youth camp. At first, I heard a light whispering. After a few minutes, an unknown voice spoke to me. These voices could not be identified as male or female. I was terrified, sometimes numb and mostly sad. What was wrong with me? Was I losing my mind?

An adult in the community suggested I see a mental health professional, but this was a red-flag to me at the time. If this adult agrees I’m suffering from these experiences because of my “sin”, why would she then suggest I see a psychologist? What would the benefit be if this was in fact a spiritual matter? To say I was confused, would be a gross understatement. These voices haunted me for 6-9 months. I never saw a doctor. And my family never suggested I needed to.

This was the beginning of the end.

{I mentioned this experience to my psychologist recently and she agreed that under the enormous amount of mental pressure I was under during that time, it could have been auditory hallucinations.}

Title_02

After deliberation, I let my parents know that I was leaving the catholic church. I even had a short chat with a priest about it. He was surprisingly supportive of my plans to attend a new church.

I began attending a protestant church which was the opposite of the type of church I grew up in. There were no dark wooden pews, no statues and not as many windows. We didn’t have to be silent or hold our heads down. This is where I started to learn about community. The people were the church! <– my “aha” moment.

As life would have it, the insecurity returned. I felt I didn’t belong. I didn’t want this “responsibility” to evangelise. I didn’t want to stop same-sex couples marrying each other. I didn’t want to shame others for how they felt, because I knew what that was like. There was a deep conflict brewing between what I was taught to believe, versus what I wanted to believe.

I couldn’t believe it. I was a self-righteous wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I kept preaching “love all people” and yet I was shaming people for their “sins”, trying to scare people into believing. I would talk about how abortion was so harmful to the foetus, yet ignore the needs and wants of the woman bearing this difficult decision.

I was a complete hypocrite!

I needed to remove myself from this blanket of lies.

Title_04.jpgThe threatening voices were gone, but there was a new voice in my head: the voice of reflection and reason.

Where did I belong if it wasn’t with a church community? Could I accept myself as Angela without the identity of religion? Why did I think that saying hurtful things and scaring people would draw them to religion?  

By the age of 18, I moved out of home to a granny-flat with my relatives. I learned about budgeting expenses (although they were minimal), how to cook for myself, how to plan around uni classes and work. I also met new people! They have become some of my closest friends.

The world was different than I imagined! I thought it was a dark, sinful place. I thought that me leaving my faith behind meant that I would go to hell. Ironically, this belief was shed once I started seeing a mental-health counsellor.

By age 19 and in my early 20s, my worldview completely changed.

I didn’t need to feel guilty about speaking my mind, questioning beliefs or getting drunk on a Saturday night. What’s the point of me believing in something I didn’t agree with anyway? In my mind, I either conformed to religious beliefs (no drinking, dating with intention, voting against same-sex marriage, being against accessible abortion etc) or I was free. Guess what I chose?

Title_04.jpg

Freedom has always been a value of mine. Whether it be the freedom to choose, the freedom from manipulation, religion or a mindset, freedom has always been the goal.  I’m not afraid of what a book may say, or that a “believer” might tell me my life is full of sin.

I know in myself, that I am complete because I am. In my darkest moments, faith was comforting. But now, my darkest moments are an example of how strong I am because I fucking fight back. Not because someone tells me they’re praying for me.

I accept myself as I am, without religion: a woman who is trying to live her best life, despite the lows. A woman who is trying to bring light to her part of the world through encouraging compassion for oneself and others. A woman shedding light on societal pressures: what a woman should or shouldn’t do, wear, say and feel. A woman who is free.

thanku2

Reflections during the Long Weekend

Reflections during the Long Weekend

Today, I want to reflect on the last two years. Particularly, for myself as an individual as well as a committed person in a relationship. I’m always starting conversations with my boyfriend about the future regarding property, financial goals, aspirations and ideas. As nice as it is to imagine what our future could be like in career and as people, it is so important to realise how far we’ve come.

In this world of social media (including this blog you’re reading – although I hope this is a positive one!), it can be difficult not to get swayed by what others post or say. And as advertising on social platforms becomes more rampant, it can be difficult to remember what’s truly important. I catch myself wanting material items that could never bring me true joy, so I’m taking a step back today.

A tendency of mine that I’ve had since a young age, is that I can doubt myself in almost every aspect of life. It’s sad and really frustrating. However, I’m becoming better at noticing small accomplishments and reminding myself of where I am now. Below is a humble-brag to remind myself – and you – that it’s possible to improve our lifestyle and well-being by simply working on it.

financially

  • I’m finally earning more after 10 years of being afraid to commit to a self-accountable role (and of earning minimum/below minimum wage).
  • I’m putting away half my pay-check into savings (some weeks 75%).
  • I’ve been able to save for two holidays, one of which I paid off upfront as a birthday gift for my boyfriend.

emotionally.png

  • I’m getting better at not taking things personally.
  • Setting boundaries but also doing my best to talk about how I really feel.
  • Able to hold space for others really well.

mentally.png

  • My story is my own to change. I can either: repeat it like a broken record and be miserable and blame others for my mistakes OR I can make amazing lemonade out of lemons.
  • Learning what it takes to never give up.
  • I know my limits are only set by my mindset.
  • If I set myself to a task, to follow through.

physically

  • Trying to move my body 2-3 times a week.
  • Pushing through the tiredness.
  • Knowing there is so much room for improvement and that’s not a bad thing.

I hope you’re enjoying the long weekend! Don’t forget to remember where you’ve come from and the accomplishments you’ve made along the way.

By noticing the good in our life, we notice the good in others 🙂

What have you accomplished this year that you’re proud of?

thanku2

 

 

4 ways to be a better listener

4 ways to be a better listener

It all started in primary school: a friend shared a harrowing experience with me and since kids love to share differences and find commonality, I thought this was part of normal conversation. However, over the next decade, I’d come to realise one of my strengths would be listening to another’s stories, achievements and struggles that others may not hear in “normal” conversation. Continue reading “4 ways to be a better listener”