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We need to talk about the reality of life after graduation.

As a tossed my cap into the air, I breathed a sigh of relief – ‘I will never, EVER have to look at another history book, ever again.’ Flash forward 6 months and I have applied for a distance Masters in, you guessed it, history. 

I have reflected on the past 6 months of my life in a previous blog post, ‘I had an epiphany’, which you can find here. In this post, I get very deep and share my personal experiences of leaving University, moving out and beginning my ‘adult’ life. In this post, however, I plan to be a lot less philosophical. While we will touch on similar themes to what I did in that post, in this post, I am not sharing an epiphany, but rather asking a question.

I believe I speak for a lot of graduates when I say WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? 

 

When I finished University I was one of the lucky ones in the sense I had a job sorted and knew exactly what I was going to be doing.

‘Well, that was easy…’ My life had all fallen together quite nicely.

Flash forward a month and I was poorer than I had ever been at University, renting in a place where I knew nobody and questioning why I did my degree in the first place. To be quite frank, nobody gave two shits. Two months later I realised how lucky I had been and how much I had taken my degree for granted. Truth be told, I really missed learning and my life was anything but sorted. How naive I was… 

The problem is, we are fed from the age of about 13 that everything builds up to that moment when you throw your cap in the air and get handed your degree. You then go on and change the world. But what happens if at 22 you’re not doing that? What if you’re in a graduate job, struggling to make ends meet and more than a little bit clueless about exactly where you want to go in life? Well, you’re totally normal. Life beyond graduation isn’t always all-go straight away. In fact, it’s a bit of an anti-climax.

However, that’s not what we’re being led to believe. A thought that crosses my mind on a daily basis is that I am running out of time and that all of these big dreams that I had for myself are futile now. I tell myself every day that I have failed.

I am 22. 

This all sounds pretty entitled, doesn’t it?

I have been privileged enough to have had access to degree level education, I leave, walk straight into a job and then 6 months later I’m moaning about it.

What am I actually looking for here?

Put simply, honesty.

For the majority of graduates, leaving education is scary. Many will fall in and out of jobs for years before finding what they want to do with their lives. The fact that more than 43% of us will be searching for a new job within two years is probably not only down to a desire to work for more than financial gain but also down to pressure to be ‘living our best lives’. If we’re not in our ‘dream job’ in our early twenties, the rhetoric that we should have everything sorted is enough to drive us into looking for something else. The idea at 22 that I am ‘trapped’ and that I will never progress is terrifying. Why am I not achieving everything my peers are?

Post-graduation life is tough, and if you are anything like myself and a lot of my friends, leaving University does not result in finding the answer to hundreds of life questions. If anything, it just brings up more questions. I am not for one second trying to make people yet to graduate fear the future. Rather, I want to tell them that it’s okay if things don’t fall into place straight away. There is a big wide world out there and we’re all just starting on our journey in it. A journey that is likely to take hundreds of twists and turns before we reach the end goal – if, in fact, that exists at all.

If more of us speak about the experiences we are having in our early 20’s, then perhaps we can help to get rid of this preconceived idea that you should have everything sorted because, well… chances are most of us don’t. Chances are you’re doing absolutely fine. Maybe instead of asking what the hell is going on, we should try to make the most of this new chapter in our lives to explore, make mistakes and develop.

You don’t have to have everything figured out right now, and it’s about time more people told us that. 

Jamie x 

Beat The 9-5 | Top Tips For Staying Healthy If You Sit at a Computer All Day

Since starting work I have found that I am a lot less active. Yes, I am still going to the gym and getting my 4-5 weekly work outs in (it does help that I work at Gymshark HQ, of course), but being active is not just about smashing a weights session or hitting up the cross trainer. When I was at home I was walking everywhere, I’d play in the garden with the puppies and I would consciously ensure I was getting in at least 10,000 steps a day. Working 9-5 in a office, however, makes this a lot more challenging. Whilst there are plenty of opportunities in the HQ to get up and about, the reality is I still spend a lot of time at my desk and working on the computer. I have recently being getting into some new habits to ensure that I am remaining healthy and taking care of my mind and body whilst at work and so I thought I would share we you guys some top tips I’ve picked up to beat the 9-5. 

Top Tips for (2)

 

Sort Out Your Set Up. 

No surprises here, but being sat on your computer all day everyday is not the best for your posture. Where your computer is in relation to your eyes is super important and can impact on your neck and back. If you’re looking too far down at your monitor it can cause strain on your back and neck resulting in problems in the long run. However, too far up and you’re likely to get dry eyes. When it comes to your set up, it’s kind of like the Goldilocks principle – not too high, not too low. A maximum 10 degree angle? Just right.

Also, remember you can be at your desk without being sat down all day! Apparently just 30 minutes less of sitting each day can have a hugely positive impact on your posture and long term health, so get yourself an adjustable desk and alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. Trust me, it will give you more energy and make you more productive and alert.

Clean It Up.

Remember it’s not all about your physical health – I’ve found that having a clean and organised desk really helps me to keep a clear mind! Keep it nice and tidy and get yourself some nice pictures and personal bits and bobs (I have a little plant on mine) so your desk is a pleasurable and enjoyable place to be.

Back It Up.

No, I’m not talking about that presentation you have on Monday morning (although I would definitely make sure you’ve got that backed up). I’m actually talking about your monitor. If you’re sitting too close to your monitor you’re at risk of a number of nagging eye problems including eye exhaustion, burning, dryness and muscle pains behind the eyes. You therefore want to make sure you’re about an arms length away.

I have a condition called optical near-sight conversion, which means it is even more important to ensure I am a good distance away from my screen and I am taking frequent breaks. Since starting work I have ensure I practise eye exercises at least once a day to strengthen the muscles and prevent aching and soreness.

If you fancy practising some eye exercises, you can get more information here.

Eyes On The Prize.

Another trick for protecting those eyes is to increase your font size. Sounds obvious but a bigger font size will stop you from having to squint and strain your eyes, which could result in strained muscles and headaches.

I’e also found that since starting work that is predominantly computer based that my out of work hobbies have changed. Rather that getting straight home from work and starting another Netflix series*, I like to do something that gives my eyes a bit of a break. If it’s nice weather I tend to go for a walk or I’ll do some baking and cooking for the house! Just find something to keep you occupied for a few hours that doesn’t mean staring at a screen and straining your eyes.

(*Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly still watching Netflix – how else I am supposed to binge watch old seasons of Love Island?!)

Stay Hydrated.

If I had a £1 for every time I had written ‘stay hydrated’ on this blog I would probably have enough to fund my excessive coffee habit. Probably… The sad news is, coffee is actually not helping! I try and limit my coffee intake each day and instead try different herbal teas – gross at first but I have actually found a couple that I really like and they are caffeine free so loads better than drinking coffee all day. I would recommend Pukka Organic Teas – they have loads of different flavours that are actually really lovely and don’t just taste like you’re drinking bits of grass – always good. 

I also always have a bottle of water at my desk. As you all will know, drinking water is essential to keeping healthy. It also will force you to get up every once in a while and refill your bottle, meaning you’re up and about – win win. 

Take A Pack Up

As well as making sure you have a bottle of water on you, I would also recommend taking yourself a pack up and enough snacks to get you through your shift. Not only does this save money, it also means you have control of what you’re eating and therefore it is likely to be a lot more balanced and nutritious.

I tend to make enough food in the evening to have some left over for lunch and then snack on chopped veggies and dried fruit. I also have been practising my baking skills and been making ‘healthy’ snacks, including muffins and granola – a lot better (and a lot cheaper) than snack bars from the vending machines. 

Work It Out

Last but not least, it’s the desk workout! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t carry a barbell on my back at all times ready to drop into a squat at any given moment, but I do try and do abs engaging exercises and focus on my posture. I also make sure than every hour I get up and about – whether that be just to go for a wee and fill up my bottle. Even just a little wander will keep your blood flowing – every step counts. 

If you struggle to get enough steps in, I’d recommend getting yourself a pedometer. Studies have shown that sedentary people who wear pedometers and set daily step goals (I go for at least 10,000)  become more active and therefore improve their overall wellbeing – both mental and physical.

So there you have it, some of my top tips for making sure that you’re staying healthy whilst working a desk job. Keeping mentally and physically healthy whilst at work is super important and something that is often neglected. I hope that these tips are useful! Let me know down below your top tips for staying healthy whilst working your 9-5. 

Jamie x 

 

Sources

https://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/8-things-you-need-do-if-you-sit-computer-all-day

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-13931/21-ways-to-stay-healthy-when-you-sit-at-a-desk-all-day.html

https://www.bustle.com/p/7-simple-ways-to-stay-healthy-when-you-sit-a-lot-37035

https://www.prevention.com/fitness/fitness-tips/a20444127/walking-pedometer-program-to-lose-weight/

https://www.bustle.com/articles/179775-11-ways-to-stay-healthy-at-the-office-because-your-habits-matter

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160323142345.htm

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-sitting-too-close-to-screen-making-you-blind/

 

Flying The Nest | The Realities Of Moving Out.

As you will know if you follow me on any form of social media, I have recently moved into my first little house. When I first announced that I was moving away from home into a property of my own I got a hell of a lot of messages – How did you afford it? How long did you have to save for?

Many people assumed I had bought my own home. Now, whilst that would have been lovely, I am not Rockefeller and so buying a property was never an option. I did think, however, that sharing my experience so far of ‘flying the nest’ might still come in handy so I thought I would share with you a bit about the process and how I am finding it so far. 

Getting Started.

First things first, as soon as I find out I had secured the job, I had some housing decisions to make (well, first things first was to crack open a bottle of wine and celebrate but you get the point). Apart from student accommodation, I had never had to look for a property before and I had always been lucky enough at University to get enough of a grant to not have to worry too much about the price. Now, however, my search was very different. I had to consider what I was going to be able to afford based on my wage, where I was going to live (made all the more challenging by the fact I don’t drive and so commuting options also had to be considered) and what I actually wanted from my new home. With the help of my lovely family, I decided on my budget and a rough location that was near to bus stops and train lines.

I was actually pleasantly surprised at what my budget could get me. Having mentally planned that I was going to be moving to London, Solihull property was far more affordable and certainly gave me more for my money. I narrowed my options down to a few different properties that I had found of various sites (the one I eventually went for I found on sparerooms.com). Some were flats for one and some were house shares. After 3 years at University I was pretty relaxed about what the living situation was going to be – as long as it was clean, affordable and in a good location and I was a happy bunny. Deep down though, I wasn’t sure about living completely alone – having people around me seemed a lot more up my street.

We arranged a few viewings and headed down to Solihull. Even before I got there I had set my heart on a shared house that myself and 5 others now call home. It was newly renovated and decorated to the highest standard I had seen (I went from not caring about decor to the next Kelly Hoppen in the space of about a week!). It was fully furnished and all my bills would be included in the cost. Although the house is stunning and in the ideal location, it was the landlord and lady that really sold the property to me.

They were (and of course, still are) the loveliest people – it was them who showed me round the house, skyped me prior to the viewing and helped me through the whole process. Straight away I felt at ease and safe! A top renting tip I picked up was if you get the chance to meet and chat with the landlord then definitely do it – a lot of the time you will go through an estate agent and probably never meet who you are actually renting from. The chance to build a rapport and ask questions was invaluable and really put my mind at ease.

A colour scheme even Kelly would approve of.

Now for the question everyone has been asking…

 What About Finances? 

Now, I’m anything but loaded. I struggled a little at University but secured a grant that helped me through and my Mum helped me out whenever she could. I was earning very little from my PT work and so the 3 years had pretty much bled my savings dry. I knew I was going to be earning a decent wage but until I got that I was pretty much brassic – not ideal when you have a deposit and a months worth of rent to pay before your first pay cheque. Perhaps naively, until it came to looking for a property this was something I had literally never considered. It seemed to me that once I had a job money was going to be no issue, but the reality is a lot different.

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I bought flowers. Am I an adult now?

I wish I could tell you that I paid for these myself but, the truth is, this was not going to happen – I simply did not have the money and given the fact I went straight from University and into a job, I had no time to replenish the funds that had paid for my degree. Thankfully, my Mum was able to help. It has been tough and I know this has not left us in the most ideal financial situation, but I know that in time I will be able to repay her.

Going straight from University into work was an absolutely stroke of luck and I adore my job but relocating without any funds is not only hard, it’s impossible. I am incredibly grateful that my Mum has been able to help me pay the deposit for this house and although things are okay, let’s just say I am eagerly awaiting my first pay cheque.

The bedroom I chose on viewing day.

The Move. 

After we had worked out how everything was going to work financially and after I had been through a lot of paper work and screening processes that I was (again naively) completely unaware of, it was time for the move.

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My little room on moving day… 

The move itself was fairly stress free. I have been lucky enough to secure myself a house that is totally furnished and so I basically just had to bring myself, clothes and a few personal bits and bobs just to make it more homely. Checking in took about an hour and a half and then that was that! My top tip would be to make sure you have read all of the documentation prior to check in as this saves a load of time and you can address any issues prior to packing your suitcases.

My First Week.

The first week has been weird. I’m loving my new home but it is definitely taking some getting used to. Being away at University and living with people for the past three years has prepared me to some extent, but this is very different. Everyone is so lovely and I am really starting to get the hang of adult life but I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been a little difficult from time to time. Of course I am missing home but for the most part my job is keeping me busy enough to not have too long to over think.

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Of course I found a coffee shop in less than 24 hours. 

I am loving living in my little house and going to work and actually ‘adulting’ but it has not been without its challenges. I am very VERY poor at the moment and I am still waiting for my first pay cheque so we are working on a very tight budget. It also does get a little lonely sometimes but I am learning to appreciate time alone as well as time with others (a skill I have learnt is very important in adulthood). The past few months have posed many challenges but I am loving embarking on my new adventure and learning more and more about myself, life and Birmingham. 

Jamie x