I’m obsessed with Hell’s Kitchen at the moment. Like. Binge watched 3 series in 2 weeks kinda obsessed. It’s been an emotional roller coaster – I’ve legit cried watching it so many times now (No shame.) but not so much because someone I like has been kicked out, but just finding myself welling up, particularly when people do well and make someone proud. That kinda thing just hits me.
Oh, so if you’ve never seen it, it’s sorta like the X Factor but for chefs cooking. And Gordon Ramsay shouts & swears a lot. Great stuff. There’s a bunch of it on Netflix right now, so get stuck in.
Recently, I’ve been looking at a bunch of the stuff that happens in the shows and realising there’s probably some good stuff to take away from it. So, without further ado:
When there’s a bunch of the chefs in the kitchen making a bunch of dishes that take a bunch of different times to cook, it’s super important that everyone’s talking to each other to get everything ready to go out at the same time. You’ll always hear Gordon shouting about communicating. But I think it’s so true in the real world too. Talking to people, letting them know when you need support & listening to others around you is so important in maintaining your own mental health. Whether that’s talking to friends/family/co-workers or a helpline, talking about what you’re going through can make the world of difference.
I’m such a perfectionist and I hate making mistakes, and while in Hell’s Kitchen making a mistake could end up with you going up for elimination, Chef Ramsay always says that it’s ok to make mistakes, so long as you learn from them & don’t repeat them. Everyone screws up something from time to time. Everyone. But learning from your mistakes, thinking to yourself “dang, I don’t wanna find myself in that position again.” can be just as useful (if not more useful!) as getting it right the first time. Learn how to dust yourself off and start again.
As a people pleaser, this one is super hard for me to accept. But Hell’s Kitchen is a competition and so as much as the chefs all have to work as a team to win challenges and complete the dinner service each night, there’s always times when they rub each other up the wrong way. And that’s ok. As much as it sucks to fall out with friends or to have arguments with your family, you’re not always gonna get on with everyone. It’s especially going to happen when you’re all super passionate about something (like winning the hottest cooking contest in the world). It’s ok to disagree with people, it’s ok to just not get someone; we’re all trying to figure out this crazy ride called life. Sometimes you’ve got to let unhealthy relationships go, and sometimes you’ve got to work to make them work.
Ok so I’m not suggesting that you go yelling and getting all sweary like ole Gordon does. But one thing that really stood out to me watching all that Hell’s Kitchen is that I wish I could have little outbursts like that, and then go back to normal. There’s quite a bit of pressure to seem like you always have it all together, and never seem flustered or worked up, but everyone struggles, and everyone needs to have a vent sometimes. I’m someone who bottles stuff up, and I use playing drums as my way to vent out a bunch of aggression & frustration. Feelings like anger or frustration are natural, and part of being human. We all have them, and we all need to find healthy ways of displaying and dealing with them.
It’s super easy to look at how well others are doing and think that means you’re not doing so well. But that’s not always the case. In Hell’s Kitchen, historically, the people who’ve gone on to win have been the ones who did terribly in the first challenge. So just because someone seems to be doing better than you at something doesn’t mean you’re not gonna end up absolutely smashing whatever it is you’re working towards.
This is something that we spend a lot of time talking about in HATW. As important as it is to build a good support network around you, you’ve also gotta be the one who stands up for yourself the most, and fights for the good things you deserve. Be your own biggest fan! In Hell’s Kitchen, if you get put up for elimination you have to justify why you think you should stay in the competition and stand up for yourself in the face of the competition. In the real world, you have to be ready to stand up and say “I’m worthwhile and I’m not gonna settle for anything less than being treated as worthwhile.”
A most important of all: never serve Gordon Ramsay raw food.
To go along with our latest merch drop, I wanted to share some thoughts about the theme that runs through it all: grow through what you go through.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that sometimes bad things are going to happen to you. And those situations can have an impact on your next steps through life. And the way I see it that can be in a negative way or a positive one. The tricky bit is turning it from a negative into a positive. You know all those annoying times people say “everything happens for a reason”? I’m worried I’m gonna go into that kinda territory, but stick with it. It’s about trying to find – or make – a reason for the rubbish stuff that happens. If it weren’t for all the rubbish stuff that happened to us as we grew up, then HATW wouldn’t even be a thing.
I guess an apt metaphor is the fact that some plants thrive and grow when they’re planted in manure. Literal poop. So even though they’re surrounded and buried by actual crap, they still push through and grow into beautiful plants. If anything, they need the poop and the minerals etc within it to help them grow. So if you’re feeling buried in metaphorical crap, remember that this situation can be the thing that’s actually propelling you to grow.
(I really hope you never find yourself buried in actual poop). (also: lol, who would’ve thought I’d write the word poop so many times in a blog post)
Good things take time and care. Now I’ve had a lot of house plants in my time. And I’ve killed an awful lot of house plants in my time. What’s interesting is that my plants tend to wilt and die when I’m not taking care of myself. It’s a clear correlation. When I’m lost in my head and neglecting myself, I end up neglecting my plants. When I’m in a good headspace, I’ll be taking good care of them and they start to thrive again.
I think sometimes making myself take care of these plants when I’m down helps me feel better too. It feels like a really small little act that can make a noticeable difference. Because I know my plants and my mental state are connected, seeing a plant go from wilty to thriving can help me feel like it’s possible to turn myself around and take my brain from being wilty to thriving too.
To quote our favourite fictional professor: life finds a way. (It’s a Jurassic Park reference, in case ya missed it). In a plant sense – and in a dinosaur sense – even against all the odds, a tiny seed can grow into a big ole tree. There’s some plants/seeds that actually only grow when they’ve been through fire. So while a forest fire can seem like a disaster to us, it’s actually necessary for some plants to grow.
And also, you ever seen stuff like the roots of a tree growing around or over or under weird stuff? Like rocks and that? The way that big ole trees will have solid sturdy roots is that they essentially “feel” their way around in the soil. When they come across something like a rock, or some other obstacle, they move around and keep on feeling their way until they’re able to keep on growing. I guess that’s what we’ve gotta do with life. We’ve gotta keep on feeling our way around, moving and adapting when we come up against obstacles, and do what we gotta do to keep on growing.
We gathered together a selection of people from the South Wales music scene to host a roundtable discussion about mental health in the industry & ways of coping with the bad days.
As a heads up: in this video, we’re talking openly about a range of issues that might be distressing to some – please take a second to watch the disclaimer at the beginning & think if this is right for you. Make sure you take care of yourself & stay strong.
Make sure you check out & support all of our contributors:
A huge thank you to Storm+Shelter for knocking this video out of the park & generally being lovely humans.
When you’re a student and exams are on top of you, it’s so easy to feel stressed and maybe overwhelmed but hey, don’t forget that’s quite normal. Stress isn’t an easy thing to deal with, especially on your own, but if you can find your own creative coping methods for your bad days, you’re on the right track. Here’s a few to get you started. – Zara, St David’s Catholic College.
Seek inspiration and advice
Let’s start by acknowledging the that sixth form can be a massive change for some people – you get more responsibility for your learning and your workload will be very different to GCSE where you’ll be spending your time on fewer subjects so need to understand things in more depth. Some pressures may be the same, like doing your best to achieve certain grades or worrying about fitting in for example. But it doesn’t have to be scary – to take the pressure off a little, get some inspiration or a little life advice from those around you. It may not feel like it on your worst day, but it’s likely that there are so many people in your life that want to hear about your problems and offer a little helpful advice, so let them.
Jade from Year 13:
“When I’m stressed, I like to speak to my friends and family about my problems and ask them for their opinion on what I should do. I like to think of the positives and the things in life that I am lucky to have.”
Communicate with your teachers
St David’s students are pretty lucky to have a great Learning Support Centre so there’s always somewhere for students to go and share their worries whether it’s personal or school worries – if your school or college has one of these, seek them out! If you don’t have this, speak to a teacher that you trust and share you worries. They want to help you.
Isaac, Year 12:
“I find it stressful balancing college and a part time job as sometimes I have to leave my lessons early in order to get to my shifts on time, but my ICT teacher is very supportive and helps me finish my coding quickly enough to get to work on time.”
Write stuff down
Not being organised can massively contribute to stress with A Levels or other courses you may be taking after high school. There’s always so much to think about and remember, including assignment deadlines, revision dates and generally finding your way to the right class at the right time. I like to keep everything written down in a diary, so I always know where I am with everything and I can’t recommend this enough – simple but effective.
Take a nap
PSA – you can’t get far or feel at ease without a little rest, especially in our teenage years when sleep time is needed the most (excuse for a lie in, anyone?). But in all seriousness, poor sleep can make any mental health issues worse, increase your stress levels and weaken your immune system – basically it’s an all round a problem, which I can definitely relate to. I know it may be hard to do but try and go to bed early at least a few times a week or take a nap to recharge. Everything is so much better with a little sleep and switching off is so important. I try and turn off my phone alerts at night too to hep this.
Jamal, Year 13:
“Sleep is important! A lot of students undermine how beneficial rest is for your mental and physical health. I like to take regular naps to ensure I am well rested especially before tackling any big assignments or revision.”
Change your focus with exercise
Even if you feel like you haven’t got a spare second, exercise can really help you to clear your mind. Especially when you’ve got tonnes of work to do, which is adding to your stress. So, go for a walk, run, cycle, anything – just get moving! Change the focus, I find it helps.
Isaac, from Year 12:
“I think exercising is important as it releases endorphins and makes you feel a lot happier.”
Mindfulness is a term that’s batted around a lot but it’s a skill that can really help to remove you from your stresses, giving time to reset and balance your thoughts which can be both awesome and necessary when there’s loads going on up there.
Jamal, Year 13:
“Meditation techniques such as mindfulness can train you to relax and are excellent for treating anxiety. I was sceptical about trying them first – but they really do work.”
Help and Support
Whenever you feel stress/ anxiousness taking over, it can sometimes seem like the loneliest place in the world which I know can be really difficult to get out of. But it is so important to try to talk about what is bothering you. Maybe consider some of these:
Remember you are not alone!
The most important thing to realise when you are feeling down is that you are not alone – I know that can sound like a cliché but it’s true. There’s plenty of support and people available who can and want to help you- just look around you. If you don’t know where to start, follow the advice in this little blog or even have a think about your own unique ways to handle stress – if you find any great tips, make sure you share them too. If you take anything from this blog, I want you to remember that if you truly feel as though you aren’t coping, reach out to someone.
Good luck with your exams – go smash them!
-Zara, Year 13, St David’s Catholic College student
During Mental Health Awareness Week 2018, we were asking people to share the songs that have helped them through a rough time and the result of all that is this Spotify playlist! These songs have helped someone else before, and they might help you. You might discover something new, or find some old classics. Enjoy!
Here is a few links as to where you can find me, if you’re reading this feel free to reach out and message me about my music. I would love to hear from the people, especially those who relate to anything i’ve created!
I always wondered what happened after the ‘before and after’ stories. Okay, great, you got a makeover, lost the weight, moved house, fell in love – then what? Life isn’t made up of those big transformative moments; life is what happens in between. The mundane, the run-of-the-mill, the boring daily routines.
Almost four years ago, I wrote my first blog for Heads Above The Waves, right when they were getting started. I’d recently had one of those transformative moments – in my case, it was opening up to people about my self-harm for the first time. Talking to Hannah and Si about my experiences, and about their own histories, made me realise that it was possible to change and grow as a person – that there was a possibility that I could get better.
When I wrote that blog I was in my second year of university. Since then I’ve graduated, started a career, and gained a level of stability and joy that I didn’t think was possible. It hasn’t been an easy road by any measure. In January 2016, I was hospitalised with blood clots in my lungs, and was incredibly lucky to survive past my 23rd birthday. I’ve also continued to experience depression, anxiety, and feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem. That stuff doesn’t go away – but each time you encounter those feelings, they become more familiar. You learn their power, and your power. You learn that they eventually pass. You learn that if you can just hang on through the darkest parts, the sunrise is inevitable.
There’s no secret wisdom that I, or anyone else, can pass on to stop you from suffering. But here’s some wisdom that you’re probably on the way to learning for yourself: with great suffering comes great strength.
If you can keep giving yourself chances, keep looking for the silver linings, and keep learning from the lessons that life throws at you, you’ll ultimately become stronger, wiser and more compassionate than ever. Look after yourself, but try not to wallow in self-pity. Take care of yourself physically – drink water, get enough sleep, eat some fruit – but remember that you’re only a human, and that you’re allowed to treat yourself too. Instead of getting angry and bitter at the world for the way it treated you, try getting angry at the injustices in the world, and looking for ways your experience can help others.
I’m not any kind of expert. But I have been to hell and back (multiple times), and I can tell you that it absolutely does get better. One day, that all-consuming wave of fear and pain and sadness that you think is drowning you will become nothing more than a ripple on a pond. Everything you need is already inside you. I didn’t believe in myself, and it turns out I was wrong. So, in case you can’t do it yourself right now: I believe in you.
You’ve heard people say “new year, new me” – well we’ve gone more down the route of “new year, old me” – bringing back the Spotify playlists to introduce you to some of the songs that have helped us, and kicking off this first one of 2018 with a bunch of songs that have inspired HATW from day one (with a few newbies thrown in for good measure). Here’s a lil runthrough of the songs on here, and why we love ‘em so much.
When I Was Young – Blink-182
Blink have been my favourite band for a long ole time now, so they’re always going to hold a special place in my heart. And while it was their self-titled album that I had on repeat through my toughest days, the EP this is taken from needs some love too. Musically, it feels positive and upbeat, and the hook in the chorus of “It’s the worst damn day of my life… but I’m alright” is a nice reminder that it’s ok to struggle sometimes.
Survive – Rise Against
I’m pretty sure I first heard this on a WWE game on the PS2 (yes, that’s me showing my age) and when I actually listened to the lyrics it was one of those “this is me!” moments. “We’ve all been sorry, we’ve all been hurt, but how we survive is what makes us who we are”. I managed my self-harm by replacing it with playing drums, that was how I survived, and that’s what’s led to so many cool things happening in my life. So a reminder that the coping techniques we share can be more than just a way of getting through the day.
I Was Scared and I’m Sorry – The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years are another all time favourite band, from the second I first discovered them years ago. This bonus track off of ‘The Upsides’ (which is such an important album for me) is one that really hit me hard. “I’m getting better but it’s in small steps” is a nice reminder to me that progress can take time, but it’s important to be taking steps towards getting better – however small they may seem.
Golden – Farewell Fighter
This is the first of my curveballs. It came on shuffle from a random Spotify playlist I was listening to while walking home from work one day and straight away I had to look into it more. “Something in my heart is telling me I’ve learned to love who I’ve become // I know my learning isn’t done” was something that really struck a chord with me. Plus it says about keeping your head above the water, so of course it’s gotta be on a HATW playlist.
Everyday – Modern Baseball
Modern Baseball are one of the most inventive and instantly listenable bands I’ve found in the last few years, and they’re great advocates for positive mental health (and friends of ours) so go listen to their whole back catalogue. This particular track is on here for the very ending “waking up every day is all about doing things you don’t want to do, but your reward is you get to wake up”.
Top to Toe – Fenne Lily
I met Fenne Lily on a show in Berlin (did you hear that clang as I dropped that?) and her voice was beautiful – soothing yet haunting at the same time. So I wanted to include a track from her on this playlist too so that a) you become aware of her if you haven’t already and b) so it adds a slightly different feel. It’s not just about posi pop-punk all the time. It’s ok to have slower and introspective moments.
Bowl of Oranges – Bright Eyes
Back to another classic – a band I own most of their studio albums. You might’ve heard the mega cute ‘First Day of My Life’ but this song in particular reminds me of what HATW is all about: “Your eyes must do some raining if you’re ever gonna grow // But when crying don’t help and you can’t compose yourself, it’s best to compose a poem”. It’s ok to not be ok, and that’s a time to channel what you’re feeling into a creative way of coping.
Limerence – Gnarwolves
When we did our interview with Gnarwolves, Thom (guitars/vocals) picked out this song as a particularly cathartic one to write & play – talking of social anxiety, and dealing with life, but ultimately taking a positive spin on it “money or no, I’ve got my head held high and somewhere to go” and being able to look back having got through that time and say “I’m feeling much better now”.
One Step At A Time – Four Year Strong
This one really hits home – a track written about the loss of one of the singers’ brother, and the pain of losing someone you love is close to a lot of us. “One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, I’m gonna get through this one way or another”. I guess to me, it’s about letting yourself go through the emotions that come with loss – it’s ok and very natural to find it hard. But it’s also about finding a positive way to get through it and making them proud.
The Sadness Will Never End – Bring Me The Horizon
The cheeriest title for a posi playlist. This was from a long time ago when BMTH had a different sound on the go, but still stands out as one of my favourites from them. The hook of “I won’t give up on you, so don’t give up on me” to me speaks of the importance of having support from people around you and being able to offer that support when you’re able to. Be excellent to each other.
Mess – Real Friends
The all round lovely lads in Real Friends have penned a few of our favourite lines that hit the nail on the head when it comes to positive mental wellbeing. And it’s the chorus of ‘Mess’ that keeps up the trend. “I’m letting go so I don’t lose myself” is a reminder that sometimes it’s right and ok to leave negative things, people or places behind to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
Permanent – Holding Absence
I put this on a playlist not too long ago, but Holding Absence are really a band you need to watch out for in 2018. This song is particularly here because it makes a point I’ve seen made a few times: “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” – or in the words of singer Lucas Woodland “you want to die today; you don’t want to die forever”. Ultimately pointing out that however much your current situation is, it won’t always be that way. It can, and it does, get better.
Unknowingly Strong – Make Do And Mend
One of the very first songs that inspired HATW – with a chorus that quite literally talks about keeping your head above the waves. It’s the bridge that I love the most though: “this is the day we all begin to let our fear go and learn to swim”. Keep on swimming and doing what you can to keep your head above whatever waves life throws your way.
Changes – Charles Bradley
Not gonna lie, this is kinda here because it’s a nice laid back vibe, but lyrically talking about feeling low. Going through changes is something that happens to us all, and can be hard to deal with. It was also the title music for “Big Mouth” on Netflix, which I binged through in a weekend, so makes me think about a show that made me laugh, and sometimes watching something that’ll make you laugh is a good distraction if only for a short while.
It’s been freezing cold lately – quite literally. And my lovely (but old and drafty) flat has been feeling the chill. It means that getting out of the shower is one of the worst parts of getting up in the mornings (along with it being dark when you wake up this time of year, but that’s a whole other blog post right there). Every morning I seem to do the same thing:
The last few mornings I’ve been thinking about this last step. See, it’s this weird thing where as soon as I start moving, and towelling myself down, I naturally get warmer – both cuz I’m rubbing the towel over me, drying myself off, but also because I’m actually moving, and doing something. This is the part where I start to make a good point relating to mental health, rather than just reminding you how hygenic I am.
See, it’s easy to be paralysed – whether that’s shivering under a towel in the morning, being overwhelmed with too many things to do with your day, or just feeling like where you are now is where you’re always going to be. But just by trying something – anything – to help yourself, you’ll start to notice that you’re making progress. In my weird little example, it’s drying myself off and moving – and the more I do, the quicker I dry, and warmer I get, and more able to face the day.
But it could be that you’re feeling overwhelmed with having a million things to get done and seemingly no time to get them done in – or too many pressures from too many places all at the same time (like, why is it that EVERY teacher thinks their subject’s homework/revision is SO much more important than every other teachers? I digress). But in that situation, it could be a case of making a list of all the things you need to get done – right down to the really basic things like brushing your teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, making your bed. Once you’ve ticked off a few tasks from your list – no matter how small – you’ve got a bit more momentum in you, and it’s easier to start attacking bigger tasks. You know you can do a bunch of small things, so why couldn’t you do one big thing?
Or in the example of feeling stuck where you are right now – maybe it’s a case of taking some steps, however small, towards taking control of your life & your mental wellbeing. Do something, even if it feels scary, and when you’ve done it, you can look back and realise that you’ve done it once and can do it again, or take on a new challenge. Maybe that’s pushing yourself to try a new coping technique or speaking to a teacher/family member/GP about the way you’re feeling. Bear in mind that it might not work for you, and that’s ok too; sometimes it’s just as much about finding what doesn’t work for you as what does.
I guess my challenge to you is to take that trickiest step, and start doing something – get that momentum going, and you never know where you might end up.