A New Chapter

After completely neglecting my blog over the last few months, I have finally found time to write. I have now started a new chapter in my life and it is extremely exciting;

1) I have finished University

2) Achieved a 2:1 in my degree

3) Moved house and country (England to Wales)

4) Started a full-time job

All of this has happened very fast but I couldn’t be happier! University was three years of hard work and lots of tears but it was 100% worth it for the feeling when I opened that scary email and discovered my degree classification. It seems strange that those three years are now all over, but I am so proud that I stuck it out (it was somewhat touch and go at times). What made it much harder was that I was packing and partially moving to a house 100+ miles away from my family home while studying and sitting my finals exams (warning; do not try this at home!).

The move is also huge for me as I have moved from the city to a small seaside town that are worlds apart. As I write this now, I can hear seagulls and the sea! The change from traffic and city noise to quiet hills and beaches feels great. I am definitely hoping it will be productive inspiration for my writing – especially now that I can read and write for pleasure, rather than for my dissertations.

Time-management is definitely proving difficult though as I am working full-time nights currently. I am determined to change this laziness though and get writing again. I enjoy it too much!

So, for now, this is a little update to not only explain my absence from blogging but to also, hopefully, promise more to come. You will be pleased to know that the posts in the future will be a little bit more exciting and less about me!

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Neglecting My Blogging

I will be posting soon, I promise. My blogging has definitely been neglected and that is not something that I wanted to happen. Unfortunately, the joys of third year finals exams have fully consumed all of my free time.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. My final ever exam is at midday on Thursday and from then there are new and exciting things to announce as I start a new chapter of my life.

So watch this space! I have lots of ideas to be getting on with, so hopefully this blog will be quite busy come this time next month. Till then, wish me luck! I’m thoroughly searching high and low to find the final push of motivation. 4 days has never felt so far away!

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This & that

So, I’ve not really wrote poetry in years, and it’s certainly not one of my strong points, but I just woke up in the mood I guess. It’s certainly a very different direction than my usual posts. Here is a little something. Please be gentle!

Cigarette kisses and poison touches

bitter, regretful

let me feel your teeth

like pen-lid mutilations

blood-let, soul-purged


who would want more than this?

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Reasons for Dressing-Up Every Day

Here is an article that I have recently written for Keele University’s Concourse magazine. This was published both in print and online and I am so grateful to them for displaying my work! I hope you like it.

Reasons for Dressing-Up Every Day

You’re getting up for Uni and you’ve got some spare time before you need to leave the house. Do you throw on that baggy hoodie that has been in your wardrobe for practically a millennium or should you wear that cute blazer – the one you’ve bought but never had the occasion to wear? The answer; always go for the blazer! Here are 6 reasons to dress up for the day, rather than dressing down;

1. It’s fun! You get to wear the clothes that you want, different colours, textures and style you should just have fun with it! Everyone has their few fashion mishaps now and then (I know I have) but do you know what? It’s still fun and you get to just laugh it off with your friends.

2. It promotes body confidence. If you are hiding behind that baggy jumper or old pair of jeans then you don’t get to show off your beautiful shape! Confidence is attractive and clothes can make you feel confident. If you’re nervous about a seminar presentation or a job interview, then a great outfit will keep your head high and make you feel so much more enthusiastic to seize the day.

3. It’s cheap. We all do it, you’re sitting in your room, you’re bored, and you can’t even remember how many times you have pressed refresh on the same internet page. Why not buy some cheap clothing dye or a pack of buttons? Everyone has loads of old clothes that they never think they’ll wear again so get designing. It’s a great hobby to have in your spare time and you can show off your one off piece around uni the next day. Everyone will be jealous that they can’t buy one in the shops.

4. You are only young once. When you’re older and you are looking back through your photo album at that ‘young face and awesome body’ that you had then what better way of making the future you proud?! Show it off, if you love sequins than you wear those sequins. The only reason people will be staring is to admire or because they are wishing they’d dressed up as well.

5. Because that gorgeous skirt cost you way too much money to only be worn on special occasions. When buying items, always consider the age-old rule of cost per wear. If a skirt costs you £30 then you need to wear it at least 30 times. A bold patterned pencil skirt will look fabulous on a night-out with heels and a flowing blouse. However, that bold skirt will still be a show-stopper on your way to the lecture theatre with a cool pair of trainers and a t-shirt.

6. Finally, do it for fashion. Get dressing up and get taking those selfies. Just remember, it would be a crime to keep those outfits to yourself, so get on Instagram and get them out there. Always with #concoursefashion

This article and more can be found at;


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My Own Motivational Monologue

Comfort Zone Quote

“Great things never came from comfort zones”

This quote is going to get me through this semester as motivation is something that I am completely lacking. Third year struggles are real! I never believed it, but now it is starting to kick in hard.

This between stage is by far the most terrible. Graduation is in sight but being free seems so far away. On top of that are those dreaded deadlines; they are close enough to be terrifying but far enough away to not offer enough motivation to be working every hour of every day. My final semester of my undergraduate begins tomorrow and that is what is so scary. Two dissertations are again put on the back-burner in order to keep up with the other semester’s modules that also have to be completed and I know I am not the only one feeling this way. All students get to this stage.

This is why I am writing this blog post. I’m hoping not to hit a wall or a writing block, but that is inevitably going to happen at some point (probably when I least need it to happen). However, my blog helps me to focus on something else and reduces the stress from the situation. It is my little space where I can get my feelings out and it really does help in breaking down that wall.

A good friend of my once helped me out when I was having a dissertation breakdown (one of many). She said that we are so focused on the larger, singular goal that we forget that we need to focus on all the smaller goals and steps that will get us to the finish line. This is crucial when offered with, what feels like, a gigantic task ahead.

Whether people read this blog or not, I hope to relax just one student when they are thinking of packing it all in and threatening failure. Remember, this is a DEGREE! Yes, it was going to be hard work, but take it one stage at a time. We are only human. If it was too easy then it wouldn’t be character building, and it certainly won’t feel as much of an achievement on that graduation day in July.

Chin up and march forward.

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Staying Focussed

My blogging has definitely been put on the back-burner as of late. Third year at uni is now rapidly taking over my life and,with two dissertations to write as well as my usual modules, it can get pretty stressful. However, this has got to change!

I am not one for “new year, new me” and so this blog post has probably come at a bad time! Instead, this is more a reflection for me to stop procrastinating an to begin pursuing my hobbies once more. There is only so much Uni work one can complete every day and sometimes I need a break. My issue has been laziness! Rather than trawling social networking sites and refreshing the page on numerous occasions, I could be writing – something I enjoy much more than seeing what someone has had for dinner! Instead, I am going to set myself some targets to complete alongside my Uni work;

1) start blogging more (even if it’s just something reflective like this piece to keep me on track). It doesn’t take too much time and it helps me to see where I need to go.

2) keep writing articles! I love writing for Keele’s Concourse and I also want to write another article for the BPS. Researching topics of interest is also going to be far more useful than checking out the latest hastag trends on Twitter!

3) write a history article. History is my first passion, yet (apart from my work at Englesea Brook Museum) it is the only subject that I have never tried to enter any competitions for and I don’t really know why! I’m a bit scared of the rejection, but what have I really got to lose? It could offer me a real learning curve.

4) get to gym. Yes, I know, so “2015” cliche but it actually relaxes me and helps me unwind after I’ve hit that oh too common mental block when writing.

For now, these are my targets. I am going to grab third year by the balls (pardon the expression) and knuckle down! Wish me luck!

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“I was just wondering if you’d like to accompany me to the cinema?”

Here is an article that I began writing when I was in the first year of University in 2012. I never liked it and never revisited it until this summer. That’s when I edited outside and sent it to the British Psychological Society but thought nothing of it. I then received an email from the BPS saying that they would like to feature my work in their magazine ‘Psych-Talk’. This month, I received my monthly copy of ‘The Psychologist’ and ‘Psych-Talk’ and found that my article was featured on the front cover and my article was the centre-fold piece! I am so happy with this – it is definitely my proudest work to date! 

As the first date anxieties begin to manifest, the details of what film to watch should be the easiest decision. A light-hearted and uplifting film seems the most obvious choice but psychologists may prove this decision completely wrong.

You’ve found yourself stressed out, embarrassed and frequently thinking about calling the whole thing off since asking your beau out on a first date. Then you get told that your choice of film isn’t right for the situation. On a first date it can be expected that many people would initially choose a film that falls into the genre of romance or comedy to spark a love-connection. However, psychologists would argue that this would be the wrong choice. The idea has been put forward that horror films can produce a more substantial, lasting connection than comedy or other genres. The psychology of horror films tend to focus on the negatives, such as: anxiety; insomnia; fear. But let’s focus on the benefits of horror films on a first date and why other, more common, romantic options are not as effective. So throw away those rom-com cinema tickets and let psychology persuade you to replace them with horror tickets.

While watching a horror film, an individual’s senses are heightened. From this, you can make the best impression and be a memorable date for your love-interest. It has been recorded that by placing an individual in a situation that elevates their alertness, an event such as watching a horror movie, the individual is subject to an increase in the release of dopamine in the brain causing the proposed arousal. Films are a form of entertainment therefore it is the enjoyment of fear which stimulates arousal (Oliver & Sanders, 2004). Findings indicate that when fear is caused by an existing environmental factor then this can trigger romantic attraction; due to the surge of arousal leading to a hormonal imbalance. Looking at it this way, the odds are in favour of the horror film for first date success.

Need more convincing before you brave the cinema? There are other benefits to watching a horror movie, including the physical contact that it encourages. The powerful shock factor that is paramount in any good horror causes our bodies to ‘jump’ resulting in a twitch or grip on the closest object to us – your potential partner. Horrors also amplify the gender-stereotypes in us all and are memorable films due to the heightened sensations. Horror films are, by large, more appealing to men than to women but in a mixed relationship can cause the man to act fearless in order to fill his gender-role whereas a woman will appear more scared or vulnerable (Mundorf, Weaver & Zillmann, 1989). This promotes the age old attraction of the strong male protecting his female which in some ways can still dominate our base emotions, such as attraction. Also, what better way to shield your eyes from the onset of blood, violence and gore than into your dates shoulder or jacket? This physical contact can lead to the build-up of a romantic connection and could ensure that crucial second date.

Fear cannot only cause alertness by arousal but also sexual arousal as fear can act as an aphrodisiac. Fear leaves the body sensitive to any new stimulus in its peripheries due to the heightened levels of dopamine which causes the intensification of our senses such as; touch, taste and sight. All this can lead to a more sexual mood whereby you and your date will be much more aware of each other. Furthermore, horror films are the most physiological of all the genres apart from pornography (Badley, 1995). Therefore, even the film asks the audience to concentrate on the body and its form which in itself becomes a sexual reference that your potential suitor will be unable to ignore.

Conclusively, due to the visual stimulation on screen, horror films produce a combination of strong emotions within an individual. This genre works hard in its attempt to manufacture heightened sensations of fear and suspense. These emotions lead to increased sexual arousal on top of the stimulation caused by the already common pornographic nature of horror films. All these factors intensify the pliability of the viewer which will prove perfect on your first cinematic date. Take a chance on the psychology surrounding your first loving interaction with a potential partner and choose horror – just don’t get too scared.

By Lauren Haines


Mundorf, N, Weaver, J & Zillmann, D, (1989), Effects of Gender Roles and Self Perceptions on Affective Reactions to Horror Films, Sex Roles, 20 (11-12), pp. 655 – 673

Badley, L, Film, Horror, and the Body Fantastic, Greenwood Publishing Group Inc, Westport (1995) pp. 1 – 203

Oliver, M, B. & Sanders, M, (2004), The Appeal of Horror and Suspense, Ed. Price, S, The Horror Film, Rutgers University Press, pp. 242 – 249

This article can be found in Psych-Talk, Psychology for Students by Students, (Jan 2015), The British Psychological Society, Issue 80, pp. 12-13

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The corset that can make your waist smaller

Here is a piece that I have written for the fashion section of Keele’s Concourse Magazine. This is the first time that my article has been in print and online and so I am very happy and very thankful for that. 

What many would consider an old-fashioned and uncommon form of body sculpting is actually witnessing a renewed wave of interest, with an increasing number of women undergoing the modification.

The act of waist-training was a common procedure in Victorian Europe, consisting of wearing a corset so tightly underneath your clothes that it would physically synch your waist in. Worn all-day, the corsets can be progressively tightened, gradually altering the natural shape of the waist. The re-emergence of these corsets has caused quite a stir within the media – and not only amongst the fashion conscious. Some are pinning this as a step too far in terms of the already popular body modification. Others may argue that it’s just individual preference; many people spend hours in the gym slaving over the perfect body.

So, what’s the big deal with wanting to make your waist smaller? We are currently seeing the start of a new trend whereby “real women” are the future, pushing the message that we should be striving to be more than just “Kate Moss-Skinny”.

On a weekly basis we are exposed to interviews and articles of Millie Mackintosh (formerly starred in Made in Chelsea) promote the notion of “Strong not Skinny”, as well as the curvier, vintage look being idolised once more. However, what the likes of Marilyn Monroe; Dita Von Teese; and Bettie Page all have in common is that iconic hour glass figure with the sought after slimmed-down waist.

Take Ethel Granger, for example. Ethel became famous in the 1950’s and 1960’s for being the woman with the smallest waist (awarding her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records). She began training her waist due to her husband’s preference for tiny waistlines. Her waist measured in at only 13-inches, an 11-inch reduction from her original 24-inch waistline. You have to ask – what is the catch

The likes of Kim Kardashian and Jessica Alba have revived this trend once more, admitting to wearing them to get back into shape. Now before you go out splashing the cash on one of  these corsets, (of which can cost upwards of £50) let’s look at the facts. This process can  actually inflict a lot of harm upon the body.

The corset is not particularly a quick-fix solution and takes months (years, even) of wearing the corset in order for your waist to decrease in  size. Also, if you stop wearing the corset for extended periods of time, then your waist will just return to its original shape and size. So, after months of putting your body under strain, not only are the effects not permanent, but the waist-training can also cause severe health complications. Breathing can become more difficult due to the compression of the lungs and similarly, the ribs can be damaged or even cracked because of the pressure of the constriction.

Waist-training seems to be yet another phase in our bid to be beautiful. In a world where media controls the way we think and the way we perceive ourselves, it is no wonder that women will go to such lengths to gain the perfect figure. This is a just a manifestation of what was initially our striving for an unnaturally skinny body – now we strive for an unnaturally curvy body. We need to love ourselves, love our skin and our shape and not harm ourselves for the sake of reaching perfection. A notion, that I daresay, does not exist!

See the full article at: http://www.concourseonline.com/lauren-haines/the-corset-that-can-make-you-smaller/

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Let them shut the door and teach!

Since September I have been helping out as a teaching assistant for a local high school and sixth form. When I first began at the school I worked closely with the SEN team and enjoyed working with the students that SEN helps and have now moved on to working closely with the teachers of history.

For my paid employment I am a note-taker and so autism, social and learning impairments interest me anyway. I enjoy working with students that fit this category as it is rewarding work and they are extraordinary individuals. At the school I shadowed an English and Math test and also an ASDAN session – topics that made me feel confident that I could help out. Here I could really see how the learning support helps students that would usually tend to struggle. Regular tests are done to monitor progress, provisions are put into place if no progress is made and you can see a real sense of promoting positivity within the SEN scheme. The team are patient and work hard for the students – regardless of the barriers that they face.

After my time with the SEN, I began working closely with the history department, a department whose’s subject I love. I felt very comfortable with this move as it enabled me to put my own knowledge to the test and actively try and guide the student. The A/S and A-Level groups interest me the most as I don’t feel that far away from their stage now! They are undergoing the same exam and coursework topics as I did and so I feel like I can really help. Again, this department has teachers with such a strong passion, not only for history, but for teaching as well.

So here is the rosy picture of teaching, and this is the picture I can honestly see. I see educated teachers that want to teach, but instead they are forced to jump through hoops, hit impossible targets and complete superficial tasks. These obstacles that are put in place by higher governing bodies are achievable on paper but actually take away from the teaching experience. Essays, mock exams and homework need to be marked- that is a requirement that comes with the territory of being a teacher. However, having two other higher-ranking teacher’s re-mark the work to check for accuracy proves time-consuming and unnecessary. If there are failings in the teacher’s marking, then there are failings in the school or recruitment providers that have employed a less-than-satisfactory staff member.

Another major issue that affects many social sectors, including education, is that of funding. Taking money out of school’s helps no one in the long-run. If we give our future work force, our future inspirational groups a lesser education then what will that achieve? A less educated generation, that is all it will achieve. More children, more money – that such be the rule of thumb. Instead it now stands that there are more children but less money. There are more students than chairs, more students than text books and more students than computers – how can they have the quality education that we in the UK pride ourselves on?

Let the teachers close their doors and teach their children to get the highest qualifications they can. Don’t take away funds and put impractical goals in place. Let’s see a change! After all, we’ll pay for it in the long-run.

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Finding it tough living at uni? Find a peer mentor to help

Here is another piece that I have written for Keele’s Concourse Magazine, they all seem to have been published at once but I’m certainly not complaining! I’m so grateful for them even reading my work – never mind featuring it on their website. Here is an article about using mentoring services and student support networks in order to settle those first-year nerves and really get stuck in to University life.

The introduction of student-to-student mentoring schemes within higher education to help new and existing students with all aspects of University life;

What has come to light more recently through the media is that a common theme for some university students is the idea of ‘dropping out’ of Higher Education or common complaints of not enjoying it.

However, new help is being made available by some Universities within the UK in the form of student mentoring.

Student mentoring is a scheme close to my heart after I fell into the category of ‘potential Uni drop-out’ during my first year.

At my lowest I was given a leaflet about mentoring and through the scheme I began to talk about what I liked and disliked about my course, how positive my future could be, and began to put things into perspective.

I am now currently entering my third year at University and I am proud to say that I have not only volunteered as a mentor myself but have now been appointed senior mentor of my discipline in order for me to help others.

Duties as a mentor include talking to existing students about their grades, worries and fears as well as introducing new students into the fold of university life.

Students studying the same or similar disciplines can be paired up with a mentor who then emails them to meet up and chat, talk over email or just to check stress levels during exams and times of homesickness.

Potential students can enrol in the mentoring scheme whilst still in college if the scheme is in place at their first choice University.

Once receiving their results and securing their place they can be matched up to a mentor in order for them to ask any questions prior to their arrival at uni.

What is great is that apart from official papers and documents, our mentors are the first friendly face/voice from the university that a student speaks to – and who better than someone who has very recently been through it themselves!

Through email any questions can be asked, from course content, interesting sites in the area or just whether to bring a kettle or saucepans?!

This relationship lasts all through that student’s time at University in order to remove the stresses of deadlines, workloads, essays and exams, as well as the new and sometimes daunting social aspects of university life.

Higher education is a huge time of transition in a young adult’s life and having that person to talk to can really help with fitting into social events and settling in halls of residence. Students will always listen to other students’ advice more than lecturers just because we all think we are clearly more clued in about drinks at the SU than a 30-something-year-old lecturer!

Through my own experience of being on both ends of the mentoring scheme, I can see only benefits of the confidential student-to-student support and would urge more students to get involved in mentoring for the HEAR accredited hours, the experience for your CV and just for self-satisfaction to know that you helped!

And for any of those who aren’t involved in this scheme; 1) why not?!, 2) try and talk to people, such as counselling offices and student support about how to get involved, and 3) just try helping people, if you see a fresher looking lost then point them in the right direction or tell them about an up and coming social event.

The university students of today are the graduates and future employees of tomorrow so with the rise in tuition fees, we should all be supporting each other to stay in education rather than leaving students to think about ‘dropping out’ before they’ve really got settled in!

The full article can be found at; http://www.concourseonline.com/lauren-haines/finding-it-tough-living-at-uni-find-a-peer-mentor-to-help/

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