Image description: A happy looking cartoon person standing beside a sign saying ‘Agony Aunt’ and a pink and yellow flower, on a blue and green background.
Hello! 🙂 I hope you are having a good term so far, filled with met deadlines and adequate essays/problem sheets. This week I address a wannabe TV chef, train anxiety, and a person who relates strongly to a biblical figure. To decipher my runic overview, read on…
“I am addicted to cooking… I have three essays due but all I want to do is chop garlic and add it to olive oil in a medium hot pan with some crushed chilli flakes to bloom and then add slightly undercooked pasta to finish in the pan with pasta water, salt, parsley and pepper”
Jamie Oliver, I know it’s you.
It seems like there is always someone addicted to some sort of food in my inbox. Honestly, as a girl who has grown up with a half-Italian dad and a mam with IBS… I can really understand that garlicky meals can create a conflict of interest.
The more I think about this question, the more I think it isn’t a question and simply a brag about how fab you are at cooking.
I don’t even think it’s a problem, I mean… humans need to eat food to survive!
Making gourmet dishes at uni and using the pasta water to add that extra flavour and shine? Well, it’s beautiful. Crushed chilli flakes and olive oil instead of a super noodle flavour packet and some margarine? You are way ahead of other students, cuisine-wise.
How about you listen to some podcasts or lectures relating to your subject whilst you cook? As an English Lang and Lit student, I love to listen to a good episode of In Our Time whilst making tea. It might take away from the mindfulness moment of fully enjoying the processes of making the food, but multitasking every now and then could keep your ‘addiction’ in check.
“I have fears of travelling on public transport as I suffer with severe anxiety. Since COVID this has become even worse the thought of taking a train anywhere makes me feel so unwell literally frozen with fear. Can you give me some advice on how to overcome my anxieties? Can you recommend any techniques to help?”
Hello, I’m sending a lot of love your way, this is really tough to be experiencing. Perhaps the first piece of wisdom I shall bestow on you, you will have heard before. But you are not alone in this concern. Those with contamination OCD, or social anxiety, or agoraphobia/claustrophobia…have, on the whole, all found COVID on public transport quite difficult.
Adults are roughly four times as likely to be experiencing anxiety now than before the pandemic – up from 11% to 42% of adults. So even many of those who had never felt like this before will be empathetic to your struggle.
Now, onto the more specific help and advice:
Before you travel, pack face masks and hand sanitiser (COVID essentials!), and hold your bag on the seat/floor next to you to deter any people who won’t social distance. Also as above, a good podcast is great on a train, as is some music and some noise-cancelling earphones.
And I am a biiigg sucker for mindfulness and meditation, but this doesn’t mean dropping everything and sitting down in a yoga pose in the middle of a GWR carriage.
In the moment you feel the anxiety, look around and use the grounding technique called the rule of five (you can count on one hand) – notice five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste.
Alternatively, square breathing (repeat four times: in for four, hold for four, out for four, hold for four) is good when panic mode hits.
I hope some of this can help you. Take it at your own pace and remember you are more than allowed to get professional help for your mental health (not just from an agony aunt!)
“I have really long hair and have become really attached to my mane. I think that I am Samson (not really) and believe that my hair is my strength and very much part of my identity. Problem is it looks dry and I have loads of split ends. I really don’t trust hairdressers tbh. Any advice???”
You have to rock that mane! Samson was one of my favourite bible stories when I’d go to “kids’ church” as a kid (I mainly went for the free sweets and poundshop-toy bribes, uh, I mean – ‘prizes’). If you cut that hair super short, unfortunately there is a small chance you will perish.
Hairdressers can be trusted. They want you to come back and get your hair done again, and if you walk out with an awful hairstyle and a frown, that will put off other customers – it’s just not in their best interest to de-Samsonise you. But, you can definitely get good at cutting your own hair into a certain style – the difference between you doing that and a hairdresser is that a hairdresser is (hopefully) good at cutting anyone’s hair, not just their own.
If you want to, go online and buy yourself a pair of okayish hairdressing scissors for under £10, then use the ‘ponytail technique’ to give yourself that classic lockdown haircut. Brush your hair to the front of your head, bobble it up in the centre front of your forehead, and the rest is probably on Wikihow. Though if you have curly/wavy hair like me, don’t do it.
And beyond that, use a nice silicone-free conditioner or hair mask, a cold water rinse, not much heat to dry, and Bob’s your uncle.
Fanny’s your (agony) aunt,
Got a problem? Hard to describe? Are you lonely? Filled with regret? Do you lie awake at night, pondering the logical inconsistencies of the 2007 direct-to-dvd movie ‘Bratz: Fashion Pixiez’? Do you really still think about how Olivia didn’t invite you to her birthday party in Year 9, right after you had invited her to yours? Are you constipated? Submit your question HERE! (It’s anonymous, and I promise I won’t laugh).
Image credit: Bronwyn Riani